Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kerala Trip

Many of my friends advised me to start writing a blog. So, this is my first post of my first blog and I decided to write it about my Kerala trip that we five of us undertook. Main aim of this post is to serve as a trip report to me (which will be useful for future reference) and to help others (may help as an itinerary also!) who also want to go on such trips. It is almost three months since we were on this trip and I'll recollect as much as possible. Please read on and do not forget to leave a comment...
Kerala Trip
A batch trip of UG3 was planned as soon as Felicity 2008 was finished. Travel plan was to visit Ooty and Munnar from 3rd April to 8th April, 2008. I was too excited and started dreaming about it after seeing some photographs of Munnar on the Internet. But my excitement didn't last long. As there weren't sufficient number of students enrolled, the trip got cancelled. But I don't want to give up and started thinking of alternatives. So, I starting gathering people who were interested in the tour. I knew Shashank is always with me (Ask him whatever question you want, his reply is always "YES"). Soon, Vinay and Raju joined us. It took us some time and effort to convince Vimjam.
Since the (trip) proposal was mine, I was bestowed with the job of planning the itinerary and come up with an approximate estimate amount of money required. We don't want to make it more than Rs. 5000/- per person. Initially, our plan was to visit Ooty and Munnar (similar to the batch trip) but Ooty somehow got cancelled upon advice by Bhargava (a good friend
of mine who is from Tamil Nadu) that April was "season" for Ooty and as we are not booking rooms before hand online, finding accommodation there is quite tough. As Vinay is quite interested in going to a beach, with the help of other friends I modified the tour plan. So, now the plan was to visit Munnar, Aleppey and Kochi. Soon, I started on a mission to convince and gather many other friends to join us for the tour. My efforts foundered; for some people time was the problem and money for others. At last, I went to Nampally railway station with Ravindra (Kam) to book tickets for our tour ("Hyderabad to Coimbatore: Sabari Exp" on 3rd April and "Ernakulam Jn. to Hyderabad: Sabari Exp" on 9th April) on second week of March.
I was so excited that I couldn't even wait for a single day for that elusive 3rd April -- which is still three weeks away. That three weeks looked like 3 light years for me. I just couldn't explain in words how excited and restless I felt at that time. Even
that fast approaching End Semester Examinations didn't deter me and in the week before the exams, I (literally) used to dream about the trip. After much suffering, somehow the exams are over and Shashank, Vinay and me went home.

3th April, 2008
Somehow that "elusive" 3rd April did co
me and I already packed my luggage the previous day. Shashank, Vinay and me reached Nampally railway station at 11.00 a.m. on an auto rickshaw. Although our train (Sabari Express) is there on the platform, we didn't notice it. We boarded the train at 11.45 a.m. and it started at its scheduled departure time -- 12.00 noon. Raju and Vimjam joined us at Secunderabad. Since two of the seats beside us are empty, we were able to stretch our muscles and relax (anything better than getting cramped is relaxing ... :-)). We soon had our lunch (yummy Egg fried rice and pulihora: home made) and all of us were enjoying the train journey. But the worse thing is yet to come. It is already 2 p.m. and we were feeling the mid-summer heat of 40+ degrees . It soon became uncomfortable and unbearable and all that we could do was "nothing". Though we had litres of chilled water and cool drinks, they just weren't enough and brought no respite from the sweltering heat. Vinay and me sat near the door of the bogie for three good hours and the remaining three played chits :-). Added to these, Vinay's mobile ran out of juice in no time and we had no other option but to switch it off.
The train reached Guntur at 6.30 p.m., one hour behind schedule. Since the diesel engine of our train is replaced by an electric one at Guntur and it takes good amount of time for shunting, we had a 30 min.s halt there. We asked Vimjam to look
after the luggage, wen't out for a stroll on the platform and had some fruit juices. In mean time Vimjam was given a small bag of cotton sample by a stranger to be delivered at Coimbatore (Since Vimjam is also from Guntur district, పాపం దీన్నే అంటారేమో "ప్రాంతీయ అభిమానం" అని). Vinay, especiallay, was very angry with Vimjam. Within no time, the train reached Ongole (8 p.m.) and we had our dinner (homemade Hot Chapati with Potato curry-- packed in Aluminium foils, so they're still hot). I was really excited and started putting my nose out of the window :-) when Raju told that a foul smell comes from the industries nearby the railway tracks after the Singarayakonda station (He was familar with that place). Nothing such happened and I was disappointed. Then came Nellore (9 p.m.). We tried to sleep but couldn't because of the heat. Vinay and me were sharing the passage side seats. Soon, we reached Tirupati at 12.30 a.m. and we both woke up because of the ultra-loud announcements in the railway station. I went to my berth and slept at 2.00 a.m.

