The Lotus Cruise (1 Night)
Your cruise today covers about 25 kms of the Valiyaparamba backwater, a large inland lake several miles due east of The Hermitage. Depending on the time taken for visits en route, the journey lasts about 3 hours. It begins from Lotus Point, a small jetty about ten minutes drive south from Neeleshwar Hermitage, situated on the banks of the Tejaswini River that joins the backwaters after a long, slow descent from high above the tea and coffee plantations of the Coorg Hills.
Once you have boarded The Lotus and enjoyed a welcome drink from the staff, you will be taken to your room: either Sukhima (‘Happiness’) or Lalima (‘Beauty’) to relax and settle in. Not long after we leave the jetty a small cluster of colorful boats announces the Snake temple, dedicated to the fierce Goddess Badarkali, a delighted spot with bright carvings sacred to the local fishing community. The nearby fish-landing point attracts flocks of sea-birds that wheel and dip over the arrival of each fresh catch. These are the first of many that will accompany on your trip: black snake-necked cormorants perched on trees and posts in the water, imperiously elegant white Great Egrets, orange-breasted kingfishers with iridescent turquoise wings. As verdant islands appear ahead of us, we approach Valiyaparamba Village, a long strip of land between the backwater and the open sea. Here colored houses can be seen peeping through the dense fringe of coconut palms that lines the waterfront.
The backwater has four tides a day, so those who sail here need to know every yard of here shifting sandbanks, different depths of water and subtle changes of mood. The further south you go, the quieter the scene becomes; soon even the waterfront activity has died away and the only sound is the lapping of water or the occasional jumping of huge red snappers. Those of you who wish can fish for your own supper... Today’s cruise end with a guided visit to a small scale Women Khadi handloom industry, just 20 minutes walk from Edayilakkadu Jetty. It is a small factory being run by 12 local ladies.
Back to The Lotus for high tea and another 20 minutes cruising before we anchor in the middle of the lake for the night. Then you have time to relax on your elevated deck, watch the evening birds and fishing canoes return home for the night, and enjoy the sunset with a drink before a delicious dinner under the canopy of stars.
The day begins with Bed Tea served with flowers; you can take it out onto your own private verandah and watch the changing light as the day begins. Breakfast is served around 9, then we move south for another hour towards the softly rolling contours of the Ezhi Elimala range. Legend has it that on his journey back from the Himalayas bearing the life-saving herbs of Ayurveda, Lord Hanuman let fall part of the sacred mountains to make these seven hills. Next to the boat whole shoals of tiny fish leap together to form one shower of silver sparks; further away fishermen wade up to their shoulders setting their nets. On land, the occasional minaret rises up above the soporific sway of coconut palms.
After an hour or so we reach Kotti jetty, from where a three-kilometer auto-rickshaw ride takes us to the remarkable temple dedicated to Lord Subramanyam, second son of Shiva. The shrine dates from about 800 AD and is the living heart of Payyannur, a town famed all over India for its expertise in the sacred science of astrology. As well as the elegant building with its fine carvings in wood and brass you can see the daily ritual when the silver image of the deity is processed three times around the temple compound. Then, quench your thirst with chai from an open-air tea- shop by the temple before heading back to The Lotus.
Post that you disembark and continue your journey: southwards to Kannur (c.1 hour) or north back up to Neeleshwar.
A cruise covering approx 25 kms of the Valiyaparamba backwater over 2 days...