I have a habit of making decisions based on the very first impression and I could surely say this for my recent Kerela vacation. There’s an inherited love for travelling within me and to a great extent this is given by my dad who owes the credit of taking me everywhere I have asked him since my childhood. After spending two and a half decades of my life, I have a proud feeling within that I have visited more than half of my motherland. After all this, I have no doubt in saying that India is indeed a magnificent country and despite of all the criticisms we fall for because of the flaws in the system, we still very much love our home country; I am no exception to this.
Since all my journeys to small towns and big cities, I have noticed a phenomenal retort that I come across after my trip. There’s an inseparable love for countryside within me, like an ideal person who’s attached to his roots, despite being born and brought up in the metropolitan city like Delhi. After all my trips, I find that there are places beautiful than this city I have been living into and somewhere, I start hating the busy life of Delhi; or I should say I start loving the more relaxed and calmer life of other cities. To an extent, I loved Kerela for this. Though it was a requisite trip to only four towns/cities, but since it was all road trip, we covered almost all western Kerela by car.
I am an ardent lover of travelling shows and travelogues and there’s an inherent love for exploring places within me. There will be an incompleteness if I won’t mention that I have loved Discovery Channel and NGC for its travelling shows, especially those where foreign travellers roam around in overcrowded streets of small towns, carrying their big bag packs. Of course my trip wasn’t like that; with only fixed schedule in my hand, but I would like to say that our road trip quenched my thirst for this ‘exploring’ love to a great extent. Those awkward names of places were weird and difficult to read but the roads through them was taking me to the actualities of experiencing the beauty of God’s Own country. It isn’t just a cliché; you will actually feel like this when you are there in Kerela and I can bet, one should definitely experience it once.
Our Journey started with an established town ‘Ernakulam’ and as I reached the first biggest change I came across was the weather change. It was humid and it appeared even hotter especially when you are coming from a place in North India, in the month of February. Though I have already said, there’s a sense of likeness within me for places other than Delhi, ‘Ernakulam’ came as a bit exception. I had heard a lot about the city ‘Kochi’ but it was less than my expectation.
One thing I had loved about Kerela ever since I visited it first. I could smell the extent of literacy the state procures. For a typical Delhi-ite who’s used to listening to foul language and indecent remarks from public vehicle owners, hearing an ‘auto-walah’ speaking in English is definitely astonishing. Similar was the story this time. May be there was not much to see in Kochi for us, but what definitely surprising was how the fisherman could make me understand his everyday work, how well a hat seller could convince me in English, how that old man could sell me coconut water and how hawker could tell me directions in a foreign language. I could sense the words “Development” and “Education” well. Sophistication and decency was so much running through their blood; this is something I greatly miss in the city I live in and I urge to see in the people around me.
Our next stoppage was Munnar. I had heard a lot about its beauty but it was indeed a time to experience it and here I was. Munnar is divine in True sense and there’s no doubt about it. For a second while driving through the mountain roads, I felt as if m in a dreamland; In the very second I thought, why do we actually underestimate India so much about its beauty when we have places like Munnar, Coorg and Alleppey in India. As you will pass through those narrow lanes curving through the beautiful mountains of Munnar, you will come across only tea estate and tea plantations and for a moment you will feel, that Munnar is majorly about Tea Gardens. At First, it was only a thought, but we actually happen to believe as we started exploring it more. And if not so, it’s definitely a spice major of India as it has all pepper, cloves, cinnamon and coffee all around. And not to forget mentioning, Kerela has a huge production of jackfruit and Coconut.
Dating back to 90’s end, there used to be a research based program on Doordarshan, named Surabhi. I had once heard about Kalaripayattu. After almost passing a decade and few years, I got to experience it for the first time. Kathakali and Kalaripayattu are famous art forms of Kerela other than Mohiniattam. Kalaripayattu roots back to 11th century and its wonderful how small town children in Kerela are trained in this international martial art form. I had loved that one hour weaponry session and believe me you will experience goosebumps while watching those young bloods performing those skills. At times, I feel so proud and lucky to be born in the country like India where every single place has got some form of culture or tradition associated with it.
I had never visited a national park in my life and there was a different feeling within about visiting it. While planning this itinerary, I din’t have Periyar national park until a neighbor uncle had mentioned it to me and had convinced to include it in my trip. I was scared from within about visiting a national park.. What if I will have to encounter huge group of wild elephants or would have to face a tiger?… Sounds actually funny! But these are some random thoughts many would come across when they’ll visit a national park.
