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1. So how does one collate a few memorable experiences of a new place on an official trip. A search on the Google does yield a plethora of places but then considering the options that the internet spews, frankly one gets overwhelmed. At least this was the case with me as I debated what to see in the one odd holiday that one gets while on a short official trip.2. So, here I was in Kochi, sitting in my hotel in the evening wondering where to go on the approaching Sunday and as I scrolled through the Top Ten/Top Twenty and so on lists a broad list was emerging but then again it was a broad list and the choice still had to be made. Eventually I decided to see the one thing that made Kerala market its brand in the tourism industry and that is “Backwaters”.
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Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple
After getting off from the houseboat, we set off on the road to the famous Sree Krishna Temple at Ambalapuuzha, a small town located 14 kms south of Alleppey. After spending couple of hours in the temple complex with the supreme deity, and few minutes having a photoshoot with the temple elephant which irritated the jumbo towards the end, we bought some Kerala sarees and dress material for our loved ones. Then, resumed our journey 5 kms west of Ambalappuzha to a lesser known place called as Karumadikkuttan.
7. Kuttand is 70 km from Kochi and the journey early in morning took me an hour and half. My destination was Pallathuruthy bridge which was the gateway for hiring the services of a houseboat/small boat to go into the region bordering Kainakary and Venattukadu Canal. Having reached Pallathuruthy bridge I spent time out there walking along the banks of the Kovalam Kottapurm waterway, it was still early morning so all the house boats were lined up along the canal banks waiting to take the visitors along the canal, seeing the size of these houseboats I was once again reminded of their immense size and immediately decided that this is not what I had mind. I wanted to explore the little used water canals or those used by the locals hence the house boats with their immense size and limitation of the dangers to water hyacinth would not be able to navigate. Anyways for the moment I marveled at their size and design as the world slowly awakened to yet another fine day in paradise.
Karumadikkuttan has one of the rarest archaeological artifacts as ancient as 10th Century AD which is a half broken Buddha statue in meditation pose, carved out of black stone. Though the notice board erected by Archaeological Survey of India at the site warns of severe punishment by law against man made damage to the sculpture or any theft from the site, it was quite evident that the local smugglers have least bothered about it and have indulged in trafficking of several other historical artifacts nearby and have caused serere damage to the Buddha statute itself to meet their vested business interests. Anyways, we continued on our trip 21 kms furthre south of Karumadikkuttan, to a place called as Mannarasala famous for its temple dedicated to serpents.
Pulinkunnu is an island village in Alappuzha district in the Indian state of Kerala. The Pampa river in Pulinkunnu is one of the most favored routs of the houseboats tourism operators in Kuttanadu. The village is part of the Kerala Backwaters, a network of lakes, wetlands, and canals. Pulinkunnu is notable for the annual Rajiv Gandhi Trophy boat race held during the months of October – November.
Next stop was the Chavara Bhavan Shrine which holds the birth house of the saint, an example of an original backwaters house. Around 200 years old it is perfectly preserved and you can even explore inside - remember to duck as the doors and ceilings are very low. After we took a stroll between two paddy fields edged with water and three different types of lilypads. Further back on both sides were more paddy fields. Mr Jose explained that all these neverending paddy fields are sown by hand and the rice is harvested mechanically. Back on the canoe again we meandered through more canals until we moored outside a toddy shop. Kerela is pretty much a dry state so it's very difficult to buy any sort of alcohol, however some locals brew their own toddy. Toddy is a mildly alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of palm trees. Obviously we wanted to give it a go, so Mr Jose took us to a toddy shop. It was a dark, dingy tin hut with five or six men milling around drinking a cloudy white liquid. One bought us over a glass bottle (probably 500ml) of toddy for us to try. In all honesty it was pretty rank and we weren't quite that desperate for a drink yet so we paid the 60 rupees, I drank a small glass out of politeness then we left. Andy refused point blank to drink any more past his first mouthful, convinced the end result would be several days confined to the toilet.