Sometimes, to become the main character requires jumping into a car and driving straight to the enticing heart of a kahani. By Ambika Muttoo
The next time you’re getting off a plane in Goa, drive through the state for another four hours, approximately, till you get to Gokarna in Karnataka. The landscape ricochets between villages, paddy fields, winding roads and snatches of wide coastline. If you’re not prone to staring out of windows, it’s the ideal amount of time to catch a solid nap to wake up just in time for… paradise. Kahani Paradise, that is. Or what we’d like to call Gokarna’s best-kept secret.
It’s a little difficult to distil the essence of Kahani Paradise into a few paragraphs because, as it is with most beautiful moments in life, it’s best to experience it for yourself. Try to picture this: a lush, luxurious expanse of fields, rolling hills, flora and fauna sprawled over 20 acres of land. Kahani Paradise is a riot of gardens, with flowers bursting forth in all directions, sheltered by tall coconut, banana and betelnut trees. There is a tennis court for extra exercise should you need it – you might not, given that walking is the best way to explore this territory. Or zip around on Royal Enfield bikes, or in an open-air jeep, or in the humble yet infinitely more fun golf buggy. Your rambling might take you to the talao on the premises, which houses some very pretty, peaceful koi. Or to the beach where you can hop into a boat and glide towards Gokarna’s other sandy shores, including Om Beach.
Walking into the open-air drawing room (which doubles as the reception area) is startling. It’s warmly decorated with sofas and armchairs, stacked books balancing themselves over warm wooden tables and cupboards – and then there’s miles of unobstructed blue sky, green hills, a cornucopia of nature, and, below, the terraced landscape of Kahani, the famous Paradise Beach. It also offers a bird’s eye view of the Aghanashini River and the wider Arabian Sea. Walk a few steps ahead and there’s the infinity pool, circled by rocks with flowers finding every nook to grow out of. It’s like chancing upon a hidden lagoon.
The terraced levels of Kahani Paradise were created due to the expert vision of Philip Syborn, of Syborn & Atkinson, who followed the brief of creating a sustainable oasis, along with his wife, Sarah (who is a landscape architect.) The estate has successfully harnessed rainwater harvesting, and the main house was created to not rely on artificial cooling systems. The design focus, thanks to interior designer Saloni Sharma, is an eclectic blend of Indian textiles, curios and furniture in a combination that is at once stately, yet reminiscent of home. This also applies to the six suites with their airy ceilings, antique doors, cabinets, mirrors and fittings. It’s the perfect blend of modern luxury and the beauty and craftsmanship of India.
Accessed by a stairway below the pool deck – Kahani Paradise is a warren of wide stairwells lit with antique lanterns at night – the large, open-air dining room is where a massive, long wooden dining table presides. The entire property is so quiet at night, when the sounds of birds, distant animals and cicadas reign. But, here, there is laughter, fuelled by excellent cocktails and the most delicious menus that range from local curries, fantastic fry-ups, piping-hot noodles, fresh salads and home-made ice cream. After all, where else would you discuss your kahanis at the end of a perfect day?
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