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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
                                                                   -Miriam Beard


Traveling in Kerala - tips

-        Keep your medical certificates in hand and get your vaccine shots 4 weeks before you plan on embarking on your journey.  Also, keep your medications with yourself in case of an emergency.

-        Avoid eating cut fruits and raw salad from the lower priced hotels since they have high levels of contamination. Though most people in Kerala are friendly and mean well, avoid accepting food from strangers in trains and other forms of public transport.

-        Do not drink water from roadside stalls or cheaper hotels. Always carry bottled water. While
     buying bottled mineral water, check if the seal is intact and check for any leaks in the bottle.

-   Opt for unpeeled fruits as they are the safest. We recommend washing the fruits before you eat them.

-       Try and eat food that is hot.

-        Do not drink fresh fruit juices from the roadside juice stalls. Buy packaged juices that are branded or bottled sodas.

-        Do not buy pre cooked food from roadside vendors. They are usually contaminated with dust and flies.

-        If you would like to eat non-vegetarian food, go to a hygienic restaurant that locals will recommend.

-       There are many international fast food outlets in all major cities. If you cannot find a clean restaurant while touring, eat there.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This ruin of a pier extending into the sea is more than 140 years old.  The lighthouse and the 1000-ft long pier, built by Captain Hugh Crawford in 1862. 
A photograph of the lighthouse around the time that it was commissioned

The lighthouse from an old photograph

Alleppey is considered to be the oldest planned town in this region and the lighthouse here is the first of its kind along the Arabian coast. Built by Raja Keshavadas in the 18th century, Alappuzha was once a busy port, serving as the entrance point of Kerala for boats that brought goods from other regions and carried cargo out from the town.
The lighthouse at Alleppey is the oldest on the western coast of India. Commissioned in 1862, it was built with laterite and teak. The lighthouse initially had a double wick lamp source fueled by coconut oil and supplied by a manufacturer from Birmingham. The lamp was used till 1952 when it was replaced by a gas flasher. A  modern 1000w lamp and catadioptirc lenses were installed in 1960. The lighthouse today has a range of 25 nautical miles.
The view from atop the lighthouse is splendid. There are certain times during the day when visitors are allowed to go up to the top. 
The Alleppey lighthouse commissioned 1862

A church In Purakkad outside Alleppey town, built in 1410


Alleppey and the surrounding Kuttanad region have many remanents of their rich historical past. Alleppey finds mention in the records of the early Sangam Age. Other sources record that Alleppey had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages. The early Cheras who had their home in the Kuttanad region were called 'Kuttavans'.
"Here, nature has spent upon the land her richest bounties" - Lord Curzon
A view of the stunningly beautiful backwater canals around Alleppey

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fishy Facts

You are likely to catch Catfish and Sankeheads, types of fish found in the drainage ditches of rice paddies and Pear Spot further towards the middle of the lake. Bring you own fishing gear along, though the locals have their own innovations. One of the methods employed for catching these fish involves the use of dead cockroaches or half boiled Tapioca as bait and handlining. Handlining is one of the oldest forms of fishing and  is still common. The locals also use coconut palm fronds as improvised rods.
The line can be jigged or moved up and down in a series of short movements, most often close to the bottom of the lake. The motion attracts the fish which are then caught trying to eat the lure. Handlining is most often used to catch squid but other species are sometimes caught, including pelagic fish.

Lake fishing tips

Determine the types of fish found in the lake, this will help you decide the type of bait to use. Patience is most important. Fish are unpredictable, it is impossible to know when or what fish will be feeding on at any given point in time. Big fish are normally found at the bottom, close to the mud, medium sized fish (Pearl Spot) in the middle and small fish close to the surface of the water. The bait for big fish should be hooked in such a way that it reaches the very bottom of the water.
Expensive rods are not advised for fishing in small ponds, but can be used for deeper lakes. Cheap rods are available locally. Switching between live bait and various artificial baits will only increase your chances of attracting fish. Alternate between top water baits, spinner baits, plastic worms or live baits like minnows or worms until you find one that works. Don;t stay in the same place too long, if you don't catch anything or get any bites after a few casts, then move on to another spot.The more area you cover the better your chances of a catch. Do speak to the resort manager if you require basic fishing gear.
A fisherman displays his ware

