10 Cities/Towns In A 5-Day Trip To Kerala By Public Transport

19th Oct 2018
Photo of 10 Cities/Towns In A 5-Day Trip To Kerala By Public Transport by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

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Kerala, also known as God's Own Country, is on the southwestern coast of India. The state is home to the world-famous backwaters, most beautiful beaches of India, the highest peak in the Western Ghats & South India, many of the old temples of India, and much more. Kerala's beauty is at its peak post Monsoon season & I planned a close to perfect trip with my college friends for the October month of the year 2018.

Day 1

1. Thiruvananthapuram

We took an early morning flight from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram. The seashore was visible from the plane when we were landing at the Thiruvananthapuram Airport. We all were very excited to witness the beauty of the state we just saw in pictures until now. I had already created an itinerary after doing some online research, so we just had to follow that without thinking twice.

We started the journey with the blessings of Lord Maha Vishnu at Padmanabhaswamy Temple, which is said to be the richest temple in the world. It has been referred to in the Sangam Period of literature between 500 BCE and 300 CE several times. After Darshan, we walked to the Swaad Pure Vegetarian Restaurant, as they were serving Onam special meal, and we had a relishing breakfast there.

2. Kovalam

The second destination was Kovalam Beach, around 11 km from the temple. We walked to East Fort Bus Stand, from where we took a city bus to Kovalam. There are both AC and non-AC services from East Fort to Kovalam every 15-20 minutes. We reached Kovalam within 30 minutes.

Kovalam Beach is home to a lighthouse, and you can witness the local fishermen doing their job. The water is clean and neat to take a dip at this black sand beach. After taking a bath, we headed to the lighthouse, which has a per person ticket of Rs. 10. The view from the top is mesmerizing and similar to what I saw from the airplane while landing.

It was already lunch time, so we headed to a South Indian restaurant before leaving for the city. We ordered traditional South Indian food, i.e., Idli, Vada, Dosa, which is also my all-time favorite when I am in the southern region of India. After that, we took a bus back to East Fort Bus Stand.

3. Varkala

We walked to Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station and boarded a train for Varkala, which is at a distance of nearly 43 km. We bought the ticket on the spot and traveled in the General Bogey. We reached Varkala in another 45 minutes, we booked a cab from the railway station to the Jairam Cafe at North Cliff, where I had already booked our stay for the night.

Varkala, also known as the pearl of the Arabian Sea, is the only cliff beach in India. The cliff is full of cafes, restaurants, hotels & guest houses, and is connected by stairs with the beach. Jairam Cafe, located at the cliff, is a guesthouse suitable for budget travelers. It has an open cafe on the beachside and a stay facility on the backside. We reached there by around 5:30 PM, and we kept our bags there and rushed to the beach. We took a bath in the water, and then we witnessed the most beautiful sunset of our lifetime.

After sunset, we walked to the guesthouse, had a shower and went down to the cafe to eat some good North Indian food, which was very delicious. Then, we just strolled around to enjoy the ambiance and the vibe. We just sat on the cliff facing the sea and enjoyed that peaceful environment, as we could only hear the sound of waves in the sea. We called it a night early because we also had to travel to Kottayam by train at 7:35 AM the next day.

Day 2

4. Kottayam

We woke up around 6 AM and freshened up to reach the railway station by 7 AM. There's a canteen at the railway station, so we had our breakfast there & bought the ticket on the spot again for General Bogey.

We reached Kottayam in nearly 2.5 hrs, took an auto-rickshaw from the railway station to the Kodimatha Boat Jetty from where we boarded the boat, run by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD), to Alappuzha (formerly known as Alleppey) at 11 AM. The ticket price from Kottayam to Alappuzha was Rs. 19 / person and it was a 3 hrs journey.

There were few reasons for keeping this boat ride in the itinerary. First, it was cheap as compared to the facilities available in Alappuzha. Second, we could see a long stretch of backwaters. Third, we could see the way locals live and travel by the state-run boats. The boat halted at each village, similar to how buses take halt. It was astonishing to experience the lives of locals by so close.