Periyaar is famous for mammals like tigers, wild elephants and deer. I was lucky enough to see few deer, who were roaming near Periyar Lake. It’s worth mentioning that though I couldn’t see much of animals (apart from lots of bird species), visiting this park came as one of the one superb memories. Passing through half submerged trees amidst a lake, in some predefined route was mesmerizing. Kerela has some inseparable love for greenery, water and coconut and yes, even this part of the state too had some share of coconut trees.
Since I wasn’t keeping well all these days and probably the best healing I could give to my body ache was famous Kerela Message. I have heard a lot about it but I fell short of words after undergoing that half an hour session of oil message that gave me the utmost rest after 4 days of continuous Travelling. Though not much known to many North Indians, Thekkady is place like Shimla minus snowfall and cool weather. The small slanting roads, with crafts shops all around and the presence of tourist vehicles all around, you’ll feel no less than a hill station. For those who love home chocolates, Thekkady is a hub. Yes we bought few but I hardly remember where I have kept them, it’s been days I have reached back home.
Moving away from mountains, we head to experience backwaters in Alleppey. I was perhaps most excited for this part of my trip and if I would have been asked to score or rank all the places, I would have definitely give it two thumbs up with full score. Alleppey in one word is ‘Mesmerizing’. Nothing in the world could replicate the experience of being on a house boat, where all you do is RELAX. The utter feeling of comfort, calm and composed holiday was best experienced at Alleppey. Sitting on a boat with your family, with absolutely no wordly tensions, nothing could be better than this… Away from all the hustle bustle of life… You all here just to enjoy, relax and spend considerable time with your loved ones. I wish I could pen down my feelings on paper, what my heart felt while sitting on those side sofas, passing through the heavy trails of sea water.
Beyond this beautiful feeling, there was a different meaning to Life. After seeing life at Alleppey, it absolutely took me no time to say that it’s an Indian version of Venice. Truly, Alleppey was the city based on water-roads, where people used to travel by boat, shop, buy, sell in canopy and the best part was that instead of cars, people at Alleppey had a canoe parked outside their houses. Life was totally based on sailing through cars to the other parts of cities. Quite interestingly, School buses were also replaced by big motor boats for dropping children to schools and people had particular boat-stop to wait for their particular route of motor boat. Life was indeed different there… slow yet beautiful and tad simpler than ours. There was no rush to meet the deadlines, no hurry to reach on time still people sounded content with the way they lived! Life has been all surrounded by water and all you are well versed from day one is how to swim in the ocean nearby and survive throughout the chain of endless coconut trees.
In the second last day of our trip, we were at our last destination – the capital city of Kerela, Trivandrum.This was the second time I have been to Trivandrum and there’s nothing in this city that I could categorize as unimpressive. Though I was on holiday and I was longing to stay away from the hustle bustle of city, there’s no denying a fact that at the end of the day I being from a metropolitan city want to experience the careless and fast life of a capital city. Trivandrum could actually give me that feeling and I loved that feeling. And yes, there was a sense of connection too; I could feel the ‘familiarity’ in the city and the big city ambience all around.
As I entered the worst hotel of my itinerary at Trivandrum, the sun had already covered it half a day journey. I could smell the sand near sea and thankfully, I could see those beautiful blue layers of sear water directly from the balcony of my room. It’s worth mentioning that I have been to many sea beaches in India but not a single one appear more clean, clear, lovely and mesmerizing than Kovalam beach. Adding to the beauty are coconut trees which bear the sole right of becoming a state logo of Kerela (there’s no count of coconut trees in Kerela).
After visiting a zoo, a much hyped Padmanabhaswami temple and beach for sunset, Trivandrum was all covered in a day. But before that, Poovar backwater was one hell of an experience we had there. That motorboat ride with family, in a bright sunny day along backwater is one lifetime cherishing memory. For the first time I saw a snake crossing the water so closely, saw the sea border of Tamil Nadu and Kerela and experienced some real sea drive in a small boat. I am not a pro swimmer but still there was no fear of drowning at all (as I mentioned earlier). This is a place I would like to recommend everyone when they’ll visit Kerela.
Buying the famous banana chips was probably the last thing I did before catching my train. And that’s not all. It is indeed splendid and to many of you it might sound tiresome that we had to spend almost two days in train. I am really excited to mention that in the whole journey of seven days in train while coming and going back, I had passed through 11 states… sounds really like an achievement to me. Me and my dad have a habit of surfing states, town as we cover them and checking out the distance we have covered and probably this is one of those habits which makes our lonnnnnng journeys too short. And rest of the time, we keep eating something or the other. After all Punjabis are made to eat, eat and eat!!
This is a very special blog, Written by Sonu 4 years ago when we had been to a family vacation to Kerela.
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