Mankulam which is located at about twenty seven kilometres and an hour and a quarter from Munnar was our location of choice when a few months had passed after the end of COVID-19 lock-down last year. We had chosen this place over Munnar because is it is located ten kilometres closer to the midlands than Munnar, even though it will still take the exact same amount of time to reach there due to the bad condition of the roads – but the road is being repaired, and so that can change. We had chosen this area because it was peaceful there in comparison with Munnar, even though the temperature there was lower by three or four degree Celsius. But it was December, and so that ended up okay. It is to be noted that the other hill stations like Thekkady, Vagamon and Nelliyampathy also have lower temperature than Munnar, and so this is not that much of negative at that particular moment.
We really wanted a break at that time because we hadn’t gone for a trip in such a long time, and we were staying at home whenever possible. At Mankulam, we stayed at Treebo Trend Misty Garden Resorts and Spa, a fine place to stay with a swimming pool, and a good variety of food options available if ordered early. There is also some nice areas to visit nearby, even though they are not big tourist destinations. An evening walk in the area was refreshing. The roads which were being repaired at that time, if finished, can make this journey a quick and easy one. If Munnar seems to crowded, or if you don’t want to go that far, you can choose Mankulam, and I have shared ten pictures below for you to remember this particular area. After all, a stay away from the crowd and within nature with hill view can always be refreshing enough.
1. United Kingdom: As I place a quick writing on the seven countries which I have visited in my life, this one basically counts as two nations, as we did visit both England and Scotland. We remember the same from those cricket matches itself. It was also the biggest journey we had, not just with the amount spent for flight as well as the time spent on transit, but also with the world which we had there to witness. From the monuments to writers to those huge church buildings, there were a lot to be witnessed, and the traces of history out there was indeed splendid. You know that there is Canterbury Cathedral, Lake District, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and more, being part of a very long list.
This is one massive structure at Liverpool that reminds us of our minuteness.
2. Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan trip happened in the same year as the journey to UK. Both of these trips were actually the result of the inability to go for that Israel-Palestine-Jordan-Egypt trip which was supposed to be the official Holy Land trip. So, we ended up in Ceylon, the world of serenity with tea and Buddhism, even though we were there more for a Ramayana tour rather than anything else. The most beautiful place out there was Nuwara Eliya, a hill station which was indeed the Little England. It was a world which felt closer to Kerala in many ways, especially the nature and the climate prevailing out there. We were very close to going back there again.
Nuwara Eliya, my favourite hill station with awesome tea and natural beauty.
3. Thailand: Well, we all know that everyone wishes to go to Pattaya. The Malayalam movie, Amar Akbar Anthonyhad made it clear already, and there were indeed more Keralites around than people from anywhere else outside that nation. Pattaya is indeed a charming place, a perfect beach-based destination, while Bangkok is the city with the charm. Bangkok Metro also became the third metro I had traveled outside India after London, Singapore and Malaysia, a metro which I traveled in, even before traveling in the Kochi Metro which was already running. The Buddhist temples of the place has the charm too, even though we got to visit only two of them.
The beach at Pattaya about which you know very well from movies!
4. Indonesia: The trip which followed exactly one year after the journey to Thailand was to Indonesia, or the beautiful island of Bali, to be exact. Visiting the one place in Indonesia which was so popular with its natural beauty, beaches and Hindu temples became the next on the list. It is also that nation where you become a millionaire due to the exchange rate even though the cost doesn’t go down in comparison to India. You have those differently designed temples, the rice terraces, volcanoes and a divergent culture out there. There are places for some nice shopping too, even though we do need a direct flight to Bali rather than being forced to travel through Kuala Lumpur.
Everybody loves Bali, and you will love the place too, once you are there!
5. Singapore: This is a journey which happened much earlier in comparison to those other foreign trips. The trip to Singapore was also our first journey outside India, and it is also the result of a failed plan to travel to the United States which had become very strict with its visa policies after the World Trade Centre attacks. Well, you have Singapore, which has been the cleanest place you could be, as far as Asia is concerned. Being in a place outside the nation, it was a rewarding experience, and it would take another five years to go on a journey like this one, and another eight years for another foreign journey. Well, some years are indeed special in more than one way.
6. Malaysia: While Singapore had its Sentosa Island, Genting Highland make the highlight for Malaysia which was known for its Petronas Towers. We could go to the top of the tower though, as we were restricted to a few levels then. One has to say that Genting is a place of beauty like no other, not just related to nature, but also associated with the attractions which were provided in that particular theme park. We do have the journey on the ropeway, and Kuala Lumpur is a nice city to roam around too. It is to be noted that my first visit to a shopping mall was not in India, but at Singapore and then in Malaysia. We visited Kuala Lumpur airport again during our journey to Indonesia and back.
7. UAE: Almost everyone from Kerala has been to UAE, or rather Dubai in particular. Our visit to Dubai was rather a short stay during the journey to the United Kingdom. Emirates flight made a happy journey, and Dubai indeed has one of the best airports around, even though my personal preference is still the Cochin International Airport. We had to spend a lot of time at the airport, and therefore I could explore the place very well. I can go to Dubai at any moment as there are so many people I know right there, but even so, we are indeed getting delayed. Easiest places to visit are often the most difficult places to reach, just like it has been a while since we wanted to visit our relatives in Bangalore. A detailed note on the place will come soon enough.
