It was an idea to plan out a short-break which later took shape into a memorable getaway with loads of beautiful moments to cherish. Here in this travelogue I share with you all the experience of this small but sweet tour to the enchanting Thekkady!
Cochin to Thekkady (2days/1night)
We (Aji, Amjath, Kiran, Mithun, Rinoj, Vijay and me) were all geared up to flag off on our long awaited trip to Thekkady(India’s largest wildlife sanctuary), it all started with few jitters on to how our journey will take shape, what the place has to offer us, will the weather gods would play any foul game on us, will our two highly ambitious but amateur drivers (Aji, Praveen) would take us safely to our destination.
Finally it was time to go, we started our trip on our two Hyundai i10 cars on a lovely Saturday morning with light drizzling and cool breeze hinting as if even the mother nature is quite pleased today. We were on and the car gained the momentum, heading towards our first stopover which was Muvattupuzha, after having a quick breakfast, we were on with our journey ahead.
We crossed over many villages and towns en-route to Thekkady, with loads of scenic sights and glimpse of village life on the side of the roads. We moved along at a brisk pace to make sure we reach our destination by lunch, we kept on moving on state highway which was in a sorry state and at least not so pleasing for a driver to enjoy his driving. But as we reached the high-ranges of the Idukki we were welcomed by the spectacular views of lush green mountains covered in the mist.
As we were heading towards the Idukki dam (the 14 th largest arch dam in Asia) we could hardly sight the road, it was mist all over, as if we were driving amidst clouds. After driving for another 5km through the thick mist we reached the Idukki dam which is 555 feet in height and stands between two mountains, Kuruvanmala (839 feet) and Kurathimala (925 feet). We were not allowed to take any pictures of the dam by the guards at the sight, but standing on the 14 th largest arch dam in Asia made us feel really special.
After an hour drive we reached Kumily – a small town, but worth interest for its spices, we saw many small and big spice shops along the side of the roads, adding a tinge of spices in the air.
Soon we made our way to the hotel and lazed for sometime before exploring Kumily. Bordering Tamil Nadu, Kumily has got a decent amount of Tamil speaking people who mainly live here and work in the nearby spice gardens to earn their living. What more shocking was that, Tamil though is even equally spoken here along with Malayalam. After unpacking, soon we stepped out to find what this place has in-store for us.
Kumily, being the main town of Thekkady is the main centre for spice trade, Thekkady sits just 4km from the main town Kumily. The climate was pleasant with temparature well around 25 degree Celsius along with light showers every now and then. We spotted many tourists both national and international strolling down the streets buying stocks; from spices to artefacts, handlooms, to local products.
There were also many ayurvedic centres offering all sorts of massage and treatments for guests, for art lovers there were the Kathakali and Kalaripayattu centres offering live performances by trained artists everyday. Apart from this, the forest range office also provides many activities and packages for tourists including, green walk, forest trekking and stay, border hiking, backwater cruise, elephant ride and even tribal village visit.
We decided to go for the boat ride the next morning which covered the enchanting boat ride on the periyar. The day started early for us and we were all geared up to explore the periyar and Thekkady with the cruise promoted by the KTDC. After filling up the form (personal information) and taking the pass priced at Rs 150 per person, we were guided towards our cruise “Jalsundari” and were given the life jackets, we were comfortably seated on the open deck cruise. Soon the boat was unanchored and we were on for the voyage on periyar, it was told to keep silence and be watchful as it may disturb the wild animal whom we we will spot along our voyage to periyar. The boat soon skimped through the waters and we could feel being in the forest with a serene ambiance and thick forest on all sides.
Sprawling over an area of 777sq km Periyar remains the best known wildlife sanctuary in Kerala and also one of the 27 great tiger reserves in India. Ideal for wildlife photography which even motivated Aji and Mithun to keep clicking amazing pictures of the wild along with few horrifying pictures of us. This 100 year old artificial lake make the best option to explore the wildlife, we were told that Periyar has got 49 species of mammals, 246 species of birds, 28 species of reptiles, 8 species of amphibians, 22 species of fishes and 112 species of butterflies. The guide in the boat told us that he spotted a tiger three months ago on the bank of the lake, and usually in summer these tigers do come to drink water along the side of the lake. We were not lucky enough to spot a tiger but do saw langoor, wild boar, and few species of birds. Our boat cruise lasted for one-and-an-half-hours but was worthy.
