When former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wrote "My musings from Kumarakom" after a brief visit to this village in late 2000, Kumarakom, situated on the eastern shore of Kerala's largest lake Vembanad, shot to prominence. Nearly two decades later, the village has come up with Kumarakom Wood Castle resort, a new destination for all those who love antiques and nostalgia.
Kumarakom Wood Castle opened in January and, in just a month's time, has become a must-visit place for all those who come to this village to relish its backwaters.
The resort is situated close to the heart of Kumarakom. It's aesthetically planned and designed 5,700 sq feet building houses three different units which include five luxury rooms where guests can stay in peace while admiring the beauty of yesteryears' woodwork.
The ground floor houses an old curiosity shop, while the accommodation is on the first floor.
The entire second floor houses a craft museum that showcases close to 2,000 items, taking visitors on a trip of over 200 years. The museum has carefully arranged farm equipment and kitchen utensils made of wood, brass and bronze to evoke a nostalgic feeling of a bygone era of culturally vibrant Kerala.
The enterprising couple that runs the place, Shaji Mathew, a retired banker, and his wife Ligi S. Mathew, has been working hard for the past quarter of a century to open an antique shop.
"I have been passionate about collecting and preserving old things. Starting off as a collector of antiques, I have had a fairly long and eventful journey of close to four decades, and today we are delighted to have opened our dream venture, which is just a few weeks old," said the 59-year-old Mathew.
As a banker, Mathew has travelled up and down the state. Anything that caught his connoisseur's eyes, he promptly bought for his dream shop.
Assisting him is his energetic wife Ligi, who first opened a Curiosity shop in the heart of Kottayam town in the mid-nineties.
"We began from a small shop of antique items in Kottayam and in 2004 we moved to Kumarakom. While I was doing my job, it was my wife who ran the shop," added Mathew.
The majestic three-storeyed building did not come up overnight.
"This building took 15 years to be built and 90 percent of the materials used in the building are from old houses that I bought when such houses were demolished. It includes handrails made of cast iron in France and England.
"The building is made out of laterite bricks and the wood used is mostly teak that has been resized or reshaped wherever it was necessary," said Mathew.
In this old curiosity shop, those items which have more than one copy are for sale, while antique pieces with no copies left are preserved in the craft museum.
Mathew and his wife have engrossed themselves fully in their venture. They prepare the breakfast for their guests who stay in the five rooms. The tariff for a room starts at Rs 3,000 per night.