Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kerala Trip Onam-2008

My much awaited Kerala trip finally happened last month. Was pretty busy to blog about the awesome experience rt away, but I will try doing justice to the trip now.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


The trip started with as much planning as two flight tickets booking, To and From Coimbatore, none of us really had time to plan out and also all 3 were okay with on-the-fly decisions. So we started from Hyderabad to Coimbatore on Wednessday evening. At around 10 PM we were in Comibatore looking for bus to we didn't know where, it could have been Munnar or Alleppey, wherever the routing worked easier :). We didn't find bus for either but were told how to reach Munnar in one hop or two via Polaci and Udaimallaipet and also told that Allepey was gonna be hard. We took the bus to Pollaci (after going to the different bus stop, there are seeming 3 bus stops in Coimbatore)[will try giving info abt the stops sometime].

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


At Polaci where we reached by 12:00 or so, we had to wait till 1:30 for the bus to Munnar. This was a nice Kerala Transport bus which had enough free seats and which was also driven very well reaching Munnar in morning around 6:00. As soon as we got out of bus, we realized what Kerala rains were. Its basically a 5 minute on/off thingy which keeps going all through. People are very used to the same so much that an Umbrella seems like as regular an item to carry as a wallet. We quickly looked around for hotels/lodges though the Lonely plannet book, but cudn't get a satisfactory deal. Then we walked a bit too see some nearby hotels. We were able to find "Issacs Residency" as sweet 3 star hotel very near to the bus stop. The guy gave us a good deal because of the "Off-season".

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


After some rest we decided to go out for a sight seeing tour which was available for 1000 bucks for full day tour. We got a indica car at our disposal. From here started the nice sight seeing tour which covered Tea Estates, Waterfalls, echo points, Tea Factory tour and a trip to Evarikulam national park. In the evening we witnessed the famous Kathakali dance and then treated ourselves with the famous ayurvedic massage (available from 500 to 2100 bucks).

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


Next day we started for Allepey via Cochin. We decided to stop over and spend time as Cochin. In Cochin (Ernakulam) you would want to go to Fort Kochi via Ferry, there are a couple of things to see their including Fishing Nets, Churches, etc. most of which were close that day for onam. It was turning out to be a dull day until I was lucky to spot a board about . the Keralan Martial art show which was one of the major things I wanted to see in my Kerala trip. The show was amazing and just that show made up for the whole day which wasn't very well spent. We left for Allepey in the night around 11:00 PM reaching there by 3 AM.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


In Allepey the book Lonely plannet gave us a good help finding the right accomodation. We had figured out the plan for next day already. We hired a covered boat for out 4 hours backwaters tour. The tour started on a bad note as I observed the city pollution on the canal where the boat starts and was pretty skeptical about the whole thing, I was soon glad to be proven wrong. Backwaters in kerala are indeed an awesome experience and they deserve all the great mention ppl do about them. I will let the photos speak more but it was a four hours of relaxation tour among very beautiful sceneries. The rest of the evening was spent at the Allepey beach, which wasn't a great experience except for my first successful kite flying one. I am told that they have better beaches at Kollam and Vikara(?), I would trust the opinion. I am quite sure there is another trip necessary to cover atleast some part of the Kerala including the widelife and the snake boat race.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)

Other Imporant facts:
Food : Keralan Famous vegetarian food includes Iddiappum and appam with Chana curry. We never really looked for a place to have a great meal but the tiffin centre we at Munnar served awesome Appam. Priyam the only non vegeratian found some good Fish curry, which seems another famous food item. Parrothas are available almost everywhere and vegetarian would probably end up surving on them or appam only. Lots of north indian restaurant are also available if you don't care to enjoy the ethnic food.
From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


Onam turns out to be a very in-family festival. You won't find major celebrations all around at least, in fact on the last day of Onam the Cochin city was completely shut down like a Bandh. In Munnar we learned that the best place to see the onam festivities is the 3 star hotels around, which organize some programmes as part of package and also let visitor with some nominal feest. Best time to go to Kerala we are told is Decemeber to April (just after and before rains). But I believe anytime is good time to visit Munnar and Allepey.

Best mode to travel as I found out was Buses or Trains, the roads are too winding to give a pleasant experience to the passangers and quite difficult time to the driver to sure specially because of the slippery roads due to contant rains and also the narrow width which at many places effectively makes the road oneway. Also the bus drivers drive pretty fast and that might cause some scare to the cars too :D

Kallaripayat and Kathakalli are available through out the year (will put address soon). Boat races timings are pretty much unclear to even localites, some say they happen in August, some say September, some mentioned that they happen on various days at various places during the onam festival.

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