Last weekend I escaped increasingly hot and sticky Bombay for a late birthday weekend in Kerala. I had high expectations about the beautiful sunshine, delicious food, scenic backwaters and charming colonial architecture. All those expectations were exceeded, but what really struck me was the quality of life people enjoy here. It’s striking how few people are living on the streets, and how comfortable and secure the average home looks. The streets are cleaner than anywhere I’ve ever visited in India before and literacy is the highest in the country.
We spent our first night in Fort Cochin where we clambered over the iconic Chinese fishing nets, visited the colourful-kitsch Catholic Basilica, shopped for antiques (adding a wonderfully embellished Ravi Varma to my collection- more on these amazing pictures soon) and generally pottered about.
I thought the washed-out, sun-bleached colours at this ginger factory were incredibly beautiful!
Ever since I read Arundhati Roy’s remarkable novel ‘God of Small Things’ I have been intrigued by the political situation in Kerala. Speaking to local people didn’t leave me any the wiser- the general consensus seemed to be that the Communist and Congress party took it in turns! Still, I loved the carefully painted political manifestos- so much chicer than graffiti!
After Cochin we headed far from the crowds to Lake Vembanad where we stayed right on the shore of the lake in a very secluded boutique hotel owned by Malabar Escapes. It comes highly recommended! There are just two rooms in separate traditional buildings, the brilliant chef comes each afternoon to ask what you would like for dinner that evening, private yoga classes can be arranged at sunrise, there’s a nice pool for cooling off and the unspoilt location couldn’t be better!
Sitting on our verandah in my (rocking!) planter’s chair and watching the lake transform in the changing light, I felt like a very contented grandmother. In the best possible way…
The lake is at the heart of life here and when we set off on a boat across the lake and into the smaller channels we discovered thriving communities of both people and wildlife going about what seemed like pretty idyllic, albeit simple, lives.
Christianity is the biggest religion in Kerala and I loved the gaudy colours of this ebullient church we gently floated past…
South India also has an incredible tradition for beautifully ornate jewellery, and gold in particular, which inspires and informs several of Mawi’s designs. Including these wonderful pieces from the Punk Rajah Collection:
Mawi Punk Rajah- Tube and Spike Earrings £193
Mawi Punk Rajah- Double Claw Set Necklace with Onyx Gemstone £524
Mawi Punk Rajah Claw Set Crystal and Spike Necklace £386