Holidays to Kerala are all about wellness and relaxation—indulgent massages, dining on delicious regional dishes steeped in local spices, outings to intoxicating forests and wildlife sanctuaries, backwaters cruises, relaxing on the beach, and much more. Ideal for families, as much for young couples, the retreats offer a series of carefully curated immersive experiences that enhance a traveler’s stay.
Here are 10 ways in which you can enjoy the three Niraamaya Retreats that cut a chic swathe across God’s Own Country.
Sparkling Sunset Cruise
Kerala, situated on the west coast of India, offers spectacular golden-hued sunsets, the perfect time to cruise the magical realm of the backwaters. The Retreat offers a sunset cruise at the Poovar estuary, at just a short 20-minute drive south of the Retreat. Guests are transferred in the late evening to a motor boat that cruises through unspoiled coconut groves on either side of the river, offering glimpses of rural life. The boat leads them up to the Golden Sand Beach, where they can see the point where the backwater meets the mighty Arabian Sea. Guests can opt for chilled sparkling wine as they enjoy the sunset from the comfort of the motor boat and a selection of deluxe canapés that the chef team put together. The boat meanders through pristine mangrove forests, a stretch full of aquatic birds busy hunting for fish. At the boat jetty, a transfer back to retreat awaits.
Explore Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Among all the travellers who make their way to Kumarakom, the birders are in for a special treat. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, just about three kilometres from the retreat and spread across 14 acres by Lake Vembanad, is a sanctuary for many wetland birds such as the Indian darter, little cormorant, different species of egrets and herons, white ibis, cuckoo, owl and moorhen, and several species of kingfishers. Between November and May, the bushes and woods of the sanctuary also host rare migratory birds from as far as the Himalayas and from the remote lands of Siberia, such as the Siberian crane, parrot, teal, lark and the flycatcher. Also, at hand, are waterfowl such as the pin-tailed duck, garganey teal, spot-billed duck and birds of prey such as osprey, marsh harrier and steppe eagle. Bird lovers can also take a boat trip to nearby regions such as KaipuzhaMuttu, Pathiramanal, Narakathara, Thollayiram Kayal and Poothapandi Kayal to watch local birdlife and migrants which could easily account for more than a hundred species.
Shikara boat ride through intricate backwater canals
No visit to Kumarakom is complete without a boat ride on the spectacular Lake Vembanad. Enjoy a ride in a small traditional boat or canoe, generally used by local fishermen, which takes you through the canals that criss-cross the villages and farms and bind them together in an intricate network.
It is the most beautiful way to not just enjoy the placid lake and the birdlife, but also witness quintessential village life — colourful homes, lush gardens, verdant green fields, captivating islands with swaying palms, and people going about their lives. These waters support a rich diversity of wildlife. Did you know that, here, people use different boats for different purposes—from transporting rice to people to fishing?
Martial art: Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu, often called the ‘Mother of all Martial Arts’, is the oldest martial art in existence—dating back to third century BCE, it originated in Kerala and is intrinsically entwined with its history and social life. Kalaripayattu aims to develop the ultimate coordination between mind and body. It encompasses three schools —Arappa Kayy, Pilla Thangi, and Vatten Thiripp, which are distinguished by their attacking and defensive patterns. The impossibly fluid arms movements are entrancing, making for yet another unique Kerala experience. A performance centre, located 6 kilometres away, has shown for an hour between 6 and 7 pm.