Puducherry or Pondicherry (as it was formerly called) was a French settlement colony on the east coast of India until 1954. Puducherry is the capital of the Union Territory of the same name ,comprising also of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. With a nice coastline along the Bay Of Bengal, it was known as “The French Riviera of the East” under the French. It’s new name Puducherry means “new town” in Tamil which is the official language.

Puducherry is bounded by the state of Tamil Nadu with which it shares most of its culture, heritage and language. It still harbours remnants of its French past which is easily noticeable in it’s old quarter and even in the names of streets and buildings. French architecture can be seen in many of the old buildings here.

Apart from remnants of its French past, the Aurobindo Ashram , Auroville, and the beautiful beach and promenade are its main tourist attractions.

Puducherry has a small airport which handles only small aircraft but there are flights from Bangalore and Hyderabad to Puducherry. Chennai which is 135 kms away is the nearest major airport.

The nearest railhead is Villupuram situated 35 kms away.

It is well connected by road from all the major cities of South India.

The Beach and Promenade

Puducherry has a 1.2 km long rocky beach along the Bay of Bengal. The beach is well maintained with a nice promenade and a couple of small parks beside the beach. No vehicles are allowed on the beach road and so it is very peaceful.

Some pictures..

The Rock Beach

The Beach with part of the promenade

The Promenade stretches from the War Memorial to Dupleix Park and is well paved and lined by trees. Many of statues and memorials are located on the Promenade. Many Government offices also dot the Promenade.

The road at the Promenade is called Goubert Avenue and is one of the popular tourist destinations here and there are many memorials dedicated to eminent personalities here. Some of the landmarks here are:

The Gandhi Statue

The Gandhi Statue at the Promenade is one of the iconic images of Puducherry.A four metre statue of Mahatma Gandhi, surrounded by eight granite pillars with intricate carvings is a landmark of Puducherry.

The Gandhi Statue and the intricately carved pillar

The Kargil War Memorial

The Kargil War Memorial was built at Puducherry beach by the Indian Army in memory of the soldiers of the Kargil War. It is lit up at night and on special occasions.

The Kargil War Memorial

The French War Memorial

Located along the Promenade overlooking the sea , opposite the Gandhi Statue is the French War Memorial. This is a memorial dedicated to the residents of the former French colony who died in the first World War.

Ambedkar Manimandiram

Dedicated to Dr. B R Ambedkar,(the architect of the Indian Constitution) this memorial stands next to the Tourist Information centre on Goubert avenue. Unlike the other memorials , there is a library and research centre here. A lit up water fountain adds to the attraction at night.

The French War Memorial and Dr Ambedkar Memorial

The French Quarter

That part of Puducherry which still retains remnants of it’s French past is called the French Quarter. Puducherry having been colonised by the Dutch, Portuguese, English and French during various periods of history has had a very colonial past. But it is the French stamp that still persists.

When Puducherry was handed over to India, the citizens had a choice to choose their citizenship. So there are French citizens here, many people speak French, there are restaurants serving French cuisine and French architecture is seen in many places. Some of the street names are in French too.

Although the best way to explore this French past is to take a walk in this French quarter ; one can see remnants of the French past all over Puducherry.

Some remnants of a French past in pictures….

French architecture

Statues of Dupleix and Schoelcher with french inscriptions

A street name in French with Tamil translation!!! and The name and address of a church in French

Another feature of Puducherry just like Goa, are the large number of liquor shops. Liquor is cheaper here.

Something to lift your Spirits!!!

From Spirits to Spiritual……

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

A place for inner peace and meditation, Aurobindo Ashram is another popular landmark of Puducherry. Unlike most ashrams, Aurobindo Ashram is set in a modern setting. Founded by the Indian philosopher and yoga guru Sri Aurobindo in 1926, it now has nursing homes, a dining room, library, a playground and even offers accommodation at reasonable rates. After the death of Sri Aurobindo in 1950, the responsibility of the ashram was taken over by Mira Alfassa ( “The Mother”) who was one of Sri Aurobindo’s ardent followers.

The Ashram Guest house on Goubert Avenue overlooking the beach has affordable accommodation which can be pre booked. The views of the sea from this guest house are really beautiful.

The Ashram and guest house


Auroville which is also called The City of Dawn is a township built to realise human unity in diversity. This concept of Auroville as an ideal township of human unity was the vision of “The Mother”. It later got the backing of the Govt of India and was taken to the UNESCO which gave it a status of project of importance for humanity. It is also an experiment in sustainable living.

Auroville was formally inaugurated in 1968 with around 5000 people from 124 countries assembling near the central banyan tree. They had brought soil from their own countries and the soils were mixed in a lotus shaped urn which is now the focal point of the Amphitheatre.

Located 10 kms north of Puducherry city, most parts of Auroville township lie in the state of Tamil Nadu with some parts in the union territory of Puducherry .

The residents of Auroville come from various social and cultural classes and backgrounds representing humanity as a whole. The population here is constantly growing and approximately one third of the population are Indians.

The township is well planned out with zones dedicated to cultural , industrial, international, residential activities with a central zone dedicated to Peace. The Peace area houses the Matrimandir and the Amphitheatre which contains the Urn of Human Unity which contains soil from different parts of the world. This area creates an ambience of peace and serenity.

The Green Belt which is another interesting part of this planned township has organic farms, dairies, orchards, forests and acts as a barrier to human encroachment.


Located in the centre of Auroville, this golden coloured metallic dome is considered the soul of Auroville. It is surrounded by a large open area called “peace” from where the future city will radiate. Absolute silence has to be maintained here. A spiral ramp leads to the “inner chamber” which is completely white and there is a pure crystal glass globe at the centre which suffuses a ray of electronically guided sunlight that falls on it through an opening at the apex of the sphere. The luminescent globe radites light to the chamber.

There are no guided meditations but one has to learn to be silent, concentrate, meditate and realise oneself.

Matrimandir Complex

The Banyan Tree

A magnificent Banyan tree more than 100 years old is part of the Matrimandir complex with peculiar aerial roots spread over a large area. Banyan trees are generally considered sacred in India and perhaps that prompted Mother to choose it at the centre of Auroville.

The Banyan Tree

The Amphitheatre

Guesthouse at Auroville

The Seagull Restaurant

There are many restaurants serving various cuisines with a definite French emphasis. But we go to the Seagulls restaurant whenever we visit Puducherry. The restaurant itself is pretty old and in need of maintenance. Nothing very spectacular about the food either. Then, what is it that attracts us? What we enjoy there is the ambience and the views from the restaurant.

This restaurant has an open air space partly jutting into the sea with palm trees around. Sitting there at night with the sea breeze wafting along and the moon playing hide and seek among the coconut tree fronds can be an enchanting experience.

The Seagulls Restaurant

Well, I hope this roundup of Puducherry has given you a fair idea of what to expect on your trip to Puducherry.

Do keep your comments and feedback pouring in till we meet next week at Cambodia. Yes, its going to be Vietnam and Cambodia for a few weeks ahead. No worries, no preparations needed; just sit back on your armchair and I will take you there…..


Elephant land….that’s our destination today! Am sure you all enjoy watching these graceful giants walking along majestically with a little baby trying to snuggle in between…..well that’s what we were looking for when we headed to Thekkady.

