Kerala Travelogue, the sequel

In December 2016 we returned to Kerala to explore the backwaters and beaches. We did this because we felt that we had already visited the hill stations and the jungle region of Kerala (for my travelogue on those two see the link down below) and if we visit the backwaters this time, we would have covered most parts of Kerala. Our flight was on 26th December in the evening at around 5 PM. This was my first visit to the new T2 terminal in Mumbai. The airport is stunning, but we couldn't get much time to admire it since we were just on time for our flight. What we could see were the wall carvings near the shopping area. Near the boarding gates, all-in-one computers running Android were kept. My brother and I decided to check them out, and it turns out that there are tons of games on them. While waiting for the flight, we enjoyed a game of hill climb racing 2. However, you do not get the same games on all the computers; there were 6 in total near our boarding gate. Our flight soon arrived, and we got to skip the line by going on the line for people who had small kids, courtesy of my brother. Our flight was to Bangalore where we would stay for a night and catch a flight to Trivandrum at around 4:30 AM the next day. For the evening we stayed at a place near the airport in service apartments, so all the rooms were one-bedroom houses. The rooms are clean and decent, and it is within walking distance to a good restaurant that serves authentic South-Indian food called Adyar Anand Bhavan or A2B.

Our flight landed at around 7 PM, we requested a taxi and drove to the hotel. We checked in and went to A2B for dinner. The next day we were again just in time for when we reached the gate it was the final call, and they were just about to close boarding. My brother just after security started wailing of hunger; my mom suggested we feed him something and proceed, but I told her that we were already late and that we can feed him something on the flight. If I hadn't said that you probably wouldn't be reading this right now. So we got on the flight, and we found out that particular flight had in-flight entertainment called jet screen, where you use your device like a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, connect it to the in-flight wi-fi in airplane mode and go to the jet screen website to watch movies, listen to music, and play games. Please note that most of the movies require an app called airtime player, so install that app before getting on a Jet airways flight in case it has Jet-screen. We landed in Trivandrum about 30 minutes before scheduled arrival at 5:30 AM, due to this our schedule was ripped to pieces. We collected our baggage and were wondering about what we would do till my cousin's family's train arrives. The plan was to drive slowly and go to Kollam Junction and pick them up, but now we had to visit a tourist destination to pass our extra time. We went to a beach on the way called Varkala Beach. This beach looks like a beach in one of those islands you see in movies. The beach is very clean and beautiful. When you stand on the sand, you have the sea on one side and the trees and mountain on the other. It was just beautiful. We stayed for an hour over there playing in the water. Then we climbed up and dusted the sand out of our feet and shoes.

Overall the beach is immaculate. Then we had to leave to go pick up my aunt and uncle. Their train was delayed by around half an hour. After we had picked them up everyone started feeling hungry, so we headed to Sree Suprabhatam, a restaurant on the way to the Club Mahindra resort in which we were staying. The food is really good. but if you are planning to have brunch at around 11:30 then look for other options since they are out of breakfast items and don't have lunch items as well at that time. We somehow adjusted with the items they have like poori, dosa and things like that. All their items were good. We reached the resort at around 1:30 PM. This resort is one of Club Mahindra's best resorts. The resort itself is small with the reception and fun-zone at one end, and the swimming pool on the other.  When we reached there I explored the resort and took my younger brother and cousin sister to the park, where they both played for a while before coming back.

We freshened up and got ready for the houseboat cruise organised by the resort. There are two shifts, and when we arrived the morning shift was just getting down, and there were quite a few people, not a lot but quite a few. We got ready, took some pictures near the hammocks and boarded the boat. My dad had booked the entire 21 seater boat for us. I was surprised and really happy. My six-year-old brother and seven-year-old cousin-sister were running around in the boat. We were given Juice and biscuits on the boat.

The cruise route was beautiful. The mangrove islands were spectacular, and the Ashtamudi Church in all its marble glory was spectacular. We saw many birds and many Chinese fishing nets.  In the middle of the water, we saw short tree with a lot of branches but no leaves and on it were several migratory birds. 

 We also saw a small mangrove island, by small I mean small, and on that island there was only one family living. But that’s not the astonishing part, the astonishing part was that for that one family on that one island the government had supplied electricity for them! They also had dish-tv. There were also loud speakers attached to trees on a couple of islands where mantras were being played.

We also saw many other house boats which had an actual house in them. In one of them we could see a hotel room where a couple of kids were playing inside and on one we saw an actual restaurant with rooms as well.

Our destination was a place called Munroe Island where we got down to take a walk through the local village. The experience was pleasant with a raised and very narrow cemented path running through the village. We saw some domestic animals, and a different sight where there were flower plants being grown in coconut shells. While returning to the boat to get back to the resort we drank some fresh coconut water, I also drove the boat for some time while returning. 

Two people wearing Club Mahindra uniforms were accompanying us. One of them made nice toys out of coconut leaves for my brother and cousin sister! He made a puppet, a ball, a necklace and a tiara for my cousin sister, A parrot, a fish and much more. After we had returned to the resort, we freshened up and went for dinner. The next day we were to start for Poovar which was approximately a  3h 13 min drive. I had another glass of the welcome drink while leaving and sat in the car. The plan was to stop by at Kovalam beach and continue to the resort. We had lunch in Trivandrum at a place called Mother's Veg Plaza. They serve authentic Kerala meals on a banana leaf, and you can also get white rice upon request. We took the Kerala Sadhya option which was delicious. We then left for Kovalam beach. Please note that Jellyfish washing up to the shore is not very rare here, so please be alert at all times. We didn't see any Jellyfish, but we did see a big fish about half the size of my palm reach the shore and swim back in. The water in the beach is very clear, as the water goes back you can see the sand and shells moving with it through the clear water. Another thing I observed when the water goes back is that when the top layer of the sand gets washed away thousands of crabs and baby crabs claws get exposed, and in a matter of seconds they dig deeper. However, we did manage to see a wandering crab. When I showed to my brother, he jumped in fright!  He got so scared that he stood on my dad's feet the entire time. The sunset here is breathtaking.

