A Weekend Trip to Kerala!

Tripoto

I have always had this preconceived notion about how beautiful Kerala is, and was always curious to know why is it one of the favorite tourist spots of the country.

Visiting it, I found my answer; and to describe it in a few words, so you get an idea about this splendid state, it has a long coastline, various hill stations with tea and spice plantations, culture showcased in dance forms and martial arts, as well as, the fishes, private houseboats, Dutch and Portuguese churches,the authentic Ayurvedic Spas and coconuts, lots of coconuts.

So it was one of those situations where I had 4 days off, and they best way to spend them was to plan a leisure trip!

Obviously because of the time constraints this trip was only about exploring the hill stations of the state and one/two major cities of Kerala!

The best way to explore this state is a road trip; the basic itinerary goes

COCHIN-THEKKADY-TRIVANDRUM.

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The beautiful coastline and paddy fields. About Kerala :

Winters and early summers are the best time to visit, the monsoon months should definitely be avoided!

It is a very diverse state, and has influences of Portuguese traditions established by Vasco da Gama, and later by the colonial rulers.

Malayalam is the official language but most of the people can converse in English.

Day 1:

Cochin has flight connectivity from most of the cities of the country, we landed at 12 pm. The airport is located on the outskirts hence it took us about an hour to reach the hotel in an Uber.

Cochin has been an important port since the 13th century; the city has two zones : Fort Cochin area and the City area.

I preferred staying in the Fort Cochin area because most of the historic sightseeing places are here.

As we were gonna be out the whole day, and for just a night, I chose this quaint bread and breakfast called "Fort Kochi Beach Inn".

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Location wise the hotel was perfect, everything was at a walkable distance of 5 minutes!

For getting around in the city tuktuks (auto rickshaws) are available, but I always prefer going around by foot.

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There was this intriguing piece of street art right outside our hotel.

After a quick bite, we started walking in the narrow streets. The hotel provided us with a map and we followed it.

We started with the Chinese fishing nets till the oldest synagogues, and ticked off all the touristy spots.

1. St Francis church

2. Dutch cemetery

3. Matancherry palace

4. Jew street

5. Jew synagogue

6. Maritime museums

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As the name suggests, Fort Kochi, you must probably be wondering, where the fort is, but unfortunately, there isn't one anymore!

The Chinese fishing nets, are used by fishermen since ages and were introduced to them by a Chinese fisherman named Zang. These days it has become more of a touristy trap.

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St. Francis Church is a colonial building, which has the tomb of Portuguese sailor, Vasco de Gama who is known to have started the first settlements in Fort Kochi area.

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After this long stroll and a hectic travelling day, we went to this unique eatery called "Kashi Art Cafe". (A MUST VISIT PLACE)

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Displays on the wall!

As you enter, there is an exhibit space full of art installations which just provides you with an impression of the ideology the cafe follows.

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So many textures in one space!

It had a vibrant yet tranquil vibe. We ended up snacking and chitchatting for about 2 hours here!

As the sun started to disappear, we walked back till the promenade, just enjoyed the view and this beautiful day concluded.

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Serene Sky

Day 2:

The travel from Cochin to Thekkady is about 7 hours by road, yes that's a lot, but the ghats, small towns are so picturesque that you wouldn't even notice the time!

Our check-in time was at 3 pm, so we left from Cochin after breakfast at around 8 30.

We had hired a driver and a sedan, who would be with us till the end of this journey. Luckily, he was fluent in English and Hindi and ended up being our guide too!

On our way we took a quick pit stop to glimpse the backwaters of Kerala!

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Surreal views of the plantations.

As we continued the drive, we took coconut water breaks and few moments to enjoy these valleys.

We reached our resort called Cardamom County, a four star property, located in an area called Kumily, also known as Thekkady / Periyar surrounded by misty green mountains, waterfalls, scented with spice and tea plantations.

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We checked in at 4 pm, got our cottages and immediately jumped into the pool.

Post high tea, we went to Periyar Cultural Centre, at sharp 6 pm, to watch a show of "Kalari : Mother of Martial Arts".

