Thursday, 30 September 2010

Destination Puducherry

I embarked on yet another train journey within two weeks of traveling to Kerala in 2010. This time it was on Lallu's Garib Rath. One has to pay for the blankets and pillows and there are 3 sleepers on the side also. Other than these differences, the poor man's chariot is like any other train in India.

My destination this time was Puducherry (Pondicherry) .Did you know Puducherry consists of four non-contiguous regions: Puducherry, Karaikal, and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea.This place still retains its evidence of French History. Though i had visited this place about 12 years ago, I was keen on rediscovering the place and its french cuisine.

As this was more of hang out with friends and sight see trip, I chose ginger. For the uninitiated traveler, ginger is an affordable, very clean option for budget travelers by Tata.This place was indeed all it promises to be.
As suggested by all travel shows/book, we started our weekend by visiting Auroville which is about 15kms from Puducherry.As one week prior reservation is required, I could not visit the inside of Matri Mandir.Instead I had to walk 1 km back and forth to view the meditation hall from a distance.

I would say skip it and just head out for the beach. The closest from Auroville was of course the Auro Beach. A dirty crowded expanse of a beach. But that didn’t dither us from revisiting the place next morning and enjoying the waters

Puducherry has Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a museum in an old French villa, rocky beach with chow patty hangover, some French heritage buildings and of course churches and temples. We did the tourist route with just one thing in mind: we needed to head out to paradise beach as soon as possible

Paradise beach was the cherry on the cake. We had to take a 15 minute boat ride to reach this estuary. The beach is clean, the waves just right, not very crowded as access is limited and best part is there are change rooms. I loved this place.

Yes, It was worth visiting Puducherry  for a quick weekend break!

Location: Puducherry, Tamil Nadu
Date of travel: September 2010

Tip: Avoid taking the private travel buses as they are pathetic. Stick to Ksrtc.
Must do: lounge around in Paradise Beach
First: Experience the nature's phenomenon at the mouth of estuary

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Destination Munnar

I always heard this hill station being mentioned with a lot of excitement. I was very eager to reach the place and experience it first hand. But first a long 4 hour journey through hot and humid Cochin had to be made from Allepey. I waited and waited for the amazing drive I had been told about. A long drive but it all started with two amazing water falls:Cheeyapara and valara. Since I was traveling at the end of the monsoons, both the falls were at their best.

With new vigor I carried on till I hit on the rolling hills with tea gardens. Behold, I had reached Munnar!! A sight for the soothing eyes. Yes the drive through tea gardens is one of the good drives one can do in India

 We stayed at a home stay “Olive brook”. This place had got very good reviews on trip advisor but I felt it could have been better. The only great thing about the place  was it felt like i was  in an aviary. I could hear the constant chirping of many birds, sighted some including the evasive Malabar whistling Thrush. Hear the bird at this link to figure out why it is called whistling thrush.

Munnar has its share of view points, dams, lakes, national parks which aren’t really worth mentioning about. This is a place you want to come to when you want to be in amidst nature for casual treks and relaxation. I would recommend small boutique hotels with good views for this kind of stay.

Location: Munnar, Kerala
Date of travel: September 2010

Tip: Always include food in your home stay package. Otherwise you end up paying through your pocket.
Must do: Drive through Tea Gardens
First: Follow the whistle and spot the whistling thrush

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Destination Allepey

In midst of a stressed lifestyle, I set upon planning my trip to Allepey. I was really surprised to see all trains booked though I had sat down to book the tickets one month before the planned trip. With some permutations and combinations I managed to get the onward and return tickets around the time I wanted.

 I loved the fact that the resorts at Alappuzha (Alleppey) are about 10 kms from the train station. You can take one of the pre paid autos to reach the resort. I had narrowed upon kayaloram heritage lake resort keeping my budget in mind. This is a quaint little resort of just 12 rooms in well manicured grounds with swimming pool. I loved the heritage buildings or Tharavads (ancient Kerala houses). The Tharavads have been painstakingly re-assembled from the original, using only wood, bricks and tiles. Even most door hinges are wood. A unique feature of these Tharavads is the bathrooms with open to sky roofs, offering you a communion with nature.

As this was a “get back my zeal” holiday, I spent all my time by the waterfront or on the hammock with just enough break to have scrumptious meals at their restaurant. The orchids, butterflies and of course the birds just made this a perfect destination. It was flock of insistent crows that broke the calmness of the place. Also the fact that they were filling up the pool with lake water stopped me from using the facility. I also went on the legendary boat ride along the backwaters which did keep its promise.


So would I do it again? Of course, but there are so many places in this world to explore that it might be sometime before I come back to this place.

Location: Alleppey, Kerala
Date of travel: September, 2010

Tip: Always check where the pool water came from.
Must do: Back water Cruise
First: Use an open air western bathroom while it rains with birds chirping in the background. :-)

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