5. Alappuzha (Alleppey)

The backwaters are as beautiful as we imagined, the still water surrounded by lush green forests and villages. We had never seen such a beautiful landscape ever. The weather turned cloudy when we were about to reach Alappuzha, I just felt like to be in this moment for a lifetime, and I never wanted this to end.

The joy ride ended, and we reached Alappuzha by around 2:15 PM. It was already lunchtime, so we walked to Shri Mahaveer Restaurant Pure Veg from Alappuzha Boat Jetty. The restaurant serves a typical North Indian home kind of food with delicious fulkas. We enjoyed and savored every bite of this relishing meal.

Post lunch, we took a city bus to the Alappuzha Railway Station and reached there within 15-20 mins by 2:30 PM. The railway station is situated near to Alappuzha Beach, so we bought the tickets for the train to Ernakulam Junction at 4:05 PM, and walked to the beach. We clicked a few photos at the beach and came back to the railway station by 3:50 PM. The train was already there on the platform, so we boarded the train and made ourselves comfortable.

The train journey was around 1.5 hrs long, with many small stations on the way with one side platform surrounded by green trees and plants. The train was running through the dark green forest and crossed many long bridges over the broad backwaters. This train journey was like a cherry on top of the cake.

6. Ernakulam

It was near dusk, with the sky growing dark in the distance when we reached Ernakulam, mainland portion of the city of Kochi. I had already booked our stay online at Hotel South Gate Residency in Ernakulam. We walked from the railway station to the hotel and checked ourselves in to take some rest. After taking some rest, a few of us took a shower, and then we ordered our food online, as it was raining outside.

Day 3

After enjoying the time at the seaside, the itinerary was taking us to the mountains. I had booked a self-drive rental car through Revv for the next three days. They delivered the car at the hotel in the morning, and we started the road trip after enjoying the complimentary breakfast at the hotel.

We started towards Vagamon, at a distance of nearly 100 km from Kochi, at around 10 AM. We stopped in Piravom to visit the church and continued our journey. We covered a distance of 75 km and reached Erattupetta, a small town, by 1 PM, so we had our lunch there at a roadside restaurant. We had all-time favorite Masala Dosa without thinking twice.

Post lunch, we drove to the Maramala Waterfalls. We followed the Google Maps and reached to a no road zone, so if you're driving to the waterfalls, please check with the locals once. We arrived at the waterfalls by 3 PM after wasting an hour. There's a short walk to the waterfalls through the pineapple farm from the place where the road ends.

We hiked up to the pool of the waterfall, which is surrounded by large boulders. We sat on one of those boulders, enjoyed the water spray, clicked some photos, and came back to the parking spot. There was a guard less truck full of pineapples parked near our vehicle, so we did an unethical act of stealing two pineapples, which I would not encourage any of you to do.

7. Vagamon

We left that spot around 4 PM and drove another 11 km to reach Vagamon by 4:30 PM. Vagamon is a small hill station, at an elevation of 3900 ft, in the Idukki district of the state of Kerala. Vagamon town, surrounded by valleys on all sides, is a beautiful hill station with beauty still untouched by commercialization. We enjoyed the weather and scenic beauty there while enjoying the delicious ice cream.

We started from Vagamon at around 5:15 PM and drove nearby 35 km to reach Kattapanna, a municipal town in the Idukki district, by 6:30 PM. We took a halt there to eat dinner as we still had to cover a distance of 70 km to reach our stay for the day, and there was no large town after that, so there were very slim chances that we'll find a place to eat if not here. We entered a restaurant serving South Indian meals, and we had a tasty South Indian dinner again. We finished dinner by 7:15 PM, and continued the journey.

8. Chinnakanal

Since Chinnakanal is near to Munnar and it has many resorts and hotels, I had already booked our stay for the night there at the Double Tree Villa. We reached the hotel by 10:15 PM, ate those stolen pineapples in comfort and called it a night as it was a very long day.