After the cruise it was time for breakfast, we drove back to the town and decided to enjoy homely food in one of the nearest homestays. It was nice ambiance and made us feel as if we at home, our dining table was well big to accommodate all of us. The food was nice and delicious and the host even gave a briefing of the attractions of Thekkady. After having a heavy breakfast few of us headed back to our hotel and rest decided to do some quick shopping.
Time ran like anything and soon it was time to start our return journey, we had few more places to explore on the way which we all were eagerly waiting for. After an hour drive we reached Parunthumpara (Eagle Rock), this view point near Peermade, Idukki gives a spectacular view of The Pamba and Sabrimala forest. This viewpoint gives a panoramic view of the peaks and trenches and forest. We even spotted few waterfalls, it was mist all over and before we could explore more it was heavy downpour which made us to rush back to our cars for shelter.
We again started our journey back via Kuttikannam, Mundakayam with hairpin bends making our driving all more exciting and thrilling. Soon we crossed over Ponkunnam, Pala, Ettumanoor, as we were driving, villages and towns were passing on one after another, as if one turning pages of a book. Each village and town seemed as if it is telling something new to its name, after seeing all this we all realised the untold truth; life in those high range still remains so simple and well balanced ,just reverse to the materialistic city-life.
After lot of driving and exploration our journey came to a halt with all hugging and waving bye to each other settling back to our daily grind. But everyone loved this small yet sweet breakaway to Thekkady which will surely leave a trace on all of us. Now we all understood the crux of the adage, ‘Good thing comes in small packages’.
In what could be termed as one of the biggest real estate frauds in the state of Kerala , a Kochi based company ‘Apple-A-Day Properties’ reportedly swindled a staggering amount of 100 crore from buyers which included 125 Indian expatriates in the Middle East. The customers were lured into their trap by smart advertisement campaigns and roadshows in various cities like Bangalore. Many IT professionals bit the bait of the smart city trump card of Kochi and the emergence of this city as an IT hub. Though the fraudulent company floated several projects like bigapple, apple nano, apple.com, apple suite and many more, none of these were completed even after many years.
Many customers invested huge amounts ranging from 50 lakhs to over 1 crore in each project though none of these took off. It is shocking to note that many of the investors had been paying EMI of Rs 10,000 to Rs 24,000 for the last three years for the flat which they had booked to pay off the home loans that they have taken.
The company offered villas and apartments in the heart of the city at attractive rates and it banked upon the goodwill it created through a couple of completed projects to attract buyers. Though the investors became apprehensive after it missed many deadlines for its 11 new projects, formal complaints were lodged only as recently as a few weeks back, which again raises a different set of questions .
The firm’s Director and Managing Director went underground after withdrawing money from all their accounts after the company allegedly went bust a few weeks ago. They allegedly used the money to lead a lavish life style and the police has confiscated around 20 luxury cars of theirs. After giving a slip for over a month, the promoters – Saju Kadavilan and Rajiv Kumar Cheruvara surrendered and the police is trying to tie up the loose ends of this real estate scam by taking them to the various project sites and ascertaining the fate of the money collected from the buyers.
So far around 250 FIRs have now been registered against the company and more owners are coming up with their complaints. The duped customers have also formed a buyers association to take up the case of the buyers who have invested their hard earned money to buy a home of their dreams. Police sources say ‘Apple-A-Day’ fraud is only a tip of the iceberg and that many real estate developers are under the scanner. Now that the government has promised tough action against fraudulent real estate companies, the victims are hopeful of a getting justice at the earliest.
