Honeymoon in Kerala: Rejuvenating Senses

 Kerala Honeymoon Tour
Kerala Honeymoon Tour

While going through the Kerala travel guide, one thing that I noticed was that pick any of the Kerala tour packages – you will find yourself surrounded by serene and picturesque waterways. This is one such divine green land that is blessed with 44 rivers, canals, lagoons and backwaters. I, being there for my Kerala honeymoon tour, was booked in a luxury houseboat.

My Kerala vacations started off with Cochin where I enjoyed my visits to Jewish structures and various churches. The market was dotted with authentic handicrafts and aromatic spices. Next I headed for Kumarakom backwaters through Vembanad Lake – the longest backwater stretch in Kerala. This was the time when I experienced a superb stay in Kerala while living on waters.

After exploring enough of marine life, I paid a short visit to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that is undoubtedly called as the Paradise of Ornithologists / Bird Lovers. Kovalam Beach, next in our list, was again a splendid place where I could spend some quality time with my beloved cum wife watching the pleasant sunset.

Next day, we headed for the rejuvenating plantations of tea / coffee and spices in Periyar and spent a couple of house enjoying nature walk there. In the second half, after lunch, we decided to step in the thrilling Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. There I came across a number of rarest of mammals and migratory birds.

We both also availed few of the premium Ayurveda therapies on our houseboat. That was completely refreshing and made our honeymoon in Kerala simply memorable for a lifetime.

Posted on May 20th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

The Elephant Festival Kerala: A Royal Festivity

Kerala Elephant Festival
Kerala Elephant Festival

Blessing in disguise is what I say regarding my last official trip to Kerala. Though I was not ready for this tour but my senior insisted, and I went to Thrissur from Delhi in Trivandrum Rajdhani train. On the third day of my journey I reached Thrissur at midnight. Though the journey was exhaustive but I got ample of time for myself. I enjoyed this long journey by eating, reading, watching my favorite movies and seeing beauty of passing by places.

I rested the whole night in my office guest house and when I woke up the next morning my office peon informed me that office will remain closed today because of Thrissur Pooram, the most colorful temple festival of Kerala. He advised me to go outside to enjoy this most vibrant and cultural festival of Kerala. I had also heard about this festival but never enjoyed it. So hurriedly I dressed up and ate ‘masala dosa’ in my breakfast and went straight to Vadakkunnathan Temple which is the center stage of this celebration.

When I reached the temple I saw numerous people pushing each other in order to get through the temple entrance gate. Thrissur Puram is a two-century old temple festival which is well known throughout the world for its unique pomp and pageantry. This elephants festival is held in the Malayalam month of Medom (April-May) and lasts for 36 hours. It is a grand assembly of gods and goddesses from villages and towns in and around Thrissur. The foremost attraction of this festival is the grand elephant procession. These elephants were lavishly decorated with jewels and sequined silk parasols. I was also impressed by the beautiful decoration of elephants. Along with this the elephant parade was accompanied by orchestra band playing folk music of Kerala.

The festival reaches its peak when 30 richly caparisoned elephants emerged from the Vadakkumnathan temple escorted by three efficient priests sitting atop them. The rhythmic beats of the orchestra heightens the beauty of this procession. The beat and sound was pulsating which created mystic atmosphere throughout the temple premises.

I was enthralled by the cultural beauty of this festival. This cultural representation of religious belief provides a platform to people to share their common interests which develops cohesion among several social strata. The spectacular display of colorful fireworks, parasol exchanges, an umbrella showing competition are the other attractions of this colorful celebration which I liked the most.

After spending 6 – 7 hours in the temple premises I returned to my guest house in the evening. After watching TV for sometime I went to the dinning hall for dinner where I ate delectable Rasam with Tapioca and Fish Curry. After that I returned to my room with a thought to read something but don’t know when I got lost in my dream.

Posted on April 8th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Periyar in Kerala: Attractions beyond Jungle Safari

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

My insight love for exotic wild creatures and birds was the cause that drove me to the divine dense greens of Periyar. Such places have always fascinated me somewhere in my dreams. “Indian Wildlife” by Rajesh Bedi and Ramesh Bedi had created a great impact on me. So the story continues with my arrival in Idukki district in Kerala that is bordered by the picturesque Western Ghats.

