Oh no 2020!!!, What have you done?. Actually I should be asking, What is in the store yet? after The Deadly Corona Virus Pandemic, Australian Bush Fires, and after so many natural and man made disasters in India and throughout the world. 2020 is delivering all the promises, all of the fears which 2012 couldn’t. The most important thing which this pandemic has taught us is of the importance of our lives. We can achieve anything and everything only if we have our lives in our hand.
I still feel this is just the beginning. 2020 has even much worse to show. So, a few days before the pandemic started, I along with my 2 old, 3 brand new friends were lucky to have a trip to Kerala, planned and executed successfully. Probably this will be our first and last trip of this impossible year. The entire trip from 1st January to 6th January was a dream come true for me and almost everyone of us. The trip which included many firsts, a trip with adventures and many more. Let’s get started…
We were 6, Saumil, Shraddha, Shrey (even Shre!!! would work), Siddhi and Rasika. Equally mad for different kinds of adventures. I consider as the luckiest, the other 5 were friends for a long time. I didn’t even knew 3 of them. That’s where the real fun is.
Myself, Siddhi and Shraddha were in Bengaluru and had to travel to Angamaly through train. I directly went to the KR Puram railway station after finishing my day at the office. Shraddha and Siddhi joined me in a while. The train was scheduled to depart at 2030 hours on 1st January and reach Angamaly by 0700 hours on 2nd January. Rasika, Shrey and Saumil were to reach Kochi from Pune through flight and meet us at the Angamaly railway station. Shraddha and Saumil as I remember had already booked a interstate cab for 4 days, from 2nd to 5th of January. So, I did meet my new friends and frankly I never thought we would end up sharing our personal stories within the next 5 days of the trip.
So, before I start my story, I would love to add the experience narrated by my friends in brief.
- By Shre!!! :
“…Qaafirana sa hai, Ishq hai ya … kya hai”. This beautiful song takes me back to the wonderful memories of our Kerala trip, only to relive them time and again.
A bit hesitant at first, it took a lot of persuasion from Shradha to get me on board — I mean, a bunch of six, almost random folks as prospective participants of the Kerala trip — it could have gone pretty awkward 😝. I barely knew Rasika and Saumil, having met them once at Shradha’s residence, and I did not even know Prabhanjan! But after making acquaintances, never had I felt so comfortable with the company and the trip.
Throughout the five days of our trip, at stays in Munnar, elephant bath at Thekkady, paraglidin’ and campin’ at Vagamon, Shikara boat ride at Alleppey, and the drives through Kerala, it was an eventful and mesmerizin’ trip.
Paragliding, being the highlight of the activities of our trip, brought the six of us closer as friends. After accomplishing the dangerous feat of soaring up in the sky and performing stunts at an elevation level of 4500 ft, we literally sought to go on trips together, well that, and sky diving.
2. By Shraddha!!!… :
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it.” ~Benjamin Mee
And that’s how we started our road trip in Kerala…There were narrow highways throughout. So even if many of us felt sick in the travelling, the breathtaking beauty and the cool breeze of air made it all worth suffering…. And then there was this song, which literary fell into piece and became a part of our amazing journey
इन वादियों में टकरा चुके है
हमसे मुसाफिर यूँ तो कई
दिल न लगाया हमने किसी से
किस्से सुने है यूँ तो कई
ऐसे तुम मिले हो, ऐसे तुम मिले हो
जैसे मिल रही हो इत्र से हवा
काफिराना सा है इश्क़ है या क्या है
ऐसे तुम मिले हो, ऐसे तुम मिले हो
जैसे मिल रही हो इत्र से हवा
काफिराना सा है इश्क़ है या क्या है
Song of the trip ♥️
It’s been a while, but I still see those mountains and feel that delicious cool fresh breeze whenever I hear this song. We travel, Not to escape life but, to find missing pieces Of peace, emotion or maybe of incomplete bits to thoughts. Ultimately, As we live, we must have stories to tell. So just engage in the place you’re visiting and that’s what we did which made our 2020! It really was a life changing experience of the place and with the people! We bonded over a bonfire and now we are friends forever!
ये चांद सा रोशन चेहरा
ज़ुल्फ़ों का रंग सुनहरा
ये झील सी नीली आँखें
कोई राज़ है इनमें गहरा
तारीफ़ करूँ क्या उसकी
In Allepy we had a Shikara Boat ride and along with nature, we fell in love with ourselves. Nature really brings us back…to ourselves….to home! In nutshell, this is what I’ll treasure in my memories about out Kerala Road Trippin, Munnar was mesmerisin, Vagamon had paraglidin, The view from above was breathtakin, The company I had was amazin, We did sightseein, While savourin the moment and chillin, Qafiraana is the song throughout we kept listenin, Playin Games and my on point jokin, Left us breathless and laughin, Thekkady had campin, Around the fire we started bondin, Had BBQ marshmallows while chit-chattin, Night was cold but we kept singin, Dheeme dheeme, Baala and Lamborghini was a reason behind our dancin, Allepy was humid so went beachin, Though boatin advertisin was irritatin, Cochin will be remembered for eatin, The bond we shared in few days was surprisin, By end of the last day, we started gossipin, You know you can trust them when any talk ends with bitchin, By the time we reached Marine drive, it was time for leavin, Super successful was our Kerala plannin, 2019, you were stunnin, But I bet 2020 started off with more shinning🧚.