In the last few years, I have driven through thirteen out of fourteen districts of Kerala, along with three districts of Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore, Theni and Dindigul. The only district in Kerala in which I haven’t driven by myself is Kasargod, where I haven’t tried to travel, and when I had finally had my plan, COVID-19 pandemic came upon us. As the district where I have been living, and where my ancestral home is situated, journeys through Ernakulam have been many. Ernakulam itself is a place with all kinds of tourist destinations, which can be visited again and again. Then, the other districts also follow, and among them, Kottayam and Thrissur have the lead with such drives.
Kottayam: Vagamon’s location in Kottayam itself makes the district a favourite travel destination. Along with the same, I have driven to Ilaveezhapoonchira multiple times, and Illikkal Kallu was also added to the list later. Along with the same, visiting St. Alphonsa Pilgrime Centre and shrine at Bharananganam came naturally to us. Other pilgrim centres like the Kuravilangad Church also comes into the picture, and these have made the district regular driving destinations. Along with the same, there are some relatives’ places out there which made me go through the district early itself. Kottayam should be the most driven through district outside Ernakulam.
Thrissur: It is to be noted that Thrissur is so close to Angamaly that we keep visiting the district’s border areas on regular intervals. There are also some relatives’ places to add to it, and pilgrim centres also exist there, starting from the Koratty Church. Some of the best known tourist destinations, Athirappilly and Vazhachal Waterfalls are there, and it is the district which serves as a border to Tamil Nadu through the Sholayar side, and towards Valparai on the other side. We have also loved traveling to the Shobha City Mall in Thrissur City itself, a mall which is one of the best in Kerala, and having a fine multiplex to go with it. There are some very nice resturants on the way.
Idukki: Having some of the best places of natural beauty, Idukki is a district which provides all the beautiful scenery to the eyes. There is always Munnar and we always have Thekkady out there. Along with the same, when we are crossing the borders, Kumily is always there to have a charming journey through the area. The best of tea is also available there, and just crossing the borders, takes us to those grapes in the vineyards of Cumbum. There are so many places which we have visited in Idukki, and you know Munnar very well in advance. Parunthumpara, Panchalimedu, Kuttikkanam and all have you there, and in the lowlands, there is the town of Thodupuzha which I always come across.
Alappuzha and Kollam: There have been many journeys witnessing the beauty of the backwaters of Kerala, and Alappuzha is indeed close enough – we also have some nice beaches to go with the same. Kollam might not be that close, but it also has the beauty of backwaters and those fine beaches. We remember having visiting a good number of them, and going through some interesting journeys on this path. Both the district capitals got their own fine beaches too. Yet, it has been some time since we went through this path, and there is the feeling of such a requirement.
Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram: The former is known for its beauty of nature, which we have quickly gone through, and the latter, is the charming capital of Kerala. The most recent visit to Thiruvananthapuram was for Varkala Beach, but there have been other journeys to that direction earlier. The capital city does have many interesting places to visit, and we have covered most of the beaches. Yet, Pathanamthitta is a district which we require to explore more. With some presence of the relatives, maybe that could happen later at some point of time.
Malabar (Palakkad, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Malappuram): We keep on traveling through Palakkad whenever there is the need to cross over the border to Coimbatore, and Palakkad Fort is always a charm. The Kozhikode trip was a nice one with Thusharagiri Waterfalls, multiples beaches and others. We had visited Thunchan Parambu and other beaches in Malappuram, and more beaches like Muzhappilangad, as well as multiple forts in Kannur with a fine dose of history. We also had a taste of the natural beauty of Wayanad even though a more detailed trip is needed there, as well as in most of Malabar.
Varikkasseri Mana is one of the oldest traditional Brahmin houses of Kerala, located at Manissery, a small village in Ottapalam, within the district of Palakkad. It is the place where two of the most loved movies Devasuram and Aaraam Thampuran were shot, along with Rappakal, Drona, Simhasanam, Sufi Paranja Katha, Thooval Kottaram, Rudra Simhasanam, Valliettan, Madambi, Manthrikan and the most recent one which specifies the name of the place itself, Pretham 2. As far as Malayalam movies are concerned, the place is something special, and no movie lover from Kerala is to fail to identify it. There are other common locations too, but this one stands taller. There is more than one path to take while traveling here from Cochin, and it will be a tiring journey if the trip is during March, April or May. It is better to have some milk shake or juice in between. Without the movie setting, the place might seem to be lacking something, but for the small entry fee of Rs. 20, it is worth the journey.
*The photos on this blog post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone Max.
I need to pass through the bubble. It has been four hours since I reached here. Vagamon is one of the most beautiful hillstations despite it being very easy to reach here from Cochin and its satellite towns. The idea is to take the leap of faith, and it is not just a figurative thing, as literally it remains the same too. The bubble is located far below the suicide point, and the leap had to be perfect. Otherwise, the rock below would have something special to say, and it won’t be beautiful. These rocks had a say between life and death, as they are known to have decided the fate of everyman more than once or twice.
How can someone trust a necromancer with something that is beyond your ability for willing suspension of disbelief? When was the last time a necromancer desired for the betterment of a human being? If I was a creature of darkness, it wouldn’t have caused me any trouble in instantly believing in this. If he was a regular mage, this wouldn’t have been so difficult. But something had to be done, as every second lost in this world will count as a day in what lies beyond the bubble. It has to be the portal that connects the two world. This happens right now or it can never happen. I am taking this chance.
Finding a new world is always difficult, and this one is the closest to nature
I could feel that I am falling into eternity, destined to continue this forever. The fall felt to be very quick, but I could see beautiful castles and meadows on both sides, and occasionally the scenes changed to something darker, with thunderstorms over the ruins of some old buildings. The fall stopped half an hour later, and I could find myself on a smooth surface resembling water. It was not really water as it was solid. It was not really ice as it was incredibly soft. I made my way to the sands on my left side, and after I set my foot there, the surface turned into water. I walked further to meet the same necromancer channeling certain energy into his orb.