Photos: Tijo Sebastian
Wow…my colleagues, most of them ‘non-writers’ sharing their monsoon experiences made me love the monsoon once again… was bowled over by Sharaz’ description of having a hot omelette in the rains…next time Sharaz, invite me too…will come, for sure…So glad Sholto, our boss, came up with this idea of having people share their monsoon experiences on the blog…
My monsoon memories, like those of everyone, date back to my childhood. It’s a totally different landscape, not that of Kerala. I remember standing in the verandah of our house in Car Nicobar, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and see the rain coming in, from the sea. From the same verandah, facing the sea, I, my sister and our friends would look at ships coming in, to anchor at the small port there… The house and the verandah, alas, no longer exist; the Tsunami simply washed the house away; my mother was spared as she had the presence of mind to run away before the devastating wave hit the second time taking away that house where I spent my childhood and many people whom I had known personally…
Well, coming to childhood memories of the monsoon… there are vivid memories of the monsoon showers as we travel back to Chennai after the summer vacations, to catch the ship from there to Car Nicobar. The metre gauge train that would move slowly among the hillocks in the Kollam district, the hanging bridge at Punalur, the small stations with the vendors selling vada and tea, the lush green forests of Thenmala drenched in the rain, the grapes that we’d eat on the train (once a box fell on me as I was eating grapes and I stopped eating grapes for a long time), the smell of rain that would give way to the scorching heat of Chennai (then Madras) the next day- all this form part of those memories.
I can also not forget the instances of rain lashing against the ship that would take us to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Out there in the open sea, with no land at sight anywhere, the rain seemed so awesome and sometimes like a thing ‘endued with sense’. I also remember those nights on board a ship, when we’d be sleeping on the deck and the rain comes all of a sudden; we’d take our bed sheets and all and move indoors, seeking refuge below the stairs or by the side of a passage. Well that happened mostly when we travel inter-island there, in smaller ships in which we may not always get cabin accommodation and where there was this ‘deck class’ ticket, using which you could spend your time sitting and sleeping on the hatch or the deck.
There’s another thing that I’d like to mention about the rains. A very different kind of experience that is, a rather startling one. I was there to interview eminent journalist and television personality T.N. Gopakumar who has been anchoring a long-running television show Kannadi; he reads letters in the show sent in by people from all over. Among the letters that he showed me was one that requested him to show the rain on television, as the person who had sent in the letter had been in the Gulf for long and hadn’t seen the rain.
I really really love the rains. Say ‘Monsoon’ and you can hear me start singing “Lagi Aaj saawan ki phir woh jhadi hai…” – a Hindi film song that I keep singing whenever I see the rains; sort of a programmed thing for me. (I know the rains during the saawan season is not at all like the Kerala monsoon rains, yet I sing that song always). But beware; I am a bad singer, a really bad singer… So better not listen to me; just keep your ears ready for the music of the rains.
After the “shock” report of India being listed as the fourthworst place to be a woman, we reflected on Kerala’s place in the scheme of things. As we all know Kerala is not a typical indian state which is why Indians love to visit.
Kerala is the only state in India where women outnumber men and b a substantial margin. Keralites put this down to a more relaxed attitude to gender than is sometimes found elsewhere and the absence of infanticide. If this is the case, then it implies that other states need to address gender issues more aggressively. Kerala is also actively seeking to increase the contribution of women in politics and to ensure that women are evenly represented. As we sit in the office with a large group of women, mostly married and many with children, all of whom are able to come to work safely and travel without fear, who are actively pursuing a career with children, it is clear that while there may still be glass ceilings to break through, it is not by any chalk the fourth worst place in the world to live!
If you are asked to name your role model, you are more likely to pick up a film celebrity, a doctor or a businessman rather than a politician. Political leaders might necessarily not fit the bills of a role model of many as a majority of them have the dubious distinction of being corrupt and partisan. However it is interesting to note that most of the politicians in Kerala, the state made infamous by the boozing habits of its people, do not smoke or drink in public! They consider it as a social taboo and a serious health issue as well though there are politicians who drink in private.
