Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

When I look back now, I’ll surely say that my stay at a hotel near Princess Street in Fort Cochin, Kerala was priceless! I had heard about the place! For the fact that majority of buildings at Old Fort Cochin are more than 100 years old! I said, “what, so old, wow?” And I saw them when I was in Kerala in September 2011 for a round trip from Ernakulam-Fort Cochin to Munnar. It is a different place to be! Different in the sense, it’s not only beautiful and clean but also well maintained with 100 years old traditions and lifestyle that is still followed.

With winters being the best season, you will always see more foreigners coming-in from all parts of Australia, UK, England, Portugal, Spain, Britain and other countries. No doubt, Fort Cochin is one of the best places to be for nature lovers and for ‘just married’ couples! No need to mention for what! They just love it here!

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‘Princess Street’ is considered to be the luxurious and costliest, posh and best areas of Fort Cochin with all kinds of comfort amenities around. Located in the middle of Arabian Sea, Vypin Island, Mundamveli and Vembanad Lake, this place, Fort Cochin is a delight to be at!

The best thing that I recall from the area is its architectures, and buildings that you get to see around Princess Street. It’s a small area, but a clean and artistic place to be at! Hostelling and restaurants, shops and sea food being the best businesses around, you will see more foreign residents. Fishes of all kinds are sold here with Chinese Fishing Nets being the major attraction! Either you can purchase raw fish from the markets and let the hotels grill them for you or you can order a recipe from them. The choice is yours!

A funny thing about this place as I giggled about was the shopkeepers. They will entertain foreigners to sell out the arts from their shops. But for the local visitors they will clear out the price of any product at first, all products being highly priced! People here as I found are very open to talk to anyone! Especially the foreigners, they will smile at you and talk to you. You don’t need to know them in order to talk to them! Many foreigners, as I heard from the shopkeepers, are well settled in Fort Cochin and do visit again and again. Christmas in Fort Cochin is the biggest celebrated event. Yes it’s an event where foreigners and people from nearby areas come together in 100’s and celebrate the week. Celebrations of ‘Red Fat Santa’ at the ‘Christmas’ goes along till the ‘New year’.

The Princess Street lightens up with Santa and New Year in winters!

One of the best parts of being here at Fort Cochin is to take a boat trip. A package of 1 day boat trip at the back waters of Lake Vembanad gives you a glimpse of village activities and their art work, the rivers, canals, prawn cultivation and other sporting attractions. It is nature at its best when you sail along in the waters in your private boat! The journey towards nature through back waters in the house boats is priceless! And truly, boats are the best means of transport here in Fort Cochin to be in the nature, with the nature, as we were!

Fort Cochin in Kerala is surely a must visit place at least once in a lifetime. And ‘Princess Street’ is The Happening part of it!!

I had been to the ‘Gods Own Country’ in the month of Sept 2011, and got the feeling of relocating there forever! Oh So Fresh This Place Is! It’s a 5-6 hour journey from Fort Cochin to Munnar by bus.

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Munnar is a place popular for its Mother Nature! Your eyes will go green when you look at its wide spread tea gardens on the mountains. This is what happened to me as well, when I was in Munnar, Kerala, for a road trip on the mountains with my family members. Where all peaks and mountains in Jammu & Kashmir are covered with white snow, here in Munnar the mountains remain green throughout the year, covered with leaves.  Thanks to the Tea Farms with which you get to see all shades of green colour, all naturally fresh! The mountains simply brighten up really greenly fresh! WOW!

When I go back and take out the pictures captured from my Canon in my Munnar trip, it makes me feel fresh just by looking at them. The nature around, mountains, forests, winds, clouds, and naturally formed waterfalls, make it a must visit place! Imagine how beautiful it could be when you are actually standing right in between them! The plantation of these Tea Gardens and establishment of the Tea Factories has a long back history. Today TATA owns these Tea Gardens, Hats Off to the cleanliness they have maintained! There are workers appointed to manage the tea plants, cut the new leaves, keep them in shape, and do whatever it takes to grow them. Every rock on the mountain is covered with shades of green clothes in the form of tea plants.

