Do you wish to wake up to the sweet songs of chirping birds or inhale the fresh morning air while enjoying the enchanting beauty of a village? If yes, then head straight to the Thalakottoor homestay, a magnificent naalukettu, built in the traditional architectural style of Kerala. The homestay draws visitors to the mesmerizing Perumbala, a village which is just 4 km away from Kasaragod.
The famed Thalakottoor mansion shares its name with the small hamlet which is close to Perumbala. It is said that Thalakottoor is the most beautiful part of Perumbala, where the lush green fields, flowing brook, and fertile soil beckon nature lovers to enjoy a stay here.
The beautiful kannanthali flowers spread a pleasant lavender hue along the mud paths. Dense hibiscus bushes and other flowering plants fill the air with a sweet smell. This traditional home is the perfect place to enjoy the goodness of a picturesque bucolic setting.
Thalakottoor home stay
The enchanting house, which is more than 90 years old, stands regally in a 4-acre plot. Its courtyards are full of lush green trees, plants, and flowering bushes which enhance the beauty of the atmosphere. ''It was originally a naalukettu (traditional home with inner courtyards).
Most of its parts were taken down as there weren't many people to stay in it. Poomukham (sit-out), north and south wings, store house, and a few other parts were retained. Since our children are all married and settled abroad, it's just me and my husband at home. I am mostly alone after he goes to work. That is how I began to think about turning this house into a home stay. I am interesting in cooking as well,'' says Syamala Nair, who owns and runs the homestay. Her husband K K Nair is a physician at a clinic in Kasaragod.
Three rooms named Thampuran, Thampuratti, and Chandragiri on the first storey are rented out for the guests. The cool breeze which comes in through the tall windows maintains a pleasant atmosphere inside the house even during blazing summers. The rooms are air-conditioned as most of the guests who check in at this home stay are foreigners. Modern, attached bathrooms are a latest addition. The shiny floor dabbed with red oxide, furniture adorned with intricate wooden carvings, and the long verandahs add to the majestic look of the home stay.
Delicious home cooked food is served for the guests using the ingredients which are grown organically in the courtyard. The organic vegetables freshly picked from the garden and the rice sourced from the beautiful fields nearby is used to prepare the traditional dishes. Syamala says that chicken, mutton, fish, onions and tomatoes which are required to cook non-vegetarian dishes are purchased from outside.
She is an expert in cooking the traditional cuisine of Kasargod. Syamala says, “It is I who prepare the food for the guests. The guests are welcomed in with a refreshing drink. It would vary from the sweet tender coconut water and raw mango drink to a juice made with seasonal fruits like the rose apple. We do not use artificial or flavoured drinks here.''
Syamala is very particular that clean and fresh food is served to her guests. Refrigerated food will not be served by re heating it. For breakfast, traditional dishes like puttu, appam, orotti and dosa are prepared. Fresh cow’s milk is served if children are in the group. It is also used for tea which enhances the flavour and texture of the beverage. Ilayada (rice patties cooked in banana leaf), pazham kaachiyathu (sweet banana dish) and kozhukkatta (steamed rice balls with coconut – jaggery filling) are served as snacks. If it is the season of jackfruit, then the guests can try out a unique dish called chakkamooda prepared by Syamala.
Lunch is an elaborate spread served elegantly on a banana leaf. Traditional dishes like thoran (stir fry) made with different vegetables, jack fruit seed – cucumber olan, mango perakku are introduced to the visitors. Chicken and fish dishes too are cooked for the guests. Syamala says that seasonal fruits like tender mango and wild lemons are pickled to serve on the banana leaf. The extravagant lunch is wrapped up with the payasam (dessert), garnished generously with cashews and raisins fried in ghee.
Once, a few guests from Japan asked Syamala to make the good old kanji (rice porridge) for them. Syamala says that they were extremely happy when she served them piping hot podiyari (broken rice) kanji with puzhukku (vegetables cooked in grated coconut and spices), upperi and papad. The guests were thrilled to eat kanji using the ‘natural’ spoon made with steamed banana leaf.
Syamala grills the sweet potatoes which are grown in her vegetable garden by brushing it with butter. Different types of cutlets and sweet dishes like caramelized pineapple or banana, sprinkled with cinnamon powder, are her specialities. The guests, who stay at the Thalakottor home stay, love the food that is served there and often hails Syamala’s cooking skills.
A dip at the pond here is refreshing and rejuvenating. Wandering about in the 4 acre plot which is full of trees and plants would help to make you calm and feel at peace. There are a variety of mango trees in the courtyard and the guests can have a taste of the papaya, guava, chikoo, rose apples and cashews that are grown here.
The fields get adorned in the crimson light of the setting sun. One can enjoy the sight of the birds, flying in flocks, against the evening sky. Fishing in the nearby rivulet and taking a refreshing dip in the pristine waters of it would be a thrilling experience for the adults and the children alike.
The mesmerizing Chandragiri River is just a kilometre away from here. Taking a stroll through the beautiful banks of the river, enjoying the nature around, would be a unique experience. The hanging bridge, Bakel fort, Anantapuri Lake and the hand loom weaves too aren’t far away. The home stay would arrange trekking trips as well. The guests can relax at the Ayurvedic spa which functions close to the home stay and Syamala would prepare special food for those who are on a medical diet.
“Fun games like uriyadi and local cricket game using coconut leaf stem are conducted to entertain the guests. When it is the season of Theyyam, we take them to watch the performances. During the months of February and March Theyyam performances are conducted at our house as a ritual. Rooms are booked in advance during that time and most of them would be foreigners. We also arrange oppana and kaikottikali if the guests request for a performance,” says Syamala.
Syamala says that they don’t market themselves much, and most of the visitors reach after being suggested by the trip advisor. She proudly adds that the Thalakottor home stay has been winning the trip advisor's award for the best home stay for the last three years.
Those who stay at the magnificent home stay, enjoying the beautiful rural life, are sure to cherish it for the rest of their lives.