Kerela in India is a place known for its beauty. In my recent visit, I realised why it is called “God’s own country.” Its unique beauty is unparalleled as I discovered the various parts of this region and made my way from Kochi to Munnar to Periyar Lake to Kumarakom and then taking a houseboat to Allepey before returning back to Kochi to catch a flight to real life. We hired a car and took a road trip staying in Kochi for 2 nights, 2 nights in Munnar, 1 night in Thekkady, Periyar Lake, 2 nights in Kumarakom, 1 night in a houseboat to Allepey.
The air was different as I walked out of the plane and the airport at Kochi. Lined with palm trees, the small lanes reminded me of a forgotten part of history. My favourite part of the town was a visit to the old Jew town and pottering in shops for spices, old handicrafts, jewellery and clothes, it felt like I was transported to a different era.
I moved on to Munnar next, taking windy lanes up the hills, stopping for a tour of the region’s famous spice garden and seeing the produce of the fertile land. Stepping out of the car at my hotel, I was awestruck at the views in front of me. Amidst the mountains, I could see the vast tea gardens sprawling across and glimpses of various properties through the tall trees. The swimming pool overlooked the mountains and gave the feeling of flight. Whether be it as the Tea Museum or the various scenic sights such as the Echo Point, I had to keep stopping to capture the beauty that cannot be described. No visit would be complete without the requisite coconut water at the roadside in the land where coconuts are abundant.
Next up was Thekkady, a bustling town, to visit the Periyar Lake and take in the local culture. My hotel stood amongst a forest and the nature had never felt so close before. At the lake, it was my first experience of a safari by a boat. As we cruised on the lake, the mountains and forests at the periphery of the water made for a perfect moment in time. It was made all the more special for spotting several wild elephants, wild buffaloes, deer, and different species of birds. The scenic views were mesmerising and the 1½ hour trip was well worth it. Had I more time at this place I would have definitely done the jungle safari or at the very least a walking jungle trek. Catching the beautiful local dance programme and mouth-watering cooking demo of a region’s culinary dish that left me waiting to try it out once home, my time at Thekkady came to an end.
Going down the hills and back to the sea level, I reached Kumarakom, a sleepy village amongst the backwaters surrounded by fields or water. The little waterways reminded me of Venice however this was on a much larger scale. It didn’t seem like I was away from the Ocean. The backwaters were so large that at times I couldn’t see where the land was at the other side however by night fall the glittering lights would give it away. Small pleasures of life came to light ~ be it the breathtaking views of watching the sun set and the golden hues on the tall trees scattered or the exhilarating experience of taking the jet ski out into the open waters or a lazy peaceful morning in the swimming pool watching the splash of the ocean water.
From Kumarakom, I took the house boat to Allepey – this was one of the best experiences in my life. As we crossed the water, I was astonished to see the number of houseboats – it felt like trucks and cars were going up and down on a Motorway. The houseboat cut you off from the constant need of being available – with no internet, I was able to put away my phone and enjoy the peace. From getting served delicious meals in the dining room of the boat, to eating fresh tasty fruit, to watching the ducks play, to stopping under the shade of tall palm and banana trees, to watching the picturesque homes and people as they went past, the entire trip was excellent. Stopping in the evening to settle for the night, I took a walk down the village past the rice paddies and the dwellings of the locals, to soak a little bit of the way of life that this place presented. Settling for the night, as my boat gently rocked in the water, I slept one of the best sleeps, in a exquisite bedroom aboard the boat.
The next morning, as I took a cab to the Kochi Airport, I knew that the memories of this place on earth would always bring a smile to my face. Having wandered across the world, Kerela is the one place that has brought me so many wonderful experiences in such a short time and reacquainted me with myself. From the mountains to the forests to the ocean, it has it all. From peace to adrenaline, from beauty to the wild animals, it gives it all.