302 Kms from Pamban
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,October,November,December
Pondicherry used to be India's biggest French colony, and is now the home of many French citizens. This has an influence on the architecture, food and culture. The rocky Promenade Beach is ideal to take long walks along the serene Bay of Bengal. The yellow sand, yellow sea and yellow sky merge to create a breathtaking panorama. Do indulge in scubadiving to experience the abundance of aquatic flora and fauna. The Soorya Beach Resort and Le Pondy Resort are excellent choices for staying by the sea. The city is also the location of Auroville. This innovative township houses explanatory concepts based on diverse philosophies and ideas. The Aurobindo Ashram here is a platform to seek spiritual pleasure. Through the method of integral yoga, the followers aim to become one with the divine, without renouncing the world. A distinct food culture is also notable due to the Franco-Tamil hybridity. Delectable French pastries, baguettes and appams! Seafood and continental! Savour the flavour. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention the rock-bottom prices of alcohol. For delectable food, try Cafe Xtasi and Baker Street. Try ice-cream from a wide variety at Ibaco. A visit is worth a palpable sense of contentment in India’s own French connection.
277 Kms from Pamban
Best time to visit - November,December
Cuddalore is a beach town in Tamil Nadu that is popular for its appealing beaches and ancient temples. This former port town on the Bay of Bengal still retains its old world charm. Beaches with boat houses, a few churches from the bygone eras and marvellous sceneries cover this tranquil region. Towards the east of the town is Silver Beach, which is famed as one of the longest beaches in Asia. It is frequented around the year by tourists from all over India. The dilapidated fort of St. David makes for a thrilling experience. Its ruins remain on the Gadilam River and add to the splendour of the town. Catch a view of the backwaters from here and don't forget to take pictures. Take a boat ride through the narrow water channels of the Pichavaram Mangrove forests, formed by the Cauvery river. Extremely scenic and serene, this place is also home to many migrant birds. Cuddalore ranks high in spiritual significance and is home to a number of Hindu temples. The temples of Padaleeswarar, Bhuvaraha Swami and Thiruvandipuram dot the town. You can enjoy authentic South Indian cuisine here and in case you want to take a souvenir back home, the Panruti dolls are a great choice.
295 Kms from Pamban
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.
298 Kms from Pamban
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!
Eravikulam National Park
257 Kms from Pamban
Best time to visit - April,May,June,September,October,November
This national park is the breathtaking home of a plethora of precious flora and fauna, and lies along the Western Ghats. Considered the magnum opus of Kerala, the park provides magnificent panoramic views of tea plantations and rolling hills blanketed in mist. The grasslands protect the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and harbour several other species of animals, birds and butterflies, including a new species of frog that was discovered recently. Eravikulam park becomes a sought after destination when the hill slopes get veiled by a carpet of blue, a miraculous phenomena caused by the flowering of Neelakurinji, which blooms only once in 12 years. Anamudi, translating to elephant's forehead and located within the park, is the highest peak of South India and its might and height of 8,842 ft can be enjoyed from a distance at Rajamala, from where the endangered Nilgiri Tahr can also be observed. The park provides a number of safaris for convenient and safe tourism around the park. The Kurinji Trail, which follows through misty tracks of protected animals and flowery grasslands, is a must for trekking lovers. Another famous but charming spot is the Lakkom Waterfalls, which provide an enchanting view along with an eco-shop cafeteria to eat at. Close to these falls is a log house, which offers comfortable accommodation with complimentary food and the much desired solitude and peace amidst the lap of nature.
218 Kms from Pamban
Best time to visit - April,May,June,August,September
Translating to 'the gift of the forest' in the native language of Tamil Nadu and originally home to the Palaiyar tribal people, this modern city has been a retreat long since the 19th century. Located in the hills of the Dindigul district, this city was established by British bureaucrats and American Christian missionaries. Kodaikanal offers an experience of stunning culture and natural beauty. Some famous attractions include Kodaikanal Lake, where one can always take a peaceful boat ride, Berijam Lake and Pillar Rocks. Take a walk in the pine forest or explore the Kukkal Caves and the Devil's Kitchen, a cave with a series of hidden ravines. Bear Shola falls, Glen Falls, Silver Cascade and Fairy falls make for a magical setting for nature lovers to observe and unwind. Religious dwellings such as the La Saleth Church, Lutheran Church and Subhramanya Temple are admired famously for their intricate architecture. For the inquisitive minds, Shembaganur Museum of Natural History, which is home to 500 species of taxidermy animals, birds and insects and the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory are great places to visit. Coakers walk, Silent Valley View Point, Perumal Peak and 80 Mile round make for interesting walks and treks, offering breathtaking views of the plains below. Natyanjali Festival, celebrated over 4 days, is a spectacular sight to behold with dazzling dance performances and top notch acts from across the country, which one can enjoy in the months of February or March. You can get a bite to eat at Cloud Street, Cafe Cariappa, Altaf's Cafe and Tava restaurants.
254 Kms from Pamban
Best time to visit - February,March,April,May,August,September,October,December
This is the kind of place that will look good on any camera, no matter which angle you take your picture from. Emerald green hills, with mist looming over them like wandering ghosts, Munnar makes for a vacation that will be etched in your memory for years. Munnar happens to be South India's largest tea growing region, hence a walk through its aromatic tea gardens cannot be missed. For more insight into the tea industry, the Tea Museum can make for an interesting visit. Sadly the meddling of the plantation industry with the flora and fauna, causes many species to lose their habitats and become endangered, some being the Nilgiri Thar, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the gaur, the sambar, and the Neelakurinji flower, which blossoms only once in 12 years. Consequently, Munnar is home to many national parks, such as the renowned Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kurinjimala Sanctuary, Amaravati Reserve Forest, Anamudi Shola National Park and the Pampadum Shola National Park, a visit to which is highly educational and peaceful. More quiet and scenic spots include Devikulam Lake and Attukal waterfalls. Munnar also caters to restless spirits, who can enjoy adventure sports such as paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling and even cycling. Some famous places to eat are Rapsy restaurant, Saravana Bhavan and Eastend, all known for their delicious non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. Munnar is easiest to access by road through state run or private buses, compared to flights since the nearest airport is in another city, Cochin. The nearest train station is in Aluva, although cabs and buses are easily available from both the places to reach Munnar.
265 Kms from Pamban
From Varkala, we took a bus to Trivandrum, our next destination. The capital of Kerala, its one the crowded cities in Kerala, situated on the west coast of India, and is bounded by Laccadive Sea to its west and the Western Ghats to its east. Like any other city, Trivandrum also has innumerable restaurants, which didn't fail to excite a foodie like me. Hotel Rehmaniya serves delicious beef, mutton and appam. Sneak into Hotel ZamZam for Malabari-style biriyani, and Hotel South Park for Onasadya, a typical Kerala recipe that will make your taste-buds go crazy!