KERALA- God’s own country
1. Munroe Island, Ashtamudi Lake, Kollam District, Kerala, South India.
2. Odayam Beach, Arabian Sea., Varkal Coastal Town, Trivandrum District, Kerala, South India.
I had never heard the name Munroe Island before visiting Kerala. Munroe island is located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada river, in Kollam. Ashtamudi Lake is known for the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. The lake has 8 arms, like an octopus and so it is called Ashtamudi. The scenic beauty of the lake is breathtaking.
Best time to Visit : September to March, if you are looking for a romantic vacation. There are a number of activities for solo travellers as well, who are looking for some adventure and satisfying their wanderlust.
We visited Munroe Island, Kollam in the month of December, took a flight from Banglaore at around 9:00 am reaching Trivandrum by 10:30 am. We had pre-booked a houseboat at the Palm Tree Heritage Houseboat which is just 58 km from the airport. Babu, the owner of the resort had arranged for a pick up from Trivandrum Airport to Kollam Houseboat.
The coastal drive to Palm Tree Heritage’s houseboat from the airport was breathtaking, dotted with lots of beautiful coloured homes and wide variety of Churches. It was a great experience.
The houseboat staff welcomed us with fresh pineapple juice. Their upstairs dining deck provided the perfect spot to eyeball the beauty of nature that is the backwaters.
Lunch was a scrumptious traditional south Indian fare; the experience of having lunch, evening brunch and dinner in the houseboat with a scenic view of lakes.
On the backwaters we saw huge chinese fishing nets which are one of the attraction of the backwaters. These huge fishing nets are fixed to a land equipment with an outstretched net, it requires upto six fishermen to operate a single installation.
I was on the Kollam backwaters and I felt that I was living in a piece of the heaven. The enchanting backwaters can surely steal your heart and beacon you to visit again.
We reached Munroe island in 2 hrs. It was so amazing watching the villagers on the shores going about their daily chores.
Next, we visited a village in a small boat. Wathching the life of these villagers at such close quarters made us realize that simple life is a happy life.
The houseboat was parked at night in an extremely beautiful spot at the bank of a fresh water river in a tiny clean village.
We spent a day in the lush green surroundings of the back waters and canals. These amazing waterways give you a new definition of green showing such diversity of palm and coconut trees.
Next day, we woke up to a piping hot cup of TEA and a mesmerising sunrise. What made the experience more memorable was the helpful staff who catered to all our needs. After two hours ride in backwaters, accompanied with delicious breakfast and nature, it was time for some more fun, so we headed to Varkala .
Someone said “Once you see Kollam, you will not need your home any more”. I strongly agree with this point of view.
ODAYAM BEACH, Varkala
After our Kollam backwater soujourn we headed for Varkala. During the pictureque journey we were highly anticipating an equally enchanting beach. On our way to Varkala we came across a place where it is said that the Ashtamudi lake meets the sea which in itself was a unique experience.
Finally our wait was over and we reached Varkala.
Varkala is among the best beaches in southern Kerala with several private resorts, Palm Tree Heritage Resort is one of them, it is situated at the shores of Odayam Beach which is sandwiched between beach on one side and swaying Palm trees on the other.
My husband and I reached Palm Tree Heritage Resort in afternoon around 1:30 pm, it took approx 2hrs. When we entered the resort, we were hit with the senerinity and peaceful environment of the resort. The staff welcomed us with a resfreshing mint drink and arranged a sea facing bungalow close to beach. The view from the bungalow opened the expanse of the sea for us.
We Indians often underestimate the natural beauty in India, but after watching this beautiful beach and so many foreigners, I felt that our beaches are no less then any foreign destination.
We did not want to brave the sun just yet, so we decided to take rest. Around 6 pm we had coffee with the thundering of the waves keeping us company. We decided to take a sunset walk along the beach. The waves crashing at my feet and the sun setting on the horizon reminded me how little we need to be happy.
The Resort staff arranged a romantic candle light dinner at the beach for us, which made our honeymoon even more special.
Next day we woke up to the sound of thundering waves. Some fishermen were trying to drag a huge fisher boat and some travelers were helping them.
The resort is close to Varkala Cliff. Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala, where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. It is 5-10 mins walk along the sea from Palm Tree Heritage resort to Varkala cliff. Along the way there are some nice shops and restaurants. It was little early, so all shops were closed.
This is the only place in Varkala where you can find water sports, so its a paradise for adventure sports fanatics. But it is not the only reason that lots of foreigners come to Varkala, rather it is sheer natural beauty that makes it a perfect destination for a relaxing vacation. Varkala is less crowded than other beaches, you’ll see few nos. of local sellers.
Under the clear blue sky and besides the deep blue sea, yoga is taught to relax you even further. The Resort has their personal yoga Trainer and Ayurvedic spa. The spa is highly recommended. If the sea and sand dont do the trick in relaxing you, you can always pamper yourself at the spa.
In a nutshell Kerala is an experience in itself with its vibrant people, their language, culture, and food.
A special mention to our resort owner, Babu, who organized a memorable stay, overnight in Kollam backwater houseboat and relaxing 3 nights in resort at the bank of Arabian sea for us. I regret not taking out more time here. We just touched the surface in 4 days. You can spent a lifetime exploring Kerala. Please plan your trip atleast for a week, I assure you, you wont regret it.
The place left such an indelible mark on me that I would visit this place again.