One of my colleagues got married on September 10th in Trivandrum. So it was a weekend trip for all of us to Kerala. Kerala makes me feel home, as if I am somewhere in Mangalore; the tiled roofs, traditional temples, the weather, the food and of course the beaches appears to be very similar environment; known environment.
September 8th, Saturday –
The Volvo bus in which we were traveling had some issues with oil leakage in crank case, so our bus stopped at Alapuza for an hour. We had to reach Thiruvanthapuram at 9:30 AM but instead reached there at 1:00 PM. But we did have a good Kerala style breakfast during the wait– Ediappam (Rice noodles) and Veliappam (Similar to dosa).
We checked into hotel Sangam which is on the road opposite to Railway station and is a very neat place to stay. They charge about 330 per night. After a delicious Kerala style food at Hotel Arya nivas, we went on a city tour.
Two of our friends are from Thiruvanthapuram, so they had planned all the transportation and stay arrangements. Seb was our tour manager.
We drove around the city and took a quick glance at the palace, museum and other architectures around. We had to cut short our plan on the first day due to the unexpected delay. After this we drove to the groom’s house where we had some good “Shakar vati” , “banana chips” and also some appam. “Sharkara varatti has always been my favorite Kerala sweet and I recommend all to try that.
From there we drove to Kovalam beach. This is not a best time to visit the beach (High tides), but still we enjoyed every bit of our visit by hitting ourselves against the raging waves. Later that night we decided to have dinner at the shore. “Beatles” is a decent place to have food and drinks. The shore is filled with restaurants. We hardly were at our seats, instead grabbed the beer and food to the sand and sat there enjoying the night breeze.
September 9th Sunday –
We got up early and went to Ananthapadmanaba Swamy temple at the heart of the city. It’s the most famous temple in Thiruvanthapuram. The architecture is simply amazing. The huge corridors full of stone carvings, millions of lamps and of course a big idol of Ananthpadmanabha Swamy, sleeping on kalinga sarpa (Five headed snake).
At 9:30 we reached Seb’s house and had a very delicious breakfast (All 13 of us). The menu consisted of – Appam, Veg stew, steamed banana, Halwa made of rice powder and another dish which is similar to idli but sweet, called Vatta Appam.
After that filling breakfast we left to Padmanabhapuram palace. It’s a huge palace and it took us a lot of time there than expected. It’s full of amazing architectures and paintings, worth a visit. The best thing about this place is the arrangement done by the government. As you walk into the palace, at every next step there will be a guide appointed to tell you the importance of the area in which you are. They all can speak in Malayalam, English or Tamil. I think all cultural heritage sites in India should have such system arranged through the government rather than we fighting over guides for fair concession.
Outside the palace there are several shops with good interesting stuffs like paintings and wood work but you have to try your bargaining skills and reduce the price. I bought a mat with kathakali (Folk dance of Kerala) painting on it.
Kanyakumari was the most exciting place of all. I was all enthusiastic about this visit of mine to southern most part of Indian main land. We took a ferry to Vivekananda rock. The place of meditation of Swami Vivekananda is now a memorial and invites several tourists to its Dyana mandira. I tried to meditate but it was very noisy; should have been much quieter for Vivekananda, I thought, looking at the crowd.
I bought a few books. One is a rare collection of photographs of Swami Vivekananda. I have always enjoyed his writing and thoughts.
Another statue of the poet Thiruvala stands on a rock next to Vivekananda rock. Well to be very frank I was not pretty impressed by this statue.
We returned back to the mainland and had food. After which Sush and I went to the temple. The Kanya kumarai idol in the temple is very special. The diamonds in her nose rings glow magnificently. It seems the light from it even attracted foreign sailors. Thus the door facing the beach remains closed till date. In the night, it appeared as though two lamps were glowing on her face, but when looked closely one can identify that it is a reflection of the lamp in the side, on the two diamonds on her nose rings.
We then walked around the place, enjoyed the night view at the rocks. We caught up with others and left to Thiruvanthapuram.
September 10th Monday -
Morning we left to CVN Karali Sangam, I did not want to miss this place. Kalari payatu is the oldest form of martial arts the world. It is also believed that the sages from here who traveled to the Himalayas taught the art form to the people there and thus it spread across Asia. We were allowed to see the class session. The classes are from 6:30 to 8:30 AM. They also arrange a performance especially for tourists for Rs 5000.
After which, we left for the wedding. This was the first time I was attending a Christian wedding. The wedding went well.
On the way back Subbu and I took a tour. We took an auto the Kalari sangam again. I wanted some books or pictures from their office, which was closed in the morning. But unfortunately the place was closed till 4:30 PM. We tried to ask the auto driver if he knew some place where we could find a book on Kalari. He nodded and took us into some remote area. We dint have luck there either. But our Driver was not ready to let go that easily, He took us to another place after speaking to a guy in this shop. We again journeyed into the interiors of Thiruvanthapuram city. We tried our luck in two shops but found none; which is kind of surprising that the oldest martial art has no importance in the place where it originated. I think this is the issue with anywhere in India. We are yet to recognize the importance of our culture, traditions and history. I myself did not know much of this art form until my boss in the US, mentioned to me about it. He also told me that the martial arts that he practices have traces of Kalari Payatu. I wanted to send him some pictures and books.
Anyway, the auto driver was too disappointed that he could not help us out. It was really nice of him to try his best. And interesting thing is we spoke in broken Malayalam, Kannada but still managed to make a communication understandable. :-)
We left Thiruvanthapuram at 4:00 PM. The journey back was uneventful for me, but some had trouble with bed bugs. But otherwise the journey back went by fine. We reached Bangalore at 7:30 AM.