A ROAD TRIP IN KERALA
God's own country blesses you with History, Religious Places, Beaches, Hills, Tea Gardens, Canals, Boats and Canoes, Trees, Coconuts and much more - What better way to explore than a Road Trip
Much has been said about Kerala and rightly so. Having stayed and visited many parts of India, I can also vouch for the fact that it indeed is God's own country. God is often considered as Nature and that can be seen widely across this beautiful state. But this isn't the only reason for its beauty. Having travelled on road for 10 days made me realise that the exclusive title that it owns is also owed to the different sects of people who reside here. Just as God is the same for all and this is the place where once can find God's different creatures co-existing peacefully- Hindus, Muslims, Christians in large, makes Kerala a beautiful place. Also, the age old traditions of Ayurveda, historical monuments, statues based on Indian epics, beauty of backwaters and how an entire economy is dependent on it are some other things that make it a must place to visit. This is how my 10 day road trip looked like:
Day 1 - Reach -Trivandram
A 3 hour flight from Delhi landed me to the International Terminal of Trivandrum Airport. Covid times meant lesser passengers and an empty airport which thus seemed a little bigger than usual. In some time I collected my luggage and was out waiting for the Uber to come. The sightings of the coconut trees reminded me of Goa, as it was a ritual for me and my friends to meet up in Goa once a year. In about 40 minutes I reached my hotel, which laughingly was just opposite to the Domestic Terminal! I later cursed my flight! However, on the way to the hotel I saw the sea and the main road like a railway track. The beautiful sight increased my excitement for the upcoming coastal road trip. If the city, which is usually not so clean, can give this sight, what beholds should be fantastic!
Day 2 - Trivandrum and Varkala
I was waiting for the arrival of my friends and the thrill just started! Interestingly, they landed on the Domestic terminal and you can see the distance between my Oyo and the Terminal in the above pic! Anyway, we freshened up and our car, Swift, was just delivered to us. This was our companion and God for the next 10 days. The car rental service was provided by Indus Motors which I would strongly recommend owing to the condition of the car.
The trip began by visiting the most popular and wealthiest temple on Earth - Sree Padmanabhswamy Temple. As a tradition, one can only enter my wearing a Mund and Kurta or bare bodied inside the temple. Mobiles or Cameras are not allowed and can be deposited in the lockers before entering the temple. Of course, we had our Munds but you can also get one just outside the temple, at a very cheap price of Rs. 50.
The temple has got a rich history and you can read more about it here
Having taken the blessings of Sree Padamanabhswamy, we had a quick bite near the temple and moved on to our next destination - Azhimala Shiva Temple at the Azhimala beach. This was some thing which we found on Instagram Reels! The habit of swiping up added an amazing place in the itinerary.
An hour's drive from the temple, Azhimala is on the outskirts of Trivandrum with a beautiful Shiva statue and a temple. I must mention about the roads to this beach - Literally a Roller Coaster ride. I had never seen such roads anywhere in my life!
Check out more photos of Azhimala on my Instagram page -
This beautifully carved Shiva statue and the aura of the beach is enough for energy revival. However, the steep walk up to the parking did take some toll! We next headed to our destination - The Napier Museum.
The museum dates back to 1855 and displays Kerala's culture. It is a mix of Indian, Chinese, Kerala and Mughal styles and houses rare collections of ornaments, sculptures, idols, carvings. Slide across for a sneak peak!
As we had initially planned to reach Kollam via Varkala, we headed towards Varkala beach which was on the way. This was the first stretch of a proper coastal route with sea and road running parallel. In a short span of time we were out of the city and on the beautiful highways. However, there was a slight change in plan as I wanted to see Thumba, a small town outside Trivandrum which is very popular with space. Thanks to the Podcast that I have been listening, I wanted to see this place since this is where ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) had started. I also happened to see on Google that it has a Space Museum dedicated to the history of ISRO.