Day 4

9. Munnar

We all had a sound sleep and woke up amidst the majestic lush green mountains.

Munnar, also known as the Kashmir of South India, is a hill station at an elevation of 5200 ft in the Western Ghats mountain range. Munnar is famous for the valleys covered with tea plantation established in the late 19th century, hiking trails, and 8842 ft tall Anamudi Peak.

Eravikulam National Park in Munnar is a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri Tahr, and Neelakurinji flowers, purplish-blue flowers that blossoms only once in 12 years. We were lucky that Neelakurinji was blossoming in 2018 after 12 years, that is also a reason that I planned this trip.

We started the journey to Eravikulam National Park in the morning around 8 AM. As we covered a distance of 7 km, we saw Chinnakanal Waterfalls on the roadside. It is a small and picturesque waterfall, so we took some pictures and continued our journey. We reached the national park by around 9:30 AM by covering another 24 km from the waterfalls.

I had already completed the booking for the national park through their website. We reached there, parked our car, and collected the physical tickets by showing our government identification cards. A personal vehicle is not allowed inside the national park, so they run buses for the travelers to reach on the top where we saw many Nilgiri Tahrs roaming around freely, and the famous Neelakurinji flowers.

The view from the top was mesmerizing, and the green valleys were visible to the distance with thin clouds hovering around like the fog. After enjoying a good time at the national park, we traveled back to Munnar, at a distance of 8 km from there. We came back to the town by 11:30 AM, and we hadn't had much from the morning, so we had our brunch first.

Then, we headed to the Tea Museum, where they show the processing of tea from a leaf to the bag. They also offer a hot cup of tea to every visitor, and they sell the famous Munnar tea for visitors to buy. After the museum, we visited the Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, which started in 1898 as the first catholic church in the region by Father Alphonse of the Spanish Missionary. Then, we left for the Top Station, which is at a distance of 35 km from there.

Top Station offers a panoramic view of the majestic Western Ghats and the valley of the Theni district. The place was the upper terminus of the Kottagudi Aerial Ropeway, which used to deliver tea from Munnar to Bodinayakkanur in the early 90s.

We reached there by 2 PM, parked the car, and bought the ticket to the viewpoint. We took some pictures, enjoyed the view there and hiked up to drive to the Echo Point in the direction back to Munnar after having hot Maggi and the Munnar tea.

Echo Point is self-explanatory, the voice echoes there if you shout out loud. After that, we stopped at Mattupetty Dam, which is a storage Concrete Gravity dam built in the mountains to conserve water for hydroelectricity.

I had already booked the rooms at Cicily Cottage. So, we drove around 10 km from the dam to reach the guesthouse. By the time we reached the hotel, it was dark, and we had covered all the places on the itinerary for the day. We had dinner at Purohit Restaurant, and we ate home kind of food with delicious fulkas similar to what we ate in Alappuzha.

Post dinner, we strolled in the market and bought homemade chocolates & other local items. Then, we walked back to the hotel and slept out of the tiredness.

Day 5

We woke up amidst the hustle and bustle of a hill station, chimneys spewing out white clouds of exhaust. The temperature was around 18° C, and all we needed was the hot cup of tea. We had the tea while gazing at the town, experiencing the routine morning of that place.

We freshened up, packed our bags, and went to the market to have some breakfast before checking out of the hotel. After checking out from the guesthouse, we visited CSI Christ Church, the headquarters of the CSI Munnar Pastorate with over thousand Tamil families and 18 outstation churches.

After that, we went to Blossom Park, expanded over an area of 16 acres, and consists of a vast expanse of gardens and lawns with a variety of flora. We walked around the park, clicked loads of pictures, and then it was time to say goodbye to the most beautiful and famous hill station of Southern India.

We set out to drive to the hotel I had booked near Cochin International Airport as we had a flight the next day morning back to Bangalore. I booked Hotel Ebenezer Plaza in advance, which is at a distance of just 2 km from the airport. We left from Munnar at around 10:30 AM and covered a distance of 105 km to reach the hotel by 2 PM. We took a halt on the way for lunch where we had paper masala dosa.

