Day 2: We heard the safari in Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary was worth going on. I was skeptical. Yet, we hired an auto to pick us up by 5:30 am and reached the ticket booth just as it opened for the day. Instinct guided me towards the left of the ticket room, which was already full with eager tourists hoping to be on the safari. The morning round of safari sees 40 jeeps go into the forest while the afternoon round sees 15 jeeps go into the forest. We were one of the lucky ones to be allotted a jeep after we agreed to share the ride with another family of 4 members. I much rather prefer exploring a forest on foot or on an elephant. From experience, jeeps safaris are unsuccessful in my opinion. The roar of the jeep is sure to scare away any animal that might have considered venturing into the path. This safari too was turning out to be one of disappointment - we saw some deers, more deers and some more deers! Suddenly, a flash of metallic blue and green caught our eye! A lone peacock had strutted out into the open. This splash of colour against a greenish yellow backdrop brought excitement to the safari. Soon, we also spotted a couple of peahens. These birds alone changed the status of the safari from boring to wow!
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194 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,March,September,October,November,December
If you live in a hot part of the country, Bangalore's good weather will immediately put you into a good mood. While the centre of the city has remained as it was during the British Raj, the area encircling it is on a constant boom with a vibrant student culture, popular pubs and a major electronic and industrial lifestyle. As a tourist, you can go see the Bangalore Castle. Modelled on the lines of the Windsor Castle, the one on Bangalore is a great example of the Tudor architectural style. It has beautiful gardens and the wooden carvings. The glass house at Lal Bagh and its botanical garden is a good place to relax while taking a walk. Cubbon park is one of the primary reasons why Bangalore was formerly nicknamed as the Garden City. The picturesque greenery in the middle of the city is stupefying. You can visit the Peninsular Gneiss to witness the oldest granite formations and also the look at the city from an elevated land. For a perfect end to the day, grab a beer at Toit or Peco’s. Follow it up with a grand meal at Koshy’s or Ebony, or the hundreds of other quirky restaurants in the city.
173 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July,August,September
If you have always dreamed of living in some beautiful suburbs, Aluva in Kerala is the place for you. It is in stark contrast to the hustle bustle of Ernakulam and a bliss to live in. Home to numerous rivers, streams and temples, this laidback town welcomes visitors with warm hospitality. Besides the stunning landscape, there are a few places to see here including Aluva Palace, Shiva temple and Marthanda Varma Bridge. The Aluva Palace is one of the largest archaeological palaces in Kerala and is definitely a must visit. Even if you are not fond of historical tours, you can enjoy the grandeur this palace offers. Instead of touristy sites, it's best to indulge in the spur of the moment tours where you will get a chance to interact with locals, learn about the culture and enjoy the many delicacies this small town offers. You may not have too many options when it comes to hotels, but there are a few budget hotels you can try.
58 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Coonoor, or Kannur as it is also known is a small district that is rather famous for its production of Nilgiri tea. The best way to get there would hands down be the Heritage Train, which gives you a chance to soak in the scenic route while indulging in interesting conversations with the locals. Established in 1984, Sim's Park is a lusciously filled botanical garden. A must visit, its sloping manicured lawns hold over a thousand plant species both rare and local, and make for a perfect picnic spot. While at Coonoor, it is easy to fall in love with the place and its people, and there are a variety of places to go to if you're looking for some serenity. The Dolphin's Nose (which is a rock that literally looks like the name) is another such haven for visitors and even offers you a misted view of the Laws Falls. For every person who comes here, a trip to the magnificent tea estates is definitely in order, where you can see everything from its manufacturing to actually getting a taste of it. It'll change your perception of tea – especially if you're a tea lover! Coonoor is definitely a highlighted trip on the bucket list of everyone looking to find themselves away from the hustle of life.
241 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,August,October,November,December
This seventh largest city of Kerala is popular for its houseboat cruises along the Kerala backwaters. Alappuzha is bedecked with lagoons, beaches and canals and offers lots of water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing and water skiing, to unwind during your vacation. The backwaters also happen to be the venue for the annually celebrated (January and August) Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race, where long serpentine boats being rowed with rhythmic furor by able-bodied Malayali men, is a spectacular site to behold. Some other famous attractions include Alleppey Beach, Andhakaranazhi Beach, Vemband Lake, Mannarasala Temple and the Alappuzha Light House, which offers a stunning panoramic view of the city and the coastline, especially during sunsets. One can also take a speed boat to Pathiramanal Island, a quiet and picturesque island on the backwaters where one can witness hundreds of rare migratory birds from around the world. South India is culturally rich and its abundance can be enjoyed through its music, dance and spirituality. Many resorts organise cultural shows in the evening where one can enjoy the traditional dance of Kerala and one of the oldest theatre forms of the world, Kathakali. Places such as Thaff Delicacy, Dreamers Cafe and Restaurant, Mushroom Restaurant and Kream Korner Art Cafe are famous for delicious local, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Alappuzha can be reached by air, the nearest airport being Cochin International Airport, which is 83 km from the city, while buses and trains are also available.
