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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
If there is a reading meter in the market to gauge what I always love the most in nature , the scale will always be reading 100 % for beaches. Probably I didn't go to the right mountains in the right season and never fancy to get lock down inside a room after sunset since then. AND then this magic happened! After few trips to same Chirala and burning out my fuel of love and passion for beaches , probably I didn't want to see that place again . I packed my bags in summer and risk my preference for once and all changed ; Coornoor just flushed off my insensible attraction towards mountains to a desire for exploring more , loving more, tripping more in mountains.
After Bengaluru traffic beaten us badly , we speed up well through Mysuru highway, quickly took a tea break at my favourite spot @Gundlupet , we managed to cross all 31 hairpins of Ooty and its awful traffic at city centre. It was almost dark and up above the world so high... Moon was shining like a diamond in the sky! Before you reach Ooty, beautiful Bandipur and its forest life always cheesecake your life with taste of beautiful nature.
Our Resort was another 14 kms from Udagamandalam. It was an offbeat homestay with lake at one side, tea estate on both sides of the homestay, valleys and mountains all around us. The beauty of mountains, tea estate,azure sky, lively greenery around the stay was just a luxury you cant afford to miss! The gentle breeze and the freshness is so far away from the hustle bustle of city life and recycled air at home. On our way to the stay, we did spot quite a few bisons and wild deer. It was quite thrilling stay since we had no one around the venue though everything was quite safe and secure. The homestay has two bedrooms, well furnished with furnitures, bed, mattresses, pillows, glass windows every where, sofa, dinning hall and a kitchen will refrigerator , gas connection, spice , utensils everything. The food was arranged by the local guide himself for us during our stay and it was very economical.
Next day, the first thing on our agenda was to explore the property, tea estate and the road towards the lake. It was so so different for me for I have never explored mountains, tea estate with so much enthusiasm.
The local guide, take us around a lot of beautiful off beat places -Palada, Adikaratti, Nonsuch Tea estate, Archiesden, Dolphin Point and Lambs Rock. In One day we did cover a lot of points for photography and short breaks. While you continue driving across small villages, you do notice the beauty of ghat roads, tea estates, factories, vegetable washing machines , beautiful railway tracks for toy trains, trees filled with colorful flowers etc.
Archiesden is a peak point close to an eculaptus oil factory . Heard you can spot leopard after the sunset at this point. You need to hike for five ten minutes to reach this scenic beauty. You can see mountains, roads, life all around from the top as if you are the lord of the world and appreciating the beauty of your own creation. Clouds can touch you and go if you hike here early morning or in winters.
We did stop at a chinese restaurant for lunch though we wanted to try local Biriyani from a small outlet. The outlet was closed and we decided to go to a decent restaurant.
A must try - Honey Lemon Tea at TanTea stall in Coornoor. I did drink two cups myself . It is an awesome point for drinking tea and enjoy the sunset. The gentleman brew the tea in front of you in a carefe and serves you hot refreshing tea in a glass made cup and saucer.
You can drive around the military zone in Ooty for its beauty stretching across the golf course to Statues of National Leaders . Incase you are a coffee lover, sip a coffee from Bossoms coffee cafe in Ooty. Its really cool.
The local guide later took us at the top of a road close to Mahindra Holiday club resort for a scenic view of OOty from the top of the peak under full moon night! Its heaven. The pearl of lights all over just can kill you with its beauty. The lights across the small homes across the mountains, the moving traffic , the beauty of trees and moon playing hide and seek -is so so thrilling, probably one has to be on the spot someday to experience it. The place has so much of tranquility to offer , you wont feel like stepping out of the place till you are ready to go back home. I wish I had a bed there itself to experience the sunrise next day.
We decided to have dinner at the spot itself and was served with excellent dinner and a great hot tea after the dinner.
It was a long day for us and we drove back to the resort through the forest and ghats at night!.
