Monday, July 15, 2024

Neelambari Resort – Cultural Upbeat in Nature’s Retreat

When typical touristy experiences in the ‘God’s own country’ begin to seem ‘déjà vu’, and when you can’t help but feel ‘been there, done that’ with backwaters, beaches, forests and mountains; yet still crave for an unconventional vacay that could graciously serve the best of Kerala’s entrancing nature, culture and gourmet all on the same platter, then that’s when you should know that ‘Neelambari’ is calling with exactly that level of difference which you have been hoping for!

Easy to locate with GPS, be ready to surprise yourself, at about a 12KM diversion to the south of Thrissur town; in the bosky, rural, riverain turfs of ‘Arattupuzha’, where a claret-red colored eco-tourism resort managed by Mr. Sreeni & his wife Mrs. Meera, is ensconsed.

The vernacular style of construction fantastically shows off “tradition & aesthetics” at every nook and corner of this resort, which fetches an appeal to its façade and exteriors; that in turn presents a warm impression on all its guests!

Genuine efforts to incorporate the ABC(s) of Kerala’s rich architectural know-how combined with Vaastushastra (Vedic science of building layouts), are gracefully reflected all over the facility: right from the usage of local materials, wood carvings, long sloping tiled roofs, mural works, small stone sculpts and even to brick-house designing! 

On the one hand, where constituents of the structure such as Koothambalam {performing arts theatre} connected to the reception, and Nalukettu {courtyard} in the lounge-cum-dining section, with wooden window-frames made of curved, contoured & horizontal slats for ventilation {to let in natural light and breeze} exude an old-world charm; 

on the other hand, uncompromised amenities conforming to present-day comfort levels in the cottages i.e. air-conditioned rooms, new-age furnishings, extra-spacious bathrooms with modernistic bath accessories, ample porch area in front of the respective rooms, manicured gardens all around, and a tree-house in the play-zone for kids, totally win the hearts of people! 

Neelambari, which calls itself a premium boutique resort, undauntedly dwells upon the concept of ‘modern-traditional’ at every breath to attract its tourists. 

A curious traveler would wonder as to what he/she would do in such a place! 

Well, a wonderful miscellany of activities, especially curated while keeping in mind the needs of a discerning vacationer, solely to keep up beyond their expectations of an ‘experiential’ as well as a leisure holiday, is offered in the form of inclusive package-stays, or specifically arranged when hand-picked according to one’s own individual interests. 

Neelambari Resort , river Karuvannur
Arrattupuzha – river Karuvannur

As much as programs inside the premise are mostly about yogic rejuvenation, ayurvedic healing and immersing in Kerala’s famous art forms;

those that are planned outside very much revolve around appreciation of natural beauty, relaxation in the peaceful countryside and interactions with the localites. 

