In the month of August 2018 one of the worst floods hit Kerala, leaving many places across north and south limping for days. As per reports The state has not seen such calamity since a century. We started planing to visit Kerala in end July and had our tickets and bookings done.
Our plans were from16th-22nd September.
We considered a few reasons before finalising our itirinary during this period. The major ones being —
1. Witnessing the blooming of the duodecinnial Neelakurinji during this period of September – October
2.Its kind of non-peak seasons before the Dusshera and festive season holiday begins research showed almost least airfares during this period.
As budget travellers all the above points hit us. But the news, videos and rumours about the flood left us perplexed and confused for days.
Our flight tickets were non-refundable; transfer would lead in doubling the expenses!
So after much confusion and utter chaos we landed at Kochi International airport on September 16th .
We started from jamshedpur.
We opted flight from Bhubaneshwar to Bangalore; Bangalore to Kochi.
Kochi welcome us with a pleasant weather.
We started for Munnar from Kochi airport at around 1.40pm in the afternoon.
The roads were not in poor condition, but traces and remnants of the flood were visible at places. On the way to Munnar we visited Cheeyappara and Valara waterfalls.
Both gives scenic and picturesque views.
Next we also visited one of the Spice gardens.
It had arrangements for Elephant ride too.
Spice garden entry: 100₹/head Elephant ride: 400₹/head
The spice gardens grow all variety of Ayurveda and kitchen spices that are used in most Indian kitchens in daily basis.
Huge variety of flora and fauna including the rare White tea plants, to brahmi, Rosemary, lemongrass all are grown, nurtured and sold too.
The road to Munnar is mostly hilly and had numbers of turns and bends. We reached our Resort at around 6.30pm.
Though we were little doubtlful about the post flood situations in Munnar, apart from remnants of landslides at some places, I think its mostly unaffected or has returned to its earlier pace of life.
Located little far from the city amidst trees and plantations.
The road leading to the resort is really narrow.
And once inside the possibility of getting out for a stroll or morning work is almost an impossible thought.
We were welcome with ginger coffee.
The stairs and frames are all wooden and the interiors are better looking than the exterior.
The rooms are spacious. Equipped with a sofa, study table, mirrored wardrobe, TV. The room and bathroom both are clean and tidy. The ceiling length curtains and patterned Walls on one side of the room enhances the spacious feel.
Rooms are well maintained.
Multiple options available for dinner and breakfast.
North Indian options are good and tasty. Quantity and price being reasonable.
We started mid morning at around 9am for Munnar sight-seeings.
On insistence of our driver we visited the Dreamland fun park. If you have time and not on budget you can give it a try. The place can be great if you are travelling with kids.
Next we proceeded for Eravikulum National Park. The Nilgiris of Munnar are a part of the Western Ghat mountain ranges that housed the Tahr and the duodecinnial Neelakurijir, that truly blooms once in a blue moon, every twelve longs years!
Though the torrential rain has deterred the growth of the shrub, the park had the blooms here and there attracting good number of tourist. The view from the top is breathtaking. Different hues of green brightened and dimmed with the passing clouds. The brooks from the hills, the cool breezy climate added the charm of the place. On the way lush green tea gardens are spread all across. I don’t even know the name of all the shades.
The view is refreshing enough for next few months to keep tiredness at bay.
Spending around 3 hrs in the park we visited flower garden followed by Mattupetty dam.
Serene and peaceful.
Can spend hours by the lake.
Ahead of that Echo point and top station is there. The road goes through forest and there is high chance to get clear view of elephants.
Just one request don’t annoy wild animals by irritating them by peltering stones or food items. It’s their natural habitat. We human beings have trespassed in their area for mere selfish reasons.
Tata tea museum is a favourite amongst tourist, but it’s closed on Mondays.
After an elaborate breakfast at Hotel we started for Thekkady. Again the majority portion of the route is good, but yes few places do carry traces of the landslides and damages.
Tea gardens beckons the eyes.
The mild aroma of spices grown all over spices up the journey. There are a number of Ayurveda spice gardens on the way,
They offer not only insight on the vast variety of medicinal flora available in our country, but also grow and sell spices and medicinal goods.
Dadruhari- for skin problem Masupiam- obeseness Sarba sugandhi
Periyar Tiger Reserve is a must visit place at Thekkady. They have their own accomodations. For further information regarding that’s and customising your package do drop a Mail at KTDC website. We will share the email if below.
Apart from that they also provide a number of other activities; jeep safari, Periyar lake boating are just a few to name.
The boat takes passengers through the forest. Bisons, deers and birds were visible. If you are lucky enough tiger can also be seen.
Tip: Be careful not to carry any edible items in hand as the place is free movement area for monkeys who don’t shy away from crowd rather comes down to snatch satchels or hand packs.
Followed by the boating which we suggest better to be done late afternoon(as many animals come near water during this time) you can be an audience for the Kalaripayattu, Kathakali, Magic show, Musical fountain and similar cultural programs arranged by Elephant Camp, very near to the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest form of martial arts that originated from southern India at around 3000BC. It’s said and believed to be of the time of Sage Parasurama and is also called the ‘mother of Martial arts’. The modern East Asian martial arts biz judo, Kung fu , karate all are bel to believed originated from Kalaripayattu!
Kathakali the ‘story-play’ genre of art characterised by bright make up and face masks, colourful drapes and meaningful expressions. The theatre explains and gives live demonstration of the art, it’s pre requisites and offering.
Both the programs were very good, though we will be little partial toward Kalaripayattu . Tip: each of the cultural programs are of 1hour.
