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kerala

Calicut, Kerala: Beypore and Kappad beach

Date: January 2007

This trip was when I went one weekend to attend my friend Azhad’s wedding in Kozhikode (Calicut). He lived close to Beypore beach, so the day I arrived, we drove straight to the beach.

Beypore beach Calicut Kerala India
It's not the cleanest or the softest beach
Beypore beach lone tree Kozhikode Kerala
Then again, Beypore doesn't see a whole lot of people
Beypore beach stone pier Kerala India
Beypore beach does have one distinct feature though

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Kerala 2009: A day in Cochin – Fort Kochi, Jew Town, Vypin island

We began our day in hilly Thekkady and by nightfall we were in Ernakulam city. We took a rickshaw to Fort Kochi, and once there we took a room at Sonnetta Residency.

Sonnetta Residency double room Fort Cochin Kerala
It cost over Rs. 1000 a night, but it was the nicest room we stayed in on this trip. We didn't mind 'indulging' as we were on the last leg of our journey.
Fort Kochi restaurant Kerala
When we felt like having a drink, we sat at this rather nice-looking restaurant

Fort Cochin Jew town pool hotel Kerala

Fort Cochin classic window design lights
I liked the place's interiors (but I don't remember the name of the club, sorry)
Mithun Divakaran Fort Cochin dinner Kerala
The food was alright and it wasn't too expensive
Fort Cochin restaurant dinner Kerala
We then sat at another restaurant for our main course dinner πŸ™‚

Date: September 1st, 2009Β 

The next morning, we had breakfast at the famous Kashi Art Cafe.

Kashi art cafe Fort Kochi Cochin Kerala
It was walking distance from where we were staying
Kashi Art Cafe exhibition Fort Kochi Kerala
It's got 'Art' in its name because Kashi is also a trendy art gallery
Kashi art cafe Fort Cochin Kerala India
But I was more interested in the 'Cafe' part
Kashi Art Cafe restaurant Fort Cochin Kerala
It was 8:45am

Ramesh Art Cafe Fort cochin Kerala

Mithun Divakaran Kashi Art Cafe Kerala
While we waited for our breakfast, I went through our day's plan
Kashi Art Cafe breakfast Cochin Kerala
The food was alright

After breakfast, we hired an auto to take us to Jew Town, the first sight on our to-do list.

Cochin reef Kerala
We were dropped by the port side
Cochin port Kerala panorama
That's Cochin Port, on the other side (Panorama comprised of 5 shots)
Sky reflection in puddle water Cochin Kerala
We didn't have a perfectly sunny day, but we just hoped it wouldn't rain

We first entered an old building, which I believe was Mattancherry Palace. It housed artifacts and had several murals, but there was a lot of restoration work going on while we were there. We were in and out very quickly.

Jew town road Fort Kochi Kerala
We walked to Jew Town
Handicrafts art Fort Cochin Kerala India
Plenty of handicrafts and other art for sale here
Fort Cochin Jew town old market Kerala
This area is home to the only Pepper Exchange in India
Jew Town road Cochin Kerala India
We walked towards the Paradesi Synagogue

Jew town Cochin bright yellow wall Kerala

Paradesi synagogue clock tower Jew town Cochin Kerala India
The Jewish synagogue is to the left

Unfortunately, they don’t allow photography inside theΒ Paradesi Synagogue, but from what I saw, it isn’t very big. The tale of Cochin Jews is an interesting one, dating back centuries. It was at this point, reading about how Jews ended up Kerala (and even the Syrian Christians) that I began to realize how Kerala has always had a historical connection with the Middle East.

Jewish synagogue gates to ground Kochi Kerala

Jewish clock tower Mattancherry palace cochin Kerala
We left the synagogue and walked back
Incy Bella book shop Jew town Cochin Kerala
The shops here look very old

Fort Kochi Jew town Ernakulam KeralaFort Cochin Jew Town shops Mattancherry Kerala IndiaSassoon hall Fort Cochin Kerala IndiaJew town market sign Mattancherry Kerala

Yellow green colour buildings Jew town cochin Kerala
The wall exteriors reminded me of ice cream πŸ™‚
Old houses Fort Cochin Jew town Kerala
I saw an old lady, who seemed to be just gazing outside her door at passersby
Mrs. Selam Jew town Cochin Kerala India
Mrs. Selam her name was, and she was Cochin Jew herself
Mrs. Selam Jewish Cochin Kerala India
She told us how many of the Jews went back to Israel and some even chose to move to America (unsurprisingly). The Jewish population in Fort Kochi now number less than a hundred, and the Cochin Jews could very well be an extinct ethnicity in a few years time.

