Friday, January 30, 2009

Republic Day Getaway!

The whole W and J clan went away to Kumarakom, Kerla over this Republic Day weekend (and a few more days' of extra offs!) Here are some snapshots!

The whole idea of the trip was to do nothing!! A lovely lovely thing one gets to do never!! We stayed at Taj Garden Retreat in Kumarakom which fronts the famous Vembanad lake. It is a lovely rustic hotel! Cleanliness in the hotel could have been better but I think they have a formidable task on hand given the setting they are in. The biggest credit to them is definitely their hospitality! Taj's service is legendary and we find ourselves seeking a Taj wherever we go. But the team here was par excellence even by Taj's standards!! Apart from the lovely ambiance the best part of the hotel was also some excellent and delectable variety they served us thrice a day (minimum that is ;) ) We had some superb chettinad preparations of prawns and chicken and feasted on the traditional vegetarian Kerali cuisine of Appam and Avial and Toran and Payasam!! 

We took the much necessary trip to Kottayam for shopping and eating dosas in the local hotels and we were not disappointed a bit!! We rewarded ourselves to multiple Ghee Dosas after a tiring(!) shopping experience at Seematti. Kottayam is a funny city I thought! It has way too much contour for the part of the world it is located in.... We kept travelling up and down the streets - quite literally!! I once again realised how urbanised the city of Pune is where I live. For good or bad Kottayam is about 15 years away from that level of urbanisation...
Large rooms with wooden sloping roofs were complete with dormer skylights. 
But the best part of the rooms certainly was this sit out that overlooked the hotel lagoon.
Toilets opened on a lovely (locked from outside!) courtyards! It took me some getting used  to!!!!
This hotel shares a boundary with the large bird sanctuary of Kumarakom and thanks to this lagoon there are a lot of lovely birds inside the hotel premises as well. If you cared to wake up early (well relatively!) and sit out by the lagoon you could see a lot of them! Following is the picture of cottages from across the lagoon.  
A lot of varieties of Herons were seen and I am no expert in identifying them but we tried and captured them in the lens as much as we could!
The hotel had lot of water bodies woven through it and such water fountains were created at a number of places which served as aeration mechanism for the water.  
We saw a wood pecker here up in the trees but he refused to let us take a picture!! I loved its triangular head!! 
Ain't these lovely?? Look at their colour!! They were almost transparent!
This was the West side end of the hotel. It had a lawn with couches that you could lounge on endlessly! They also served snacks and chai in the evening here making it lovelier still! (Yup I am a certified foodie!) The Vembanad lake seen till the horizon...  I was mesmerised by the size of this lake.
This picture should be named melancholy... Though I wasn't feeling particularly so when clicking it!! 

This is the view of the Baker's bungalow across the lagoon with the beautiful island in between. They have a restaurant in this bungalow now but it has been preserved well from its colonial days.   
The hotel had a lot of fearless rabbits! I and R discussed that rabbit or hare does not explain the squishiness of this cutie as well as the Marathi word 'Sasa' does!! (For some reason the links to post in Devnagari have disappeared from my toolbar. Grhh)

Though aplenty birds could be seen at the hotel we took a 0600 am (on a holiday! I am so proud!!!!) tour through the bird sanctuary. The weather was mildly cold (Yes, we were indeed in Kerla!!) And according to the guide all the birds populate the Hyacinth in the lagoon that separates the backwaters from Vembanad at this time of the day. And well I must say he was quite right!

There are about nine varieties of Kingfishers here. We saw two kinds! Every time it took a flight it dazzled with its brilliant blues! I wish we had a pro camera...  
This is an eagle with its catch!! Kudos to S for snapping it!

This ubiquitous Heron I nicknamed as The Hunchback of Kumarakom!! :) 

Such a small birdie but what rattle it was making!!  
Can anyone tell me what flower this is?? It was 'planted' in large vessels filled with water the way lotus is usually, well, 'planted'! The total life of this beautiful creature was only a few hours of the day.. 
Sunset point again!
We just loved these creatures!! 

This silly bird sat every morning around the same spot for hours on end!! 
All those black forms in the tree are Herons actually!! They have turned that Green tree White by doing you know what all over it!! There is a covered walk way beneath these trees to save the mere mortals from continuous droppings!! 
View of the cottages from the Baker's Bungalow
At night they would light diyas (panatya) all along the lagoon! Such a simple and inexpensive idea, albeit with a lot of efforts involved! But what effect!! This picture hardly does justice to the magnificent site that was!!  
Overall a rocking trip!! Well all the holidays are always like that, aren't they? :)


kedar said...

beautiful snaps!

Mukul JD said...

maan.... you guys had fun !

Maitreyee said...

I know that water-flower you are talking about. Believe it or not, we have it at home !! :) Mum got it from some Plants and Flower Exhibition. But we don't know the name. The guy who sold it said, "Oh! Water-plant aahe!".

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