After the tiring day we retired to our room at Jungle park resort , that’s situated very close to the tiger reserve, with many of its rooms facing the jungle!
Jungle Park Resort,Thekkady
The Resort is situated very close to Periyar tiger reserve.
Brick red interiors and exteriors give a cosy feeling.
The forest facing deluxe rooms are equipped with a mini fridge, sofa, wardrobe and a balcony that overlooks jungle. In the morning we managed to get glimpse of a few monkeys only though.
Food: our breakfast was a-la-carte with limited options of bread-omelette, aloo paratha, idli, dosa, juice.
Food is good in taste and quantity.
Dinner options are good. Continental dishes were good as well.
After a hearty breakfast we started for Alappuzha (Well known as Aleppey backwaters).
Crossing Around 130kms through forests, hilly villages and small town we reached at the backwaters and boarded our Houseboat.
After a homely lunch on board,the boat strolled lazily in the backwaters and Vembanad Lake, one of the lengthiest lake of Asia.
We will suggest to go sailing on the backwaters only in the houseboat, and not for spending the night. By evening the boat parks near a shabby isle and stays there whole night.
Mosquitoes, flies and insects may not be in plenty but will be there. And from 6pm to 7/8amnext day you won’t have actually anything to do other than talking with your group, or watching movie or music. No chance of going out.
So think twice what you want.
Plus spending a night in the houseboat can be really pricey for budget travellers. Minimum range starts from 8-10k/ night!
Tip: Instead of staying in house boat you may prefer to spend a night at Leela, Kovalam or similar luxury hotels at Munnar or Thekkady.
After breakfast at the Houseboat we started off for the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The drive is long and can stretch for 4-5hrs.
Rain can be frequent companion. Lush greenery on all sides and the smell of sea feels prominent after a while of drive.
In Trivandrum city the Napier museum is worth a visit, that houses rare and ancient artefacts; wooden flower chariot, old deities of vishnuji and other gods, sculpting out of ivory are to name a few. The architecture of the place is impressive, especially the gothic style ceiling.
The zoo is in the same premises. Can be paid a visit if you have time in hand and interest.
Next stop for us was Padmanabhaswamy temple, one of the most famous temples of south India. The temple has strict rules and dress code.
The interiors of the temple is an architectural wonder.
The pillars, the Grand doors, the curves and sculptures on the wall add to the grandeur.
The place is a bit commercialised, May be to some extent because of the cost that’s incurred for maintenance of the place.
Entry fee of 250₹per 2 person charged.
Mundu(dhotis) that we’re available on rent earlier are no longer available. One need to buy them. After the temple visit we retired for the day at our hotel in Kovalam, Kerala.
Tip: Men are to go inside wearing Mundu(dhoti) and angavastram. Shirts, t-shirts, vests not allowed.
Women are allowed inside wearing sarees, long skirt. Wrapping a dhoti on salwar or jeans will do.
Kovalam beach doesn’t allow tourists on guests after 6.45pm.
Padmanabha swamy temple: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/padmanabhaswamy-temple-vault-b-facts-about-the-scary-inaccessible-chamber/as60389479.cms
We started at around 9am for visiting Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.
On reaching the point you need to catch the ferry to visit the famous Vivekananda Rock.
Tip: No need to opt for the special ticket of 200₹/head(which is only for priority entry in the ferry. 50₹/Head Ticket is good enough. Waiting Hall is airy with sufficient number of fans.
Plus the to and fro journey is hardly 10 mins each side.
Number of eatery options available in and around Kanyakumari
Tip: Keep yourself hydrated with coconut water or water. As the sun can get really hot in the late mornings till evening.
The ferry service works till 4.30pm.
Ahead of it are Mahatma smarakam, Tribeni Sangam, and sunset point. Remembering pages of history with Goosebumps
If time permits we suggest to witness sunset at Kanyakumari or tribeni Sangam. Else you can enjoy sunset at Kovalam beach too.
Though the days we were there the sky had intermittent light and heavy overcast, and sun set behind the clouds only. Localites suggested month of December and January provides best sunset views.
Tip: Enjoy a meal or dinner at anyone of the sea facing restaurants or shacks. The feeling of sharing your meal with your loved ones overlooking the sea is ethereal .
Jasmine palace, Kovalam.
The hotel is not a beach facing one. The Kovalam beach is a walk of 5mins from the hotel.
We stayed at the cottage by the pool. The room, bathroom both are spacious with a huge balcony that overlooks the swimming pool. Roos are tidy but no beach view.
Food is okayish,compared fo the earlier places we stayed.
The dinner meals seemed overboard with too much spices. It tasted good bit seemed overdone.
Swiss cafe , Kovalam beach.
You will find a number of shacks, cafes restaurants stacked adjacent to each other by the Kovalam beach, on the lighthouse side. Some of them sell fresh sea fish, to be chosen and prepared on order of the guests.
Swiss cafe is one of the cafe restaurants overlooking the sea from its 1st floor eatery.
The place is pretty minimal with hurricanes(glass lamps) set on all the tables.
Though we visited the place just after a calamity that had almost devastated the normal life of Keralites, we never missed their warmth. Neither we missed any gorgeous landscape apart from a few hiccups along the roads.
Kerala is an ideal destination if you are fond of both hills and water bodies, but don’t prefer extreme climatic condition.
The food is super awesome, the aroma of the fresh spices adds to the zing!
We tend to refer Kerala to many of our relatives/friends including the adventurous ones and also who are not much interested in adventures and exploring while on travel. The options are plenty, choice is yours, whether you opt for a serene break amidst the greens or wish to float on backwaters!
Good to read your article around Kovalam
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