Family Trip To Kerala – God’s Own Country
It’s been one, and a half year now we traveled to Kerala. I always wanted to visit Kerala once in a lifetime because I read a lot about it and I wanted to see why its called God’s Own Country. So, I got a chance to visit Kerala to attend a Malayalam style wedding in November 2016; I booked train tickets for five of us, it was a holiday season trains were full, and I tried my best to confirm our seats, but until last time it didn’t happen. Fortunately when we supposed to start our journey and we were so worried about how are we going to make this long journey but thankfully on time we got train tickets from an unknown source he had extra tickets. I had to pay double, but it was worth it.
Thrissur – Cultural Capital of Kerala
It really is, you will find many spiritual, cultural, and religious leanings everywhere. We spent two days in Thrissur, we attended a beautiful traditional Malayalam wedding. It was a great experience. First time I drank Pathimugam in the marriage, it’s lukewarm drinking water, somewhat pink in color, used widely in the state of Kerala, also, served in many restaurants just before eating. It is made with a hard part of the wood of a sappan wood or East Indian redwood. Pathimugam is extensively used since ancient times and is an excellent herbal remedy.
The temple is one of the most divine and essential pilgrim towns in India. This temple-town is especially famous for its massive Sree Krishna Temple, considered to one of the 108 most sacred Vishnu temples of the world. Guruvayoor town is located in Thrissur district, around 82 km from Kochi City. The temple is believed as Bhoolok-Vaikuntha. Guruvayoor Temple is India’s 3rd biggest temple, attracts more than 7 millions devotees yearly.
Story of Guruvayoor
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna used to worship an idol of Lord Vishnu at his mansion in renowned Dwarka land, which was first adored by his parents. Yet, Krishna knew that, soon after he leaves to his Vaikunta Dhama, his castle island would dip into the ocean. He notified the Deva Guru Brihaspati and Vayu Deva to take his beloved idol, once Dwarka gets sunk and set it in some other place, where devotees can pray. Hence, Guru Brihaspati and Vayu deva took away the statue, when Dwarka island was falling. They started hunting a site to the idol, soon they found a sacred place where they wanted to place the icon. But, a Shiva temple was in that area, making it hard to set the god nearby. Soon after Guru’s request, Lord Shiva arrived and allowed to migrate his temple from the divine place, to install the sacred icon. As Gurudev and Vayudev placed the idol and built a temple in its fame, the area came to recognized as Guruvayoor, and the god came to be known as Guruvayoorappan. A great Shiva temple subsists at Mammiyur, within a kilometer from the principal temple, where the original Shiva temple relocated.
Some Strict Traditions and Customs
1. Non-Hindus not allowed.
2. Dress code – Men have to remain topless while inside the holy area. They have to wear Kerala Mundu strictly and are free to wear a shawl to wrap the upper-body. Women should wear sarees, churidars, and kurtas. However sleeveless or short tops are not allowed inside.
3. Closes from 1 to 4PM and from 9 PM to 3 AM, where no darshan is allowed. In addition to this, settles for a few breaks for different routines like 9-10AM and 12-1PM.
Morning 8:30am, Hotel Bharath
The first halt was famous breakfast place of Thrissur that is Bharath Hotel is the complete vegetarian restaurant, which tops in offering breakfast you can imagine. Bharath restaurant is located on Chembottil lane, near Thrissur Round. Visit this place during their morning breakfast and afternoon meals hours. They offer South Indian specialties such as Puri bhaji, Dosa, Uzhunnu Vada, Ela Ada are some of the must-try meals from this place. Open from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm.
Later, we headed to the KSRTC Bus stand to go to the Athirapally Falls so, from there we went to Chalakudy bus stand. It was a 1-hour journey, as we were going to the next station we noticed one of the oldest localities of the State of Kerala, and I fell in love with that place, so we observed the diversity of India and why our country is called as Incredible India. It’s like everything I saw the first time, and it was brand-new for me. Chalakudy is a town settled on the cliffs of Chalakudy River in Thrissur District of Kerala. It is the base camp for explorers to Athirappilly and Vazhachal Falls.