The day's catch of pearl spot fish being packed for a customer 

Fishing in the Vembanad

The Vembanad lake is the largest fresh water lake in India and part of a network of spectacularly beautuful lagoons, evergreen forests, stretches of coconut trees and aquamarine canals. It is a backwater tourism destination that provides truly exciting opportunities for boating, fisihng, birding and great sight seeing. The ecosystem of the lake consists in part both fresh and saline water and contributes to the presence of over 52 fish species and 10 species of shellfish.

A group of fishermen prepare for the days fishing

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You can catch your fish and eat it too

                               The local fishermen go out into the lake on their canoes and lay nets

Lake fishing at Kayaloram
Besides being a gateway to a tour of the backwaters, the Kayaloram Lake Resort is also an ideal base for a relaxing fishing holiday. Do speak with the resort manager to assist you in planning your excursion. 
You could opt to simply sit beside the lake in front of our lake view cottages, dip your rod into the water, sit back and take in your surroundings, read a book, or you could engage a canoe, motorboat or a houseboat to go out into the lake.
Your boatman is an expert and will guide you to the best spots where you are likely to land a catch. Should you decide to spend the better part of the morning fishing, our resort manager will pack you a sumptuous lunch hamper or you could opt to dine on your houseboat. Tariffs for houseboats include meals on board depending on the duration of your stay. The chef on board will cook your catch or you could opt to bring it back to Kayaloram where our chef will unleash his culinary magic.
 Should you opt to cook your fish, we will be glad to assist in any way we can.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pool view rooms - Twin bed, air conditioned, open shower, television, intercom.

Lake view cottages - Twin bed, air conditioned, open shower, television, intercom.

Our cottages

The cottages at Kayaloram are all built of wood and were once traditional homes on the verge of being dismantled. What we have done is to trans locate the structures, right down to the smallest detail, without destroying their integral form. 

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself - Maya Angelou

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kayaloram - lakeside serenity

Going past the lobby a little bridge takes you over a water channel. Go past a lawn with flowering plants on which you will see swarms of vividly colored butterflies fluttering around. The cottages lie further on.

One of the most striking aspects of Kayaloram is the serenity that you will experience. No hooting traffic, no snarling engines, no raucous voices, just a profound silence filled by the whisper of a summer breeze, the rustle of leaves, bird calls and the occasional mutter of a boat engine passing by.

Alone let him constantly meditate in solitude on that which is salutary for his soul, for he who    meditates in solitude attains supreme bliss. - Guru Nanak

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

                                                          Karimeen - Pearl spot fish

Pearlspot fish (Etroplus Suratensis), also known as ‘Karimeen’ in Malayalam is found in fresh and brackish water bodies, feeding on algae and insects in southern India and Sri Lanka. Usually growing to a length of 20cm (7.9in) in length and sometimes twice this size, Karimeen is considered a delicacy and found throughout Kerala, especially in the backwaters of Alleppey. Available throughout the year it is caught mainly using gillnets. Some of the popular dishes are Karemeen Fry, Karemeen Molly and Karemeen Pollichathu. 
Karimeen Pollachitu - Our chef's masterpiece

Meen Pollachitu is generally prepared with a fresh catch of Karimeen (Pearl Spot) fish marinated with various spices and a ground paste small onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and coconut milk and then cooked in banana leaf wraps.

