Located on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the banks of Chittar Lake, lies Anantya Resorts. The resort is a haven of nature and relaxation.
Anantya Resorts provides a space for guests to unwind, relax and connect with their inner selves. Surrounded by verdant plantations and chirping birds, Anantya also offers several luxurious amenities.
What sets Anantya apart from the rest is that located on gorgeous 900 acres of rubber plantations belonging to Vaikundam Estates, at the forgotten world of “Old Travancore” or “Thiruvitamkode,” the erstwhile Southern Kerala Kingdom. A stone’s throw away from Anantya is “Padmanabhapuram,” the City of Lord Padmanabha, where the Travancore kingdom was born, grew beyond its borders and thrived for over 200 years.
Padmanabhapuram was once the seat of power of Travancore. Tales are told of its most
illustrious rulers, the most notable was Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who fought many aggressive war campaigns, consolidated and grew Travancore from a small chiefdom to a formidable kingdom.
Marthanda Varma was one of the earliest Indian kings who battled and defeated a colonial army. Marthanda Varma began annexing all bordering kingdoms and attempted to annex Odanad, which was the route for the Dutch pepper trade. Fearing a threat to their commerce, the Dutch Governer in Sri Lanka demanded that Marthanda Varma cease his attempts at annexation. The King countered with attacking and capturing all Dutch fortresses in Southern Kerala and forcing the Dutch to retreat to Cochin. Then ensued in 1741, the “Battle of Colachel,” a martine battle between Marthanda Varma and the Dutch naval fleet, where the Dutch were defeated. Historians believe that this battle was the death blow to all Dutch ambitions in Kerala.
The Dutch army leaders Eustachius De Lannoy and his second in command Donadi were captured and they served in the King’s army. De Lannoy’s military acumen and the King’s statemanship helped grow Travancore. De Lannoy rose in ranks and ended his career as the “Valia Kapitaan” (Commander in Chief) of the Tranvancore military. His body is burried, not far from Anantya, at Udayagiri Fort. The English translation of the Latin inscription on his tombstone runs:
“Stand Traveller! Here lies Eustachius Benedictus De Lannoy: who was Commander of the general Travancore Army and for nearly thirty-seven years with the greatest faithfulness served the King, to whom by the strength and fear of his armies he subjugated all kingdoms from Kayangulam [Kayamkulam] to Cochin. He lived 62 years and 5 months and died first day of June 1777. May he rest in peace.”
In the late 1700s, Travancore’s capital shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum. After this move, Padmanabhapuram lost its prominence and never regained its former glory.
At Padmanabhapuram, the palace, which is the main feature now, is a fine example of traditional Kerala architectute with white walls, elaborate woodwork, beautiful latice work, jet black floor made of burnt coconut shells and egg whites, a performance hall with peep holes for the women to watch without being seen.
When it comes to the beautiful rubber plantations at Anantya, at the start of the 20th century, Europeans, mainly the British, got ownership of small land holdings and converted them into large estate holdings. One British planter, Sir Danial Himlton began to cultivate the lands. At this point it was known as ‘Kaliel Estate.’ Henceforth, the land passed onto three British planters – Thomas Patrik Madden Alexander, Willian Coombe and Reginald. Mr. Thomas Patrik Madden Alexander was responsible for introducing rubber plantations to these estates and the Kanyakumari district as a whole.
In the year 1928, the entire ownership of the estate passed on to the Vaikundam Co. Ltd. The name and ownership changed over the years, but the estate has always maintained its original beauty. Ever since 1957, the estate has been managed by a single family, and is now owned and managed by the third generation. Vaikundam literally translates into ‘the divine abode’ as per Hindu mythology.
Stay at Anantya and visit Padmanabhapuram. Be lost in time when you walk along the broken fort walls, visit the many Vishnu and Shiva temples in the old city, walk through the palace, down its corridors and into the “Mantra Shala” the King’s Council Chamber and remember the tales of Old Travancore.