But is it not paradoxical to note that Kerala, which makes as much as 40 percent of its revenue from liquour sales is ruled by a team of health conscious politicians who don’t drink or smoke? The winding queues before IMFL outlets on any day has become a notorious spectacle of the Kerala landscape these days. The latest figures show that children as young as 13 .5 resort to drinking. However the social stigma attached to drinking and smoking has kept the politicians off this habit all these days and as long as the society considers every drinker a misfit, the politicians will follow this abstinence policy, which is worth emulating by the youth!
But, unfortunately Keralites seem to have taken a fascination to follow the IMFL outlets rather than its political leaders and the following facts and figures bare it all! The Per capita liquor consumption in state is 11.1 litres, with rum topping the chart followed by brandy and beer. The total sales in 2010-11 has been a staggering 6,730.30 cr and above all , the kids in Kerala have started taking their first sip even before they are 14 years of age. Paradoxically the Kerala populace has chosen to turn a Nelson’s eye to the healthy habits of the politicians and seem to ape only their undesirable traits like corruption and nepotism! Hope the citizens of the God’s own country will find sense in what they do, soon!
The Thomson Reuters foundation recently listed the worst places to be a woman in the world. Heading the list unsurprisingly was Afghanistan which was presumably right out there in the lead. Second was the Congo (rape capital of the world), but most surprising was the inclusion of India in fourth place. It provoked some soul searching here in the Karma Kerala office in Cochin. We are over fifty percent women in the office which immediately shows the difference between India and Afghanistan. In Kabul we would have been bombed, for sure.
What makes India such a bad place to be a woman? Sexual violence and abuse are the key criteria with India home to prostitute population of overe 3 mprostitute with maybe 40% underage and the continued existence of female infanticide as parents seek male children rather than female.
From the perspective of Kerala, these challenges are relatively remote as the state prides itself on the absence of female infanticide and compared to North India fewer prostitutes. Unlike Mumbai, Cochin has no big red light district.
The survey reported India’s central bureau of investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90% of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40% were children. In the past century some 50 million female babies have gone missing.
The last is a historical statistic, but the problem is only barely contained. Certainly, the indian and state government is determined to provide support to lift families out of poverty which most affects women and children. Poverty drives much of the problem. It is not uncommon for a man to withhold 75% of the salary from wife for drinking and the dreaded lottery. Living on 1000 rupees requires a woman to work to make up a living wage. The indian government is well aware of the problem, but itbwould seem there isnstill more work to be done!
Sharaz, our php programmer, is one of those guys with whom I like going for movies. The most important reason being that he sees movies sans presumptions and is tolerant enough to like almost all kinds of films.
Yesterday he and I went for a movie, ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’, which I bet many of our colleagues here at Karmakerala wouldn’t even have heard of. The film is directed by Amol Gupte, who has put in a good performance in the recently-released Malayalam film ‘Urumi’ too. Amol Gupte is not a popular Bollywood actor, but he is an actor worth reckoning. He was the Creative Director for Aamir Khan’s ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and had given a notable performance in ‘Kaminey’. So now, it was time for us to relish Amol Gupte’s directorial venture.
We had Dosa and Omelette at MK Bakers, guys who keep us going at Karmakerala by bringing us tea and snacks on sleepy afternoons (Hope our bosses are not reading this!) (an it was drizzling as Sharaz rode us to the Oberon Cinemax Multiplex. We were on time; got in and seated just as the titles were coming to an end.
What followed for the next two hours was magic, magic on screen. It is the story of a boy called Stanley (played by Amol’s son Partho) who comes to school daily without his ‘Dabba’ (lunch box). There are some other characters who seemed to be taken right out of life and planted there, on the screen. Most notable one among these is the Hindi teacher, Babubhai Verma (played by Amol Gupte himself), a guy who is crazy after food and always goes after students to share their meals. There is also the Science teacher Mrs.Iyer (Divya Jagdale) and the English teacher Ms. Rosy (Divya Dutta) who stand out. The story, simple and straight, moves on to a climax that I won’t like to speak about here; if at all you are rendered curious, go and watch the movie and find out. We need to watch and encourage such movies.
