WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT IF I TOLD YOU THERE IS A PART OF KERALA that has it all: pristine, uncrowded beaches, looming mountains shrouded in mist, not to mention serene, unpolluted and traffic jam-free backwaters? I wouldn’t have believed it either, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.
For travellers, the far north of Kerala has always been a bit of an unchartered territory, although, of course, it is home to millions of people. I had been aching to visit for well over a decade but, somehow, plans kept fizzling out. Then, suddenly, it all fell into place. I flew into the brand-new Kannur airport with my friend Altaf Chapri, who runs one of the most exclusive beach resorts in this part of the country (his hospitality empire stretches, quite literally, from Kashmir to Kerala). But, before our bums hit the beach, we had a loftier rendezvous to make.
LIFE IN THE High lane
It was a wild and dreamy drive deep into the folds of Wayanad, past coffee bushes in heady, aromatic bloom, towering teak and rubber plantations, neatly manicured tea estates, bustling, little towns—and those legendary hairpin bends…
There were culinary temptations at every turn too. I finally gave in to a sublime Mutta (egg) curry and parotta combo at a clean, well-appointed teashop, which are ubiquitous in these parts (clean ones, I mean). The tea could be politely described as ‘strong’—that’s how they like it here. If I’d known what sumptuous fare awaited me at our destination, I would have held out, god’s-own-country promise.
The 200-acre estate where we were headed had a discreet entrance and our driver—who, in another lifetime, used to set his passengers’ hearts racing on wadi-bashing rounds in Dubai—would have missed it, had he not been familiar with it. But we were in safe hands (down to the state government-mandated speed regulator and panic button for tourist cabs).
As we stepped out and walked in—there was a nip in the air—it felt like entering another world, a world where old-growth trees and verdure held sway. The Mangalam Carp Estate was set up in the 1800s by Colin Auley Mackenzie, a pioneer planter of the era. He was also one of the founders of the Ooty Club, and his old bungalow at the estate is the centrepiece of Pepper Trail, as this boutique hospitality venture is called. In 1932, the estate was purchased by P. Balram Kurup, a pioneer in the cultivation of rare spices and aromatic plants as well as the extraction of essential oils. The area is a major producer of eucalyptus oil to this day. Thanks to his vision, the plantation has an impressive bio-diversity of plant species.
Pepper Trail is run by his grandson, Anand Jayan, ever the attentive, genial host (seeing my dusty, travel-fatigued visage, he promptly organised an al fresco massage session for me). A tad shy, get him talking and you will find he’s a mine of information on Wayanad. The package comes with a sardonic sense of humour, which makes him excellent dinner company.
Meals are multi-course affairs, and the food authentic, local fare. Pepper Trail will remain permanently etched in my memory as the place where I discovered baby mango pickle. Over dinner, Anand opened up. All he had ever wanted to do is travel the world— he still gets away whenever he can—but life had other plans for him clearly. Pepper Trail is his labour of love and he keeps chiselling away at it, being the perfectionist he is.
A ritual form of dance worship—featuring dramatic face painting and costumes—theyyam is popular in Kerala and Karnataka. In Kerala, it is performed in the northern districts of kasargod, kannur and parts of Wayanad and Kozhikode (basically, the area which used to be the kolathunadu kingdom). If you travel to north Kerala between october and April, don’t miss a performance. over the course of the dance, the performer slowly transforms into the particular deity the theyyam is for.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
THE HILLS HAVE Sighs
This hideaway may just have everything we want in a calming hill staycation
PINK CITY'S NEW JEWEL LEELA PALACE
The recently launched palace property joins The Leela Group’s iconic hotels in Delhi and Udaipur to cater to leisure travellers sojourning through the popular tourist circuit.
North Kerala often gets overshadowed by its popular southern sibling. And that’s actually a blessing in disguise.