We were at Kochi for some work and decided to head to Thekkady for a break. So we drove down from Kochi and as we reached Thekkady, saw some awesome scenery including some waterfalls. Some pictures from the drive..

Scenery as we reached Thekkady


Thekkady , is a small town in Idukki district close to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary ; which is a famous jumbo habitat. “Thekku” in Malayalam is “teak” and Thekkady got its name from the teak trees you find in abundance here. Wonder why no one decided to associate the elephants to its name?….something like “Anathottam” or “Anakkadu”. ( Ana in malayalam is elephant).

It is 145 km from Kochi or Madurai which are the two nearest airports.

115 km from Kottayam, the nearest rail head.

Thekkady is also known for a variety of spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves ,cinnamon and nutmeg which are grown abundantly in the estates here.

Cardamom Estate

Cardamom flowers and pods at the base of the plant

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its dense evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests and grasslands. Spread over an area of over 700 sq kms, it is home to herds of elephants, sambar, tigers, gaur, lion tailed macaques, and langurs. It is a designated Tiger Reserve too. A beautiful lake called the Periyar lake lies here…a result of the Mullaperiyar dam built across the Periyar river. The lake acts like a watering hole to the herds of elephants and deer that live here and the lakeside is a great animal viewing point. Boat rides on the Periyar lake are the best way to catch a glimpse of the animals. The Sanctuary can be accessed by boat, trekking or by a jeep safari.

The Essence of Thekkady

Accommodation is available at Kumily town which is 4 kms away and is just a short drive. Outside the reserve area also private hotels and homestays are available . Apart from that, there are some good accommodation options available within the reserve area itself run by the Kerala government.

Periyar House

A budget jungle lodge located in the sanctuary ; about 500 metres from the lake. Since it is located in the sanctuary, it is not safe to venture out after dark .

There are lot of monkeys and one has to be careful with the room windows and any food items being carried.

The staff at the hotel said that elephants even visit the garden around the hotel. Initially we were not very convinced about this. We were just taking a walk just outside the reception area one evening and we did hear elephants trampling the bamboo bushes around. The sounds were both thrilling and scary. Since it was dark , we could not sight the jumbos.

Periyar House

Aranya Nivas

This is a luxury hotel situated close to the lake. The interiors look like the old English bungalows and since the lake is close by, animal viewing is also easy.

Aranya Niva

Lake Palace

The former summer palace of the Maharaja of Travancore, this is a luxury hotel on an island in the Periyar lake. This can only be accessed by a 20 minute boat ride from ashore. Offering amazing views of the lake, it offers opportunities to view the animals as they walk on the lake shores. No wonder the Viceroys and Governor Generals used this for their holidays.

The Lake Palace Thekkady

Some animal sightings from the resort…

We did not go looking for him…..he came looking for us!!!

And this Malabar giant squirrel was disturbed by our presence!

And this guy quickly scampered into the bushes as we drove by….

Periyar Lake

Also commonly known as the Thekkady lake, it was formed when the Mullaperiyar dam was built across the Periyar river in 1895. The lake is located inside the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and acts like a watering hole for the animals. Needless to say, most activities in Thekkady are centred around this lake.

What is striking here is the tree stumps sticking out of the water. These are the trees which got submerged when the lake was formed. These tree stumps provide resting places for the waterbirds that frequent this lake.

Don’t forget to take a pair of binoculars during the boat ride. Bird watching and animal spotting will be facilitated.

But I have a sad story to share. I have visited this lake many times and noticed that the water levels are sometimes abysmally low . We can only hope that it does not totally disappear one day!

The picturesque Periyar lake with the anchored boats

The steps leading to the lake and boating jetty

The tree stumps that are so peculiar to this lake

Boating on the Periyar Lake

Now, imagine you are boating on the Periyar Lake. Look carefully at the picture below. Do you see some animals in the picture ?

Well….these are rocks that can be very deceptive . I am putting up this picture particularly to show how deceptive these can look to the eyes eagerly searching for animals!!!!

Now for some actual sightings…

Some animal sightings during the boat ride on a bright and sunny day

One lucky day!…note the baby jumbo


Sightings on a less favourable day….

A herd of Bison ( the cloudy weather hampered visibility)

And some birds

After spending a couple of days among these amazing creatures , we returned back with beautiful memories to cherish. Wonder if the jumbos will remember us????

As I say goodbye today, I leave you with this message that I saw at the reserve…

A message to humanity….

Till I meet you next week at a new destination, do not forget to subscribe, comment and give me your feedback…


Yet another temple and beach destination in Karnataka is Murudeshwar. Situated around 100 kms north of Udupi, Murudeshwar is also easily accessible by various means of transport and has grown in popularity over the years.

Murudeshwar Temple and beach

Murudeshwar lies on a projection of land into the Arabian Sea on the Karnataka coast. Due to this unique geography, it has sea on three sides and hence offers great views to visitors.

The place is surrounded by hilly terrain and the hills in the distance add to the beauty.

The peculiar location of Murudeshwar

Mangalore is the nearest airport.

Murudeshwar has a train station on the Konkan railway.

By road it lies just off the Mangalore Mumbai highway.

Murudeshwar Temple

As one leaves the highway and takes the road to the temple, there is an arch across the road. Driving further on the road, it gets crowded as one nears the temple. Shops selling trinkets, curios, religious pictures, pooja articles and food dot the road.

The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is built on the Kanduka hill surrounded by water on three sides. The temple has a twenty storey Gopuram . A lift takes one to the top of the Gopuram .The main deity is Mridesa Linga or Murdeshwar.

A 123 ft high statue of Shiva is also part of the temple complex. This is the third tallest Shiva statue in the world and is visible from far away.

The temple complex is huge with smaller shrines dedicated to various Hindu Gods. Several shops selling puja articles and other necessities skirt the temple complex.

The Raja gopuram looks particularly attractive at night with lights at all the floors.

Some pictures…

The arch at the entrance

The Raja Gopuram

Two decorated elephant statues at the entrance

The Shiva Statue

Some of the other statues at the complex

The illuminated Gopuram and lights along the seafront

Murudeshwar Beach

The beach is located next to the temple and the activities spill over both ways making it difficult to separate the two.

The beach is serene during the early morning hours but gets crowded by noon and in the evening it becomes almost impossible to even walk on the beach without bumping on to others especially during the holiday season. The unrestricted entry of vehicles to the beach front creates lot of confusion and difficulty for the visitors. So if you are averse to crowds, it is better to enjoy this beach early in the morning or from the peace of the hotel balcony in the evenings.

We were put up at RNS residency, a multi-storeyed hotel right next to the temple and the room offered great views of the beach.

Murudeshwar beach in the early morning

See the beach crowds in the evening with vehicles parked next to the water.

Murudeshwar beach also offers some water sports activities. Some pictures..

Preparing for a boat ride…

A boat ride….

Netrani Island

The more adventurous can venture to Netrani Island nearby. Another name for this island is Bajrangi Island .There are snorkelling and scuba diving facilities here. There are coral reefs around this island and they provide a nice spot for these activities. The boatmen on the beach organise the visit to Netrani island. Netrani Adventures is a company that offers scuba diving and snorkelling .