10. Kochi

After checking in to the hotel, we had half of the day with us to explore the city of Kochi. We left for Cochin Port at around 3 PM, and we reached by 4 PM, covering a distance of 40 km. At the port, we were told by a local that the mighty Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya is docked there, but the civilians weren't allowed to enter the port premises. So, the only way was to take a ferry from port to Vypin and witness the aircraft carrier from the boat. We did a to and fro journey from port to Vypin as we parked our car near the port boat jetty.

Finally, we witnessed the king of Indian waters from the boat, and I felt like this is the most surprising thing ever happened to me. INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier and the flagship of the Indian Navy, which entered into service in 2013. The ship is so big that it carries 1600 personnel at a time, including the crew. INS Vikramaditya has the capability to house aircraft such as MiG-29Ks and Sea Harrier fighter jets, and also helicopters including Kamov, Sea King, Dhruv & Chetak.

After we reached back to the port boat jetty, we drove to the Fort Kochi, which was a 20 min ride. Fort Kochi is a region toward the south-west of the mainland Kochi. It s famous for the old Portuguese Colony, Mahatma Gandhi Beach, and Chinese Fishing nets. We strolled around the Portuguese Colony, and it was neat & clean, very well maintained. Post that, we walked to the Mahatma Gandhi Beach & we walked across the beach. Then, we walked to the Chinese Fishing nets where fishers were carrying the sea animals in the vessels.

It was already dark, so we thought of having dinner at one of the cafes in East Fort. We drove to the Mocha Art Cafe, which was a 15 min ride from the beach. We had plates of pasta and sandwiches there along with the cold beverages. It was around 9 PM when we finished dinner, so we decided to drive back to the hotel and take a sound sleep before taking off for Bangalore the next day.

We reached the hotel by 10:30 PM, the delivery person from Revv came to collect the car around 11 PM. The next day we woke up and checked out of the hotel, and reached the airport. We took off from Kerala with the thought of coming back soon to this state, because it is as beautiful as we see in pictures. The locals are very welcoming & very helpful that you'll feel like home. Please visit yourself and share the experience.


Day 1:

1.1. Bangalore to Thiruvananthpuram by flight (5:55 AM - 7:10 AM, 1 Hr 15 Mins)

1.2. Thiruvananthpuram to Kovalam by city bus (11:00 AM - 11:30 AM, 30 Mins)

1.3. Kovalam to Thiruvananthpuram by city bus (03:30 PM - 04:00 PM, 30 Mins)

1.4. Thiruvananthpuram to Varkala by train (4:40 PM - 5:30 PM, 50 Mins)

Day 2:

2.1. Varkala to Kottayam by train (07:35 AM - 10:00 AM, 2 Hrs 25 Mins)

2.2. Kottayam to Alappuzah by public boat (11:00 AM - 02:15 PM, 3 Hrs 15 Mins)

2.3. Alappuzah to Ernakulam by train (04:05 PM - 05:30 PM, 1 Hrs 25 Mins)

Day 3:

3.1. Ernakulam to Vagamon by self drive car/taxi (10:00 AM - 04:30 PM, 6 Hrs 30 Mins)

3.2. Vagamon to Kattapanna by self drive car/taxi (05:15 PM - 06:30 PM, 1 Hr 15 Mins)

3.2. Kattapanna to Chinnakanal by self drive car/taxi (07:15 PM - 10:15 PM, 3 Hrs)

Day 4:

4.1. Chinnakanal to Munnar by self drive car/taxi (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM, 1 Hr 30 Mins)

4.2. Munnar Sightseeing by self drive car/taxi

Day 5:

5.1. Munnar to Kochi by self drive car/taxi (10:30 AM - 02:00 PM, 4 Hrs 30 Mins)

5.2. Kochi Sightseeing by self drive car/taxi

Day 6:

6.1. Kochi to Bangalore by flight (09:40 - 10:55 AM, 1 Hr 15 Mins)

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