The moment I stepped in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the 27 Project Tiger Reserves in India, the first thing I came across was the rich vegetation that was incomparable. While going through the Periyar Travel Guide, I came to know that this paradise is located about 270 km from the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, 100 km from Alleppey and 120 km from Cochin. Stretching over 777 sq km, the dense greens of Periyar are home to about 60 different species of mammals and 320 different categories of birds.

I spend around four exciting hours there and enjoyed clicking some of the rarest animals like Lion Tailed Macaque, Malabar Squirrel and Sloth Bear. Next I headed for the lifeline of Kerala – the gigantic Periyar River (the longest in Kerala with 244 km length). Luckily I got an opportunity to click Elephants, Sambars, Dholes (Indian Wild Dogs) and Nilgiri Langurs alongside the river.

Finally, when my jungle safari was over after a half day trip, I visited the beautiful Cardamom Hills. This was the time when I enjoyed the best of nature walk of my entire life and realized that Periyar is not restricted to safaris only. Walking through the aromatic cardamom, pepper and coffee plantations was beyond words!

On my way back to the hotel, I spent half an hour in the market street but unluckily it does not offer much except its exotic spices. Even then, I bought some fine quality pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace and anise – as my mom loves to try new dishes with spices of different flavours – and who else than me bear the brunt of those experiments!

Posted on March 27th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Munnar Tour: A land of Celestial Beauty – Part II

 Eravikulam National Park
Eravikulam National Park

Cool breeze drenched in tea aroma awakened us from our deep sleep. We had our morning tea in the balcony facing the vast expanse of tea garden. It was for the first time I had ever tasted such a nice tea, its aroma and taste is still lingering on my tongue. After taking bath we had Idli & Sambhar in our breakfast and headed to Eravikulam National Park in an auto rickshaw. This park is situated approximately 8 km from the Munnar town and spread over an area of 97 sq km in and around Rajmalai Hills.

The stark beauty of rolling grasslands with steep mountain slopes is the most striking feature of this place. This park was established with the objective to protect the mountain goat of South India, the Nilgiri Tahr. Apart from this Tigers, Atlas Moth, Elephants, Gaurs, Lion-tailed Macaque and Leopards are the other attractions of this sanctuary. We were in this park for 3 to 4 hours wandering here and there capturing natures’ beauty in our camera. The foremost attraction of this park is Anamudi, the highest peak of South India. This peak towers over the sanctuary whose slopes are abundant in all kinds of rare flora and fauna. It is an ideal place for trekking but we were not interested because it would have exhausted us completely.

The Eravikulam National Park is really a romantic destination which is known for its sublime greenery. The arresting beauties of this place make it a paradise for photographers and nature lovers. We came out of this natural wonder and headed for Echo Point which is located approximately 15 km from this place.

On our way to Echo Point we had a palatable lunch on a roadside restaurant. The use of fresh spices provided distinctive taste and aroma to the food which was tabled to us. After satisfying our taste buds we resumed our journey to our next destination.

When we reached the Echo Point we heard lots of people shouting out into the air and delighted at the multiple echoes that came back to them. This is among the most visited places of Munnar which is known for its adventure tourism and trekking. The fresh mountain air, the mist-clad hills and panoramic view makes it a worthy place to visit. It is such a mesmerizing and peaceful place that it can provide solace to weary souls. This place is so captivating that we cannot resist our temptation of yodeling and shouting. And the echo of our loud cry mesmerized us which tempted us to repeat it many times.

In the evening the departure of sun casts spellbinding effect over this panoramic land. The landscape also changes it color pattern governed by the Sun rays. After spending an incredible evening in the lap of nature we headed for the hotel. There we rested and packed our memories of this place along with our clothes and moved towards the dining hall. After having ‘Sadya’ a well known traditional cuisine of Kerala in our dinner we boarded private luxury bus for Ernakulam.

Posted on March 12th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kerala Ayurveda: Art to Revitalize Yourself

I had enjoyed enough of Kumarakom Backwater Cruises in Kerala. Later I started my exploration for sheer hospitality, luxurious aura and blissful Ayurvedic therapy. While going through Kerala travel guide, I came to know that the science of Ayurveda was originated in India around 5000 years ago, and it still occupies a prized place in Kerala. While exploring Kumarakom, I noticed that the place was blessed with rich flora consisting of rare herbs and natural oils.

