I was always fascinated by the name “God’s own country”, as Kerala is known, and had decided to visit the state long ago. I have been there in the past long back, but the place can get you so hooked that I was looking for a chance to return. I had some very fond memories of Allepey and the beautiful backwaters and the large lakes. The boat ride we took in the mild drizzles on monsoon happening intermittently was forever etched in my memory. The vast stretches of rice fields on the backdrop felt absolutely surreal. I really wanted to experience it atleast once more.
This time I was going on a trip to Kochi and wanted to quickly get a glimpse of Alleppey. We went to Allepey just for a day at the end of our trip. As it turned out, it wasn’t a very pleasant trip. I was sad to see that the once-famous Alleppey (or Allapuza) for its beauty was now not the same. It was way different from how I remembered it. I saw the main lake around, and it was not a good sight. Due to the increased tourism and unhealthy cleaning practices, the lake didn’t look good at all. It was covered much with domestic refuse and seaweed. It surely must be affecting the tourism industry there but surprisingly the locals and the houseboat operators didn’t seem to be doing enough about the issue. We were thankful that we didn’t budget more than a day at Allepey.
I had even considered living in a houseboat in Alleppey but that has become too mainstream and commercial. Eventually, there’s nothing much to do when you board the boat.
Also, the houseboats in Allepey are not allowed to sail at night and all the boats are anchored until morning.
So, I skipped any plans of staying in the houseboat at Alleppey.
Fortunately, as I always try to keep my travel plans away from super-crowded main tourist places, to spend some peaceful time on this trip, I was looking for a quiet place near Alleppey instead of staying in Allepey. I discovered this resort called Kondai Lip and it looked exactly like what I was looking for.
Kondai Lip is a backwater heritage resort which is about 100km far from Alleppey. It is located at Cherthala, which is about the midway distance if you’re going from Kochi to Alleppey along the Highway.
#TravelTip: You have to take a left on the Highway from an obscure location and there are no signboards so make sure to call up the hotel for directions.
When we landed up at Kondai Lip I was happy to see that I had made the right choice!
My experience in Kondai Lip
There were a string of cottages that resembled the homes of the state dotting a large lake. My cottage was right in front of this artificial lake created to resemble the distant backwaters which were also visible. The place is lush green with the vast rice fields visible on the horizon, and I was glad that I chose this place for my stay.
The resort is surrounded by some sort of artificial lake. So you have to wait for the boatman to arrive and take you to the main resort in a small boat or kayak. A very cheeky but fun way to greet new arrivals.
The most amazing part of staying here was the mornings.
My room was facing east. On the first day, when I opened the door, I witnessed a sunrise like I’d never seen before. It was a breathtaking view of the clear golden sun rising above the vast paddy fields and coconut trees and nothing else. If I could, I’d visit the place again just for this killer view!
Dishes I tried
The resort has its own multi-cuisine restaurant Oottusala and I had some yummy traditional dishes. I was wondering what would I have for the first day of my breakfast, but I tried their traditional breakfast which was Puttu and Kadala curry. I don’t like coconut gravies much, but these dishes were tasty, and I enjoyed having it.
I also got to cherish Sadhya, which is a king-sized dish consisting of a variety of meals, curries and is multi-coursed. I had never seen such a huge dish and wondered if I would be able to finish it in the first place. For dessert, I had payasam. Athashri tried prawn theeyal with rice, which is a coconut-based curry, Kerala fish fry, and Kondai special prawns. As she said, all of them tasted just so good!
Things to do at Kondai Lip:
The resort is in a very remote and isolated location. So it is hard to go out and there is nothing much outside for long distances. Fortunately, there are a few fun activities you can do at the resort which won’t make you feel bored at least for a 3-4 days stay.
1. Bird watching:
Since the place is so serene and green, it makes a home for a variety of birds and I loved seeing the colourful species chirp around the cottages. I saw many different birds which are mostly not seen in the busy crowded countryside. Most of the times they were seen during the early mornings and I used to wake up early especially to have the beautiful sight.
Even other than Kondai Lip, there are other places and resort in the area which provide special bird-watching tours.
At the resort, they provide you with fishing rods and you can try your luck to catch a fish in the lake. Doing it for the first time, it is actually quite fun. I wasn’t so lucky but Athashri was persistent trying different tactics to attract the fish. Finally after about 20 minutes of trying she got lucky enough and caught a sizeable fish.
When we gave the fish to the chef, he agreed to make us a special dish out of it and serve us during dinner. That day Athashri got to eat one of the tastiest fishes and she seemed super happy! Not sure if it was the fish or the fact that she had caught it. But that pretty much made her day!
There are several boat and canoes at the lake. You can pick one anytime and take a ride in the lake. I enjoyed canoeing in a small wooden boat in the canal which the resort is surrounded by. Paddling the boat and exploring the nature around felt so good and it was once in a lifetime experience! It was quite peaceful around when I went for canoeing in the morning. I didn’t know that canoeing can be so much fun!
Apart from this, I think there are several other small games you can play at the resort. I saw a Badminton net somewhere but we didn’t really go for any of them.
Kondai Lip is certainly one of the better places to stay around Alleppey and I would definitely recommend you visit the place if you ever visit Kerala. However, there are similar places like Alleppey that are as serene, peaceful, beautiful and less crowded in case you wish to experience them.
Alternative places to Alleppey
If you’re like me and would like to spend quiet peaceful time away for crowded places, here are some nearby alternatives to Alleppey where you can also get to experience the beautiful countryside of Kerala.
In case you’re looking for a place surrounded by backwaters, Kollam is the perfect town to stay at. It is surrounded by tranquil and serene backwaters and Ashtamudi Lake which makes the place so beautiful and makes for such a peaceful stay. You can stay at a resort and also enjoy the luxurious houseboat rides that the place offers.
If you’re a beach person, Kovalam is a very good option. The place is surrounded by 3 beaches amongst which the Lighthouse beach is the largest and most popular. You can stay in a resort and have a luxurious vacation with some of the most beautiful views of the sea. Kovalam is a beautiful place to visit if you wish to stay away from the crowd and have a good peaceful stay.
Varkala is a small coastal town in the Trivandrum district of Kerala. The Varkala Cliff and Varkala Beach are amongst the best places to visit in Kerala. The place is lush green and makes for the perfect place to stay if you’re looking forward to staying away from the crowded city.
Known as the tourist village of Kerala, Kumarakom is in the Kottayam district of Kerala and is a place where you can relax to your best. The beautiful landscapes and lagoons around are a perfect treat to your eyes along with the variety of bird species flying around. You can stay at resorts that offer beautiful views or rent a houseboat and stay at one if you wish to. Kumarakom is so peaceful and serene that you’ll have some of the best days of your life by staying away from the chaos of the crowd.
Kannur is yet another paradise if you’re someone who is obsessed with beaches. Payyambalam Beach is amongst the most famous beaches in the state and is a must-visit place in case you’re travelling to Kannur. The village side is so peaceful to stay at that you’ll not feel like going away from it. It also has so many fascinating resorts to stay at if you’re looking forward to peace and fascinating views.
Staying in Kondai Lip was one of the best decisions, staying away from the ruckus of people. I feel sad that Alleppey is not the same as it used to be before due to the increasing tourism, but the places around are still as beautiful and serene. You can also visit these alternate places like Alleppey, and you’ll have a similar experience. I’m looking forward to exploring them soon since I loved my stay in Kondai Lip and can’t wait to travel back to the state!