83. The Darkness Lagoon

@Andhakaranazhy, Aleppey, India.

What is a journey if not on a Honda?

What is a journey if not on a Honda?

Welcome to Andhakaranazhy, translated as “the lagoon of darkness” or as “the darkness lagoon” as we would prefer, as one of those wonderful beaches which lies near the National Highway on the way to Aleppey from Cochin. Located 47 kilometres from Alwaye, 58 kilometres from the Cochin Nedumbassery Airport and 30 to 35 kilometres from whichever area you would consider as the Cochin City Centre. If we consider the most significant landmark of recent times, Lulu Mall as the starting point, that should be 37 kilometres. The journey goes through Vyttila, Maradu, Aroor and taking a right turn a few kilometres after you reach Thuravoor and pass through Vayalar Railway Station.

The sea & the lagoon, greenery around.

The sea & the lagoon, greenery around.

We started at around four in the evening; well not really started, but pretended to start as the original journey will happen only a few minutes later. The journey is actually the worst around the area from Pulinchode Junction Alwaye to the Lulu Mall Edappally, which is why we took a left turn for the easier route with less traffic which turned out to be horrible as all the heavy vehicles took that route. But that was the only plan failure, as the rest of the journey was smooth enough even with a slower journey due to the existence of speed cameras. Even as the sun was strong, it was one of those cloudy days, and it helped.

Nature & modernity comes together.

Nature & modernity comes together.

It is all about the journey on Honda, and that is the only two-wheeler brand which we would take for a journey – for we have owned seven or eight Honda vehicles so far and looking forward to more. The beauty of the journey comes when you take the right turn, and there begins a beautiful rural setting with lots of greenery, and special mention for that railway station which sits almost in the middle of the road, with parts of the train stopping in front of you and only a small part at the platform. Then there are the beautiful visuals on the sides, which has lots of water and in the absence of it, greenery, the water threatening to come up, being just one thumb length lower than the path.

A walk through the beach with crabs.

A walk through the beach with crabs.

Then there is the bridge on the left which takes you to the Andhakaranazhy beach, and before you get on that bridge, you realize that you have seen it before. Yes, it is the same place which we had seen in the movie Idukki Gold from Aashiq Abu, starring Vijayaraghavan, Pratap Pothen, Raveendran, Babu Antony, Lal and Maniyanpilla Raju. I had noticed this place then too, and as I liked the movie enough, there was a certain need to find where this place was. The interest for the same suffered with the same director’s terrible venture called Gangster, but there was something about that shot of Andhakaranazhy. There is even a lighthouse, seemingly keeping the darkness away from the lagoon.

It is indeed impossible not to take this shot.

It is indeed impossible not to take this shot.

As we parked the bikes, there was the huge entrance to the beach, but as usual, we chose another path to enter. The beach was actually very crowded, at around five fourty five on the evening and only managed to have more rush as time passed. There were kids playing cricket and soccer, along with a deserted volleyball court. People seemed to be more confident than ever, venturing quite a lot into the water. There were some fishing boats around, the non-mechanized versions. Strangely, the only creatures around there were black cats and black dogs (contributing to the dark name), and then came the crabs of different sizes threatening to say hello to our legs.

If this is not beauty, what is it?

If this is not beauty, what is it?

Despite the occasional attack of the dark clouds, the sunset was pretty much a beautiful thing to watch, and its reflection often outdid the same. The rain threatened to attack, but never really got its troops together. Then there was the beauty of the lagoon which came up with incomparable serenity. It had the sands and sea with the sunset sky on one side, and on the other side, it had the silhouettes of the thin trees which raised their heads to the dark clouds. There were small restaurants and tea shops and there we had cardamom/elaichi tea and finished the journey which was extended to more tea at Indian Coffee House on the way back. Well, when it was dark enough, we agreed to the name of the place.

All the good things begin & end with tea.

All the good things begin & end with tea.

PS: “Andhera Kaayam Rahe” (May Darkness Prevail) — Tamraj Kilvish 😛

Diving out —>
TeNy

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82. Beaches of Kerala

@My favourite beaches, Kerala, India.
In the last few years, I have visited too many beaches in Kerala, and it is no surprise because the state has a long coast line compared to its total size. Most of the roads which we took were through the coastal areas too. The two places that come to the mind when talking about the same are the Kovalam beach and the Shankumugham Beach which I visited during my childhood, but due to the memories being mostly replaced, I would give them honorary status like the Great Pyramids has among the Wonders of the World and proceed to share something about my favourite beaches of Kerala, all of which I have visited in the last three years, a journey beginning and ending at Kollam Beach.
*^*Just my personal favourites; do not ponder over it.

10. Kappad Beach

Kappad Beach at night

Kappad Beach at night.

