Gods Own Country- Kerala (Part 2)

25th Dec 2014
Photo of Gods Own Country- Kerala (Part 2) 1/15 by Kasturi Karuna
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Photo of Gods Own Country- Kerala (Part 2) 8/15 by Kasturi Karuna
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Photo of Gods Own Country- Kerala (Part 2) 10/15 by Kasturi Karuna
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Photo of Gods Own Country- Kerala (Part 2) 15/15 by Kasturi Karuna

When you don't get enough of a place then it's called God's Own Country-Kerala. Even after my second sojourn, I still feel like returning there. That's the magic this place has had on me.

The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing.” ― Dan Simmons, Drood

How to Reach

I started from Kolkata to Chennai since a flight to and from Kochi was expensive

Kolkata – Chennai – Pondicherry – Fort Kochi – Alleeppy – Varkala – Kovlam – Kanyakumari-Madurai-Coimbatore-Chennai-Kolkata

25Th Dec: Arrive at Chennai Airport. Took an AC seater bus for Pondicherry from Chennai Bus stand and reached Pondi by 1 in the afternoon.

26th Dec-Caught a bus from Pondi at 7 pm in the evening to Kochi reaching at 11am in the morning next day

27th Dec-Halt in Kochi

28th Dec-Took a train to Alleppy in the evening at 6 to reach Alleppy in less than hour

29Th Dec-Halt at Alleppy

30th Dec-Train to Varkala in the morning around 7 am to reach Varkala by 9:30 am

31Th Dec-Train to Trivandrum at 1 PM in the afternoon to reach by 2:30 pm

1st Jan-Train to Kanyakumari at 12 reaching by 3 pm

2nd Jan-Train to Madurai at 5 in the evening reaching by 10 pm

3rd Jan-Bus to Coimbatore at 1 pm in the afternoon reaching at 5 pm to catch onward train to Chennai at 9 pm

4th Jan-Reached Chennai early morning to catch a flight for Kolkata


Day 1: Kolkata to Pondicherry

I started early in the morning around 5 to catch my flight to Chennai. I used the information desk at the airport to find out the local bus stand. Checked the distance online and bargained to reach there by 9:30.Took the first AC bus. The ride was very comfortable since it was Volvo. Since the ECR road is quiet thin we reached only by 1 in the afternoon. After having a quick lunch and checking in a hotel we went directly to French Colony to hire a bike for two days. We got it pretty cheap (300 for two evenings) since the scooty wasn’t in great shape which we realized only after hiring it. Being a festive day the French town was bustling with people who had travelled here to celebrate the day.

I had been here before but always due to constraint of time and so many things to do roaming around in the small colonial strip of the town never happened. If one notices closely the building architecture in this part of the city is very European in nature. There has been immense use of wood in it and the colours are also found rarely for Indian houses. After a quick stroll we rested at a café for tea and snacks and later went around roaming on the scooty. Later we enjoyed an evening after fine dinner in one of the restaurants that lined the beach.

Day 2 :- Around Pondicherry

Early in the morning we headed for Paradise beach which can only be reached by a boat. Since there is a queue to be formed it is advisable to start early (8 AM) and be back by 12 in the afternoon. The beach is quiet well maintained though swimming is not allowed here. It has white sand and is lined with palm trees which provide shade for sitting.

There is an eerie kind of freedom you feel while riding around in tourist cities on a two wheeler. The helps you to plan your itinerary and spend as much time as wished at any place. We went to a non-descript lake called Austry Lake which is not a great treat to eyes when there is so much water in the trip already. After that we went to Auroville and spent the evening there strolling in the last area that it has.

Since it was 26th there weren’t any seats available in any of the buses. So we have change the plan and instead of heading to Madurai we took the just the opposite route and headed for Kochi in the last two seats available.

Day 3 :- Fort Kochi

Either the route to Kochi isn’t great or there was a problem with the bus we were travelling the bus journey wasn’t very comfortable. It was delayed by more than 4 hours and the only respite was that we had a sleeper seat. The journey also made it very difficult to natures call. The construction going on in Kochi for metro rail made the last lap of the journey even slower. Even after reaching Kochi the destination was far. We took a local bus to Fort Kochi since I wasn’t aware of the jetty point.

To point Kochi is made of 3 major islands and besides being connected by road they have boats which can ferry you around cutting the travel time dramatically.1.5 hours to 20 minutes.

Inspite of all this we were in Fort Kochi by 12 .We kept our luggage at one of the homestays we have booked and headed immediately for lunch. We had already fixed a scooty for us for a day. After the lunch we roamed around in the small town which might not be more than 4 kilometres. Had awesome evening snacks in one of the cafes that lined the streets near synagogue.

There are 2 major streets here for tourists and there main attraction is the multi colored clothes and artifacts that are sold. Fort Kochi beach is dirty because the water hyacinth that lines it but there is too much of crowd and noise here. The beach overlooks the petroleum plants that are built on the port on the Ernakulum Island. With scooty in possession we spent the evening just moving around the city and halting her and there as wished.

