This past April, Pam was invited on a guided tour through Southern India. Today we continue with Mysore, Calicut, Kochi, and Alleppey. In case you missed her notes on Bangalore and Coorg, check out Wednesday’s post.
In Mysore, we visited the Maharaj Palace dating back to the early 1900s, where the royal family still resides. It was a magical evening viewing the Palace when it was lit by thousands of little lights outlining the building. On special days they light up the palace at night – we were lucky to be there for that time, so wandered around the outside in the evening with thousands of little lights outlining the building. It was a festive atmosphere, with lots of local families also out to enjoy the display. Also went to the Chamundi Temple at the top of a large hill – this was a Hindu temple. Because cows are considered sacred and can’t be harmed (there are severe penalties for hitting a cow with a vehicle, and they are everywhere in India), there were lots of cows around the temple.
The next day was one of the longest drives of the trip – 5 hours from Mysore to Calicut in the northern part of the state of Kerala. Much of it was through mountains and a national park. Stopped at an eco-resort for lunch – this was another interesting stop because we were there on the day that Kerala celebrates new year. We were served a vegetarian feast, served on banana leaves and eaten with our hands. I couldn’t really get the trick of eating rice with my fingers so I made a giant mess, but it was delicious! The resort was beautiful, with cabins scattered along a creek. It was the beginning of the monsoon season, though, so this was the place we encountered a lot of rain.
Continued down the coast the next day to Cochin (Kochi), about 4 hours. Kochi is a lovely city with some unique sights. Stayed in a historic hotel called the Bruton Boatyard – this was an old boat building business transformed into a hotel. My balcony overlooked the sea, and it was really beautiful. The next morning went to the waterfront where they fish with Chinese fishing nets – these are large nets attached to a fixed platform, like a pier jutting out into the sea. Then several men raise and lower the nets, catching whatever happens to be swimming by at the time. These aren’t used anywhere else in the world except Kochi and in China. Kochi was a city where there were lots of influences, so we visited a Dutch Palace, the Episcopal Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Cathedral (where Vasco da Gama the Portuguese trader is buried). That evening attended a Kathakali dance, a unique costumed dance style native to Kerala.
The next day was spent traveling south from Kochi to Alleppey where we boarded a house boat and had a day trip on the backwaters. These are canals that come in from the sea, lined with houses and lots of little boats. You can stay on some of the boats for an overnight. The last night was at the coconut Lagoon Hotel—this was very nice, out on an island with individual cottages with outdoor showers.
It was interesting going back to India after not having been there in 20 plus years. It has changed drastically – there are signs everywhere of an improving economy–the infrastructure is much improved, and there is clearly a rising middle class. However, there is still a lot of litter and garbage everywhere, and we still did see people farming with ox-drawn plows.
I found Southern India fascinating and so different from Delhi and the North, it seemed like a separate country. The thing I like about India is the variety – there are so many religions, languages, and landscapes (everything from high mountains to deserts to tropics) that you could visit lots of different areas there without seeing the same thing.
For more photos from Pam’s amazing trip, check out the gallery: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/gallery/india/