The necromancer explained the idea of having this realm parallel to our own. It had to be the utopia which could exist and take all those people who can live in harmony with nature. Below all those meadows, there were houses which were completely made out of living trees and plants. There was only a little bit of metal being used in there, and it was the kind of material which seemed to strengthen the trees. All the vegetation grew in such a way that it was supposed to support the homes as the humans tries to keep the environment intact. The relation here was symbiotic.
There is no lack of beauty with nature staying close to humanity
I left him to wander around the newly discovered place. There were so many wonders of nature all around that small space. I could see aurora in the sky as green lights on the sky reflected the greenery on the meadows. Surrounded by an unknown river on all sides, the place had its own waterfalls and the increasing flow of water kept many waterwheels moving. Along with the same, the wind energy was used with help of those windmills on the top of cliffs and solar energy seemed to taken in using a certain device in the form of an obelisk. The transportation was through ropeway which had car-like things hanging on them.
I noticed that there were two suns on the horizon. I came across the necromancer again, and he told me that it is a natural phenomenon. The portal transports one to that corner of the galaxy which has been unknown to all known alien life forms. It was a few warlocks who found this particular place while exploring their skills of teleportation. One had to go for the #BlindList each and every time to travel all the way here. One also had to #SayYesToTheWorld, to that kind of a world which opposed modernity and its exploitation. Then there was the need to take the leap of faith, where almost all rationalists failed.
It was like being invited on a blind date. To travel to a place you know nothing about, for an experience you have no clue about, has never been something designed for the brain – it was always about the heart and soul. In a world of chaos, people can’t be open-minded enough to say yes. Compared to the #BucketList which has known wishes, #TheBlindList is the one thing that goes a step forward. At some point of time, we have to go for this list, and there is the need to explore more, finding that perfect place which is “magical”, figuratively or literally. The traveler in us asks for the same. Be openminded, #SayYesToTheWorld now and begin the exploration!
**The images used in this blog post are taken from the Official Facebook Page of the popular video game, Mass Effect.
A long time had passed since we wanted to go on a trip outside India, and my last foreign trip was the one to United Kingdom eight years ago in the same year in which the trip to Sri Lanka had happened. Here, the obvious choice of nation for a quick visit was Thailand, as most Keralites do prefer the country these days, and the other options like Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka were already covered by me. Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket have been becoming dream destinations for our people, especially Pattaya with its water sports, islands and beaches bringing quite the reputation.
Coral Islands of Pattaya, where you desire to go!
Even though the holiday packages have both Pattaya and Bangkok on the list, the former is the place where we get to spend more time. It is Bangkok where we arrive, at the Don Mueang International Airport to which Air Asia operates daily direct flights from Cochin. It is Suvarnabhumi Airport which seems to be the sight to behold though. But for now, the travellers from here will have to wait to have a flight to travel in that direction. Even though we arrive at the city of Bangkok first, the itinerary from the holiday agencies will have us beginning our expedition at Pattaya with a quick ride from the airport to the beach city.
The Pattaya about which you know from descriptions!
There is one mistake that we tend to make due to this travel plan, and it is that we leave the idea of buying goods to the end, and the problem here is that it is always cheaper in Pattaya than in Bangkok. The price of goods that you see in Pattaya is only going to get higher in Bangkok. So, waiting for the trip to get to the final stages before going shopping will be the wrong thing to do, unless you have a lot of money to spend. Pattaya also have a good number of Indian restaurants, and for us, they become the obvious choice – the selection of food is mostly North Indian though, with not much of a dosa team presence.
The Tiger Zoo is a fine place to begin the journey.
Just before we reach Pattaya City, there is Sriracha Tiger Zoo, situated on the outskirts of the city. The place claims to have the largest such populations of tigers and crocodiles for a zoo all around the world. The tickets would cost nearly one thousand rupees when converted, and will be part of almost all packages. There is a lot of space to walk around and souvenirs to buy, along with separate shows involving tigers, elephants, crocodiles and pigs. Indian breakfast was available there including Poori and Uppumavu. We can watch the tigers roaming around outside the glass, as we have food.
Parasailing is certainly a common sight out there.
At Pattaya, before anything else, finding an Indian restaurant was important to us, and there was one close – there were actually many of them to be exact. Then there are those shops on the side of the road, and there are those 7-Eleven and Family-Mart stores which come to save the day. These are those days when visiting McDonalds or Burger King are cheaper, and one finds tea to be the expensive drink. But the days are worth it, and spending on each and everything here is absolutely worth it. There were so many other Malayali families around there too, as it was the grand vacation time.
Pattaya’s Floating Market – expand your trip with this.
Then there is the programme on the way to Coral Islands and on the island, starting from parasailing which is done from a boat located a little away from the beach and underwater walk which are conducted from boats located further away from the coast. Watching some marine life and walking underwater was a different and interesting experience for sure, even though the water was not that much clear as expected – 1200 bahts for a person is worth it for sure, especially with a CD of the experience for 700 bahts. It is still something that is to be remembered for long. The time spent at the island is rather less, and one has to be quick to go through jet ski and banana boat, and there was not much time to explore out there – we avoided them for a walk.
The Sanctuary of Truth – one masterpiece on wood.