I guess it was a privilege to meet someone like Mrs. Selam, one among the few remaining Jews of Kerala. (Read the story of Yaheh Hallegua, she’s apparently the last remaining Pardesi Jew of ‘child-bearing’ age)

Fishing boats Cochin Kerala
We left Jew Town and returned to the promenade
Cat eating fish under boat cochin Kerala
It was lunch time
Fish stall vendor Fort Kochi Kerala
The cool thing here is that you can buy fresh fish from the fishermen, then take it to select restaurants and ask them to prepare it as you wish

I bought a few tiger prawns and a small lobster for myself (if I remember correctly, both together cost less than Rs. 300). As they were getting grilled nearby, we went for a quick stroll along the promenade.

Boiler cylinders Fort Kochi Ernakulam Kerala
I don't know what these were

Fort Kochi tourists on tree park Kerala

Arabian sea backwaters Fort Cochin fishing nets
Despite being an island, Fort Kochi does not have a whole lot of sandy shores

Fort Cochin sea water Kerala India

Chinese fishing net fishermen Cochin Kerala India
The famous Chinese fishing nets, still being used by fishermen in Fort Cochin

We sat by the fish stalls and had our lunch.

Grilled prawn lobster Fort Cochin Kerala India
Well, I got my seafood lunch. The others waited until I finished so that they could have their vegetarian meals elsewhere.

Post lunch, we went for a stroll.

Dutch cemetery Fort Kochi Kerala India
We walked all the way to the Dutch Cemetery, which was closed
Fort Kochi beach Cochin Kerala India
Then some time on the beach nearby -- which wasn't even a good beach
Princess street Fort Cochin Kerala India
We went back to our hotel, checked out and made our way to the ferry terminal which was a few minutes walk from here
Ferry from Fort Kochi to Vypin island Kerala
We took the ferry to nearby Vypin island
Chinese fishing nets evening sky Cochin Kerala
It was 4pm and we still had some time to kill before leaving Cochin at night
Vypin island fishermen hut fishing nets Cochin
A short walk from the Vypin ferry terminal and we arrived at this stretch
Chinese fishing nets Vypin island cochin Kerala
Thought it would be a good time to record a video demonstrating how these fishing nets work

So here it is:

Vypin island promenade walk Cochin Kerala
We walked a bit further up
Vypin island beach boys running Cochin Kerala
Cherai beach was an auto ride away, but somehow we didn't feel like bothering to check it out
Inside ferry boat Cochin islands Kerala
So instead we headed back, but this time to Ernakulam

Cochin boat ferry taxi KeralaΒ Taj hotel Cochin Kerala IndiaCochin port container ship docked KeralaCochin port ships Kerala India

Cochin seaside Kerala India
Cochin has quite an amazing and varied history, it's no wonder why it remains a popular tourist stop
Cochin Marine drive ferry terminal Kerala
We reached the ferry terminal after a pleasant 20 minute ride
Marine drive sea facing apartments Cochin Kerala
We decided to check out the Marine Drive promenade
Marine drive walk Cochin Kerala
This walkway is one of the most popular hangouts for Kochi's residents and visitors alike

After sunset, we all had something to eat before parting ways. Ramesh and Anand were heading back to Bangalore, while I took a bus to head up north to my hometown in Kerala.

Onam putting flowers Kannur Kerala
It was Onam* in Kannur for me!

*Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala and one of the celebratory highlights include making pookkalam (a floral creation)

Previous posts in this series:

Kerala 2009: Thekkady, Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Kerala 2009: Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

Thekkady Periyar lake trees water Kerala India

Kerala: Thekkady, Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Date: August 31st, 2009

This is in continuation of a travel series that began in Kumarakom. To recap, we had gone to Kottayam for a friend’s wedding and after another friend, Ramesh, joined us in the afternoon, we took a bus from Kottayam’s main bus depot to reach the town of Kumily.

The nearly 3 hour long journey was quite an experience by itself. Once we passed the low lying towns, we sensed we were going uphill, but it’s not like we could see anything. It was pitch dark outside, and we could only assume the bus was taking hair-pin bends when the three of us slid from side to side on our seats. We had a blast, quite a roller coaster ride it was!

We reached Kumily town past 7pm, if I remember correctly. We didn’t have a reservation anywhere but we got a room easily for less than Rs. 1000 a night. I don’t remember the name of the hotel, sorry, it’s been nearly 3 years ago and I don’t remember where I wrote down all the details.

We had our drinks from a bar near by and then ate hot dosas and fried eggs from the street stalls that appear in the market centre at night.

The next day, we woke up early and took an autorickshaw to the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. We wanted to get there as soon as it opened at 6am as we were keen on taking the very first boat ride on Periyar Lake, for a couple of reasons. One, a lot of guides said it was the best time to see animals and the other being, the morning calm in the air. Plus, if we got the very first boat ride itself, we could have left for Ernakulum today itself.

We bouight our tickets (Rs. 150 for the upper deck) and got on our boat.