The short trip was not only beautiful, it was a kind of a change for me too. It did change my outlook towards mountain, made me found a place where I sat and saw from the top of the peak both morning and night in two different beauties. I didn't miss sea for a second! Only thing that was missing from my list was - wrong opinions about mountains.
If you read and think I am exaggerating, fabrication is just another style of Pinaki.... I go on my knees to say, I am little mad for beaches and this beach just unveiled the beauty of AP coastal line when I visited Chirala for the first time. I do carry the good memories and excitement in me b'coz it was planned overnight ( in less than 12 hours ) and did bring a name on my list that I can definitely visit more than once .
There are two ways to reach this spot.
You can either start early - take Nagarjuna Sagar Road, enjoy the sunrise , stop at Ethipothala waterfalls, click some pictures go towards Chilakaluripet and go towards Chirala. This route is not excellent or best road to drive and enjoy end to end though the first two spots are great to start your day and lose sometimes on way to Chirala
Early Morning picture towards Nagarjuna Sagar
Ethipothala waterfalls inside the property of Haaritha.
Take ORR - Exit gate 11 - Take Nalgonda
Second route and recommended.
Take ORR - Exit gate 11 - Take Nalgonda Road - Miriyalguda - Piduguralla - Narasaraopet - Chirala. Total Distance - 336 kms. The road is pretty good and have scenic beauty. You can definately mainatain a speed of 100 -120. There are three toll gates on the way.
It takes 6 hours . We did start at 3.30 in the morning , had a break at Piduguralla and reached Chirala by 10.15 am.
Chirala has very limited options. I have tried my luck at two different spots.
a) Sea Breeze Resort - Definitely a good place. Most of the travelers prefer staying here . Rooms on weekends go off soon and can be a problem if you go without booking. The resort has different varieties of rooms. Do not fall for room types. Request for information on the room location inside the resort, ventilation and facing of the room. Sea facing are only available with Deluxe room and cottages. Rest of the sea facing room are actually garden facing.
b) Lotus Buddha - The management is cooperative however the property is not well maintained . I was almost in depression of spending two nights at this resort. It is just in the middle of village with fishermen and local crowd. The smell and the not so maintained locality dampen the spirit and feeling for the place.
You can definitely order your food at the resorts. The quality, quantity and the service support is very decent and well maintained.
They do serve dinner on the beach at night. They charge you INR 500 for the effort. The experience is great if you go during full moon night. You see the sunset followed by the full Moon in the sky , high tide and the breeze.
the variety of food is also quite grand at Sea breeze. You have options from fish to chicken to Biriyani . Atleast they serve you what you see on the menucard.
A lot of people told me, they do order food from outside. Local villagers are great cook and serve you hot chicken and local dishes.
The beach is just opposite to the sea breeze property. My first trip was in September. The silver sand and the non sticky quality brings softness to your feet and happiness as you walk down the clean beaches. The water was so clear , it was literary blue. The beach is stretched over almost 7 kms and also have awesome tree lines across the road. Incase you feel you want a shade while you want to be on beach - simply go and take a seat under the shade and sip coconut water in the morning or in the afternoon and leisurely drink your fav one in the evening.
Collect broken or new designed shell, shoot around with crabs , or just lie down on the silver sand.
Check in - Check Out - Your check in time is 9 AM and check out is 9 PM. Breakfast is complimentary and includes Dosa, Idli, Kheer, Vada, Poori, Omlette, Juice , Tea, Coffee.
There is no local spots to drive around. Though you can visit the local saree mill for some handwork sarees or can even drive down to Narasaoraopet for Kotappakonda Temple . The Temple is on the top of a hill and has amaziong scenic beauty. The drive up to 5kms is really amazing and can be a good disconnect for sometimes.
Give Chirala a try! After all, small things bring more happiness so why you let this one go?
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The distance and the accessibility between or across many islands can be little time consuming. Need guidance on the worth visiting spots and logistics for the planned itinerary.
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