Saturday, 31 October 2015

Alappuzha - Canal Cruise


Alappuzha - Canal Cruise

If you are cherishing the idea of spending some good time amidst the sights and sounds of the hydrosphere, then step into a country boat and wind through the labyrinth of canals in Alappuzha. While cruising through these canals, one would come across the many interesting aspects of day-to-day life on land and water.

A wide range of cruise options are available here - from small country boats to luxury houseboats and small speedboats to big passenger motorboats. Small boats are preferred for cruise through the canals.

The canal networks linked to the Vembanad Lake offer an inspiring and interesting experience. Enjoy the sights of vast stretches of paddy fields, coconut lagoons and pied King Fishers hurtling down to catch the fish. You would also come across small islands, locals engaged in fishing activities on country boats, children being ferried to schools and kettuvallams, the majestic rice barges, gliding over the canals. Another interesting sight is that of large flocks of ducks being shepherded to newly-harvested paddy fields.

You could also drop in at villages on the banks to check out the techniques and procedures of coir making. It's also a chance to try out the ethnic cuisine from local eateries. Tapioca and fish delicacies and coconut toddy, the natural beverage extracted from coconut trees, are the highlights of backwater cuisine.

If you are in Kerala, don't miss a cruise through the canals of Alappuzha. Boats can be hired from the jetty, close to the KSRTC bus station.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Nearest railway station: Alappuzha, a few kilometres away.
Nearest airport: Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km








Alappuzha - Kochi cruise


Alappuzha - Kochi cruise

Are you a bit tired of walking to explore God's Own Country? How about a backwater cruise, enjoying the comfort of a luxurious houseboat? You can hire one from Alappuzha. Feel free and relaxed as your eyes, first lazily and then passionately enjoy the bewitching Vembanad Lake, the largest backwater stretch in Kerala.

Let us steer towards Kumarakom, one of the prime tourist attractions of Kerala. En route, Vembanad Lake offers you sights of backwater village life and a lot of backwater activities. The green shores throbbing with vigour and pure beauty will never tire you. The soft sunlight lends the calm water a new enchantment as the palms on both shores welcome you with a gentle whisper in the wind. Your mind will assure you that this scene will remain within you, to relieve you during all your busiest hours.

Once you enter Q S T and R Block Kayal, it is an added enchantment. It is situated at Kuttanad, popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala. Cruise leisurely through the canals, which are fringed by palm groves and paddy fields.

On reaching Kumarakom, you enter another world of wonders. This small backwater village, which is a cluster of islands, has a life of its own, with a slow, serene rhythm. The sights, sounds and fragrances will simply captivate you.

After staying back at Kumarakom for a bit and relaxing, you may proceed to Vaikom. It is time again to enjoy the placidity of the Vembanad Lake, in all its splendor. On the way, you will find a small island, Pathiramanal, seemingly afloat in the middle of the backwater. Have a brief stop and your guide can share with you many interesting myths surrounding this region.

On resuming your journey, the next halt point for you is Thanneermukkom, a village known for its Salt Water Barrier, popularly known as Thanneermukkom Bund. It is the largest mud regulator in India. Travelling through this region and savoring some delicious Kerala snacks is a simply marvelous experience.


Your next backwater destination - Vaikom offers you many interesting sights and lifestyles. You may find here the specimens of Kerala's grand tradition. A famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the prime attraction of this town. The refreshing greenery here is another add-on for you.

From Vaikom, after recharging with a delicious Kerala meal, you may proceed to Kumbalangi. We travel via Thykkattussery, a small village surrounded by coconut groves and paddy fields, enchanting constituents of backwater life. The first sight that welcomes you to Kumbalangi is that of majestic Chinese fishing nets lining the sides of the backwaters. Pokkali cultivation, a traditional indigenous method of cultivation in which the practice of taking a paddy crop is followed by prawn filtration, is a unique farming practice at Kumbalangi.

Once through the breezy backwaters of Kumbalangi, it is time for us to proceed to Fort Kochi, known for its share of Chinese fishing nets and many historic sites. The place is worth a walk, if you would like to. However, the sights from on board are also fascinating.

Bidding adieu to Fort Kochi, let us steer towards the Bolghatty Island, our final destination. En route to the Bolghatty Island, you would pass by the panoramic view of the mainland of Ernakulam city, its skyline and the shipyard on the eastern side. Once in Bolghatty, it is time for us to unwind. Loosen yourself to the soothing cool breeze and the reassuring touch of serene sunlight.








Friday, 30 October 2015

Chimmini Dam and Sanctuary

Chimmini Dam and Sanctuary



The dense tropical forests of Chimmini, shelter diverse flora and fauna. The dam across the Chimmini river offers a breathtaking view. This picturesque picnic spot is a favourite haunt of the local people. Located in the Mukundapuram Taluk of Thrissur district, Chimmini is only a tow-hour drive from Kochi.

The Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary which was established in 1984, lies contiguous with the Peechi - Vazhani sanctuary. The sanctuary is endowed with scenic beauty beyond compare. Living here in joyful abandon are elephants, sambars, gaurs, Malabar squirrels, sloth bears etc.