From Chalakkudy you get another bus to Aathirappally, should be approx 35 minutes journey. Its one of the beautiful route in Kerala. 25 Kms across the amidst thick forests, across many waterfalls, valleys, and lofty peaks. Loved it a lot. The roadsides rode from the private, lonely streets and houses, shops of Chalakudy Town and Plantations on each side. The drive with sheer ups and downs was very thin, just suitable for a bus to run.
The Chalakudy River was flowing along our right side with mighty waterfalls passing from the huge rocks through a deep valley cut through the rock. The Athirapally Waterfalls is the largest waterfalls in the State of Kerala and so a hot spot for many travelers and movie shootings. There were many tea shops and food stalls all along the roadside and near the entrance to the waterfalls. The entry fees of the falls are Rs. 15.0 per person for adults,. The entrance is huge and artistic and the walkway to the falls of 15-20 minutes is breathtaking, you will find many monkeys. The forest is remarkably green and stunning, we walked the forest trail to the falls, and it was just incredible, liked the way how they preserved it. We spent some quality nearby falls, clicked a few pics and came back.
By 4o’clock we came back to the Chalakudy stand. Our next destination was Munnar. Munnar is 121 km from Chalakudy by Road. No direct trains or buses are available from Chalakudy to Munnar. So, we went to Aluva. It’s 1-hour journey from Chalakudy. From Aluva, we took a bus to Munnar 7pm. Yes, it was a long day and all day we traveled and continued the pleasant local traveling experience. From Aluva to Munnar was a 4-hour journey. First two an half hour was through towns and later started the most fantastic adventure of my life, many many hairpin bends and zig-zag turns, as we move close to Munnar, it started becoming extremely cold, and it was unexpected at that level.
Day 03 was almost over as we reached Munnar by 11pm safely. From Munnar, we again came back on the same road because our homestay was 10km before Munnar station at Pallivasal, Naturedale, plantation Villa
Munnar Hills – A famous hill station of Kerala.
The next morning, We woke up to a coldest and foggy morning, the first scene from our gallery was tea plantations, the outstanding pipeline view, and clouded hills, it was freezing in the sheer cold. The homestay is situated in a peaceful area with great view. And I realized all the efforts from Chalakudy to the hill station was worth. Munnar was running on zero degrees. It was completely opposite experience from other places of Kerala we visited earlier. I learned that the chill in the hill station Munnar commences from the first week of November and we were there in the second week of November so, we did feel it 🙂
Breakfast – we had breakfast at our homestay which was appam, chutney, and chai was delicious. It was the first time I tasted appam. Post breakfast we got ready for sightseeing.
Munnar Hill Station Sightseeing
Munnar is also one of the favorite honeymooner’s spots offering luxury honeymoon suites facing clouded hills and tea gardens. There are many attractions nearby Munnar those can be covered in a couple of days. We covered following destinations in a day.
- Flower Garden – A stunningly beautiful flower garden maintained by horticulture department. Offer several, and they kept it very invitingly.
- Tea Garden (Photo Point) – Another excellent photo spot in Munnar is Tea plantation garden.
- Mattupetty Dam, Munnar
The reservoir is 13 km away from Munnar, Mattupetty Dam occupies at the height of 1700m above sea level. It’s an excellent dam which also offers boating which is the greatest attraction among kids and tourists, boating surrounded by hills, tea plantations, and a fantastic climate.
- Elephant arrival spot: eye-pleasing scenery you’ll notice here. A herd of elephants you will spot lying on the ground, playing with young elephants.
- Film Shooting Point: Beautiful photo point again.
- Shopping point – they offer yummy chocolates, tea, spices and many more items.
- Other Attractions nearby Munnar but we missed it
*Tribal Village view: just for namesake.
