Maneesha runs Kayal, the only property for tourists on the island in Kakkathuruthu. The island and the property were recently featured on National Geographic.
The backwaters in Kerala are popular among tourists from all over the world for their lush scenery, slow-moving waters, and serene atmosphere. Recently, National Geographic announced that the sunset in Kakkathuruthu, a tiny island on Vembanad lake in Kerala, is one of the best experiences a tourist can have `Around the World in 24 Hours’.
The magazine’s article `Around the World in 24 Hours’, has featured Norway at 12 am, Hawaii at 5 am, Paris at 6 am, San Francisco at 7 am, Abu Dhabi at 8 am, Melbourne at 9 am, New York at 8 pm, Budapest (Hungary) at 10 pm, and Kakkathuruthu in Kerala at 6 pm, among other destinations, to give a window into what different places in the world look like.
Maneesha Panicker is the woman who fetched this quaint island international recognition.
Maneesha runs Kayal, the only property for tourists on the island, as a part of her company – Silk Route Escapes, which offers custom tours of Kerala.
When she first visited the island two years ago, the only way to access it was through a traditional rowboat.
Around one thousand people live on the island situated in Eramallur, which is a half hour drive from Kochi. Construction work around the island is restricted by Coastal Regulation Zone rules.
Maneesha, who left her job in New York to open Kayal, told The Times of India, “When we established Kayal, our idea was to have a small space here with minimal impact on nature and to involve local people in the functioning of our resort.” In an attempt to make the tourists’ stay as authentic as possible, the team at Kayal engages the locals to participate in various programmes such as interactive theatre performances. They source their produce from local farmers and fishermen, and use only recycled material to build the cottages.
“The best thing that the NatGeo team liked about the island was the sunset, which they watched from a traditional rowboat on the calm waters,” Maneesha added.
According to Maneesha, Kayal, the boutique hotel/resort, also received the Conde Naste Traveller award for the best lakeside lodge in the world and Kakkathuruthu was featured in David Rocco’s popular celebrity cook show. When the NatGeo team visited Kakkathuruthu, they were astonished by the rustic feel of the island, its untouched greenery and the magazine photographers captured the sunset on the island when “the shadows lengthen and the sky shifts from pale blue to sapphire.”
NatGeo Expeditions went on to describe the stunning sunsets, which are accompanied by a flurry of sari-clad women returning home in shallow boats and fishermen who light lamps and cast nets.