The monsoon season has begun, and although worried that the rain may drench all our travel plans, it turns out to be a great weather to visit Thissur. You see, it is during this time of the year when one can get amazing discounts on hotels and resorts in South India; tourists generally avoid visiting this part of India between July and September due to heavy rain and mosquitoes.
The Resort and Staff:
We travel from Hyderabad to Thrissur via train that takes a good 24 hours. We have pre-arranged for someone from the resort to pick us up from the station, and it takes one and a half hour to reach the resort in Athirapally, also home to this magnificent waterfalls.
Just as our car enters the premises of—and I shall say this for the first and last time because I can’t spell or pronounce it—Kandamkulathy Ayursoukhlam Ayurvedic Resort, I notice a small group of men and women in uniform gathered in front of the main reception area, smiling. It feels a little bit awkward, all this attention.
Cheerful, smiling faces greet us even before we step out of the vehicle. The manager stands at the entrance of the reception area, ushering us in. “Good afternoon and welcome to the resort,” he says and, giving a matchbox to Masood, continues, “Please light this lamp, sir. It’s a tradition.” I wait for my turn to light the lamp, but he takes the matchbox from Masood’s hand. Perhaps women aren’t allowed to play with fire?
A fresh bouquet of very pink flowers is handed to us. And once the formalities are over, we’re shown to our cottage.
All the staff are pretty friendly and attentive to our needs.
Pretty, red-bricked cottages occupy half of the resort, giving us complete privacy and a feel of being home. Inside, the room is spacious and cozy…
The room is impeccably clean and the bed is comfortable.
A fruit basket containing apples, oranges, and bananas await us…
The bathroom is, however, disappointing. I’d been expecting a rain shower-type of showerhead, or a tub with scented candles, ready for a warm bubble bath. You know, considering that this is an ayurvedic resort and all that, I felt as if they should have paid a little more attention to the bathroom.
The phone lines are dead. It’s being fixed, the manager assures us. Dinner is our first meal at the resort, and although I prefer the privacy of eating in the cottage, we decide to try the restaurant. Apart from the globe-shaped white lamps that light the gravel-filled pathway (a good idea because the rain water doesn’t flood and make the soil muddy), there was darkness. To keep the insects away, the restaurant lights remain switched off. There’s a middle-aged, Hindi-speaking couple with their restless boy sitting at one of the four tables when we arrive. There is no menu card to help you decide what to order. A young man, not more than eighteen, approaches us with a bright smile. “What you like to order, sir?” he struggles to ask in English. Turns out, there’s only dal (yellow lentil cooked in coconut-based gravy), mixed vegetable curry, and steamed rice. We order all three items.
We soak in the surrounding: it’s pitch dark outside, raining, cold, light from the distant lamp illuminating the restaurant softly, the sound of the river roaring fifty feet away. We imagine piping hot dal, freshly-steamed rice, and rich vegetable curry.
The food arrives cold.
Breakfast the next day consists of omelette, toast, butter, jam, and tea. It’s better than last night’s dinner. Much, much better.
Lunch is disappointing. I’m planning to speak with the manager about it, when a chubby and cheerful man emerges from the kitchen and begins chatting with one of the guests. “Are you the owner of this place?” we ask when he approaches us and shakes hand with Masood. “Oh, no!” he laughs, “I’m the cook!”
We complain about the cold food and he apologizes profusely. He tells us that, to make up for it, he’ll cook whatever we wanted. “Meat here is halal,” he adds. “I can cook kababs for you or fry a fresh fish with spices.” Good food at last, we think gratefully.
While we’re feasting on our hot kababs and crispy fish, a very young couple arrives and sits at the table next to ours. They’re newly-weds, I can tell from the still-dark henna on the lady’s hand and the two dozen glass bangles on her arms. I can also tell from the way the guy looks at her with a silly grin on his face, and is completely attentive whenever she speaks.
“Please get us some of those kababs,” the guy tells the restaurant staff when he comes to bring water to their table. “Um, we don’t have those anymore.” “OK, how about some fish, then?” “No more fish, sorry.” The lady gets impatient. She lifts one of her hands to fix her hair, the glass bangles clinking loudly.
“Well, what do you have?”
“We have vegetable curry and dal, madam.”
“Can we get dosas, at least?”
“Dosa only in the morning, sir.”
“I can’t believe this!” says the lady. “OK, tell us where we can find another restaurant.”
“Other restaurant very far away in the city, madam.”
“Oh well, just bring us the dal and vegetable curry.”
The kabab is tender and juicy, and the fish is flavorful. The cook comes out and asks if we enjoyed the food. We thank him profusely for the wonderful meal, and he goes back to the kitchen and brings us a complimentary orange drink that he made himself. We order the same fish for lunch the next day.
Here’s the dal and mixed vegetable curry. It tastes good, when served warm.
The fried fish that is a must!
I like the resort because…
the location is amazingly fresh and serene.
there’s an ayurvedic spa and treatment center just a few steps away from the cottages, where one can get a very relaxing, traditional massage.
everyone at the resort is nice and friendly.
there’s internet facility at the main reception area that guests can use for free.
I do not like the resort because…
it’s quite far from the railway station or the airport.
food is served cold and there isn’t much variety, unless you meet the cook and place your order beforehand.
- the bathroom is too basic.