*Kundala Lake Munnar
*Green Valley View
*Echo Point Munnar
*Sandalwood & Bamboo Forest, Marayoor
*Thoovanam waterfalls view
*Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
Lunch – Saravana Bhavan – I must say this, do not miss this place when you are in Munnar. Delicious vegetarian food at a very good price. Anyone wanting to have authentic south Indian food can go. Hygienic, tasty and budget-friendly.
After a day arranged for a tour, we returned to the homestay at 8 pm. After having dinner, we came back to our rooms and relaxed for the night.
Demonetisation day, yes I will never forget this terribly fearful day. Everyone can imagine what must be happened next 😛 confusions…
So, we started our journey towards Alleppey. We changed 02 buses we didn’t get a direct bus to Alleppey. Again, It rambled ahead on those steep, narrow roads covered with dense fog and yes! Hairpin bends. We reached Alleppey by 1pm. It was a 4-5 hours journey.
Lunch – Thaff Delicacy Restaurant
We referred Tripadvisor for this place. It’s just 5 mins away from KSRTC. It’s a wonderful place to try authentic South Indian seafood. We tried some local cuisine, fish in banana leaf was simply delicious at a reasonable rate.
Alleppey Backwater Houseboat Tour
We didn’t book the houseboat online we had decided to book it on time. Hence, the auto we took at the stand we asked him to take us to the center where we can book the boat. As expected every other Auto guy in Alleppey is an expert of organizing the customize backwaters tour as per your convenience. Our decision to book on time was absolutely right because when I was trying to book earlier 2 bedroom houseboat online, it was not below 12000/- When we tried booking through our auto driver he gave us best deal in 8000/- and one more thing we reached late so maybe that was the reason for the discount. We stayed on a houseboat for 1 night, and it was the most astonishing experience. We got a 2 bedroom boat which had a captain and a chef onboard.
We were welcomed with a delicious coffee/tea and onion pakodas by the boat operators. We navigated around the waterways of Kerala backwaters during the afternoon. I saw locals and children coming from work and school respectively on a boat as there was no other mode of transport.
Evening – Great photo points. The evening was totally enjoyable, relaxing with music system, similarly many houseboats with tourists were there, and the boat trip around the waters is resting, and there are some great photo shots. The boat driver took us to local seafood vendors. As its tourists’ destination, the coconut and crabs they were selling was expensive.
Dinner – Flavorful and delicious both veg and non-veg. The food was some of the best food we ate in Kerala, and the houseboat trip was worth every penny.
The next morning, We woke up to an incredible sunrise and post breakfast was again well-prepared and heavenly. Our boat headed to the dropping point. And we checked out of the houseboat.
The same auto we hired for roaming in Alleppey on the 6th day. So, as discussed he came to the dropping point to pick us took us to the main beach.
Alappuzha beach is endless, lovely white sandy beach, stayed on the beach for a while cause sun was high. It was enjoyable we noticed local fishermen, and they were fishing on shore.
Marari Beach (Mararikulam)
Calm and peaceful sandy beach. It was not crowded at all. Most importantly it was clean and neat. Sunset view was stunning. This is the first time in the whole trip we 5 enjoyed beach and sometimes played in the water. There is a mix of local and foreign travelers and also if you are lucky enough you’ll watch fishermen catching fishes in small boats.
Dinner – Chakara Restaurant Alappuzha Beach
Family candlelight dinner, quality food with a beautiful setting. From the backside of this restaurant, you can see beautiful Alappuzha lighthouse. As for the food itself fish curry, chicken, and rice, it was of exceptional quality, spicy enough and satisfying. All in all a delightful experience, even though it comes with a higher price card than other restaurants.
The following night we collected our lovely memories of Kerala family trip. We arrived on the last morning of our trip. A morning checkout followed to the Alleppey Railway Station for Thrissur train. The station was clean and ordered. Just loved it. Alleppey to Thrissur was a 3 hrs distance, beautiful morning journey with local people going to their offices and students going to colleges. Very decent people I must say.
By afternoon we caught the train for a long 2 days journey to go back to our home. After all these 6 days trip to Kerala, I realized why Kerala is known as a “God’s Own Country.”