Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala are the three top states when it comes to travelling within the country. Goa is the party capital, while Rajasthan spells royalty and Kerala is where you go to soak yourself in serenity.
Kerala, known as God’s Own Country, was on my bucket list for quite sometime. So two weeks ago, we finally embarked on a five-day trip. Our first visit was to the beautiful museums and beaches in Kochi, followed by a trip to the spice and tea plantations of Munnar. However, the best part of the trip was the stay in Thekkady, the heart of Periyar National Park and Alleppey, the land of divine backwaters.
Thekkady, located about 190 km from Kochi, is where you can spot animals in the vast deciduous forests. We took a jeep safari and went deep into the jungle. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot enough wildlife, but the lush plantations of lemon grass on one side of the track, and tea plantations on the other side, more than made up for it.
The Satham area of the forest was all about high hills, tall trees and countless slopes. A boat cruise on the Periyar lake is also recommended if you want to spot some flora and fauna. At Thekkady, we would also recommend a visit to the Elephant Park, where you can meet the big mammal up close. In fact, you can also go on an elephant ride.
The evening mesmerised us as we witnessed a Kathakali performance of ‘Narkasurvadham’.
The word ‘Kathakali’ is derived from Katha, which means story and Kali, together meaning play. Hindu epic stories are presented through this dance drama format, in which two men (one impersonating as a woman), narrate the story, using their eyes and facial gestures.
The dance drama was followed by demonstration of Kalaripayattu, a martial art form. The martial art, which originated in Malabar region of Kerala, uses swords and shields, sticks and daggers. The young artists performing did some jaw-dropping stunts and the audience was thrilled undoubtedly.
Alleppy, locally known as Alappuzha, is a picturesque city dotted with canals, backwaters and beaches. No wonder then that
Alleppy is known as ‘Venice of the East’. The cottages and homes on the banks of the Vembanadu lake and the Punnamada Lake are worth visiting. At Alleppey, we would recommend a stay in the shikara or house boat, which takes you into the interiors.
You get a glimpse of the rural life — villagers washing clothes, children going to school, paddy fields and more. During the stay at the houseboat, you can relish preparations made from fresh fish, besides a variety of Rassam, Payasam, Dosas and Medu Vadas. A perfect retreat, won’t you say!