Backpacking Southern Kerala:
Key Points of this trip:
• Type: Solo
• Starting city: Bangalore
• Places covered: Alleppey, Kollam, Varkala, Trivandrum, Ponmudi and Kovalam.
• Transportation type: Public
• Number of Days: 4 days
• Month of Travel: November
• Temperature of the places: Moderate
• Languages required: I managed with Hindi and English.
Kerala is one of the most beautiful states of India. Blessed my mother nature, it is highly reach in flora and fauna. Beautiful beaches, spellbinding and unique backwaters and lush green hills, Kerala has it all.
Bangalore, Alleppey, Kollam, Varkala, Trivandrum, Ponmudi and Kovalam.
Day 1: Abundance of buses leaves from Bangalore for Kerala. I took a ticket for Alleppey in the most widely available transporter of Kerala, Kallada Travels. Bus left Bangalore at 10 PM from Madiwala.
Day 2: By 6:00 AM, I was at Alleppey beach. Alleppey beach is not as happening as other beaches of Kerala, and you can manage to find a place to seat alone and watch the sea and talk to yourself. In a walking distance you have a lighthouse and few restaurants. After breakfast I headed to bus stop which is like 500m from the beach and boarded a bus for a place near to the backwater station, boat jetty road. On one side of the road we can see a boat parking area and more than hundred boats waiting for tourists. Various types of boats are available, motor boats, Shikara boats, backwater Cruise, houseboat and public ferry. I booked a Shikara boat for myself at Rs. 500 per hour. Two hours of boating and a beautiful picture of Kerala was drawn in heart. While on the shikara boat, I saw many local boats plying in the backwater carrying all the local passengers. It would stop on either side of the backwater every now and then a village comes. That boat gathered all my attention and I wanted to board that. I returned to the Allepy main boat station and from there took Rs.10 ticket of the local boat. It was 100 times better than the single ride of Shikara. It gives you immense scope to see the lives of local people closely. I got down at one stop, wandered around and ended up in a restaurant for lunch. You have many restaurants on either side of the backwater. A fresh fish fried in a Kerala way and Kerala special rice awaits you on a scenic side of backwater. Returning boat to Allepy will be coming in every 20-30 minutes. I returned to Alleppy bus station by 3 and boarded bus for Kollam. By sun set time I reached Kollam light house. It was an amazing time, the light house and the marine drive. Only problem is finding a means of transport from the lighthouse to the city after evening. I requested a local to drop me to nearby bus stop in his cycle and he happily dropped me to the bus stop situated at around 1.5 KM. I got a bus from there to the main market. I planned to stay in Kollam but it was difficult to find a budget hotel. Somehow I found one in the market and stopped for the night.
Day 3: I started the day early. I planned to reach Varkala early as possible. There are two routes for that, I wanted to go along the beach side so opted for route via paravur. From Kollam I took a bus to paravur and from paravur to Varkala. You need an auto ride from the bus stand to varkala cliff. I was blown away with the beauty of varkala. It looks so scenic from the cliff. Whole day I stayed in Varkala, majority of the time on the beach, swimming, basking, and repeating the same. I went to see sivagiri and light house too. Sivagiri was a quiet temple and lighthouse gave an amazing view of varkala. After watching the sun set in the sea, sipping tea at the sea facing restaurant on the varkala cliff, I headed to bus stop. Sweet sojourn of varkala came to an end. I had planned to end my day in the capital, Trivandrum. Many people said there’s an AC bus that leaves at evening from varkala to Trivandrum every day, so I waited for it near Janardanaswamy Temple. An hour wait but no sign of it. No concrete info either. As suggested by the locals I headed to varkala bus stop and boarded a bus for Attingal. Attingal is a place on highway and from there you get buses for Trivandrum every 20-30 minutes. Even a bus to Kallambalam will help you reach the same highway. From attingal I boarded a bus for Trivandrum which came after a wait of 10 minutes. I had booked my stay in Vedanta Awake near bus stop for the night.
Day 4: The day started quite early for me. I had three places in my itinerary for today, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Ponmudi and Kovalam beach.
The deity darshan of Padmanabhaswamy temple starts as early as 3:30 AM. The timing details are as below:
03.30 am to 04.45 am (Nirmalya Darshanam)
06.30 am to 07.00 am
08.30 am to 10.00 am
10.30 am to 11.10 am
11.45 am to 12.00 Noon
By the time I reached (5:30 AM), a huge queue stood in front of me. The dress code for the temple is really strict. You have to wear dhoti for lower body and angavastram for upper torso. You get the required clothes at nominal amount near the temple itself. A cloak room is situated at 100m from the temple where you need to submit everything, all your belongings. Mind you, the frisking is intense, as thorough as it’s on Airport. So, it’s better you submit everything at the cloak room.
Attired in dhoti and angavastram, I stood in a queue, rather I sat in the queue for almost 1.5 hours for the darshan. And finally my turn came. After darshan I headed to the bus stop and enquired for the bus to Ponmudi. I had to wait for almost an hour for the bus to ponmudi. Bus came at 9:00 am and finally after a beautiful journey of 2 hours I reached Ponmudi. Wow. That place was amazing. Endless mountain ranges stands in front of you, a dark blue sky above and chilling fresh wind will accompany wherever you walk. I stayed there walking here and there for around 3 hours and then descended to the bus stop. Another bus and back to Trivandrum by 4:00 PM. From Trivandrum an AC bus leaves for Kovalam beach every 30 minutes. I availed one of that bus post lunch and by evening I was at the beach. Nice, beautiful beach ornamented with red horizon of setting sun. Another day and same action followed. Sipping tea and watching the sun set in the sea. I gradually ambled along the beach and towards the exit. Bus stop is right on the exit of beach, facilitating regular AC/Non-AC buses for the city. I had my return ticket booked in SRS Travels, Trivandrum to Bangalore. Backpacking Southern Kerala came to an end as the bus started from Trivandrum at 9:00 PM.
Day 5: At morning 5:00 AM, I reached Bangalore.