Published: December 17th 2010December 17th 2010
it really is gods own country, when one hasnt been to kerala you tend to disbelieve all that you hear about it. surely it cant be so. but it is and better because you will have the most amazing experience. we landed in kochi airport, a short flight from bangalore and one can see the verdant greens from the flight itself. the airport is neat and clean like the rest of the state. we drove down to munnar and the roads are good and it was monsoons. in india roads are never good during the monsoons. the waterfalls were visible in full splendour and very soon we were in the midst of the tea gardens rolling out on both sides of the road. we crossed a fairy tale brook to reach the high range club. the british lived here till sometime back and looked after the gardens after it was taken over by the tatas. the tea and snacks at the club were amazing, freshly grown tea from the gardens while you peeped out at the hills through the pitter patter of hill rain was an amazing experience. the club had its own golf course which you could look out at from the dining room and the club itself is an amazing place. wood panelled bars with the spoils of hunting mounted on its walls, a nursery and good wholesome food is generally what most british clubs would boast of.
the next day we did our usual sightseeing, we did go the tata hospital and it was so re-assuring to see all that a giant corporate was doing for the people and economy of Munnar. we set off for devikulam and on the way saw more tea gardens, more greenery and hills and lakes, the matupetty lake was beautiful and we did see echo point, photo point, kundale lake stop to pick up some home made chocolates and the horticultural garden. we also went to see the christ church and managed to reach half way to top station. the view of the gardens from everywhere was breathtaking. i have discovered a new way of avoiding nausea, one should not watch the road, its the eye-mind coordination that causes it.
we drove back to cochin and checked into the taj malabar at willingdon island. cochin with its intricate canals and waterways seemed so serene and yet its port was bustling with activity. there seemed to be quite a bit of real estate development everywhere. the taj malabar is an amazing hotel overlooking the mouth of the harbour, the next three days we would try local cuisine at its coffee shop, the chinese and see some interesting dance recitals. we would swim and go off sightseeing and shop for swim wear at ernakulam(we had packed for munnar only), take walks around willingdon island, watch movies and work out at the health club. from our hotel room we could see a sub which had just arrived from malaysia, the crew were staying at our hotel. we would also meet up with friends in fort kochi, try the thali lunch at malabar house and then end up having tea at their bungalow, a portugese style bungalow overlooking the harbour. it used to have tunnels from the house to the church nearby to let the portugese flee attacking dutch ships. and thats how the history of kochi goes, the first europeans arrived there by sea route and stayed on because of its bustling trade in spices etc.
we went to the st francis church, it used to house the remains of vasco da gama which have now been taken back to portugal. we also saw the santa cruz cathedral, matupetty palace and jew town. theres a synagogue there and lo behold we find arundhuti roy sitting inside. the jew town has some amazing artefact stores and cafes where we wiled away time waiting for the synagogue to open. one must walk past the chinese fishing nets and take a stroll down the seaface. you can watch the ships come in and simply pretend that you dont have a care in the world
kerala is simply breathtaking, we took a cruise around the backwaters but didnt go to where the real backwaters are alleppey etc..maybe next time.
I have got to return to kerala again and maybe again
and so this year in september at the fag end of the off season we retruned to kerala. a short flight and we landed in trivandrum airport..what struck me was the smallness of the place, the cordiality of the people and the lack of infrastructure and facilities as is much more visible in kochi. indeed the capital of kerala is a smaller more rustic place and has none of the hustle bustle of busy port cochin. a short drive and we drove to the leela kovalam situated on a cliff overlooking the arabian sea. we were greeted by garlands of sea shells and then had breakfast at the coffee shop from where you can get an ocean view whichever way you looked.
post breakfast we explored the lobby a little and then were shown our room, i liked the room..it had a view of the ocean from where you lay and a sunken bath and unique bathroom. we also called for a buggy and went to the salon and then to the tides restaurant for some catch of the day kind of meal. we ended up having chinese and then post lunch were taken to see some of the rooms on top and of course my husband decided to shift our room. in the evening i would not miss my yoga session and gym and then we moved to the new room. we came downstairs to watch a live dance recital in the hotel lobby and after a pizza dinner and a short stint at the bar came to see the club rooms. and now my husband wanted to shift to the club room..im sure by now the reader has a glimpse of how understanding a wife i am and so the next day we were to shift to the club wing.
we had breakfast after a game of tennis and then shifted to our club room greeted by white chocolates and fresh garlands made of sea shells.we explored the club wing and enjoyed the view from our room, indeed it was a steep drop into the ocean and all we could hear was the sound of breaking waves and see ships passing by. the sea so soothing and refreshing, i made my way to the gym and then we decided to go to tides for a stroll in the sea followed by a dip in our private swimming pool in the club wing. we had some tea and snacks served in the library and ended the evening with a dance recital and dinner at the restaurant at the club wing. i must mention the fish wrapped in banana leaf and appam that i enjoyed for dinner.
the next morning we set off in an auto for padmanabhaswamy temple and adroned dhotis outside the temple to get darshan, after a small wait we were inside the temple and all i could see through the three doors was a statue in the centre, it is a vishnu temple and lord vishnu is reclining and there are several smaller statues of brahma and lakshmi etc, after temple darshan we came to the museum which belongs to the travancore family and houses various artefacts of the family. of special interest to us is the newly found treasure amounting to rs 1 lakh crore which apparently lies situated behind the deity. we were now on our way back to the hotel and had lunch once again at our own private restaurant at the club wing. we checked out and we ready to say goodbye to leela kovalam where we had tried such scrumptious dishes and taken in breathtaking views of the ocean and managed to change rooms thrice.