Netrani Island

As we are not particularly fond of crowds, we spent the evening at the balcony of the hotel enjoying the sea breeze and the views. Soon we were rewarded with a beautiful sun set view…

Sun sets on another beautiful day…

Next morning we visited the beach and it was calm and peaceful. Enjoyed a leisurely walk soaking in the views.

After returning to the hotel, standing in the balcony, I got a glimpse of a typical fisherman’s life as he went along doing his daily business.

A fisherman’s daily life….

After breakfast, we left Murudeshwar for Goa . A nice drive about which I have mentioned in my blog on the road trip. We reached Goa by late noon. More on Goa in a separate episode.

For now, let me take leave hoping that you enjoyed the trip to Murudeshwar. Do keep your comments and feedback flowing in…

See you next week…


Vagamon is a pristine hill station lying 65 kilometers from Kottayam at its border with Idukki district in Kerala. Fresh cool air, green meadows, pine forests, small waterfalls and tea estates welcome you to this beautiful place. It is called “Queen of the mist” and lives up to its reputation in all ways.

At a height of 1200 metres above sea level, it comprises a chain of three hills…Thangal hill, Murugan hill and Kurisumala. A series of green hillocks called Mottakunnu ( bald hill) is the highlight . One can walk along the misty winding roads or along the estates, and enjoy peace and quiet. The more adventurous can indulge in trekking, hiking and even paragliding. Thus it provides ample recreational opportunities suited for various tastes.

Resorts and homestays suited to every pocket is available here making it an attractive destination for all.

The nearest airport is Kochi about 100 kms away.

Kottayam is the nearest railhead 65 kms away.

It is an easy drive from Kottayam.

We drove down the Salem Kochi highway and drove via Angamaly, Perumbavoor, muvattupuzha, thodupuzha.

The winding roads leading to Vagamon with pine forests was very beautiful.

The winding misty roads as we reached Vagamon

After checking into our resort and enjoying some hot tea and snacks, we walked around the resort enjoying the peace and calm.

Views from the resort with plenty of tea gardens

A small stream provided a gurgling sound in the peace and calm….

Lost in the beauty of the place, we never realised the time pass by till ……

We were witness to an amazing sunset

After a peaceful night’s sleep, we woke up to a misty morning.

A misty morning at Vagamon

Enjoying local tea and the cold weather, we had breakfast and set off to explore Vagamon.

Some pictures….

Vagamon Meadows or Mottakunnu( Bald hills)

A collection of small hillocks with grass or meadows spread over a vast area , in fact stretching as far as one can see is quite unique to this place. This type of bare hills are without trees and provides a peculiar ambience. The sheer vastness of this area leaves one spellbound.

It is a popular film shooting location. The hillocks are great hiking and trekking destinations.

In the dry season, the grass disappears and then they are brownish hillocks which look totally different.

Vagamon Meadows or Mottakunnu

The Meadows from a distance

Pine forest

A man made cluster of tall pine trees on a hill slope overlooking a valley provides a nice backdrop for many a picture!

Pine Forest Vagamon

Suicide Point

Also called Moonpara, it is a V shaped gorge and one can see the deep valley from here. Paragliding is an important activity here.

The abyss from suicide point

The valley below suicide point


All of us have at some point of time or the other wished that we could soar above the clouds like a free bird. Well Vagamon provides you that opportunity by way of paragliding.An emerging adventure sport activity , paragliding is thrilling and needless to say, requires special training to indulge in.

Vagamon is one of the paragliding destinations in India. Kolahalamedu hills , where this activity takes place at Vagamon; has a 10 km long ridge looking down at a valley 3000 ft deep. Paragliding depends on wind conditions and this location has ideal wind conditions for paragliding between the months of September and January. Most paragliding activities take place here during this period. International championships are held here usually in end September. Both professionals and amateurs indulge in paragliding here at that time.

The glider is a free flying foot launched aircraft and has a harness seat in which the pilot sits. The canopy is aerodynamic in design; made of nylon and attached to the harness seat by ropes. The pilot has full control of the glider and can manoeuvre it around. He can glide along like a bird enjoying the sights below. That sure must be a great experience!!

The pilot stands on the ridge and after ensuring all parameters are ready, runs down a slope. The wind soon starts filling the canopy and it opens out like a wing and the glider is airborne. For amateurs a professional pilot sits along with the person in a two seater glider and glides along.

Teams from the Indian Army and other Disaster management agencies regularly participate in the events held here apart from foreigners.

The colourful gliders soaring up and performing aerobatics is a sight to behold! When we visited Vagamon, the paragliding championships were due and we saw lot of people practicing for the event.

Some pictures….

A paraglider lands….

Soaring up in the sky….

Video of a paragliding session


Just 24 kms from Vagamon is another misty hill station called Kuttikanam. Tea estates, and beautiful hills provide great opportunities for mountain biking, hiking and trekking here. There are beautiful waterfalls at several places and the town is mist covered many a time making it a beautiful destination.

Some pictures…

Tea gardens

A waterfall

After spending a few days at this beautiful destination, we returned with wonderful memories .

Anyone wants to indulge in paragliding?….head to Vagamon and indulge in your dream.

Hope you enjoyed this trip…

Do comment and give your valuable feedback


This is a word I have to keep up….

I had promised to do a detail blog on Malpe when I touched upon this jewel of a beach during my road trip episode. Well; here it comes….

Beautiful Malpe beach

Beach Umbrella typical of Malpe

Some of you will think….What’s so different ? A beach is a beach whether it’s in Goa, Kerala, TN, Maharashtra or even Pondicherry. Well it’s not like that…each of these beaches has it’s own flavour and ambience. Each of these beaches has its own colour of sand, the coarseness of the sand grains, the rockiness of the coast, the width of the beach, the drop of the sand ridge into the ocean and various parameters that make each one unique. Each of these beaches has its own unique water sports, food and local ambience too! I will be touching on most of these beaches in my forthcoming episodes and that should clear the air.

Located just 6 kms from the temple town of Udupi in Karnataka, Malpe beach is an awesome destination. Very few know about the wonderful beach that this temple town is home to.

Mangalore at a distance of 60 kms is the nearest airport and Udupi the nearest railway station. It is located very conveniently at a short drive from the Mangalore Mumbai highway.

Not as well marketed as the beaches of Goa, helps in maintaining its serenity and peace. I have visited this beach many times and I can tell you, its gaining popularity but simultaneously losing its peace. So those of you who love peace on the beach, you are running out of time!.. Head there before it gets to that stage of “just another beach”. Those of you who like crowded beaches can take it easy….the more you wait, the more crowded it will get…the popularity of this beach is growing!!!!!

A little history and geography…

Malpe is one of the exquisite unexplored beaches of the Indian West Coast. Located at the mouth of the Udayavar River, the rocky coastline has 4 islands, the most famous being St. Mary’s Island.

For centuries, Malpe has been an important trading port with the West. It is also believed that Vasco da Gama had made a short halt during his voyages at St Mary’s Island and it was he who gave the island its name. Malpe is also an important fishing harbour due to the diverse marine life here due to the mixing of the fresh river water and the sea.