Kerala Ayurveda
Kerala Ayurveda

I was booked in ‘Coconut Lagoon’ – a CGH Earth Group Enterprise (formerly known as the Casino Group). The respective luxurious resort is located amidst palm trees on the eastern shore of Lake Vembanad, at the mouth of the Kavanar River. I could see abandoned coconut plantations all around. The place was designed to give visitors an authentic insight into Kuttanad life. Moreover, the vast Vembanad Lake also adds to the beauty of the place.

I was provided with an AC cottage and I free to avail facilities like swimming pool, multi-cuisine restaurant and Ayurvedic massage centre. Those small cottages are called ‘Tharavadu’ in local language. The best part was that I could enjoy magnificent views of Lake Vembanad from my room. The staff there told me that the resort offers a plethora of magical Ayurvedic massages by experienced masseurs that have the power to cure any chronic ailment like arthritis, paralysis, obesity, sinusitis, migraine, premature ageing and skin problems etc. And such therapies are performed under the guidance of expert vaidyas (physicians).

I observed all the eight branches of Kerala Ayurveda there, which include: Internal Medicine (Kayachikitsa), Pediatrics (Kaumarabhritya Tantra), Psychology/Psychiatry (Bhuta Vidya), Ears-eyes-nose-throat (Shalakya Tantra), Surgery (Shalya Tantra), Toxicology (Agada Tantra), Rejuvenation (Rasayana Tantra) and Fertility Therapy (Vajikarana Tantra). As I was on a relaxing vacation in Kerala, I preferred going through a rejuvenation therapy. The therapists there gave me an awesome massage with natural herbs and medicated oil. It helped in refreshing my mind as well as senses.

Lastly, I asked the manager for some leisure activities, to which he provided me with an assistant for sunset cruise. Spending the waning hours of the afternoon just watching the sun go down was an incomparable experience. This relaxing trip was fascinating in every perspective.

Posted on February 11th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kumarakom Backwaters Cruise: Water World Paradise

 Kumarakom Backwaters
Kumarakom Backwaters

After visiting popular tourist destinations of Cochin, Periyar, Munnar we headed towards Kumarakom for backwaters cruising. This is one of the centres of backwaters cruise and tourists comes here in great numbers to enjoy cruise on the pristine waters. The Kerala Backwaters are interconnected network of rivers, lakes, inlets, lagoons, canals etc. which form 900 km of labyrinthine waterways system. They are perfectly combined together to form one of the best parts of Kerala tourism.

At Kumarakom we were received by the hotel representative who took us to the Houseboat or the Kettuvellam called Saint George which was named after it’s owner and captain James George. It has large bedroom attached with bathroom and a hammock on deck. It is equipped with a sophisticated living room which gives exhilarating views of nature that makes the cruise worthiness and memorable for lifetime.

Kerala Backwaters has its own significance. It is an irrigation system of Kerala which prevents the saltwater river to de-fertilise the paddy fields. The canals are lined by stone walls and fringed by coconut palms. Backwater destinations are known for its glorious environment which is full of scenic beauty. While on backwater cruise one can see the mesmerising views of bright green rice fields and small homes with steps down into the river. As the boat moves the views of scintillating natural beauty is awe aspiring. It gives the true ambiance and mighty pleasure to be in the God’s own country.

Houseboat silently passed through the serene and scenic natural ambiance which engrossed me completely. The most fascinating part of this cruise was when the houseboat crossed the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary which provided us an opportunity to watch the exotic birds flying over the boat. This place is a paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers. We halted our houseboat for two to three hours so that we can enjoy this mesmerising environment at its best. Fluttering wings and mellifluous tunes of teal, cuckoo, wild duck, egrets, herons and darters are like a nature utterance which makes us speechless.
Kumarakom backwaters is a water world paradise where one can see the epitomization of nature’s beauty. Emerald green paddy fields, coconut grooves, azure blue waters, mangrove forests are the elements of backwaters which make this place an enchanting and an incredible destination of Kerala.

Posted on January 28th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kerala Sightseeing : The Land of Enchanted Beauty

 Cherai Beach, Kerala
Cherai Beach, Kerala

Vibrant pictorial representations of the God’s Own Country in several magazines, newspapers and television enraged my curiosity to visit this land of enchanted beauty. Finally this curiosity ended up with a plan of Kerala Visit with my friends last month. We contacted the Delhi based tour operator Caper Travels Pvt Ltd, which is a National Tourism Award winning company to book a tour of 10 nights – 11 days. The destinations included in this package were Cochin, Periyar Munnar and Backwater Cruise, which were enough to fulfil my desire of exploring beaches, backwaters, hill stations, wildlife etc.

