Nandhini Sundar visits an eco-resort built chiefly by using salvaged materials
It is a spread of 22 acres of lush green by the seaside, dotted with enchanting wooden cottages that take you back in time, each nestling amidst thick greens while affording a spectacular view of the ocean.
Niraamaya Surya Samudra in Kovalam is an eco-resort housing over 30 heritage cottages that have been salvaged from demolition sites, transported and carefully reconstructed to recreate an old world era amidst the charming environs of greenery and the sea.
Conceptualised way back in the early eighties by German Professor Klaus who happened to see it while on a trip to Chennai on a teaching assignment, the resort is built chiefly by using salvaged materials while greenery and openness pervades even into the bath spaces.
Thus, features like a banyan tree resting in a large open bathroom that also houses a water body, a massage and meditation space along with an open-to-sky shower, are some of the arresting characteristics of the resort, lending the experience of living unhindered in nature’s lap.
The cottages display wooden walls and clay-tiled roofs with the interior ceiling incorporating wood rafters and attic space reminiscent of a bygone era. Salvaged quaint doors and windows open out to old world verandahs where antique wired wooden reclining seats allow you to repose while the eyes feast on the ceaseless waves washing the shores. Antique four-poster beds rest in harmony with the predominantly wooden interiors that also house antique chests and tables to complement the red oxide and timber floors.
Giving a taste of what lies within are the exteriors of these cottages, the wooden walls displaying subtle carving and deft placement of timber planks that speak of ingenuity in design while the brass etchings on the carved doors serve as an opening to a forgotten time and space.
Besides two charming restaurants by the sea, the resort also incorporates an infinity pool that visually blends with the sea. The presence of Kerala architecture as well as culture is also evident in the multiple elements dotting the resort. The Uruli, Vanchi overflowing with coconuts, Kalvilakku, Yaali, the multiple stone Ganeshas resting beneath the abounding coconut trees, all proclaim loudly their residence on Kerala soil.
Says Architects Gayathri Shetty of Gayathri and Namith Architects who refurbished the interiors of the cottages besides reorganising the exteriors of the resort, “We had to take special care to ensure the traditional flavours of the resort were not altered but only enhanced when we refurbished the interiors and exteriors.”
Even the charming reception that was given a subtle modern twist to the traditional sensibilities was thus carefully done to ensure the traditional inclinations came up strongly while the gentle modern leanings merely proved as interesting accents.