Kerala Backwaters accommodation - Olavipe


More than 120 years old, Olavipe has been in Antony’s family for six generations. Having retired 10 years ago (he was once head of security in Rajiv Gandhi’s government) he returned home and with his wife Rema and brother Jacob now spends much of his time looking after house guests. They are the perfect hosts making visitors feel entirely at home and like an old friend staying as a house guest. They are attentive, but not intrusive.

Over tea or sundowners  on the verandah and meals around the dining table the Tharakan’s will entertain you with stories about the house, seek your opinion on politics and swop suggestions of favourite novels to read.  The food is traditional Keralan Syrian Christian with many of the ingredients fresh from the organic estate where the family commercially farms coconuts, rice, and prawns as well as fruit and vegetables for their own use.

The gracious, slightly ramshackle house has high ceilings, polished red-oxide floors and cool, dark rooms. A teak stair case leads to a long landing and eight simply furnished fan cooled rooms with en-suite shower room. A couple of them have old high beds (to let the air circulate underneath so that you stay cool on hot nights) and a step you’ll need to clamber up to. Across the courtyard are two more rooms which offer more privacy and are suitable for those who would struggle with the steep stairs in main house. The beds are firm, there are wooden shutters and blinds instead of windows and fans instead of air-conditioning but what Olavipe might lack in luxury and mod-cons it more than makes up for in character, atmosphere and great company. 

Come here to find the ‘real’ Kerala; walk around the farm, take a rowing boat on the Backwaters, stroll to the public dock, meet local fishermen and chat to students in the nearby village. Less than an hour’s drive south of Cochin Olavipe is a true home from home, Indian style.

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