This is a place of high historical significance, as Vasco Da Gama landed here in 1498 and began an age of colonization which was to follow and to be taken over by the British. A new trade route from Europe to India was established in this part of Kerala which was to change the way in which Indian history was to be shaped later on. The beach is a nice little place, with not too much crowd, and there was a lot of developments going on there when we visited, and this is going to be a pretty nice place the next time we visit.
Nearest railway station: Calicut
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Calicut
District: Calicut (Kozhikode)

9. Calicut Beach

A sunset at the Calicut Beach

A sunset at Calicut Beach.

The Kozhikode Beach is a nice place in the heart of the city and is blessed by statues and remains of piers giving it a rather historical look. It has successfully joined the beauty of nature with the rush and modernity of the city and provides the visitors with a nice experience as it remains crowded. There would be no reason why one goes through the city and not take a look at this beach which is well maintained and is expected to be even further developed – this is the beach I visited earliest, among the beaches in this list and I feel that a lot have changed about this one.
Nearest railway station: Calicut
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Calicut
District: Calicut (Kozhikode)

8. Quilon Beach

The mermaid (jalakanyaka) statue at Kollam beach

The mermaid (jalakanyaka) statue at Kollam beach.

Known to many people as the Kollam Beach as well as the Mahatma Gandhi Beach, this is a wonderful location close to the heart of the city. Quilon has the history of being a very important seaport in the past, and is still the second largest port in Kerala after the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin. We can regularly see large ships moving around in the sea if we spend enough time at the beach. There is a lighthouse and the ruins of historical forts which form the mementos of European rule which existed there.
Nearest railway station: Quilon
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Quilon
District: Quilon (Kollam)

7. Kappil Beach

The sea on the left and the lake on the right.

The sea on the left and the lake on the right.

There are only a few beaches which can boast of having an identity different from the rest, and that too without being huge or without having any structure or monument, but Kappil Beach achieves that. The beach begins from the side of the road and goes on to an area where the sea and the lake are separated by a small stretch of sand a part of which where we can drive through between the coconut trees. There, we see a beautiful green world on one side and the sunset on the other, with jelly fish near the water around our legs!
Nearest railway station: Paravur
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Paravur
District: Trivandrum

6. Azhikode Beach

Azhikode beach with its Chinese fishing nets.

Azhikode beach with its Chinese fishing nets.

Located near Kodungallur, this is one of the lesser known beaches of the area, and we were glad to find it using the google maps, and let that not fool you because this is a beautiful beach with not much rush, and has a lot of areas to spend some lone time and also take photos. Known as the Azhikode-Munakkal beach, this has a big place in the history of Christianity in India, as Saint Thomas the Apostle is believed to have landed near this area. The first mosque in India is also not that far away from here.
Nearest railway station: Irinjalakuda
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: Kodungallur
District: Trichur

5. Varkala Beach

The parking is at the top, and so are the best viewpoints.

The parking is at the top, and so are the best viewpoints.

Also known as the Papasanam Beach, this is a nice place with a difference, and it remains calm and peaceful despite the good number of visitors, including a lot of foreigners. Its unique geography makes sure that there are cliffs surrounding the beach, something not common in Central and South Kerala. You can have a look from the cliffs when eagles fly closer. There are water spouts and nice restaurants around the beach, and there is enough parking as long as you make sure you come early.
Nearest railway station: Varkala
Nearest airport: Trivandrum
Nearest town/city: Varkala
District: Trivandrum

4. Payyambalam Beach

This came as a pleasant surprise at that time.

This came as a pleasant surprise at that time.

Payyambalam is a beautiful beach where we can see the lagoon being separated from the sea from many angles. It is very close to the town of Kannur and is very clean. A number of Kerala’s prominent political and social leaders are also buried in an area at the beach including A.K. Gopalan, E.K. Nayanar, Sukumar Azhikode etc. You can also go to St. Angelo’s Fort, most commonly known as the Kannur Fort from there, a symbol of Portuguese dominance in that part of the country.
Nearest railway station: Kannur
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Kannur
District: Kannur

3. Fort Cochin Beach

There is always something about Fort Cochin.

There is always something about Fort Cochin.

The beauty of Fort Kochi beach is more in its own identity rather than just the sands. It lives in and breathes history like no other place in Kerala. There are lots of buildings which is of colonial architecture around the beach along with places of spirituality and religion, and the number of foreign tourists is enormous. I would suggest visiting the place during the next Kochi Biennale exhibition, and lets join the beauty of nature and historical monuments with art. You don’t always need to go to Goa or Pondicherry.
Nearest railway station: Cochin (Ernakulam)
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: Cochin
District: Ernakulam (Cochin)

2. Cherai Beach

They wanted me to write down something on the sand.

