Located 100 kilometers south of Mangalore, in a place called Padanna in Kerala, is this beautiful little nature themed resort called Oyster Opera. That’s where I was this last weekend. The resort, started a couple of years back, is still being worked upon but it is already a popular destination for people looking to get back to nature. Currently the resort boasts of around 10 cottages including a tree house, a double storey cottage and a boat house. It is also a private island retreat one could escape to, far from the hustle and bustle of city life.
I was looking for a place close to Mangalore where I could spend a lazy weekend and get some decent food. I figured Oyster Opera would be a great option. I drove thru pot hole filled (some of them wide enough to be called a pond), treacherous 100 kilometers of road from Mangalore (the road signs insisted that it was NH17!) to reach my destination in time for lunch. Mr. Mohammad Gul, the owner of the resort, greeted me with a warm smile and some refreshments. Having made short work of the refreshments, I checked into my cottage (named ‘Clam’). The rooms in my cottage had a rustic look, the bathroom being particularly interesting – it did not have a roof! It reminded me of my engineering college days where we had similar roofless bathrooms. But this one at least had latches for the doors : ). The cottage had all the amenities for a lazy holiday – couple of easy chairs, a hammock, backwater views, and a nice comfortable bed (with mosquito nets). After having shaken up all the bones in my body (thanks to the rough drive), it was a welcome relief to settle into the body hugging, rocking hammock. I had almost fallen asleep when I got a poke (not the Facebook kind, but a hard one from Manoj, the customer service guy) informing me that lunch was ready.
The lunch was served in the common dining room. The tables were set according to the group sizes, which meant I had no choice in selecting my seat. The lunch would be served on plantain (banana) leaves – as is done traditionally in Kerala. Mr. Mohammad and his crew served us lunch (a welcome relief from buffets, thank God. Saved me multiple trips to gather food and resultant embarrassment). It was indeed a ‘wholesome’ meal. To give you an idea of the wholesome-ness involved, let me list the cast: Eggs, chicken, quail, couple of varieties of fish, mussels and lamb. Half an hour of extreme, perspiration filled flesh eating later, my stomach gave me the stop signal. So I decided to put an end to the carnage by downing a plate of green, guilt removing salad. I was stuffed, and needed to lay myself horizontally somewhere. I trudged back to my cottage, with my now football like tummy bouncing ahead and leading the way. Another hour of hammocking with some digestion related snorts and grumbles later, I was ready to move around. Manoj suggested that I do some fishing, and under the circumstances, I thought that was the most active effort I could undertake.
He handed me a crude fishing rod and some prawn baits. I spent the next hour fishing. Just when I was about to give up, I felt a good tug. I reeled the line back in to find this rather slender, small fish attached to my cute, pink prawn bait. I hadn’t hoped to catch any fish, and hence didn’t have a plan for the fish I’d caught. I threw it back into the water.
Next up was a group boat ride to a nearby beach. There were around 20 visitors at the resort, and all of us climbed into a boat that took us to the beach. Tea and snacks were served at the beach. Nothing eventful here (other than the snacks, I mean). It was dusk by the time we returned. Now I had to somehow spend my time till the dinner was ready. The rooms didn’t have TV, and so that wasn’t an option. I hadn’t carried any books either. I was forced to relax in the hammock again. The starry sky above, and the noise of water splashing against the rocks transported me to a different zone of mental peace. Bliss!
Needless to say, dinner was wholesomely meat-filled too. The only thing vegetarian I saw was the plantain leaf on which the food was served. Thank God I was not a vegetarian .I retired for the day after dinner. I woke up early the next day to find fishermen on their job already. Some were collecting oysters, while some spreading their nets for fish.
The resort has 2 canoes: a single seater, and a two seater. I did some canoeing in the morning, and after a while, it was time for me to check out. I’d just had one of the most refreshing short holiday possible – here at Oyster Opera.
So here’s my verdict: Go here if you would like to laze around, eat and get close to nature.
What works: Great food for non-vegetarians (Sea food and meat), Good recreational activities (canoeing, fishing, swimming, and beach).
What doesn’t: Service is slow, mainly because they are under-staffed. Slightly over-priced.