Ingredients                                                       Qty

Karimeen                                                         1 kg (6 nos)
Shallots                                                            100gm
Tomatoes                                                         30 gm (3 nos)
Turmeric                                                            2 gm
Red Chillies                                                      20 gm
Ginger                                                                5 gm
Garlic                                                               10 gm
Green Chillies                                                   2-4 ns
Curry Leaves                                                   1- 2 srng
Cocum                                                                5 gm
Salt                                                                  to taste
Coconut Oil                                                     50 ml
Banana Leaves                                               for wrapping

Method of preperation

1. Soak strips of cocum in about 30ml water descale and remove sliminess on the skin of fish    using the blunt part of a knife or use a brick or pumice stone.
2. Rinse several times in cold water using lime juice or vinegar to remove fishy odour. Drain.
3. Make gashes on the fish.
4. Apply a mixture of cocum, water or vinegar. Set aside for about 15 mins.
5. Grind red chillies to a smooth paste and finely chop ginger and garlic.
6. Heat a tea spoon of oil, add ginger, garlic, split curry leaves, red chilly paste, concassed tomatoes and  salt.
7. Cook for few minutes.
8. Remove and apply liberally on both sides and the inside of fish.
9. Wilt banana leaves and line a strong bottomed pan or fry pan.
10. Add the remaining oil and when hot, arrange fish on the leaf.
11. Fold over the leaf and cook covered for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
12. Serve hot in the banana leaf with slices of bread.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Random visuals of the exquisite cuisine of Kerala. Watch this space for our chef's signature recipes and more.

A traditional 'Sadhya' served on a banana leaf, served usually during festivals and on special occasions

Eating in Kerala

The cuisine of Kerala is a combination of meats, vegetables and seafood, to an extent defined by the religious affinities of the communities that populate the state.  The Hindus have a wide variety of vegetarian dishes whereas Christians and Muslims who are predominantly non-vegetarian cook delicacies with sea food and meats.  Apart from the traditional cuisine hotels will also offer Mughlai, Chinese and fast food, though Continental food is mostly served only in the more expensive establishments and resorts for tourists. While traveling, you will find many places where the food is prepared in clean and hygienic surroundings.  Apart from the fast food joints, you can also find bars, pubs and coffee shops in most of the cities of Kerala.
Known as the "land of Spices", the cuisine of Kerala is known for its spicy yet subtly flavored food. Traditionally, in Kerala food is served on a banana leaf and almost every dish prepared has coconut and spices to flavour it, giving it a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind, while coconut gives it a distinct flavor and absorbs some of the spices. Accompanying a meal, tender coconut water is served as a refreshing, nutritious thirst quencher. Fried, banana and jackfruit chips accompany a meal and are also eaten as snacks. A typical traditional Kerala feast called a ‘Sadhya’ is served on a banana leaf, is a sumptuous spread of rice and more than 14 vegetable dishes, and ends with a `payasam', a delicious sweet dessert cooked in milk.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Alleppey backwaters are part of the Kuttanad region of Kerala, Kuttanad is the rice granary of Kerala and is perhaps the only other region besides Holland where cultivation is carried out on land below sea  level.

A stretch of water going further into the heart of estuary. The lives of the people who live beside the backwaters is fascinating to view, governed as it is by the presence of water all around. Even today there are areas here where the waterways are the primary form of transport.
A typical houseboat on the Vembanad lake. Before the advent of motorized transport, these boats functioned as rice barges ferrying produce across the backwaters.

Alleppey backwater cruise

What is truly magical about a houseboat cruise along the backwaters is the breathtaking view of the pristine and otherwise inaccessible aspects of rural Kerala that it offers. The houseboats provide all the creature comforts of a good hotel including furnished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, a kitchen and even a balcony for angling. Meals are supplemented with fresh fish from the backwaters and cooked on board. You can also include other backwater experiences on a longer houseboat stay like stopping off at a wayside ‘Toddy’ shop to sample palm liquor most famous in Kerala, indulge in fishing for backwater fish, go for canoe excursions of the narrower backwater channels, visit coir making units or stop off to visit the many quaint churches and temples along the backwaters.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Set beside the Vembanad lake, the Kayaloram Heritage Lake Resort is a delightful little hideaway.  Enter through a garden filled with vividly colored butterflies and you are welcomed to a dozen cottages built in the vernacular architecture of Kerala that are set beside the swimming pool and line the waterfront. Palm trees with clumps of delicate orchids growing out of their trunks dot the manicured lawns. The cottages, equipped with modern amenities, are all traditional Kerala homes that have been translocated. The lake facing cottages are in great demand through the year and it is advisable to book well ahead of your planned trip.

Kayaloram - lakeside serendipity