Kerala, also known as "God's Own
Country" is one of the most popular tourism destinations
in India. It's tropical climate, beautiful palm-fringed
beaches with pristine stretches of sand, the serenity of
the backwaters and the clear blue Arabian Sea, make Kerala
one of the most beautiful destinations in India.
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Kerala > Hotels in
Kumarakom > Philip Kutty's Farm
welcomed, looked after, and cared for by the family (wife
Anu, mother Aniamma, son Philip and myself - Vinod). Though
the family hosts you, your privacy is assured as the three
waterfront villas are entirely independent and away from the
The first villa designed by Karl Damscen, a Swiss architect,
is a traditionally styled, antique filled, open plan affair,
with sufficient space for a couple and an extra bed if need
be. The other two villas designed by Thomas Dominic, are the
same in style and deco, but with separate bedroom, living
room and ‘sit-out’ facing the peaceful waterfront.
All this is set on a beautiful small farm island which was
actually reclaimed from the backwaters (Vembanad Lake) in
the early 1950’s by my grandfather. The working farm, which
practices sustainable / organic methods of farming, is two
metres below the lake level and has coconut, toddy, nutmeg,
banana, cocoa and pepper cultivation not to forget the jumbo
prawn (scampi) and karimeen (pearlspot) found in some of the
farm canals. Though accessible by road (up to the opposite
bank), it is the ‘vallam’ (countryboat) that will finally
take you across.
All said, this is an excellent opportunity to reside with a
family and share a Keralan way of life in serene and
peaceful surroundings; complemented with warm hospitality
and traditional homecooked food; excellent comfort and
hygiene standards; a village and rural life experience; and,
above all, an interaction to cherish and enhance your
Surely, one among the great places to stay.
The farm is located on a small farm island (approx-750
acres) in the backwaters / Vembanad Lake next to Kumarakom
within the Vechoor village limits. The farm is about 50
acres (owned by the family and some relatives) and is the
largest farm on the island. The island is a reclaimed
property which was made in the early 1950’s by my
grandfather. It was my father, the late Philipkutty, who
undertook further development on the farm by bringing in a
system of inter-crop farming. The island is called
Puthankayal (‘Puthan’ means new) as it was the last island
to have been reclaimed in the backwater region for
Being a reclaimed property typical of the Kuttanad or
backwater region, the farm is approx 2 mts. below the lake
level. The retaining dyke around the perimeter of the island
keeps the lake water from entering the farm. Being below the
lake level, all the rain water is pumped out especially
during the monsoon season by using an electric motor and
pump. This is critical to the existence of the farm.
The farm is made up of ridges and canals, with all the
planting done on the ridges. The canals are used for natural
fish culture. Karimeen (Pearl spot) and fresh water jumbo
prawns (scampi) are grown naturally in some of the canals.
The major crops on the farm are coconut, toddy tapping,
nutmeg, cocoa, banana, pepper and many other fruits,
vegetables and spices. The farm also has a few cows, geese,
ducks and hens. We are members of the Vechoor Cow Trust and
are doing our small part in the conservation of Vechoor cows
by having one on the farm. We hope to take up a few more.
Currently we have started planting vanilla also. The
reclaimed island has also helped Vechoor Village to develop.
It has given land to the people, plenty of employment, free
grass for cows and plenty of free fuel.
The farm was a ‘modern’ farm when it started, but in the
last 10 years we have been systematically cutting down on
chemicals and relying more on organic and natural farming
methods. Today we have successfully cut down by 75 to 80%
all chemical inputs.At present the farm employs sustainable
and organic methods of farming and we believe that in the
coming years we will be a 100% organic farm..
