Heaven on EarthSeven day trip to Alleppy, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, KanyakumariTotal No of days - 7Dated - January 2011
Behind the wheel & ContributorVinod Kumar...know more about me
Reach Alleppy and stay in Hotel Punnamada.
Winter vacations in North India, preferably one of the best times to Visit the South, did the prebookings for Club Mahindra Poovar Island Resort, Backwater Retreat Ashtamudi in Kollam. We fly to Tvm and take the road journey to Alleppy, being our home Kerala has been the same in our memory, over the years tourism has brought about considerable developments.
The lush greens are captivating right from the moment we take a cab to the hotel. The green stretches and the breeze makes the travel easier, the roads are congested with vehicles and two wheelers and we took 10-15 mins to clear certain red lights. Road stretches were good at times and equally bad in some. Our first stay - Hotel Punnamada Resort is quiet good, built in the traditional Kerala style. Although the approach road was narrow and bumpy the resort had a good sunset view, since we knew the mosquito attacks in coastal areas, we carried repellants and creams so were saved from the invading mosquitoes in the evening walks around.
Backwater cruise in Allapuzha
The next day we take a ride in the famous backwaters of Alleppy, the kettuvalloms so called. Alleppy on the banks of the Arabian sea has an ancient old house, our driver keeps on providing information about the city in Manglish (Malayalam plus English). The cruise is so mesmerizing that I give the words a miss. As we appraoch we see the houseboats stationed in the glittering waters. The shore is dotted with lots of hotels, resorts some big some small with hoards of facilities.
We take a day tour in the houseboat, the 6 canals emerging from the Vembanadu lake is one of the main attraction in Kerala. The Alleppy boat jetty is located in the Punnamada backwater. The cruise takes you through the daily life of the people settled on the banks of the river. Women are busy with their coir, and even skip to lift their heads at us curious visitors trying to capture the moments in our cameras, women washing clothes, smoking chimneys, children going to school, churches, temples and prayers, etc. The DTPC (District Tourism Promotion Council) arranges cruises by govt and private ones also work. You can know more about the cost and route of our tour here - www.dtpcalappuzha.com/intinerary
The tiny islands also gives you views of birds, if you are a bird lover and want to click some snaps. Of course delicious sea food is a must and should not be missed. There are small shops selling spices, wooden and coir items, if you want to buy. After enjoying the boatride we return back to our hotel to move out to Ashtamudi, Backwater Retreat in Kollam.
Kollam is also a beach paradise. The Tangasherry once called Dutch Quilon is a beautiful beach 5 kms out of the city. The Portugal fort of 1516 is in very much ruins. 6 kms away from Kollam is a nice beach called Tirumullavaram. Here you can see a rock during low tide called 'Nyaracha para', where a Mahavishnu temple is said to be consecrated to Parashurama. The Ashtamudi lake was crowded with people enjoying picnics and boat rides.
We reach our hotel Club Mahindra Asthamudi, there were around 4-5 floating huts and hotel units. We prefer the hotel rooms. The Chinese fishing nets, fishing shrimps and prawns leisure walk was enjoyable in the late evening and the speed boat drive around the lake was fun. The staff were quiet cordial and the food and floating restaurant was unique and more homely for us. Be ready to adjust yourself with insects, mosquitoes, lizards etc.
Some pics of the hotel
The restaurant at night
Speed boat drive
Chinese fishing nets
House boats were avaliable here too
Poovar island, see Thiruvananthapuram city
The next day we further move on to Poovar Island Resort in Thiruvananthapuram. We reach the gates of Poovar park the car and take up their boat to the island. A beautiful island where the sea and backwaters are visible side by side is very naturally maintained and appears to be a non commercialized nature friendly stay with all facilities in an island maintained in its rawest form. We took a walk around the island in between the coconut, mango and cashew trees to experience the fresh air, chirping birds and gurgling waters. The stay was good though I was not much impressed by their food. In the eve we take a sunset cruise along the circumference of the island on a small snake boat. The journey was awesome as we pass through the narrow channels and enjoy sips of fresh tender coconut.
boating from parking to the island
The backwaters meet the sea
There are floating huts here too
The views of snake boat ride
The next day we visit the capital city of Kerala Thiruvananthapuram. Home of Lord Padmanabhaswamy (Lord Vishnu), we first visit the 2,000 year old temple. Then see the Kuthiramalika palace which is near the temple and has old musical instruments and arms and ammunition of the King of Travancore. Built in the 19th century it was commissioned by Swathi Tirunal, who is the composer of Carnatic music. The Napier museum has collection of Raja Ravi Varma paintings and Svyatoslav Roerich. The Kunnathur palace is just across and we picked up some artifacts in rosewood from here. In the evening we visit the Kovalam beach and spend the eve there. A nice neat beach with lots of fresh sea food to enjoy.
Padmanabhapuram palace and Kanyakumari
Our last leg of journey is Kanyakumari the southermost tip of Indian peninsula, the next morning as we drive through the highway and enter Tamil Nadu we take a detour to see the Padmanabhapuram palace, India's largest wooden palace which is 55 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram. The palace has excellent woodwork which depicts the old Kerala architecture in teak and granite. The King's bed on display has 64 medicinal timbers in it. Lots to walk around and see, each room has a guide stationed who explains the importance of the furniture and around. The palace is not in a well maintained condition and entry requires removing your footwear. Still its a worth watch.
We further continue to Kanyakumari and check in Hotel Sea View. We insist on a room with a view of the Vivekananda memorial and ofcourse sunrise and sunset. Happy with our accomodation we proceed to KanyaKumari Amman temple dedicated to Goddess Parvathi. We visit the triveni sangam where Arabian sea, Baby of Bengal and Indian Ocean meet. The next day we take a boat ride to Vivekananda memorial and Tiruvallur statue which are one of the twin rocks offshore. The markets are worth roaming around, and do buy something which exclusively catches your eyes. Some pics in Kanyakumari.
View from Room
Way to temple
Hire boat to Rock memorial
View from Rock memorial
This brings us to the end of the week long trip. We board our flight back the next day.