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A 300-year old royal residence of the Raja of Cochin - beautifully restored and converted into a delightful retreat

Kerala, referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’, is a place where time seems to pass at a much gentler pace; where age-old traditions remain entrenched in daily life; and where the divinity in nature and culture has remained unscathed by human ambitions.

Like the sublime wilderness and solitude of the Himalayas of India, Kerala offers a true retreat of serenity and tranquillity that inspires mindfulness and harmony, and it isn’t surprising at all that the centuries-old holistic philosophies of Yoga and Ayurveda continue to thrive across this cherished corner of India.

Where can one experience the essence of Kerala without compromising on bespoke luxury and exclusivity? One of our favourite hidden gems is Chittoor Kottaram – a beloved former residence of the Rajah of Cochin. Resting on the banks of the quaint backwaters of Kerala, this beautiful royal manor has stood witness to over three centuries of history. The residence’s origin is as pious as its serene atmosphere, as it was built so that the devout king could spend time close to his family deity housed in a temple nearby.

A stark contrast to Rajasthan’s pomp and splendour, Keralan way of life highlights subtlety and discreetness, which are beautifully reflected in the mansion’s simple yet elegant and regal architecture, decor and location. Managed by the renowned local hospitality group CGH Earth Experiences, Chittoor Kottaram has been carefully restored and renovated under the expert guidance of Lady Helen Hamlyn and the descendants of the erstwhile royal family offering an extraordinary opportunity to a privileged few to relive the elegance of the bygone era. It is an ideal destination for couples and small families alike who are looking for a complete cultural immersion with utmost privacy.     


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Where is Chittoor Kottaram Located?

Chittoor Kottaram is located on the outskirts of Cochin, the heart of Kerala’s culture and history, in South India. Following in the footsteps of the king, one would arrive at the exclusive mansion by boat through a private canal.

Cochin is very well connected with the rest of the country via direct flights from a number of major cities including Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi. It is also linked to various international travel hubs via major airlines including Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

For longer overland journeys across South India, Cochin is within easy access of various other popular destinations including the famous backwaters of Kumarakom and Alleppey, the tea country of Munnar, Periyal Tiger Reserve and the coastal towns of Mararikulam and Kovalam.

What sort of accommodation is available at Chittoor Kottaram?

This intimate mansion has three bedrooms that can comfortably accommodate up to six people. There are two bedrooms on the ground floor and one on the first floor with an attached living room. Each of the three rooms and common living spaces are tastefully appointed with period furniture and exquisite artefacts including Lady Hamlyn’s personal collection that would inspire anyone who appreciates art.

The mansion’s high ceilings create a majestic sense of space and the dark wood used in the roofs as well as doors and windows are beautifully contrasted by light coloured stone walls and pillars, and old floral cement tiles on the floor. En-suite bathrooms have been refurbished to include all the modern amenities.

Renowned for their expertise in Ayurveda and Keralan cuisine, CGH Earth group have recreated the regal charm with fabulously bespoke service and attention to detail. Intimate meals, prepared by a master chef using traditional cooking techniques, are set up wherever the guests desire – in the dining room, by the waterside with a view of the lake, at the gazebo, in the veranda or outside in the garden. Being a waterside property, the fresh catch of the day from the backwaters is one of the not-to-be-missed highlights.

For relaxation and rejuvenation, there is a small Ayurveda centre where traditional Ayurvedic massages and therapies can be enjoyed, and an outdoor plunge pool based on the layout of the temple ponds found in South Indian temples. Private Yoga sessions can also be arranged in the garden with prior notice.

What activities are available at Chittoor Kottaram?

Chittoor is ideal for gentle meanders and rich cultural immersion. Throughout its history, Chittoor Kottaram has witnessed stunning performances by patrons of art.  One can spend time discovering these rich local traditions or take trips further afield to experience the great outdoors and Cochin’s rich colonial heritage.

  • Backwater Cruising: In the evenings, one could enjoy a relaxing cruise on the backwaters to catch a glimpse of the setting sun, chugging past idyllic villages set amidst lush coconut groves. For a more in-depth exploration of the backwaters, a half-day cruise can be arranged around the vast waterways of Alleppey on a traditional houseboat.
  • Private Performances: Kerala is renowned for classical dance and music and exclusive performances of Kathakali and Mohiniyattam dance forms as well as Carnatic music can be arranged at the mansion. Kathakali is particularly interesting as it depicts scenes from Hindu mythological epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata with artists wearing elaborate and colourful make-up and costumes.
  • Fort Kochi: The historic town of Fort Kochi is just an hour away by road or boat from Chittoor Kottaram. Laden with charming Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture, a bustling market specialising in antiques and spices, an interesting museum, a Jewish synagogue as well as charming art galleries, cafes and restaurants, it makes a wonderful day trip for those who enjoy a bit of hustle and bustle.
  • Muziris Archaeological Site: Once famous ancient port on the legendary Spice Route, Muziris dates back more than 3,000 years. The port was long forgotten after it mysteriously disappeared centuries ago and very little was known about its history in recent times until it was rediscovered by pure chance when a part of it was unearthed in a small town of Pattanam near Cochin following heavy rains. If remains one of the most fascinating historical and archaeological discoveries of recent times in India and is currently the largest heritage conservation project in the country. The port’s history is fascinating, as during its heyday, it attracted traders from world over including Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, Phoenicians and Chinese. This exposure led to an astounding diversity of cultures from Christianity and Islam to Judaism, and their remnants have stayed over the centuries.

Does Chittoor Kottaram cater for families with young children?

Children of all ages are welcome at Chittoor Kottaram and Kerala’s gentle weather, cuisine and extremely friendly and hospitable locals make it an ideal destination for family holidays. Baby cots and babysitting and monitoring services can be arranged with prior notice.

When is the best time to visit Chittoor Kottaram?

November to March is the best time to visit Kerala. Being on the coast, the weather is tropical with very pleasant and dry winters, warm and sultry summers and a very wet rainy season. It is an ideal destination for Christmas holidays and if hot and humid climate is not off-putting, it can be equally enjoyable during the months of April and May.

How does Chittoor Kottaram protect and nurture the local community and environment?

Like all other CGH Earth’s retreats, sustainability and responsible tourism form the core ethos of Chittoor Kottaram. All the staff members are local, the products used at the residence are organic and local, single-use plastic is completely avoided and the group is involved in a wide range of initiatives across South India ranging from heritage and nature conservation to preservation of communities, art and culture.  


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By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017

Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...

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