When you're from a Defence background, you get to travel often. But in the 16 years of being a hardcore north Indian defence kid, I never got a chance to visit South India. So in the winter of 2010 ,we decided to pay a visit to Kerala.
Our first stop was Kochi. Mesmerized by the austerity of the place already, we took a bit of rest and then visited the Navy museum, which had models of all ships ever used by Indian Navy till date. Later in the evening, we went to seaside to have a look at the Chinese fishing nets. Awed by the sight of the sunset in the sea already, being allowed by the fishermen to use the nets on our own (even though they did understand our language) was simply an icing on the cake.
The next morning we left for Thekkady. While the scenic beauty on Kochi was more of the ‘beach’ type, this was more of a hilly place, a beautiful one at that. Even though I’ve stayed in mountains all my life, this was different in the sense that the place is very laidback and people are very easy-going. Next day, we all took an ayurvedic spa treatment and visited the Periyar national park. Famous for its variety of birds, we supposed to use a raft to go to the other side of the Periyar lake. Along the way, we became friends with our Forest officer and guide. (He could almost be mistaken for Veerapan.) I was so busy clicking pictures of the shady trees and the lake that I did not realise that I was standing next to a tree which had a viper rolled on it. (I’m not to blame. Camouflage is. :P) I was so scared that I did not even scream!
Our next stop was Munnar. Famous for its tea gardens, the place will not only leave you spellbound by its beauty, but you will also be surprised by the magnitude of Tata tea produced in the place. (It’s MASSIVE.) Also, the Kathakali performances in the local theatres were one of a kind.
Coming up next was Alleppey. I had always known that Kerala was famous for two things: Beaches and Backwaters. Although it was an amazing experience, I’d suggest that one should visit the place during the Onam festival, which is around August to September. The fact that people actually use ferryboats to commute across the place was intriguing. The extremely laidback place it was, there was not much to the place except backwaters. A second visit the backwaters during sunset and we felt blessed.
Last destination was the capital of the state, Trivandrum. Being the capital of the state, it has, well, everything. Unlike most people I had known, we decided to stay in Kovalam instead of Trivandrum. So much for the sea side view. The next day, we visited the zoo, the museums, and the famous Padmanabhan temple. Apart from these, the hoardings of the Vodafone zoozoos in Malayalam had us breaking into splits of laughter.
Conclusively, my trip to Kerala was a joyride across all kinds of terrains. It is undoubtedly God’s own country!