Monday, February 11

Kerala Escapade

Ello there!!

Most of you must be unaware that while you were reading up on job jabbers and blah, I was away and gone.  I sneaked away to Kerala for a much awaited and horribly needed vacation that lasted all of one week. All good things must come to an end, and so returneth I to aamchi Pune.

God’s own country (which is what Kerala is famously called) has been on the agenda for a while, not so much because I was keen on going there, but more so coz people have always spoken so highly of it and commercials have portrayed it as a WOW destination.
Honesty forbids me from agreeing. However, I was not disappointed either.

Attribute the latter to my desperation to escape my daily hell at Pune, or the former to my having seen it (almost) all as I am a well travelled lass. All in all, it’s a good place, but not extraordinary. Certainly not a honeymooner’s paradise, which is the tag that the state owes its popularity to.

The place abounds in tea, coffee, banana and coconut plantations and has its share of wildlife. While Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Allepey/Kumarakom are on the must-visit list for most people, you could easily fit your trip in 4 to 5 days and a budget of about 10 to 15 thousand per person (not including airfare and subject to time of the year/season).

Backwaters at Allepey / Kumarakom

Akhilesh Singh posing in tea gardens at Munnar
Periyar no-wildlife sanctuary at Thekkady
Time together at last... Honeymoon Part 2 @ Kerala
Vythiri resort at Wayanad 

We started our tour at the Cochin airport, but could not visit the city since it lay on the other side of our next destination, which was Munnar. After spending two nights at Munnar, we spent one each at Thekkady and Kumarakom, followed by two nights at Wayanad. We were travelling in a cab for minimum 4 hours and waking up at almost 6 am everyday. Food and communication continue to be a concern as local restaurants offer predominantly South Indian food and local folks speak broken English or Hindi. You would do well to carry some snacks in your backpack, and speak telegram sort of language with a Southie twang... basically add “aaa” to everything and nod your head vigorously in all directions irrespective of your comprehension or opinion.

Munnar is pretty, and the hotel Grand Munnar we stayed at was beautiful. There is not much to see there, though Mattupetty Dam and Tea Museum are included in the itinerary. We enjoyed an elephant ride and walked through the flower garden, but it was very hot and sunny, so that considerably dulled our enthusiasm. 

Surprisingly, markets are scarce, which is one of the crucial bits in tourism at hill stations like Mahabaleshwar and Manali. Spice plantations and shops are numerous, but I was not very certain with the authenticity of the spices being packed and sold. My shopping list started with a bag of banana chips and ended with an endearing wall clock resembling a wristwatch that can also be used as a table clock, and that is pretty much about it. I am a shopper’s nightmare, right?! Well, my husband ain’t complaining :-p

I did, however, lighten his wallet when I hogged on the ice-cream there. A less known fact is that Kerala has two major ice cream brands – Lazza and Skei. We stumbled upon the mouth-wateringness of the Lazza strawberry ice cream at our Munnar hotel, and then there was no stopping us, or rather my pati parmeshwar. He insisted on feeding me the Lazza delight at every given opportunity. No wonder I love him so much :-D

Truth be told, Thekkady was a waste, the only saving grace being the Kathakali performance we saw. That too, coz I have read about this dance form in a book quite sometime ago. I did not quite enjoy the Grand Thekkady hotel we stayed at, though I can’t accurately point out what made me restless. The Periyar sanctuary where you are taken on a boat-ride to view tigers has little to offer except wild boars, bisons, kingfishers and snakebirds. What definitely was a highlight for us was the Gujarati Marwari Bhojnalaya (eatery) where starved hubby dearest could have his fill of North Indian fare.

Allepey was the highlight of the trip; the backwaters are filthy but enticing nevertheless. Our Manor Backwater resort overlooked the backwaters and had a swimming pool, so we were happy with the arrangement. A boat-ride was very soothing and refreshing, and I was glad we did not stay in a houseboat owing to the heavy rains that night plus reviews about insect invasions.  

Wayanad was an altogether separate package which I had looked up on a travel website. We spent two nights at a 150-acre huge luxury resort called Vythiri, approximately 70km from Calicut (Kozhikode). Pretty log cottages and serene forests made for an enchanting ambience, and the service was impeccable. They obviously charged a bomb for it, and a similar experience could be had at the Malhar Machi resort near Mulshi in Pune.

Cab, airplane, auto, boat and train... we rode them all in our travel. Tanned and relaxed, our tour ended at Mumbai where we celebrated my nephew’s big day in style. Bhoomik is now 3 years old, and he was a star at his birthday bash that sported a Chhota Bheem cake. God bless my beautiful baby… Remember the time I wrote about his birth? How time flies… !!!

And now it’s time to get back to routine… it sucks, really. But hey, all good things must come to an end in order for better things to happen.

Have a great day, you’all!


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