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My Keralan Adventures. Part 1: Heaven is a yoga retreat at Neeleshwar Hermitage!

Updated: Apr 22, 2018

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to travel to India. A blissful yoga retreat, which I had booked almost a year ago with my Guru Devi; Heidi Pascual of Lotus Love Yoga whose own epic travels in India insprired me to tack on an extra week and see a little bit more of God's own country as a lone traveller. A number of small firsts for me - my first blog, my first trip to India and my first solo adventure - hashtag exciting.

It's March 15th, 2018 and after a seemingly interminable wait I am finally bound for the beautiful Malabar coast. But first a long plane journey to Mumbai from Heathrow and then a real test of my resolve -when I retell this tale I like to refer to this as shradda, a Sanskrit word meaning fortitude. Perhaps more accurately it reflects the sheer inability we all have to not crumble, break down and and cry when a plan goes awry. I discover,with an hour to spare that my connecting flight with Spice Jet (yes there is an actually an airline called this) departs from a different terminal - Santa Cruz, although the nice lady at the Jet Airlines check in tells me it's a different airport - helpful, not helpful. A breathless dash and an exciting ride in a tuk tuk with a non English speaking driver thankfully delivers me at the door in plenty of time. Breathe, believe, give thanks and then try not to panic as the captain announces our destination is Mangalaru even though all my paperwork which I am now, on the plane, frantically reading through, says Mangalore. I wonder if I should wake the slumbering gentleman next to me or distract the lady in seat C from her powerpoint presentation on genital mutiliation and confirm what I am already thinking is quite possibly a truly ridiculous question - where is Mangalaru? No I am determined to follow Tich Naht Han's advice and be in the moment - after all Mangalaru may be very nice and judging by the flight time well it can't be that far away from where I am supposed to be meeting up with my new Yoga retreat friends all of whom were just as perturbed as me when I discovered I wasn't on the same connecting flight! Needless to say it all worked out fine. Mangalaru is the new name for Mangalore. Despite my 2% phone battery and not having any of my new co-traveller's contact details I entered Mangalaru airport terminal to see all their beautiful beaming faces as they waited to collect their luggage from the baggage carousel :).

So on with the blog then....

Our home for the week was to be Neeleshwar Hermitage. situated in northern Kerala, nearest town Kahangad, nearest airport Mangalore/Mangalaru - ha ha ha how I laugh about this now.

A stunning oasis of tropical beauty the Hermitage offers peaceful rest and quintessential luxury and a not altogether disappointing view of the Arabian sea. It's enchanting colonial buildings create a sense of times gone by, when the pace was a little slower and there was time to savor each moment. Boasting exotic gardens, full of stunning butterflies, bird and other wildlife Neeleshwar's paradise cannot fail to both enchant and intoxicate.

The little garden paths invite you to wander aimlessly as you encounter colonial style thatched cottages each of which has it's own Sanskrit name related to a state of being perfectly aligned with the setting: Sukka - happiness, Bhavana - refinement, Moksha - liberation. Each one has a stately, shaded veranda and either a view of the garden, pool or ocean. The rooms are large and airy with high ceilings and enormous beds not to mention the essential fans and air conditioning. A few thoughtful touches have been added such as ipods, hairdryers and adaptor plugs in the rooms which show a lot of thought has gone into making guests feel as welcome