  • On that note, if you wish to nurture yourself indoors,
  • you can engage yourself in a mesmerizing Kathakali rendition and other classical performances like Koodiyattam & Mohiniattam in Koothambalam, for the focal point of bringing Neelambari into being, is to acquaint and entertain visitors with Kerala’s sui generis folklore, ideology, social mores and artistry    
  • participate in restorative yoga and meditation lessons conducted in the exclusive hall area above the theatre
  • request for a therapeutic spa/massage session from expert practitioners who effectively blend ancient medical treatments with modern curative tactics
  • simply unwind with a book on Kerala’s remarkable history available from their ‘mini-library’
  • attend a basic workshop to learn the nuances of Kerala’s mural paintings! 
  • Neelambari exhibits a great deal of enthusiasm in patronizing and popularizing this particular style of art, as is evident from the large mural paintings on the walls, in each of the cottage rooms, in the yoga hall and in the performance theatre, depicting scenes from Indian mythological tales such as Gajendra Moksham, and Sanskrit poems like Geeta Govindam etc.
  • If you are the kind who would rather venture outdoors, then
  • feel more than welcome to borrow a bike and pedal your way into the leafy & luxuriant farmsteads in the bucolic neighbourhood to explore banana plantations, coconut groves and paddy fields
  • go kayaking/canoeing on the line-of-life of Arrattupuzha – river Karuvannur (meandering through most of the village) within a stone’s throw from the resort; 
  • a navigable, picturesque and sparkling waterway that lends sublime panoramic views of the verdurous surroundings; an ideal way to observe how the creek quintessentially sustains local-life on its fertile banks! 
  • It is where you can completely drench yourself in the tranquility spesh during sunrise/sunset when rippling reflections of the sky, clouds, trees, boats & the sun on the clear water surface, make the entire twilight scene a bewitching sight to behold!
  • go on guided trekking trips to nearby rainforests and foothills; or go on village walks, get friendly with the villagers and learn a thing or two from them – perhaps pottery or fishing!
  • do not miss out on pleasant sightseeing escapades at short driving distances! 
  • All ecofreaks are sure to fall in love with the geographical diversities in the region like Athirapally waterfalls, Chimany wildlife sanctuary, Peechi reservoir, Chettuva mangroves, and Snehatheertham beach, all of which enfold spectacular vistas of the bounteous landscape!
  • revisit the past on a historical tour of palaces and museums nearby, along with a temple-hopping spree;
  • temples have significantly been the epicenters of cultural dissemination since ages; more so, Thrissur district in central Kerala being the cultural capital of the state, rigorously keeps alive their customs, rituals and associated festivities viz. Pooram & Onam, which are several centuries old – a vital disposition for the continuing survival of unique traditions in the state.

Important temples within easy reach are Arattupuzha Sastha Temple, Peruvanam Mahadev Temple, Vadakumnathan Temple & Guruvayur Temple (Thrissur).

Consider yourself to be extremely fortunate if you can make it to ‘Arattupuzha Pooram(around April/May), to witness one of the most elaborate celebrations, at the peak of its magnificence!

Also known as Devamela, it is administered by the hallowed Arattupuzha Temple which is supposedly as old as 3000 years! 

So no wonder, Pooram is considered as one of the oldest temple-festivals carried out in the Indian subcontinent; even deities from other temples of Thrissur are brought in here at this time.

What a euphoric conglomeration – procession of gold-caparisoned elephants, percussion of orchestral instruments, dazzling fireworks, dancers & artistes!! 

[ the highlight of staying at Neelambari during the fest is that elephants are allowed to enter and walk through the property by means of a special gate made in the backyard ]

The whole village faithfully gathers to play a part, in this decorative, colorful, week-long and lavish annual extravaganza!! So also people from far and near including foreign tourists are keen on visiting Arattupuzha during these festive days. 

All said and done, no travel episode is complete without gourmandizing on scrumptious indigenous meals! Food is an integral part-n-parcel of any culture, wherein humans develop distinctive cookery based on the resources available in their nature. 

At Neelambari, Mrs. Meera is the chef de cuisine who dishes-up thoroughly aromatic, delectable and healthy fares in her ethnic kitchen adjoining the Nalukettu that will tickle your taste-buds and linger in your memories evermore. 

She emphasizes on using earthern vessels for her preparations in order to accentuate the authenticity of Keralite flavors, often dictated by banana, red rice, coconut, tapioca and fish. 

Her menu always consists of mouth-watering delicacies like appam & kadala curry, idiyappam, puttu, pumpkin erissery, ethakka appam, ada pradhaman, moru curry and so many more!  

For a relatively new establishment, Neelambari, in no time has become central Kerala’s coveted destination, to host birthday parties, wedding functions, social gatherings & corporate meetings. It is also highly in demand for commercial/promotional shooting purposes {ads/movies}.

It is truly one-of-a-kind for not just standing as a recreational centre, but for standing out as a mini-township by itself! 

Kudos to Mr. Sreeni, who dared to dream of this awe-inspiring project, as the once laid back settlement of Arattupuzha has now gained prominence in the tourism circuits! 

He is an exemplary personality who in-spite of his elite educational qualifications and holding plum positions in his two-decade long industrial career, chose to return to his roots with a noble intention of wanting to contribute meaningfully to his native place.

His vision, ethics, discipline and determination have resulted into a “responsible & regenerative tourism” enterprise, for which he gains whole-hearted and unswerving support from his village community. 

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