|'Thekkanat Parayil’, nestles in a very green and
unspoilt corner of rural Kerala. Set in the middle of a working farm, it
is a house of openness and light, serenaded by birds, shaded by ancient
trees and lulled by gentle breeze from the backwaters. The house has
four large airy bedrooms for guests - including a wheel chair friendly
one. The rooms need no air-conditioning. The bathrooms attached to the
bedrooms offer both cold and warm water options.
||Breakfast, lunch and dinner are with the family and
other guests around the family dining table. Food here is mostly
traditional Kerala cuisine - with the produce from the farm, village and
the bounty of the lagoon. The area offers scenic village lanes for
walks, quiet nooks for the avid reader and calm stretches of water to
tempt you to oars. You can watch birds, go fishing or just laze and be
|The farm is organic with a mix of the traditional and
not-so-traditional. The produce and livestock ranges from coconuts,
vanilla, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, areca nut, flowers, vegetables,
fruits, prawns, fish, cows and goats, to the newest inmates-emus! Over
the past five years, countless world travelers have come to Olavipe,
stayed at ‘Thekkanatt Parayil’ and experienced the Olavipe magic. They
have left behind pleasant memories of their stay, dreams of distant
lands and a sparkle in the eyes of the villagers.
||The host family lives in a private wing of the house
and is always in residence. Your hosts at Olavipe Homestay are Parayil
Kochupappu Antony Tharakan and his wife Rema.The house has had a mini
zoo - an ancestor loved animals - with bears and parakeets and dogs
beyond count. It has seen numerous weddings and births,games of table
tennis, cricket, football, and thousands of pretend games played by
generation after generation of children on the white sands of the 'mittam'
(the front and back yards of the house). The dining table is long and
stretches on, to hold all the food for a family hungry after a day's
work and play. Fish in a hundred different avatars,duck, vegetables and
poultry raised and grown within the Thekkanat grounds, all cooked to
perfection, to satiate the appetite of a truly 'foodie' family.
|The palm leaves rustle and keep you company while you
laugh. The waters twinkle in merriment. The golden' lion guards' raise
an amused eyebrow and turn the other way leaving you to enjoy your mirth
undisturbed. Warm feelings of family and its intricate ties surround you
and include you not as an outsider but as one of its own. Welcome to
Olavipe the gift of the waves, and Thekkanatt Parayil, the ancestral
house of the Parayil Tharakans. A house used to laughter echoing through
its tiled passages - through one, into the other - till at last the
sound is set free into the wild and carried on by the waves and the
birds. Welcome to the happy house. The Parayils have lived in this house
for more than a century.
||The house and its laid back guardians, the stone
lions, would have some stories to tell us if they could speak. But as
things are, they are content to bask some more in the sun each day and
keep an indulgent eye on the family, keeping their sense of serenity at
the changes and modernizations each generation has brought in. There are
so many things to do here (if you feel up to it in a day interspersed
with so many meals!) There's table tennis, basketball, football,
cricket, boating, tree climbing, fishing… and if you are bored with all
these 'usual' things to do, you can always dream up new things, sitting
on the sun- warmed 'kulir kallu'.
Long, long ago, in God's own country, Kerala, a small island emerged
from the depths of the Kaithappuzha backwaters. There was lots of
sunshine, lots of rain, lots of green and lots of breeze. So the natives
called it 'Olavipe'- 'gift of the waves', in the local language. Down
the centuries, many people from far and near came looking for the fabled
spices of Kerala. The Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and the
British – they all came to 'Gods own country' and left their footprints
on the Malabar Coast. Through it all, time stood still at Olavipe- a
village of smiling faces, shimmering waters, wide open blue skies,
gentle breeze, birdsong and green of every hue imaginable… Olavipe
remains the quintessential idyllic Kerala village.
||Parayil Family and 'Thekkanatt' house
Olavipe is also home to this branch of the 'Parayil Tharakans', a
land-owning Syrian Catholic family. Research into the history of the
clan is ongoing. Traced records take us back 250 years. The 13 known
generations include a Marquis, two Grand Chevaliers, three members of
Kerala Legislative Assembly, several senior government officials and
social leaders who have left their mark on the fabric of their times.
