|I have been to God's own country.
||[May. 24th, 2005|01:38 am]
It has been many days since I saw water flowing in any waterbody. yes! I saw it in Kerala.|
I pitied my state for its barren lands and envied Kerala for its lush vegetation. Different culture, different attitudes and different charm, that was like a world in itself.
Kerala, rightly said 'God's own country'.
Kochi was the first destination to rest for a night after a tedious 28hr journey. The next morning we took a train to Chalakudi and from there headed towards a beautiful waterfall called 'Athirapally falls' by bus. That was the first ghat road drive(30km) in Kerala. I have never seen such a wide fall amidst thick jungle(wild cats are often spotted in the evenings). After an eye feast, we landed at Guruvayur,the famous 'kutti krishna' temple in Kerala. Males are supposed to go topless with a dhoti and females should get dressed up in saree, says the temple norms. ThankGod that the dhotis survived. More than the diety we were worried about the dhoti.
Waynad was the next destination. The bus travel in Kerala is pathetic. The buses they use are antiques. The drive is like a rollercoaster ride. No bus seat in Kerala has got push back mechanism and above all keralites are bad co passengers. In every angle there is a certain amount of discomfort. After a 5 hr uncofortable bus journey we landed at Waynad. 'Chembra peak' the highest peak in that district 2100mts above sea level was our 'laksh'. It took eight and half hours and undeterred will to accomplish the 14km trek. A steep slope with narrow paths( just about 2ft),slippery mud and rocks makes up chembra. The lunch I had on a rock protruding out of the hillside is the best ever lunch.
Munnar, the highest hillstation in south India was next in the itinerary. somehow managed a cozy cottage with valley view for 500 bucks. Al through the tour we wanted to travellers rather than tourists and preferred travelling by local transport, eating the native delicacies and staying in economical cottages and lodges. When Hyd was being roasted at 44 we were freaking out at 10 degrees through the clouds,valleys,plantations(tea,coffee,cardamom) and ghat roads. The highest peak in south India -Anaimudi, a very rare species of mountain goat-nilgiri tahr, highest point on highway in south India-top station are the interesting places around Munnar.
The ride from Munnar to Thekkady is the most beautiful ride I had ever taken. one quarter of the journey would be through clouds where everything is hidden in the dense cloud. All you can see is objects at a distance of about 20mts dissolving into the thick white fog like cloud. Heavenly!!!
We didn't want to go to the regular periyar boat ride at Thekkady and planned for an exciting jeep safari through the jungle. We were the second Indian group doing the safari in 3-4 years and the first student group(The 4 brave guys).Entered the thickest part of the jungle after a 40km long open top jeep safari and started for the 8km long jungle trek. The forest being a rainforest, the ground is wet without grass and filled with leeches. We had to wear leech socks,but initially we were very leeche conscious. At a point we heard swooshing sound of an elephant and stopped to notice a huge rock like structure 10mts away from us. The guide asked to make no sound and went two steps ahead and the elephant started moving towards us and we ran for our lives. Later he said that the elphant was mad because only mad elephants roam alone and attack everything that comes its way.We were on the edge of a valley and in its path and down the valley was a huge herd of elephants.After a narrow escape, we completed the trek smoothly. On our way back, the jeep driver sensed presence of wild anuimlas at a certain place and took us there. Initially we could hear grunting and rumbling noise and later spotted a herd of wild bisons a few meters away trying to run away from us. To get a good view of the herd we had to chase them for nearly 3km through tall grass on the hillside,running crazily not knowing what would come in the front. That was a huge herd of nearly 50 bisons. It gave us the animal planet, nat geo kinda feel. One thing I learnt from the jungle trek is that the jungle is just another home with a different set of rules. There is coziness in the seemingly scary silence of the jungle. Our abilities to smell and sense work amazingly well in there. Human is the cruelest animal and thats why all the wild beings are scared of human presence. No wild cat shall generally attack human beings and 'kaal' kinda stories are just stories.
How can we miss one of the most famous beaches of India -Kovalam?? travelled all the way to southern tip trivandrum just to play at Kovalam beach. One full day at kovalam is not a waste at all. Beach side shops, beach facing restaurants, beautiful foreign babes in bikinis and huge waves with a clean ambience. Ecstatic.
Kerala is famous for back waters at Allapuzha. Took a 86 km long and 8 hr boat ride on back waters. That was a calm, laid back day filled with scenic beauty. zillion coconut trees and hundreads of boat houses, this place stands as an epitome of kerala.
Kochi is no less an interesting place with 450 yr old church -st.francis church, 300 yr old palace which is not a typical palatial palace, jewish synagogue(oldest in the country),chinese fishing nets and poeple using motor boats more than city buses.
All in all Kerala was a different world. This tour was not only fun but also informative and experience. we visited mountain peaks, thick jungles, valleys, beaches and places of historic importance...whatelse can a tour consist of?? It was an experience that I would cherish forever in the name of my dearest buddies and the God's own country.