Safety is what adds to the tourist attraction of a place. Being a very uniform and gentle sloping sand beach with no sudden depth , makes it one of the safest beaches in the region. As mentioned earlier, the popularity of this beach has grown and lot of tourists and locals reach this beach in search of a great beach holiday. The authorities have risen to the occasion and a lifeguard station functions here. Apart from that coloured flags indicating the level of danger are put up on the beach front regularly. Beach patrolling by the guards who monitor the swimmers also occurs.

Life guard station Malpe

Red flags on a risky day


Accommodation of various categories ranging from luxury hotels to backpackers and homestays are available close to the beach itself which makes it very convenient.

Paradise Isle Resort where we usually stay

Some other hotels overlooking the beach

A variety of watersport activities take place here in the evenings. Indulging in them or even just standing by and watching them can be a very relaxing experience. Some pictures from my visit to Malpe…

Boards displaying various activities at Malpe

Some of the activities at Malpe beach

Sea Walk

A seawalk is one of the latest additions at Malpe that helps one enjoy the sunsets from an extended walkway into the sea.

Sea Walk Malpe

St Mary’s Island

Another activity that one can indulge in, is a visit to St Mary’s Island. This island can be spotted in the horizon from Malpe. A short boat ride takes one to this palm fringed island.

The boat ride to St Mary’s Island

Approaching St Mary’s Island

St Mary’s Island

Rare basalt volcanic rocks are found here and it has been added as a National geological monument.

The Basalt Rocks


The word Udupi is almost synonymous with typical South Indian breakfast fare of Idly,(a steamed rice cake) Dosa, ( savoury pancake made of rice),Sambar,( a gravy that accompanies the idly) and Vada (deep fried lentil fritters) . When we talk loosely of a Udupi Hotel, it refers to such vegetarian fare. But contrary to that, local food includes lot of nonvegetarian items too.

Malpe offers great non vegetarian cuisine especially fish. Tulunadu…that’s what this region is known locally , is known for its variety non veg fare. (“Tulu” is the local dialect of Kannada and “nadu” is country) Kori Rotti, ( chicken and wheat bread) Fish Curry, Prawn roast, Neer Dosai etc are part of typical tulunadu food.

A typical restaurant signboard

Just reaching the kitchen!!

A sombre ritual

I was witness to a religious ceremony one morning on the beach. A family was performing the obsequies of a relative.

It is customary for Hindu families to perform certain rituals after the death of their family members. It is performed close to waterbodies and Malpe is no exception….


As you have seen, Malpe beach is a hub of activities that can keep anyone entertained. However, if you prefer a quieter place with the ambience of a lagoon, head to the mouth of the Suvarna river a few kms from the main beach. Here there are resorts on the banks of the estuary which have a quiet ambience.

Some pictures from one such place.

The resort

The beautiful views from the resort

With Malpe offering so many avenues of entertainment, it sure is finding its way into everyone’s bucket list. Apart from Malpe, one can visit other lesser known beaches along the Karnataka coast from here.

Kaup is one such beach destination where there is a famous light house. It is also a famous surfing destination.

Kaup Lighthouse

Maravanthe is also another beautiful beach close to Udupi on the highway.

Beautiful Maravanthe

So as you can see , there are lot of beach holiday options along the Karnataka coast. Easy to approach and pocket friendly, all of you should definitely try out some of these.

Before I bid goodbye , let me leave you with a sunset view from Malpe..

A cloudy sunset at Malpe…

As you plan your beach holiday, don’t forget to subscribe, comment and send in your feedbacks.


Munnar is a cute town nestled in the Western Ghats in the Idukki district of Kerala.

“Moonu” in Malayalam is three and “aar” is stream. Munnar got its name as it is located at the confluence of three rivers Muthirapuzha, Nallathani and Kundala.

It is known for its pristine green valleys, misty mountains, tea estates, spice estates, waterfalls, and dams. The Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered species of mountain goat is found here and in the adjoining Eravikulam National park.

At an altitude of more than 5000 ft above sea level, it enjoys cool winters and pleasant summers. It provides a nice escape from the hot and humid summers of the plains in Kerala and has hence grown into a popular tourist destination over the years.

Resorts and home stays abound in Munnar and provide accommodation of various categories to tourists making it easily affordable for everyone. It has also developed into a popular hiking and trekking destination in south Kerala.

It is easily reachable from Kochi which is the nearest airport located around 140 km away.

Angamaly and Kochi provide railway connectivity at a distance around 120 to 140 km.

It is also a pleasant drive after taking a diversion to Munnar on the Kochi Salem highway.

Our Trip

One beautiful morning, we drove down from Coimbatore to Munnar.

We took the route via Pollachi, Udumalpet and Marayoor which works out to roughly 200 kms.

Marayoor is known for two things, the sandalwood forests and its jaggery.

The sandalwood forests of Marayoor

Molasses being processed into Jaggery

The finished product…jaggery balls

We also crossed Eravikulam National park on the way

Eravikulam National Park

Eravikulam is a reserve forest area where tourists are allowed only in designated areas . It is home to the endangered mountain goat known as the Nilgiri Tahr.

The entrance to Eravikulam National Park

The Nilgiri Tahr

Reaching Munnar late afternoon, we checked into our hotel and rested for the evening enjoying the climate and the scenery.

Tea gardens over acres and acres and over several hill ranges dominates the scene in Munnar.

View from the hotel

Mist covering the hills

Tea Gardens stretching as far as one can see….

Tea shrubs

Spice Estates abound in Munnar….particularly cardamom.

Cardamom plants

Over the next two days, we explored various points in and around Munnar.

Echo Point

Echo point lies about 15 km from Munnar town on the road to Top Station.

The Kundala lake provides a serene front to the hills on its backdrop covered with thick forests and lush green grass. These hills echo the sounds generated from across and hence the name.

Needless to say, one can hear a cacophony created by the tourists here!!

Echo Point

Kundala Lake

This pretty lake created by the Kundala Dam is another popular destination for tourists. Boating facilities in the lake in a backdrop of lush green mountains really make it a beautiful spot.

Early mornings are less crowded here and one can get beautiful pictures particularly if clouds have descended here , as they sometimes do.

The serene Kundala Lake

Mattupetty Dam

Located on the Top Station road, this dam and lake are part of the Indo Swiss livestock project . It is a popular picnic spot even for the locals and one can go boating on the lake or undertake hikes and treks from here.

Mattupetty Dam

Attukadu Waterfalls

A multitiered waterfall, Attukadu falls can be seen even from a distance as one approaches Munnar. It is located in the middle of a rocky terrain and reaching close to the falls may be difficult for the less agile. As expected, this waterfall is in its full glory during monsoons or immediately after. A small pool at the end provides a nice bathing spot!

Attukadu falls from a distance

The water cascading among the rocks

Enjoy the falls in this video

Top Station

True to its name, it is the highest point in Munnar and offers unparalleled views of the Theni plains below. With green hills surrounding you on all sides. it gives a heavenly feel .

One of the highlights here is the blooming of the Neelakurinji in the hills once in twelve years. When in bloom, the hills literally turn blue in colour and adding to the beauty of the place

Top Station

The Neelakurinji in bloom

The Blossom Park

Situated close to Munnar town, this park is home to a variety of flora and fauna and is a popular picnic spot. When we visited Munnar, there was an orchid exhibition on at this park. We were treated to a feast of orchids in full bloom making us long to carry some of them home!!