The movie reminded me, to a great extent, of New Wave Iranian movies, those by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami, Majid Majidi etc. I was wondering yesterday why such movies were not happening here in Kerala; but then I remembered having seen one such movie last year in Malayalam- ‘T.D.Dasan Std VI B’, a film that reminded me of those simple, straight-from-the-heart Iranian movies. But when these films get released, people just turn their backs on them. Hey, striking indeed, that even those who circulate pirated cds of movies here in Kerala (they are very much there, in Kerala, pirated cds of the latest movies, contributing greatly to dealing deadly blows to the film industry) turn their backs on such movies. We still go after the usual star oriented, predictable and mostly mundane kind of film that cinema elsewhere seem to be growing out of. There are so many innovatively different movies coming up in Hindi and Tamil; Sharaz and I were thrilled on seeing ‘Chalo Dilli’ (Hindi) and liked ‘Vaanam’ (Tamil). Hope things will change for Malayalam Cinema too; there are some signs of this happening here too. Let’s hope for the best…
Two things that I’d like to add as sort of post-script here…
- This is what Sharaz had to say after seeing the movie- “I had always wanted to do something in films. But my thoughts were always high-flying, like making a movie with all kinds of special effects, something like ‘Matrix’ or something that would leave people spellbound. I’d think of the kind of films that Shah Rukh Khan, my favourite star, does. But ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ is the kind of film that never featured in my imaginations. The film made me realise that we need not think big and go for big things to make movies; we can take things from our lives, from our experiences and make wonderfully different movies. I have come to realise that even small, ordinary things from day-to-day life can contribute towards making films that are really ‘big’. I was able to identify with Stanley and what all was happening there, in the school. I was touched by the message the film conveys in the end. I also have come to understand that if creative artists strive to narrate personal experiences in their personal style, it would be the best of things that can happen to art and cinema”.
- Our boss Sholto was narrating a story, an interesting story yesterday. He’d love to see it made into a cinema. He was commenting that Indian Cinema is still centered around the stars, the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Mammootty and Mohanlal. Well I do agree to that; but at the same time, I am happy that films like ‘Stanley Ka Dabba‘ are happening… Great indeed!
Monsoon is the the most beautiful and romantic season in Kerala. Though global warming and the destructive trails left by man have seriously destroyed the natural rhythm of the monsoons , Kerala has been lucky to have experienced a timely and normal monsoon spell so far,this year.
Karma Kerala takes pleasure in sharing our monsoon experiences with our readers. What makes these snippets extra special is the fact that these monsoon experiences are penned by some of our staff members who incidentally are not creative writers but are web designers, logistics managers, PHP programmers etc. It goes without saying that the beauty and the flow of thoughts of monsoons comes naturally to everyone in Kerala:)
What i love during monsoon season is to be on my bed tightly wrapped under the blanket .Also going to catch fish, during the drizzling rain ,eating the hot homemade delicacies and relax at home. – Rinoj (Web Designer)
Fun, that is what monsoon for me and yes sure, pure nostalgia.
It is cold shower in rain. Open my mouth and drink those pure drops of water.
When it rains heavy, I run to fields and scream out loud thinking no one will hear.
I run after frogs and catching small fishes from streams with my friends. Making paper boats for ants to cruise.
Stand under shrubs shake it for a shower.
Jump and stamp into water in road. Swim against the flow in the river.
Come back home from school, wet. A season for Vicks.
In the cold early mornings, sleep lazy under my blanket. A cup of hot black coffee. –
Tijo Sebastian (Manager, Sales and Logistics )- an avid shutterbug, he has an impressive collection of monsoon snap shots including the ones posted here.
Wow!!! Monsoon season is back again.. The season which students own. Yes I said right. Even if you are not a student its time for you the recapitulate your schooling memories.. those memories when you were splashing rain water against your friends .. And who would ever forget those scolding from mothers when we reach back home from school with dress drenched in muddy water. Yes it is the only thing which comes to my mind when I see rain…. All those child hood days just seems like running somewhere near to me… I feel like being in the middle of rain with an umbrella shared by friends pushing each other to get in ha ha ha those were fantastic moments… and now it’s the turn to speak about some food.