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And oh, we were mesmerized by the skills all these performer men possessed, their daring acts with swords and fire, left us with goosebumps. (yes it is a touristy activity, but it's worth watching it!)

We reached our hotel at 8 pm, had an amazing dinner at the "All Spice Restaurant" and called it a day!

Day 3 :

Waking up early in the morning, amidst the hazy and chilly mountains, listening patiently to the humming of insects and chirping of birds and breathing the purest oxygen was a calming experience.

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Post a heavy breakfast, we started our day with a "Spice Plantation Walking Tour" in Thekkady itself.

I always have wondered how the plants of these dry spices, used immensely in cooking and Ayurveda would be! There was so much to learn about these herbs and spices, thanks to the naturalist guide, who walked us through showed us all the plants, told us about their medicinal properties and other uses, and also made us try the raw and fresh hand plucked spices, 100% organic!

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Heliconia, also called as lobster claws.

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Pepper Plant

The colours of the pepper depends on the way it is harvested and dried.

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Coffee beans!

(won't elaborate this one)

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Cocoa Plant

I mean, REALLY? A yellow pod with white creamy soft seeds inside. I wouldn't have believed anyone if they said that's how a chocolate looks like at first.

This informative tour and some spice shopping at the end, we spent about two hours there.

On our way to the tiger reserve, we randomly stopped at a tea plantation hill where ladies were chopping the tree leaves.

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After seeing us, they welcomed us and taught us how to use the tool to cut the leaves! Damn, it was a quite tiring task and a complete exercise for ones arms!

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How tiny and beautiful a tea flower looks!

Next, we went to the "Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary". Cars are not allowed beyond the parking area and their buses take us to the lake side, deep into the forest.

When we reached there, the boat ride with wildlife spotting area, was pretty crowded with pre booked tours of travel companies! So going there early in the morning would have been a smarter choice!

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The views of the lake had us enthralled!

It was a little late for lunch, hence we went at the "Tamarind Restaurant" and "Spice Village" to eat, which is situated right next to our hotel and then enjoyed a property tour of this resort.

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Spice village is an eco living, experience based, sustainability focused resort built with local materials and craft. They have their own paper making, organic farming, solar powered living.

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All cottages have thatched roof, resembling the tribal huts of that region and the pool has chemical free water!

We reached back to our hotel at 4 30 pm, and took a quick dip in the pool because we had to catch a 6 pm Kathakali show and a pre booked Ayurvedic spa at 7 30 in our hotel itself.

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Male dancer!

Kathakali, an important classical dance style of India where all the features of human body as exaggerated in order to resemble the heaven. Katha means story, and Kali means play, hence it is a play of stories from Hindu Mythology.

If you reach the cultural centre at 5 30, you get to see how finely and patiently the make up is applied and costume is put on a dancer, which in itself is story that catches your attention.

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Female dancer!

All the colours on their faces are painted using organic colours from rice floor and yellow, black, red stones. Wood, Paper and Cloth is used in the costume.

The performances begin where all the tala (music beats), ragas, expressions, hand movements are explained to the audience. Then the story and dance begins with a lot of audience and performer interaction!

After this fantastic show, our day ended with a relaxing spa and dinner.

Day 4:

It was a lazy morning, and the check out day. We travelled from Thekkady to Trivandrum which is a 5 hour drive.

We had to catch a late evening flight back home, so we didn't explore this city much. Just visited the "Padmanaabh Swamy Temple" which was in the news a few years back, for possession of a hidden treasure in one of the chambers.

The temple has a gold idol of lord Vishnu, in a reclined position on the serpent.

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Following a satisfying darshan, we went to the airport, concluding this unforgettable weekend trip!

Hope my journey helps you plan yours! 🙂

Notes:

1. I didn't get the time to enjoy the backwaters of Kerala at Allepey , and even the beaches at Kovalam or Varkala, choosing between Munnar and Thekkady was also a difficult choice.

2. Would definitely recommend, going on tiger safaris at the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

3. Being a vegetarian, eating fish was not on the list for me, but there are these two hour authentic cooking courses available in most of these places.