They wanted me to write down something on the sand.

There are only a few beaches which can grow with the pace that Cherai has developed from just another sea-side to the most visited beach in Central Kerala. There is a lot of development still going on there, and it is a very long extending by road to what is called Munambam, which is rather another beach where one can see the river Periyar flowing into the Arabian Sea, surrounded by Chinese fishing nets, an inspiration for any poet or photographer deprived off ideas by modernity.
Nearest railway station: Aluva (Alwaye)
Nearest airport: Cochin
Nearest town/city: North Paravur
District: Ernakulam (Cochin)

1. Muzhappilangad Beach

The best beach is where the Beat goes.

The best beach is where the Beat goes.

How can you not visit the largest drive-in beach in Asia? To be frank, I don’t know about any other beaches in India where you can drive this long on the sands. As we reach here through a small road surrounded by coconut trees which bows their heads towards the road and reach the nicely maintained beach which seems to stretch towards eternity, there is an unbelievable amount of happiness that we feel in our hearts. It is a lesser known destination, and it is going to develop a lot considering its potential.
Nearest railway station: Thalassery
Nearest airport: Calicut
Nearest town/city: Thalassery
District: Kannur

Other mentions: Puthuvype Beach (Ernakulam/Cochin), Snehatheeram Beach (Trichur), Aleppey Beach (Alappuzha), Munambam Beach (Ernakulam/Cochin), Chavakkad Beach (Trichur).

Diving out —>
TeNy

80. Memories Never Die

@UCC, Kerala, India.

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*This might rather be the last post before this blog go into hibernation, except for may be the yearly summary update.

*Not that much of an external journey – be warned. “The Truth shall make you free”, said the motto of my college, which is rather the former college for me now. The distance from being a student to becoming a former student is much shorter than I had expected. The question about truth making one free stays alive, but one would wonder if it comes as part of “Travel Diaries: Of this world and beyond”? The answer would be yes, as I travelled every day from home to college in a car, and every time a Chevrolet Beat is involved, it is more or less a journey, and there is also no less scope for an exploration. Another thing is that UCC, our own Union Christian College looked different almost every day, as if it is a new place each time one takes a look around and captures a few snaps. That makes one new journey on each week day for the last two years, and living an experience each and every morning, and in my case, as early as eight fifteen in the morning only being as late as eight fourty five maximum – extending from three thirty to four fourty five in the evening; often staying there longer than expected. But in simple words, this is no travel, no doubt.

Known to the world as UC College Aluva, Union Christian College’s inception goes back to 1921, as an inter-denominational creation from four of the Kerala Christian denominations, Church of South India, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, and Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church. It is not that far away from the river of Periyar and only about four kilometres from the town of Alwaye. The place which was visited by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925, and being blessed by him planting a mango tree, might be one of the most well-known colleges in the district, if not the state. There is that joy which surrounds a student when he tells the name of his college and only good things are heard about the same. It is indeed prestigious to be a student of the college, as there is that wonderful reputation that creates an invisible aura around it, and studying there for post graduation is one of those things which could be explained through a poem, but I am rather weak and drained and taken further away from the creativity by the void, the nothingness that has taken over after getting the Transfer Certificate from there, and staying at home doing nothing that fills the soul.

The arrival of the results further increases the strength of that void which seems to have been surrounded by a black hole. There is no question about the fact that this void is self-created. It is a result of not doing enough, not only now, but also when I was there, amplifying that feeling of loss which has pervaded through the conscience of my soul and asks myself if I have done enough. I have never really studied, and that is only one of those things. The first class that I gained and indirectly mentioned in my Facebook status message is not really of me putting anything into learning. I haven’t worked hard, for I have never been a hard working person. I used to find it a crime not knowing answers to questions, but ever since Mathematics started boring me from my school days, I stopped searching for answers. I found that I can have no answers and still exist as long as I can work well with languages. I could create and modify the worlds which I have created and maintained, rather than keep a giant planet in my head – was fair enough. Thank You Lord, for pointing me to the right direction, and my determination to do MA English was as much a surprise to myself as getting the admission, and for that there is pure divine intervention. Otherwise, who would wish to admit someone who can’t use what he knows when it matters the most?

I have carried over this idea with me, even in the absence of Mathematics. Maths, my dearest enemy from the depths of hell, you are not the first one who hated me and surely not the last one. When the classes started, Doctor Faustus, Paradise Lost and The Pilgrim’s Progress were set against the replacements for Mathematics, the theories of Rasa and Dhvani, Seven Types of Ambiguity and Biographia Literaria. There is the concept of good and evil, and even in the absence of Mathematics and also Physics, something had to take over the role of bad guys. As time progressed and the course was coming to the end, the number of bad guys just increased, and the last semester was full of such people, as even the viva examiners seemed to align with the bad guys. Existentialism, absurdism and post-colonialism are not the best things to read, and with Film theories, plus what books like In an Antique Land and Midnight’s Children already achieved in the earlier semester, the whole interest comes down like a dead dinosaur from the top of a mountain.

