The Kerala Road Trip!

Tripoto
17th Oct 2018

Kerala Road Trip 

Photo of The Kerala Road Trip! by Swena Kalra
Day 1

It all started with a news article that I read about Neelakurinji flowers back in August. I learned that these flowers bloom once in 12 years and they were blooming this year from September to November. So, I started planning to go to Munnar but for some reason I had to delay this plan to October. There were no direct trains from Mysore to Ernakulam so I would have had to go to Bangalore to catch a train to Ernakulam which I didn't wan't to do. I couldn't bother with the hassle and the other option of a road-trip looked like a better (if not safe) alternative to me.

I wanted to get a Royal Enfield or any other bike for this but the money is always a problem for travellers like me. So, I planned to go ahead with my sister's Activa instead. I started on the 17th of October from Mysore, and my destination for the first day was Munnar (where the flowers bloom). It was a distance of about 400 kilometres. I wanted to take a scenic route to Munnar so I skipped the highways and took to the village roads, skipping from one village to the other. The road was not bad, except for a stretch of 10-15 kms where the construction was going on. It took me through Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. I was expecting wild animals to cross the road and so I was driving quite slow. But I only saw langurs and wild deer along the way. It got quite cold and it was raining by the time I started gaining altitude. I wasn't wearing a rain-coat, which I agree was a dumb-ass mistake. But I continued driving and it was getting dark, and I couldn't go any faster on the Activa. At one point of time, it was complete white out, I couldn't see the road or any signs. I even had a minor fall and since the road was quite curvy, I couldn't risk driving in the fog but staying wasn't an option either so I started to drive really slow, and eventually the fog went away and the good old rain was back.

I reached Munnar at around 8:00 PM which was later than I expected. I hadn't looked up any places to stay here, and I just parked my bike and started looking up places to stay. Most places around me were expensive for me (a single room was minimum 1000/-) because of the season and affordable places were at least 18 kilometres away from the main hub. I was exhausted and couldn't think of driving any further, so I started asking around for any affordable places to stay and at last, a rickshaw driver helped me find the perfect place. It was the Kaippallil Homestay. It's managed by Clement (+91 9497191909) and he gave me a room for 500/- which I thought was affordable at this stage.

Day 2

The next day, I packed up and hadn't yet decided where to go except for seeing the flowers. When I reached the Petrol Pump to fill my bike, I got to know that it will open at 6 PM owing to the strike because of the Sabrimala issue. I didn't know what else to do except wait. So, I parked at the pump and sat around reading a book. After a while, a guy approached me asking where I was from and where I was going. We started chatting and as it turned out he was also going to see the flowers that day so, I took my bag and tagged along with him leaving my Activa at the pump. After a short ride, we reached the Ernakulam National Park and carried on to go see the flowers. They were least to say, exquisite. The whole site was quite overwhelming and it felt special to be a part of it.

I also wanted to visit Echo Point and other attractions but couldn't because of the lack of fuel. So, I just carried on waiting at the petrol pump until I got to know that there was another petrol pump on my way to my stay for the night. My homestay was Green Land Homestay in Konnathady which was around 26 km from main hub. I booked it for quite cheap (350/-) through Make My Trip. It was actually the cheapest place I could find in the 30 km radius and it was on my way to the next destination. The breakfast was included in the room tariff and it was first homemade Kerala food I had. They served me with Appam and the tastiest coconut chutney I ever had.

Day 3

After breakfast, I carried on to my next destination i.e. Varkala. It was around 240 kilometres, and I wanted to reach early to see the sunset. I kept losing the way because I lost my earphones owing to the fall and I had to keep checking if I was on the right way. I decided to be instinctive and let the road signs (which I couldn't read, btw) guide me. I ended up climbing up on a 45° slope which ended up as a hiking route with my Activa and I was shit scared when I had to turn and descend back to the road on an Activa which had minimal breaks. I somehow made it (no idea how). I continued and the descend to the plains was again beautiful with lots of forest cover along the way. I was still taking the village roads and just seeing the everyday life of people pass by is a different experience in itself. I saw the sunset somewhere around Kollam and proceeded to Varkala via the infamous Kappil Beach (it's a beach on one side of the road and the backwaters on the other side of the road). I didn't actually know that it was along the way until I saw the signboard aligning with my navigation. Nevertheless, one less item on the bucket list.