The orchids….

Lakkam Falls

Another beautiful waterfall in Munnar is the Lakkam falls.

Lakkam Falls

Adventure Sport Activities

Various adventure sport activities like zip lining, mountain biking, rope climbing etc are available here for the enthusiastic tourists. Some pictures…

Adventure Sport activities

After enjoying the cool climate and the lush green surroundings, we were treated to this wonderful sunset over the hills on our last day at Munnar

The sun sets on a wonderful holiday….

Driving back via Pollachi, we were put off by the traffic and the heat ; but we were pretty sure we would go back there soon….

So do visit this tea paradise and of course pick up some tea from the factory outlets there….to savour the cup of tea ; if not the estates

Do give me your comments and feedback…


Another lovely destination which is easily reachable but really refreshes one is Parambikulam. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is located in Palakkad district of Kerala.It is located 40 km from Pollachi in Tamil Nadu. The tiger reserve is located in an area surrounding the Parambikulam Aliyar Project or PAP.


The Parambikulam Aliyar Project is a unique initiative aimed at augmenting the irrigation facilities in the drought prone Coimbatore and Erode districts of Tamil Nadu and the Chittoor area of Kerala. The project includes 10 dams , 4 power houses, 6 main tunnels and 7 irrigation canals. It accomplishes the integration and diversion of 8 rivers with reservoirs at various elevations and utilising this for generating hydro electric power. Most of these rivers are rain fed rivers in the Anamalai ranges. The canals, tunnels and reservoirs are located in picturesque surroundings in reserved forests. Thus , it utilises natural resources optimally and also serves the interest of tourism. It is also an excellent example of inter state cooperation between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The Parambikulam Tiger reserve is home to four tribal communities who live here in hamlets. These tribals work as guides for treks and safaris in the reserve and serve as an integral part of the comprehensive harmonious ecosystem.

The activities available here include Jungle safaris, treks, bamboo rafting and tree top experiences. There is a giant 500 year old Kannimara teak tree here. It is more than 41 metres in height and almost 8 metres in girth. This tree is worshipped by the indigenous people of Parambikulam. Legend has it , that it bleeds when anyone tries to cut it and hence the tribals preserved it. “Kannimara” means virgin tree .

Our Trip

We drove down from Coimbatore to Pollachi and after a sumptuous breakfast, headed to Sethumadai. The road was beautiful with trees on either side of the road.

Pollachi Anamalai road

From Sethumadai we first reached the Anamalai Tiger Reserve where the first check post is located.

Anamalai Tiger Reserve

Here we paid the entry fees and completed registration formalities and proceeded further and reached Top Slip.

Top Slip

From Top Slip, we proceeded further. As we proceeded further, we saw the Elephant camp at Top Slip.There were lot of deer in the forests around and very often they crossed the road in front of us.

The Elephant Camp at Top Slip

Deer roaming around freely at Top Slip

Proceeding further, we reached the Kerala border at Anapady where we entered the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. Here again we had to pay the entrance fee and register the vehicle number .

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve entrance

About 2 km after this check post, we reached the Parambikulam jungle safari area. From here on, only people with pre booked accommodation are allowed entry into the reserve. Others have to leave their vehicles here and join the jungle safari organised from here in special vehicles.

Since we had booked for accommodation, a guide who belongs to the local tribe accompanied us inside the reserve. As we drove along inside the reserve we saw some more deer. Langurs and peacocks were also seen. We also spotted a fish eagle.

A peacock and an inquisitive langur

As we drove on, we entered more forested areas. Soon we were at Thoonakadavu where there is a large reservoir. As we drove past the reservoir, we saw some crocodiles basking in the sun on the banks of the reservoir.

The forested roads near Thoonakadavu

Thoonakadavu Reservoir

We proceeded further down and reached another reservoir , the Peruvaripallam Reservoir.

We had booked accommodation at Peruvari Island nest, a beautiful tree top bamboo house on an island in the Peruvaripallam reservoir. The only way to reach this resort is by bamboo rafts.

So we had to leave our vehicle near the bamboo rafting point and we boarded a bamboo raft .The local guides including the guide who accompanied us rowed the raft.

The Bamboo raft

Starting our journey to the Island resort in the bamboo raft

This was really a unique experience. The surrounding areas had large bamboo clusters which looked beautiful against the waters of the reservoir.

The beautiful bamboo clusters on the banks of the reservoir

Reaching the Bamboo house….seen with green roof in the back drop

The beautiful tree top bamboo house called Peruvari Island Nest

The house was made of bamboo and had all modern amenities. In addition, there was a bamboo extension bridge built into the reservoir where we could walk up to and enjoy the scenery around

The bamboo extension bridge

Feeling happy and safe on grandpa’s shoulders

The local guide who accompanied us quickly provided us some tea and snacks which we enjoyed sitting in the balcony of the tree top house.

It was truly a great experience. Beautiful views of the reservoir and surroundings with cool breeze wafting in made us feel ecstatic.

Beautiful views from the tree top house

After sun set, it was a different experience with the sounds of the forest and occasional sounds of nocturnal birds.

The guide along with the local raft helpers cooked up dinner for us. We enjoyed the meal in the stillness of the night. Spending one night in an island in the forest was really something unique for all of us.

Next morning we enjoyed the views of dawn and the breakfast provided by the helpers. After that we took the raft back ashore and then visited the Parambikulam dam by car.

At Parambikulam dam

We wanted to see the Kannimara Tree but unfortunately the road leading to the tree was damaged and tourists were not allowed at that time.

From there we proceeded back home via Pollachi with refershed minds and wonderful memories of a day well spent in the lap of nature.

This is again a very easily doable option for a unique refreshing holiday. The experience of living on an isolated island in a forest is a rare opportunity. So just pack your bags and head to Parambikulam…..

To keep me refreshed and enthused to get you more destinations, do keep your comments and feedback flowing in like the gentle breeze of Parambikulam….


There are various accommodation options available at Parambikulam and one can pre book at the site


A Road Trip

This time, I am on a road trip from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu to Ratnagiri in Maharashtra…..a simple Indian road trip. Not focussing so much on the destinations as on the travel. We covered a distance of more than 2000 kms over 10 days, halting at interesting places along the way.

A map showing the route we took….

The Route Map

This blog will focus on the sights along the way…

Starting from Coimbatore early morning our target was 200 km to reach Mysore by noon. Drove to Annur where we had breakfast of idli, vada….traditional south Indian and topped it up with filter coffee.

From Annur we were headed to Sathyamangalam. On the way we passed a famous temple at Bannari

Bannariamman Temple

It was a cloudy day and the drive was pleasant. The road condition was good by and large. Crossed the town of Sathyamangalam and headed to the Dhimbam ghat road.

This drive took us through the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve . Some pictures captured as we drove through the reserve..

The entrance to The Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

A video to give the feel of driving through the reserve.

Soon we found ourselves on the Dhimbam ghat road. This road has 27 hairpin bends …some of them almost V shaped with significant lorry traffic making it a little challenging for anyone.

