2012-08-22

South Trip

Our trip to South  was one for which we hardly planned meticulously. Moreover, my son got fractured elbow but then also our spirit was on high although bit dampened that whether we will enjoy or not; kind of excitement mixed with anxiety, hope and happiness. I still remember the moment we sat in the car and started for the trip which was going to be one of the longest drive with Aarush.

We  left Bangalore on 11th December 2010. As nothing much planned we packed some fruits and snacks which could be of help in desperate times and of course a camera to capture the moments.

Our route-

Bangalore -> Madurai(via Salem) -> Rameshwaram -> Kanyakumari -> Kovalam –> Kumarakom -> Malampuzha (via Palghat) -> Bangalore.



View Road Trip December 2010 in a larger map

Although the principle best followed in the case of accommodation is – ‘To each to his own’. In this trip no prior booking was done as we didn’t knew which night where we will be. It was on-spot which Santanu liked most. Well the trip was a great one on our Indica as we sold the car within 3 weeks after returning to Bangalore. It was a sad separation but too much hassle to keep her with change of registration and etc. And now after almost two years all the travel-logs are now published.

Malampuzzha

After being guest of GK Homestay for 2 nights at 7.00 we hit the road towards Malampuzha. It is about 8 km from the Palakkad town; Palkad is known as gateway between Tamilnadu and Kerala as it is a valley between hills. It is major rice growing area and home of many Tamil Brahmins who are living in Kerala for centuries.

Malampuzha Garden is build next to reservoir on river with same name. It has a mini hydro-electric project. The garden in that has a scenic setting with the forested hills of Western Ghats forming the backdrop. Just like Brindhvan garden of Mysore is build next to a reservoir on River Cauvery.

The garden consists of a unique ropeway that allows visitors to move around the whole area. The park includes flowerbeds, pools, snake garden, Japanese garden pedal boats, aquarium & etc. The whole park was under renovation and only spent some time in children area where Aarush like the Helicopter a lot. Within the Malampuzha Gardens is a large cement sculpture named Yakshi by Kanayi Kunhiraman which you like or dislike there is nothing in between. Kanayi is the most famous living sculpture of Kerala and his work are displayed across Kerala which are huge and very modern. With traditional Kerala his sculptures sometime looks out of place.


We stopped at Hotel Tripenta opposite Rock Garden for lunch. The food was OK best part the restrooms were clean. We liked it and wondered with many ‘w’ questions about the nice property as it is really off-track but has modern amenities like swimming pool & etc.

The rock-garden is the only one of its kind in southern India - inspired by Nek Chand Saini, the artist who made Chandigarh’s famous Rock Garden. All the art is made with recycled materials. The best part was the rock Garden was almost empty and recently renovated under the supervision of Nek Chand Foundation. We took many pictures and really they are beautiful and worth spending some time here.

Around 4.00 pm we started our journey back; crossed Coimbatore before dusk and continued driving. This was a change from the morning plan as initially we thought of spending one night in Palakkad. It was a long long drive; we stopped at Salem for a quick dinner around 9 PM and continued driving all the way to Bangalore.



We reached almost safely after 8 days trip at 2.30 AM at night. We could have stopped at Salem and had a good rest. And next time we travelled again towards Salem for Munnar we stopped at GRT for the night which is on the highway.


Links



2012-08-17

Backwater:Kumarakom

Around 10 we started for our next destination to Kottayam which was around 140K M away. From Varkala we started following the road signs for Kochi but once we almost approached Kottayam/ Kumarakom we got little bit lost but soon found our way towards Kottayam. Roads were good except last part near GK Riverview home stay (Rough Guide recommendation). The owner of the homestay tried his best to discourage from coming with a small kid which infact made us more determined to stay with him. We were to stay here for 2 nights.



It is situated on the bank of river Meenachil in Aymanam. Right in front of house had backwater canal where you can take ride on country boats and watch people. They have only 4 rooms and facing the paddy field with hammocks and swing. Worth staying here if you don’t like TV in room and want to be close to nature and far from all noise of urban life. We spotted many birds there.

When we reached here, it was almost 3.30-4 00pm and were hungry. They offered us with some sandwich as we told we would like to have early dinner at night; traditional Keralite home cooked food was prepared & served at night along with other guests (foreigners). While dining we planned our next day itinerary with our host (he offered us with choices).


Next day our host walked with us and dropped us to respective ferry junction where from we took ride to huge Vembanad Lake along with other localities. From here, we went to Alappuzha (Alleppey) to hire house boat and took an 2hr. ride on lake with scenic beauty. We spotted many birds, house boats and could see the every-day life of common village folks. In between, the boat stopped for a tender coconut break where there was a pet eagle whose picture you see with Aarush. It was easy for him to hold the bird on his hand as it was with cast. After that we had lunch at Alleppey.