The forest department organises trekking and bamboo rafting programmes in and around the sanctuary. But the best of all experiences is the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon lights.

Contact details: 
Wildlife Forest Office
Peechi, Thrissur
Ph: +91 487 2699017 

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Thrissur, about 30 km  
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 58 km from Thrissur town



Gavi : Eco-Tourism

Gavi




Gavi Eco-Tourism a project of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation has caught the attention of tourists, mostly from European countries. The project is exclusive in many respects and the majority who visited was nature lovers and adventure tourists. Over a short period of time visitors to Gavi gradually increased, especially after 'Alistair International' the world acclaimed tourism major listed it among the leading eco-tourism centres and one of the must-see places in India.

A highlight of the Gavi eco project is the involvement of the local populace in its activities as guides, gardeners and cooks. This will provide livelihood for the locals and also will help to create awareness on conservation of nature. Gavi, located in Pathanamthitta district offers its visitors activities like trekking, wildlife watching, outdoor camping in specially built tents, and night safaris.

The road leading to the picturesque Gavi is blanketed by tea plantations, which itself is a refreshing experience. En route to Gavi are places of interest like Mundakayyam, Kuttikanam, Peermedu and Vandiperiyar from where the road deviates to Gavi.

Once you reach Gavi the serene eco-lodge 'Green Mansion' awaits you like a fairy to embrace you in its protective fold. From the 'Green Mansion', one can savour the spectacular view of the Gavi Lake and the adjoining forests. Besides the accommodation provided in 'Green Mansion' visitors can also try out the tree houses here and can even pitch tents amidst the wilderness. Here one can have outstanding trekking experiences, which are overseen by trained local people. Those who would love to be left alone can do so in the tranquil environs of Gavi or may even go canoeing in the placid waters of the lake or enjoy a breathtaking sunset. Visitors are usually provided vegetarian food and snacks, which further adds to the eco-friendly ambiance of the place.

The place is rich in flora and fauna. There are hills and valleys, tropical forests, sprawling grasslands, sholas, cascading waterfalls and cardamom plantations. Endangered species including the Nilgiri Tahr and Lion-tailed macaque are often sighted at the outskirts of Gavi. With more than 260 species of birds including the great pied hornbill, woodpecker, and kingfishers, Gavi is a heaven for birdwatchers.

Some of the breathtaking viewpoints at Gavi like the Valley View offer spectacular view of a deep ravine and the forest below. From Kochu Pampa, a point near Green Mansion eco-lodge one can track the grazing Nilgiri Tahrs.

The famous pilgrim destination, Sabarimala is a short trek from Gavi. For those interested in observing the nocturnal wildlife, night safaris to Kullur, Gavi Pullumedu, Kochu Pampa, Pachakanam provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Another unique feature of Gavi is camping in the forests. One can pitch a tent in the camping site, which is a rarity in many Indian forests. As the dusk stretches into the silence of the night, one can feel the presence of wildlife in the middle of nowhere, an experience that cannot be explained in words. There are also tree top houses where one can enjoy the avian life to the fullest.

Active involvement of tribals in Gavi makes it a unique venture of its kind in the country. Traditional knowledge of the forest and its way of life helps Gavi to sustain its surroundings in its original state.

Gavi is bound to cast its magical spell on every visitor and is surely a place that should not be missed in one's lifetime. Gavi is pristine, and it belongs to the wild, which is a reminder that visitors are responsible for their intentions and actions, which will have a bearing on the upkeep of Gavi for a long time to come.

Gavi Package offered by DTPC Pathanamthitta, click here

Contact details: 
Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Eco-Tourism Project Periyar

For more details please contact: 
Tourist Information Office
Department of Tourism, Thekkady
Phone: +91 4869 222620

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 114 km  
Nearest airport: Madurai Airport (Tamil Nadu), about 140 km away and Cochin International Airport, about 190 km







Fort Kochi (Beach)


Located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, Ernakulam district is a cluster of islands networked by lagoons and backwaters. Kochi (Cochin), one of the finest natural harbours in the world, was once a major centre of commerce and trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British. The commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala, Kochi is also known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea', Once a major centre of commerce and trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British, all these foreign traders have left their mark on this beautiful island. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is moving around in the local ferries. A conducted cruise on the Kochi backwaters will take you to several quaint spots.


Fort Kochi (Beach)


Access: Backwater ferry / bus / three-wheeler auto rickshaw. A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi. Once an obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history to tell. Its reputation as a seafaring commercial town was such that Nicolas Conti, an Italian traveller of the Middle Ages remarked: If China is where you make your money; then Kochi surely is the place to spend it. The town was shaped by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British. The result of these cultural interfaces is seen in the many remains of Indo-European architecture that still exist here. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets which were brought here by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, are a fascinating sight on the Kochi shore line.




Munnar : A place like heaven in Kerala

Munnar





Munnar is situated at the confluence of three mountain streams - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years, will bloom next in 2018. Munnar also has the highest peak in South India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. Anamudi is an ideal spot for trekking.

