It's not that only honeymooners stay at these cottages. Solo vacationers, too, will find heaven in these bubble cottages perched on high pillars with stairways spiralling from the ground. Backwaters lap around these lovely cottages and the setting is just perfect for anyone who just wants to switch off from the world.
This piece of paradise is a stone's throw from the very popular Bolgatty Palace, a mansion-turned-heritage hotel originally built by the Dutch in 1744. The view is spectacular from anywhere you look--so stay put in the room if you are feeling slothful or roam the beautiful grounds when in the mood for some exercise. Bolgatty Island is a five-minute boat ride from Kochi.
Now this again is something that all of Kochi swears by and the world is yet to discover. This neat little boutique is most of the city buys its household linen from and that too at very affordable prices. From sober whites to bright canary yellows, the Chakolas range, mostly cotton, is what you would like to do up your house with.
The smiling yet shy staff is only a glance away and always happy to help you make the right colour combinations. Dharmodayam Building, Shanmugam Road, Ernakulam; Tel: 235 2333, 237 1342
Kethel chicken fry
Walk into Rahmaniya Hotel, its fourth branch in Kerala, and ask for a plate of Kethel Chicken Fry, the signature dish. Spicy, bite-size pieces of chicken, crisp on the outside and juicy inside, these are perfect anytime eats. Served with ghee rice or chappatis, this much-ordered dish sets you palate of fire with its taste of red chillies and freshly crushed pepper.
The chicken offsets the blandness of the rice of the chappati. You may want to wash it down with sugary Naaranga Vellam (lemonade) or be prepared to leave the restaurant with tears (of joy) streaming down your face. Near Jawaharlal International Stadium, Kaloor; www.kethelschicken.com
Built more than 300 years ago for the Maharaja of Kochi, Chittoor Palace, only 45 minutes from the city, is still owned by his family. A golden pillared portico leads into gardens surrounded by elegant white buildings with red roofs, balconies and columns.
The two rooms--one double and one suite-are stately with teak pillars and tiled floors, and rosewood four-poster beds. The food is vegetarian and classically Keralan. You could spend a day in the garden's spring-fed pool or visit the Chittoor Temple next door. Take a boat ride from the palace's private jetty. Tel: (0484) 243 1380; www.thechittoorpalace.com
Locals like to call it the Broadway of Kochi. The theatre, inside the sprawling Choice School campus, has been recently renovated and hosts theatre festivals almost every month. From veterans Naseeruddin Shah to Anupam Kher, Rajat Kapoor to newbie Kalki Koechlin have all performed here.
It is also where Kochi comes for its fill of music--Kavita Krishnamurthi, Dr L. Subramaniam, Louis Banks, rock bands from across the country have held JTPAC audiences in thrall. Even if you don't know the programme line-up, just find your way to JTPAC on any weekend. You are unlikely to come away disappointed. Nadama East, Tripunithura.
Their Chicken Salad Roll has been the staple dinner for our family train journeys for at least a decade. At the helm of affairs of this bakery chain is Annamma Kottukapally whose love affair with baking started after marriage. It began with making birthday cakes for her children's birthdays and she went on to start Anns House of Sweets.
That's where our cakes, cookies, gateaux, sandwiches and other savouries come from. Anns has now expanded to include spices, breakfast cereals and delicious ready-to-cook mixes. Pioneer Tower, Marine Drive; www.annsindia.com
A biryani experience in Kochi is as essential as a dekko at its Jew Town. There are many contenders the 'best biryani in town' crown but let's not get into a scorecard situation. For a plate of good fish biryani, go to the Kadaloram restaurant at Hotel Abad Plaza. You will need wells of patience because the food takes forever to come. The chunks of lightly fried seer fish come on a bed of basmati rice. The biryani is moderately spicy with a garnishing of fried onions, cashewnuts and a generous sprinkling of cumin seeds. Tel: 238 1122; www.abadhotels.com
A young offshoot of the more popular Malabar House, Trinity is all about three suites. It's ideal for families or a group of friends. With coloured silk cushions on raised double beds, handmade linen and a good collection of contemporary Indian art, Trinity is likely to please anyone with good aesthetics.
Two of the suites have an extra bed on the mezzanine and the balconies overlook the Parade Ground. The breads and pastries, banana and coconut pancakes for breakfast are absolutely out of this world. If you want some finger-licking Syrian Christian fare, go to Malabar House. Tel: 221 6666; www.malabarhouse.com
Gifts R Us
Everyone buys spices and curios when in Kochi, not to forget the obvious kasavu sari. The lovers of knick-knacks, however, will love the terracotta selection at this small shop. The terracotta and wooden vases are dressed up with bamboo braids, and vary in size. The designs are a mix of the traditional and the modern.
They also have jumbo mugs and cups, which are just regular cups and mugs, and not to be taken seriously. A larger branch of this shop is in the Gold Souk mall in Ernakulam.On Chittoor Road, behind St Teresas College, Ernakulam.
Kochi: Susan Muthalaly
Outside Kochi: Gourmet & Wellness in North Malabar
Few people have explored Kerala beyond the backwaters and its spice plantations. For an interesting mix of cooking and wellness holidays, head to Kannur in North Malabar. Opt for a spot of ayurveda at Kairali Heritage located on the Kattampally river.
Alukkas (www.alukkas.com) is a good bet for chic and contemporary designs. If you want more places to look at, there are at least 50 more shops within a two-km radius around M.O. Road and Town Hall Road.