Driving in the rolling hills of rubber plantation, Mr. Mohan took me away from the humdrum of city life. My eyes were set on the tall trees and green canopy of rubber trees while Mr. Mohan kept checking on me whenever he had to apply the break suddenly, to see if I am okay? I rolled down the window of the car, let my hair lose and feel the breeze on my face. There was a permanent smile, which sat on my lips; an affirmation for Mr. Mohan that I am living in the moment. As I lay my tired eyes on the cool blue color of Chittar Lake, Mr. Mohan pointed out Anantya on the other side of the lake. And I took a deep breath seeing the spectacular view!
My abode at Anantya amidst the nature
At the confluence of Western and Eastern Coastal plains, and the meeting point of three seas Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean; lays the divine land which is known as the abode of Gods and Goddesses. Thousands of devotees come from different parts of the country to pay their offerings to virgin Goddess after whom the city was named Kanya Kumari (virgin girl), which is one among the 51 Shakti Peeths in India.
I was excited and set to see the lap of mother nature nestled in the foothills of Western Ghats after driving along the coasts of Tamilnadu. During my conversations with Lakshmi who is the owner of property, she explained how Anantya shaped up and paved the way for the tourists to allow them to experience a thousand acre rubber plantation : Vaikundum Estate, which was earlier only accessible to a few good men. While the British came to Southern India for spices, they also enabled flourishing of businesses related to plants and tea and rubber were their favorites. In 1911, Captain Thomas Patrik Madden Alexander, a Scot from The Imperial Army of the Queen of England settled himself here and started the plantation on these lands, which originally belonged to the Travancore kingdom. The Plantation was purchased by an Indian family from the British and is now operated by the third generation of the same family. The youngest members of the family conceived and built Anantya as a way to showcase their childhood summer home to other travelers.
Lakshmy Ashok at Vaikundum Plantation Tapping of rubber trees
The culture and ambiance of estates are very different when seen through the eyes of a layman and Mr. Anil, the plantation manager. He guided me to the rubber factory and showed how the process of tapping works to make the latex. Knowing how important rubber is to our lives; I gained so many great insights about the nitty-gritty of how and where the rubber products which we use daily come from. We drove in the hills to cover some of the hills in plantation and spotted the natural pools and exotic birds. He mentioned there are almost 86 species of birds who make their home here in different seasons, while I also kept enjoying the musical symphony that the birds were composing.
Rubber sheets inside the factory
Anantya – Where tradition and Modernity meets
A piece of untouched land of the plantation has now been converted into an abode in the midst of nature and it consists of 21 individual villas known as – Sadhna, Siddhi, Veda and Chakra to they allow you to indulge in the luxury of the place. The villas are carefully decorated with modern amenities and yet take you back to the bygone era of Kerala houses made by handmade tiles on sloping roofs. The villas are made to cater to a guest’s comfort, but more importantly, made keeping privacy in mind. So I had a home for myself, which had an open area to perform Yoga in the morning or enjoy the open Jacuzzi in the mid-day without any issue of privacy.
The morning reflaction at my Villa Veda For the lazy souls Infinite pool at Anantya
There is a lot you can enjoy and do at Anantya; you may book an individual Yoga class for yourself or get an Ayurveda massage or treatment. The infinite pool has a stunning view which is to die for; and there are enough books to explore and read for a lazy day. But in my humble opinion, the best thing to do here is to not do anything and enjoy the breeze, the clean air and peace at Anantya, which is hard to find in today’s city life. However, I couldn’t stop myself to enjoy an extended bubble bath in the open Jacuzzi area while reading William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives on my Kindle. Another recommendation is to take a holistic Ayurveda treatment of Panchkarma, performed under the surveillance of in-house doctor with a special meal plans.
Blissful evenings at Anantya Recreation center at Anantya
Swaad- The taste of authentic food
My eternal love for South India and its cuisine keeps bringing me back to this divine part of the country again and again. Being a die-hard fan of coconut based recipes, Anantya’s restaurant Swaad stood by its name to me and served the most authentic traditional food. While picking the brains of Mr. Senthil, head chef of Anantya, I asked for the secrets of ‘swaad’ behind the cuisine and we brought the ingredients out of the kitchen and decoded the process of making different Malayalam recipes. These recipes together take the shape of sadhya, the wholesome Kerala meal which is usually served at weddings and festivals. Betroot Kicchadi and Avial are some of my favorite recipes and one of the motivations to be a vegetarian one-day; till that happens, I would enjoy the delicious Malabar fish curries with Parotha.
Learning at art of cooking
Seek the blessing of divine energy- Thiruvattar Temple
Just a few kilometers drive away from Anantya; the greatest and probably the fist ever temple resides; almost four thousand years old as per the various resources. The temple is surrounded on three sides by rivers (Kothai, Parali and Thamirabarani). Paraliyar river takes a turn (called Vattur in Tamil) in this place and that’s how temple got is name Thiruvattar. The temple idol Perumal was said to be built by Parshuram with16008 Salagrama stones; and that’s how the temple gets its name Thiruvattar.
Carvings at mandapam Epic stories are carved on the roof Murals fading away on the temple walls
This is the ‘longest’ idol among all the Vishnu Dhams and measures 22 feet, the replica of this temple is in Trivandrum and is of 18 feet and faces opposite direction towards east; while this one faces west. Vishnu lying in Yoga Mudra and thinking about the creation of Universe is an idol which can move one’s heart with its beauty and finishing which is supposed to be done by a mixture of Ayurveda plants. The wooden craving on the temple and murals on the walls contain stories from the greatest epics and probably the secrets to divine knowledge. I was lucky to get an access to the inner mandapam and see the deity from very close; which turned out to be an unforgettable experience.
Apart from this , one can visit the Jain temple and Suchendram temple as well.
Experience the pristine forests and its inhabitants
As you drive a few kilometers away from Anantya and cross the border and enter Kerala; there is a whole new world to explore which is untouched and far from the reach of tourists. Anantya arranges the trip to Kottoor Kappukadu Elephant Rehabilitation Centre where one can closely interact with elephants. Also, these forests are home to Kani tribes, who are known for their singing therapy and also their skills of finding the medicinal plants from deep in the jungle. During my interaction with a younger Kani who is involved in social work; I got to know about their medicinal practices and also the various attempts to keep their traditions alive.
They are enormously cute Open Deer Park
How to reach Anantya: Anantya is reachable from Trivandrum, which has both airport and railway station; or Nagercoil, which is another bigger city close by and has a railway station. Let go of all your worries as you step here, the staff is jovial and extremely caring.