Experience infinity with nature for company in Western Ghats (Travelogue)
If you are longing for a serene and tranquil getaway and want to cosy up to the cuddle of Mother Nature, head for the unspoiled plantations on the foothills of Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari district, where lush green vegetation enjoins a clear blue lake with gentle mountain slopes for a picture perfect backdrop.
Even the journey of gradual ascent leading to this mesmerising retreat, through the meandering roads dotted with rubber and arecanut trees, apart from pepper and beetle leaf creepers, is a treat.
One such road unprepares you for a sublime experience that's in store and leads to a resort at Thucklay, not far from the southernmost tip of India, which is fittingly named Anantya - infinity or the endless in Sanskrit.
Once a part of the erstwhile Travancore state, the sprawling 1,000-acre area that is home to the resort was bought by some British planters in the early 20th century. Around the late 1920s, it passed on to its present owners, Vaikundam Estate - named after the divine abode of Lord Vishnu.
The 20-acre resort itself is on a peninsula overlooking the clear blue Chittar Lake and forms a part of the larger rubber plantation of Vaikundam Estate. It is truly Travancore's best-kept secret!
"We as kids spent numerous weekends at the plantation," said Lakshmy Ashok, one of the directors. "Sometimes friends would visit us. They would say: 'Why keep such a place just to yourselves. Start a resort. It will do well'," she said.
Cottages of the resort, each of which face the lake.
"That's when we said, why not! Having spent infinite moments here as kids, with the butterflies, birds, insets, this beautiful lake, the mountains, trees, shrubs, the rains and the rainbow, we decided to name it Anantya. The experience can truly be endless, infinite," she added.
"My kids, too, spent a lot of time here. They wouldn't want to leave, even when we had a simple, functional bungalow, with nothing really fancy to do but enjoy nature. Now, we want many more children to experience what we cherished and continue to do so."
For a location so mesmerising, it is not quite away from the hustle and bustle of a city. Thiruvananthapuram airport is around 50 km away to its north-west. One can also take a train to Marthandam and from there on a 45-minute cab ride.
Those looking for a break away from city life will find Anantya Resort a very rewarding option to do actually nothing. Yet, those who want something more, it offers a host of other options as well -- but not the kind that one finds in cities and towns.
Each of the 21 villas of the resort -- all inspired by noted architects Laurie Baker and Geoffrey Bawa -- are built along the Chittar Lake. Each of them is also slightly detached from the rest. So privacy is not at a premium.
Anantya also has the comfort and the refined luxury one expects from a resort. Yet, it exhibits a sense of minimalism and simplicity. After you walk to your sanctuary along a twisty garden path through a traditional entrance, you can also soak in to an outdoor Jacuzzi.
A special, candle-lit dinner under the stars and overlooking your private lily pond is just a call away. Otherwise, a sumptuous spread of Indian, continental, Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisines, besides spa food, is an option at their alfresco dining hall, Svaad.
One of the treats is to hear the chirping of birds of a wide variety early morning and watching the horizon where the earth and water meld with the skies to create some breathtaking hues of colour between the gentle slopes of the mountains and beyond.
The view of Chakra Lake and the mountains of Western Ghats from the Infinity Swimming Pool.
A hot cup of south Indian coffee is a welcome companion.
How can a resort so near Kerala not have a spa? At Anantya, one can experience holistic wellness and ayurvedic treatments as well at Astitva which means existence but promises to take you to a world beyond.
The resort has teamed up with the Pankajakasthuri Group for the spa. After a quick consultation with the doctor, a revitalising and therapeutic treatment awaits you in the aroma-filled rooms - again overlooking the lake. Trying to stay awake is a futile exercise.
There are several other options as well for those who want more from Anantya.
One can pick up a picnic basket and head to the thick plantations, go for a ride on one of the several bicycles kept for guests, take a dip in the swimming pool right next to the lake or enjoy a game of volleyball, badminton, chess or carom. The more adventurous can also book themselves for rock-climbing or nature treks.
But these remain alternative options - being there is itself rejuvenating.
Getting to Anantya Resort:
* From Thiruvananthapuram, it's about 50 km to the southeast
* From Marthandam, in Kanyakumari district, it is 16 km away
(Arvind Padmanabhan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 13-07-2014)
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