4th April, 2008

Woke up at 7 a.m. before Salem station, had tea, reached Erode at 8.30 a.m. and the train stopped there for about 45 min.s because someone died on our train. At last reached Coimbatore at 10.30 a.m. just 2 hrs behind schedule. We went to Ukkadam bus stand to board a bus to Udumalpet. Since I can read Tamil, we managed to take the correct bus. Otherwise we would have got f***ed up. Soon we reached Udumalpet at 12.00 noon and had some puffs and fruit juices there. We couldn't dare try a Tamil Nadu thali :-) Boarded a bus to Munnar at 1 p.m. We unpacked our cameras and started clicking pics of the fast approaching Western Ghats. Our attempts to take photographs from the moving bus proved futile -- only few of them came out unblurred. Within few minutes we were inside the thick forest and we all were super-excited. Our bus stopped at Maraiyoor for about 15 min.s, clicked some pics there and started again. The journey till here was wonderful amidst forests. But the real thing is yet to come. Soon, tea plantations started to appear and altitude is rising steadily and we were able to notice the dripping temperatures. I was never been on such a wonderful route. It was like going into refrigerator (Western Ghats) from an oven (Tamil Nadu plains). Western Ghats were at their best. We reached Munnar at 5 p.m. Though the bus journey was nearly 4 hrs, we didn't feel that burden as route was awesome. We got down at Munnar bus stand and were looking for the accommodation. An auto-driver promised to arrange us some good accommodation provided we gave him Rs. 20/- That's dead cheap, isn't it? He took us to a lodge just 50 mts away and there came a steep slope. We need to get down as that auto couldn't climb such a steep slope. After seeing a couple of rooms, we finalized on one after brief negotiation. It was Rs.700/- per day with hot water, TV, etc., After two days of journey, we were completely tired and took rest after having some good dinner in Saravan Bhavan.

5th April, 2008

We woke up at 7 a.m., had breakfast and went to hire a jeep for the site seeing. After a brief negotiation, we agreed on a fare of Rs.900/-. We went to Madupetti side and Cochin side on this day for site seeing. In the "morning session", we went to the following places
  1. Photo Point
  2. Madupetti dam: speed boating
  3. Echo Point
  4. Kundala Lake: pedal boating, horse riding
  5. Flower park
This being the first day of our site-seeing, we got to face a new challenge; -- Raju's undiscovered passion to get photographed at each and every spot in unusual poses. Four of us were shocked to see Raju's artistic creativity.
And in the "evening session" we went to
  1. Atukkad Waterfalls: clicked some pics, had some cool drinks and coffee made with honey. We discovered a dog lover in Shashank here.
  2. Pothamedu View Point: clicked some pics and had ginger flavoured local tea.
  3. Blossom Park: clicked some pics, played there to our heart's content
In the evening, we talked to some Jeep-drivers regarding a trip to Thekkadi (100 kms. from Munnar, popular for wildlife watching boat ride) for the next day. Since we don't have sufficient time, we had to cancel that trip. Shashank, Vinay and Raju were also interested in a early morning trekking trip and somehow, this too didn't materialized. When we went into the town to buy some tea powder, Vimjam found a Balayya fan in the shop-keeper and began discussing about his films. In the mean time, that guy managed to sell few kilograms of tea powder to him (బాలయ్యబాబు పేరు చెప్పి వాడికి అవసరంలేనివి అంటగట్టాడు). Had some biryani for dinner and went to bed after watching some cricket highlights on the TV.

6th April, 2008
Woke up at 7 a.m., had breakfast and went for site seeing -- this time too by hiring a Jeep. We went to Thekkady side and Coimbatore side for site-seeting this day. In the morning we went to
  1. Lockhardt Gap
  2. Anairangal Dam
  3. Anairangal Reservoir
Vimjam telling some "stories" to the driver
had south indian meals with fish curry for lunch and in the evening, we went to
  1. Eravikulam National Park
  2. Anaimudi
Purchased some flavored tea en route to our hotel at KDHP tea factory. Since this is our last day in Munnar, we went out for a leisure walk into the town, clicked some pics and bought Tea, Coffee, Spices, Homemade chocolates, etc., which are special and inexpensive here. We even visited Munnar Mela 2008, an annual exhibition of Munnar. Had special Kerala porotta and Egg curry for dinner, packed our luggage (as we need to checkout of the hotel tomorrow morning) and went to bed.

