My Kerala Diaries - A Beginner's Travel Guide
Is there anyone among my readers who do not wish to be on the wheels at least once a month? My craving for travel is much deeper. If my mom and my studies allow me, you may not find me in one place for more than 24 hours; sometimes, even in less than that.
Alas….living each moment as planned is not possible, and therefore, when something turns out to be a dream come true in the same fashion as you wished for, the joy of such secret deal with the self is inexplicable. This October brought similar kind of buoyant air carrying the spice of euphoria and elation in the moment, I was waiting for with desperation.
Blooming coastlines, leisurely backwaters, and much beyond the mainland, where the spices and sweetness both comes together to smell you a coffee that is way beyond intoxicating than drinking the real one. Indeed, I am talking about God’s own country.
Almost none, including me, was aware of my plans to Kerala (Including me, because I was not sure). First and the foremost hurdle was traveling from Delhi to Trivandrum and beyond being a solo girl traveler. The next one was to plan my whole trip that should be truly budget-friendly, which was no less than a challenge. Third and most important is deciding on which place to visit in 4 days.
The secret was a friend of mine from Mumbai - basically from Munnar - was getting married. However, I was least interested in the marriage but in the opportunity to take my first glimpse of Jewel of South India. Be it crowded streets of Kochi or backwaters of Kovalam, I wanted to embrace Kerala as much as I can in this 4 (3.5 to be precise) days.
During my flight, I read in the magazine that Kerala is basically a honeymoon destination, however, before I build an opinion, it was proven wrong as Kerala isn't for the newly wedded couples only. Kerala has been the most sought-after destination for the families, the backpackers, solo travelers as well as couples. My craving to crush the land of Kerala was surmounting as soon as I reached the Trivandrum International Airport.
The Thiruvananthapuram airport reflects the mood and the nature of the city. Despite managing heavy traffic from the middle-east countries, the airport is compact and yet functional. From the window of my cab, even the city looked the same; knit and well-organized. However, the traffic situation is no different than any other part of India.
Usually, Trivandrum is used as a launchpad by the most of travelers towards Kovalam and other cities for their pristine beaches, luxury or medial resorts, and abundance of nature. I had no different plans but I'm to stay at least for four hours in the city before I start my journey towards Kollam. I decided to spend a few more bucks on my cab driver and asked him to go round to the places that should be visited next time at leisure. In strict two hour ride, I covered many architectures that belong to British era and also touched the doorsteps of a few art galleries. I made a promise to myself to visit the Puthenmalika and Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in detail next time (Not really sure when).
Do I look like an exhausted being?”, I asked myself in the mirror of my cab. The answer was an emphatic NO. In fact, I was looking forward to the 65 km drive from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam. The key is to skip the highway if you wish to see the real beauty. I requested my cab driver to skip NH47 and find me some internal roads close to the coast. He literally obliged. Expecting almost no traffic, my journey to Kollam was full of mesmerizing beaches, lush green scenery, and tranquil backwaters. It's impossible to list out the places I get to see during this 3 hours journey (actually one and half hours), yet let me try. Kollam Harbor and Kollam beach are obvious as I reached the city. In between, I remained stunned seeing Anjengo fort, Muthalapozhi backwaters, Anathalavattom Beach, Veli Beach (from the bridge, of course).
I know, you must be thinking about the wedding of my friend, but who had time thinking about that while being in the palm of the nature having the most comfortable trip (There was no iota of fear, mind you). Let's talk about this one of the oldest Arabian seaports in India. Kollam is the southern start point of Kerala backwaters that goes north up to Alleppey. Those have studied history, must have heard “Kollam”. The port, once, was the main trade center for spices and cashew. If you love to jostle in the traffic, reach the marketplace in the center of the city. I spent around 45 minutes at Ashtamudi Lake. Silent waterways, series of coconut trees, and plants of cashew - all seems made for satisfaction only.
Places to visit in Kollam that kept me busy the whole day. Thevally Palace, Tangasseri lighthouse, Palaruvi falls are among my favorites. For solo backpackers, hotels aren't expensive in Kollam. I got one booked for myself in around 800 bucks with breakfast of course. You know the most beautiful thing about Kerala? The weather, unlike the extremities of the north, everything here is so balanced and so consistent; including life and it purposes. I would like to have a tip here for you. Always go to bed early when you are traveling. It will exhaust you less the next day.