It is also nothing less of a boulevard of lost opportunities, and the fact that you didn’t study is just one of them. Despite performing fine in inter-college quiz competitions, what bothers one the most is what kind of use it is for your knowledge when there are a lot of questions for which you know the answer, but just can’t get to say it; and it disappoints more than those questions which you don’t know the answer and also those questions which are too easy and right from the text books. What is the meaning of knowing and still can’t use the knowledge when needed? The loss of answers when in pressure haunts like Freddy Krueger, and its mightmares are as big as any other opportunities you waste as well as the time you send down the drain. The only saviour is the tea, and I am boosted by it regularly from the college canteen. It is a further disaster when you are the pheonix who rises from the ashes, and yet can’t get rid of those ashes completely, and there is so much of them that it affects your flying, and you would rather think that you stay on the ground.

Still, haven’t you earned enough from being in a college which was the only right place for you to be? Despite everything that you missed due to your own fault, there were two good years of glory even if happiness was not something you carried over? Well, I wouldn’t have felt better if I was anywhere else – this was the first choice for me during the time of centralized allotment, and I got the admission in the first allotment itself. Anywhere else wouldn’t have been more suitable for me, as I would have struggled to keep myself going. The case of UC is rather perfect for someone like me, who doesn’t want to live my life in those text books and studying only what is attained from the class. UC had a charm which is powered by nature as well as the wonderful teachers of the English department. If I would have been anywhere else, I suspect that I could have even known about my existence, but here in the English department, I lived. And about my marks, I have got exactly what I wanted, and for my lack of focus, determination and hope, and supported by that plague of pessimism, I have got enough, and anything more would make me feel that people can read my handwriting.

Diving out —>
TeNy

79. Thy Tourist Village

@Kumbalangi, Kerala, India.

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There has been not many places that I have known for this long a time, but Kumbalangi certainly remains one of them. I remember going there with my parents in a boat, as it was more of an island without a bridge rather than just another remote village. There was quite a long time spent looking at the backwaters waiting for the boat. I would wonder if that had given birth to some creativity which I kept for myself. I used to be afraid of the time spent on the boat, and always believed in death by water kept ready by the Grim Reaper himself. But the fact remains that I have traveled there more when there was no bridge, and less when there came that bridge. Thus are the games which fate plays on us. There is no doubt that the place has gotten better, but the fact remains that I myself has no longer the interest nor the need; but I did visit the place a few months ago contradicting my thoughts about not going.

It is located about fourty to fifty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, and about fifteen kilometres from the Ernakulam South Railway Station. Yes, the place is well connected and there are more than one routes to reach there. There is an older road from the other side of the island, but it is quite a long one which is not recommended due to possible rise in the water levels and the condition of the roads. The first one may be the most commonly used and the most crowded path which goes through Edappally, Palarivattam and Kaloor, going through M.G. Road, and the another one is the same road which takes a small deviation which goes through Ernakulam Jetty and passes near the High Court and these two roads join together later as if they are made for each other. Both routes have lots of city service private buses and Thiru-Kochi buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation along with AC and non-AC low-floor buses of Volvo and Ashok Leyland make every fifteen minutes or twenty minutes apart from each other making this the most desirable route if travelling by public transport.

The two were the roads which we used to take when I was a kid, during those journeys to Kumbalangi in the city service private buses which remained the only choice at that time. The second one can be joined by a road which takes right turn from Kalamassery – the Vallarpadam Terminal Road which has the least amount of traffic and has the better roads except for small areas which should have some potholes and unexpected rising of terrain. The next one has a number of busy junctions on the way which goes through Edappally, Vyttila and Marad joining the other road on the new bridge to Thoppumpady, a route having tolls, but not too much to be spent – not that crowded except for those big junctions. Just be aware of the Vyttila junction which might be the busiest interjunction around despite the size of the roads. This road can also be joined from Thrikkakara and Kakkanad if a left turn was taken from Kalamassery towards the HMT junction. It is a clear one road from the airport to Aluva though, as the other possible routes towards the Perumbavoor side are more of the unreliable ones.

