People used to term ‘Kerala’ as ‘God’s Own Country’ and I was too keen to figure out why. And yea the day finally came for me to find out myself.
Little did we know that God’s own country would be a victim of such a massive calamity. We were bound to rethink on our plan taking into consideration the intensity of Kerala floods and the destruction it had caused.
When everybody’s brain ceased to process, my father had something brilliant to say. He stated, “By visiting Kerala, we will prove a helping hand to them. Our visit will help in uplifting the tourism of Kerala, isn’t it? ”. And that was the point when all the 20 people in my group agreed in unison to explore Kerala.
Kerala is considered one of our dream vacation destinations. When we booked the air tickets to Kerala, I realized my dream was turning to reality. Alas, I was going to experience “The Kerala”.
And last week we went on a 7 day Kerala trip to and fro by flight.
Let me share my wonderful experience with you and help you plan out your next trip to Kerala.
Day 1: Enroute Kerala:
Traveling by plane at least once in every middle-class man’s wish. Our organizer was keen on fulfilling this dream of ours, and this was my first Flight experience. Mumbai’s majestic international airport, The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport was a treat to our eyes. I was eager to witness the airport scenes that I have seen in movies. I saw a couple standing at the entrance entangled in a tight hug for almost more than 10 minutes and kissing one other. As we presented our boarding pass and Aadhar card to the security at the entrance I could see them still hugging each other. The uniqueness of that couple was, the girl was an Indian and the guy was a foreigner. I wondered how they would have met and how their love flourished.
We all admired the airport just as an LKG kid admires his school for the first time. Stunned at the beauty of it we were already in our picnic mood.
The best part of the fly was – the air hostesses. For 1 hour 30 minutes, I only admired their beauty, the way they spoke to the passengers, their manners, their constant smile, everything was so perfect. We had 4 air hostesses on-board, Doma from Sikkim, Ananya from Kolkata, Priya from Goa and Sharlett from Uttarakhand. Yes, I still remember each one’s name! We traveled by Jet Airways. The hospitability offered by them was up to the mark.
I had no issues while the take-off and landing, all thanks to my friend and his wise advise.
While on the flight, keep chewing chewing-gum or hear to songs on your headphones which will avoid the ear blockages at high altitude.
We landed at Cochin. Our stay was at Annapuram which was 3 hours away from the airport. On our way, we halt to see the beauty of Cheeyappara waterfalls. Wherever you traverse, in Kerala, you’ll hear the sound of waterfalls. It’s soothing to your ears. But when we imagined the plight 4 months back, it was horrifying. Though Kerala is ameliorating, the scars are still visible. The huge uprooted trees describe the intensity of the floods Kerala faced.
In the evening we visited the Anakulam river where wild elephant herds come and drink water. Luckily, we did spot an elephant. We were told that at times the herd blocks the roads and people may have to wait until they pass by.
Day 2 and 3: Munnar, Kerala:
We left for Munnar – hill station in Kerala. The climate was pleasant and cool. Sweaters were put on and tea was a necessity then. On the way, we halted at the Mattupetty Dam which conserves water for hydroelectricity. The scenic beauty was great for clicking pictures. Many of us got our Facebook covers taken there.
We stayed at Thayyil cottage in Munnar. Our breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 2 days were done right at a nearby restaurant named Hotel Gurubhavan. Not a single time did our bill exceed two thousand bucks (for 20 people). Food was awesome and cheaper as compared to Mumbai.
We visited the KDFC, Munnar – Kerala Forest Development Corporation Ltd. Garden and Ecoshop, Devikulam. It consisted of an avid variety of flora which was more like a small tour through the garden but that was worth it.
Our guide stopped at a shopping spot. One should see a lady bargain and the spark in her eyes when the bargain is a success. It’s an apex of happiness and a moment to cherish for the accomplishment done.
We also clicked pictures from the cameramen who gave us an instant copy of the photos. Amongst the thousands of pictures in our phone’s gallery, these few hard copies will be a pleasant memory showcased in our homes for the rest of our lives.
Nestled inside the hills of Munnar was the Sun Moon Valley Boating Centre. Speed boating was an amazing experience amidst the beautiful lush green hills, the serene skies, and the clear chilled water body.