Pattaya was indeed a fine experience, and we spent a lot of time on the streets, especially late night. The journey to Bangkok followed, and leaving Pattaya surely didn’t feel good, as we never really felt that we had enough. Maybe, one needs to travel through Pattaya without a holiday package, and it should be just wandering. Some exploration lasting a few more days would do better, without doubt. The two extra additions to our packages were the Sanctuary of Truth and the Floating Market, both which should be part of any travel plan, former for its beautiful carvings on an astonishing structure and the latter for that kind of a market to which we are strangers. Well, others know Pattaya from Amar Akbar Anthony, but that movie had a silly reason.
*All photos were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone Max. My friends on Facebook can see more of our experiences at Pattaya.
Throughout our lives, we have the opportunity to see many things that will change our prespective about the world. It is by traveling to different places that we are able to achieve this. It is our privilege to be Indians, being part of a nation which has so many cultures, giving us a different experience in different states, or even while traveling through different districts within a state. As we keep traveling, there are those places in the world which makes us feel safe as well as happy, and there are those which we hesitate to visit. Well, if we don’t visit, we never know.
The Ceylon Ramayana trip was one such journey which brought new experiences to shape my thoughts and life. It was spiritual, and there was more to it. Each cup of tea we had there meant more than just tea. Each person we met, whether it was a Buddhist monk or a commoner at the streets, had a story to tell – each in different ways, but all of them becoming part of our lives and thoughts. It was that kind of a journey when spirituality was frequent, whether it was a Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, church or mosque, and it was the journey which had life as a major part of it.
Towards Kandy, would be a spiritual journey for the soul (Captured in Sri Lanka).
But the British trop was entirely different, and it came only a few months after the trip to Sri Lanka. It was not spiritual or religious, even though it came right after that journey to the holy lands in and around Israel was cancelled due to some bomb blasts and possibility of war in the area. This one was a journey into modernity, but not far away from history and literature which were present throughout the trip. There were the favourite poets, novelists and history’s most famous people right before our eyes. Then there was the vision of this other side of the world.
England’s history, even the ruined side reflects a new world (Captured in England).
There was plenty in both cases, and I was able to find more than one side of my thoughts in each place. This plenty was displayed in one model in Colombo and Kandy, and in another way in London and Manchester. The admiration that we feel in each case is different, and just like we love each city of India in a different way, we saw such divergence here too. But this time, this was more than one could have imagined, and a divergent world is always a beautiful one, just like India has thrived with its unity in diversity.
Among all our neighbours, Sri Lanka has something special (Captured in Sri Lanka).
There can always be differences between closer places. The two towns of Kerala, fifteen kilometres from each other, belonging to the same district of Ernakulam, between Aluva and North Paravur, there is difference. The former being close to the river and the latter being close to the sea can be seen to have developed different cultures in the past, even though Ernakulam district has come close to each other making that difference minimal. We often hear people say that Kerala is like one big city, but the differences are clearly there in between the similarities.
Kerala has its one beautiful culture, and there too divergence (Captured in Kerala).
Considering such a situation, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka were always going to bring different lessons of life. Both places did feel good, and there was the desire to continue to stay there. At the same time, there was the need to be home. Traveling through these places provide the feeling of not being restricted to one place, for we, as humans are part of all of these places, and a part of these will follow us home. We are never really away from these places which we have lived or visited, and no city, town or village is really alien to us, if we look closely.
It is more or less the path that we take, that defines us (Captured in Kerala).
The story of humanity is the same in each and every place, and as we see the people and talk them, we will only know this better. By traveling, we enjoy these tales of those seemingly different people who are the same within, and we feel the need to travel more. At the same time, we understand ourselves more, for there might be more to us than we could ever know. We explore the world, and by doing the same, we explore within us, and the journeys change us, creating something different inside our souls. What more do you need for travel inspiration?
This is why I #SayYesToTheWorld. There is something for the soul around us with beautiful divergence, and there is always more than what meets the eye, bringing hope for a world traveller. Please watch this video and think about traveling more!
There are not many things that has the power to stop you from visiting a place like Nilambur – it has no villains, for it is close enough to the midland area, and never really asks you to go on that long ride up, but there is a lot of natural beauty around, away from pollution into a healthy environment to fall in love. Often, it is all that we need during these busy days of life. It is easy to get around, being close enough to the big towns of Manjeri, Malappuram and Perinthalmanna, all well connected through road, and sufficient services of Kerala State Transport buses. Nilambur’s Teak Museum is one special thing, and along with Adyanpara Waterfalls, there are more things of natural beauty that you will need to consider. Valamthode Waterfalls, Nedumkayam, Conolly’s Plot and more should follow. We had our stay at Metro Regency when we visited, and it is a very good place for the cheap rate. Nilambur might be the best known tourist destination in Malappuram district, or at least it is the one place about which we have heard above the rest. It is also just forty five kilometres from Calicut International Airport. Be advised that Google Maps here can’t be termed as among the best guides, for local people will do better.
***All photos used in this blog post about Nilambur were taken on my Asus Zenfone 5 by me only.
For the detailed review of the latest Hollywood superhero flick which is breaking all box-office collection records with ease, not only all around world, but also in India and even Kerala, click here.
For the detailed review of the new Bollywood flick which is driven by best performances of the time, positioning itself safely above many overrated hundred crore dumb flicks in quality, click here.