My story begins here…
- Day 1 (01022020) : From Angamaly Railway Station, we headed towards Munnar where we had booked a stay in a lodge. All the stays we had were booked though OYO. On the way fell the Elappara Falls, the driver was kind enough to stop the cab for a while. It is a well known tourist spot, and guess what my photography began though I don’t call myself a photographer. We then reached our stay in Adimali which was very close to Munnar. We had some issues with the staff while entering, but was resolved soon. We relieved ourselves, rested a while, took a hot water bath. I was still in the process of introducing myself to the new friends I made, Saumil, Shre and Rasika. After around 2 – 3 hours of rest, we left for Lockhart Tea Factory. Because, that’s what Munnar is famous for, tea plantations and factories. The factory began it’s functions in the year 1936. It has a museum which is the hometown of various artifacts created in the terms of ancient cultural, historical, and artistic works. This living Museum gives a handful of knowledge about orthodox tea processing and the operations that go into the making of black tea, green tea, and white tea in traditional ways still. Lockhart Tea Museum contains various olden equipments used in the plantation like Shears, Mechanical Harvesting Machine, Drake and Fletcher Sprayer etc. The factory follows Orthdox Tea Manufacturing process. Tea is taking from a plant named Camellia Sinensis. (source – http://www.munnarinfo.in/61494/lockhart-tea-museum). We clicked lots and lots of pics together. The weather was cool and breezy. Having a cup of Black tea with a view of lush green tea plantations was one of the best moments of the day. We finished the visit to the museum and we head towards the stay in Adimali. We had to reach before 1800 hours since, the cab we booked only operated between 0600 to 1800 hours for all the 4 days. The overall view was literally mesmerizing and so was the day. We reached the stay, we had dinner in a nearby restaurant and we had a very good night sleep. Have attached few handpicked pictures of our first day in Kerala, The God’s Own Country. The Day 2 is even more interesting…
- Day 2 (01032020) : We woke up early, then decided to visit the Mattupetty. The lake there has boating services. We took the route for Mattupetty through the famous Kannan Devan hills. We halted after every 45 minutes and took loads of pictures. I had never seen the tea plantations live in my entire life, maybe the reason I was left in awe with the way the planting is done. We then reached Mattupetty, did the boating. The garden is well maintained, and has a few stores to buy the artifacts. We explored the area and relaxed for a while. My relaxing is never over without a cup of coffee and sometimes tea. We didn’t spend too much time there. We mostly had the local food for our breakfast and lunch. But tea and coffee every now and then. On the way to the stay, we had few more glimpses of the tea plantations through the Devikulam. We let the aroma of the tea plantations to sink in. The stay for this night was arranged in Thekkady. At the stay we mostly played UNO, dumb sharades and many times pulling each others legs. We had the North Indian food for the dinner in a nearby hotel. We slept a bit early because early morning we had planned to visit the Elephant Camp which was quite near and take the elephant bath. Goodnight!!!…
- Day 3 (01042020) : We woke up at 0600 hours and left for the camp. Shrey, Saumil and myself paid around INR 800 each for the elephant bath. It was probably the most refreshing bath of the entire trip. I personally thank Rasika, Siddhi and Shraddha for capturing our bath on all our behalf. The elephant ride was banned due to the torture towards them. We then came back to our stay to freshen up and packed the bags to leave for Vagamon which is around 60kms from Thekkady. We ate our breakfast at the Thekkady itself, one of the most famous Kerala food Puttu with banana. Vagamon is a hill station town and is famous among he tourists for paragliding activities. This is where I experienced one of my life’s biggest and scariest adventure. We reached Vagamon around 1200 hours on 3rd January but, the paragliding point was hard to locate due to various network issues, we couldn’t find the exact location. Finally we did locate with the help of few locals. Each one of us signed on the page which said, “We account ourselves responsible and not the paragliding authority if something unfortunate happens”. The ride cost us INR 4000 each for a 15 minute ride, and trust me, it was one of my best experience. I was the 4th one among us to go, the first 30 seconds of the take off was of extreme fear. I couldn’t even open my mouth. Can never be able to explain the adrenaline rush. But, this will be by motivation until I do something more adventurous and thrilling. We were paragliding over the hills at an approx. 4500 ft. This is said to be the highest in South India. The view from such a height was beautiful. This is also me first time at such a height, have never traveled through plane till date. I was literally on cloud nine. After the first 3 – 4 minutes when the fear and the adrenaline rush reached the saturation level, I never wanted to land. These 15 minutes were the best 15 minutes of the entire trip to be honest. Had to land finally. All of us finished the paragliding by 1630 hours. Our stay that night was arranged in a tent which Saumil had booked in prior at the Campper Eagle Point Camp. The camp was nearby to the paragliding site. We reached there within 100 minutes. They welcomed us with tea, biscuits and cup cakes. Obviously the cost of these was included in the pack. The weather was very cool and breezy, we were asked to wear warm clothes since, during the night the temperature would fall a few degrees more. The tent was put in for the nights sleep and the bonfire was lit. This was the day of many firsts for me starting with the elephant bath, paragliding and sleeping in the tent. Menu for the dinner was Kerala Parotha, Chhole and Egg Curry. We had become so close friends, that all of us shared their personal stories within 65 hours of the friendship. This made me realise that time is not everything in friendship. We played, we sang, we danced and did all the fun things we could. And also we rested. We woke up and witnessed the fog all over the hills. Had our breakfast and immediately left towards Alleppey. Oh crap!!! a puppy had torn my brand new shoes by continuously biting on it which I had removed and kept outside the tent while I slept.
