Trip to Kochi and Alleppey


Day 1


We arrived at Ernakulam and took the metro to visit the church and roamed around a bit, the Kerala Museum and Modern Art Gallery, and some relatively slow sightseeing.

Day 2


It's difficult to click a picture of the multiple lottery stalls here in Alleppey, from a running vehicle. But they are everywhere, every nook and corner, accompanied by old men in mundus (white dhoti worn like a lungi) sitting on plastic chairs and chatting the morning hours away. Lottery of 60k to be won at one stall. Like paan stalls in Odisha, these lottery stalls are everywhere. Also, all shopkeepers, auto drivers wear mundus, their traditional wear. Christian population here is substantial, there are churches too- big ones in almost every turn. We saw some 8-10 medium to huge churches on our way from Ernakulam to Alleppey via road, amidst the coconut trees in the backdrop. Beautiful white washed ones with ornate windows and a cross visible from the top.


Our stay was at Palm Grove resort in Alleppey. From our resort we could view the lake, the houseboats moving to and fro, overtaking one another like buses on the roads. Each designed in their own unique desi ways. Some look like mini cruises. We were witnessing our Indian Venice in motion. Our houseboat ride lasted almost 3 hours. The backwaters were cool, breezy, teaming with eagles who dove in to pull a fish from the waters, ducks swimming leisurely, cranes flying centimetres parallel to the waters, water plants floating here and there, green juxtaposing with the blue background of water and sky, and purple flowers peeping out from within a few bunch of green. There was an ice cream man selling Uncle John's ice cream on a motor boat to every houseboat and Shikara. It was a unique experience. Beautiful day. Palm Grove resort was beautiful. The lake view and the morning scenes when boats pass by was so beautiful. Loved our stay here. 



We visited Alleppey Beach and Lighthouse towards the evening, but the hot humid weather made it less enjoyable, plus the enormous traffic.



Day 3


We started from Alleppey at 10 am to visit Ambalapuzha temple - Lord Krishna temple. Men were to remove their shirts before entering the temple. It was an old temple. But had a red tiled roof. Such unique architecture. 




Our hotel at Fort Kochi, The Killians was amazing. Soul touched. Heritage home feels. Love this feel of rustic allure and subdued luxury. Less of Modernity more of traditional allure. Best stay on the trip. 




Feels like we got lucky. An auto driver got us visiting 8 places around Fort Kochi for 2 hrs all for 400 rupees. The Church where once Vasco Da Gama was buried before being shifted to Portugal. Santa Cruz Basilica, the Roman Catholic Church and The Syrian Orthodox Church. The Dutch Cemetery. Mattancherry Palace. Pepper Exchange Market, the spice hub of olden days, from where still pepper and other spices are being exported till today. It's an old dilapidated building. We went to the Kochi Art and Craft Center and bought two lush silk pillow covers. The auto drivers get lucky coupons for every visitor they bring in. Here in Fort Kochi as well we see a lottery system of some kind. Once drawn, they get some substantial income, or utility items. Beach was not that good, there's a port for ships nearby, so the waters and sand are dirty and parts from trees clog the beach. 



Kochi Kathakali Center had theatre artists doing their makeup and face painting on the stage with herbal and natural items. There was a stone that was hand grinded with coconut oil for colours like black, yellow and green. They prepared their own colours themselves in the traditional way. And the white fan-like structure attached to the sides of the face were made of paper. And it represented male character. We were given a sheet of printed material to refer to for an explanation of the scene that was to be enacted. It was so exciting. I personally loved it. This 2 hrs show was the highlight of the trip. Love their colourful getup, and their costume, the entire elaborate attire. It's a must-watch kind of experience. 


They did perfect demonstrations for us uninitiated folks who have no idea how much effort goes into learning Kathakali and doing a daily performance. The frequency of eye movements, the way emphasis is depicted with gestures. It's as if someone had decoded human emotions and codified it in mime and expressions. All words could be now enacted. Natyashastra. I found so many similar mudras in Kathakali that are there in Odissi as well. Love this. I should watch a show for Odissi as well sometime. We. 