You know how much nature and its beauty means to us these days. It is more than what it used to be, as despite Kerala having so much of greenery, we are having more and more of the concrete jungles every day, making life further difficult. It is where Paniyeli Poru comes to the picture again. It is a place about which I had written earlier, and as a place close to home, it has been easier to visit. The same meant that there was to be another visit to follow, and here it is. I am sharing a few pictures of the latest visit, and I am sure that you are all familiar with the place if you have been following this blog. The closest town is Perumbavoor, followed by Kothamangalam and then Muvattupuzha, it is also costing only a short drive from the Cochin International Airport. Vengoor and Kodanad are nearby villages where you can stop for a cup of tea. You can also combine the deer park at Abhayaranyam, elephant training centre at Kodanad, the birthplace of Sri Adi Shankara at Kalady and the International pilgrim centre at Malayattoor with this journey. Ernakulam district does have a lot more than it seems.
Munnar is that kind of a place; we have been visiting there since childhood, and it still remains a big destination. There is so much rush there these days, and it never ceases to be a crowd favourite. Here are a few photos from our recent visit to the place! There are new restaurants on the way, and there is so much traffic – we need to be prepared for them too 🙂
As most of my friends know, I was on a Jaipur trip two weeks ago – but as most of my friends here know, the focus was not really on the historic monuments, which is why there were not many good pictures taken, but I will share a few of them with you right now. It is really a beautiful city! 🙂 Maybe I will write about this in detail later, but I can’t be that sure – here are the pictures.
***All photos used here were taken on my Asus Zenfone 5.
We all have our dreams; sometimes we keep them there, not wishing to get it out of that stage due to the high impossible nature, but there are those other dreams which we have no plan to keep there as dreams. We need to get hold of the second type, even though there are times when we are not really sure if they can actually go to the next stage. Maybe those related to competitive examinations and getting a better job can go on forever, but with those related to travel, we do have a certain amount of power to accomplish them.
There will always be the factors which try to keep us away though, and they might be stronger; still there will be a time when we just have to go. I have had mine, but I haven’t let them go, and I haven’t even tried to make them happen yet. I have my travelling list on hold right now, and I hope to keep reminding myself of the same, so that they don’t disappear right into one of those nightmares that I have during those darkest of nights. My dreams about travel go a long way back; and they are deep in those books, those belonging to the horror genre, beginning and ending with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but not limited there.
Dracula and the rest of the Gothic: There is a certain call!
As I have told a good number of people already, the one dream related to travel, that I have had since my childhood days was to visit the Dracula Castle; not just to reach there, but to get to the destination after wandering through the Carpathian Mountains. I have read many other works which relates to the Gothic horror, located in places which are more appropriate to be called the “land of the dead”, but the Carpathians stayed, not just with the legend of the world’s best known vampire, but also with its natural beauty.
There are the locations which can make a normal person happy; that should include Paris being the City of Love, New York as the City of Skyscrapers, Rome known to be the Eternal City, and all those sobriquets that came with these – then there are the rest of the places in North America and Europe which should be second home to some of our relatives, the grand cities with huge shopping places in the Middle East, the places of pilgrimage, the frequently featured places of natural beauty and the rest which have made into news for one reason or the other.
Then there are those places, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – it is as if everyone wants to go to at least one of the three nations; most of my friends have, if I go back and read flashback memories of us talking; and I have also been to two of the three already. Then, we know which are those few cities around here that everyone visits frequently – those names are even better known to the crowd. But they won’t make it to my priority list, as I haven’t been in that usual “normal list” for a long time; for I have evolved enough to get my name darkened so much that no sign of it remains there. This means that I will have to travel alone? That would be my pleasure.
So, with the lack of existence in that list of people, I have managed to get into another list, and instead of those usually preferred trips, here is the journey to the historical Bran Castle to which the legend is associated, and it will have to be one trip through those beautiful lands. The imposing Corvin Castle and Poenari Castle, the two other castles which are also connected to the legend, will also require a visit, because the dream is never limited; it is something that is spread over all these. The great castles will have tales to tell, all of which, I will be very happy to listen to, for I also have my own stories to tell in return.
All journeys need a big turn like this one even between all the beauty.
I have hoped to be there within that dark fantasy world which I had dreamt about; I have wished to be part of that special world of the unknown which was beyond human understanding, and to be part of myth and history at the same time. There was to be those days of the darker side of mysteries which go a long way beyond our knowledge – it was to make life better for me, even without that magic and that fantasy there, but is that to happen soon? Well, we will know at some point.
Life changes, and it was always expected to happen. Even after a change, that particular changed situation is also going to change. It is not something that I wasn’t expecting, but it did come all of a sudden, and it is actually a good thing. One more year without change and I might have been rather too hesitant to change – I would have detested it and might have tried to prevent it in all ways possible. But not now, as this change is something that I wanted long ago, even before I started this blog.
People still say that if you take a degree in MA English Language and Literature, you have to write NET and even try for JRF, and it is the natural path right ahead of you. They say that you have to follow this path or not do justice to what you have studied, and most probably you won’t get another job at all. I know that most of my friends have done that and the rest have gone on to do BEd and made the choice to do SET instead – note the difference, but I consider it rather minute.
If you look in our class, you can find a maximum of one person who hasn’t gone after NET or SET, and not trying to become the college professor or school teacher – I have made it two in that case, and it is the divergence that I have always wanted; with the master divergent movie Charlie winning so many of the state film awards, you might want the same too. Society has that idea that teaching in school or college is the better choice, especially for women, because they can reach home earlier, and there might be even many free hours – I know a few who have pursued the same for this reason.
I have walked around a lot these days through my favourite bus station!
Well, the case of post graduation in English has been rather strange. It is like the least professional course around here; you are not really preferred for most of the jobs out there. The newspapers and magazines ask for a journalism degree, and so I am glad to be part of a publishing house right now; it was getting seemingly impossible to get a job. Most people don’t even reply when an MA English graduate send a resume; they just don’t seem to have that idea that we are just readers and nothing else.