Later, we visited Eravikulam National Park, the first national park of Kerala. The Nilgiri Tahr or the Himalayan Tahr can be found wandering in this national park. Also, this park is famous for the Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once in 12 years. Astonishingly, It had blossomed this year, but the floods made us unlucky to witness it.
I loved the notes that were put up while we took a stroll through the park. Few read as below:
- Once in a blue moon, but it blooms.
- Not for you alone, leave it for the next generation.
- Take back memories, leave no traces.
- Being amidst the blue hills, let this fascination trigger your passion for a greener world.
- Love them, but don’t touch them.
Day 4: Thekkady, Kerala:
If we run out of our lucky charms, our Picnics may become a nightmare. As it can’t be all roses and unicorns. We too went through such a day which we later named as ‘The bad day’.
We were supposed to be departing from Munnar at 7 am for Thekaddy which was our next location. But unfortunately our tempo-traveler (we had booked one for our interstate travel) broke down and it took 4 hours to get back on road. By the time we left, the road which took us to Thekaddy was blocked for 2 hours due to some work. To kill the time we narrated stories to one another. Like adding oil to the fire, we did get into few verbal disputes amongst us which worsen our moods. The later journey went on in silence. To add to the upheaval our dinner too was ruined due to some issue with the bill as it was an average hotel. Nobody could sleep until 2 am that night as the day did not go as we had planned.
We did visit the very popular spices garden, Pepper Valley in Thekkady. More than 500 varieties of plants dwell in those large acres of land. The guide explained the importance of each plant, luckily in Hindi. Hearing Hindi is the rarest thing you’ll find in Kerala. Malayalam is the only language spoken. And if you aren’t aware the word ‘Malayalam’ is a Palindrome.
Just like there is light after darkness, we started off the next day with a new hope. Smiled, washed off the previous day from our memory and once again prepared ourselves for a blast.
The state of our mind is solely in our hands. When on a picnic, keep it calm and happy.
Day 5: Houseboat, Alleppey
Since the time I watched the movie, Jab Jab Phool Khile, I dreamt of staying in a houseboat. Floating on the backwaters of Kerala was the best experience of my life. One of my dreams on my wish list was ticked.
Our hotel stay at Alleppey was in a bungalow, called as the Captain’s Cabin. I’ll definitely run short of words to actually describe the beauty of this place. To experience the luxury and the hospitality you need to go there yourself and stay at least for a day in the bungalow built on the bank of the backwaters.
The owner of the bungalow was a captain of a ship. His next sail was due the next day. We were fortunate enough to have met this man who was a vital part of the Kerala floods rescue operation. For 22 consecutive days, he stood on the boat and helped people migrate to safe zones. He told that the entire houses were submerged in floods. His own bungalow was engulfed with water till the 1st floor. His cars and bikes were all washed away in the floods. Within a couple of months, he rebuilt everything and once again welcomes people wholeheartedly to his Captain’s Cabin. In his absence, his wife manages the entire business. She is a school teacher and teaches physics in a school nearby.
Impressed by their hospitality, we extended our stay there. Captain also owns a boat. He drove us around the backwaters of Alleppey for free.
It was a memorable acquaintance with this great personality. And now I know why Kerala is called God’s own country. The people of Kerala make it so.
Day 6: Shopping in Kerala:
This was the day where the ladies were hyperactive. We shopped some gold ornaments from Bhima Jewellers. For sarees, we visited Maheshwari Sarees. And last but not least, we purchased banana chips, Tapioca chips, jackfruit chips prepared in pure coconut oil from Kararickal chips shop.
Day 7: Wonderla, Kochi.
Wonderla was our last destination. A popular water and amusement park in south India. I am not fond of giant rides, but the ones that I was interested in; I enjoyed it.
7 days were over in a blink of an eye. Every beautiful thing we enjoyed in Kerala is just a memory we will cherish. I am unsure whether I’ll be able to visit Kerala again in the future but this trip can never be forgotten. The hardest part of a journey was the return journey. I was hardly awake in the return flight and the fact that one week got overtook time to sink in completely.
You can also make notes of the places I’ve mentioned in the above and have a great time exploring Kerala. I bet you, you’ll love it!!
P.S. All the 20 of us had a gala time together in Kerala. Enjoyed to the fullest and had too much of Kerala food. For the next 2 months, idli, dosa, sambhar will be banned at our houses.