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Truly breathtaking. Beach to Hill in 1 vacation !!
Nov 21, 2007 10:47 AM 3581 Views
(Updated Nov 22, 2007 01:00 PM)


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November 2007 - We started from Baroda by Rajdhani to reach Trivandrum early morning. We had made prior bookings thru a travel agent so things were easy. Took a car to Kanyakumari, and on the way we saw Suchindrum temple(nice one with melodious pillars and a big Hanuman idol - but avoid the pandas). We also saw the fabulous Padmanabh palace(made of wood, with 200 yrs old shiny flooring - must see!).

Kanyakumari - we went straight to Bay watch - a nice clean water park with the 1st wax museum in India(good for a visit) where kids will really freak out. Other visits included Vivekanand rock memorial by ferry, Gandhi smruti, Triveni Sangam. Sunset & Sunrise at the southern tip of India are of course mandatory viewing! 1 night stay is adequate.

Our next stop was Kovalam. Our hotel KTDC Samudra had a nice beach - almost like a private beach since most of the people prefer other known stretches in Kovalam. The other beaches that we saw - the lighthouse beach - was horrible & stinking. all hotels & shops coming right upto the water & lots of litter. We could find only one pure veg restaurant - Suprabhat - and that too after a lot of searching and walking into the narrow lanes on Lighthouse beach. The food is freshly prepared so u have to wait, but it was worth it. 2 days of beach & sea were just fabulous, and the hotel, (breakfast included) was nice.

Kerala without the Ayurvedic massage is like bread without butter. We went to Santhigiri - who have a pretty good reputation. Go for the Deep massage @ Rs. 750 for 60 mins including Steam - where 2 people give u a vigorous rejuvenating massage, ending with the face relaxation massage - I went off to sleep in 5 mins!

On to Alleppey - we checked into a Houseboat. Truly amazing backwater cruise. Reccomended with a group so that evenings after they park the boat u can play games or take a small boat ride. Grea Sunset on the water - its like getting transformed into another world - water world. people live by the waterways where all transport is through boats. rice fields were BELOW the water channel / lake level! In Alleppey we also enjoyed Home stay - a nice alternate to Hotels but with only room - no food etc. But nice.

Next stop was Thekkadi - a tour of the Periyar Wildlife sanctuary in a boat. If u can get into AranyaNiwas or Periyar House of KTDC - these are into the sanctary & worth staying. FOr boat rides u must rush - in peak tourist season u cannot get the tickes. we were lucky to book thru an agent at a hefty service charge. while the early morning boat ride & scenery was great, we didnt spot many animals - a stray bll or elephants & a boar - thats all. But a nice ride. Thekkadi is known for Spices and we could see a nice spice plantation @ Rs. 100 per head where they show u all the spice plants & explain the medicinal properties. We found the spice rates to be higher there on the plantation. The driver who takes u there will get a secret tip from the plantation - but i guess thats the way it is. Buy spices from the market - good shops. Dont miss the Kalaripayattu show(kerala martial arts)  even if it is expensive @ Rs. 200 per head. We missed the Kathakali show which also had nice reviews.

On to Munnar - Ammmmmmazing stuff. Hills covered with lush green tea plants well manicured & truly breathtaking. Great valley views - we couldnt stop taking pictures.  Dont miss the Tata Tea museum, and do buy the Kanan Devan tea pack - its great. Echo point was ok. Periyar dam etc. are regular tourist spots. U shud see the way they make tea here. Speed Boating is a must. Elephant rides are with negotiable rates.

Last stop - Cochin - nice developed city with really HUGE Jewellery shops(malls!) and Saree Shops(cant really call them shops - they're BIG). Sightseeing - Chinese fishing nets, Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis CHurch, etc. are regular attractions. The antique shops near Dutch palace are truly worth visiting. Veg food at Bimbi's on MG Road. Marine drive is a nice walk along the sea and there are sunset cruises there.

Took the Rajdhani back to Baroda. Great trip.

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Kerala - General