Indeed God's own country: Kerala

10th Dec 2014
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 1/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Varkala Beach
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 2/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Periyar Tiger Reserve
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 3/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 4/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Athirapally Waterfall
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 5/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 6/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Alappuzha Backwaters
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 7/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Photo of Indeed God's own country: Kerala 8/8 by Ashna Sirohi
Chembra Peak

Often we find people asking themselves, and well all over the internet, whether you're a beach person or a hill person? I'd say, i'm both. I cannot decide. It was December, Delhi was freezing and i really wanted to get out of here. A friend of mine did some research and found out where we could go, a combination of both : Kerala.

I'd never been down south, certainly never covered a state, just when we had the idea to have a roadtrip across the state. YES! Credit goes to him for preparing the itinerary, He had a map and everything planned. We got our tickets through Tatkal and took off.

We couldn't get a direct train to Kerala, So we changed twice, From Delhi to Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh and then from there to Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 6 hour stop over at both the places was enough to have a look around. Exhausted We reached Kochi after 3 whole days. What made Kerala totally awesome was the fact we had my friend's grandparents house in Kidaganoor, which became our base. We took a bus from Kochi ( Kerala public transport is reliable and language not a barrier, everyone knows english. EVERYONE!) via Kottyam, reached Chennganoor since no direct buses to Kidaganoor. From Chenganoor we got to Kiddaganoor. Our real journey began. Fortunately, we had a car at her grandparents that we could use. After a short nap, We set out for our First destination, Varkala.

Now you would see, Kerala is beautiful. Unlike the places i've been to, houses are at a distance from each other, lush green trees everywhere and no high rise buildings ( a relief ). We reached Varkala in the afternoon, finding ourselves amidst various cafes around the beach. Unlike other beaches, you gotta step down a flight of stairs out of the rocky terrain to reach the beach. Kerala beaches are chill just like Goa's and nothing like Mumbai. We sunbathed there, got super tanned and left for our second destination, Kovalam. Now all these destinations are 100s of kilometres away from each other, we had a strict itinerary like one would have at a camp, so there was no getting laidback. All four of us knew how to drive, we took our chances while we got to Kovalam.

Kovalam has the Goa feel. Yes, there are line of cafes, serving mostly sea food. Its Kerala. Unfortunately me being a vegetarian, had to stick to my regular veg stuff rather than trying something new. There are very less options for vegetarians at Kovalam cafes. A hearty meal, few beers and we were prepared to rent a room and sleep off. BUT Something didnt feel right, How could we just not do anything even though we needed to sleep so badly, so after some thinking, looking for options, we set out to Kanniyakumari (Tamil Nadu) to see the sunrise.

In 6 Hours, We reached Kanniykumari, and holy shit! The biggest mistake that one can make there is, roam around in decent everywhere but not decent here clothes. We got busted by the cops for that, YES! So please don't head out holding hands or doing any kind of sketchy stuff there, the police and the people are extremely conservative. We took a room for 1500 bucks for just 2 hours to get a power nap after all the driving. There'll be people around everywhere asking you to stay at their hotel on the road so its extremely easy to find one. The sunrise was a bummer, There was a huge crowd and it was difficult to find a place to stand. We left Kanniykumari immediately. A brief stopover at Trivandrum for breakfast, we headed back to our base Kidaganoor.

After reaching Kidaganoor, We realised we couldnt go on without a proper nap. We were suffering from what could be called, Impairment issues. The whole afternoon went by sleeping. Waking up at night, We stuffed our rucksacks in the car and left for Thekkady. The drive to Thekkady is beautiful. We realised We had left the plains when it started to get cold. A jacket would be enough to survive the cold in Kerala hills though.

Trusting on Google Maps, We reached Periyar Tiger Reserve early morning. There was a long long long line of impatient people to get on the boat that goes around Periyar. You'll spot nothing but birds. No tigers. As soon as we got out of Periyar, there were a variety of restaurants of every cuisine, no surprise since its a tourist spot. From Thekkady we left for my favourite, Munnar.

Munnar is beautiful! I kid you not, People say its a lot like north east, but i havent been to north east so i cannot say so. Munnar is the kind of hill station i havent been to before, its beautiful! There's Old Munnar and New Munnar. I suggest stay in or around Old Munnar, since New munnar has nothing but expensive hotels. We got a room for 2000 bucks. Relaxing there for a while, we went out to roam the streets of the beautiful hill station. To my surprise unlike other hilly areas, Munnar shops and street vendors were open till 12 am. And oh my god. The food. Warning for people who cannot handle the spices. Its not just spicy, its crazy spicy. But the food is delicious, and extremely cheap. Returning to our room, We celebrated. Next morning was again going to be a long one, but that didn't stop us from staying awake late.