The Dhimbam ghat begins…

The Dhimbam ghat road

The view of the plains below

The sharp turns

Soon the fog started setting in hampering visibility…

Fog setting in

Dhimbam was the highest point and from there we started the descent.

As we descended, the fog reduced and we were in for some sunshine…and of course the vegetation also changed. There were bamboo clusters all along. This area is a elephant habitat and the bamboos are probably the reason , as it is a favourite of the giants.

Warm sunshine again

Bamboo clusters…change in vegetation

Soon we were at the town of Hassanur where everyone was taking a break….

The break at Hassanur

Hot vadas sizzling in oil

Soon after that we crossed the border from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka.

We crossed over to Karnataka

From there we headed to Chamarajnagar…a small town on the way. The road was bad for a few kilometers here.

Then on to the temple town of Nanjangud , and on to Mysore

Nanjangud Temple gopuram

Reaching Mysore just past noon , we took our overnight halt here. Checked into the hotel, rested for sometime and took a nice walk around The Radisson Blu hotel . Had some nice filter coffee and bonda in a hotel nearby.

Saw the excited crowds at the zoo which we were not interested in , as we had visited earlier. Returned to the hotel, had dinner and rested for the night.

Left Mysore next morning and took the Mysore Madikere highway NH275 en route to the temple town of Udupi which was our next halting point…..300kms drive

Authentic Karnataka breakfast of Dosa at Mysore

Mysore Madikere highway

The Mysore Madikere highway had good road condition and some pictures taken on the way...

Fruit shops like this one dotted the highway as we left.

Besides, there were lot of new developing housing projects on the outskirts of Mysore.

As we moved away from the city, more fields were seen on either side…..

Fields on either sides of the highway

Road signs like this one provided guidence and direction as we proceeded.

Some of the towns we passed was Hunsur, Periapatna and KushalNagar.

Just as we reached KushalNagar, we crossed Bylakuppe, the Tibetan settlement colony.

The Tibetan settlement colony at Bylakuppe

Tibetan monks in traditional attire is a common sight around KushalNagar.

A few kms away, we crossed Nisargadhama too. Nisargadhama is an eco park along one of the tributaries of the Cauvery river which offers various recreational facilities. It is one of the important to-do destinations from Coorg/Madikere.


Gradually the roadside scenery changed from fields to estates of coffee heralding our location to be Coorg. The climate was also getting little cooler and we had a slight drizzle. This added to the beauty though it hindered my photography.

A typical coffee plantation with pepper vines on the trees.

Another familiar site as one reaches coorg are the boards advertising typical Coorgi food .

Coorgi Pork recipe advertisements are typical here

Soon we were at Madikere ,where we bypassed the town. There is a proper bypass to this town and it helped a lot in saving time.

After that, there was a steady incline and the roads were more winding.

We passed several coffee and pepper plantations on the way. Coorg has plenty of spice plantations and the roads are dotted with spice shops.

The roads started getting more winding .

More coffee and pepper….

We did take a short coffee break among the coffee estates…

A short coffee break was welcome!

Another typical roadside sight are the spice shops like this.

After some beautiful scenic roads, the coffee estates were replaced by rubber estates heralding our descent to the plains….

Rubber estates on the way

We were entering south Karnataka and the main city there is Mangalore.

The first main town was Sullia where had a lunch break.

A typical south Indian Thali Meal

After lunch, we crossed Puttur and were heading to Bantwal when we had a stretch of real bad road for about 10 kms. That really slowed us down , but after that we took NH 73 which was again pretty good and reached Bantwal.

The Bantwal river was one of the first of the many rivers that we crossed on our way

After Bantwal, we joined NH 66 and headed to Mangalore but diverted off to Udupi from the outskirts of Mangalore . Again we did cross some bridges over rivers like this one near Mulki town

The Mulki river

Soon we were at Udupi the town known for its Sri Krishna Temple where we took a halt for the night.

We had visited the temple earlier and decided to stay at Malpe, a beautiful beach resort town near Udupi.

Malpe is a beautiful beach resort near the temple town of Udupi. One of the safest beaches in this area, it has various recreation activities. Some pictures from Malpe….

Beautiful Malpe beach

Resort at Malpe

Evening at Malpe

We also made a new friend here, a little lady who compared us to her grandparents ……

A new friend at Malpe

There is a lot more about Malpe which we can talk about in an episode dedicated to it. Here, Malpe is just one of our halts on the trip….

Next morning we departed from Malpe headed to Murdeshwar.

This was actually a break day after two long days of driving. So we did a short journey of around 100 kms only.

Continuing on our own “Route 66″…NH66

NH66…..our own “Route 66

This route is dotted with bridges crossing beautiful rivers and backwaters ( difficult to distinguish) . Islands of mangroves can also be seen here in many places.

One of the many beautiful rivers on this route

There is a beautiful beach on this route at Maravanthe where the road is adjacent to the beach….some pictures from Maravanthe

Beautiful Maravanthe

Maravanthe….the beautiful beach

After this amazing beach comes the town of Kundapura from where one can visit the famous Kollur Mookambika temple.

The beautiful Sowparnika or Kollur River

Mangrove islands in the backwaters

Our destination for the day was the temple town of Murudeshwar where we halted .

Murudeshwar is a temple town with a huge temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is unique in many ways and more details will come up later.

Murudeshwar has a beautiful beach with lot of water sports activities too. More on Murudeshwar in an episode dedicated to it.

The arch at the entrance to Murudeshwar town

The beautiful beach at Murudeshwar with its water sport activities

Next morning after breakfast we were headed to Pernem in Goa, a distance of 300 odd kms for the day.

Joining NH 66 again we continued our journey northwards skirting the west coast.

One thing I noticed was the lurking danger of cattle crisscrossing the NH 66. I must mention this here as it is rampant. Cattle are left to fend for themselves on the road and they are a serious threat to the unwary driver. We did see a couple of cattle run over along the highway too. This trend continues into Goa and Maharashtra too. On city roads we do find cattle , but on a highway with speeding vehicles they really pose a danger.

Lurking cattle ….danger on NH 66

Some of the important towns we crossed were Honavar, Kumta and Gokarna. Also saw the roads to Sirsi and Jog Falls branching off the highway.

The River Gangavali was skirting the highway for some time too.

The River Gangavali skirting NH 66

Soon we crossed Ankola and Karwar and there was a clear change of landscape see. Muddy hill slopes dotted the highway. The highway was probably carved out from these slopes.

The muddy hill slopes from which NH was carved out

Soon we crossed the Karwar Naval Base, Karwar fishing village and Karwar Port

Karwar fishing village

Port of Karwar

Soon we were on a long bridge across the Kali River.

The Kali River

Soon after this we crossed the border to Goa.

One of the first signs that greeted us at Goa was this….

Welcome to Goa….

Crossed the Talpona river . Could see the muddy water clearly joining the blue sea.

The Talpona river…note the muddy water and the blue sea at a distance

Plenty of rice fields also dotted the highway…

The paddy fields of Goa

After entering Goa, for a considerable distance, it looked like an ordinary road and often with ghat sections. Soon we joined a 4 lane highway and then on to some amazing roads. A long flyover which crosses backwaters at places connects North and South Goa.

Was quite impressed with the infrastructure development in Goa. Crossed the Zuari River bridge. As we crossed it, we saw the new Bridge under construction….really impressive.

