Sunday, April 08, 2007

In God’s own country

Today, we returned from our first vacation since our move to India and the verdict is unanimous – this one ranks among the best! We spent a week in the southern state of Kerala which carries a tag line of “God’s own country”. Besides having the distinction of the most literate state in India (over 95% literacy), Kerala is a gorgeous state and has some of the most beautiful scenery that you can find in India.

Our travels included visits to national parks and bird sanctuaries, boat rides on the back waters, hikes and drives through pretty amazing landscapes. Food (which is typically an important measure of a vacation for us) was exquisite at every location ranging from roadside stands to our hotels. While the vacation was overall pretty relaxing, we managed to get quite a bit of sightseeing done. Within a couple of days in the state, you understand very quickly why this place is called God’s own country. Nature is at its best in Kerala and tours and hotels are geared towards providing you with the best experience. Kerala is a feast for nature lovers with exquisite bird watching, wild animal sightings and the vegetation. The place is also heaven for history buffs because of its rich and fascinating history. For example, in the seaside city of Cochin, you get to see Chinese fishing nets that were installed in this region between 1350 and 1450 and are still used by local fisherman to haul their daily catch.

The highlight of our trip was a stay in a Kottavellum – a houseboat made completely of wood and coir in the town of Alleppy. We had a personal staff of three – a captain, a chef and an engineer on board and we had exclusive use of the entire boat. Our stay included cruises through the backwater, visit to a village for an up close view of life in this region and gourmet meals cooked according to our preference. Sitting on the deck at sunset was one of my most memorable life moments.

Other places we visited during our vacation included Thekkady, Kumakarakom and Munnar. We ended our tour with some sightseeing in the temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu where the highlight is the Meenakshi temple – built over a thousand years ago to honor the Hindu god Siva and his consort, Parvati.

1 comment:

marsha said...

Hi there!
It is good to know that you enjoyed visiting Kerala.It makes me particularly glad as I come from there.