Checking out, We left to visit the Top Station, which is on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. On our way to Top Station, We stopped by the Echo Point. We had to fill in and do the touristy stuff too. Bought obligatory Nariyal Paani and started screaming. It does echo! Soon we stopped at Kundala Lake and did some boating. Not because we wanted to do boating, but because its beautiful. A lake amidst the hills, the view was breathtaking. We finally reached Top Station.. Surrounded by clouds, We couldn't see anything. A little bit of trekking has to be done from the parking to reach the Top Station point, but nothing major that cannot be managed. Photo sessions were obligatory, and so was eating Mirchi Pakoda. Kerala has the best pakode, just btw!

Getting down from Top Station, We left for our next stop, Athirapally Waterfall. This is one ride i can never forget. It was getting dark, and not a soul around. We drove on the muddy roads through the forest, nervous, no accommodation on the way, not a single street light and drop dead silence. The journey was scary honestly.. We couldnt wait to find the first place of accommodation, and we did, 2 Kms from Athirapally waterfall. The owner was a really sweet Malayali man, who had just opened up his lodge and we were one of the first people to stay there. The rooms were decent, and at 1000 bucks, we slept the night away. In the morning, We reached Athirapally Waterfall, trekked till the waterfall from the parking, which is quite tiring i must say. The Trek is about 10-15 minutes, gasping for air since its a downhill trek and then uphill on our way back. You cannot go near the waterfall since its not a waterfall to have a bath in, probably click a selfie around while playing in the water. No. Its huge and you should stay back and enjoy the view.

After Athirapally, We left for the most obvious thing to do when in Kerala. The boathouse. We reached Alappuzha and rented a guest room of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation because boy! Accommodation here is expensive and hard to find. Now all the other Boathouses were quite expensive, So we went ahead with KTDC boathouse at a reasonable prize of 10K for the next night. You can rent for upto a month, but 1-2 days is seriously enough. Normally, one would expect a government boathouse to not be any better than a private one, but we were taken aback! It was beautiful! We had a 2 room boathouse, with a beautiful deck, and AC! You need AC boathouse, you cannot do without the AC on a boathouse, and even if you do, the insects are going to kill you. The boathouse was the incentive and the prize for our extremely sleepless foodless yet breathtaking journey till now. It is a MUST! The view is like those you see on Google Images, or probably Windows screensavers. Its unbelievable. One cannot miss the boathouse when in Kerala. The food is included in the cost, they give Lunch, Evening snacks, Dinner and the Breakfast in the morning before they get you back to the shore.

After an amazing relaxed day in Alapuzzha, We left for Kochi. Kochi was like any other city, We went to Fort Kochi to chill. And no, Fort Kochi doesnt have a fort. The place is called Fort Kochi. We couldnt stay there for longer, We had to get back to Kidaganoor since our journey was to come to an end and we had to return the car. We reached Kidaganoor, returned the car and took the bus to Mepaddi, Wayanad.

It took us 6-8 hours to reach Mepaddi, and it got cold again since we had left the plains. Our last stop was to trek to Chembra Peak. The trek is exhausting, and you cannot go without a guide because there isn't a particular way, and unlike getting worried about people getting lost in Himachal, Wayanad people differ on this. We had a guide to follow till the peak. There was a beautiful heart shaped lake on the top, and believe me, We slept off lying down on the grass. The wind was fresh, it was an amazing, relaxing feeling.. like one at the spa, only better. Getting down from the peak, we took a bus to Kozhikode.

On reaching Kozhikode, We made an impromptu plan. We didn't have tickets back to Delhi because we weren't sure of leaving just yet, We had planned to leave the way we came, through Tatkal. So we got a general ticket, and i wouldnt say it was the wisest of the decisions, but we left for Goa, which was 12 hours away, in a general compartment, fighting for our lives haha, but we did it anyway. We reached Goa in the morning, stayed in south Goa for a change for 3 days, got our tickets and left for Delhi from Madgaon.

Kerala was spontaneous yet planned, which is required for a successful trip. You need patience, will and determination to travel. Luxury was not a priority and it didnt even bother us.

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