Detours in Kerala

June 5th, 2014, 11am

Every tourist comes to Kerala, God’s own country, and travel through the path pre-determined by the travel operators. It is always a touch and go tourism where in minimum days they want to see maximum places. It is the same Munnar, Thekkady and houseboat that tour operators plan which is the preferred schedule for everyone. Tourists think it is better to have the operator planned touch and go tourism than to take a real challenging task to explore other parts of the state. 

Take a break. Go to places where few have gone and it is not the moon, mind it. 

You will anyway be in Aleppey which is close to Cochin once you land in Kerala. So hire a Taxi and have this two day enchanting tour to places you will cherish. Select a good taxi driver and start your journey.

This trip is not for those who bring along cook with them and refuse to taste local food. Though you will get sufficient vegetarian hotels along, if you want to enjoy the trip, go for some non vegetarian too. But it is not compulsory.

The roads are fantastic but are highly zig zag and if you are in this place between Sep to Jan 14 during Sabarimala season, it will be crowded and getting a hotel will be tough. So plan in advance.

Do not ask your tour operator to include this in their trip since they will not do so. Instead, take a two day break from them or finish your trip at Aleppey and take this one. Kerala doesnt have any winter (except in hill stations). So no need to carry any woollen clothes

It is presumed, you are in Aleppey and is taking a two day break to places your tourist guide or Lonely Planet will never guide you. Hire a Taxi and start the tour. All you have to take is to travel from Aleppey — Nedumudy, Changanasserry, Pathanamthitta, Konni, Pathanapuram, Punalur, Thenmala and then return via Kunnikode, Kottarakkara, Kayankulam and back to Aleppey.

From Aleppey take the Kuttanad route. You will find many toddy shops but beware of spurious ones. But if you are a non vegetarian, do not miss the fish fry, duck curry, Rabbit Curry and other NV items available at these toddy shops along with Tapioca. Ask the driver which place is the best and most hygienic. You can also ask the driver to take local help in finding a good place.

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala is all about an agrarian community, striking a chord of harmony with its physical setting. Noted for its farming below sea level (about 4 to 10 feet) the land of Kuttanad possesses a socio-cultural fabric of its own. Four major rivers in Kerala viz. Pampa, Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala flow into the region. If you have time and want to experience the life of people living here, take a detour on this road either at Nedumudi or Edathua and then come back to the same road.

At Changanassery water bodies will end and you will be crossing through a host of rubber plantations. Enjoy the green lullaby. From Changanassery, take the Pathanamthitta route instead of Chengannur and reach Konni which is a forested place — now a town — situated on the banks of Achankovil River in Pathanamthitta District. It has a long and rich history of man-forest interface. It is crisscrossed by numerous streams and rivulets at the vast expanse of the Western Ghats. Konni, rich in cash crops is extremely popular for its elephants and ‘aanakoodu’. Built in 1941, the Elephant Training Centre or aanakoodu, facilitates elephant viewing, elephant feeding, elephant ride etc. An Elephant Museum, planned to be developed as a complete natural history museum based on elephants, has been set up here. The Elephant Camp at Konni serves as a hub for forest-based ecotourism activities and various other locations in the forest too have been developed as camp sites, which can be accessed through trekking.

Punalur situated in the banks of the Kallada River, receiving its name from two Tamil words; punal, meaning “water” and ooru, meaning “town”, therefore “town of water”. The Punalur suspension bridge crossing the river is the only suspended-deck type in south India. Built in 1877 by Albert Henry across the Kallada River, this huge bridge was suspended by three spans and was used for vehicular movement. Construction took more than six years. It is said that after completion of the bridge people hesitated to walk through the bridge. In order to prove the strength of the bridge the engineer and his family passed under the bridge in a country boat while six elephants were walking through the bridge. Now the bridge is only of historical interest.The main concept behind the construction of this bridge was that areas on the other side of the river Kallada was dense forests. The need of a bridge was necessary, but the problem was through a concrete bridge, wild animals can easily pass to the populated area so to prevent that a bridge which shakes when some one enters was built and finally it succeeded. The bridge is connected to four wells. The iron rods of the bridge is connected to the clips, situated in the wells. Each well is of about 100 feet deep and no one since know the engineering behind the construction of this bridge.

Punalur is one of the stations in India which has both meter gauge & broad gauge. It lies 45 km from Kollam on the scenic Kollam-Shencotta railway line across the western ghats, providing a valuable link across the southern states. The long-pending Shencottah-Punalur gauge conversion under Unigauge work has been sanctioned recently and is planned for completion by 2013. Currently Kollam-Punalur gauge conversion is finished and trains have started running from Kollam to Punalur. The Punalur-Shencottah was closed to all traffic from 19 September 2010 for conversion into broad gauge. The journey through the western ghats is incredible.

The Thenmala dam ia a centre of attraction at Thenmala and an ecotourism destination, with boating available on the reservoir, which is bordered on both sides by the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary. While on the top of the dam, take a walk through the thick forests and exit from the other side of the forest and see the pristine beauty of the place. A lot of monkeys around to play. Since it is a secluded place, please be aware not to be alone during your walk. From here go to Palaruvi Water falls and if it is a rainy season, enjoy the falls in its full bloom.

*By the time you finish Waterfalls, it will be dark. Book Your hotel anywhere in Punalur which is the shortest distance. One recommendation is Hotel Vrindavanam But book in advance.

If it is dark, just take a sip or two of your favourite drink and have a good sleep. Early in the morning along with dew, take a walk along the town. Normally towns in Kerala wakes up very early. So you will not be lonely. 

After breakfast start your return journay and go to Kottarakkara. It is a major town in Kollam district. If you want to buy some cashews, stop at a nearby shop. Or else proceed towards Kayankulam via Adoor. The main attraction in Adoor is the Krishna Sree Parthasarathy Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, known here by the name of Parthasarathy. The Chandanapally Valiyapally Church is located 10 kilometres from Adoor. Chembuduppu (meaning choosing of copper vessels) is a special ritual that has a place in Kerala’s cultural history, which take place in Chandanapally every year.

Very few know there is a palace in Kayankulam but you dont miss it. The Krishnapuram Palace and museum is located in Kayamkulam was built in the 18th century by Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1729–58 AD) of the Travancore kingdom. It has gabled roof, narrow corridor and dormer windows. Located near the Krishnaswamy Temple at Krishnapuram, the palace is maintained by the Archaeological Department of Kerala and contains exhibits that belonged to the Palace and its former occupant, the Travancore Maharaja Marthanda Varma. It is also famous for a large pond within the palace complex. It is also said that an underground escape route runs from the bottom of the pond as a possible escape route from enemies. It is not on any regular map and hence visited by very few. Do take time to witness some historical facts. Straight head to Aleppey and the rest of the plan are all yours.

You should be back from where you have started by evening. Enjoy a drink or two and relish the moments

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Binu Alex

Jack of all master of none. Reckless Thinker, Bad writer, Tech lover, Safe Driver in Dry Republic of Gujarat. 2 decades in print, web and radio. Unglorified tweeter. No Admirers. Unlimited Foes, Endless envy. Not to be loose shunted

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