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Catriona's journey through Southern India - Part 1: Northern Kerala

There is nothing more exciting than leaving a blustery and wet London and touching down 13 hours later in a gloriously hot India. Those initial steps off the aircraft onto the tarmac below make you want to run to the nearest swimming pool with a cool spritzer and to start your holiday in style (whilst those back in the UK are battling the weather with their soggy umbrellas!).

In March this year, I embarked on an Indian adventure and took my mother along for the ride. We explored northern Kerala, Karnataka and Goa, all in the beautiful south of the country, and we thoroughly enjoyed every second of this wonderful, albeit hectic, trip.

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Northern Kerala

Our journey started in Bekal, a small town around 2 to 3 hours south of Mangalore airport. Other than a small fort, the town itself doesn’t have a huge number of sites – however, a wonderful resort opened here in 2012, Vivanta by Taj Bekal, which is the perfect spot to relax and acclimatise. 

Vivanta Bekal 2
Our room was spacious, gorgeous and modern with a few traditional touches and a private plunge pool. The resort is a little oasis with lots of waterways and lush foliage throughout. We spent the evening in their beachside restaurant enjoying our first proper meal of the trip (Indian, of course!) before reluctantly leaving the following morning.

Bekal Kerala South India 3
Our spirits were soon lifted once we reached the stunning Neeleshwar Hermitage, only an hour away. This small resort with only 18 cottages overlooks the Arabian Sea and is a delightful place to kick back and relax – which is what we mainly did for two days.

Whilst we were here, we were lucky enough to visit a local village for Theyyam, a trance-ritual unique to Malabar and Hindu religion. Locals gather to watch as hereditary families act as the medium for descending deities who comes to earth to bless their devotees. It was the most amazing experience with a vibrant and exciting atmosphere full of dancing, acting, chanting and animal sacrifices. My mother and I were the only Westerners out of thousands of locals and were made guests of honour. We had front row seats and were blessed by the deities and given gifts of corn, coconut and bananas, wrapped in a banana leaf. We really did feel like we were part of the experience and were humbled by our time spent here.

Theyyam 3
After two nights of relaxation by the pool at Neeleshwar and some great spa treatments, we embarked into the next section of our trip, Karnataka – an underrated state with so many varied experiences, all within a manageable distance.

Neeleshwar Hermitage 5

Click here to read about the next leg in Catriona’s South India journey: Karnataka 

To start planning your own tailor-made journey to South India or North India, please get in touch with Catriona directly at catriona@ampersandtravel.com / 0207 819 9770 



I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India

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