The morning in Kollam was beautiful. Flowers and trees surrounding hotel were having early morning birds chirping all around. Honestly, you don't need an alarm clock here. I quickly finished my breakfast and called my cab driver. He was all ready for the journey ahead from Kollam to Alappuzha. Almost 100 km journey going to take around 3 and half hours skipping all the main routes and going by the countryside roads.
The biggest regret, if I want to count, I couldn't cruise the backwaters of Kerala enough except boat riding. Kollam to Alappuzha is about 80km through the backwater cruising, which takes around 6 to 7 hours journey at the expense of Rs 600(Not at all costly) Instead, due to time constraints, I had to choose a car. The road is no different than that of Trivandrum to Kollam. The same backwater channels; looking even more gorgeous through the thick layers of trees, green fields, and plantations. The only thing that changes is the places to visit. I did not miss Vembanad, Marari beach, Krishnapuram Palace, and few other places before extending my journey to Kochi the same day. (You forgot my friend’s wedding? I did not)
The distance between Alappuzha and Kochi isn't much, just about 50 km. Instead of spending a day in Alappuzha, I straightaway went to Kochi, where my friend was waiting for me. The reason being I was so allured to spending a day and a night with my friend in a houseboat that I did not worry about me being exhausted after two days of continuous journey and a little rest.
The day in Kochi was spent in the wedding and being my friend’s side throughout the day. I hit the sack early as was completely tired and out and had a flight next morning back to Delhi via Mumbai, another 7 hours journey. What I carry with me through the trip is a growing dissatisfaction with not being able to spend more days in Kerala. I always knew four days aren't enough, but since I did not want to miss even this little opportunity, I jumped on it. But hey guys, I have a promise for myself to spend at least a fortnight in Kerala with family within a year. So, wait for my next blog on Kerala, in much detail, in about a year time. That's my promise to you.
Below I have given a bit of idea for the beginners if you wish to travel Kerala without fears and without dears.
Beginner’s Guide To Kerala:
Travel stories of fellow bloggers and twitter have been my “travel guides”. Before I could take that step to tell my parents about any trips plan that I am craving for (Of course, not the first step out of the house, I need their permission first!), I go through a great research of the place and plan a rough itinerary.
During my Kerala visit, I kept a line with a few must-haves as well as the basic knowledge of the city that will help the beginners when they plan to travel Kerala, sure it did wonders for me!
The Perfect time To Travel Kerala: The period between October and February are considered remarkably the best time to visit the city. The temperature during this period is 17 to 30-degree Celsius. However, if you think the rest of the year you won’t witness tourists, fire you facts checker, NOW!
Accommodation: I had visited Kerala earlier with parents a decade ago. Therefore, was not much aware of the hotels and accommodations. During this visit, I observed a number of Luxury hotels, since Kerala is one of the best Honeymoon travel destinations and as well as Budget Friendly hotels, for the travel lovers, like ME!
- Since the temperature of Kerala is moderate, even though I traveled during the month of October, I did not required to carry heavy woolens, except one or two while I was traveling. So, carry light clothes. Do not make your backpack unnecessarily heavy
- Sunblock is a necessity!
- Remember when you are traveling comfortable shoes are your survival kit. Since you will have to walk around the city- be it for the sightseeing or searching for your next “thing-to-do” activity
- Carry flip flops for the beaches as your shoes won’t do any justice while you are beach walking
How To Travel Around the City:
- Cab: Booking a cab might take your budget a slight higher, however for a solo girl traveler it is quite safe and much secured.
- Bus: For a budget traveler, buses are the perfect ride. The cities have well-connected bus networks and you can use them for your city tour as well. You also meet locals and they are very helpful and get to know various things about the city and what all you can do in the city
- Auto Rickshaw: I personally do not prefer Auto Rickshaws too much. Since the language becomes a bar and they might drop you somewhere else!
- Ferry or Boat: The exceptional ride that you can choose on your travel. You get an experience different from any other ride in the city
This was my Kerala Trip, I would love to know yours! Do share with me your experiences and also if you think anymore that you think should be added to the Beginner's guide.