What I feel is, you won’t find so many shades of green even in the pack of water colours, as what you will see here at the Tea Gardens on the mountains of Munnar in Kerala. Every tea shrub is evenly cut with alleyway to walk in between. It’s a delight to watch! A fresh delight for your eyes, yes it is! With the tinge of tea entering in to my nose and with fresh green leaves all around me, I felt like “could someone taste me a cup of tea quickly”. The weather was cold enough to have such a hot drink from those freshly cut leaves. Ofcourse tea from the dried leaves! LoL

The roads around these Munnar mountains are awesomely clean with not a single piece of paper fallen around. The roads appear like being cut between the tea plantations on mountains to make way for the cars. As you drive ahead on the mountains, the air gets chilly! When I recall my trip I remember it was drizzling from the clouds, this was the best part of it! The roads went wet, tea leaves were looking fresher and it was fun to stroll around in the mountains between the green covers. Nature at its best!

To add to the natures delight, you have the wild life! What lie beneath the other side of these mountains is deep forests with taller trees.  A river runs in between these tea mountains and the thick forests. They say there are around 80-90 wild elephants living in groups in these forests. Our tour guide made our hearts beat harder as he told us a story about how a group of wild elephants crossed the river, climbed the mountains and damaged a few cars and few lives, few months before! Tell you what; we got lucky to see 7-8 elephants! We could hear them aloud, even from a far distance where we were. It was overwhelming!

All in all it’s a ride of a lifetime! Being here at Munnar, Kerala was a dream come true for us!

I still get the jingle when I recall the trip in wild and green mountains in Munnar!

34 Hours Journey From Pune To Ernakulam, Kerala!

I had been to this place, Kerala ‘God’s Own Country’! When I look back at my trip, I truly feel to visit the place again! I was on my way to Kerala to be a part of ‘Manorama’, one of the biggest and most participated exhibitions, in Ernakulam city. And when I came to know about ‘Onam’ being just around the corner during my visit, it was like an icing on cake for me! I got a chance to capture a few glimpse of ‘Onam’, one of the biggest celebrated festivals in this city of Kerala.

The celebrations of ‘Onam’ in Kerala are pretty similar to what it is for ‘Diwali’ in Maharashtra.

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People dance, eat, chill out and be a part of onam festivity. And what’s so special about this festival is the articulated flower carpets, banquet lunch on banana leaves, snake boat races, Puli kali and Kaikottikkali.

My brother and Sister-in-law were a part of this ‘Manorama’ exhibition and I had to join them later. We had planned to wind up the exhibition and capture the colours of Onam. A tour to Princes Street in Fort Cochin, nature landscapes and tea gardens in Munnar and other few places were on the cards! My journey from Pune to Ernakulam, Kerala, was a long 34 hour rout by train, Mumbai-Kanyakumari Express. The point is, I travelled all alone! Imagine being in a train for 34 long hours with not a single relative or a friend alongside! Sounds really boring! But this was not a problem for me though as I made friends. For such a long journey, what people in the train bogie expect is, good company to talk to and spend time with!

The train journey showed me some early signs of Mother Nature outside as we crossed Maharashtra state. What was so exciting to see for a change was the cleanliness being maintained on the railway platforms. They were not only clean but also huge! To add to further excitement and thrill, I planned a hurricane! At every station I got down from the bogie and checked out the platform, place and people, the food and everything around! Getting down on every platform and rushing inside as the train started moving, was a routine for me, not just for me but for many others. It was fun!

Most of the passengers in this train were returning home, Kerala, but for me, I was a tourist! Where others felt relaxed after reaching their respective stations in Kerala, I was all set to meet my brother and sister-in-law and plan a tour to Fort Cochin and Munnar after winding up our part in Manorama exhibition. The tour package for me including Manorama Exhibition, Onam Festival and places like Fort Cochin and Munnar was a delight!

All memories captured! And as they say, Kerala being a ‘God’s Own Country’, I said it too!

A must visit place it is!