Thursday, 20 August 2009
River Life in Kerala
The following is text copied from page 322 Rough Guides "Clean Breaks - 500 new ways to see the world" co-authored by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith.
"To really discover the heart of Kerala you need to leave the beach, jump off the houseboat or troop down from the hills to the banks of the River Nila, where a variety of traditional activities are on offer with The Blue Yonder. You could spend a day river-rafting with former smugglers, help out an elephant rehabilitation centre for admire the spectacular kicks and dives of Kalari payattu, Kerala;s traditional martial art. The Blue Yonder works with local artisans and communities to promote and preserve their culture; as such they encourage you to earn how to play Kerala musical instruments, visit villages along the river and watch traditional Kathakali(Theater) and mohiniyattam(dance).
The accommodation is also much more than just a place to lay your head0 it's integral part of the experience, especially if you opt for the homestay option with local families in preference to a stay at River Retreat, a former summer palace of the Maharaja of Cochin. You could stay with Praveen, retired early from the Merchant Navy to run a homey stay with his wife-they both also manage the local school. Or with the Namboodiris in their calms and elegant 200-year old home.
Pillars of their local rural community, the Namboodiris are well-travelled and erudite companions(he's a water engineer and expert on international development; she's an excellent guide to India's spiritual traditions.) you're free to wander round their beautiful, herb-filled garden and say hello to the resident - and cherished -cow. In the evening, you'll dine on delicious, home-grown vegetarian food while conversation drifts easily between the relevance of the Vedas to the adventures of the Namboodiri's daughter - India's first female elephant trainer - and her husband, a snake priest. "