All the three villas are spacious, independent and
located on the outer dyke facing the peaceful
backwaters. The villas are named ‘Chempakam’,
‘Mandharam’ and ‘Ashokam’ after popular local flower
plants / trees. The first villa ‘Chempakam’, designed by
Swiss architect Karl Damscen is an open plan affair. The
other two, ‘Mandharam’ and ‘Ashokam’, designed by Thomas
Dominic from Kochi, have a separate living room, bedroom
villas are filled with antiques, including some beautifully
carved and crafted doors and windows, which were
meticulously collected over a period of time. There is no
air-conditioning, no telephone and no TV in any of the
villas. TV and telephones are available at our residence,
should the need arise.
There is a well stocked refrigerated mini bar and an
electric kettle in each room. The three villas are well
furnished with two large single beds, wardrobe, cupboard,
writing table and chair, settees and chairs in the
‘sit-out’. Not to forget the clean, dry and spacious modern
bathroom in each villa. Extra beds are available if needed,
and there is also a generator to backup the electricity in
case of any power failure. All windows are netted to check
the entry of insects.
There are plenty of doors and windows in each villa (18
windows and 8 doors) which open on to the farm, garden and
backwaters, allowing for excellent circulation of fresh
breeze and fascinating views from within. This is in keeping
with the tradition of typical backwater bungalows. The idea
was to make each villa an integral part of the surroundings
so that by living in one you are not cut off.
The floor is finished in rustic clay tiles and the ceiling
in wood. There is also a small verandah finished in
traditional red-oxide which runs around each villa.
To complement the villas, there is a beautiful thatched
pavilion on stilts, overlooking the farm with views of the
backwaters. The pavilion opens on to a small, neat courtyard
under an old mango tree. Just the kind of setting for the
lavish home cooked meals and interaction.
In designing the villas, we kept in mind all the traditional
features, and also the fact that we were designing a house
and not a ‘hotel’ room.
When all this is combined with the traditional, homely
hospitality, you cannot be faulted if you think that it is
your second home.
sunset cruise every evening on a vallam (country boat) out
in the open backwaters. The sights, breeze, sounds and
smell of the late evenings are indeed very soothing. If
you are lucky you can also catch the moonrise.
canal cruise through the narrow and winding canals on a
vallam or motor boat and catch a glimpse of the unique
watchers the backwaters and the farm offer ample
opportunities for sighting kingfishers, woodpeckers,
egrets, cormorants, herons, crowpheasants, snakebirds,
Ask for a
cooking class from mum and learn the nuances of the local
Do a farm
walk with any of us and learn about farming below lake
level as well as the different crops cultivated. Do check
out toddy tapping.
around the island along the outer dyke. This may take a
little under 3 hours and covers a distance of
approximately 8 kms. You could also walk in the village
and the market, across in the mainland.
wider sightseeing and exploration trip of the countryside
on a bicycle. A sketch of the region can be provided and
you get to enjoy the coconut groves, paddy fields, canals
and villages that blend into each other. Most of the roads
in the mainland are flat with little or no gradient.
adventurous try swimming in the backwaters in front of the
Ayurvedic Centre opposite the property for consultation.
Try out rejuvenating massages to proper Ayurvedic
treatments for various ailments spread over weeks if need
fishing (rods available), or, if you are lucky, check out
if you can spike scampi at night.
St. Mary’s parish church at Vechoor. This is an old church
with a history dating back to over 500 yrs.
local temples which are in plenty, the Vaikom Siva temple
being the biggest and most famous of the lot.
Visit a very old Nair Tharavad
(household) - ‘The Kaimals’. The
household has a history of over 400 yrs- their old wooden
house being a testimony of this. The family temple, the
old palm leaf manuscripts, the temple art of ‘kalam’
drawing (for which only natural and organic pigments are
used) and the tallest Snake God statue are the other
hundreds of fireflies in the farm at night. You might just
mistake them for the stars.
property also offers an ideal setting and is inspiring for
serious writers and artists.
you are the kind who wants to just relax and cool off, sit
on the verandah or under the trees and dream or observe
the passing backwater life or catch up with your reading.
You could also star gaze into the clear pollution free
you could engage the family members and just chat about
anything and everything.