With my friends I boarded the Hazrat Nizamuddin Eravikulam Express from Delhi and arrived Cochin after 51 hours of long journey. During the journey the train passed by many cities which gave us an opportunity to get a glimpse of their culture and taste the different kinds of cuisine. When we reached the Eravikulum Railway Station, a hotel representative was standing with a placard. He greeted and transferred us to the well-maintained hotel where we were booked. At the hotel reception we were welcomed with flower garlands. We enjoyed the delicious dinner which we rounded off with sweetdish. After that we had a comfortable night at the hotel.

Next morning the call from the hotel reception awaken us and soon we prepared for the sightseeing  in Cochin. After having the sumptuous breakfast we with our guide left for the Cherai Beach. This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Kerala which is ideal for swimming. It is formed by the combination of lakes, lagoons, canals and estuaries. Here we enjoyed swimming, played with sand and quenched our thirst with coconut water. Later, we visited St. Francis Church and Mattancherry Dutch Place which is renowned for its architectural beauty.

Our next destination was Munnar. Here, we stayed for two days. It is one of the most popular and beautiful hill stations of India which is situated at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level. It is a romantic destination known for its sublime greenery, tea and coffee gardens and pleasant climate throughout the year.

The Mattupetty lake is another major attraction of this place which is noted for alpine setting with green fields. The arresting beauty of this place forced us to capture several beautiful sights in our cameras. After spending the whole day in the lap of nature we returned to the guest house and enjoyed the traditional south Indian cuisine in our dinner.

Next morning, we woke up early in the morning and our guide took us to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary which is located at Thekkady. It is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries of India which is situated on the banks of the Periyar Lake. This sanctuary is known for its dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grasslands surroundings. According to the census of the forest department this Sanctuary has around 40 tigers, 20 leopards, 900 elephants, 280 gaurs and a wide variety of other wildlife.

The reserve is also known for the Lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri langur, the Malabar giant squirrel, porcupine, wild dog, sloth bear, jungle cat, sambar, palm civet, wild boar and jackal. We enjoyed elephant safari and saw many animals, colourful birds and various species of plants. This slow and steady elephant ride was full of fun and excitement.

Posted on January 4th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Exploring Uncharted Land in Kerala

 Kerala House Boat

Kerala House Boat

Come January, and I arrived at Mangalore airport (Karnataka). This trip of mine was especially organized to explore lively Kerala backwaters, heavenly greenery, interesting wildlife and multi-coloured festivities. I hired a taxi to Kasargod (50 km) and headed to the northern Kerala. As I had observed in Kerala travel guide, the local people were busy with the celebration of Kerala Gramam. After a quick shower, I headed for the fair, where I came across traditional houses, bright & colourful attires, traditional cuisine, superb handicrafts and many such items.

The best part with my stay at Kasargod was backwater cruise. Being a history buff, I also visited sites like Bekal Fort, Madiyan Kulom temple, Ananthapura Lake Temple, Chandragiri Fort etc and captured them in my camera for a lifetime. While enjoying my backwater cruise, I also had a closer look at the dense greens of Kasargod, which provide a home to about 24 species of the rarest of mammals, 200 species of birds and about 100 species of butterflies. While leaving Kasargod, I visited the market area with my guide and bought a few coir products, handlooms and tobacco products for my friends.

My next halt was Cochin, but en route I spent a relaxing day at Wayanad –the land of Spicy Hills. Though I paid a short visit to the famous Edakkal Caves and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and clicked a few bisons, elephants and deer playing near the lake, but rest of the day was at leisure. My hotel was at close proximity to the tea / coffee & spice plantations, there fore the air was filled with refreshing fragrance.

The next morning, I reached Cochin – the Queen of the Arabian Sea by train. Located between the Western Ghats and Arabian Sea, the city is blessed with spotless natural beauty and serves as an important trade centre too. I was booked in a luxurious houseboat (traditional Kettuvallom). Apart from exploring the best of aquatic life and living of villagers along side the serene waters, I also relished various traditional dance forms, music and the sweet dish ‘Payasam’. I spent a couple of hours at an ancient Ayurveda & Yoga resort to rejuvenate my senses. During my entire tour, I found the coastline of Kerala dotted with canopies of coconuts, gorgeous greens, balmy beaches and the breathtakingly beautiful backwaters.

