The rains had given us the slip for most of our time in Alleppey, but the day we chose to drive to Cochin, the skies turned grey and a light drizzle cloaked the landscape in mist. We had spent a wonderful two days at Ramada Alleppey and now it was time to enjoy a quintessential resort holiday at Ramada Resort Cochin.
And while we did see the quintessential Chinese fishing nets and Kochi’s backwaters, we also discovered new things to do in and around Kerala’s scenic capital. Read on for more.
Lakeside cottages and pool
It was my second time in Cochin but my first in one of a row of stilt cottages that curved along an impossibly long lagoon overlooking the Vembanad Lake. Inside, the cottages featured everything that five star rooms do and a balcony that offered a wonderful view of the pool and the shimmering lake beyond.
The only eyesore was an upcoming building on the other side of the lake but that’s the price of development. Swimming at sundown and floating along the canal instilled a deep sense of serenity in our travel-loving souls. Of course, we also created a racket playing with the beach balls (bring a Frisbee too if you own one!).
Wining and dining
The Ramada brand is known to cater extremely well to guests’ culinary demands and this resort was no different. Fennel is their multi-cuisine restaurant and we enjoyed excellent lunches and dinners here, consisting of authentic Kerala cuisine (such as avial and appams) as well as other Indian delicacies. A live band and magician kept us entertained on many of those occasions.
Pearl Spot is known for its seafood but we being vegetarians, posed a challenge to the chef. And he more than rose to the occasion. While the pineapple rasam and numerous paneer and mushroom-based dishes bowled us over, the winner of our meal there was the unimaginably delicious coconut pannacotta with its numerous textures and real coconut water jelly nestled within the layers of creamy pannacotta. We also enjoyed great Mexican cuisine at The Mexicana.
Club 11 Hundred is their bar with lots of character and signature cocktails that pack a punch, not to mention great starters.
On our first day in Cochin, we were too late for the city tour (but you can read more about Cochin here) but there was no way we were going to skip shopping for spices. Fort Kochi’s spice markets are THE best and you’ll find the largest cardamom pods, supremely fragrant cloves, special varieties of black pepper and cinnamon and the most flavourful tea masala, not to mention various flavours of tea itself. While there are many inside Jew town, we found our treasures in a little shop near St. Francis Church, which is the first European church built in India.
Kathakali show at Cochin Cultural Centre
From evening until night, we sank back in our seats and allowed ourselves to be enraptured by the performers on stage at the Cochin Cultural Centre. An educative session on the various expressions, gestures and sounds used in Kathakali, the signature performance art of Kerala, was followed by the actual thing, accompanied by live music by a vocalist and instrumentalist. Before the performance, we had also been lucky enough to see the artists getting into their fearsome on-stage avatars. The Kathakali performance re-enacted a scene from the Mahabharata where Lakshmana has an altercation with Surpanakha.
This was followed by a kuchipudi dance performance by a young danseuse and an electrifying display of kalaripayattu, the artistic martial art form famous in Kerala by several sinewy youngsters. The audience consisted predominantly of foreigners who seemed quite impressed by it all. At the end of the show, we took pictures with the talented performers, as did many others in the audience.
Kodanad Elephant Training Centre
We were up at 5 AM on our second day in Cochin but sleep was but a small sacrifice for the morning splendours of Kodanad Elephant Training Centre. The centre opens at 8 AM but we were there by 7:30 AM on that rainy morning and spent half an hour looking for a loo and the ticket vendor.
At 8, we were allowed inside and our walking trail through the forest on the Southern banks of the Periyar River began. Signboards led us to the area where the elephants were being held.
We were early enough to see them being fed in their enclosures and it was most glorious to see two tusked elephants waving their heads while a caretaker filled their buckets. Further ahead, we spotted two deer enclosures holding sambhar and chital deer respectively.
We also spotted clusters of red sandalwood and other plants and trees in the orchards. The centre is a 90 minute drive away from Ramada Resort Cochin and a great way to get closer to nature. It is open until 5 PM on weekdays (we aren’t sure of weekends).
We’d already tried abhyangam, the full body massage that’s the most popular option among Ayurvedic treatments at Ramada Alleppey. So we decided to be more adventurous this time – Ankita went for a Kizhi treatment, which is done using herbal pouches, and Mohit tried shirodhara, the nervous system soother done by dripping oil on the forehead. Both our treatments were uniquely relaxing and rejuvenating. The herbs in the Kizhi treatment had a wonderful odour that almost smelt edible! The pouch contained curative fried fresh herbs, rock salt and Ayurvedic powders.
Mohit had a hard time washing off the litres of oil that had been poured on his forehead but the deep sleep he went into after the treatment made him feel like a new person. Whatever the treatment, it always includes a head and face massage as well. Milk is added to the oil used on the head, while Eladi oil is used for the face. For the body, the therapists use Dhanvatantaram or pinda tailam with karpuradi (camphor). But the best touch in our opinion, is the rasnadi powder they rub on the hair after the treatments to prevent cold and fever due to excess oil.
Speed boat ride
We’ve saved the best of this trip for the very last – if there’s one reason why you should go to Cochin and stay at Ramada Resort Cochin, it’s their speedboats. It’s the most hair-raising experience you can have in the backwaters, whizzing past fishermen, beneath bridges and fishing nets with the water working up a storm in your wake and the wind whipping through your hair.
The boats are very stable so you can stand and enjoy a 360 degree view of the Vembanad Lake as your boatman navigates expertly. The rides last for 30-45min and ours was the final one before sunset. Look out for a video of the ride on our Youtube channel soon and subscribe so you don’t miss out!
If you wish to experience the impeccable service and hospitality of Ramada Resort Cochin, click here. And sign up for a Wyndham Rewards membership to enjoy free nights in exchange for your reward points.