7th April, 2008
Woke up at 5.30 a.m. (very chilling weather; చలి దంచేసింది), took shower, had breakfast and boarded a bus to Kochi. This route was like going into oven from refrigerator. We reached Ernakulam (Ernakulam and Kochi are like twin cities) bus station at 12 noon, hired an auto rickshaw, went to a hotel and checked into two air-conditioned rooms (with a very hight humidity and in mid summer, living in non a/c rooms is like a torture). Freshed-up, had some rubbery fish biryani with pineapples (pineapples in biryani....What the hell was that?? so-called Kerala cuisine) for lunch and after a short nap, we left the hotel to go to Cherai Beach. After one hour journey in city buses, we reached Cherai Beach at around 3.30 p.m. Played there for almost 2-3 hrs, had some bajjis and were back in our hotel by 8 p.m. We were exhausted after washing our salt water soaked clothes. This day, we really had some tough time taking city buses as the destination names were only written in Malayalam. Luckily, as the people there were helpful and most of them were able to speak English, we felt at home. Had roast fish for dinner and went to bed.

8th April, 2008
Had breakfast and were waiting for the taxi to pick us up for local site seeing. Got into the taxi at 9 a.m., reached Aleppey and had a short "backwater boat ride", returned to Kochi at 1 a.m., had lunch and went to boat jetty. There was a boat waiting for us. After boarding, we waited for it to move for almost an hour ;-) Raju and Shashank clicked some pics in the cabin of our boat. We were taken to Mattanchery and Fort Kochi (which are two places on Mattanchery island off the coast of Kochi). Returned to our hotel at 6.30 p.m. (there was a heavy downpour at that time). We (except Vimjam) went to Marine Drive, Kochi to buy some T-shirts and didn't find what we want. So, returned back disappointed. Had dinner at 8 p.m. and went to bed.

9th April, 2008
Woke up early in the morning, had shower and went to Shiva Temple. Had some masala dosas for breakfast and went to hotel to pack our luggage as we need to catch Sabari Express at 11 a.m. Went to railway station, boarded the train, had bread and jam for lunch and reached Coimbatore at 4 p.m. The train reached Salem at 7 p.m and we had biryani for dinner, and as we are more tired in the return journey than we were on the onward journey, went to bed early and woke up when the train is near Ongole station at 5 a.m. As the train was stopped for line clearance, I stepped out of it to pee. It was still dark then and I went few yards away from the train. When I was half done, the train started moving. I really got frightened and got into the train. I'll never forget this incident. Raju informed us that the so-called "foul smell" did come near Singarayakonda station. Since we four of us were asleep at that time, we can't believe his veracity.Had some pooris there for breakfast at Guntur station. Our train reached Secunderabad at 1 p.m. on 10th April and were back to our daily chores sans college.

So, here comes my first ever long trip with my friends. The trip was a huge success: perfectly planned and impeccably executed. All went on perfectly well and the budget too was under Rs.5000/- (smile on everyone's faces). And last, but not the least, five of us were really happy and are eagerly awaiting to go on such trips in the future. It, indeed, is a good experience and will remain as sweet memories of my life. As it was me who planned this tour, it gave lots of confidence....


Anonymous said...

The length of the post shows how much you guys have enjoyed during your trip. cool post to start with and keep blogging !!.

kranthi said...

A lengthy one but was too good to miss...hopefully we will catch u some time to organize another trip so tht all of us can enjoy...keep blogging ..

shashank said...

Mama RACHA chesav!!!!

Maruti Borker said...

nice trip man .. will surely visit kerala

Anonymous said...

Good one raa but very lengthy keep it short from next time

Welcome to blogosphere BR

Gvs said...

arey nee post chadeve badulu kerala velli tvaraga ravvocchemo..... champesav ra.... hats off to ur patience mama.... keep blogging..

vikas said...

ఏదో మీ అందరి అభిమానం!
ఒరేయ్ GVS, నువ్వు మరీ naughty....

samuel said...

arey (Egg fried rice and pulihora: home made) i soon want to go home after seeing dat line :(,

beautiful pics and in btwn vinay in the first pic is like a child beside a father going for trip :)... pic rocked and ur tour rocked


kishore said...

arey... this is too lengthy... will go thru it when im free.. i can guess da tons of fun u had.. juss by da pics.. Gotta hav an eye over such trips.. shal continue the comments after I read this.. :)

Anonymous said...

nice pics ... keep blogging