A very short detour took us to Thumba. But to our surprise, it was a protected area and had a residential space for ISRO officers. Sadly there wasn't any operational Space Museum and we had to drop the idea. But nevertheless, it does gave me goosebumps as India's pride started from here.
An hour's beautiful drive took us to Varkala. Varkala is known for the Cliff beach. The aura was so beautiful that it did not take a minute for us to change our plan. We dropped the idea of Kollam and instead looked for an accommodation in this beautiful place.
Having seen many beaches in India and abroad, I would say this will come in my top 5 list. It was clean, lively and soothing. It had couple of shacks at the top of cliff and many cottages. The effect of the pandemic had turned less crowd which made it even more pristine.
The reason to drop the Kollam plan and stay at Varkala was not just the beach and the cliff but also the view from the hotel. The sea is beyond the cars but the breeze is everywhere!
Day 3 - Jatayu Sculpture & Munroe Island
A fresh seaside morning, coffee and an amazing Omelette - What a day to start with! Today's day was dedicated to one of the most popular sculptures in the world and visited by many - The Jatayu Bird Sculpture. This is the world's largest bird sculpture and based on the Indian Epic of Ramayana.
With an awesome experience of this magnificent sculpture, we now headed to our earlier decided destination of Kollam, and more importantly - The Kollam Light House.
The Light House was built by the British in 1902 which now serves as a beautiful tourist spot. It even has an elevator to reach to the top, but covid killed that. The surrounding area still has the Anglo-Indian culture.
Due to the closure of the lighthouse and inability to find any particular place in Kollam, our random search started again. This time it rewarded us with something that we had missed during our initial planning - The Munroe Islands. As the name suggests, there was no direct road connectivity which we could see and thus our car had to be taken over the waters! That was the fun!
Munroe Islands are a group of islands in the Kollam district of Kerala that also have backwaters. Some part of it can also be attributed to Venice owing to its beautiful canals. These are essentially low lying areas that now face a threat of extinction, especially after the Tsunami. But still it gives some amazing views and traveller experiences.
Day 4 - Houseboat stay in Aleppy
After taking one more boat ride in the morning at Munroe, we continued our journey to Aleppy or Alaphuzza in the local language. Perhaps the most popular destination in Kerala, an experience at the houseboat is something that cannot be missed at all. Coconut Trees, backwaters, small and big boats, farmlands - Ah! If the words sound so refreshing, think about being there in real.
Drive from Munroe Island to Aleppy is about 2.5 hours. It is a scenic route with trees and of course the coastal part. An entry to Aleppy is flocked by house boat operators waiting to offer you best discounts. Having booked beforehand, we straightaway reached to ours and parked the car. The next 20 hours is in the middle of the backwaters and trees!
The boats are of various sizes meant for individuals, couples and families. It has 2 people to manage the boat and the food. It is almost a home on waters.
The experience of buying coconuts and ice creams from a small boat was extraordinary! Check out how we bought it!
Day 5 - Kochi & Munnar
A refreshing experience at the boat and we were all charged up for our next destination in Kerala! As we were more inclined to seeing more of nature than cities, we decided to head to Munnar enroute the church where Vasco Da Gama was buried. Aleppy to Kochi was nothing less than Europe when it came to religious sightings. There were grand and beautiful churches at every step, a sight to behold! An advantage of road trip is that one can stop anywhere! We saw one such church which practically told us the entire story of Jesus in its beautiful statue carvings. Slide across the gallery below.
On reaching Kochi and its ports, it was wonderful to revisit our history lessons as to how the trade started from this part of the country. It was thrilling to see the Chinese fishing boats still in use and then the old Church where Vasco Da Gama once had his remains.
Since we were already in Kochi, how could we miss the famous Sadiya Thali for lunch. Served on a banana leaf with many vegetables and rice, it was Bon Appetit! After having this hearty lunch at the Sarovaram, it was time for Munnar!