A Year in India


Kerala
November 3, 2008, 12:42 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags:

I just got back from an AMAZING trip to Kerala with Ekta, Michael, and Rick (three other AIF fellows) as well as Chandni, Rick’s good friend who has been living and working in India for the past year.

From the idyllic scenery to the late-night conversations to the delicious food, the trip was about as exhilarating as it gets.  All five of us now realize why Kerala is known as “God’s Own Country” … it’s literally one of the most beautiful and welcoming places I’ve even been.

Below is a photo montage of our trip.  (It’s followed by a description of what we did each day.)

Just for some background, Kerala is a state in southwest India.  It’s known for its tea plantations and its rolling, green hills.  One of the area’s attractions is its wildlife park, home to – amongst others – elephants and tigers.  Kerala has the highest literacy rate (99%) of any Indian state.  It was ruled by the Portuguese and Dutch for many years, thus it has a large Christian population.  Being coastal, Kerala is famous for its seafood and backwater channels.

Day 1:
After arriving in Cochin, we visited Jew Town, a very European-feeling area centered around a famous Indian Jewish synagogue.  We also saw the Dutch museum and coastal fishers.  Later, we went to a dance performance at an impressive new arts center.  The performers highlighted several forms of typical Kerala dance (including some spectacular martial arts).  We were lucky enough to spend the night at another fellow’s family’s home.  Natassia’s lovely family fed us a sumptuous dinner and made for some lively company.

Day 2:
On our drive from Cochin to Munnar, we stopped at a few gorgeous waterfalls.  We were able to walk to the base of one of the falls so that we were practically in the water – it was one of the best and most exciting moments of the trip.

Day 3:
In Munnar, we began the day with a visit to Eravikulam National Park, where we walked up Rajamala, Kerala’s highest peak.  On the walk, we saw an endangered species of mountain goat and some of the most striking landscapes I’ve ever seen.  Afterward, we went to a waterfall where we were able to jump in and swim!  In the evening, we went to a performance that showcased Kathakali, a traditional Kerala dance driven by certain facial expressions, hand movements, and elaborate costumes.

Day 4:

Our fourth day began with a drive through sweeping tea farms to Thekkady.  In Thekkady, we toured a spice plantation where we saw cinnamon, clove, vanilla, cardamom, and even natural rubber.  We also had a chance to ride elephants (touristy but fun) and take a boat tour on Periyar Lake.  During the tour, we saw many animals including swimming snakes and wild elephants.

Day 5:
We started off the day with a three-hour hike through Thekkady’s forests.  After that, we took a scenic drive from Thekkady to Kumarakom.  Along the way, we saw more tea plantations and visited a tea factory.  In Kumarakom, we took a sunset boat ride through the backwaters and relaxed at our beautiful, quiet hotel.

Day 6:
In the morning, we drove to Alleppey, another small backwater town.  In Alleppey, we boarded our houseboat for the night.  On the boat, we celebrated Ekta’s birthday, went swimming, ate lots of fresh seafood and other Kerala specialties, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and talked for hours.  It really was the perfect end to the trip.

What isn’t captured through my list of sights and sounds are the great travel companions I had during this trip.  Everyone’s curious, positive attitudes made for a really nice dynamic.  And whether it was “Desi Girl” on repeat or Ekta’s unintentionally sarcastic comments, there were so many laughs that it’d be impossible to write them all out … all I can say is that the group was a huge part of what made this trip so memorable.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

i love the video!!!! it is really high quality too 🙂 what an awesome trip:)

Comment by ekta

cf. my Facebook post. This is such a lovely montage and seems to capture the spirit of your trip … Wish I could’ve spent longer looking at each photo, but I guess I’ll have to wait for that 🙂

Comment by Pria

please click more about keralam an alternative look: http://www.kabani.org

Comment by dhanaraj

Awesome video – need to revamp my website – will give you first shot! By the way, I am Rick’s mom!

Smita

Comment by Smita Desai




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