Let us now explore some of the options in and around Munnar that would provide travellers ample opportunities to enjoy the captivating hill station of Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park

One of the main attractions near Munnar is the Eravikulam National Park. This park is famous for its endangered inhabitant - the Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over an area of 97 sq. km., this park is also home to several species of rare butterflies, animals and birds. A great place for trekking, the park offers a magnificent view of the tea plantations and also the rolling hills caressed by blankets of mists. The park becomes a hot destination when the hill slopes here get covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering of Neelakurinji. It is a plant endemic to this part of the Western Ghats which blooms once in twelve years.

Anamudi Peak

Located inside the Eravikulam National Park is the Anamudi Peak. This is the highest peak in south India standing at a height of over 2700 m. Treks to the peak are allowed with permission from the Forest and Wildlife authorities at Eravikulam.

Mattupetty

Another place of interest, located about 13 km from Munnar Town, is Mattupetty. Situated at a height of 1700 m above sea level, Mattupetty is known for its storage masonry dam and the beautiful lake, which offers pleasurable boat rides, enabling one to enjoy the surrounding hills and landscape. Mattupetty's fame is also attributed to the dairy farm run by the Indo-Swiss Livestock Project, where one would come across different high yielding breeds of cows.

Pallivasal

Pallivasal, located at about 3 km from Chithirapuram in Munnar is the venue of the first Hydro-electric project in Kerala. It is a place of immense scenic beauty and is often favoured by visitors as a picnic spot.

Chinnakanal & Anayirangal

Near the town of Munnar is Chinnakanal and the waterfalls here, popularly known as Power House Waterfalls, cascade down a steep rock 2000 m above sea level. The spot is enriched with the scenic view of the Western Ghat ranges. When you have traveled about seven kilometers from Chinnakanal, you reach Anayirangal. Anayirangal, 22 km from Munnar, is a lush green carpet of tea plants. A trip on the splendid reservoir is an unforgettable experience. The Anayirangal dam is surrounded by tea plantations and evergreen forests.

Top Station

Top Station, which is about 32 km from Munnar is at a height of 1700 m above sea level. It is the highest point on the Munnar-Kodaikanal road. Travellers to Munnar make it a point to visit Top Station to enjoy the panoramic view it offers of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the spots in Munnar to enjoy the Neelakurinji flowers blooming over a vast area.

Tea Museum

Munnar has a legacy of its own when it comes to the origins and evolution of tea plantations. Taking account of this legacy and to preserve and showcase some of the exquisite and interesting aspects on the genesis and growth of tea plantations in Kerala's high ranges, a museum exclusively for tea was opened some years ago by Tata Tea in Munnar. This Tea Museum houses curios, photographs and machineries; all of which have a story to tell on the origins and growth of tea plantations in Munnar. The museum is located at the Nallathanni Estate of Tata Tea in Munnar and is worth a visit.
Read more on Munnar

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Aluva about 108 km and Angamali, about 109 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, via Aluva - Munnar Rd, about 108 km











Kappad beach:Kozhikode

Kappad beach, Kozhikode





For the people of Kozhikode, this pleasant stretch of rock-studded beach is Kappakkadavu. To the tourist it is one of the most charming of Kerala's beaches. Kappad finds mention in history and geography texts as the gateway to the Malabar Coast. Here, 501 years ago on 27th May 1498, 170 men led by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed in and stepped into Kerala to create a new chapter in history; the story of a long and tumultuous socio-political relationship between India and Europe.
It was the spices and wealth of Malabar that first brought the Arabs, the Phoenicans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English to Kerala. Kappad has witnessed many such landings. Kozhikode was then the most important trade centre of the Malabar region and the Zamorins who ruled this mighty land were powerful and shrewd. Though the Portuguese were welcomed in Kozhikode they were not too well encouraged or entertained for long by the Zamorins, which might be the reason they shifted their base to Kochi and Kollam towards south.
Today only a little stone monument is left at the Kappad beach to speak of its great historic importance. On the rocks nearby is a temple believed to be 800 years old.
To the tourist, this little seafaring town is a haven. The best route to Kappad is along the backwaters. Unspoilt and uncrowded, the picturesque backwaters of Kozhikode offer a bewitching experience. A ride down the backwaters through the Korappuzha river brings you to the beach.





Kumbalangi



Kumbalangi : Model fishing village near Kochi

Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is India’s first designated ecotourism village and the first rural tourism village of the state. Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project is a unique initiative to transform the tiny island as a model fishing village and tourism spot. Here at the Kumbalangi Tourism Village one can fully savour a variety of natural splendours, and ecological balance of the location. The model village, the first of its kind in the country is located near the port city of Kochi in Ernakulam District. It is a veritable treat to its visitors with the famous Chinese fishing nets and many other sights to savour.

As art of the model village project at Kumbalangi, a nearby island near Palluruthy would also have plenty of interesting vistas and activities in the near future. This coastal hamlet without doubt provides a fascinating glimpse of the simple and prosperous livelihood of the villagers, and also unravels the age-old culture and heritage of the place.

Kalagramam, an artist’s village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here as well as fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here. Many houses in the village are homestays and visitors can book their stay directly with homestay operators or seek the assistance of the village council.