Malaysian tourist visits Kerala, India and enjoys the finer things in life


The famed Chinese fishing nets in Kochi.

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When Covid-19 travel restrictions were lifted, my wife and I joined a tour to Kerala, India. This was something we had wanted to do before the pandemic, so we were happy to finally be able to go.

Our tour group comprised mostly retirees between the ages of 60 and 80, though there was one lone 30-something too, who happened to be a doctor.

From the moment we arrived in Kochi (also known by its former name, Cochin), the most populated city in Kerala and where the airport is, right up to the time we left the place, it was all about the food. I had heard about the wonderful food options in Kerala from friends and relatives, but being there and tasting them ourselves was an unbelievable experience.

The rice in Kerala is different and looked a little “fat”, but it is their dhal curry that we thought was out of this world.

Many restaurants also serve jeera, a kind of herbal drink.

Our first stop was at Guruvayoor, where the Sree Krishna Temple is located. The temple, with its centuries-old architecture and thousands of lit oil lamps, was a sight to behold.

We stayed at the Munnar Hill Resort, where the temperature cools down significantly at night. Because of this, a bonfire is lit in the open area at night, and guests can hang around if they wish to. Lively music is also played.

Houseboats cruising along the backwaters of Alleppey. — Photos: THIAGAN MATHIAPARANAMHouseboats cruising along the backwaters of Alleppey. — Photos: THIAGAN MATHIAPARANAM

When we made our way to Thekkady, we stopped at the Spice and Ayurvedic Garden, a “miracle” garden of sorts. There were thousands of herbs, shrubs, plants and trees grown in this garden, and each one can be used to either treat ailments or boost one’s health.

At Thekkady, we went on a boat ride on the Periyar Lake. We got to see deer, monkeys and wild buffalo. It was too bad that none of the elephants or tigers made an appearance to say “hello” to us visitors.

In the evening, we went to see a demonstration of Kalari-payattu, an Indian martial art that originated from Kerala. I enjoyed it a lot, and thought that it was spellbinding seeing the athletes perform their stunts.

The Kathakali dance performance is also a quintessential Kerala experience. The movement of the dancer’s eyes in tandem with the beat of the drums was a treat to watch. It is truly a unique art.

Alleppey is known as the “Venice of the East” to some people. We checked into a single houseboat in the afternoon and cruised along the narrow canals, rivers and backwaters. We relaxed with some fresh toddy, and took photos of Kerala’s famous freshwater lagoons.

The houseboat could only accommodate 12 people in six rooms, and so in the evening, another houseboat came along and anchored next to us so that the remainder of our tour group who did not have a room could move. It sounds like an easy thing to do but it wasn’t as we had to cross over to the other houseboat on a makeshift bridge that wasn’t so steady. It was a fun experience, though a bit scary.

After all that drama, we feasted on some delicious local freshwater seafood.

A Kathakali dance performance is one of the must-do activities in Kerala.A Kathakali dance performance is one of the must-do activities in Kerala.

The next day, while on our back to Kochi, we stopped near an ancient palace, which incidentally was the location site of the hit movie Chandramukhi, starring Indian superstar Rajinikanth.

It was quite challenging to get to the palace, though. We had to make a steep climb up a number of steps and then walk from where we had to leave our footwear, to the entrance of the palace. Under the searing heat and scorching sun, walking that short distance (30m) was like stepping on hot coals!

In Kochi, we saw the famed Chinese fishing nets and explored various parts of the port city, like the Jewish Synagogue, Dutch Palace, Vasco de Gama Church, Jew Town and Marine Drive, the city’s picturesque promenade.

It was a memorable experience getting to see Kerala, and everyone in our tour group was nice and helpful, too. It was great that we were able to enjoy the trip at our own pace, and that everyone explored the place with an open mind.

And the fact that the older folks in our group could manage themselves splendidly throughout the trip inspired me to keep on travelling and experiencing new things.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.


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