The new Zuari Bridge under construction

We also saw the Atal Sethu bridge which is a cable stayed bridge which is over 5 km long and is the third longest cable stayed bridge in India. It is built over the Mandovi river and one can see the River and the passenger terminal as one crosses the bridge.

Atal Sethu Bridge

The Mandovi River and Goa’s passenger terminal.

Proceeding further north we reached Pernem where we halted at Mandrem Beach which is one of the last beaches in North Goa.

At Mandrem, we halted at the Riva Beach resort. Some pictures..

A cute wooden bridge across a small backwater stream leading to the beach

The resort as seen from the beach…nestled among coconut trees

Beach bar

Some authentic Goan food was also on our radar

A typical Goan Thali with a big chunk of fish

After a day’s break at Riva Resort where we rested, we were headed further north towards Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri. Another 300 kms was our day’s target.

We continued on NH 66 for a considerable time and from Rajapur diverted towards Pawas.

Very less traffic once we left Goa and the highway was concreted probably keeping the high rainfall that these regions face in the monsoons.

The highway was dotted with huge mango orchards…

Mango orchards

The road from Rajapur was bad and it took us some time to reach Kohinoor Samudra Beach resort at Kurli in Ratnagiri. This resort is just 5 km from Ratnagiri town.

It is a huge resort with excellent views of the sea . Located on a hillock, we can see Bhatye Beach Ratnagiri from here. It looks awesome…the arial view..

Some pictures from Kohinoor Samudra resort where we spent Diwali 2022.

The open sea as we reached Kurli.

View from hotel, the Ratnagiri light house point is seen in the backdrop

Bhatye beach from resort

Sunset point at the resort with cliffs protruding into the sea.

Diwali celebrations at the resort

The sun sets on Diwali 2022

After a two day halt at Ratnagiri, we started our return trip

Benaulim beach in South Goa was our next destination.

Since we were following the same route down to South Goa, on NH66, the views were the same…some pictures

A typical Goan scene

One of the many churches that dot Goan roads

I must mention here one more dangerous trend on these highways. The 6 and 4 lane highways suddenly become 2 lane roads specially close to towns, With no proper warning boards, this can be dangerous and one has to be careful.

One such example

Sudden narrowing of the highway...a real nightmare on the drive

Well apart from being careful ourselves, nothing much can be expected….

Leaving the unpleasant things away….let’s talk about Benaulim…one of the best Goan beaches I have seen.

Really great broad beach with clean whitish sand.

We stayed at Benaulim for two days and enjoyed the beach ambience and of course also saw the rare solar eclipse from here!

At Fairfield Marriott Benaulim

Beach shacks at Benaulim

A parasailer looks down at the sands of Goa

And I managed a shot of the solar eclipse at sunset

Next day, we were headed to Koteshwar, a town close to Udupi where there is a beautiful beach at Beejadi. An unspoilt beach ; far from human intervention, it was a sort of private beach for us.

We were put up at Gluklich Beach Cottages, a cute small beach resort with direct beach access. Some pictures..

Gluklich Beach Cottages

Some of the offered activities

As you walk to Beejadi Beach

The long coastline along Beejadi beach Koteshwar

A lone unfortunate star fish was washed ashore!

Nature had sketched on this beach!

And we tried our best to get the sun home!!

The last beach sunset on this trip….had to be beautiful…..see the pink of the sky on the sand below!!!

After a nostalgic goodbye to the beaches, we returned to the hotel for the night.

Next morning we left Koteshwar for Hassan, a distance of 230 kms which we thought would be easy , but it took us some time due to the ghat roads, bad roads at Chikmagalur and nearing Hassan.

Some of the main towns we crossed were Haladi , Belve, Agumbe, Balehonnur, Chikmagalur and Belur.

After Haladi and Belve we were in to some winding roads with thick forests on either side. Arecanut and Cashewnut orchards were another common sight here.

Arecanut farms

Cashew orchards

Soon we were on the ghat road to Agumbe. Agumbe is one of the places in this region which receives lot of rainfall. Close by to Agumbe near Sringeri is also the most number of Indian King Cobras sighted according to National Geographic. The forested ghat road had some challenging hairpin bends where vehicles often stopped to give way to others. Some pictures

Thick forests line the ghat roads

Sharp turns at Agumbe ghat

The spectacular views from sunset point Agumbe ghat

After we cleared the ghat road, we were at Agumbe town and following SH 27 and 65 we were into Chikmagalur district. Coffee , pepper and arecanut plantations dotted the roads. Surprisingly we did pass through a small tea estate too. Some pictures

Coffee plantations

Driving through a coffee estate

The roads were pathetic in Chikmagalur area to say the least! There were no roads at places….felt like we were on a Himalayan rally!!!!!

After an overnight halt at Hassan, we left next morning to Bangalore and reached our son’s home by noon. Staying there for a couple of days, we took a breather after nearly ten days on the road.

After a nice stay at Bangalore, we drove back to Coimbatore.

A successful road trip of more than 2000 kms; a memory to cherish!

This blog has been different from my usual ones…

HERE I WAS FOCUSSING ON THE JOURNEY RATHER THAN THE DESTINATION! As promised, details on the various beaches will be covered in separate episodes . And as per popular demand, food was also included !!!

Hope you all liked it…

Do keep your feedback and comments coming


Kerala is known for its backwaters, lush green paddy fields and some awesome beaches. A major stretch of backwaters lies in Kottayam district in Kerala. A large network of rivers and canals empty into the huge Vembanad lake here. Vembanad lake itself is a developing tourist destination with facilities for boating, fishing, bird watching and other sightseeing experiences.

Vembanad Lake

Kumarakom is a green peninsula jutting into the Vembanad lake situated 15 kms from Kottayam.

Kochi , located 75 kms away is the nearest airport.

Like in any place in Kerala, the coconut tree is omnipresent and the gracefully bent coconut palms swaying in the breeze against the backdrop of the backwaters leaves everyone mesmerized.

The omnipresent Coconut palms

Much of the rural life in these areas is intricately connected to the canals and backwaters. Many houses are located along these canals and a boat ride on the canals gives one a sneak peak into the day to day lives of the locals. Most houses here own a boat and that meets most of their transport requirements. Even the women folk in these villages are deft at handling these boats.

A typical house along the backwaters with their boat

Mangrove clusters also dot the shores of the Vembanad lake where migratory birds arrive and thrive regularly. That provides bird watching opportunities to tourists.

A Cormorant family


One of the best ways of exploring these backwaters is to take a boat ride on one of the many houseboats that cruise these canals and the Vembanad lake. The houseboats are iconic of Kerala and are made of wood and have woven bamboo/palm mats used to provide shelter and shade.

A typical houseboat

These houseboats have all facilities for lodging of guests with a kitchen, bedroom, dining area etc. There are houseboats of various sizes with the larger ones having multiple rooms to accommodate more people. They all follow a particular itinerary.

A typical overnight cruise itinerary:

A typical overnight house boat cruise starts around 11 am. The houseboats are anchored along the jetty which abuts the side road and is lined by local houses and shops. The driver and assistant pick up the requirements for the overnight stay including any special meal requests from the guests and then set out.

