9 days in God's Own Country - Kerala on a budget

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Photo of 9 days in God's Own Country - Kerala on a budget by Harshad Kalled
Day 1

Day 1 - Athirappally Falls & Munnar

Took a flight from Pune to Kochi. Reached Kochi at 5 am and was picked up by our cab. We stopped for breakfast just outside the airport and then headed towards Athirappally falls, our first destination on this trip.

Bahubali, yes, that famous movie was shot here in Athirapally. Reached the place 2 hours earlier. The gates open at 8 am and the ticket counter is about half a km earlier than the entry gate.

Well paved roads will take you to the top from where the water falls and there is a small gate which will take you down to the falls. Since it wasn't rainy season the waterfall wasn't in its full beauty but was good enough for me to appreciate it.

Started from Athirapally towards Munnar around 10 30 am and reached the hotel around 3 pm. Freshened up, rested for while and then headed out to the Tata Tea Museum. The museum showcases the olden time equipments used, modern techniques of making tea alongwith the history of how Munnar became the tea producing town that it is now.

This is just a small demo factory. I'd suggest skipping this and doing the actual factory tour on the way to Echo Point.

Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Photo of Athirapally Waterfalls, Pariyaram, Kerala by Harshad Kalled
Day 2

Day 2 - Munnar Sightseeing

Started off from our hotel towards Mattupetty Lake and Dam. Spent time walking around the lake. There is not much to do here apart from boating.

Moved to Echo Point from the lake. The roads here are scenic with tea gardens on both the sides and the well maintained roads. Small entry fee to enter the banks of the lake where again boating could be done.

Left echo point and reached Kundala Lake. Beautiful roads led us to this place and we finally gave in to boating. Paddle boat is what we chose. Tall nilgiri trees, beautiful lake and the greenery around felt pleasant.

After Kundala lake we went to Top Station. A good kilometer long walk took us to a gate where we paid the entry fee only to see that we had to walk down the hill for about 1 more km. The views were good but not worth the physical pain you have to undergo. Avoid!

We returned to our hotel around 5 pm and rested for a while. Then headed out for dinner around 7pm. That was the end of Munnar for us!

Mattupetty Lake

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

Echo Point

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

Echo Point

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

On the way to Kundala lake

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

On the way to Kundala lake

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

On the way to Kundala lake

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

Kundala lake

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

Top Station

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled

Top Station

Photo of Munnar, Kerala, India by Harshad Kalled
Day 3

Day 3 - Thekkady

We started from Munnar after breakfast and reached Thekkady around 2 pm. There was road expansion work going on and hence it took us about 4 hours to reach Thekkady from Munnar. Thekkady is known for the popular Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Boat safari. Other than the boat safari there is an option of the Spice plantation tour ( we skipped it) & the Elephant ride. We did the Elephant Ride, which is a total of 30 mins activity which includes 20 min elephant ride and a 10 min drive to watch a "Viewpoint". I regretted the decision to do the Elephant ride immediately after getting to see the premises where the ride happens. Contrary to our wish to do the ride in jungle, this was a small pre-decided route which goes in semicircle. A very rash driver driving a Jeep took us to the so-called View point, and the burning sun & the "view" made me regret my decision again. Cost - 500/head. Next day morning before we left we did the Boat Safari ( 300/head). 90 mins ride in a ferry and we spotted only a small family of Elephants from a distance. There are better places to do a wildlife safari in India and hence i would suggest skip this. In fact, there isnt much to do to talk about Thekkady and for me it was a let down. Skip it if possible

Day 4

Day 4 - Thiruvananthapuram

We started from Thekkady around 10.30 am after finishing the boat safari and it took us about 5 hours to reach Trivandrum. After checking into the hotel, we took a local city bus to the Shangumugam Beach which is right next to the airport. We were right on time to witness the sunset. The beach was surprisingly clean for a beach which is close to the city with so many people visiting it. After the sunset we had dinner at the Old Coffee house which is situated right next to the beach. They have an outdoor seating which the sea view. Try this place without fail. We returned back to the hotel and called it a day. We visited the famous Shree Padmanabhswamy Temple the next day in the morning. The experience is surreal and it is must visit place. The temple timings are fixed and the dress code is strict. Their website has all the required information. Please, please visit !!

Day 5

Day 5 - Kanyakumari

After visiting Shree Padmanabhswamy Temple we started our journey towards Kanyakumari. We reached around lunch time and checked into our hotel. Post lunch, we went to the jetty and took a ferry trip to the famous Vivekananda memorial, the southern most part of India. The sea was rough and the trip to and from the memorial was kind of scary/adventurous. It took us about 2 hours to complete the visit and come back to the jetty. We then went to the Sunset Point to watch the sunset (obviously..lol). The beaches are clean and the point attracts a lot of people. After watching the beautiful sunset we returned to the hotel and called it a day after having dinner. The next day in the morning we visited the Triveni sangam point, Kumari Amman temple and the Gandhi Mandapam and headed towards our next destination.