You can visit Kumbalangi when you go to Fort Cochin or Mattanchery, taking a deviation from Thoppumpady. The first thing you notice is surely the backwaters and the Chinese fishing nets which are located around – just like a visit to Fort Kochi. Kumbalangi is actually more of a cheaper alternative to Fort Kochi and Mattanchery even as there is not much of a history out there, with Saint Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Dutch Palace or the Jewish Synagogue, and the development also might seem less. But Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project has been transforming the village and the visit is going to be totally worth the money. The island also has its smaller but beautiful churches, that is for sure – a good number of them on the sides of the main road itself. They are symbols of faith and belief which has disappearing from the world at high speed. I have known most of those churches for quite a long time and did attend mass at more than half of them. There is that beauty in simplicity and serenity out there.

Kumbalangi is the first Model Tourism Village in India, and thus has undergone quite a transformation which has not ceased yet. There is financial assistance from the state government, and the procedure has seen increase in the number of tourists who come to the place, but there is not too much rush till now. It is indeed blessed with natural beauty which has not been seen or explored much. There are smaller roads and not many bigger shops and restaurants are around, but that doesn’t take away anything. It is the ideal destination for everyone who wishes to keep away from the crowd and enjoy peace and calmness with nature supported by whatever joy the backwaters bring. There are many interesting and cheap packages for the same. It will be good if you add the place to the list when you travel to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery, as that should make a good combination. May be you can go through Kumbalangi and reach Fort Cochin through the other side of the island thus going through the centre of the island.

If you do go to Kumbalangi, there is Kallanchery which you can visit. There is also a resort of three acres, surrounded by the awesomeness of backwaters there, called Kallenchery Retreat which is a very beautiful place to spend time – it is Kallenchery Retreat (http://www.kallancheryretreat.com/) and you can check that website for more details. There are not many places like that around. Check this website and you will know about a miraculous church which you won’t want to miss – situated at Kannamaly at the end of the island (http://kannamaly.com/news/kannamali-church/) and the festival there is very famous as people from all parts of Kerala comes there for blessings. I hope none of you will miss that church and it will be even better if you are there for the feast. It also has a history as the first church there goes back to 1745. It is also the native village of our honourable minister of food and agriculture, K.V. Thomas who has also written a book about the place, Ente Kumbalangi. When you visit South India, take your time and have a look at one of the most beautiful backwater villages of South Asia at a cheap rate and a lot of happiness.

I would like to leave you with these images of Kerala Backwaters. (Check Kerala Tourism’s latest campaign on the most fascinating waterworld on Earth @ http://greatbackwaters.com/)

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Diving out —>
TeNy

78. Missing the Styx

@Malampuzha, Kerala, India.

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I was just in the first standard of my first of the five schools where I have tried my luck when I first visited Malampuzha, and the second journey there was a school trip which happened in the fourth standard, the last year of the same school – the school was Vimala English Medium School, Perumbavoor; and yes Malampuzha has been a hot destination for a long time, which is why we visited the place again as a family trip just three or four years after this. So what has changed about this hot excursion destination from schools? Except for the beginning of the first amusement park in 1996 in the form of Fantasy Park, and the whole thing being made better for the tourists every year, nothing much. Yes, the place has gone better even as there have been more amusement parks all over the state and also more tourist destinations near other dams and reserviors. The place’s uniqueness might seem gone, but there is a certain amount of variety that runs through this place, and there is no doubt that it shall remain different from the others with the element of nostalgia associated with it.

While talking about the journey one can’t cease talking about Indian Coffee House, as it is that place where we always stop, if there is the presence of that restaurant chain at the place we travel through. I would recommend the Poori Masala there, and mostly it is what I have, even as that world is more extensive. The Vegetable Cutlet might also impress a good number of the customers. Tea is always there in my list whatever I have, that is for sure. There is something about the place, and may be it is the trust, the faith that one has on a place which is not that much of a vampire of the stomach as you think about the other places providing food. Angamali and Chalakudi also have the same food chain, on the same side of the road. Once Pattikad is reached, the same destination or food is on the other side of the road, just after the town. They usually open between 7:15 AM and 7:30 AM as I have noticed. It was good to have breakfast there, as there was no time to think once Trichur was behind. The great road supported by the eighty rupees of awesomeness (toll) was over, and slowly the potholes began to take over, and soon there were less roads and more the lack of it, to quite a shocking extent.

The shortest route from Cochin might be through Kaloor-Palarivattam-Edappally-Kalamassery-Aluva-Angamali-Koratty-Chalakudi-Potta-Trichur-Pattikkad-Vadakkanchery-Palakkad-Malampuzha, even as the fastest might be taking the Vallarpadam Terminal Road from Cochin and getting to Kalamassery joining the other vehicles to Aluva on the National Highway 47. The roads would be great in the beginning and all the way to Trichur, but later they were highly destructive to the vehicles, and considering the traffic which was on that road, it was quite shocking to see such a pathetic state of the path. Even the bigger trucks and buses were having a tough time, and the scooters and motor-bikes were taking the zigzag paths. It was to that pandemonium that we entered, and survived. There is no survival of the fittest here, but the survival of the luckiest. One of the trucks travelling on the front almost tried to lose their water tanks on us, but that Final Destination moment was luckily averted and the tanks fell into the potholes and stayed there as if they belonged there and caused further traffic blocks.