All 365 days they choose different parts of the Bhagabat purana and enact the play in mime with songs in Malayali in the background, and drummers giving the beats- all the traditional way. 


Cochin International Airport has such displays of all the characters in Kathakali, and Mohiniattam. All negative characters were coloured red and black. All positive ones were green. 



We went to Kochi in the Kartika month which in Odisha we abstain from eating non vegetarian food. So we left the city without tasting some authentic Malabar cuisine. Need to visit Guruvayur temple next time. And that temple which our driver told us about - 25 kms from Fort Kochi where elephants are involved in rituals for 8 days. So much culture, so much tradition. I want to visit this place again some day. 


Day 4


We got almost everything covered in Day 3, at least the major tourist attractions. So today there's no stress in travel. We would take it easy. Basically just walk around, search for more things to do and ease. 



Art Cafes are famous in Fort Kochi. It's a hub for artists, creatives of all kinds. You would find art installations in cafe's, graffiti on the sidewalks, picturesque bright coloured old buildings with ornamental elaborate big windows. And wood everywhere for that rustic vibe. Parts of Fort Kochi seem almost European with whitewashed walls of bungalows and clean pebbled paths. There are curios stores, and paintings from local artists for sale too in certain shops. It's all free to browse, smiling owners are so hospitable. We bought 3 cloth paintings of Krishna and Gopis from a shop in The Princess Street




We had appam with vegetables stew in coconut milk for breakfast in Kashi Art Cafe. The very famous art cafe in Burgher Street. It's teeming with people - foreigners especially. Appreciating the art, the cosy cafe, the delectable dishes. Indian Maritime Museum was one which he wanted to visit. It was worth the time. He is a history buff and I have started loving museums more and more with him. Indo Portuguese Museum beside Bishop's House. 



Finding vegetarian food near a beach or port is the toughest. Before us were some choicest seafood and what not, nothing from the menu could be termed veg for lunch. Finally after hopping through two restaurants, we gladly heaved a sigh of relief on finding a veg restaurant. It was delicious. Pulao and peas masala with curd. Sumptuous meal. Filled our souls after a hectic humid day walking around museums. 


Fort Kochi is humid. Evenings were cool, some mornings were cloudy yet cool, but that day was humid. We almost walked 10k steps. Big achievement for us unusually lethargic folks. 



We got an auto for Jew Town then. The painter's paradise Jew Street, with fashion apparels, curios, art, and books for sale. Lined with beautiful art cafes. Especially the one above in the first floor, just outside the Paradesi Synagogue. The synagogue is of great historical importance. The Jews have all returned to their roots but this synagogue stands and bears testament to the era that was. It has a section with paintings depicting the Jews, their journey in this land, the war, the Marrakars. The Portuguese and the British. Fort Kochi thus is an amalgam of cultures. Cauldron indeed from one corner to the next. One cemetery has Hebrew and another has Dutch. And yet another has English. Local guides are available in 4 languages. European mostly. And there are foreign tourists everywhere. 


We saw art students drawing a view of the Jew Street from their vantage point. There's creative inspiration in this place. It's quiet and calm. You get time to stand and stare.



We then walked by the not so good beach and clicked a few pics of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets. It is a landmark. There was a ferry going from Fort Kochi to Ernakulam, every half an hour perhaps, all for just 6 rupees. We couldn't go, as time didn't permit. Kerala Folklore Museum was one we wanted to visit, but couldn’t. Perhaps next time. But all that was kind of covered in Kathakali Art Center. 


Then we went to Qissa Cafe and back to our hotel at Killians. Love the rooms, the vibe is old world charm, with wooden furniture and orange hued walls and rustic tiled floors. And paintings hung on the wall of Lord Ganesh, mughal sketch. Thin and sharp lines, beautiful precision. Miniatures. 



Then the next early morning flight, back to Bengaluru, home sweet home.


This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023 

Comments

  1. Nice. A detailed look at the places. Lottery is the chief source of Kerala government's revenue. Alcohol is next.

    ReplyDelete

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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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