Sunday, April 28, 2013

God's Own Country - My Travelogue - 4 Thekkady - Allepy

Leaving Munnar in the morning, we reached Sterling Thekkady mid afternoon. Thekkady - Kumily is a tourist hot spot, having numerous good hotels and resorts, and a laid back atmosphere. The Periyar Lake, part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve is the place which offers one and half hour boat ride, and very popular with tourists. The Periyar Lake Boat ride is most frequented as it is right in the heart of Thekkady.

Sterling Thekaddy is located at one of the boundaries of  the Periyar Tiger Reserve, having a nice forest lodge type ambiance. You enjoy all the modern comforts, but have a feel of a forest lodge. Monkey families from the adjoining forest reserve are frequent visitors. From the presence of a number of foreign tourist groups, it seems this Resort is very popular in its aesthetic appeal.


A must see performance is the Martial Arts display known as Kaliyarapattu -  the oldest and original Martial Arts,  purported to to have originated 3000 years ago by  sage named Parsuram. Stick - sword / dagger -sword  duels and a synchronized jump through the rings of fire by two proponents of the art, keeps you mesmerized. At the end, you get to a photo op.

My Kalariayattu Moment ! All these years have been changeling opponents with words and wit. First time got a chance to handle the sword and shield. 

Stage managed Kalaripayattu. My opponent told me first to pose like him, I was smart enough not to oblige. With a weak back, if I had done his bidding, would have made a fool of my self, as with my medical condition, I would have been all floors with sword and shield. 

Gavi Forest Eco Tour - Periyar Tiger Reserve

Although the Periyar Boat ride is more relaxing, and less time consuming, we decided to go for the Gavi Forest Eco Tourism Trek. At 5.30 in the morning we started from the resort, and after one hour Jeep ride, we were at the Forest Check post. A few Tiger Posters at the entrance and on the way proclaiming that we are about to enter Tiger Territory added to the excitement, and in hush and awe we moved forward. 

Our Driver Mohammad had earlier informed us that during his 5 years of doing this trek, he has spotted the Tiger only 7 times, but just 10 days ago he had made the last sighting. A heavy fog and the lush green vegetation, with creeks and small watering holes, and distant bird calls and chirping, a sudden movement in some of the branches, all added to our excitement, as we slowly moved on, in eerie silence.    

The Periyar Wild life sanctuary is spread across 300 sq miles out of which 140 sq: miles is thick evergreen forests, and home to 44 Tigers, many species of wild life and the oldest inhabitants - the honey gatherers who have lived for centuries in harmony deep inside the forest.

Gavi at an altitude of 1000 ft above sea level is a quiet, beautiful and pristine evergreen forest. Travelling through it makes you reflect on the abundance of Nature, it makes you feel so small and insignificant. An Elephant mahout told me that, in the wild on an average each grown up Elephant drinks 200 liters of water and eats 150 Kgs to 300 kgs of vegetation. There are hundreds of elephants roaming in the wild and protected confines of Periyar Tiger Reserve. 

So much abundance in Nature  - there are in all 320 species of Birds and Botanists have confirmed that there are only 2 Gopher Trees ( Nirampalli) in India, and both these are in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Gopher wood is mentioned in Genesis 6:14 as the wood from which Nuh Nabi made the Ark (shafina)  !!

The safari is not merely sightseeing but a learning experience. It is an intimate and enriching experience and makes us respect Nature and Conservation. During 1970 on wards the Sri Lankan repatriates, were settled in the Gavi Forest area and Cardamom plantations were set up for their livelihood. 

The Treks are of 1 hr and 3 hr duration and there is an 1/2 hr boat ride and lunch is provided during the course of the safari. We were back at the resort in the evening and after getting refreshed went for the famed Kerala Massage, and I have already dwelt on the after effect of the Massage in my earlier post !! 

Tiger Roar
my grandsons did not get to see the TIGER
but I did manage to surprise them on the trek
with a tiger roar !!

On the Trek with Mani our guide
we were made to wear leech socks,
although there were no leeches on the
trek. Leech socks made us look like
serious forest trekkers. 


Boat ride on the serene
Periyar Lake

Next day we left for Alleppy, reached around noon, into a completely different natural scenery of vast expanses of water and paddy fields, where a house boat was waiting for us, to get us a feel of the famous Backwaters of Kerala.

The Backwaters are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea. It is fed by 38 rivers and forms 900 kms of man made and natural waterways. Vembanand Kayal is the largest lake covering an area of 200 kms - largest lake in Asia, and on account of its waterways and in-habitations around Allepy is called The Venice of the East.

The House Boat ride is a memorable experience, but I would like to warn you that if you are visiting Kerala during the summer months, as we did, it is not advisable to stay overnight. As all the House Boats are berthed before night fall, and on account of frequent power cuts and fluctuations, the heat and the mosquitoes take their toll, and before the on board generator kick starts at 9 pm and air conditioner gets switched on in the room, you really wish you were staying home or at an hotel - there are many in Allepy. 

During summer, a day ride on the House Boat in the early hours or late afternoon is more enjoyable and less taxing. A smaller boat is much better, as it can navigate smaller waterways, and you get the opportunity to view the day to day lives of the inhabitants living in the villages at very close quarters. 

After staying overnight in the House Boat, the next morning, we headed for the Kochi Airport. We had a wonderful time in the few days we spent in God's Own Country. Nature is indeed a great teacher, if one is an aware and observant learner. 

Just sharing one of the many lessons learnt. Allah has created this beautiful Universe with a purpose, we have to learn to respect it. Everything in Nature has a purpose. During our Gavi forest safari, with the help of our Driver Mohammad, we understood, specially my grandchildren got to learn, that even the  leeches (eeek  ! was the first reaction when Mohammad put two leeches on his hand) serve a purpose. 

Dr. Aliasgar explained that leech medical therapy is widely practiced, and is beneficial in blood circulation disorders, such as, cramp veins, cardiac infarct, rheumatism etc: The bite of the leech is not painful, as the saliva is filled with pain killers. Leeches can consume between 5 to 15 ml of your bad blood, that is 4-6 times their body weight in a single feed. When done, they fall off. !!

My Moiz overcame the fear and managed to place one on his hand. A great lesson learnt. 

We reached Kochi Airport and the Departure Lounge was a welcome surprise. Dr. Aliasgar has traveled a lot, and he also found this one to be one of the best. Spacious with comfortable and regal upholstery chairs, complimentary News Paper racks, and tv monitors showing different news channels.

Hope readers enjoyed reading my Travelogue, I for one did really enjoy writing it and reliving the memories.


Umre Turları said...

thanks for sharing. this article is very helpful

Anonymous said...

Traveling with you was fun,and reading your travelogue is more fun also.Maybe would have enjoyed more if had gone to Kerala after reading your informative write up.Great going.Well written. Dr Aliasgar lokhandwala

mohammed rangoonwala said...

It is like places are travelling with you rather you travel to places.It is a travelogue full of information and written so well that the reader himself feels that he is on a tour. It is so nice to travel without ticket.
from Mohammed saifuddin rangoonwala

Haddock said...

Enjoyed the video, especially the accompanying music.

Unknown said...

A really good article. I thouroughly enjoyed myself and was inspiring as one must realize the importance of nature

Anonymous said...

Nice Travelougue And narration also very interesting,Especially the video and images ...

If you have a plan to visit some northern part of kerala visit this blog

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