From the road not taken to the road finally taken…

3rd Jan 2017

Escaping is one of the best ways to kill the monotony that we social animals are bound into every day, for the rest of our lives. And for those who hail from a middle class family, escape comes once every year when your family has decided to splurge all those savings in exchange of candy-coated memories and a billion photographs to look back to.

Just like any simple family, the discussion of where this so called ‘extravagance’ must lead us to, seemed to be vague and counterproductive. Debate after debate after debate. Finally the path to righteousness.. well… to be honest, my father’s final decision showed us the light. Our much awaited trip was finally leading us to ‘God’s Own Country’.

Our trip came at the perfect time. We decided to wander through Kerala during the peak season of January. Generally, Kerala marks three tourist seasons, with the peak season ranging from September to March. If you’ve always wanted to unravel the mysteries and beauty of Kerala and soak your soul into a blend of Culture, Spice and Ayurveda, then pack your bags my friend, this vacation will be more than just a trip. Before I take you forth with my narration about how my trip was and what all places I visited, let me give you a teensy bit of an insight which will help you a lot when you step into your walking shoes and book a cab to the airport.

It is crucial that you plan your trip because let me tell you, I was there in Kerala for five days and NO it was not enough! A place like that deserves a lot more. But I understand, in this fast moving life, we barely get a weekend off but that should never stop you from indulging into a soul searching trip to your favorite destination. Kerala has three airports. The first one is Kochi International Airport, the other one Trivandrum International and lastly, Calicut International Airport. We hopped on our flight from Mumbai and waited patiently for our dream destination, Kochi. We had booked an early morning flight so that we have the whole day to ourselves and before the temperature could hit the roof, we would be there chilling in our hats and sipping on to those refreshing welcome drinks.

Before this gets further complicated, let me break my expedition for you!

Day 1

Destination: Alleppey

Reached Kochi around 8 in the morning and trust me when I tell you this, the view from the sky was breath-taking. I’m still mooning and planning for a second excursion. You could even go for a train, but for all those scenery loving people out there I would totally recommend taking a flight. Plus, you save a lot of time. Standing on the soil of Kerala, we booked a cab which will take us to our double decker houseboat in Alleppey. Note to people out there: If you’re ever visiting Kerala, please, please, please pre book yourself a houseboat if you want to explore the waters of Kerala and relax your senses. The fresh smell of the sea is totally worth all the money you will be spending on it.

Welcome drinks were served which soon turned to a scrumptious meal of Sambar and Rice and then snacks in the evening with every Indian’s favorite ‘chai’ was simply cherry on the icing. Our day passed by relaxing and chilling on the deck with a cool breeze as the boat moved through the less-explored waters. And if you’re a foodie like us, then give your taste buds an alluring experience by treating yourself with a plate of never experienced platter of sea food. Sorry, but my mouth is watering.

Day 2

Destination: Thekkady

Re-energized and rejuvenated, with nature in our lungs, the squad got into the booked taxi ready to explore the spice plantations on our way to Thekkady. The love of nature and belief in Ayurveda, makes this the ‘it’ place for you. Pamper yourself with a tranquilizing Ayurvedic massage and rekindle your spirits. The reds, greens, yellows and browns of the nature can captivate you and teleport you to a new place, altogether. Frankly, I have never had the opportunity to witness such huge almond trees. Just as we stepped into this totally new land, the strong smell of spices and wild bushes lingered our soul. Don’t you just love spices! Beauty of these rare and extinct plant species is quite transcendent.

For the shopaholics in you, then here’s a little piece of advice. Try to get yourself a hotel in the city. The dimly lit pop-up shops and the cool evening breeze makes the ambiance much worthwhile. In the evening, we decided to take a stroll at the nearby local market and purchase the famous hand woven sarees and a dozen spices as a souvenir to cherish these memories for the rest of our lives. And the best thing about this place is the quick and sudden shift

Exhausted, we finally crashed into our hotel rooms contemplating what adventures will the next day bring.

Day 3

Destination: Munnar

Day three saw a little delay in the commencement of our adventures. Lack of time and human strength had postponed our plan to visit Periyar National Park from day 2 to day 3. Periyar National Park is a must while you’re visiting Thekkady. This national park is a home to a significant population of tigers and elephants.

My personal favorite was the Elephant Safari. Have you ever wanted to feed, bathe and bathe with a baby elephant? Well, I’ve always had! Scrubbing her scaly skin and feeding her a dozen bananas, and finally sitting on top of her when she thrusted water out of her nostrils and drenched me with more than just plain cold water, I knew this memory will be etched in my heart forever! How I wish I could go back to ‘Beena’, my elephant companion.

Finally, off we went bidding our wild friends goodbye.

On our way to Munnar, the luscious tea plantations stole my heart. I’ve never been so mesmerized by such greenery. Next stop was the famous Mattupetty Dam and the echo point. Make sure you are not too late to experience paddle boating in the lake.

What I’ve constantly been forgetting to mention is our innumerable impromptu stoppages at the local food joints to relish the delectable cuisines.

Our day ended with more than 5 kilo grams of tea packets of I don’t even remember how many flavors.

Day 4

Destination remains the same

Commemorating day 4 with an amazing cup of tea, basking in the early morning sunlight in a resort which is in the middle of a 150-acre cardamom plantation. For anyone who wants to escape the hustling and bustling of city life, this place will definitely cure all your Monday blues and weekday woes. The beauty of this resort were not just the cottages and freshly made fruit juice with complimentary breakfast every morning. But the serenity and tranquility of silence. As far as our eyes could reach, we could only see flora and fauna that we’ve never seen before. If you love relaxing as much as I do, then you would definitely understand how it feels to have warm soup, being wrapped up in a blanket after a long and tiring day. This day’s best stop was an amusement park which had more than a hundred activities to participate into. From zip way to camel ride to mountain climbing to walking on a single rope over a lake, the thrill and excitement seemed to have no boundaries.

In the evening, the exhausted squad took to the famous local markets and spent heavy bucks on chocolates and other local delicacies.

Day 5

Destination: Airport before 4 in the evening.

I know what you would say. We have barely explored anything. But it’s time to leave. We had our flight from Kochi International airport only and before we bid Kerala our final goodbyes, we wanted to explore further. Packing our bags, we hopped into the car and buckled ourselves for the adventures that this day entails. On our way back to Kochi, we went through a series of sedating landscapes, waterfalls and tea plantations. Reaching our destination and getting off the car, the realization that this is going to be it, left each of us teary eyed. Some places cast an indelible mark in our hearts and Kerala sure does and always will be the escape that I’ll look forward to whenever the monotony of life strikes again!