Friday, February 20, 2015

By the lake

A version of this story is in the February issue of National Geographic Traveller India

As we drive through the gates of Anantya, my mobile phone buzzes indicating that it has no signal. And it stays signal-less for most of our three days at the resort. I wasn’t complaining though, for the holiday at Anantya was about getting some real downtime. 
The resort, which opened in 2013, is only a 90-minute drive from Thiruvananthapuram, but feels like it’s a world away. Situated in the midst of hundreds of acres of rubber plantations, Anantya is built on a patch of land that juts into the lake created by the Chittar dam, at the foothills of the Western Ghats. Once part of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, the region is now in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. It’s a charming amalgam of Tamil and Kerala influences, some of which are reflected in the resort’s mud-plastered walls, tiled roofs and woodwork.

Anantya’s heart is its open-plan restaurant and the adjoining infinity pool, both with spectacular views of the lake and the hills. Mealtimes were, in fact, one of the high points of our stay thanks to the very welcoming restaurant team and an eclectic menu that featured dishes like the sinfully rich, fiery Chicken Ghee Roast.

Patchy mobile phone signals and a few other quirks notwithstanding, the resort has many of the essentials of modern living; Wi-Fi and satellite television, for instance. And its spa has a range of ayurvedic therapies.

Activities on offer at the resort include a visit to a rubber plantation; bicycles to explore the resort’s winding pathways; facilities to play a bunch of sports; and a ‘games veranda’ with a view, an assortment of board games and a small library. The resort is also a good base for treks to the nearby hills and for day trips to the Padmanabhapuram Palace, Thirparappu waterfalls, Kanyakumari, the temples at Suchindram and Thiruvattar and the Chitharal Jain monuments.

We however, chose the easy life.  Our days were spent in our villa’s gazebo soaking up the view — the lake framed by the green of the rubber plantations and the hills beyond, a breeze ruffling the lake’s placid waters, darters fishing, dragonflies skittering across lily ponds, butterflies weaving through the lush vegetation. And luxuriating in the silence that we could almost touch, amplified by the thwack of an axe tearing through wood, the mewling of a prowling Brahminy kite and the distant drone of a vehicle engine. We just didn’t realise that time was passing by.

The Vitals

Anantya Travancore is in Kaliyal village, about 50km southeast of Thiruvananthapuram, in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. The nearest airport is the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (60km) and the nearest railway station is Marthandam (30km).
The resort has 21 villas across four categories — Chakra, Siddhi, Veda and Sadhana — varying in price from Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000 (excluding taxes) from October to March. While all villas have views of the lake, the Siddhi villas, with an outdoor shower and gazebo (especially villas 6,7 and 8), and the Sadhana villas, with private plunge pools, have stunning views of the lake and the mountains beyond.