ANTHRAPER GARDENS BACKWATER HOMESTAY
USP: Gaze at the backwaters while you enjoy traditional Kerala hospitality.
Warm hellos and infectious smiles greet you and make you feel instantly at home at Anthraper Gardens, a beautiful heritage home in Cherthala. Sprawling over two acres, surrounded by backwaters, lush gardens, and coconut trees, the house is steeped in history.
A dream of the late Alexander Anthraper, the last heir to the family estate, every corner of the house shows it is a labour of love. The Anthraper sisters — Omana Thomas, Mary Varghese, Shantha Mathew, Leela Jose and Rani Bachani — manage the homestay.
Built over a 100 years ago, the massive home offers its guests a fine blend of traditional hospitality and modern facilities.
After a brief tour of the area, I am shown my room. Elegantly decorated, the room is spacious and well-ventilated. The view of the backwaters, particularly from the huge verandah, adds to its charm. The grand matriarch, 86-year-old Thankamma Anthraper, takes great pride in looking after her guests. Hospitality comes naturally to the staff, most of whom have worked with the family for generations.
The cooks take special care to serve the guests. The menu is dominated by sea food. However, they happily oblige any special request. Delicacies such as meenum managayun curry and karimeen polichuthedu were something I couldn’t get enough of.
Not just a great place to unwind, you can also indulge in a number of actvities here. There’s a shuttle court set on the 6000-sq ft garden, sand jogging track, TV lounge and loads of indoor games. On request, arrangements are made for yoga, ayurvedic massages, canoe rides, fishing, sight-seeing etc. The massage is highly recommended. My fishing skills were a comic act, but I, nevertheless, enjoyed it. As for the canoe ride, it was a memorable way to take in the beauty of the sunset.
There are a number of churches and temples in Cherthala. Walk to Arthunkal church, popularly known as St. Sebastian’s. This church was set up by Portuguese missionaries. And, there is the Sree Krishna Temple in Ambalapuzha, which is worth visiting for its classic architecture.
But more than anything else, it is nice being with a family that treats you like an old friend. I am sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed the place as much if I had stayed in a swanky hotel or resort.
How to get there
Cherthala is a 45-minute drive from Cochin and 30 minutes from Alleppey.
The rates vary according to season. It ranges from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 6,000 for single rooms and Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 8,000 for double rooms.
Things to do
Ride a canoe on the backwaters, get a traditional Kerala massage, go fishing, sight-seeing, or head towards the beach.MAANASI RADHAKRISHNAN