Your question got here just in time! Leading Bollywood cinematographer Sachin Krishn spent a weekend at ANANTYA RESORTS in Tamil Nadu. Reading his review, we said to ourselves, “It doesn’t get more filmy, fun and fab than this!” By the time this story ends, I bet you would be reaching for the phone to make a reservation at Anantaya.
Five kilometres off the Trivandrum-Kanyakumari highway, and we are beginning to get restless. Forget the smooth, lush road to El Dorado that would lead us to the southernmost tip of the subcontinent and then on to the resort where waters from three oceans join…this potholed nightmare is getting more and more akin to the surface of the moon.
“Anantya Resort, Anantya resort…!” I ask a wizened, geriatric local who stares vacantly at me with his fading eyes. No response. Nada. Zilch.Three more kilometres down, and the heart begins to sink. The terrain is getting more and more desolate, bumpy, cut off. The last rays of the fast sinking winter sun are a metaphor for my heart at that precise point.
“Anantya Resort, uncle…ANANTYA RESORT….! CHITTAR LAKE…!,’ I plead one last time before I decide to throw in the towel and turn back. This time, after processing my desperate plea in his head for a pregnant half minute…this angel of mercy raises his hand..and points his gnarled finger slowly in a particular direction; like Steve Bucknor playing third umpire. “You mean…there…?!,” I ask, choking with emotion. This is how Dharmender must have felt during his Yaadon ki Baraat reunion moments. “Faarsht righttaa…then ooorr kilomettraa…”’ the grainy voice professes. The lungi clad figure recedes, the car moves on, I turn back and am sure I see a halo behind his head.
I crane my neck out of the window to witness the emergence of the almost mythical destination, first hand. And sure enough… within minutes, the weary eyes are treated to a blink-and-miss board by the narrow, tree-lined road that reads…”Anantya Resorts…Infinite Experiences.” The mood in the chilled Innova is suddenly upbeat. The driver sits up, the wife straightens up, I close my eyes with relief.
One step down the car and on to the gravel path before the Thai-villa style reception, and we are suddenly barraged by a bevy of Hawaiian-shirt-clad staff…front office manager, bell boys, et al. I’m still trying to get over the fact that I have managed to find this tucked away resort.
Know before you Go: The resort is in Kanyakumari district, not in the city proper. The city is around 55 kilometres away. It’s a comfortable day trip, loaded with sights to see and savour en route.
The beaming staff does not let us take even our water bottles ourselves. As the friendly front office manager leads us to our villa, the reality of where I am begins to slowly sink in. The resort is a sprawling vista of countless rubber trees, tall, firm, dark…that whisper to each other conspiratorially as the soft wind caresses their branches. Somewhere amidst these rubber trees are clusters of rooms, villas, and restaurants that make up the resort. It is a full moon night, and the aesthetically subdued, soft, warm lights all around the endless acres do little to destroy the intensity and magic of that pale yellow light from the sky above.
The staff leads us to one of the 21 villas on the property. Ours is going to be a Veda Villa, complete with its private garden, a little lily pool by a gazebo that overlooks an endless sheet of glass reflecting the scattered clouds of this magical full moon night. The glass, I realise, is the still waters of the sprawling Chittar Lake. Majestic. Silent. Deep. Just like me, I say to myself, tongue firmly in cheek. But the connect has already happened. So much so that I stand frozen at the villa door, gaping at the lake before me. Upon being goaded softly by the bell boy to enter the room, I come to, and take a step inside the ‘room’ which could well ingest the whole of my Mumbai apartment, as well as half that of my neighbour.
This room in the middle of nowhere is replete with luxuries…two split air cons, coffee maker, mini bar… heck…even a private jacuzzi outside the loo that overlooks the lake. What next..! There I was, just about 15 minutes back, preparing to head to the fields with a Bisleri bottle in hand if I did not find my destination in the next half hour, and here I am…deciding whether to jump into the jacuzzi, or occupy the inviting, disinfected throne and begin the download.
Size is one thing. This room has good vibes. And that matters to me the most. “Yes, I’ll take it,” I tell the staff. The wife sighs with relief. She knows how finicky I am when entering hotel rooms for the first time. The luggage is deposited promptly, and we are set for the next two days.
A quick round of ablutions, and I am set for my evening walk. I put on my keds, and head out to survey the resort. Five minutes later. I am a changed man. What I stare at now is a sight only a blessed few will savour in their entire lifetimes. Crystal clear, softly lit, gurgling blue waters of the infinity pool, merging into the pale yellow, silent waters of the stunningly fabulous lake. Like a nubile, ebullient girl, falling into the lap of her strong, silent lover.
Know before you go: Do NOT miss the sunrise at the Veda villa side of the resort. You will witness not one but two balls of fire. One rising up the sky from behind the hills, and the other, sinking deeper into the still waters of the lake. And yes, for posterity (read Facebook) do carry that full frame camera in your kit.
Behind the lakes is an island of rubber trees. Behind the island, the silhouettes of the last vestiges of the Western Ghats. And somewhere beyond them, the full moon, staring at my stunned visage. “Ghar, ghar ke aage garden, garden ke aage…,” Sridevi’s cult dialogue reverberates in my filmy brain. This cannot be happening. This is probably green screen, where these images have been computer generated to make it all seem perfect.
Know before you go: The resort is a part of the sprawling Vaikundam rubber plantations where you can enjoy, understand and witness the process of tapping latex from trees first hand. What’s more, the efficient and enthusiastic resort staff is more than willing to arrange private dos at the helipad situated at a vantage point right in the middle of the plantation. It does NOT get more exotic than this. Period.
My reverie is broken as I hear human voices in the vicinity. ‘Unnnnbeliavable….. this is just so…..’. I realise the voice belongs to a familiar person. Me. I gape at the sight until I realise I have two cameras with me in the room. Forget permanence. Just savour this moment. Forget trying to capture this, just let it be, and find your own release. I nod my head in amazement at God’s capacity to create and man’s genius to tap his creations. Yes. It is in tandem with nature that all life thrives. It takes me a good bit of eternity to take it all in, after which, I head back to the villa to find the wife struggling with TV channels. Now, why would one come all the way here to watch TV…I ask myself, butI know better than to ask her. To each his own.
Know before you go: Serious tipplers must carry their own bottle of malt. The only available nectars right now at the resort are wine and beer. And yes, the nearest booze shop is around eighty thousand rubber trees away.
Soon, we are sitting at the restaurant by the pool. Or is the pool by the restaurant..? I’m sure inanimate objects and addresses do not have an ego. The aesthetically done up restaurant does not interfere with the pristine surroundings at all. In fact, like the resort itself, it is seamlessly integrated into nature. The first bite of piping hot starters, and I realise that even the underbelly of the beast is well oiled. The food is delectable.The service, with a smile. The view before us, unparalleled.
It is the kind of place where you will be excused for inadvertently holding the hand of a pretty lady sitting next to you. In my case, though, the hand belongs to the lovely wife. No excuses required. “Pch…,” she frets, fiddling with her cell, “No signal…!” Now, why would someone come all the way…well, I remind myself…to each his own.
Know before you go:Make the brochure kept in the villa your bible for any day trip around the resort.
The next day, we head out to Kanyakumari city. I have not had to Google anything to find out how I must plan a day trip from the resort. The extremely well written and informative brochure laid out in a well designed folio in all the villas tells you all that you need to know about the resort, the plantations of which it is a part, and its surroundings. The brochure is so good that I decide to keep it with me for the duration of my trip to the fabled Land’s End.
By the time we are back, it is night, and time to savour the resort again. Yes, it is a place that you want to come back to, after a hard day’s fun.