Day 3 :- Fort Kochi Cherai Beach

Located at a distance of 40 kms from Fort Kochi by road the jetty cuts the distance by half. Early morning after breakfast we rode on the scooty. First we crossed a small stretch of water reducing the distance by 20 kms .Then compensated this by following the google map which was giving wrong direction. I would say the road was pretty good and the ride was smooth.

We didn’t spend much time there as due to peak season there was much crowd however the beach was good and clean and would be more soothing in non-peak season. Returning back we had lunch and then took the boat jetty to cross and reach station in another 5 minutes. In an hour we entered ALLEEPY. The home stay booked awaited us with surprise. Nestled away near one of the backwaters and quiet off from the main town. Again one point to be noted is most of the places are easier to reach by boat than road. A wooden cottage with a private balcony overlooking the one of the water lanes. A wooden bench for sitting just outside the cottage, a perfect recipe for an evening tea.

Day 4 :- Alleppy Back Water

This day we have reserved for basically two major activities for which Kerala is most famous, massage and back waters. From our guest house we took the boats which are used for transport to reach the main jetty. Most of the commercial activities are in and around this area. We went for the most basic Kerala massage and I would recommend a full hour head massage would be worthier than a full body massage. We had lunch at one of the local shops serving authentic Kerala food and spent the rest of the day admist back waters.

We hopped off at one of the stops and went around the paddy fields for an hour. In the night we had a little bit of adventure when stopped at 2 stops before as we wanted to walk. We realized that this small 1 km walk was not that easy as we encountered small streams. We were helped by local villagers to find our way back.

Day 5 :- Alleppy to Varkala

As Kerala unfolded in front of us as days passed by we encountered beauty in its different forms. Varkala is one of the most beautiful beech of this country. Firstly if you visit the Varkala south beach it has what is really sea green water. Different shades of water can be seen up to the horizon. Secondly it has which is quiet rare called the cliff beech. Most of the hotels are located on the top of the cliff and have a private stair way down up to the beach. The varkala main beach is very crowded as it is considered as the main beach and has all the eating joints.

However if you love privacy and serenity south cliff is the place. The distance from south beach to main beech via the beech is just a kilometer and via road it’s around 2.5 kms. During the day when the tide is low we walked along the beach. However during the night we preferred road as between the two beeches there comes a rocky patch and is risky during high tide in the night. The last 3 days of the year also coincides with the Shivagiri festival which attracts a huge crowd to Varkala.

Day 6 :- Varkala to Trivandrum to Kovalam

Next morning we went to the main beech for breakfast and after strolling a bit on the beech we packed our bags for the next destination, Kolvalam. We reached Trivandrum by afternoon and checked in a hotel there. Then we headed to Kovalam which just 15 kms from there. Again quiet a descent beech by Indian standards but it was heavy crowded and we could not find any patch where we could just be alone. So we destined ourselves to enjoy the crowd. The sunset was quiet beautiful the best of all was yet to come.

Day 7:- Trivandrum to Kanyakumari

Now this place has some special place is my heart for the mere fact that it is the southernmost point of the Indian peninsula and had always read all it all throughout my life. We luckily got a train we took us directly to Kanyakumari else there is a place called Nagercoil which is the terminating station for most of the trains. The main part of this city is just 500 meters from the station and if just is light on your luggage you can just walk. As we didn’t want to miss the sunset we check in, freshened up and moved for a quick lunch.

Then we moved Swami Vivekananda memorial which is quiet a large cordoned off area. Within this area we have what is called the sunrise point .By the time we covered it we were quiet late to reach the other coast for a sunset. But Kanyakumari being a just a point the hue of the sunset was so strong that even the eastern sky was lit orange. The Vivekananda memorial in the sea against the orange sky was something which could just make you numb. The beauty of the place was just surreal. After spending almost an hour post sunset as the sky still remained orange we headed to visit a local church followed by some local shopping. The next morning our hotel guy was good enough to give us a wakeup call for the sunrise. I would like the sunrise in Kanyakumari is one if the best one could see in entire life. The sheer beauty of this place can be gauges from the fact that there is no inch left to stand. So staying in one of the hotels which provides a good view is an added bonus.

Day 8 and 9:- Kanyakumari to Madurai

Due to lack of time we had to drop Rameshwaram from the itinerary and we headed for the last major stop Madurai. We reached there by evening and checked in a hotel. Next day early morning we headed for Meenashi temple which is walking distance from the railway station. Quiet a big and majestic temple. One can easily spend more than 2 to 3 hours inside just appreciating the architecture. Due to time constraints we again savored a good Kerala lunch and headed for Coimbatore in a bus. The railway station of Coimbatore is quiet developed. As I had been there exactly a year earlier I knew there was church nearby and good outlet to eat and spent some time before boarding the Nilgiri express for Chennai.

Day 9:- Chennai to Kolkata via Flight

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