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3 month honeymoon: India

RH note: This week we’re featuring an amazing three month honeymoon through India, Europe and North Africa. All posts are written by our lovely guest blogger Kate, and photos are by her talented husband Adeet.

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Kate says: Any stress from getting to Kerala soon vanished when we reached The Tall Trees Resort, outside of Munnar. Cardamom, pepper, and coffee are grown on the grounds of Tall Trees, and tea plantations surround the resort. We loved our accommodations—a spacious two-story “cottage” with a large bedroom and modern bathroom, above. It provided a peaceful alternative to the bustling crowds of Mumbai, and we relished the stillness.

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We ventured into the town, or “hill station,” of Munnar but preferred walking past the steep tea plantations or relaxing on our cottage’s balcony. The town has Internet cafes and a few souvenir shops but not many tourist attractions. However, we did visit the Tata Tea Museum, which has a large store where visitors can purchase a variety of tea and spices grown in the area. The landscape is hilly and misty and because of the high altitude, the climate is more moderate than other cities in southern India. The resort is located in an area with great biodiversity and prides itself on being eco-sensitive. It also proved to be a popular destination with other honeymooners in India—we noticed several women with bridal henna designs on their hands and arms.

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After leaving Tall Trees, we enjoyed a completely different, but equally incredible, experience on a houseboat. The houseboats, also known as kettuvallam, are long, Chinese-style wooden boats. A number of companies in Kerala offer houseboat tours and can be found online.

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We boarded in Kumarakom, where we drifted down a series of lagoons known as the Backwaters, an area often referred to as “the Venice of India.” We spent a good part of that evening reveling in the view of the stars, which seemed close enough to skim the water. What could be more romantic than a starlit ride on a private boat?

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During the day we lounged in the boat’s open-air main room. A small staff stayed on the boat and cooked our meals. We were impressed with both the quality and quantity of the food. We enjoyed fish caught moments before it arrived on our table and sweet, locally grown pineapple. Despite the boat’s somewhat rustic appearance, it offered the same comforts as a motel. We had an air-conditioned bedroom, with a small, attached bathroom. The boat also had a television, but it proved unnecessary since the lush scenery was more compelling.

We spent the last leg of our Kerala journey in the tongue-twisting capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, also known as Trivandrum. We stayed in the South Park, a hotel that reminded me of a Holiday Inn—not particularly romantic but clean and comfortable. We visited Puttan Malika, a wooden palace with intricate carved details, and enjoyed a tour led by a knowledgeable guide. The palace is near the elaborate Sri Padmanabhasvami Temple, a unique and ornate temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. Only Hindus are allowed inside, so we had to admire it from afar. Trivandrum is near the southernmost part of India and we quickly understood why many of the locals carried umbrellas as sunshades.

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Our favorite meal in the capital proved to be unexpected. We ate at Casa Bianca, an Italian restaurant run by a Swedish expatriate! The food was excellent, and we especially liked the chocolate-covered chilies we had for dessert.

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During our stay, we hired a driver to take us from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari, a town in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Along the way we stopped at Padmanabhapuram Palace, a wooden palace used from the mid-16th to late-18th centuries. This palace is even more intricate than the one in Trivandrum and boasts beautiful murals in addition to its incredible woodcarvings.

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When we reached Kanyakumari, we took a boat to the Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial. The swami is said to have reached enlightenment at this location, and it’s easy to understand how the site could contribute to a heightened consciousness. It is at the most southern point of India and you see only sky and water. Or waters—the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf of Mannar all meet at Kanyakumari.

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Before we returned to Trivandrum, we went to the shoreline to watch the sunset. It was a communally romantic experience, as many other couples had also gathered to gaze at the horizon. We felt as if we were at the end of the world, watching the sun slip away.

We left Kerala from Trivandrum’s international airport on Indian Airlines. Returning to Mumbai was much less adventurous than our train ride to Kerala. However, there was a moment of drama when we boarded our plane. The flight attendants had placed dry ice in the window wells for dramatic effect, and we thought the plane had caught on fire! Once we calmed down, we enjoyed a quick, comfortable flight complete with lunch. Domestic airlines serve meals even if the flight is less than two hours and are known for their excellent service.

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