Friday, December 2, 2011

Kerala travelogue - Day 3 (22nd Nov 2011) - Thekkady - Welcome to the jungle

Kerala Toursim
Alleppey | Aymenem | Ernakulam | Fort KochiKalariyapattu | Kumarakom | Paranthampura | Thekkady | Vembanad |
Holiday Destinations in India

          A brand new exciting day as we were to move to the Jungle of Periyaar. Had booked an Indica for 4 days and our driver Noby could somehow locate us by 9:30. Young pleasant guy, who surprisingly knew a bit of Hindi but no English. Bidding adieu to Mr. Aboo, we started for Thekkady.


          All along, Noby was surprised that we were not going to Munnar. 'Moonaar best place in Kerala, Sir. You should be there for at least 3 days, Sir', he said. I was to be pinched more on this 'Moonar' bit for 4 more days. On the way we chatted about Mamooty and Mohan Lal. You will hardly see any Hindi movie posters in Kerala.

          As we approached Kottayam, the rubber plantations began, and it was everywhere - left, right, ahead, behind, everywhere !! Tall trees, swaying to the breeze, all bent on the same side, as if in a gymnastic drill. Plastics were tied to all the trees, and I'm sure you know why. The barks were cut in places and round bowls were attached for the sap to drip in. I got a closer look into this when we were returning back from Thekkady. Surprising to see that man has been able to interpret most of natures' givings and know what to use where and how.
Rubber plantation

Rubber Sap

Rubber Plantation

          Leaving behind Kottayam, we drove through the mountains of Kanjirapally and Peermedu. I kept asking Noby about sight seeing in Peermedu, but somehow it seems he didn't know the points to visit and kept saying that this is Peermedu and everything you get to see. And what we saw, needless to say was amazing - my first glimpse , or rather eyeful of the vast tea plantations. They occupied every inch of the mountain. As we rose through the ghats, so did the tea plantations and as we dipped through the valleys, so did they. There are really huge estates, one I can remember of is the 'Boyce' estate. It just seemed never ending. The sights of the mountains, valleys, the beautiful sky was great and you will enjoy every bit of it. It was made special by the old Hindi songs being played in our car.

Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation
          En route, we went to the Connamera tea factory, but it was closed that day (Monday). So, we finally landed to the hotel I had booked for our visit in Thekkady - Hotel Ambadi. It's a great place near to the Tourist Information centre. All wooden decor and our room had a bath tub too. The scenery was good and the cottages too looked pretty cosy. We also had a sitting place outside our room, all rooms did. I had a booked a deluxe room and was surprised to find no a/c. Mr. Kurien (I guess, the owner) said you will not require a/c here.
Hotel Ambadi

Room D19 at Hotel Ambadi


           Just kept my luggage and booked the 'Bamboo water rafting' at the Tourist information centre. 'Do not wear red and white and shoes are compulsory. Please report here by 7:30 am for tickets for the entrance to the sanctuary' - our instructions from the Tourist information centre. 
          We then booked our tickets for the Kalariyapattu show and since had time in hand before the show began, went to visit one of the Spice gardens, 'Deepa Spice'. Our attendant, Mr.Bashir was quite knowledgeable about the various plants and showed us the medicinal values of plants we commonly see and use. They have a small tree house built in the garden.

Coffee

Tree House

Spice Plantation

Spice Plantation
          From the plantation visit, we hurried to the Kalariyappatu show and it was total 'paisa vasool'.  Young guys, showing their talent bare handed, with various weapons, fire etc. Though the show was in breaks as they showed different facets and methodologies of the art-form, I would have liked to see a continuous fight for a greater duration. The music playing in the background matched to the players moves or maybe vice-versa. We then clicked photos with the boys.

Ode to God before the show


Bach sako to bach lo

Strike to kill

Kalaripayattu
Evening, just walked around the little shops and felt happy and excited about the next days adventurous activity. There is a beautiful big statue in the main market area.


Annotations:
  • The 'Tourist Information Centre' is open 24 x 7 and hosts various programs like Bamboo water rafting (a tour from 8 am to 4 pm - includes trek for almost 4-5 hours through the jungle and rafting on the Periyaar lake for 3 hrs - includes food and water for the day), night trek (for 3 hours), morning treks (for 3 hours) etc.
  • If you are interested in the Jeep Jungle Safari, you need to ask your hotel to arrange it for you.
  • Thekkady is the place for spices, so do all your organic spice buying from here.
  • Don't miss the Kalariyapattu show.
  • If you have a video cam and are visiting one of the spice plantations with a guided tour, record it, else you won't remember anything :)
  • The main gate of the Wild Life sanctuary is about 3 km from the Tourist information centre and after that you need to walk for another 1/2 km to reach the boat landing. They charge for entrance tickets (Rs25) - which surprisingly is not included in any of the packages arranged by the tourist info centre.

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