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Whoever has said – hills are green when they are far way – I so want to meet and dispute and take the character to Thekaddy on a free vacation with me! What you are looking for – Jungle Safari? waterfalls? meadows? cultural festivity in daily life? Let me give you few more – tea gardens, spice gardens, vineyard, meadows and valleys? Still you need more – Alright! Let me add it- Elephant Safari, Boating and how about off-road driving??? Ladies and Gentlemen…. Read the list again – give yourself this gift - Taste Thekkady!!! Airways to Thekkady Cochin, Madurai are two airports very close to Thekkady. I decided to opt Flight to Madurai and book a cab from the airport straight to the mountains. Early morning flight, not only gives you the entire day, it also gives you leisure, time to explore your way to Thekkady and luxury of nature. The distance between Thekkady and Madurai Airport is under 250 KMs and in four hours you can reach your destination. The road is beautiful, runs through small villages, towns, medical colleges, canopy of trees, hills, windmills and vineyards. Stopping at some great locations for a click will not be a mistake and should not be missed. Try out windmills at your back or the seasonal waterfalls on your way. Our cab driver was great as a local guide throughout our journey. We had our breakfast (Typical Tamil style and it was delicious) at Hotel Gowri Krishna and recommended for a definite try. The restaurant is quite decent and can accommodate over 60 to 70 people at a time if not more and the efficiency in serving the orders is just amazing. On your way at Periyakulam, do click photographs and images that thrills you and seek your attention. Our stay for the next three days was at a very decent and customer oriented Hotel. The stay was too perfect at this place. From the variety of food offerings to cleanliness, complimentary breakfast, evening tea/coffee, snacks …with view of mysterious mountains and valleys, floating cloud rom your hanging deck just gives you peace of mind and true sense of luxury and vacation together. The resort has a great garden, activity area, swimming pool, spa and of course three different option for residence! We requested for the top most floor to enjoy the scenic beauty of nature from our balcony and room. Activities at Thekkady Kathakali and Marshall Arts You should and must have two hours available for this show. You can do the bookings online or you can go and buy the tickets from the booking counter for the show. Both are really rich in their own way and reflects a strong fiber of our tradition and culture. Spice Gardens There are many spice gardens in Thekkady and Periyar. There is no harm learning half an hour the kind of medicinal plants cultured around and the variety of spice available in the region. A lot of medical company do research and purchase these ayurvedic medicinal plants in building their medicines and brand. Try yourself with some herbal soaps, fresh spice, some great medicinal powder for cleansing life and diet. Gavi Forest Drive The forest just thrills you from the time you enter the main gate and runs till the time off board the jeep. My trip was in monsoon so I did enjoy the beauty of greenery, the fun of sitting in a jeep, sightseeing elephants like humans everywhere, deer all around, bison of massive size, brown bears against trees and birds all around. The forest is thick and green, surrounded with valleys and mountains. The guide takes you around, stops every possible place where you can spot a wild life! Gavi Forest is almost all-day program. It starts from your hotel at 5.30 AM and continues all day. This includes beautiful boat riding, hiking over valleys and mountains to spice plantation (rubber and cardamom), a small visit to a museum and lunch. This trip was really a lucky trip for me. Every time I had a guide, they always tried to make it little different. During boating, the guide took us to a beautiful seasonal waterfall which appeared from nowhere and surprised us for quite sometimes. The waterfall was huge and strong, we anchored our boat in between two rocks and walked down the slippery water and rocks towards the waterfall. The hiking over to different parts of the mountain and seeing different scenic points are way too beautiful and fascinating. Enjoy the mist and clouds floating by, sip a bottle of water or two, click some pictures and enjoy the vacation like a vacation. Ayurvedic Spa No trip is complete in Kerala without Ayurvedic massage. However, you should be careful enough to review and select the right place for the massage. I did go for three hours package and ensured I used strong influence of the local network I made during my stay to ensure I get the best spa treatment. Local Sight Seeing Thekkady has a lot of local places to visit . Please make most use of it when you are in Thekkady. Murrikaddi spice garden, Chellarkovil, chellarkovil view point, Pandikuzhi, Idduki District, Kumlily, Mullaperiyar dam , Vagamom are some of them that I could finish during my stay. I am highly indebted to the guide and Periyar cab team to help me with my most demanding requests on planning my day. The owner did not only gave us the most helpful and knowledgeable guide, he ensured calling me every day , take feedback, suggest next day plan and stay in touch anytime. When you visit Chellarkovil waterfall, ensure you cross the waterfall and go to the other side and climb up for having a stunning beauty of the valley below and mountains around. I wish I had luxury of time in my hand to sit all day long and see the clouds and day light pass by. Periyar Lake and Boating Bamboo boating or boating on a launch both are quite exciting on Periyar lake. The boat takes you around the forest . The boating has fixed timing and you can book your slot either online or buy tickets from the counter. However it is recommended to do the bookings online. Nature Walk, Trekking, Overnight Camping Though I didn’t opt for this one however I would still recommend if you are going in summer or winter, go for nature walk , trekking down the forest for almost 10 kms , cloud train, jungle trail, tiger trail and experience the stay at camp spots overnight inside the Periyar tiger reserve park. The arrangements can be done by your guide or online websites or probably through your hotel. I do have some idea how thrilling and beautiful the camping can be because the view of thick jungle, view from the mountains and safari through the jungle already injected the feeling in me. Off tracking This is all day event and is a great trill for those who are crazy for off road tracking. Though I could not experience since it was monsoon and the road trips were closed but it’s going to be a whole of an experience for sure Elephant Rides Definitely a great experience to interact and spend two to three hours with such a humble life. There are many elephant safari and ride programs across Thekkady. You can go for half an hour ride through plantation, elephant bathing, elephant training session and take a moment to greet the elephant and feed with your own hands Vineyards On our way to Madurai airport, we did visit a waterfall and a vineyard at Uttapalaiyam. Though the waterfall was not that exciting and over crowded, the visit to the vineyard was short and nice. You can talk and have a look at the way things work, hear how grapes are fermented, picked from the plantation and processed. The story will remain incomplete if I dont speak of the Kerala Lunch! Highly recommended - Visit this restaurant incase you dont know anything better. We were stuffed with rice, Malabar Paratha, beef, prawns, chicken, mutton, fish, some awesome veg curries , salad and chutneys/pickles for INR 600 per head. If you dispute, I dont mind because I already had my share that afternoon and didnt eat anything for dinner. I realized one thing for sure - Happiness is portable! Just carry it with you wherever you go! Give this place a try, it wont be disappointing.