Be it The constant drizzle or incessant downpour, the lush and dreamy vista of kerala springs alive in the monsoon.
There is something magical about the monsoon. The urban landscape gets a much-needed white wash and cleanses the earth of impurity. Well, at least in a Utopian world, that is how it is meant to be. If you like the idea of falling asleep to the relentless pitter-patter of raindrops, then this is just the perfect season to head to Kerala. God’s own country offers several monsoon packages to suit your varying budgets. We opted for a weekend trip to Kochi and Kumarakom. The flight is short and before you realise you have already landed in what was formerly known as Cochin. What instantly arrests your attention is the green landscape which is so soothing and wide roads flanked by coconut trees that extend to the scenic backwaters. Instantly, you find yourself relaxing in this heavenly ambience. The long drive into the city and beyond (we opted to stay at a resort near the visually stunning Kochi harbour) lulls your senses into a dreamy-eyed siesta, (especially, if you have taken an early morning flight)
Of course, the romance of the drive takes a backseat (literally) as one enters the city limits where roads narrow down and chaos of everyday life takes over. Having said that, the Malabar architecture found in these quaint homes is a study in contrast to the Dravidian style that you find in other South Indian states. Red tiles and ribbed roofs are predominant in most traditional homes. While the city is still seeped in an old world charm, modernism has gradually taken over. So the city is now home to a few plush buildings (some of which have been designed by popular Bengaluru-based builders) in upmarket areas like Wellington Island.
July is when the monsoon hits Kerala, somewhat mercilessly on some days, where you need to be prepared to stay indoors, so choose a hotel wisely. We were fortunate to get a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea from our room’s balcony. But when it is not raining incessantly, then you can opt for a languid hour long sunset cruise to soak in the nearby sights.
No holiday is complete without some venturing out. Fort Kochi has a very laidback European vibe with uber cool cafes and plush boutique hotels. It has a very hip upmarket feel to it and comes alive at night as the millennial buzz takes over. If you head there early evening, you can visit the Francis Church, where Vasco Da Gama was initially buried before his son took his body back to Lisbon. Despite the Portuguese and Dutch influence, this is a church that is devoid of embellishments. It is simple, stark and peaceful. Spend some time in quiet prayer here before you head out.
The Chinese fishing nets at the Vasco Da Gama square are an attraction as they bear testimony to a 500 year history. A must-visit is the popular Mattencherry locale, where your olfactory senses will be overpowered by the spicy odours that fill the air. A great place to shop for herbs, oils, soaps and of course, spices!
And all that shopping can be exhausting and it’s the best time to savour the local cuisine. Kerala is really about bingeing on the yummy fish curries, red rice, spicy prawns and seafood delicacies. The upmarket Rice Boat restaurant at a star hotel gives you the illusion of being on sea as the restaurant is set on a boat overlooking the ocean and you can almost feel like you are moving gradually as you savour the catch of the Day. The 14 dish seafood thali at Chemeen, one of Kochi’s popular restaurants is enough to make you pass out in a food coma. The dish costs a mere Rs 500 and you eat like there is no tomorrow..
A two day trip is adequate for Kochi. On day three, you can drive 1.5 hours and head to the Kumarakom backwaters, which is really South India’s very own paradise. Time stands still here and every cliché associated with natural works. Again you can opt to the stay at the luxury resorts or even a houseboat depending on your fancy. Kumarakom is about restful relaxation, where you engage with nature by going on walks or cycling along the landscaped pathways. The weather may not really permit a sunset cruise and if it rains all day, then you will not be allowed to venture anywhere close to the ocean.
Kumarakom is about bidding all your worldly worries goodbye and revelling in La La land for as long as time permits before the harsh realities of day to day life beckon!