Experiencing traditions and cultural has always been on my priority list. I am often attracted to places and things of historical importance or those that have a story around it or a legacy behind it. India is a land where stories have been a source of teaching and educating the masses about the importance of a place or thing. There are in-numerable heritage properties, palaces and Havelis bearing testimony to our culturally rich land. Some of these structures have witnessed the eras of the emperors and a few have served the nobility. Whether one is travelling to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Kerala, palaces, Havelis, summer palaces, bungalows etc. can be easily found here. The awareness to conserve and restore such heritage properties has also increased in the past few years. People have realized the importance of valuing and conserving the rich heritage that has been passed on through generations to them. I am quite happy as these efforts not only help to restore the old buildings but also give chance for enthusiasts like us to experience them. I have always fantasized to live like a princess and often wish I was born in a royal family to enjoy such luxuries. I also know this dream can’t be fulfilled in this lifetime but the only thing I could enjoy in this lifetime is the hospitality of these heritage properties for a few days.
Neemrana group of hotels is among the first groups to identify, restore and guests and tourists in these heritage properties. Today they have numerous such properties all over the country that have been converted into resorts and are most sought after not only for their hospitality but also for their legacy. I am taking you to a tour of one such property today- The Spice Heritage Resort. This resort is situated on Gujarati Road of Mattancherry, surrounded by Fort Kochi which is a major tourist attraction of the city of Cochin.
Mattancheery is a confluence of the cultures and traditions of Muslims from Kachch, Gujarat, Konkanis, Jews and Hindu businessmen from Gujarat who settled here centuries ago. With time the cultural traditions form the part and parcel of this place signified by numerous temples, mosques, churches and synagogues. As the name suggests Gujarati road symbolizes Gujarat so much that one feels whether one is visiting Kerala or Gujarat.
The place has a reputed Gujarat School and quite a few temples. Spice Culture Resort bears testimony to an important historical incident. This place was the abode of a joint Gujarati family and it is said that Mahatma Gandhi had stayed here for a night during his tour of Kerala. Late Shri V.H.M. Raffique was a businessman of Cochin and a social servant. He very well knew about the glorious past of this Haveli on Gujarat Road and also admired the beauty of it. In the year 1992 Late Shri V.H.M. Raffique bought this Haveli and decided to convert it into a heritage resort. Careful and conscientious efforts and hard work of years led to the complete transformation of the old Haveli. What once seemed like an old ruined building is now known as Spice Heritage Resort.
I am a traveller, hence I see a place with a totally different perspective. When I got the invite from Spice Heritage Resort, I did a little bit of research. I was impressed by the cultural vividness of Mattancherry. I wanted to experience the confluence of the varied cultures of the east and west. This place has Fort Kochi, which was the first colony of the Europeans in India and is equally influenced by Spanish, Dutch and Indian culture. It was the centre of trade and can be called a global village. Savouring the cultural treat of the place, I reached my destination on Gujarati Road. I received a warm and traditional welcome at the Spice Heritage Resort. The welcome drink too was a special preparation with the truly spicy essence of Kerala.
Spice Heritage resort still retains the look and feel of a palatial Gujarati mansion of yesteryears. On one hand modern amenities adorn this mansion with the original structure still existent. The architecture has Muslim as well as colonial influence. Large spacious room, tall roofs, long corridors, wooden work etc. transpose you to the British era. A small swimming pool and a Kerala Ayurveda Spa compliment the entire architecture.
The food especially South Indian dishes served here are delicious. On a 10 point scale, I would rate this Spice Heritage Resort with 9 points. Dutch Palace, Parsi Synagogue, Jew Town, Spice Market, Boating and other tourist attractions lie in close vicinity of the resort. One can take an auto and reach any place conveniently.
Till we meet next with a new property review.
Be happy and keep travelling.
Your friend and companion
Dr. Kaynat Kazi