Parayil Varkey Varkey Tharakan (1826-1892) sent his eldest son across
the waters of the Koppai Kayal to start yet another home of the Parayil
clan at Olavipe. Towards the end of 19th century, the son Parayil Varkey
Mathu Tharakan (1851-1919), commissioned this graceful mansion -
|The house took nearly 13 years to be built. This was
probably because all the construction material had to be ferried across
the Kaithappuzha backwaters in large rice boats. His young son brought
in influences of other architectural styles he admired. The house
conceived on the lines of traditional Kerala tharavads of the period,
took on the high ceiling and arches from other styles. Work on the house
was finally rushed to a conclusion, to bring his new born grandson –
Kochupappu - to the new home. After Varkey Mathu’s times, the house
passed on to his son Parayil Mathu Avira Tharakan (1881-1922).
||This ancestor died young and the mantle fell on the
young shoulders of his only son – the teenaged Parayil Avira Kochupappu
Tharakan (1903 -1959)Kochupappu gave up his studies and came home to
take on the care of his mother, sisters and the land. He married
Kallivayalil Abraham Rose in 1925 and brought his bride home to
Thekkanatt. In time, it was here that they brought up their 12 children.
These were very turbulent times. Sweeping land reforms of the nineteen
fifties saw all the 8 sons of the house step into the new world order
and take up careers in different parts of the world. The present
incumbent, Parayil Kochupappu Jacob Tharakan is the sixth son of the
house. His career years were spent in London, Moscow and the Middle East
before he opted to return to roots. He then decided to open this
beautiful, serene home to the more discerning traveler. This aspect of
the house was named the ‘Olavipe Homestay’ to focus attention on this
charming little corner of the world.
|Things to do
Take a village walk and make new friends as you go along!
Take a bicycle tour of the villages nearby.
Fish in the farm canals - ‘village style’. See local fishermen cast
their swirling nets in the backwaters.
Watch coconut harvesting every 45th day. Summon a willing ‘guru’ to
teach you the art of climbing a coconut tree!
Help with the feeding of prawns during the season.
Family boatman can take you for a slow boat ride through the
Kaithappuzha backwaters – idyllic!
Visit the market nearby and shop for village products. The local tailor
can be persuaded to run up something for you
||Spend time around the farm. It is home to a wide
variety of flora and fauna. There are goats, cows, rabbits, ducks,
chicken and emus.
Browse through the Family Archives - a treasure-trove of old family
documents, letters, photographs and rare documents highlighting Kerala's
social fabric of the last two centuries.
The estate’s lagoon is safe, even for the novice, to row a canoe and
feel the serenity of the waters.
|The house is equipped for table tennis and various
indoor board games. You might even be invited to join a village cricket
match in progress.
The house has a well-stocked library for all ages.
Relax on the 'Kulir Kallu' (cooling stone) at one end of the house with
a book, laze on a hammock - or just revel in the
pleasure of doing nothing!
||Other inviting possibilities:
From Olavipe, you can take a day trip to Fort Cochin and saunter through
the historical area or shop for antiques.
Ernakulam, the commercial capital of Kerala, is an hour’s drive from
Take a day cruise on a houseboat from Alapuzha. The drive takes about an
Kumarakom, the well-known tourist destination and bird sanctuary is
A nearby village has a traditional Ayurvedic practitioner. Consult him
for Ayurvedic treatment or ask for an Ayurvedic massage.
|Tariff (Valid till March 31,
|Rs 10000 per night for double occupancy including
Single occupancy will be Rs 6000 including all meals.
Additional beds / person in the same room will be charged at Rs 4000
Rs 14000 per night for Triple room including all meals.