KWATI Sprouted Lentil Soup
This lentil soup is made by sprouting mixed beans for a few days. this dish is consumed during the monsoons on the day of janai Purnima; considered very healthy, it is eaten with rice. vegetarians can omit the mutton bones
PRANNAY PATHAK went café-hopping in paragliding hotspot Bir, and found the billing justified
Bheemunipatnam, 40km from Visakhapatnam airport, 25km from the city » Just 28 elegant rooms
50 Best Restaurants Asia
The ‘Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021’ list, now in its ninth edition, was announced on march 25 this year
A Day In Kyoto
NITIN CHAUDHARY remembers a pleasant day out in Japan’s old capital, in a time when such trips were still possible
HERE, THERE, NOW & SOON
On Food and Travel
I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED myself a foodie. Over the years of travel across Europe, I have gotten by with whatever I have come across, which being a vegetarian has at times been only bread and cheese. Food was not a priority and I spent the least amount of time searching for the specialities that a place had to offer. Now I wonder though if I was missing something in my travels.
A Roadmap Out Of Pandemic, The Kerala Way
When India was just waking up to the news of COVID-19, Kerala was ready to tackle it. Here is a look at how they got through the first wave and what is in store for the newly elected government
5 राज्यों के दिलचस्प चुनाव नतीजे नहीं चला ब्रांड मोदी
साल 2021 में कोरोना महामारी के बीच हुए 5 राज्यों में विधानसभा चुनावों के नतीजे बेहद ही दिलचस्प हैं. अगर आंकड़ों को देखें तो तमिलनाडु, केरल और पश्चिम बंगाल में भाजपा को शिकस्त मिली है, लेकिन असम और पुदुचेरी में उस ने सरकार बना ली है.
केरल में कल दस्तक देगा मानसून
भारतीय मौसम विभाग (आईएमडी) ने मंगलवार को दोहराया कि दक्षिण पश्चिम मानसून केरल में तीन जून को दस्तक देगा और अब इसमें किसी तरह की कोई देरी नहीं होगी।
पिनराई के नए सिपहसालार
केरल में जब वाम लोकतांत्रिक मोर्चे (एलडीएफ) ने 40 साल से चली आ रही परंपरा तोड़ते हुए लगातार दूसरा कार्यकाल जीता और वह भी भारी बहुमत से जीता, तो विपक्ष सहित लगभग हर कोई यह मानता था कि 'कैप्टन' पिनराई विजयन के पक्ष में लहर की वजह से ऐसा हुआ.
महाराष्ट्र, केरल.. इन राज्यों में बढ़ा लॉकडाउन दिल्ली और एमपी में अनलॉक शुरू
केरल, महाराष्ट्र, गोवा, तमिलनाडु, पुदुचेरी... ये उन कुछ राज्यों के नाम हैं जिन्होंने कोविड-19 लॉकडाउन को जारी रहने का फैसला कयिा है।
THE WORLD IS ONE Canvas
The pandemic may have brought India’s favourite biennale to a screeching halt, but nothing could stop Bose Krishnamachari from putting together Lokame Tharavadu, the ambitious art show featuring 267 artists and one timely message, writes Nidhi Gupta
पिनराई विजयन ने दूसरी बार मुख्यमंत्री के रूप में शपथ ली,मंत्रिमंडल में 20 मंत्री
केरल में छह अप्रैल को हुए विधानसभा चुनाव में वाम लोकतांत्रिक मोर्चा (एलडीएफ) को एक बार फिर जीत दिलाने वाले वरिष्ठ माकपा नेता पिनराई विजयन ने बृहस्पतिवार को लगातार दूसरे कार्यकाल के लिए केरल के मुख्यमंत्री के रूप में 20 मंत्रियों के साथ शपथ ली।
The Bonhomie Of Nenmara Vallangi Vela
The season beckons to rejoice in the festive spirit and soak in the beautiful milieu of colors, fireworks, light, and art forms for a mesmerising and unforgettable experience.
Kerala in need of more oxygen, CM tells PM
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written another letter in a week to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his help to make more liquid medical oxygen available for his state.
क्या वाकई केरल ने लौटाई एक लाख रेमडेसिविर ?
कोरोना वायरस से निपटने के लिए अपनी प्रबंधन क्षमता को लेकर तारीफें बटोर चुकी केरल सरकार ने इस्तेमाल में नहीं लाई गईं रेमडेसिविर की एक लाख डोज केंद्र सरकार को वापस लौटा दी है। सूत्रों ने बुधवार को यह जानकारी दी। हालांकि आधिकारिक रूप से पूछे जाने पर राज्य के मुख्य सचिव विश्वास मेहता ने ऐसी किसी जानकारी से अभिज्ञता जताई।