Taste of Kerala


Ten days is too little a time for exploring a diverse and beautiful a state as Kerala. But, given that only that much time could be managed and attending a friend's Keralian Christian style wedding was important, tickets were booked for Kochi from Jaipur.

At Jaipur, the heat was scorching in October. The sky was azure and free of clouds. The scarcity of good quality food in Bikaner had made us oblivious of the mouth-watering dishes available around. So, we treated ourselves with a lunch at Barbecue Nation.....and it was like feeling alive again !!! A casual walk on the crowded streets of Jaipur..a visit to Hawa Mahal....and we were ready to commence our Kerala trip.

Kochi airport was unlike the other airports i have been to..the architecture was colonial form the outside...

Photo of Taste of Kerala 1/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

We wanted to avoid the hustle associated with planned trips, that promised "touching" upon as many destinations as possible. So, we had dropped Thekaddy and Athirapalli from our plan. We would visit only two destinations.....Munnar and Allepey...thereafter attend the wedding in the interiors of Kerala's green land.

Towards late evening we took a boat ride to Fort Kochi...and experienced first hand the life of a typical Keralite...living around the famed backwaters..feeding off the produce from the waters....earning off it..

We stayed at Adimali..... Ela Ecoland Resort ......a privately owned resort located inside a cardamom plantation..with its own little rivulet...rich in flora and fauna...densely forested..absolutely magical.....far from the comforts or grandeur associated with luxury tourism. But you are guaranteed with blissful solitude amidst the jungle...sounds of nature...the gurgle of the rivulet....sights of beautiful birds, arachnids, arthropods,etc. I shall always remember the grand Fish moilee they served me.... the fragrant Curd rice...and the big leaves of the money plant that had climbed around the giant tree, overlooking the eating area....

Photo of Taste of Kerala 2/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das
Photo of Taste of Kerala 3/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

Munnar is the perennial poet's muse...frolicking with the clouds.....painted green by mother nature...wearing a cloak of tea and coffee plantations..undulating roads....unpredictable bursts of rain...land of the spices...of home made white chocolate....of elephants.....

Photo of Taste of Kerala 4/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

Eravikulam National Park was good....the endangered Nilgiri Tahr was easily visible...............its "endangered" status seemed a joke though.........the park was beautiful ..set high.....greenery all around....containing the highest peak of the South..Ana Mudi...foggy and cold..

Photo of Taste of Kerala 5/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

Madupetty Dam...looked amazing..absolutely surreal..the black blue clouds rendered a divine touch to the images...we missed the promising boat ride as it was closed owing to some sort of maintenance..some friends of mine who had visited earlier had seen elephants on the shores of this water body. As it turned out, this whole place abounds in pachyderms.....

Photo of Taste of Kerala 6/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

On the evening of our last night at Munnar, we hired a jungle jeep and headed for Arrakulam inside Mankulam Reserved forest. Arrakulam is a lesser known spot, but elephant sightings were almost guaranteed here. It was late and the sun had set. The sky was mostly covered by ominous clouds and the horizon looked treacherously beautiful...with silhouttes of trees against the fade red.....The cold winds rushing in through both sides of the open jeep froze us.. the scorching sunlight of the day which had duped us into wearing summer wear was now gone...and we sat hugging each other inside the jeep....There was no light around except that from the head lights of the jeep..the lungi-clad driver knew no Hindi or English.....we were inside the densely vegetated Mankulam forest..and i was growing skeptical.....But in the end when we eventually reached Arrakulam..we were amazed to find a group of elephants peacefully posing in the stream..bathing..illuminated by the head lights form a few cars there...the elephants, it is believed, come to this particular spot frequently because of the rich mineral content of the water owing to a few geysers.....the night clicks did not come off nice ..but the experience was definitely worth it...seven elephants including two babies bathing and enjoying..hardly 15 - 20 feet from where we stood..and no obstacle in between..they could easily have walked up the banks of the shallow stream onto the road where we were clicking photos....locals told us that once in a while some rogue tusker would come over and rampage a few temporary shops around before moving back to its green abode...that was common and acceptable..nothing to worry about!!!!

Our next and final location was Allepey....that thing or place which has made Kerala most famous...the houseboats on the backwaters...!!

Photo of Taste of Kerala 7/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

The backwaters are a natural resource for Kerala...and people coming to enjoy the House Boat experience are basically looking for a chill time aboard a water vehicle....eating fresh fish..a few beers may be..and enjoying the sea breeze and the explicit greenery all around...devoid the chaos and hum drum of city life......I personally found the whole thing a bit over-hyped though....but i definitely enjoyed the king-fish fry served hot n' red.......the people who reside by these back waters...they live by this..they move on boats..shop off boats ..they spend lazy time by the water....and behind the houses that line the banks lie lush green paddy fields...and these are worth seeing..something the city bred eyes, accustomed to seeing traffic signals and movies in multiplexes, cherish....

Photo of Taste of Kerala 8/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das
Photo of Taste of Kerala 9/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das
Photo of Taste of Kerala 10/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

The Marari Beach Sunset experience is something that is recommended...located some distance ( refer google stats please !!) from Allepey ...the beach is clean..white..peaceful and has the Kerala feel..of God's own country,.....

Photo of Taste of Kerala 11/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das
Photo of Taste of Kerala 12/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das
Photo of Taste of Kerala 13/13 by Dhrubajyoti Das

From Allepey we move to Kochi again....this time we tried street food..and it blew the roof off....red and hot...!!! put straight ..just too spicy to handle...and the kiosk owner kept smiling..!!

we boarded a train for Thalassery ..which was 3 hours late ....and took a bus-ride to some interior village of Kerala..that was still full of greenery..the type like a elephant could jump out of it anytime..and the roads were always winding......we attended the wedding...in a church that was hidden from plain sight by the jungle....the groom took his bride to a bungalow - type house..surrounded by the jungle.......we got drenched in the rain....and it was much different from getting drenched in the city rain..we felt like we had been soaked green....

The next day we bid adieu to Kerala..we boarded our flight from Calicut....yet another gem by the sea....to sights of coconut trees and more of them..waving us TATA from below as the plane climbed above the clouds .....

In one word.. Kerala was green...beautifully so....the type which i can only compare with the greenery of KONKAN India....the western Ghats to be specific.....

Important tip : the little colorful chillies we bought from Munnar turned out to be angelic demons!!... forgive the oxymoron, but they impart superb taste to your non-veg dishes, while at the same time make you weep if you happen to chew them !! A must buy from Munnar.