Tuesday, January 28, 2014


First part of this article written by Sailaja, my sister. It consisted of their trip to Nepal and Himachal Pradesh of Northern India. In this second part of the article I am going to give the details of our trip to Kerala.  I and Murthy from Vizag and Sailaja and Babu from Hyderabad reached Cochin on 10th almost at the same time. That evening we went to see Chinese nets on the beach and also some temples and old forts and a museum, collected, organized and managed by one person.  Chinese nets, arranged around jetties are amazing. They catch lot of fish just sitting on the shore.  The museum consisted of ancient wooden, and metal statues, old photographs, models of old homes, household articles and temple architecture. All arranged in three floors. That day we stayed in Hotel Abad and went to our friend Menon’s house for dinner. 

Next morning, in a car arranged by the travel company, we proceeded to Kumarakom, around 65 to 70 k.m. from Cochin. We checked into Abad Whispering Palms resort which seems to have been built almost in the waters. There were fountains, duck ponds, hammocks for the pleasure of the guests.  Kerala is rich, with huge modern bungalows everywhere with big yards where lot of trees and spices are grown.  Due to consistent rain fall, all round it is lush green.  That afternoon, we went for a boat ride in the backwaters.  It was a great experience.  The Kerala backwaters, as you all know are very famous.  They are spread along the whole coast but only parts of it is populated and used for transportation and living around the water front.  Actually, the boat ride in Kumarakom is in a vast fresh water lake called, Vembanadu Lake which is connected to backwaters and sea.  Hence, when it is high tide, the waters become slightly salty but otherwise they are sweet. Backwaters have long narrow as well as wide canals, which are more like streets on land.  Houses and buildings are built along the banks.  These canals are used for transportation of goods as well as people.  These waters attract many migratory birds as well.  When we went it was still not the time but we could still see some early birds.  Sunset over the sea was golden, the setting sun lighting up the waters, which shone like molten gold.  We were brought back by 6 p.m.     

Next morning very early we went for a walk in a bird sanctuary over marshy lands.  But unfortunately could not see anything. After breakfast, we started off for Thekkadi forest resort.  Throughout the way it was lush green, vibrating with life from animals and birds.  On the way we stopped by to view “Valanzanganam” water fall but it was not very impressive.  Reached the resort by lunch time.   On the way we also visited elephant yards but did not bother to take a ride since we all had the experience earlier.  After lunch rested for a while and proceed to a theatre where Kathakali dance was being performed.  There was a demonstration of the makeup and costume. Before the actual performance of the story, there was also a demo of their eye movements, mudras etc.  Though some of the artists were from “Kalamandalam”, the actual dance was not very impressive. 

That night it rained heavily and it was still raining next morning too. But since the program was fixed, we started early in the morning (5.30) for the forest to see the wild life in a jeep.  Drive was very nice though it was quite cold and wet.  When the sky started lighting up, we were looking for wild life.  Driver of the jeep was very alert and had a keen eye. He could spot a deer on the top of a hill, a monitor lizard on a rock surface, languor monkeys  on the high branches and of course a wild buffalo in a deep pond. We heard elephants breaking bamboos but could not see them.  We could see their fresh droppings though!!

Reached the Thekkadi forest office by about 8.30, had breakfast there and went for a boat ride in the lake.  Wanted to go for trekking also but due to rain, it was all very slippery, fell a couple of times and gave up and returned to the office.  Started on our return journey after lunch.  That evening was complete rest.  In the hotel lobby we saw one gentleman painting some thing and exhibiting some paintings.  We went to explore.  He was from Orissa and was stenciling and painting on palm leaves. They were very intricate and beautiful.  We bought some. 

  Next morning after breakfast – in all these hotels and resorts, breakfast is included in the tariff. Hence we were forced to take breakfast before we started – we started off for Allappy, which was around 65 km.  and we reached there by 11.30 a.m. and proceeded straight to waterfront and jetties.  After registration we got into a two bedroom houseboat which was comfortable though simple with sitting space, dining area and a divan on the front of the boat, on the floor.  There are houseboats with 10 bedrooms as well for large groups.  We stayed in Kashmir houseboats also earlier. They are luxurious, with carpets, curios, nice cutlery and crockery but they are stationary, moored in the Dal lake but Kerala houseboats plying in the backwaters are on the move.  They take you round the canals, show you interesting sites and allow you to do some shopping as well.  I am again coming back to the backwaters.  They are full of life, large and small boats are always on the move, aquatic birds are fishing, roosting, waters are full of vegetation – sometimes you are afraid that the boat may get entangled in the weed – and all round on the banks you see luxurious homes, resorts and clubs.  And churches as well. Kerala tourism is flourishing very well.  Even small wayside restaurants have comfortable rest rooms.  The attendants in the boat gave us lunch while the boat was on the move, which was a great experience.  Food was tasty though simple.  They took us to a wayside village where there was a huge church, and a workshop where wooden curios were being made.  They moored at around 6 p.m. at a place belonging to the company where they could get power to run the AC for bedrooms. Generator in the boat can give enough power to run the lights and fans and a fridj only.  Next morning he started off again at about 8 a.m., touring the canals and brought us back to the jetty by 11 a.m.        

After finishing the formalities, we proceeded by road to Cochin again – where we started and checked into a hotel very close to the airport since our flight was very early in the morning and the city is a clear 30 k.m.  After spending an uneventful evening we boarded the flight early in the morning of 16th and reached Vizag. 

On the whole it was a very pleasant trip. We have to learn a lot from Kerala State.  After seeing the backwaters and the tourism which developed around them, bringing a major amount or revenue to the State, we felt our Govt. also has to learn a lot from them.  We also have resources like ancient temples, good climatic regions and best of all, our Kolleru  lake near Eluru.  A lot of tourism can be developed around it. During winter it is a roosting place for many migrating aquatic birds.  A lot can be done there. Right now there are no proper places to stay, no transportation to or in the lake.  If govt. can’t do it, itshould at least encourage private parties to develop facilities so that the govt. itself can be benefited.   

A. Vijaya Murthy (Jijji)

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