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Philpkutty's Farm, Kumarakom

Staying at Philipkutty’s Farm is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the real Keralan experience in a fascinating location, with a caring family to look after you. It is a special place, as it provides something different, especially for those who prefer small and friendly places, and, could just be, the perfect hideaway for the bespoke traveller.

You are 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 waterfront villas are entirely independent and away from the family residence. 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 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.

Staying with the family is an unforgettable experience with fond memories to take back. As hosts, we reside on the property full time, and hence, our personalised attention is assured. All guests at Philipkutty’s Farm are welcomed and cared for by the family. We are fully involved and would gladly take you around the farm or the many places of interest or just sit and chat with you. You are also welcome to share in our interests - mum enjoys cooking and I do paintings as a hobby. All this is without compromising your privacy. The family takes a lot of interest in personalising your stay, depending upon your interest. We are always there to make your holiday another memorable experience.

We strive to give our guests the undiluted real Kerala with exposure to the Keralan way of life of a Kuttanadan (backwater) family. The interaction with the family is also an educative experience for the guests on issues like farming, cuisine and culture. Along with the fond memories they carry back, most guests when they leave are also better informed.

The farm is located on a small farm (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). 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 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 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 villas are spacious, independent and located on the outer dyke facing the peaceful backwaters. The villas are named after popular local flower plants / trees and birds. The first villa designed by Swiss architect Karl Damscen is an open plan affair. The other villas designed by Thomas Dominic from Kochi, have a separate living room, bedroom and ‘sit-out’.

The 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 refrigerator and an electric kettle in each room. The 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.

Food is definitely one of the highlights of staying at Philipkuttys farm. The cuisine is mostly local and cooked by my skilful mother. Being a traditional agrarian household, lavish meals are more or less the norm and pretty much a way of life. All meals are included in the price. Meals are served either in the family dining room or outdoors in the courtyard or in the pavilion itself. Self catering facilities are minimal, with only an electric kettle and refrigerated mini-bar. The whole family, or, atleast some of us will definitely join with you for all the meals. We are glad to cater for any special diets if needed and also provide for vegetarian options too. In fact all meals are discussed with the guests. We also cater for lunch parties for non resident guests but only on a prior arrangement basis.

We also offer cooking classes for resident guests who are interested in learning the local cuisine. The cuisine is predominantly Syrian Christian with a strong backwater influence. Most of the dishes served are centred around fish, farm vegetables and fruits, duck, chicken and occasionally other meats, supplemented with rice and rice based local breads like appam, string hoppers etc. Some of our specialities are karimeen (pearlspot fish) fry, fish molee, prawn and scampi preparations, duck roast and curry, and red hot Kerala fish curry to name a few. For the adventurous, drinking Toddy (it is the fermented sap of the coconut tree- a kind of country liquor) is a must. Desserts are usually puddings, fresh fruits and some local treats.

Though India is famous for Ayurveda, it is Kerala that is in the forefront. Ayurveda today is almost synonymous with Kerala. Kerala has a special type of Ayurvedic treatment. Though the texts of lessons studied are the same, the system of treatment is entirely different and far more effective as well. These special Kerala treatments include Pizhichil (oil bath), Ilakizhi (leaf bundle massage), Navarakizhi (rice bundle massage) etc. which are widely and effectively used in the treatment of illnesses such as arthritis, paralysis, spinal problems, back pain, gastric ulcers, etc. Or, you could also choose to have only rejuvenating massages for general well being. Hence you could use the opportunity of staying at our property to enjoy the benefits of Ayurveda. There is an Ayurvedic centre just across the property on the mainland. The centre has a qualified doctor and trained hands to help out. The centre is a small and simple place and does not have the trappings of a spa or resort. Though the centre is basic, appropriate facilities and an authentic treatment is assured. The centre can be reached in 10 minutes from the property by taking the ferry. This will be provided at no additional cost.



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