A tour itinerary for Kerala

For Destination, Horizon, The Assam Tribune

The other day, Jyotirman (a friend of mine from Guwahati), a regular reader of my column, seemingly, advised that it is time I turn my flashlights else where, as too much of Kerala has made him yawn already. Though I laughed it off then, today, as I was thinking over the keypad about which destination to send next, I actually felt ‘done’ with my Kerala raving-spree. So let me tie the loose-ends together and wind up with an ideal weeklong tour itinerary. This is for those who are actually contemplating visiting Kerala.

It begins with flying to Bangalore, from Guwahati, and boarding an overnight train for Kochi (in Kerala).

Day 1:
Check in at one of the hotels at Kochi. It abounds in all types of accommodations, ranging from 5 and 4 star hotels, fully air-conditioned with all luxury features, to 3-star hotels with air-conditioned rooms, and 2 and 1 star hotels which offer basic amenities. Yatri Nivas, Tourist lodges and hostels provide a convenient and cheap base.
You can rent a tourist cab for a sightseeing tour, or alternatively, check the major attractions yourself. The not-to-missed list begins with a visit to the sepia-tinted Fort Cochin, St. Francis Church (the oldest European church in India) and continues up to the walk down a typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves.

Day 2:
Take an early morning drive to the much-fabled and scenic hill-station, Munnar, after breakfast. It should not take you more than 3 hours, which means you have the whole day left for exploration. Once there, visit the Tata Tea Museum to see what goes into the making of your morning cuppa. Head for Mattupetti if boating and horse-riding sounds fun. Wildlife enthusiasts can visit one of Munnar’s many reserves and film some rare wildlife like Nilgiri Tahrs, Atlas moth (largest in the world), lion-tailed macaque, leopards, tigers and so on.

Day 3:
Leave for one of Kerala’s most enticing destinations, Periyar, early in the morning. The 3 ½ hour drive might leave you tired and you can begin your sightseeing trails by afternoon. Recommended activities are the elephant safari to the spice plantations of Periyar at Kumily. The Kerala Tourism Information Center located near the main entrance of the Park organizes tours to the Connemara Tea Factory (15 km) and to other spice plantations. You can buy plantation fresh cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and pepper from here.

Day 4:
Periyar has more to it to be left in just one day. Take a boat-ride in the Periyar lake to relish the best of its wildlife sightings. During the dry periods, generally in March and April, group of wild elephants frolic in the waters of the Periyar Lake. Sights of sambar, gaur and wild pigs alongside make a truly beautiful vista. And if you suddenly find the air reverberate with the raucous call of the langur and the peafowl, indications are that a Big Cat is somewhere close-by and a quiet wait will be worthwhile.

Alternatively, you can also opt for the eco-tourism activities, popular in Periyar. These include Nature Walk (Guided day trek for Rs.100 per head held at 7am and 2 pm daily), Periyar Tiger Trail (1N/2D and 2N/3D), Bamboo Rafting (the guide takes you into the forest and then back into your raft to sail back in the evening), Tribal Heritage (Rs.100 per head and includes a visit to the Tribal Heritage Museum and a sneak peek into the lives of the tribals, Mannans, who have lived in the forest for years) and Border Hiking (trail through 900-1300 m high hills, where exciting sightings of Gaur and elephant are guaranteed).

Board a houseboat from Periyar to Alleppey by evening so that you can overnight at the houseboat as it sails through the exotic backwaters of Kerala, with the starry sky above and silhouette of coconut groves all around.

Day 5:
By 10 am, you should be there at Alleppey (Alapuzzha). Aptly named, the Venice of the East, Alapuzha or Alleppey district lies sandwiched between the Arabian Sea in the west and the Punnamada backwaters in the east. Enjoy a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage at the beach, hunt for curios, visit the old ruined monuments, take a boating cruise and buy Marine and Coir products. Overnight in an Ayurvedic Resort, of which, both low budget and high-end options are available.

Day 6:
Drive to Kochi early in the morning so that you can have the whole day to yourself, to shop and relax before you depart. Your Kochi shopping spree must-buys are camel bone and wood carvings, various metal-ware, coconut shell decorations, cane crafts, embroidered pine mats and so on. Antique shopping is another Kochi specialty and items to hunt for are rosewood artifacts, coir floor coverings and tablemats, old dowry boxes from Travancore, gold jewelery exclusive to the South, cotton saris, traditional khadi attire and antiques from Jewtown.

Day 7:
Chances are, you would want to delay your departure, but as I am committed to making it a weeklong planner, my Kerala tour itinerary concludes thus! Board your flight/train for Bangalore, to finally set homewards.

Next week, maybe I take up the North-East to rant and rave. And, thank you for your mails and suggestions – they are not just encouraging, but they well me with fresh ideas every time I go through one! Keep travelling!

nidarsana.saikia@gmail.com

2 comments:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4 October 2007 at 03:07  

Wow, Your Kerala Tour Packages is really fantastic, it cover all attraction, for what people looking in Kerala.

18 November 2010 at 16:15  

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