There is nothing more tranquil than an exploration of Kerala’s Backwaters, made up of winding canals, rivers and huge lakes. The best way to travel this region and to be truly immersed in its way of life is by spending time on a kettuvallam (houseboat). From the moment you get on board you are transported to India’s very own Venice, where the atmosphere is serene and the landscape enchanting.
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.
‘Thekkanat Parayil’ homestay is situated on Olavipe Island in a corner of rural Kerala. The beautiful heritage home was built in the 1880s and is surrounded by pristine greenery and ancient trees. The hosting family (the Parayil’s) have lived in the house for generations and strive to ensure all guests have an enjoyable and unique Kerala experience. The guestrooms are spacious and airy with bathrooms attached, as well as individual garden areas. All rooms boast classic architecture and an authentic Keralan style. Keeping with tradition, meals are served family-style around the long dining table with the hosting family and guests. The food served is usually typical Kerala cuisine, using organic fruit and vegetables from the farm and surrounding village.
Olavipe homestay offers a unique insight into Kerala’s village life, and allows guests to immerse themselves in the culture. Observe fisherman casting their nets into the backwaters or choose to take up the rod yourself; glide through Kerala’s canals on a splendid boat ride or browse the stalls in the local markets. The local area is also great for scenic village walks, as well as offering many peaceful pockets to simply relax or read in.
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.