Kerala has been ranked among the top places to travel not just in India but in the world. Statistics suggest that there were around 10 million visitors in 2011. Read that again. I'd planned to see what people call the 'God's Own Country' in 2018 but unfortunately, the floods hit the beautiful land of this Malabar region. Well, when I recently went there this year, I wondered that if it's so beautiful this day, imagine how perfect it would have been before the massive floods just the previous year. A place one must visit.
Most of us have seen houseboats and the tea estate gardens of Munnar in wallpapers, calendars and paintings and they're all very scenic. But that's not it. There's a lot more to see even from those comfortable boats and scenic-hilly roads. And you'll only know the difference once you experience it for yourself. While you're on a houseboat or a shikara, you'll see how the village kids still go to school in boats. Early morning, the men clean their nets and go onto fish. Most of the houses in between the paddy fields of Kuttanad village are quarterly immersed in water. Some of them are on stilts but the rest, people wake up and the moment they step out of their main doors, it's all water beneath and pouring rain from above. You can probably visualize as I write this but my friend, see it for yourself once, it will move you. A lot of us have heard that our grandparents used to travel in boats and it was an everyday hassle to go to school and we hysterically laughed about it. Well, this place is still a true example of that. Although I didn't see it for myself but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody told me that they study with a candle by their side when there's no electricity. The irony is, you watch all this from a very comfortable seat of your houseboat with luxury rooms and bathrooms.
This was just a brief of one of my experiences. With all the memories and learning, I believe, just one article will not be enough. Hence, this one's for y'all to be able to plan a trip to places worth visiting and the next would be about some particular events that incited an emotion of wonder and gratitude within me.
For the itinerary, although the winter months are supposed to be the perfect time for Kerala but I preferred a little less touristy period and hence, took a trip in September. Well, all was fortunately good in terms of weather, a little drizzle during the day only made the view more enjoyable.
Even before landing at Kochi, that's the closest airport to most places to see, it felt like I was seeing a map from the top. In ICSE grade 10, we had studied topography, and I instantly connected to it - with all the greenery, some scattered habitats around and rivers flowing by, it felt as if I was viewing my old school books live. Remember how we made hills, the sun peeping out in between two hills, a river (with fishes) and a small hut next to it? Every village I went to, it was very much similar to how we were 'taught' to draw a village.
A little history and geography before we dive into the places, the hills of Kerala are the ending of the Western Ghats of India. The highest peak of these ghats is that of Anamudi, which shall be visible from a couple of places while you tour. Kerala has been a massive land for the tea estates mostly bought by Tata's. The history suggests that Vasco Da Gama first arrived in Calicut (Kozhikode), a town in Kerala while exploring the land of India. Interesting to know, he died in Kochi and he is said to have been buried in Kochi until his remains were sent to Lisbon after fourteen years. The gravestone can be seen at St. Francis Church, Kochi.
The Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, to name a few, came to India for trade and the spices of Kerala were invariably the most traded commodity. Black pepper is called 'Black Gold' which is extensively cultivated in Kerala, is still the most traded spice in the world. Agriculture, hills, rivers, well, Kerala is a treasure state of India.