And came back to Kottayam railway station by another normal ferry, where auto was waiting to take us back to homestay (sent by GK only).

We preferred to avoid any night stay at houseboats being December they were exorbitantly pricey. But we thoroughly experienced boat rides whole day. In total, we spent almost 6/7 hours on boats. And as we traveled in public boats it gave a real glimpse of day-to-day life from children going to school, people coming back from town to village with their rations.

At night, had dinner and went to bed early so that we can leave the place as early as possible. Every food GK provided was excellent a perfect host.

2012-08-14

Kovalam and Varkala beach

Drive from Kanyankumari was smooth, Aarush took a small nap. The road was undivided two lanes so the speed was limited but the lush green from paddy field , coconut grove and plantation leaves was pleasant for eyes. We reached Kovalam as per our plan, saw sunset which was magnificient. It was great to watch perfect sunrise and sunset on a same day. Public Beach was next to Taj and Leela hotels where large part belongs to them for their private beach. Now we started to search for hotel and ended up with Blue Sea. Did not find anything special but food was definitely good and the property looks like going down the hill as two brother split on the same.



Next morning we went geared up towards light house beach which we found to be much more serene compared to earlier one. It has long stretch to take a stroll. Had our breakfast at one of the sea facing restaurant; there were some reasonable price hotels with a view need to explore sometime later. Aarush and Santanu went inside the water to take a dip. Aarush with his plaster initially was reluctant but once he got used to the waves wanted to spend more time there.

At afternoon, came back to our room had lunch and some rest then went to Thiruvananthapuram to visit “Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple”. Drive from Kovalam to city was was not long but full of traffic. One of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India displays a supreme blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. The temple has strict order where only Hindus are allowed and male must enter bare chest and wear dhoti. Even for Aarsush they had a dhoti to rent. From there we went in search of place within Thiruvananthapuram to see Kathakali and martial arts but in turn ended up seeing Napier Museum, Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and other old heritage buildings which was worth passing by but we failed to capture them in moving car. Unfortunately, these all are on main roads where you cannot stop unless you park your car properly. One thing definitely caught our eyes was the number of jewelry/Gold shops. Around 8 PM we returned to our room so that we can have early dinner and head off early morning to next spot Varkala beach. Settled the bills with hotel for a early start.

Left Kovalam at 6AM and crossed Thiruvananthapuram city without any traffic jam this time. Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple considered as Dakshin Kashi. But we skipped and headed straight towards beach around 7am it felt like heaven. Really worth it would be staying over there. Since we have already booked for that night at Kumarakom we could not make it. The views of the sunset sunrise are worth lingering over. The cliff and the beach house a lot of resorts, restaurants and other shops. The cliff has a long stretch of small shops which goes on for over a kilometer where we took a walk and had breakfast in one of the restaurant there. Looked like Varkala is more famous with foreigners. The breakfast was great as we had some European breakfast.

2012-08-02

Kanyakumari : Where the Seas Meet

Continuing from Madurai (2010-December); we setup the alarm clock to ensure we do not miss the sunrise. But to our surprise we were awaken early by anxiety and whispers from the corridors. We went to see if the Sun was rising soon but the horizon was dark and there was faint rays of light. We let Aarush sleep and went to the rooftop where we saw every hotel rooftop is full of people as all are waiting for the Sun-rise. After some wait the magnificent sunrise did happen but it was quite late around 6.30am but worth watching. This is a small video of the same.
After a very ordinary breakfast in one of the small stall we went to see Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue, a Indian version of the Statue of Liberty . It was 8:30 in the morning in December but the Sun was really hot, it was quite along queue for ferry ride to that spot but worth going. When we reached Rock Memorial the Sun was on full blast it became tough to move around with bear foot.

Thiruvalluvar is ancient Tamil poet who lived almost two thousand years back. His work is part of everyday Tamil life but not very known beyond South India. This huge statue definitely stole all the limelight in the southern tip of mainland India. Personally felt it too huge and little eye-sore but again that I my personal view.
On return from ferry ride we came to hotel it was noon and Kanyakumari(Virgin goddess) temple was closed. We had to wait till 4PM for it to reopen or move forward. After temples of Madurai and Rameshwarm I was bit tired of temple queues. And in this temple all males must enter only in dhoti (the traditional Indian dress) and shirtless. So we escaped Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore and headed towards next spot – Kovalam.(target was to reach before sunset).

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...