The first thing about Malampuzha has undoubtedly the largest reservior in Keala. Located about ten or eleven kilometres from the town of Palakkad, this dam is one of the most visited tourist places in the Central Kerala (even as it would qualify as North too) for the last twenty years or so, as I can remember the rush which was here during my childhood. It might have reduced a bit due to the large number of tourist attractions coming up everywhere, and Fort Cochin, Kumarakom Backwaters have clearly overtaken this place as the favourite as the central area of Kerala is concerned, and not to forget the good number of malls which has come alive. If you look at any tourist package to Kerala, it might be difficult to see this place there, but I would say that it is a must, as long as one can take the roads which lead there. May be the journeys are mostly joined with an Idukki-Cheruthoni dam visit which is linked to Munnar as well as the Mattupetti Dam. But the fact remains that Malampuzha Dam is the real tourist destination which features a dam, as there is the freedom to take as many photos as one wishes to, while in most of the other dams, photography is prohibited, and so why would one think twice about choosing the right tourist place with a dam?

It has the very beautiful hills of the Western Ghats in the background of the reservior which gives a beautiful shot for your camera from one side, while the other side has its own collection of hills as well as the gardens which are separated by the water which flows from the shutters of the dam and linked by two hanging bridges which is surely the first of its kind that I had walked through, followed by the ones in Singapore. Otherwise, one can take the ropeway to see the whole place around, and it is one of the first of its kind in Kerala, creating more interest in the tourists, even as there haven’t been much foreign tourists around when we visited. The dam is built across the Malampuzha River, a tributary of Kerala’s second longest river, Bharathappuzha. Due to the incredible beauty that surrounds the dam, and the climate of this season, this is very much suitable for a visit lasting the full day inside, followed by a journey to Fantasy Park and the Palakkad Fort along with the town the next day. You can use a full day with the dam and the garden as it is quite immense and it is better to take your time and enjoy.

Around the structure and reservior of the dam, we can see the beautiful, well-maintained gardens and the boating facilities, all of which can be observed from the top of the dam or the ropeway. The other tourist attractions in the Malampuzha Garden includes a fish-shaped aquarium which I remember clearly from the old times, and the gigantic Yakshi (the female vampire vampire-like image belonging to this part of the world) which I can recollect too. There is also the swimming pool, snake park and the rock garden as I can remember. But the last visit was more about the dam, the reservoir and the beauty of nature which was around. The sculptures, gardens and even a wind mill came as extra additions. Well, you can visit the place for just the natural beauty itself, and there is no reason why one shouldn’t visit here, and as the road problems are concerned, one can take a luxury bus or a bigger car and travel in the early morning – the best choice to avoid the possible horror that the roads can give you. You can come here from the Tamil Nadu side too – as a journey from Coimbatore as it is very close and is the nearest airport while Palakkad Junction is the nearest railway station.

Diving out —>
TeNy

77. Fortified Dazzlers

@Palakkad, Kerala, India.

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This was that trip which was postponed so many times that there was a certain amount of uncertainty working in the atmosphere, but it finally happened in the end. Yes, it is one of the more recent trips compared to those about which I usually write late – but not this time. This also happened after a long month of driving and travelling due to the large number of functions which I had to attend, something which also made sure that I won’t get to make a memorable journey and I might miss a good number of movies, one of them being Arikil Oraal. So, the journey started very early in the morning, making sure that I would be there at my first destination before ten in the morning, so that there would be enough time left even if the wandering process becomes slow due to any reason including a rain which kept on threatening to come down with full power. The journey took a small break at the Indian Coffee House at Koratty which is more of the right place to stop and have some early food before the journey gets tougher, as there was more than a good one hundred kilometres left to travel, and that is something I am usually careful about.

Talking about Indian Coffee House, it is that place where we always stop, if there is the presence of that restaurant chain at the place we travel through. I would recommend the Poori Masala there, and mostly it is what I have, even as that world is more extensive. The Vegetable Cutlet might also impress a good number of the customers. Tea is always there in my list whatever I have, that is for sure. There is something about the place, and may be it is the trust, the faith that one has on a place which is not that much of a vampire of the stomach as you think about the other places providing food. Angamali and Chalakudi also have the same food chain, on the same side of the road. Once Pattikad is reached, the same destination or food is on the other side of the road, just after the town. They usually open between 7:15 AM and 7:30 AM as I have noticed. It was good to have breakfast there, as there was no time to think once Trichur was behind. The great road supported by the eighty rupees of awesomeness (toll) was over, and slowly the potholes began to take over, and soon there were less roads and more the lack of it, to quite a shocking extent.