When the clouds come and block parts of the red sky, it looks like lava boiling on the clouds. After the sundown, we went back to our car and reached the Club Mahindra Poovar just in time for dinner. The next day we rented a car through the resort to go to Kanyakumari and on the way see the Suchindram Temple and historical Padmanabhapuram Palace. We left at around 9:30 and since the road we were supposed to go by was undergoing repairs, in fear of traffic we took a long detour. We reached the palace at around 10:30 or 11:00.

We took the ticket and went in but seeing the long queue we decided just to check out only the museum and leave since we wanted to go in time to Kanyakumari so we could go by boat to Vivekananda Rock. The museum was OK but isn't necessary visiting. We have some old armor, weapons, sculptures, texts and stuff like that. By the time we reached Kanyakumari it was around 1:30 pm. We went towards the place where we take a boat to go to the Swami Vivekananda rock. The rock was breathtaking. It was in the middle of the water with an ashram built right on top of it. The memorial was founded on Vivekananda’s 108th birth anniversary. The sea was rough with waves crashing against the rock and the wind was really high. The water itself was in different colors. Part of it was green, part of it was dark blue and part of it was light blue. 

But to our surprise and disappointment when we went there; the gate was closed! A police officer came outside and told everybody that the boat service would remain closed today due to severe weather conditions, high tide, and high-speed wind. So we just went down to the place where the three seas meet, called Triveni Sangam and saw the Vivekananda Rock and the Thiruvaluvar statue beside it from below feeling so sad and disappointed that on coming so far we were unable to go by boat and check out memorial. We then saw a service boat going to the rock and also saw it struggling in the water as it tried to fight the high waves and heavy wind. It kind of looked like the boat could capsize anytime. That was when we realized how bad the weather was. The wind was so fast that we felt we too would get blown away. So we left for lunch. Unable to find any good veg restaurants, we decided to go to Nagercoil for lunch. We went to a restaurant called Sri Gowri Shankar. I would like to tell you that the food here is scrumptious. Everything is nice and hot, and the ambiance is also relatively clean and decent. Everyone ate literally only idlis since they were so hot and delicious. After lunch, we went to the Suchindram temple. The temple is big and elaborate. There are stories about the main three headed idol which has the heads of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

The temple also has large idol of Hanuman, the day we visited was a special day for Lord Hanuman, and we saw mountains of flowers stored for the pooja and we sought blessings and darshan. Too bad we couldn't stay any longer because I started feeling weak and sick. While coming back we tried some Haryana jalebi which was available very easily while going to the exit, but I didn't like it much. So we sat in the car and left for the resort. This time we went by the route we were supposed to go by in the morning, and this time there was not much traffic. We ordered dinner to the room. We ordered the 'Member's Veg Jumbo Meal,' and  'kids power meal' and it was just right. We spent the next day in the resort. I went swimming for 30 min in the morning and later for 3 and  1/2 hours at 12 noon. By swimming for four hours, I got tanned badly.  We then went for lunch. After my lunch, I went and played TT with a guy in the fun zone. After everyone had finished eating lunch, we went for a walk on the farm where many different types of plants and trees were kept.

Then we took some photos and started playing badminton till it got dark. We then had some hot chocolate and relaxed in the lobby looking at our phones. We then went for dinner and then a tour of the resort, but I was feeling sleepy, so I skipped the tour and slept instead. The next day after breakfast we left for Trivandrum to see  Padmanabha Swami temple.

We reached in 40 mins. It is compulsory to enter the temple only with:

For Men:  Shirt less and wearing only dhoti (pants not allowed)

For Women:  Skirt or else dhoti

 We didn't carry them, so we bought it at the counter in front of the temple. By the time we bought the stuff and got ready it was 10:45. And we had only 30 min till it closed. We hurried and took the special darshan ticket. The idol in the temple of Vishnu was made of black stone, and he was in the sleeping posture. There were three doors to see through. However, because of the poor lighting, we were unable to see clearly except deity’s hand and feet. We took the prasad while heading out. Recently a lot of treasure was discovered in this temple. We then went to the Krishna temple and then sat down while my dad and uncle circled the temple a couple of more times. We then went for lunch to our favourite Mother's Veg Plaza. We had a train from Kochuveli to Bangalore, and our flight back to Mumbai was the day after. We couldn't leave Kerala without some chips and halwa, so we went to a store called Maha-Chips. There we bought a kilogram of chips and halwa. Kochuveli station is not far from Trivandrum center. However they don't have a pantry in the train we went by, so when you go by a train in Kerala, I recommend that you carry your food.

I spent the next day at my Gramma's and went New-Year shopping with my mom before taking the flight back for Mumbai. And I got an extra holiday to finish all my incomplete holiday homework. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip although it would have been better if we would have been able to go by boat to Vivekananda Rock. Anyways, see you guys in my next state-of-the-art travelogue that will definitely not be about Kerala!

For my travelogue on Rajasthan, please click A travelogue on Rajasthan by a young man.