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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81. Memento Seeker

@Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England.

This happened at one of those stores on the way back from Sheffield and so despite my intention to escape from the memories, this one stays. I can remember that my favourite childhood book was Dracula, and that love never really left me. There might be many things that might bring nostalgia for people, but mine is a horror novel. I was indeed looking forward to Halloween in UK at that time until I had to return home due to personal reasons.

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Declared “evil” by the common man! *Sigh* But my greatest treasure.

Lot of people did ask about what I brought from UK, and it might have included a lot of chocolates, a small model of the Big Ben, pamphlets, photos and post cards, but there was nothing more valuable than this one, for which I have my cousin brother to thank (there is only one in England, so no confusion about that). This Halloween gift was not a dream come true for me, but a beautiful nightmare taking me on an undead journey.

Now, an early return didn’t stop me. We celebrated Halloween in our own way, as we printed notices about the festival and distributed them to make people aware of it, and on that night, with trick-or-treating, collected the old clothes and money to give them to the orphanages and old age homes. I don’t know what general impression people have about Halloween, but it is indeed a hallowed day as long we can keep it that way, and we have to do something which gives blessings in abundance.

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Is that my mouth or jaw? Where is the tongue? The final pose in England!

There have only been a few festivals that I ever cared for. I have been basically against all celebrations. May be the only celebration worth having was actually Halloween. I have never felt that any other festival was more kaleidoscopic than Halloween in all its darkness and the reminder of the other world; nothing more or less chaotic had so much order in it, and there was nothing so close to the harsh realities of life as the magnificent October 31.

There was no other day that I enjoyed more than a Halloween night, and what makes this souvenir special is that Ghostface. Not to forget the hatchet, skeleton arms, vampire cloak, witch plate and all the horror novels which I carried all the way to India from England. There are the treasures that crossed the seas with me.

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Still, even on a Halloween night, the question remains “Melody itni chocolaty kyon hai?”

Diving out —>
TeNy

This post is my entry for the ‘My Most Memorable Memento’ contest conducted by My Yatra Diary travel blog and Indian Coupons.

Here is my tag for 3 other bloggers:
Rohit

Harsha

Pallavi

74. Myth with a Dam

@Bhoothathankettu, Kerala, India.

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The story of Bhoothathankettu doesn’t begin nor end with our last trip to the place, a journey which happened about an year ago. It goes back to that childhood when Bhoothathankettu used to be one of the favourite tourist spots which we visited more than once, due to its easy accessiblity. It is just about ten kilometres away from the town of Kothamangalam and fifty kilometres away from the main city of Kochi. There was also the easy access from Perumbavoor, Angamaly and Aluva. It was still distant enough at that time, but closer than the rest. For some reasons, it had occupied the top of our most interesting places and the place which we should visit again and again. It used to be a place close to the heart. In the beginning, it was a small world and the travel restrictions were rightly there. Still, no matter how far we travelled, the significance of the place remained the same. So the place can claim to be the pioneer of the Travel Diaries of this world and beyond, not in an official manner, but as belonging to the mysterious ways the world works to halt a traveller and to make him go for a journey which is least expected by himself and the society.

Therefore, it has a powerful nostalgia associated with it for us. It was more like a satellite, a natural one which surrounded our world. It was our Saturn’s Titan or Jupiter’s Callisto, for that being Earth would be too predictable. We made some good visits there with Kothamangalam as the base, but the visits faded away until three visits were made in the last six years, not bad for a time when exploring new areas was the trend for one half, and watching movies later replaced the same. The first of the three visits was the reclaiming of childhood without knowing it, the second one being the same thing knowing it all, and the third one was the journey for the camera which was still not a planned one, the most spontaneous of them all, as if the forces of nature had a direct involvement in an unstoppable procedure. There is always more than what meets the eye as long as such a place is concerned, and we were the adventurers at times. The place is blemished in its history with only one accident, as on 20th February 2007, eighteen people on a school excursion drowned in Periyar at Thattekkad, not that far away from the location of the dam.

Along with the dam which stands there, there are huge blocks of unshaped stones are placed on both sides of the river Periyar, making it look like a natural dam built by some supernatural force. The name Bhoothathankettu, means “ghost fort”, “demon fort” or “monster fort”, not with a clear translation, as “bhootham” or “bhoothathan” can mean more than one thing, and the difference in traditions would make it almost impossible to make a perfect translation, and only transcreation is possible. The presence of something supernatural has to be attributed to the myths, which doesn’t really make an impact these days. The ghosts have become more and more gentle and friendly. But the name of the place does give a kick to the curiosity of the common man who hear about it for the first time. The rest has to be experienced in person. We feel the supernatural almost every day, but that still won’t tickle our reasoning ability even by an inch. We feel it in thunder, lightning, rain and everything we see each and every moment, but we fail to recognize them. So wretched is our state, as we feel them all, but fails to know that we feel; the touch of the other world hardly affects us, as we are so much attached to the scientific methods that we deny the existence of those souls.

In the world of Twilight vampires and all the good-looking monsters who keep on attaining more and more transformations towards the side of beauty, the interest might keep rising higher and higher. But what kind of interest would that be, when the creatures of darkness are no longer of their quality, and sometimes not even grey? Ultimately, that really shouldn’t count, whatever they say. As the curiosity doesn’t kill most of the cats these days, there is not that much worry associated with it. The lack of fear and the glorification as well as the beautification of the supernatural has done more bad than good in a world of confused people. The twists of fate happen just too often, and there is none when you need them. One has to wonder what is in them, but there is no right answer, as it is not something which should have happened, even as there might have been some predictions already. There are moments when one wishes for death, but this is not one of them, for this is just pleasure-seeking even in the most dreaded monsters of the world.

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary and the Idamalayar Dam are also quite close to Bhoothathankettu. The bird sanctuary is actually quite close, and just a turn is necessary on the way back to Kothamangalam. It has a rich collection of birdlife and is a common tourist attraction even as it pales in comparison to Bhoothathankettu which has a high number of visitors on the holidays, both from inside and outside the state. A day trip to all three places; Thattekkad, Bhoothathankettu and Idamalayar is also a usual thing. Bhoothathankettu surely is good enough to be one of the most visited places in Ernakulam district as well as in Kerala – it is just not publicized enough. This has been more due to the lack of infrastructure as well as the absence of advertisements. But the situation has been getting better. Sometimes, its peace and tranquility is all that you need to make one visit. The fort of the demons is not the place you associated these qualities with. But who can deny such a thing when one has experienced this peace? Even if the demons had come back to haunt us, there is still enough in this little world to keep one interested.

It is a very scenic place right from the beginning, from the first step you take into the beauty of that place. You can walk on the side of the dam, not just on the dam. The walk with water flowing on the side, will refresh one faster than ever – free from the troubles of city life, work or student life. There is plain nature at its best, without too much interference from the humans. If it is not the weekend, this might be the perfect place to escape to. There are times when one fails to find the right place to escape into nature. But this might just work for most of the people. The sights of the hills and the greenery far away might even inspire one to explore more. There is also a park to support the whole thing, and it has been there as long back as I can remember it. There might have surely been changes made, and add-ons giving support, but the base thing has been there for a very long time. There should be enough entertainment for the children, and a good view of the dam is also possible from a point there. On the other side, there is the boating facility, and also the “erumadam” or the treehouses which are common at the tourist areas of Kerala. There is a good view from the top of it, and the beauty of the area is to be viewed from that point. It gets even better with the rain. Therefore, I wish you the moment.

Diving out —>

TeNy