The roads were destructive to the vehicles, and considering the traffic which was on that road, it was quite shocking to see such a pathetic state of the path. Even the bigger trucks and buses were having a tough time, and the scooters and motor-bikes were taking the zigzag paths. It was to that pandemonium that we entered, and survived. There is no survival of the fittest here, but the survival of the luckiest. The first place to visit was to be a fort, but before that, there was a church, The Holy Trinity English Church which was a beautiful structure on the way to the Palghat Fort. It was not easy to miss that building, even from a distance. It was special where it was located. It looked new, but not yet out of its glory of antiquity. It was a great place of worship. The predominant colours of the outside were black and white, and on the inside, there was the glorious white. The altar had the shades of green, blue and red with lots of wood. Even in the middle of the town, as vehicles struggled to find their way out of traffic jams, there was peace and serenity in there, which was admirable.

The first place to visit is actually the Palakkad Fort, also known as Tipu’s Fort even as it was built by his father Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore in 1766 and it still remains one of the best preserved forts in Kerala, sharing the glory of history with Kannur St. Angelo Fort, Kasargod Bekel Fort and Thalassery Fort, three of the most popular, the largest and the better maintained fortresses of Kerala. The one in Kannur is mentioned here https://theviator.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/kannur/ as part of that earlier journey which happened last year which was surely a longer one as part of a road trip which clearly tested a Chevrolet Beat. I would also personally prefer the Kannur St. Angelo Fort the most, if one is looking for historical awesomeness, with its location and the visuals. But our Palakkad Fort is the one of its kind which is close enough to Central Kerala and one of the best historical monuments in this part of the state, and therefore has its own awesomeness which competes with the same from other forts.

Palakkad has always been a strategically important place for anybody who had control over the place, which should be why Haider Ali constructred this fort after his arrival. The fort was in the hands of Mysore, Zamorin of Calicut as well as the British. Considering the man behind this well-built structure, it would be been better called Haider’s Fort though. It should have been a good stronghold in the final Anglo-Mysore War which ended with the siege of Srirangapatnam and the death of Tipu. We have surely seen bigger forts in different parts of the world, but this one has a little special life of its own. It has a taluk office and a prison inside it, along with a park on the side, as well as a children park on the side of that park. There is also a small temple, beautiful pond and a large number of huge, old trees which seems to be so alive, both inside and outside the structure. As Archaeological Survey of India preserves the place, and ther is no entrance fee to the fort, there is no doubt about its possible rise in popularity. The fact remains that it is not my first visit here, as I have been at the same place as a kid, it is just that I can’t remember much of it except for, may be a tree.

Well, in the district which slightly edges Idukki to be the largest of Kerala, and at the town which looks small or moderate from one side, but is actually quite big, there is surely no shortage of tourist attractions. One can easily travel to Kalpathi, famous for its Kalpathi Ratholsavam, a big Temple car festival, and also check the Chambai village. Nelliyampathy Hills is another suitable choice. Jainimedu Jain temple is also not that distant from the heart of the town. Dhoni Waterfalls is situated around fifteen kilometers from the town of Palakkad, and no, it is not named after the cricketer who do strange stuff at the cricket pitch. But the place you would wish to visit the most might be Malampuzha, which has a dam, amusement park as well as an incredibly beautiful and well preserved garden with sculptres, paintings, fountains, hanging bridges and all that can add to a beautiful day with nature. It also has a fish-shaped aquarium, a snake park, a ropeway and a lot of other attractions. But that would be another story which follows later. Until then, remember to come back from Palakkad before office time, unless you don’t come back to the Cochin-Trichur side, as it gets really crowded on the roads, and with the potholes all around, there is a chance that you might miss your dinner.

Diving out —>
TeNy

76. Driving in the Sea

@Muzhappilangad, Kerala, India.

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Even while immersing myself in the vampiric theories of the wonderful coffins, I have always wished to drive around in the sea. But about being able to drive a sea vessel – I was perfectly sure that it was an impossible thing. I am no merman, and therefore those more imaginative and creative options are left out. The Cabin in the Woods was that movie which took away the last few ideas about being a merman away. Being a half-fish, half-human monster with Piranha-tooth and a blowhole was never the best of things, no matter how well the figure is romanticized and exaggerated with the image of the mermaid from Disney’s cartoonish fortress. The mermaid are still portrayed with their beauty and cuteness which they might hold onto until the end of the world despite of a few exception, and mermans – right from the Mer-Man of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, there has been not much hope about it, even as Poseidon might wish to have a word or two about it. I would rather read Matthew Arnold’s poem, The Forsaken Merman. There goes all the sea vessels, and the merman element right out of the picture. Now the question would remain about driving in the sea; an unfulfilled desire.