The initial part of the boat ride is invariably through a narrow channel with houses on either side. After sometime the boat leaves the narrow channel and enters the lake. The driver takes a round of any particular area of the lake and by noon, halts for lunch and siesta.

Lunch is usually typical Kerala cuisine with fish and other varieties of seafood being the highlight. After lunch and siesta, the boat again cruises other parts of the lake and anchors around sunset at another jetty. Here the boat is connected to powerline for the airconditioning and other requirements. The guests are free to take a walk around the jetty or visit the local market or just laze around and enjoy the ambience.

Dinner is again provided according to the guest’s choice. Next morning the boat again starts and cruises the lake and breakfast is also provided. By around 10 am, the boat reaches the jetty from where they started.

Our Trip

We did an overnight trip on a house boat after driving in from Kochi and leaving the car at one of the houses along the jetty.

Some pictures as we cruised Vembanad lake and its surrounding areas. Take a look…

Our houseboat before it left the shores…

The narrow channel with houses on either side.

Soon we were in the open waters of the Vembanad Lake

A typical kerala style lunch with fish curry

Some of the resorts along the shores of the back waters

And some Chinese fishing nets along the shores

Sitting on the upper deck and relaxing as the boat cruised along

The beautiful sunset painted by mother nature…..take a look

And gradually it got darker

After the houseboat anchored, we just took a stroll on the village road and returned to the boat for dinner. Next morning we enjoyed the sunrise views and were treated to some nice tea and biscuits .

Then we again cruised and enjoyed some more views….

Peaceful morning on the backwaters….

Followed by some authentic Malayali breakfast…

A typical kerala breakfast of Puttu( rice & coconut preparation) , Kadalacurry(chickpea gravy) and Nendrapazham(banana)

With that, the boat had reached its starting point and we stepped ashore and on to our car and drove back to Kochi.

We had a nice relaxed time on the houseboat and this is an excellent holiday destination….more so for small groups of friends and family to meet up and spend time with each other.

So do add this to your list…

Before that, do comment and give me your feedback..

Athirappilly Falls

Starting my first destination in India with the roaring Athirappilly falls….

This week, I take you to Athirappilly the famous waterfall in Kerala. Closer home, this is one destination that anyone can visit. No elaborate plans or preparations needed. Just fill up your fuel tank and take off to this beautiful destination….

This Niagara of South India will take your breath away for sure! A beautiful waterfall; the largest in Kerala, Athirappilly must be in every nature lover’s bucket list. Athirappilly falls is located on the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district of Kerala. The Chalakudy river is the fifth largest river in Kerala. The bountiful fall is seen mostly in the monsoon season or immediately after that. If there is a shortage of rainfall, the quantity of water flowing is reduced unlike in Niagara where the flow is constant by and large.

The Chalakudy river originates in the Anamalai ranges of the Western Ghats and after an initial smooth flow, cascades 80 feet below at Athirappilly creating this magnificent waterfall. Here, the river flows in between rocks and forms three plumes before it plummets down. The peculiarity of this waterfall is that the entire breadth of the river cascades down the rocky ledge.

There are two views of the falls. One from the top which is where we reach first. A trek down a mud road takes one to the lower part where there is a totally different view of the falls. The trek up after seeing the falls from below can be a little challenging.

Have a look….

The falls as seen just as one approaches it.

Our Trip

We drove down from Coimbatore on NH 544 Salem Kochi highway. The diversion to Athirappilly is clearly marked on the sign boards after Thrissur. Once we diverted to Athirappilly on the left, we reached a more picturesque environment. Winding roads, with thick forests on either side welcomed us. A couple of theme parks for children are also located on this road.

As we drove further down we crossed the deceptively calm Chalakudy river. We were fooled by this calmness as the same river roars with ferocity at Athirappilly falls a few kilometres away.

The deceptively calm Chalakudy river.

As we drove further down we reached Thumboormuzhi dam where there is a beautiful foot bridge across the river.

The beautiful foot bridge at Thumboormuzhi

A couple of bridges to cross and we were at the first view point of the falls. Here we saw the falls from a distance across a forested area.

The falls as seen from the first view point

A short drive further down and we were at the main entrance to the falls.

There is a ticket counter where we purchased tickets . The entrance and ticket counter are made of bamboo giving it a very natural feel and matching the surroundings.

The entrance to the falls

From there we walked for a few metres and reached a flat rocky area. We walked on the rocks carefully as it was slippery at places. At many places we had to skip over a small stream of water.

The flat rocky area just before the river tumbles down

After we walked in between the rocks for a few metres, we reached the actual point of the falls. Suddenly the flat rocky terrain is not there and all we can see is the river hurtling down a rocky precipice . When we went we saw the river flowing down as two or three branches. With incessant rain, this can be just one broad mass of water….I was told.

The point where the river plummets down

A rainbow at the site of the falls

There is another fascinating sight at the edge of the falls….a cute little hut (Watcher hut) which is believed to have withstood many a spate in the river.

The mighty hut!!

After enjoying the view of the mighty falls from above, we decided to trek to the bottom of the falls. A passage paved with stones with a bamboo fencing leads to the bottom of the falls. We followed the path and soon were at the bottom of the falls. The trek passes through some forested area and can be a challenge to the less agile.

The path leading to the bottom of the falls

The view from the bottom was awesome!! Here it was very windy and the roaring of the water added to the thrill. Have a look…

Looking at the falls from below….a different perspective

Get the feel of being at the base of the falls by clicking on the video above

At the base of the falls….An exhilarating moment indeed!

After all the trekking , we were tired and decided to take a short break. Had a coffee and some local snacks at one of the food stalls around constantly keeping a watch on the monkeys around.

Then we decided to visit Vazhachal falls which is about 5 kms upstream. The drive to Vazhachal was through some dense bamboo thickets along the road which added to the charm.

The bamboo lined road to Vazhachal

The entrance to Vazhachal is also beautifully done up in bamboo. The tickets for Athirappilly can be used at Vazhzchal too.

The entrance to Vazhachal falls

A herbal garden lies on the way from the entrance to the falls.

Herbal Garden

The Vazhachal falls is more flat . Take a look…..

At Vazhachal falls

We had decided to stay for a couple of days at Athirappilly and were put up at the Plantation Valley resort which was a beautiful resort on the banks of the Chalakudy river.

The beautiful Plantation Valley Resort

The Chalakudy river seen from the resort.

After a refreshing stay on the banks of the Chalakudy river and few more visits to the actual falls, we decided to drive back on a different route.

We drove back via Sholayar dam and Valparai to reach Pollachi and returned to Coimbatore. This route is very picturesque but sometimes you may encounter elephants here.

Foggy tea estates lined this route adding to the charm…

Foggy tea estates near Valparai

We had a bonus during this drive; a lone Nilgiri Tahr was resting by the roadside near Sholayar. Nilgiri Tahrs are mountain goats which are an endangered species and so finding one on the roadside was really a surprise!

A lone Nilgiri Tahr by the roadside

Enjoying the beauty of the tea gardens of Valparai, we reached Pollachi and from there on, it was back in to the hustle and bustle of the city.

It was a nice easy to do holiday….easily doable by anyone…so don’t put it off…just hit the road to Athirappilly!!!

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