Kerala- A Trip Worth Mentioning!
This is one place you must visit while in India. The memories of my visit there still bring peace to my soul. It is a calm and peaceful place, the roads are not crowded and the people are very friendly and helpful.
Kerala is well connected by road, air and rail. While you may have trouble getting an air ticket or a train booking done, you can book a bus ticket even the day before your travel there and be assured that you will be accommodated. There are many luxury buses to Kerala and these are extremely comfortable.
Being near the sea, Kerala has an equable climate and is quite warm in summer. However, the heat is not unbearable at all.
We booked into a hotel at Kochi which was a minute’s walk from MG Road. Auto rickshaws are easily available and quite cheap. Our favourite haunt was Marine Drive, which is along the banks of the sea. It is about a kilometre away from MG Road and costs about Rs. 20 by auto. From here, many of the little islands are visible. The sea is rough and deep, yet, at the same time, has a kind of ethereal serenity about it. One can sit on a bench at the musical walk way and stare out at the sea for hours without getting bored. It is about a kilometre walk to the jetty, from where you can get a ‘water bus’ to any of the islands. The fare is not much. We paid Rs. 2 to go across to ‘Fort Cochin’. We walked down the road to the fort and saw the Chinese fishing nets being used. Having accomplished that, we took a ferry back to Cochin and spent some more time at the musical walk way.
The next day, we went to see the backwaters. The trip was organised by the Kerala tourism department. It was a truly interesting day and worth our time and effort. We were taken in a houseboat, to one of the small islands, where we visited a spice plantation and had a snack of fresh water mussels cooked in coconut. When we returned to the mainland, we were given a traditional Kerala meal on the houseboat. We thoroughly enjoyed that. From there, we went around seeing some cottage industry and got into canoes to travel in little canals around the beautiful, peaceful villages. It is so quiet there; you can actually hear yourself think! After spending the whole day out, we were given a ride back to Kochi. It was a splendid day, one that will be remembered for a lifetime!
The next day, we went down to the jetty again and this time, took a ferry to Mattancherry. Mattancherry used to be the trade link to Ernakulum. The cost of this trip was Rs. 4. The ferry goes to Fort Cochin first, and then makes a stop at Willington Island and finally goes on to Mattancherry. So, we had a lovely, long, slow and peaceful ferry ride which lasted about twenty minutes. Mattancherry is surrounded by the backwaters of the Arabian Sea. We walked to the Dutch Palace. This was a two minute walk from the jetty. It looked more like a huge mansion. The museum has many interesting paintings and murals. There are also different weapons there. We also got to see the Jain temple. The other end of Mattancherry has the Jew town and the famous Jewish synagogue that truly amazed us. This is the only synagogue that is still in use there and is the oldest active synagogue of the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue is a 5- minute walk from the Palace. The chandeliers and the tiles on the floor took our breath away. Each tile has a different pattern on it. Mattancherry is a cute little place. You can go all over on foot. The roads are empty and the houses and shops are few and far between.
On the way back to the mainland, we decided to stop at Willington Island. Huge ocean liners were standing by the port. We spent quite a while gazing at these liners and marvelling at the size and structure of each one. This island was created by digging out the soil and deepening the Vembanad Lake to make the new Kochi Port. The first liner arrived at the island in 1935. The Malabar Hotel was constructed to accommodate travellers. There is a naval base at the island. Incidentally, my father-in-law was posted there for a few months while he was in the navy. So, it was interesting to be there. There is a rail and road bridge connecting the island to the mainland. However, we preferred using the ferry.
On our way back to the mainland, we had an added attraction thrown in, when a few dolphins decided to pop their bodies out of the water during our ferry ride. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to take pictures because they were so fast.
What amazed us most of all in Kerala, was the quiet. It was also interesting to note that although there are so many little islands around, there are just one or two beaches worth mentioning. The water is very deep around the islands, and does not form beaches. If we had more time, we would have also made a trip to the wild life sanctuaries and Munnar, a hill station in the Western Ghats. During this trip, we wanted to be by the water and that’s what we had loads of!
© 2012 Melaine