My trip to Kerala (part 2): Alleppey e Munnar

kerala-travel-mapFrom Kovalam,  I went straight to Alleppey (aka Alapphuza), the main hub for cruising the Backwaters. Backwaters are one of the main reasons for visiting Kerala, and they are a network of hundreds of waterways, in a uncontaminated natural landscape. Here life is all along the waterways.

The houseboats, called Kettuvalloms, are made by wood and palm leaves, but they include any amenities!

I was so excited by the chance of spending two days in a silent, quiet place.

As you know, reality is always better and better than fantasy.

I experienced the slow flowing along the waterways, discovering small villages, fishermen, rice fields, unknown churches and temples, children. In one word: life. Life in a place without time.backwaters11

At the sunset, I left my houseboat, and sailed on a canoe with a local fisherman. I saw a small temple in the middle of a rice field: I was astonished by the candles’ light contrasting with the sunset’s colours. A unique atmosphere of serenity.

The day after, early in the morning, I witnessed the awakening: just the normal life in an unusual (to me) context…

From sea to mountain: Munnar.

If you visit Kerala, you can’t miss tea plantations and the beautiful landscapes of Munnar area.

Munnar is set at an altitude of 6000 ft (1600 mt), and it is a mix of valleys, mountains, forests, tea and spices plantations.

The small town is full of spices and tea shops, and vegetable markets.

Moreover, Munnar is surprisingly characterized by many icons of Communist Party. On the other hand, all tea plantations have been taken over by the Tata Tea Company (the same owner as car company!)

tea-pickerAs for other places, also in Munnar there are many contradictions. Behind this peaceful place, there is the hard life of tea pickers.

Most of them are women and they earn around 110 rupees per day (less than 2 euros!) if they harvest 20 kilos of tea leaves. Look at a tea leaf and try to imagine 20 kilos of tea …

However, hiking through tea plantations is a great experience for eyes and feelings!

And after a pleasant walk, is there anything better than … a cup of tea?

Next stop … Kochi! Stay tuned!tea-plantations

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My trip to Kerala (part 1)

Kerala. This word means ‘Coconuts land’. And if you visit this area, you can easily understand why.

This was not my first trip to India, so I didn’t think that this Country could surprise me anymore. But India is like a million pieces puzzle, and everytime you find something you didn’t know.

 As you know, my trip started from Mumbai (read my previous post) where I spent a whole day. Then I flew to Trivandrum. My plan was to reach the deep south of India (Tamil Nadu), then come to North all along the coast, go inside to see tea plantations, and at the end have a rest and ayurvedic treatments in Varkala.

After some hours by bus we reached Cape Comorin or Kanyakumari, the southest Indian town. On the way to Cape Comorine, you can’t miss Sichundram Temple.sichundram

It’s a lovely place where continent and Ocean meet, it is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in India!

I experienced the trip by boat to reach the Vivekanda Rock Memorial, with hundreds of Indians, queuing to visit this sacred monument. There were just few foreigners, and the atmosphere was so joyful!Vivekanda Rock Memorial

 

But the real new experience was … the hotel! In the hall, there were so many people coming and going. But no foreigners at all. It seemed to be in a marketplace … I had a room at third floor; stark but clean. The surprise was when I went down: the first floor was like a railway station at night. Women, men, children laid down or seated on the floor, eating, shouting, smiling… or … just living. I immediately associated that image at a social class representation: for each floor there were different standards of life.

At the beginning, I felt a little bit uncomfortable in that situation, unprotected. Then I realized I was living a unique Indian experience  … so far from European standards, and my mental schemas!

 From Cape Comorin to Kovalam.

waiting-for-the-fishermenSmall towns, green countryside, sea, coconuts tree, tuk-tuk, crazy drivers: there are all the things you can meet along the way to Kovalam.

Kovalam is a nice, quiet beach, very famous for yoga classes and ayurvedic treatments. A place to relax after the crowded Cape Comorin!

At sunset, you can spend some time on the beach, looking at fishermen with their boats and all the families waiting for them.

In the evening I enjoyed my dinner in one of the small restaurants: they all show their fishes and you can choose the one you prefer! Delicious flavours of fish and curry cooked in tandoori oven… 

Feelings from Mumbai

 

Gateway of India

Gateway of India - ph. by N. Staccioli

Hi All!
I’m really thankful to all the people that contributed and partecipated to my blog in this period, as they kept it alive!
As you know, I was visiting Kerala, south western India.
I’ll tell you about this trip, but I need a little time to think about it. After India, and back to Rome, I always need silence.
Silence to think about differences, to better remember feelings, people, images.
In this post, I only want to tell you something about Mumbai. I was there less than three weeks after terroristic attacks.
At the beginning, I was frightened by the idea of visiting crowded places. Then I thought that terrorism can’t win. So I visited the Gateway of India, when I met hundreds of people, most of them Indian citizens.
I immediately realized that the many Indian souls can’t be destroyed by a a bomb.
Just few international newspapers told us about the strong reaction and demonstrations the days after attacks .
Mumbai was hurted, but still alive.
This was the beginning of my trip … I invite you to look at the picture, and tell us about your thoughts and feelings…