Thekkady Periyar lake National Park Kerala IndiaThekkady Periyar lake morning kerala India

Periyar lake tree branches in water Thekkady
The reason you see tree branches sticking out of the water is because Periyar Lake is an artificially created lake, flooded when they built the Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895
Thekkady Periyar lake reflection in water Kerala India
The morning calm surely made for awesome reflections in the water

Thekkady Periyar lake trees water Kerala India

Periyar lake trees branches reflection in water Thekkady Kerala
The boat ride is extremely smooth... and very relaxing

Periyar national park Thekkady hills Kerala

Thekkady Periyar lake park cloud sky Kerala
The skies looked good too

Thekkady lake Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala India

Periyar lake ripples water Thekkady Kerala India
We may have woken up real early for this, but the morning ride was well worth it
Periyar lake morning calm Thekkady Kerala
You could make up for lost sleep here if you wanted to. It's a perfectly quiet environment.
Private island resort Thekkady Periyar National park
This island looked like it belong to a private hotel or resort

Birds on tree trunk Thekkady lake Periyar sanctuary KeralaPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Idukki districtΒ Periyar lake tree reflection wildlife park Kerala India

Periyar wildlife sanctuary trees lake Kerala India
Drifting peacefully on this lake, I did wonder what this forest must have looked like before it was flooded
Cow buffalo grazing grass periyar wildlife sanctuary
This being a wildlife sanctuary, there are supposed to be animals, even tigers. But all we saw were water buffaloes.
Water buffaloes Thekkady Periyar sanctuary Kerala India
Oh well, something better than nothing

Boat ripples in water Periyar lake KeralaLake shore Periyar wildlife sanctuary Kerala IndiaPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Kumli Kerala

Thekkady boat ride Periyar lake Kerala India
Our boat was full of tourists from all over India and abroad

Morning sky Thekkady Periyar lake Kerala cloudsPeriyar lake wildlife sanctuary clouds Thekkady Kerala

Water birds flying Periyar lake Thekkady Kerala
Saw a lot of these birds
Bird swimming in water Thekkady Periyar lake Kerala
Ducks?
Large bird on tree Periyar lake wildlife sanctuary Kerala
We saw a large variety of birds. Too bad I didn't have a super-zoom lens back then.

Dead trees Periyar lake Thekkady Kumli Kerala

Elephants on hills Periyar Nature park Kerala
An hour into our journey , we spot a few elephants grazing high up on the hills
Small birds on trees Periyar lake Kerala
But the rest of the time it was bird watching

Birds on tree Thekkady Periyar wildlife sanctuary India

Here’s a video I took:

Thekkady lake Periyar National park Kumli Kerala India
After a pleasant journey, we returned back to the banks from where we began our ride

What was a pleasant journey for us ended up being a nightmare for other tourists a few weeks later. On September 30th, one of the tour boats operated by KTDC capsized and over 40 tourists died. It was a grim day for Thekkady’s tourism and one that woke up officials to address passenger safety. It wasn’t even until this incident that the boat operators insisted on life jackets for all passengers. Appalling, when you think about how they wait until some lives were lost to understand the value of certain basics.

Periyar wildlife sanctuary auto ride Kerala
We took an auto rickshaw back to our hotel
Corner road Periyar wildlife sanctuary Thekkady Kumli Kerala
The wildlife sanctuary is pretty big and you even have a tiger reserve nearby
Periyar wildlife sanctuary elephant park Thekkady Kerala
You have elephants rides here too
Elephant scrubbing against tree Thekkady Kerala India
This being Kerala, you're bound to see a lot of them

We checked out of our hotel, had lunch and got a KSRTC bus going to Ernakulam, Cochin from the town bus station.

KSRTC bus ride to Ernakulam from Kumli Kerala India
This would be a good opportunity to see the sights we missed last night
Idukki hills Kumli Kerala India
Man, did we miss some sights alright!

Idukki farming Kumli KeralaIdukki plantations Kerala India

Idukki hills through bus door Kerala
I took all these photos from inside the bus while it drove back down the narrow hill road

Clouds tower Idukki hills Kerala

Idukki hills farming Kerala India
Needless to say, the journey was beautiful

Idukki hill plantations Kerala western ghats IndiaIdukki green hills Kerala India

Idukki hill Western ghats cloudy sky Kerala India
The Western Ghats of India are really beautiful
Idukki hills waterfalls Kerala
There were quite a few small waterfalls I spotted
Idukki waterfalls Kerala
The bus even rode past a few
Idukki Kerala misty hills Western ghats India
It's no wonder Idukki district is such a popular tourist destination

Idukki hills western ghats Kerala India

Rubber plantations Idukki Kerala
We passed a lot of rubber plantations on the way

We reached Ernakulam (Cochin’s main city) just past sunset. After a tea break, we took an autorickshaw to Fort Kochi, where we would be staying the next two days. (Photos from Fort Kochi in the next post)

Previous post in this series:

Kerala 2009: Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

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