It is the same reason why me getting this job has been very significant. It has been the result of a long wait, and it is the same reason why I have broken my writing streak on my blog. If you remember, I have been writing continuously from December 9th 2014 to February 3rd 2016 – I continued for a few days after joining work, but it was getting tough with my timing as I start around 6:30 AM and return home around 8:30 PM – that is just the average, as I have reached at 7:30 and 9:30.
I have really less time at home, and so I have reduced my blogging just before reaching 500 posts on this blog, as this one is the post number 496. As of now, it seems that the 500th special post won’t happen anytime soon. But it might change some day, as the journey is just about 40 km even though it is the kind of a journey that can take about two hours, thanks to the pot-holes, traffic problems, change of timing of buses and the metro as well as fly-over constructions which are going on.
I once again travel through the bus station where I have passed through the most!
I have surely managed to be more used to it though, even as it still ends with me getting so much tired. I spend my time on the bus listening to music or watching some movie or television series in English. Well, at least I will have something to write about what I watch and the long journey which should actually finish in 45 minutes, but extends to two or even three hours based on which bus I manage to catch, and how many of times I have to change that giant transport!
***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5.
I have been wishing to travel again for a long time. It is one of those many things that I think about these days, and as I look back, I remember that it has really been a very long time. It has been so long that I have gone for a trip for the traveling purpose alone. But it doesn’t stop me from looking at those old photos of travel, and as you might have figured it out, I have so many of them. Well, I am going to need a hard disc to store them all soon – a separate one. As one journey provides thousands of photos, I have always felt that there would be the need. But here, I share ten photos of Ooty and Coonoor.
We stayed at Coonoor when we decided to get to Ooty. Well, I have been to Ooty only once and that journey actually came too late. I visited Ooty in the last few years, and I should be the last one in my friends circle to visit the hill station for the first time. Both of these places were nothing less than charming; I loved my stay at Coonoor and the tea there. The places to visit exist close enough both towns. Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiris, and you will want to stop there too, along with being at those usual tourist destinations at Ooty. The photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.
Meanwhile, I hope most of you haven’t missed Charlie.
I have written a number of posts related to the places in Kerala and did share a number of photos taken during my visits there too. Among the places outside Kerala, I have visited a lot of places in Tamil Nadu, and the list is longer than the rest. It has been quite some time since I last visited my neighboring state, but I have been there a lot. I have visited Chennai more than any other city outside Kerala, and right from my childhood, the one place which has always been on our list, should be Kanyakumari which was earlier known as Cape Comorin, even though the one memorable journey to the destination came much later. It happens to be one of my favourite journeys of the time, and that was also an extended one.
It has felt good to travel in those local buses around. As almost everyone knows about Kanyakumari as the southernmost point of peninsular India and the sunsets as well as sunrise being very popular, there is not much of information needed to be provided about the town which is often added to a journey which is included with the Trivandrum visit. It used to be a part of the Kingdom of Travancore, and later of the state of Travancore-Cochin, and this district of Tamil Nadu with the same name as the town, was one place which I visited in detail and spent my time in peace with such amazing view. Thiruvalluvar Statue, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Gandhi Memorial, temples, churches and everything else will stay with you. These photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during my last visit.
Meanwhile, feel free to read about the movie of the week, Paavada.
If you look through the map of Cochin, you will see a number of island all around, and among them, there is one which is going to be the focus in this post – Kumbalangy. Located about eleven to thirteen kilometres from the popular tourist spots Fort Cochin and Mattanchery, Kumbalangy is that extra location which one can visit while going through the usual destinations around the City of Cochin. Yes, you don’t really need to make those two places with monuments that crowded, for there is this option where you can spend the night peacefully.
You get to the model tourism island – Welcome to Kumbalangy!
It was some years ago that we had to take the ferry to get to the island of Kumbalangy. There was no bridge connecting Perumpadappu and the island, and when I was a child, I had to take the ferry to reach the island. There were two boats operating, and the vehicles and some of the cargo also joined us. The journey to the island was not something that I really cherished during that time. But things have changed with the new bridge being built and Kumbalangy finding its position in the tourist map of Cochin with ease.
Do you wish to be welcomed be the coconut trees for a change?
It was in the year 2003 that Kumbalangy was selected as a model tourism village by Kerala government, seeing its potential. The same has transformed it into a model fishing village and a tourist location which is getting more and more popular. It is associated with my childhood nostalgia, and now it is a lot more. Now, Kumbalangy is the place where you can really go on a trip, and it might be the next big tourist destination around Cochin as there is a lot of peace all around, and the place is also quite easy to reach.
The Chinese fishing nets – you will keep seeing them.
There is the city service bus facility available from Aluva to Kumbalangy, and you can also choose the Perumpadappu buses and get an auto. There will be AC and Non-AC low-floor buses starting from Aluva, Angamaly, Perumbavoor or Cochin Airport which will go to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery and you can get down at Thoppumpady to choose another bus to Kumbalangy or Perumpadappu which is just the other side of the Kumbalangy bridge. The island is just about eight kilometres from Thoppumpady too. Well, in one way or the other, it is part of Cochin and Greater Cochin Development Authority should agree.
As you look far far away, what is it that you see?
The distance from the Cochin International Airport is about fourty five kilometres. It is almost the same distance to Aleppey and its backwaters. But the backwaters of Kumbalangi and its fishing nets will make sure that you don’t really want to leave that early. The availability of the option to find peace and happiness not that away from city is a boon. Kumbalangy is also a nice eco-tourism centre. It is also only about fourteen kilometres to the city centre, and so everything is easily accessible from there, even though there will be the problem of traffic at some points – but it depends on the time when you are traveling.