I was using Couchsurfing for my stay in Varkala and my hosts were two guys who were opening a new hostel. It was quite spacious and isolated with lots of nature cover. In other words, a perfect place after exhaustion.

Day 4

The plan for the next day was to just chill and visit as many places as I could. After breakfast, I went to visit the beach and after that I didn't really want to go anywhere. I guess the vibe of Varkala rubbed off on me, I just wanted to rest and chill. Varkala seems very similar to Goa with Malayalam touch. I also wanted to visit the Jatayu Rock but decided to save it for the next time. I did end up going to the Varkala cliff and then again to the beach for the sunset. After that, I went to have dinner at a local cafe.

Day 5

I decided to stay in Varkala for the next day also, since I had to meet a friend and I wasn't ready to leave this place yet.

Day 6

My next destination was Kanyakumari. I got advised against going there from all my local friends, because it was supposed to be nothing but a windy, smelly dump of a place. But, I wanted to go there since I was a child and I couldn't turn back after coming so close. I was supposed to meet another friend in Thiruvananthapuram, so I took a detour and after visiting my friend, I carried on to Nagercoil. The road to Nagercoil from Trivandrum was curvy and smooth reminding me of the mountain roads. I was using Couchsurfing to stay in Nagercoil and my host here was a traveller himself.

Day 7

The next day I went to visit Kanyakumari and just sat around old school way - feeling the wind in my hair and all that. I visited the sangam and then went on to see the sunset at the sunset point. The whole time in Kerala, I hadn't really seen a proper sunset because of the rains. I wasn't expecting to see one here either but I had to be there anyway. I went back to Nagercoil after sunset and my host was very kind to cook Andhra style lentils-rice. We had a really good talk and a movie night. It was one of the most fun time I had while couchsurfing.

Day 8

The next day, my plan was to go to Kochi so I started around 9 in the morning to get there as early as possible. I was supposed to stay with a friend there. The scenery along the way had me driving slow. I crossed beautiful villages and the backwaters of Alleppey. It was an enchanting scenery but I didn't want to stop. I would have stayed in Alleppey if not for thousands of rupees they charge for staying in the infamous house boats. Anyway, I saw sunset on my way to Ernakulam and I made my way to the Marine Drive where I was supposed to meet my friend.

Day 9

The next day, we had some authentic Keralan food from the Toddy Shop and then proceeded to do some touristy stuff and visited a museum and St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. Vasco Da Gama was also originally buried there, and it was a great moment for me to be where one of the greatest explorers once rested.

We explored the Fort Kochi area after that, the fish market where you can buy your own fish and get it cooked at a stall nearby, the Chinese fishing nets and watched the kites soar high in the sky. We ended up seeing a beautiful sunset there. It ended up being a good day, and I got to see the youth culture of Kerala up close.

Day 10

I was supposed to go home the next day. The distance was about 500 kilometres and for the first time in this journey, I was taking the highway. I wanted to get home before the sun down and there wasn't much on the highway except dust and soot on my face. It was the most traffic I encountered while being in Kerala. The Activa finally got tired when I was about to reach Mysore and it started leaking Petrol towards the end, but overall it stayed strong and successfully climbed slopes it wasn't made to climb.

I reached home after the most wonderful 10 days exploring Kerala. I hadn't imagined that Kerala would feel like a place I knew just after the 10 days I spent there. But, thanks to the wonderful friends I made there and beautiful people I met there. It feels so much more welcoming.

I wouldn't really recommend anyone to go on a road-trip on an Activa but if you've got no other option like me, I say go ahead and get the experience of a lifetime and at the end of it all, you'll only have a stronger spine (both literally and metaphorically).

Moreover, I haven't included the cost of petrol in the budget because the price of fuel and the mileage is subjective. More then 50% of my budget was for food. In fact, the only time I paid for accommodation was when I was in Munnar and that too only because of my poor planning and because of the season.

I hope that no one else has this problem, so If you wish to know more or have any question, do let me know here or at Instagram @aesthetictramp

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