So, what remains is the option to drive in whatever parts of sea which takes a peek into the sands of a beach. Driving through the beaches has been there during most of the Malayalam movies songs of the last century, and there was always something emotional about it, from love to friendship, and the sunset or sunrise was there to provide the background with the sea. I used to wonder how they drive around these areas of sand without the sands holding them down like zombies rising from their graves. The four wheels should have gone down, I would think – what are they doing? Drive-In-Beach was the answer. It was never officially an answer until that moment when the place was first visited. Well, we live in a world of paranoia, and this sense is more part of our life than of the post-modern literature. We live in our fears and refuse to accept the truths, and man and science has combined to destroy nature and call it a huge achievement, there are not much to talk about this anxiety, tension and depression which support paranoia on a large scale. But what a visit made sure about, is that the answer is right and close enough to truth. From those Mathematical equations to the news about space expedition, we are forced to believe – but aren’t these supposed-to-be truths pushed right into our brains?

Keeping all these in mind, this was explored by driving to the District 13, where I had to go during that time of extended vacation. This was a remarkable journey indeed in many ways. A road trip from Kannur to my hometown would be the longest route I have ever taken in my life in one stretch without stopping for more than just a tea or two. It was also that test which my own car had never taken before. The largest city in North Malabar region and the sixth largest in Kerala proved to be one of the worthiest destinations, as surrounded by history and geographical beauty. The Land of Looms and Lore was a destination which I should have visited long ago. Did I need inspiration to visit such a good destination? What took me so long is a question which is more rhetorical than anything else. But the fact remains that I was late and I would surely admit that. But being late has its charms; and being early always has so many negative things. This late-Kannur-coming was more positive than any other early visits to the other places. It created more wonderful moments than what was possible if the journey had happened long ago. Among those great moments, one of those places remained more striking, and it was here, at Muzhappilangad.

Muzhappilangad Beach is located near enough both to Kannur and Thalassery. The path to the beach might be a little narrow, but still beautiful enough, and the beach is long and wide, with not much of disturbance around in the morning when we went there. Thalassery should be the nearest railway station and Calicut the nearest airport. Well, it is the only beach in Kerala where you can drive and splash the sea water around. It is the place where your car becomes a sea vessel of the land. It is the right place for you to take photos of your autmobile with sea, beach and the boats around you giving the feeling that your car or motor-bike is one of those machines which can travel both in water and land, making both the tortoise and the frog jealous. The rocks add to the beauty of the world around. You can just drive and drive until the world gets tiresome. There is also supposed to be an island, Dharmadam island – but that was surely not in the list. With Thalassery is seven kilometres away and Kannur distant by just thirteen kilometres, one has to try hard not to visit this place if they wander around the district or the nearby ones.

If you love driving and the beaches, here the right paradise for you. There are no devilish snakes to take you out of this Eden. This place still remains unknown to a good number of people in the South of Kerala, and that remains a mystery. There is so much of peace and calm around this place, which might be quite unusual for a beach, and I would be surprised about the same sitting at any other beach in the South. Another major surprise comes in the form of the superior cleanliness which is seen around the sands. The calmness joins with the cleanliness to create a new world of serenity and a highly camera-loving area around there. Why haven’t most of us been aware about such a place which is better than most of the other beaches is India? This is a question which would have no answer just as the doubts about the low popularity level of the places like Urulanthanni, Paniyeli-Poru and Ilaveezhapoonchira; the last two still experiencing some rise, and with some better roads, they can see more visitors. But our beach still has a better accessibility, and I would be surprised if more people won’t come to know about this beautiful sands of time.

As I say about Kannur itself, what strikes the most might still be the blending of history to the nature, this time with the sands of many beaches – resembling our own Prince of Persia’s sands of time which continues to disappear into that void of worthlessness, that black hole filled with white sands. The Prince of Persia was surely not the one person to understand the importance of time, and the total number will not be limited to a few. The hourglasses will continue the job and the world will continue to have its not-so-Persian princes. One can bid adieu to this beautiful beach which provided great hospitality to our car along with hat ancient sea port, but how long until it fades away? The centuries of history would support the cause of the sea port to live in the minds of people. What about this great host of all four-wheelers and two-wheelers known by the name Muzhappilangad? That might lead to the rise of another story, or more than just one tale of travel. There is more about this beach that one should write about, as it is more experienced than talked about.

Diving out —>

TeNy