This is also a good place to park your car unless coconuts fall 😀
You just need to travel thirteen kilometres from the Ernakulam South railway station to reach here, while it will be about seventeen kilometres from the North station. But if you are coming through the road from Aluva on one side or Perumbavoor/Muvattupuzha on the other and beyond, you can avoid the city by traveling through Maradu as it will get you to Thoppumpady. At the island, the most beautiful parts might be accessed through the smaller roads, just like the path which leads to heaven, as it is said. You might need the calmness and beauty here; you can keep bringing this to your mind whenever you are busy.
You stop, you look, and you enjoy the beauty of all that is on the way.
At Kumbalangy, you will see a good number of churches and temples. Most of them can be seen on the way itself. You can also travel to the famous pilgrimage centre, the Kannamaly Church from there. One the north-western side of the island, there is another smaller island which is connected to Kumbalangy, called Kallenchery, and it is a very scenic location there. It can be reached by traveling on the road by the side of the village office. There are some nice home-stays there, including the Kallanchery Retreat. New facilities are always being set up at Kumbalangy, and it has been some time since I last made a visit there. Maybe it is time to be surrounded by the backwaters again!
***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.
It is a lovely Friday even though my laptop’s display screen desired to commit suicide; I can’t access most of my saved material, and so I will share a few tea photos taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 to make sure that this day doesn’t go as a waste 😀 The movie of the day, My God was good though. All these photos shown here were taken at Munnar, Coonnoor and Ooty.
Less than twenty kilometres from the town of Thodupuzha lies Thommankuthu, the eco-tourism centre which has a number of waterfalls, including one very scenic fall which is a nice place for a photo-shoot. You have to walk some distance to reach this one, and the walking process, even though through uneven terrain, won’t be that difficult because the scenery is wonderful around. On your left, there will be elevation and on the right, there is the way down through rocks and water flowing through.
So, when Thommankuthu finally calls you aloud, will you be there? 😀
If you have watched the song “Kattum Mazhayum” from the 2012 movie Chattakkari featuring Shamna Kasim and Hemanth Menon, you will know that it was shot here; it is a beautiful song with the environment also well utilized – you can look for it on Youtube some time to enjoy the music as well as to see the place nicely shot. Getting to the waterfalls is rather easy. With Cochin Airport as the closest airport, the nearest railway stations should be Ernakulam, Kottayam, Aluva and Angamaly with Aluva being the best choice. I last traveled to the place about an year ago, and the roads were very good at that time.
A bridge on which you will drive your car. It is just a small part of nature 😀
About reaching Thommankuthu, coming from the North, you can go through Chalakudy, Angamaly and Perumbavoor to reach Muvattupuzha and then Thodupuzha; Perumbavoor route is to be taken when arriving from the Cochin Airport too. From the South, you can come through Palai getting to Thodupuzha from there or through Koothattukulam and Muvattpuzha. You can travel through Pattimattom or Kolenchery when coming from the city of Cochin. The accomodation is best at a town of your choice from those mentioned before. You can stop for food at any of the towns mentioned as there are some nice restaurants around.
The presence of a tree-house makes things special all the time; not just here.
But in the case of tea, if you need it, you can have some great tea from one of those shops around before entering the eco-tourism destination. You can have some tea and start the journey by taking some photos from the side of those shops as there is something like a nice viewpoint there. A visit in the morning will be better as there will be less rush. Thommankuthu is still a destination which has less crowd than those places with lesser potential manage to have. The evenings will have more people around.
Walking on the rocks, towards that final destination which gets closer.
The journey from the last big town Thodupuzha to Thommankuthu will begin to get scenic very early if you look out through the windows of the vehicle. On the way, there will be places where you might wish to stop and take pictures. There is one particular bridge which you might really want to have a look at. There will be a lot of greenery around and this will surely make sure that your immortal desire for wandering away from modernity can get the early thumbs up.
Trees like this one brings a nice feeling of being close to nature’s soul.
After you pass the gates, it the long, but interesting walk. The trees and the atmosphere makes sure that you won’t get tired that easily. The restrooms are there in the beginning, and there are also benches at some areas, even though you can sit on a rock or a giant root of a huge tree. It is after you go past the danger area that you should greet your temptation to get to the rocks and the water. You will still need to look for the slippery areas though. There is the necessity to look for the sign boards to make sure.
We go through places like this one, and we wonder why not be here forever?
There will be tree-houses on the top of some trees which will provide nice viewpoints. Some trees will also inspire you to take some photos. After a certain point is reached, you will need a local guide to go further. The journey after that will be more difficult. In the case of a family trip or when you are beginning to get tired, stopping here will be appropriate. If you are in an adventurous mood and there is the need to see more waterfalls, caves and viewpoints, you can go ahead.
And then the waterfalls which proves to be nice background for everything!
***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and Samsung Galaxy Duos. I wonder if Amal Neerad will shoot a movie like Iyobinte Pushtakam here, capturing all its glory! 🙂
There is one question which has been commonly asked during talks – What if you had a million dollars? Before converting into rupees, that didn’t provide me that shock which was needed. Well, one million dollars was equal to 65,369,500 rupees when I last looked, and that is an amount which I am sure that I will never earn by myself in my whole life. It is not just the money that I won’t have, it is also more than all the money that I will need. So, this weekend’s WOW topic had me in some doubt. Well, the solution comes in many ways for the extra money that you will have.