Posted on December 10th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary – A Diamond in India's Ecological Crown

 

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

“I am the eagle, I live in high country,
in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky,
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers,

but time is still turning they soon will be dry,
All those who see me,
and all who believe in me,
share in the freedom I feel when I fly.”

This inspiring poem by American singer & poet John Denver is favourite among all the bird lovers / ornithologists in the world. The best part about my New Year Party, last year, was that I specially organized a trip to Kerala with my family and enjoyed the divine green beauty while staying in a houseboat and exploring the serene backwaters of Kerala. Still I was upset, as I did not get an opportunity to visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary due to lack of time. But positively, I got an invitation through a friend of mine to attend a two-day bird watching programme in Kumarakom, which was organized by WWF – India in connection with World Wetlands Day. That invitation brought a broader smile to me.

I arrived at Kottayam Junction on the scheduled date, which is the nearest railhead to Kumarakom (15 km). A cab took me to the hotel I was booked in. On the first day of the programme, all the guests were taken to the 14 acres wide Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary that lies on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. It’s hard to believe that one of the smallest parks in the country can be so stunning.

We clicked several local birds like waterfowl, cuckoo, parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes. The day ended perfectly. We all got back to the hotel and shared our experiences with each other till the wee hours. The next day was scheduled for a cruise along the Vembanad Lake, which is considered as the best way to experience the sanctuary. Houseboats and motorboats are easily available on hire for bird watching cruises on the lake.

Our first halt was Pathiramanal (sands of midnight), an enchanting island on the lake. This 10 acre island serves as a home to many rare varieties of migratory birds from different parts of the world. Kingfishers, golden-backed woodpeckers and grey herons were the main attractions there. That short tour to Kumarakom left me mesmerized in every context.

Posted on November 27th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  1 Comment »

Kerala Backwater Tourism: Beauty,Excitement, Fun & Relaxation

Kerala Backwater
Kerala Backwater

I tell stories not to promote places, rather to inform the readers about the wonder destinations and to develop interest of people about places to see in India. Therefore, I am not just another wanderer – I am the God’s man! And this story is about the journey of the God’s man to the God’s own country – Kerala. Steeped in greenery and natural beauty, the state offer countless fascinating attractions. It was a seven day trip during which I explored picturesque beaches, virgin landscapes, ancient temples, enchanting wildlife sanctuaries, aromatic spice/tea plantations etc. But the best part was, undoubtedly, Kerala backwaters.

The green state of Kerala is blessed with 44 rivers and a superb network of canals, lakes, lagoons and estuaries. These are the places where the true Kerala lifestyle can be enjoyed at its best. A Kerala backwater tour can take you through all these fascinating attractions and let you enjoy traditional Kerala art forms. On my tour to Kerala, I was booked in a luxurious houseboat that offered me a pleasant sail through palm trees, pandanus shrubs, leafy plants and bushes.

The traditional houseboat or Kettuvallom was simply another heaven to me. That eco friendly boat, built with bamboo poles, coconut fibre, ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. offered me the bet facilities like a star rated hotel. It had proper bedroom, attached bathroom, power backup, sitting area, kitchen and sun deck. Moreover, I was provided with a cook and an assistant. So my journey was awesome with authentic seafood delicacies prepared by the cook and the interesting facts about Kerala served before me by the assistant.

We started our journey from Kollam, popularly known as ‘Swapnadesh’. The houseboat first took me to Alappuzha / Alleppy that is always compared to the watery city of Venice. There I visited some of the ancient architectural wonders and temples. On my visit to Kuttanad, I explored beautiful lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets. This was the time when I captured a number of colorful birds in my camera. My next halt was Kumarakom, where I enjoyed the cruise on Vembanana Lake and indulged in some of the common water sports.

Located alongside the coastline, Kasargod is a nice destination with immense natural beauty and shopping options. I found some good handicrafts & sarees for my mother at reasonable rates there. On my backwater tour in Kerala, my last destination was Thiruvallam, where I enjoyed the relaxing canoe rides.

After the complete tour of this green state with all the attractions, I realized that Kerala backwaters definitely serve as the perfect medium to explore waterways and have a closer look at the local villagers, their traditions and living. As Kerala backwaters are connected to almost all the major cities of the state, important from tourism point of view, they offered me wonderful opportunities to have a glimpse of culture, history, adventure, beauty and traditions of Kerala.

Posted on November 13th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off