— Text and photos by Anindita Paul
Homestays are my preferred option when travelling with kids. In most cases, homestays make for great options to stay close to nature and is among the best ways to understand the local people or soak in local flavours. While looking for homestay options in Kannur, we came across the Amban Heritage.
The Kerala-style cottage won us over with its tiled roofs and pillared veranda as we first set eyes upon it. Amban Heritage is actually a renovated double-storeyed residence. The original owners still stay in a section of the house while the rest of the house is now open to guests. Amban has a living room and one bedroom with an attached bath on the ground floor. The kitchen and the dining room are also located at the ground floor. The first floor of the residence houses three more bedrooms for guests.
[Also Read: Here’s Why I Want To Keep Going Back To Kerala]
As we sat sipping on tea in the open area, I wondered how we have forgotten this little luxury that was clearly a daily affair for the occupants of this house, all those years ago. It is here that our host told us that the house was almost a 100 years old. It had been built by her great grandmother and passed on the generations.
One the parts that I absolutely loved was the big garden area in front of the central sitting area. One can sit here and chat while the children play in the open space in front. The kids wanted to spend all their time in the homestay as they could be in the open, something they completely lack in our apartment style living.
The house is well-maintained and has retained the old world charm along with all modern facilities.
The present owners have made a way to blend in the heritage aesthetic well using old copper vessels into the décor of rooms.
When I think back now, the first thing that comes to mind about Amban is the food. How they pampered our tastebuds! Of the three days of our stay, every breakfast and dinner had a different menu. We started getting into the habit of discussing and guessing what would be served in the next meal. We had lunch outside when we visited the different places in and around Kannur. There’s so much to see from the St. Angelo’s Fort to the Chera Beach.
The homestay has an excellent cook who took all the time to prepare the traditional Malabar cuisine. Even evening snacks were not made in a hurry. We got to taste Ela Ada (riceflour pancakes with sweet coconut filling) for the first time. We did not have much idea about Malabar cuisine but loved every bit of it. Our host realized quite quickly that we are seafood-loving people and served us mackerels, squids crabs and more. We could not stop ourselves from taking second and third helpings!
While the cook had a supply of Maggi for kids, it never came to that. The food was moderately spiced keeping the children in mind, and our children enjoyed the food as much as we did. They liked it to the extent that they even disagreed to have dinner outside Amban once we were getting late from the Parassini Kaduva Temple.
Food was prepared hot and served warm. But even warmer was the hospitality at Amban. Though food was kept ready at the table and we were too happy to serve ourselves, our hosts would graciously be present in the dining room during meals, engaged in conversation with us about the food. After all, it is Indian hospitality you see.
Though the flooring and much of the interiors have been changed to keep pace with modern lifestyle, some old wooden windows still stand strong to give us a glimpse of old architecture.
Our hosts took the children and me around to show the different plants in their garden. Let me take you around for the same.
We were seven people in all including the kids. So the whole house was actually left to us. The bedrooms, though a bit small, did not pose much of a problem for us. After all, we retreated to the bedrooms only to fall asleep. The two cars were easily accommodated in the driveway. We did not find time to indulge in watching television and didn’t even realise the absence of WI-FI. We spent most of our time chatting and relaxing in the open area outside. It made for the perfect digital detox.
About the homestay:
Amban Heritage is in the Kannur district of Kerala ,In the place called Mathanur. The Kannur district in north Kerala is about 310 kms from Bengaluru. It takes roughly 7 to 8 hours for a leisurely drive to the place (considering the Makkoottam Churan Ghat that comes on the way).
The route-Bangalore-Mysore-Virajpeta road-Makkoottam Churan Ghat-Koottupuzha bridge-Irrity-Kannur.
One can find many hotels and refreshments at Irrity, ATMs and a hospital is also available there. There are not many eateries after one takes the deviation from the Mysore road to the Virajpeat road.
The railway station at Kannur is also well connected to all parts of India. The nearest airports are at Calicut and Mangalore, while the new airport coming up at Kannur is expected to begin commercial operations in mid-2017. Kannur is on national highway 66 between Kozhikode and Mangalore.