Taj Bekal

Travel guide to Bekal

Bekal is a small coastal town in northern kerala just off Mangalore. The Bekal fort is best recognized as the fort where Arvind Swamy in that iconic white and blue T-shirt sings “Uyire” against the backdrop of crashing waves and it is all you can do to not run to the screen and hug and pacify him. It is still about Bekal that we’re talking about. We travelled to Bekal earlier this year after our customary visit to Mookambika temple. It is just off the border of Mangalore, about 4 hours from Kollur, Karnataka. It was late March and it was hot. We stayed at Taj Bekal which sits just off the beach and on the sides of a lovely stretch of backwaters. This place was so charming, so tastefully done, there was little reason to venture anywhere else. We stayed busy the whole time. We ate, sat, gazed, ate, laid down, sat, watched, fell asleep, ate, sat, watched … all day. We did this out on the grass by the backwater, on the swing bed in the patio, in the pool and on the beach. The green all around soothed my eyes. I couldn’t have enough of the coconut trees, the gentle flow of the backwater, the silence interrupted only by birds and my kids. I sat there drinking in the quiet relishing the delicious prospect of doing nothing the rest of the day. I wanted to hold on to it, take it back with me. The property has lovely touches of kerala all over the place. Kerala houseboats are called Kettuvallams. These Kettuvallam style bamboo awnings adorn every entrance, veranda and roof. Little statues of elephants with the most adorable little umbrella stand guard in front of every room bearing the room number. Striking Pillayar (Vinayagar/Ganesh) sculptures greet you at every turn. People were canoeing in the backwaters, getting Ayurvedic spa treatments, making friends with other guests, dressing up for meals and broadcasting real-time to their social circles. I slept. You can try your archery skills, play cricket or stand in the pool and order cappuccino. Women had shopped specifically for this holiday. They wore tie-around the neck swimsuits, one side sleeved swimsuits and sunglasses and walked into the pool to stand and chat. They ordered cappuccino and fries. I was wearing Saroja Devi’s swimsuit with the frills at the thigh. I took in a long deep breath,...

Travel Post – Vintage charm at Chidambaram and Tranquebar

I enjoy reminding Yuvan that school starts in just a few weeks, just about a week now. And that I am really excited that he will be starting full working days. It irritates him no end. He’d charge at me. Now he pretends he hasn’t heard. Although the beginning of the school year brings joy and an overwhelming respect for school teachers, I am also worried I may break the school’s record for late-coming, that Hasini may turn me in and the principal may punish me, make me stand in the verandah/on the bench,  for being the most incorrigible parent. I am too ingrained in the summer holiday routine now. We haven’t started on any of the holiday assignments. They whiled away the summer holidays, colouring, watching cartoons, playing at the beach, in the swimming pool, decoding everyone’s mobile pins and using up their data plans, hijacking the ice-cream vandi and not letting the lady move until somebody bought them ice-creams. I whiled away the holidays contented not to have to sit through homework time. We happened to go on a small vacation at the beginning of the holidays in April. We were going to a dear friend’s wedding in Chidambaram and we decided to turn it into a mini vacation. I’ve been waiting ever since to share some of that experience here with you guys. This is a photo-heavy post. Please be warned. I don’t know if you know that I am mad about antique stuff. Antique rosewood tables, grandpa clocks and typewriters make me weak in the knees. Dressers and Almirahs make me dizzy. Brass vessels, high ceilings and cane armchairs make me babble in joy. This particular vacation had most of these elements, which is why I thought I had to share. There is a small heritage bungalow just off Chidambaram called “Lakshmi Vilas Heritage hotel” that must have been some zamindar’s place long time ago. It has been beautifully converted into a heritage hotel complete with “Ammi kallu” (traditional grinding machine of Tamil Nadu) and Ural and Ulakku lining the corridors, the reception desk at the entrance set beside a large spacious thinnai, a wooden swing at the far end and a couple of employees stretched out beside it. The staff were all one family, really. The receptionist was a petite girl in her early twenties from the same locality. The security cum general helpers were...
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