Well any food but which is served hot in monsoon season is always special. Makes me think one of my office tours with colleagues. We were in munar and guess what.. it was raining hard there, but we were enjoying each and every moments of it.. I and my friends were just walking through the road underneath umbrella and it was a kind of place there with only less shops .At last we saw a small shop which an old man was running.. we just went and asked what you have there, he replied I can give you omlet.. we didn’t wasted time… very cold, misty over everywhere and of course raining and in this situation having an omlet is just wow!!!!.. cant get this feeling even if we are in a five star hotel.
Everything is changed as we grow.. being underneath umbrellas with friends changed to being in car, hot samoosa’s and other fried stuffs from hotels changed to cigarettes and kind of alcoholic drinks to get rid of the cold. When we are in MNC company’s who would think about those small funs when we had in childhood days. But still it depends upon our mentality… if we have a heart who can still feel young always then its nothing changed…. Enjoy each and every monsoon season.. be young!!!! — Sharaz Khan ( PHP Progarmmer)
The preliminary work of the Kochi Metro Rail project is all set to start soon and the GCDA will be handing over Manappattiparambu to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the agency entrusted with the construction work. The land will be used by the DMRC to store the machines for construction and to cast the girders for re-constructing the North Railway Overbridge (RoB).
In the first phase, the construction of flyover on Salim Rajan Road will be taken up and for this, the land owned by KSRTC near the Salim Rajan Road will be handed over to DMRC. The reconstruction of the North RoB would start with the demolition of the four-and-a-half metre wide side bridges and once the new side bridges come up the central portion of the RoB will be pulled down. Mean while the city Police Commissioner Ajith Kumar has submitted suggestions for traffic regulations in the wake of the construction work. The byroads in the city might be repaired to handle the diverted traffic.
An all party political meeting will be convened by Excise Minister K Babu to discuss about the traffic regulations and rehabilitation of traders who will be evicted from under the the Railway over bridge . DMRC project director P Sreeram has already handed over the design of the metro rail to the District Collector and the initial phase of the work is expected to be completed within 18 months. The reconstruction of the North ROB involves a project outlay of over 80.50 crore and will be taken up in seven phases. Once the long awaited metro rail comes into the city, it will not only ease the traffic congestion of the city but also will add fillip to its business and economic prospects of Kochi as well.
Enjoy flexible working hours, work for just 3-4 hours , and pocket Rs 500 daily per day that too without doing anything other than sitting comfortably in one place! In case you are trying to make a wild guess on this cushy , white collar job, you could be in for a surprise as we are not talking about any ordinary job but begging! Going by the turn of events , it seems that begging has become a lucrative part time job for many to rake in a few extra mullah at their free hours. Before shrugging this piece of news as silly, read on to find how it begging has come a long way from being a poor man’s sustenance to a rich man’s profession and a menace in the modern world.
A pilot study conducted by the Kerala State Social Security Mission in cities including Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode and suburbs in May this year. found that begging around religious places has become the latest fad in Kerala. Begging is an attractive option for many as it ensures a steady income of around 200-500 rupees every day, well complimented by free meals provided by the religious places and limited working hours. The fact that alms givers prefer bills between Rs.2 and Rs. 10 instead of coins unlike in the past, which has made it all the more rosy and irresistible!
Don’t be startled in case you see any familiar faces among the beggars making a long queue in front of the religious places as it is very much possible that you might bump across your neighbor or well heeled colleague too one day. Recently an employee of BSNL who was on leave was spotted begging in front of a temple in Thiruvananthapuram. “We traced his house and found that he took a long unauthorised break from work to engage in begging,” said Major Dinesh Bhaskaran, regional director of Kerala State Social Security Mission who was one of the investigators.
Begging might well be banned in the cities, which has greatly reduced the number of poor people on the roads seeking alms to feed their hungry mouths; now begging has become a well organised business and a lucrative profession of the able bodied!