Well, whoever you ask if there is the need for money, I am sure that the answer will be yes, even in the case of the top level millionaires. There is a little bit of a journey which has to be done around the world, and that is all for which the money needs to be spent. It has to cover Eastern Europe, especially Romania, as I had mentioned in my earlier post. There are also those historical cities like Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Milan, Berlin, Florence, Lisbon and Paris with all those amazing architecture. The other continents actually don’t have that much for me to travel through, except for a few places and that too the cheaper ones to wander around.
You need the beacon of light on this one; after all it will be the season of doubts.
This actually means that I will be left with something to talk about after finishing the journeys. The number of places to visit will only get lesser in number if things get repetitive, leaving me with more in the bank. Back home, the need for another house, four-wheeler and two-wheeler are not there as I am satisfied with what all is there already. What I have as of now is good. Trying to get more and more will only make me not liking myself that much. Too much luxury will only make me not the person that I have been. Most of us already have more than what we really need.
I am also not a person who believes in changing according to new fashion, and so the already existing clothes will be there for an eternity; I never judged people by their clothes much and never really cared what people thought about they way I dressed. It just needs to fair and decent; nothing more. A person is to be judged by good he or she is, and not by the grand clothing, and so there is no expense coming up there for me. My journey to different parts of the world is to be quick and will have almost no shopping with minimum food, and so there will be more left in the bank.
A few years ago, we used to have a Halloween program, and we collected what we could from the homes around our place and donated the same to a number of charity homes. The youth had decided to turn the night which was looked upon in a negative way into something positive. The response was nice, and one of the recipients we considered was a boys’ home called Snehakkoodu at Aluva. Unlike the other places which had the support of a lot of patrons, this at that time seemed to be a place which could use a lot of help.
Be the light in the darkness; be the colour among the black and white!
The place would be my first home to provide a donation, and I am sure that it will be a very useful act for them. It is all about helping the people in need rather than anything else, and they were in need at that time. Sadly, after we moved from Aluva, I haven’t been there much, and I would like to leave quite something from the amount for them. There is also the Home for the Aged and the Infirm, a few kilometres from Aluva, and I also wish to leave an amount for the old and sick people there.
As we help people in need, there are many around us who are not in that much of good situations as we are. There are our own friends, relatives and neighbours who live around us, and they will also be in need at times, for which some of the money could be kept in reserve to provide for them. We also owe something to them, irrespective of religion, caste and status. It is our duty as an Indian not to discriminate by divisions, and to help our fellow countrymen, the people whom we see each and every day and are in need.
My list of places to travel in this life has been a very long one. I have often thought about buying a new shelf to keep that list. The cities like Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Vienna, Florence, Lisbon, Venice and many others have been part of that list, along with a good number of Latin American nations. There have also been nations on the Eastern side of Asia and the South of Africa which have been in my list. But there is something about Eastern Europe and one nation in particular, which I wished to visit right from my childhood, even before I knew more about the nations, their geographical locations, capitals and the distance to be traveled from here.
I know my friends who wish to travel and settle down in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with those who are already there. I am the first one to make this wish here, and I made it when I was in school, and nobody knew the name of even one Eastern European nation other than Russia. I wanted to travel to Romania. Some friends thought that I wanted to travel to Rome with its Colosseum and Vatican, but that was not my priority. I wanted to see the legend, the hero and the prince of darkness, or at least what remained of the myth and history.
I have loved almost everything I have known about Romania, the most recent love related to Simona Halep, the World No.2 in Women Singles Tennis; that even lead to our cat being named after her. Coming back to the love for Dracula, the first non-Malayalam horror novel which I have ever read, Carpathians had become a grand part of my perpetual endearment towards the unexplored side, something which was to be kept away – the kid who read horror is never the lovable kid, right? It was the time when I had to read the children’s books, and there I was, reading the horror novels.
“That kid who read horror novels” – not that much of a popular tag to have at the Municipal Library of a town; it was a fair title though. Then there were people who had the shocked expression seeing me with the horror novels. I was often called Dracula in the class and I loved it so much; as I soon asked to be called that name, my classmates realized that they couldn’t make fun of me by calling me Dracula and they decided to stop addressing me so. The horror always existed with me, and the genre grew, with horror movies and then reaching my final MA English and Literature project about Vampire as a Cultural Construct.
The Carpathian Mountains should be my place to begin. I should be there alone and be the Jonathon Harker of the time, and it is something which I owe that kid who read horror novels. The Bran Castle should be the big destination as the Dracula Castle, along with Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle making sure that the legend is truthfully followed. I have always loved the castles even outside the horror stories, and with the myth connected here, you know which is the castle which I wish to visit long before any other. The Dracula Castle is like a holy site of myths for us!
Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania also needs to be visited. I have found a number of interesting buildings on the pages, most significant ones being Saint Spyridon the New Church, and the architectural beauty in right there with modernity as well as those with antiquity. Another city on the list is Iasi for the Metropolitan Cathedral there. Constanța, the port city where Simona Halep is from, also makes it to my list. The other cities include Timisoara, Ploiesti, Sibiu, Craiova, Brasov, Galați and Cluj-Napoca – you search for details about a city, and you end up wishing to visit them!
Well, it is clear that I have no job as I have been learning the names of cities. I wish that my MA thesis would come to its real end during a trip to Romania, or may be I could do a Ph.D thesis there on the same topic; the journey is a wish that is never to come true, and Romania is a dream destination which is never to be added to the “visited” list. This is one destination which seems necessary for my salvation, but it is also something which I have put on another list of many impossible things. Do I need to say those six impossible things before tea? May be I do.
***The image used in this blog post was taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5.