Kanyakumari falls in Tamil Nadu and if you are travelling through a commercial vehicle, permit would be required. The cost is around Rs. 500 and the procedure is simple

Day 6

Day 6 - Kovalam & Poovar Backwaters

After a visiting few places in Kanyakumari, we started our journey northwards to Kovalam. Kovalam is small beach town located around 15 Kms from Trivandrum and has quite a reputation for being a very clean beach and is visited by a lot of foreign tourists. Just before Kovalam is another small town known as Poovar. Poovar is also famous for its scenic backwaters. We decided to do the backwater tour offered by many local vendors. The rates apparently are standard and not many people were ready to negotiate. Standard Rates - 2500/- for 1 hour, 3500 for 1.5 hrs for 2 people. We negotiated with the and did 1.5 hours for 2500/- for 2 people. The back waters take you through narrow waterways through a motorized boat. As the boat passes through the thick mangroves you can spot a variety of birds. Local vendors sell coconut water (40/-)on the back waters. The boat person is your guide will take you to a few spots around before stopping at the Gold Sand beach. You can see the ocean on one side and the lake on the other side. I quite liked the tour and compared to Alleppey( ill tell you why later) i found this tour better (though slightly expensive). We then moved to Kovalam and checked into our hotel. After lunch, we visited the Kovalam Light House. The view from the top of the Lighthouse is beautiful and i did not feel like coming down. We then watched the most beautiful sunset ever and then sipped on some tea while sitting at one of the many beach cafes. There are many connecting beaches around which you can explore. Overall, the vibes are Kovalam were definitely great and i enjoyed this place.

Day 7

Day 7 - Varkala

We started from Kovalam towards Varkala and visited the Azimala Siva temple on the way. The temple is located on a cliff with stunning views of the ocean. Varkala is another small town situated on the west coast. The place is less touristy but is hands down one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES in Kerala. Our lucky stars landed us into this hotel which is right at the cliff with mesmerizing views of the Ocean right while sitting in the resort's pool (almost an infinity pool :P). After having lunch we visited the Kappil Beach and Lake. Like Poovar, we could see the lake on one side and the ocean on the other side with a road passing between the two. The beach is extremely clean and we had the entire beach to our-selves. On the way back we visited the Odayam Beach and walked right until the end of the beach towards a small cliff. We then went to the Varkala Cliff which is the other side of the Odayam beach. There is a small walk way along the cliff with many shops, restaurants, cafes and resorts on one side and the ocean on the other side. Please take a walk along this walk way and experience Varkala. It is beautiful. I regretted not staying here longer but made a promise to my self that i will return back here. This place is the best place in Kerala. Positive laid back vibes, chilled out people and a variety of things to do puts this on the top of the list of the best places i visited in my life. PLEASE PLEASE VISIT VARKALA..Thank me later :)

Day 8

Day 8 - Alleppey

Sadly we had to leave Varkala and head to our next destination which was the much talked about Alleppey. We initially decided to stay in a Houseboat, but later decided against it considering the offerings and the cost. The houseboat stay starts anywhere 5k(inr) and goes upwards. The check-in is usually around 2-3pm and then you are taken around the back waters for a couple of hours before the boat stops overnight at a village. You have your evening tea & snacks, Dinner & morning breakfast in the houseboat and return back to the jetty in the morning. So overall for 4-5 hours of houseboat ride and the meals you pay upwards of 5k (thats basic houseboat). We reached Alleppey in the afternoon and after lunch headed to the popular back water cruise. We took the local ferry from Alleppey to Kottayam which is 3 hour long. It took us through the water ways and what we realised is the Alleppey back waters are slightly over hyped. I did not really enjoy it but may be i am wrong since i did not go into the small waterways by hiring a canoe. The backwaters are dirty, smelled a lot and very mostly covered with Duckweeds. I was happy doing the back water cruise at Poovar, although it was slightly expensive.

Day 9

Day 9 - Kochi

This was our last day and we headed towards Kochi. Before leaving Alleppey, we visited the Coir Museum and the Marari beach. The coast line from Alleppey took us to Kochi. We saw the Naval Museum and then the Mattancherry Palace, Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi. Fort kochi is your essential old school place with a lot of Portuguese architecture around. We had lunch at Kashi Art Cafe, an absolute must try place. The food is organic, tasty and made with high quality ingredients. Totally enjoyed it. We then did some shopping for Kerala sarees, spices and chips and headed to the airport for our return flight.

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