228 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,March,September,October,November,December
Kumarakom is an exotic cluster of villages in Kerala that was created for tourists by claiming land from the Vembanad Lake that surrounds it. The landscape is covered by greenery consisting of shrubs, grass and bushes punctuated by pretty lilies and other flowers. Coconut trees line the horizon and complete the picture. This sleepy lake village is the abode of countless rare migratory birds, including the Siberian Stork and Waterfowls. Egrets, herons, ducks and kingfisher are also commonly seen here. The Vembanad Lake is home to fish, shrimp and prawn. Tourists frequent this destination for its backwater boathouse rides. Though expensive, the experience is worth it, especially if you have a good chef on board, who can make you delicacies of the local cuisine. Kumarakom also houses the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is a great place to walk around and for birdwatching. If you happen to be here during the festival of Onam, don't miss out on the boat races. Various kinds of boats such as Odi-Vallam, Churulan Vallam, Chundan Vallam and Kochu-odi Vallam are taken over by more than a thousand oarsmen. Canoe trips can be organised on request and are best enjoyed early in the morning or during the evenings.
247 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,December
Boasting of a culturally rich history, this small town close to Kottayam is home to numerous temples. Changanassery is laidback and seems quite happy with where it is and there is no rush to do anything. The matter of daily business is taken very lightly but not casually, and it's actually quite a delight to escape the hustle and bustle of cities. There are many temples here that deserve a visit. Among the more notable ones are Perunna Subramanyaswami Temple, Vazhappally Temple and Thrikodithanam Temple. Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple is one of the five temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and connected to the Pandava brothers. It is one of the most sacred temples in Kottayam and the most visited. Besides the temples, there is not much to explore here and it's best not to spend more than a day here unless this is where you are staying. If you are staying here, you can travel outside the city to explore other touristy spots.
96 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,September,October,November,December
So much has been said about Coorg that one heads there with tons of expectations. And luckily, travellers are not disappointed. From the surreal beauty surrounding the small town to its rich flora and fauna, Coorg is a wonderful experience. The laidback town is home to a number of touristy places, though most of them are situated a little further from the center of town. Do visit Abbey Falls for a rejuvenating afternoon and Tadiyendamol, the highest peak in the region, for an overwhelming view of the city below. Coorg is also home to an elephant farm that invites travellers to spend a day with these gentle creatures. The itinerary at the farm includes bathing elephants, feeding them and taking them for a walk. It's a lovely way to spend your day and the experience will stay with you for a long, long time. For foodies, there isn't an opportunity to experiment too much but the food available more than makes up for the lack of experimentation. The local cuisine is simple but delicious. The homestays here offer an experience you can't miss. The warm hospitality, the delicious food and an experience that takes you closer to nature is what Coorg is all about.
231 Kms from Muthanga
Best time to visit - January,February,September,October,November,December
In God’s own country is the relatively larger city of Kottayam, famous for being the trade centre of rubber, commercial crops and spices. More than being a tourist attraction, this city is the gateway to the high ranges of central Kerala, Wagamon and Elaveezha Poonchira. It is also conveniently located between the ghats and the backwaters, providing easy access to both as well as the best of both worlds! Among the many places to visit here, Marmala is a wonderful option for its magnificent waterfalls and absolutely breathtaking beauty. The Poonjar Palace, on the other hand, is a testimony to the glorious past of Kottayam. From an enormous collection of antiques to exquisite furniture, everything is preserved in this former home of the royal family. The palace protects even the tiniest of items such as jewel boxes, lamps, sculptures of Nataraja, palm-leaf engravings and grain measures. Pathiramanal, fondly known as the 'sands of midnight' is small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha. Sparking in natural beauty, the reflection of the moonlight on the white sand of the island is a sight to behold. Vembanad Lake is also a good option to spend a day on the coconut-fringed backwaters enjoying a leisurely meal!