- Day 4 (01052020) : Alappuzha also known as Alleppey is around 100kms from Vagamon. It is coastal city of Kerala. It’s best known for houseboat cruises along the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. I have to admit, our stay in Alleppy was the best. A traditional Keralian architectural house was transformed into a lodge. There is a drastic climate change from Vagamon to Alleppy. From cool and breezy to hot and humid. We all took our own time inside the lodge, had lunch at their restaurant itself and left for Vembanad lake, the longest lake in India. Guess what it is famous for, yes you are right, the Houseboat and Shikara boat ride. The lake is at the heart of the Kerala Backwaters and is a major tourist attraction. We didn’t hire the houseboats since we had not decided to stay in it, rather we booked the Shikara boat paying INR 250 each. The ride began around 1630 hours and was for 90 minutes. Each one of us were very busy clicking each others photos and capturing memories. Our timing was more or less perfect, we witnessed the sunset through the ride and I did along with a cup of coffee. There are many plush resorts in and around the Vembanad lake. The lake is filled with many islands and canals both man made and natural. After we finished the ride through a Shikara boat, it was decided that we visit a nearby Alleppey beach. We spent our evening there, had dinner and returned back to the stay at 2130 hours. As I remember, we played dumb sharades till late night since it was our last night in Kerala. The next day we had to reach Kochi. Rasika, Saumil and Shrey had a flight back to Pune from Kochi International Airport. We had to board a train from Ernakulam to Bengaluru. But, what’s interesting in a trip if everything goes according to the plan, nothing right?…
- Day 5 (01062020) : Our last day of the rip, our last day in Kerala. We checked out from our stay by 1130 hours, we decided not to have breakfast and better to have lunch at once. We bid goodbye to Alleppey and left towards Kochi which is around 60kms far. Touchdown Kochi at around 1400 hours, we have more than heavy lunch, a mix of Keralian and North Indian food. We never planned to visit any places in Kochi but, we had some buffer time after our lunch so, we asked the driver to take us to the Marine drive of Kochi. Our expectations of Marine drive was totally different, we were utterly disappointed by the view we got here. Because, we expectations were as of Mumbai’s marine drive. Most of the times, the expectations doesn’t meet the reality. Somehow, we spent our evening here watching the sunset, our last in Kerala until we visit again. The end of trip fun begins here, the status of our (Mine, Siddhi and Sharaddha) was not confirmed yet. We immediately booked a bus back to Bengaluru which was scheduled to depart at 2200 hours from a stop nearby to Lulu mall. Me, Sharaddha and Siddhi decided to spend our remaining time in the Lulu mall. Shrey, Rasika and Saumil dropped us to the entrance of the mall. The most emotional moment of the trip when we had to bid goodbye to few of them. We departed promising that we meet again. We three then explored the Lulu mall, one of the biggest in India and the most visited place in Kerala. The mall is gigantic and magnificent. We had another cup of coffee inside the mall, this time I had Latte. Most of the times I prefer Expresso and sometimes Cappucino. We had no space left in our stomach for the dinner after our heavy lunch. We roamed the entire mall, ate lightly at the MacD and we left for the bus stop from where we head back towards Bengaluru. The trip ends here.
As the saying goes, “Every beginning has an ending”. Our trip ended on a well note. At the end, I can definitely say I was rather I’m very lucky to meet all of them. The best part of the trip was, we were never exhausted during the entire week in Kerala. We took our time, rested enough in the stay.
This was the most chillin’ trip of my life. Because, in every other trip I had been, I discovered many places in a hurry. I did learn many things from my friends, did experience few things which I had never experienced in my life. So, I thank each and everyone of the group from the bottom of my heart for including me. Was indeed an amazing 5 days with you people, whatever memories crested, for all the fun, and for everything, will always be grateful.
The best thing which I realised during the trip and which I’ll add as a ending note here,
“Time is not everything in friendship, even a small amount of time can bring the best among friends and their friendship.”
Hope you like and enjoy this blog.
Stay tuned for my next!!!…