Today it’s time for the last post about our trip to Kerala 🙂 For the end, we decided to go to Allepey and rent a houseboat to bring us back to Kochi where we would catch our flight the next day. Unfortunately it turned out that the houseboats only go from Kochi to Allepey or around Allepey, so we decided to book a overnight trip around Allepey and then take a cab to Kochi the next day. Before our trip started, we decided to have breakfast in a small cafe, where they had some very fitting wallpaper to match the tropical climate 😉
Then it was time to go catch our boat, so we ended up with six people plus luggage in a rickshaw
And then our houseboat trip could already begin! The boat itself was incredibly nice, we received a fruit basket, three fresh meals a day, and in the evening we even had the chance to get a traditional Kerala Ayurveda massage in the middle of the backwaters 🙂
After our city tour through Kochi, we went back to explore a completely different region of Kerala, the mountainous tea plantations of Munnar. We decided to spent half the day on a trekking tour through the plantations and the surrounding mountains and then after lunch leave for our next (and unfortunately last) stop in Allepey, therefore there I do not have much to say about Munnar and this post will be very picture heavy. The plantations are owned by TATA (of course), and every employee receives not only an extensive health insurance plan, but also shares in TATA. The local golf club is also owned by TATA and free for all employees. According to our trekking guide Ganesh, there even are three wild elephants still living in the mountains of Munnar. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot them, only some elephant poo as proof of their existence 😀 Porcupines are also local to Munnar, and Ganesh found us a porcupine quill as a souvenir to bring back home with us 🙂
So without further ado, here are some of the pictures we took in Munnar!
See you soon for the last part of our Kerala adventure on a housebot in Allepey! ✿✿✿
After the excitement of Thrissur Pooram, we traveled to our next stop, the coastal city of Kochi. Since Marina and Carsten to stay in Thrissur a few hours longer, Isabell and I went on our journey to Kochi alone. Instead of paying 3500 rupees for a cab, we chose to take the bus instead! Once we arrived at the Bus station in Thrissur, the man on the enquiry counter told us that on lanes 10 and 11 the busses would go to Kochi. Once there, however, we were being told by another passenger that not all the busses leaving from there would go to Kochi. Since all the signs on the station and the busses were in Malayalam, we obviously had no way of figuring this out on our own. After waiting for another 20–30 minutes, the bus for Kochi finally arrived and Isabell and I secured our seats. Everything went rather smoothly from there on, and even though the bus had no A/C it was quite comfortable with the windows open. That is, until the bus had a flat tire and we were left stranded at a random bus station somewhere in Kerala, waiting for the next bus to take us to Kochi. Again, we had to rely solely on the help of some English speaking passengers to figure out which one of the 20 busses that arrived and left there in the next half hour. Of course, once the new bus arrived, it was already filled to the brim with other passengers, and our comfortable seats from the last bus were a thing of the past. Things became rather uncomfortable rather quickly, but as soon as the first few passengers left we grabbed our chance to get a seat again. Obviously it was still incredibly crowded and hot and personal space was practically non-existent, but at least I could sit down again. After we finally arrived in Ernakulum, we still had to go and search for a rickshaw to take us to Fort Kochi. Unfortunately, we immediately ran into a rather aggressive rickshaw driver, who insisted that the fare would be 300 rupees. Whenever we tried to go to another rickshaw driver to get a better price, he followed us and told them to also charge us 300. When we finally got to a driver who agreed to take us for 250 before the other driver could get to him, he followed us even after we got into the rickshaw and proceeded to shout at us and even physically attacked our driver o.O. Another half hour later, we finally arrived at the Green Woods Bethlehem, a cozy homestay run by Christian couple Sheeba and Ashley, to whom we only referred to as “Mama” and “Papa” among ourselves. Judging only by size, there homestay was more of a hotel, but there warm and welcoming presence made us feel truly at home. As soon as we arrived, they offered us some fruit and chai, and the breakfast the next morning was one of the best I’ve ever had (serving both continental and traditional foods), not only because the breakfast room on the rooftop with a cozy hammock was the ideal place to hang out and chill before braving the hot Kochi climate.
After breakfast, we went on our way to explore Kochi by foot. Kochi is the main trading center of Kerala due to its natural harbor, and has therefore been shaped by many Jewish, Dutch and Portuguese influences. One of Kochi’s most famous sights is the many Chinese fishing nets you can see at the harbor. After arriving at the coast, we were immediately invited onto one of the fishing boats and for a small “donation” we could help bring in the net, touch a jellyfish and even feed the boat’s very own cat with some fresh fish.
Afterward we went back to walking through town. The streets were full of market stalls and vendors, and the overall atmosphere was both exotically tropical and familiarly European. The streets were full of contemporary street art, many of which in response to the Kochi Biennale of 2015, which stirred up quite a controversy in Kochi due to a lack of transparency in funding allocation and many locals feeling excluded from the event. We had lunch at the Kashi Art Café, and then went on to explore the famous Jewish quarter of Kochi. Unfortunately, the Synagogue was closed on that day, but overall Kochi still managed to leave quite an impression on us and this certainly wasn’t my last visit there!
See you again tomorrow (or the day after ;)) when we go trekking through the Munnar tea plantations! ✿✿✿
I’m sorry for the long wait since my last post, but now I’m finally back with some more stories and pictures to share 😉 Last week, some of our batch went on a trip to Kerala, and for the next few days, I will keep you posted on all the great things we saw and experienced there. Kerala, in the very south of India, is vastly different from Pune. The climate is outright tropical, it’s continously hot and humid, and everywhere you look everything is green, green, green. At some places, especially in the backwaters on the coast and the mountain region around the Munnar tea plantations, you are right in the middle of the jungle (including regularly visits from small groups of monkeys). Nevertheless, Kerala is also an incredibly diverse state, and none of the four cities we visited was like the other.
Today for part one, I will talk about our first stop at the Thrissur Pooram festival in Thrissur.
According to Wikipedia, „Thrissur Pooram (Malayalam: തൃശ്ശൂര് പൂരം) is an annual Hindu temple festival held in Kerala, India. It is held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple inThrissur every year on the Pooram (Malayalam: പൂരം, pronounced [puːɾam]) day – the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam.“
One of the main attractions of the Thrissur Pooram are the large elephant processions which take place throughout the city during the day. All in all over one hundred elephants, in smaller groups of 5-6, are led from the outskirts of the city to the main temple in the center, preceded by groups of musicians and followed by thousands of spectators. Nowhere else is it possible to see so many elephants up close, we were literally walking right next, in front and behind of them for the greater part of the day. The elephants are ornately decorated, and each is ridden by three men carrying large decorations and colorful umbrellas made out of fresh flowers. At the end, all the groups meet at the main temple, were the differently colored flower-umbrellas are exchanged between them. The atmosphere of the Thrissur Pooram is truly indescribable, and definitely made walking through the crowds in the heat and humidity of Thrissur worth it (we really were quite disgustingly sweaty by midday). Hopefully, some of my pictures will give you a better expression of this amazing day!
See you soon with part 2 of our Kerala trip, this time from Kochi! ✿✿✿