Chittoor Kottaram: Fairytale Setting
So you’ve kissed many a frog–chewed on lightly sautéed frogs-legs too as a believer of modern-day fairy tales–and eventually stumbled upon Prince Charming. You’re now planning to perhaps clang away in a vintage car, walk hand-in-hand into a rose-hued sunset, or charge off on a white steed to a happily ever after. Before that, live that romantic fairytale a little longer–the regal way–at Chittoor Kottaram, a royal rest-a-while tucked away amidst a glorious verdure.
Fringed by the bewitching backwaters of Kerala, this charming heritage villa masquerading as a palace (kottaram) was built for Rajah Rama Varma of Cochin sometime in the 14th century. Forced to move his royal seat following an invasion, and much pained at having to remove himself away from the revered Guruvayur Temple in his erstwhile kingdom, he proceeded to build the Chittoorappan Temple in the quietude of Cheranelloor, a hamlet just off Kochi. The ‘kottaram’ a short distance away came soon after and is today a delightful getaway. It calls itself a single-key hotel – in essence, you will have the run of the place, as no other guests may check-in simultaneously.
Reached by a private approach canal bobbing with hyacinth and water lilies, the elegant, many-colonnaded mansion, with its red, aged-tile roof, wrap-around veranda lined with burnished wood windows, and expansive lawns shrouded in palm fronds, lends itself ever-so-beautifully to that solitude you have desperately sought since the merry wedding! Replete with painstakingly restored balustrades and staircases, tiled floors and wooden ceilings, rattan furniture and quality furnishings, the elegant simplicity that Chittoor Kottaram exudes is a quiet reflection of ostentation-shunning royalty of yore.
Yet, luxury is all around you, teasing your very senses at every bare-foot step, every intimate turn. In the gentle boat ride that glides you to the personal jetty. In the sweet-smelling welcome of a jasmine garland; in the palm-frond umbrella held aloft. In the personal retinue of three, four if you count the boatman. In their gentle deference to role-playing guests – they address, serve, and treat you as they would their former Thampuran (king) and Thampuratti (queen).
In the traditional meal, sadya, served on a banana leaf; in the silverware. In the hibiscus-dressed coffee service during the sunset cruise. In the divine blessings the temple priests invoke in person using age-old musical instruments. In the narcissistic swagger the floor-standing vintage mirror reflects as you walk past, even.
What more can one say? Other than – your kingdom awaits!
This post has earlier appeared as a recommendation for a honeymoon destination at Merry Weddings, a popular resource for all things wedding-y. I’d like to underscore here that this place is equally worthy for small families (it has but three bedrooms), discerning travel buddies, young couples, solitude seekers and those looking for quality experiental travel.