India is an intriguing yet overwhelming place. It is a melting pot of several religions, several hundred languages, and several million people. Due to its staggering size, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip there. Luckily a helping hand isn’t far away. We’ve stripped India back to basics, compiling a list of India’s highlights and more importantly, how, where and when to see them. Exploring the nooks and crannies of its cities, discovering its ancient charm, experiencing its age old rituals, and falling under the spell of India’s irrepressible charm makes for an adventure you will never forget.
Homestays of Kerala
Homestays are the perfect opportunity of experiencing authentic Indian life. Spending time with the host families will give you a new perspective on the culture here, as well as offering the very best of Indian home cooking. Explore at your own pace and discover all the joys of the region.
1. PhilippKuttys Farmhouse
Located on a tiny island in the midst of Kerala’s backwaters and close by Vembanad Lake, PhilippKutty’s is perfect for anyone who wants a true and un-diluted Keralan experience. The farm itself is small but accommodating, and offers five lovely waterfront villas. The villas are roomy and blend beautifully with their natural surroundings, with pretty views overlooking the tranquil backwaters. The rooms are well furnished and offer modern conveniences (such as WiFi and air conditioning) but still maintain a homely, traditional ambience. Each villa is separate from each other as well as the family residence in order to ensure your privacy.
When you arrive you will be welcomed by the family that will be looking after you during your stay. The hosts are prominent members of the community and are happy to give guests a tour of the farm and other areas of interest. Meals are enjoyed at set times with most of the food being produced on the family farm. You may eat alongside other guests on the outdoor terrace or arrange private dining. There are many activities to enjoy whilst here, including leisurely canal cruises through the backwaters, bird watching, farm walks and Keralan cooking lessons.
Nestled between Cochin and Munnar, the unique location of Dewalokam takes you away from Kerala's famed backwaters to its beautiful countryside inland. Even a short stay at this unique farmstay will lull you into the leisurely pace of life Kerala is so well known for. With only eight rooms, the house is the perfect destination to experience the very best of authentic India in an intimate setting. The star of the show is arguably its food, with ingredients sourced on site (and even foraged for by guests!), meals are deliciously fresh and wonderful examples of traditional Keralan cuisine. Spend your days getting stuck in with life on the farm, simply relaxing in its beautiful grounds or visiting the local villages on foot or by bicycle. The catalogue of experiences on offer at Dewalokam ensure your stay will be truly unique, giving you an invaluable snapshot of Kerala's fascinating culture and traditions.
3. Ayisha Manzil
Ayisha Manzil, owned by husband and wife Moosa and Faiza, is a two storey colonial-style building in Thalassery. It was built by an English cinnamon planter in 1862, sold to Moosa’s grandfather in 1900, and later converted into a homestay. Ayisha Manzil offers four large bedrooms, dining room, balcony and open terrace. The classically furnished rooms (featuring large four-poster beds and antique dressers) maintain the charm of an ancestral dwelling. This authentic design of the house allows guests to experience the intriguing history and culture of a long gone era. Also on the premises is a swimming pool reminiscent of Kerala’s traditional “temple pools”, and overlooks the beautiful Arabian Sea.
A highlight of the homestay is undoubtedly the food, always a delicious affair as Faiza is a renowned cook in the area specialising in local Malabar cuisine. They offer cooking lessons where you can learn the ins and outs of making tasty and authentic Keralan food. Ayisha Manzil is excellently situated and offers many opportunities to learn more about the surrounding city. These include a walk to the local fish markets accompanied by the host Mr Moosa, an exploration of the fascinating (and historical) Spice Market in Thalassery, or a visit to the beautiful Parassinikadavu Temple.
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