I didn’t really have a clear picture of where I was headed as the car raced along the fields of cotton and roadside villages with daredevil boys, who tried to race every car that slowed down on account of traffic. I was sure though it would be quite the place to be. Anticipation is half the joys of a journey into the unknown. After crossing a few hills and an incredible stretch of road along a lake, I was finally close to my Riviera-like destination. The car rallied along the offtrack path and finally came to an abrupt halt just after a board carrying the name of the resort. Haritha Resort, Laknavaram.
Beyond the known
Without stopping for a moment, the driver continued wordlessly along the bridge as I fell behind, soaking the wetness of the gurgle and splash of the waters underneath. The vast expanse of the lake was quite unbelievable, justifying its local nomenclature as samudram, the Sanskrit term for the sea or ocean. I could see several of the tiny islands, finite dots chasing infinity. I took after the driver, walking slightly faster to keep up with him, for I could see the suspension bridge turning at a sharp angle ahead. Although there was just one way to head for, being alone on that bridge made me feel very tiny and the hope of human company, although a quiet one, would surely reassure me. The end of the suspension bridge was hidden by a dense canopy of trees on one of the islands and I was only too eager to find out what I would find hidden behind those dark shades of green. I was in for a surprise.
The main building of the resort is located on the island that I was walking towards. I had been informed of “alternate arrangements” to stay there. At the moment, I took the sharp turn on the suspension bridge and found myself in a semblance of a children’s park. The suspension bridge ended at a brightly coloured paved path leading into a building that I could now see. The cemented enclosures of the trees around the paved roads were also painted in bright shades of yellow and red while a plain peach double-storey building awaited my arrival.
I climbed the wrought iron stairs to the first level, the main entrance of the building. The water level of the lake rises and falls in accordance with the rains and hence, permanent cement pillars hold the building up from sudden surges. The first floor houses a comfortable sitting area and an indoor restaurant with a glass wall facing the lake. I ordered a coffee and accustomed my gaze to the vastness of nature.
Boat to paradise
My reverie finally came to a pause, albeit with a sigh, as the manager of the property took me for a round of the residential complex in the building. The rooms were simple and functional, and each of them had a balcony overlooking the lake. Picture perfect! The manager asked me if I would like to stay in one of those rooms instead of the previous booking. I paused, only for a moment, but the possibility of something even more fantastic urged me to explore further.
The large motor boat chugged to life and I took a place at the head of the boat, watching the stern as it skimmed the waters, taking me towards a green and brown horizon. The many islands, 13 to be precise, on the lake have a dense canopy over them lending an element of mystery to them. Being relatively unknown to the Indian traveller, this virgin slice of paradise along a waterfront is a reminder of what a retreat should be. This throws you into the elements as it were, the bubble-wrap of comfort thinning out to connect you with the greatness of the Creator.
I was still lost in thoughts and hugging myself in glee at having undertaken this journey that brought me here when I spotted my destination. Two standalone cottages standing at the edge of one of the islands, it had been just a speck from the main building but as we neared, they seemed straight out of a picture postcard from Bali. Thatched roofs and dark wooden walls made for a fine example of secluded luxury, standing on a steel framework, jutting into the lake.
As I stepped on to the island, I found the soil much softer given the recent spate of rain. From the inside, the cottages were very functional with all basic facilities. A double bed overlooking the window on the lake, a steel almirah (made perfect sense given the high level of humidity in summers), a mirror, a bathroom with basic amenities and above all, a verandah running on three sides of the cottage where you can sit or stand to take in the view.
Lost in space
Like the driver of the car, the staff member who was manning the boat wordlessly brought in my luggage and placed it at the foot of the bed while I stretched out on one of the folding chairs on the balcony. The sun was setting in the distance and I had two full days to live in complete peace with myself and a polite, quiet staff to provide me with whatever I need. Even as I was thinking the words to myself, a cup of coffee was brought in by a smiling woman.
If there is a personal paradise, well... it will have to wait for two more days.
Copyright: Exotica, the wellness and lifestyle magazine from The Pioneer Group, available in all rooms of select five-star hotel chains