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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

A family affair on Philipkutty’s farm

If you want to watch the sunset, you can just take a boat out on to the water. It’s so peaceful…

By Philip Mathew
Owner of Philipkutty’s Farm

I lived at Philipkutty’s farm throughout my childhood. My dad built the first cottage in 1999 and when he sadly passed away, my mother and grandmother, along with my sister and I, ran the homestay at which we’ve been hosting guests ever since. Oh, and we also have a Beagle called Sugar.

The house itself is constructed in traditional style. My dad worked with a Swiss architect to reassemble the dismantled windows, doors and other parts of an old Keralan house onto land reclaimed by my great grandfather. All the east-facing villas overlook the water, so you have a beautiful view particularly at sunrise; watching the fishermen go about their day, kettuvallam boats floating by and if you’re lucky, kingfishers diving into the water scooping up fish. We’re also visited by otters who Sugar likes to bark at.

My best memories come from being out on Lake Vembanad. If you want to watch the sunset, you can just take a boat out on to the water. It’s so peaceful. We have a guide who is amazing at birding and takes guests to the bird sanctuary in the early morning which is a real highlight. Or you could venture to the local village to see its market, church and temples. Just ask for directions, it’s all very relaxed.

When you stroll around the farm or along the perimeter wall, you’ll see tall coconut palms stretching for 35 acres, canals full of fish and you may notice the strong scent of soil (the land is five feet below sea level and hence very fertile). We’re a working coconut plantation but grow various other crops like bananas, nutmeg, fruit and vegetables. It’s very green. We also have chickens and five rare vechur cows that according to the Guinness Book of World Records are the shortest cows in the world!

My grandmother manages the menu which changes on a daily basis. She makes a delicious red fish curry for lunch and offers cooking lessons for guests who want to learn her secrets, sometimes with my mother if she’s around. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is always fun. Everyone congregates at the table swapping stories and you’ll always find a family member there. We’ve even had people who’ve met each other at the farm and then organised a reunion here again the year after. I think that’s quite special.

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Alfred & Philip Mathew

Philip spent his childhood years on the farm and has helped support his mother, Anu, and grandmother, Aniammai, running the homestay. At the same time, he has been pursuing his studies in music and engineering abroad, both great passions of his. Closer to home, he enjoys fishing, being out on Lake Vembanad and walking the island’s farmland.