In spite of having traveled so much this year it seems I am running out of sky pictures! The good bit is that I am heading out again tomorrow, just me and my daughter. Till I click new ones, here is a sunset at Fort Kochi in Kerala, India. I did a short trip to Fort Kochi in July 2013 and I quite liked the place. It has a laid back atmosphere, a small town feel. It also boasts of many historical monuments dating back from the Portuguese era.
Sunset at Kochi, Kerala, India
I usually underexpose my sunset images and I wish I had done so with this one as well. But I was running towards the Chinese fishing nets to photograph them at sunset! So I took this shot in a hurry and moved on. I actually got out quite early out of my hotel waiting for the sunset. But half way through I went to a restaurant for a coffee. They had good coffee and even better apple pie but they believed in slow service. When I say slow service I don’t mean it in a bad way. I simply mean that it was a relaxed place and they assumed that none of their customers were in hurry. They also had an awesome view of the sea. And that delayed my departure for the sunset!
I liked Fort Kochi as a city but I do wish that the beach area was cleaner. When I visited there was a lot of waste lying along the walking path and the beach. And that took away a lot from the experience. I wonder why the authorities are not interested in maintaining it as the city must be getting a lot of tourism revenue. Even the vendors along the shore could get together and clean the beach.
This post is part of Sky Watch Friday. Do check them out.
It is difficult to believe that all I spent were measly 4 days in Kochi and the backwaters. I had so much fun in those four days, it feels like I was there at least for 10 days! So here are 10 things I thought were a lot of fun to do in Kochi and backwaters. My trip was on invitation from Travspire.
Kashi Cafe, Fort Kochi
10. Visit the Kashi Cafe: Locals like it, everyone recommends it. It is a nice cafe. They have art works installed at the front. I was however pressed for time and straight went for coffee and a pastry. The pastry was huge, way too many calories I say. It was yum too. When I asked if they had wifi they said no. It has a nice ambiance. People were sitting there with books and e-readers. So it is a place to hang out, no one is in a hurry to throw you out.
South Indian Thali
9. Eat at Krishna Restaurant: Guess what was the cost of the South Indian Thali I had at Krishna Restaurant? It was a royal sum of Rs. 35. And it was eat as you much. They also had a dish listed at Rs. 15. I can’t remember when I paid so less for a meal. My auto driver for the day, Sabu Babu took me there. It is a local place. That coffee bill at Kashi was many more times than the food bill.
Paradasi Synagogue and the Shops, Kochi, Kerala
8. Visit the Paradesi Synagogue: I only walked through the Jewish Street and saw the exteriors of this synagogue as I was there on a Friday. The synagogue is closed on Friday and Saturday. I had an interesting experience in the lane full of shops on the way to the synagogue. Everyone invited me to their shop. I told them I was not shopping. They said I could just walk in and have a look. I parried it by saying- on the way back. And on my way back they reminded me I had to visit their shops. It was all done nicely and in good humor. In the end I bought a t-shirt and dresses for my daughter and niece.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Fort Kochi
7. Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and St. Francis Church: Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is ancient and have gone through a lot of destruction and reconstruction (read more about it here). When I visited it, I was the only person inside the church. St Francis Church is also almost as old as the basilica. It is said that Vasco da Gama was buried here before they moved the body to Lisbon.
A Theyyam Artist, Fort Kochi
6. Watch a Cultural Performance: I am not much of a culture person. And yet I was completely mesmerized by the dance performances put by the artists from the Greenix Village (read the complete article on the Kathakali and other dances). It was right opposite my hotel, The Fort House. You can pay only to watch Kathakali or you can pay to watch the entire show. I strongly recommend that you watch the entire show.
Ancient Shiva Temple, Muzris Heritage Trail
5. Go on the Muzris Trail: Muzris used to an important port during the ancient times. It was part of the famous spice route. It can no longer be physically located. One theory is that it got submerged within the sea. But its approximate location is seeped in history. There are synagogues, temples and mosques nearby, all of them a few centuries old. If you are interested in heritage this is a must do (you can read a detailed account of my experience).
The Local Dhobi Ghat, Fort Kochi
4. Hire an Auto and Let Them be your Guide: That is how I explored Fort Kochi. The deal was for Rs 100 per hour and I can avail the auto services for as many hours I wish. It was a lot of fun. That is how I discovered Krishna Restaurant. At one point I asked Babu to take me someplace where I could buy chips. He took me to a local shop and I was really sad when all the chips got over finally. They were quite good. He also took me to off beat places like CTD Temple and the local Dhobi Ghat. Other off beat places were a ginger processing unit, a candle making factory and a local shop which sold nice soaps and tea. We of course did the regular attractions as well.
Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Kochi
3. Watch Sunset Over the Chinese Fishing Nets: The Chinese Fishing Nets lend a unique charm to the sea shore at Kochi. Sunset is when the magic happens and it is a beautiful time to take stroll along the shore. The locals do it too. You can eat stuff from road side vendors. I do not eat fish but they can make it for you fresh out of the water! I wish the area was cleaner though (want to read more about them?)
The Hammocks and My Room at Breeze Backwater Homes, Alappuza
2. Stay at a Backwater Homestay: Forget hotels, I would say even forget houseboats. This time choose a homestay. I stayed at Breeze Backwater Home Stay in Alappuza. It is about 2 hour drive from Kochi. My room was literally 5 steps from the lake. They have only four rooms, so pre-booking is recommended. Their food is awesome. There are hammocks in the courtyard. They own a houseboat and a canoe, both of which are rowed with bamboo poles. They were quick to point out that it was much more eco-friendly. It is a great place to unwind. I would say just put up your feet and do nothing here.
Kayaking in Kerala Backwaters
1. Go Kayaking: If you are even mildly adventurous type, kayaking is one activity you cannot miss. A kayak can go to all those canals where a houseboat cannot. You sit this high from the water, almost touching it. There are bridges that you can cross only after ducking or lying flat on the kayak. It is just too much fun. Put it on your list. Go do it and read more about my experience.
OK here is bonus tip. The good folks at the Breeze Backwater can arrange for a cycling trip for you as well. I say do that too!
I will tell a story today. It is of 4 weekends and if it makes you a little jealous, do read it out till the end. I will start from weekend no 4. I was traveling in Kerala (on invitation from Travspire) on that weekend. I did kayaking, enjoyed the backwaters. I saw Kathakali and Theyyam for the first time and it was great fun. Then I visited the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and I was the only person inside the church for quite sometime. I went on the Muziris Heritage Trail
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Kochi, Kerala
Coming to weekend number 3, I was visiting Suryagarh. This was my second visit to Suryagarh and both the times I was lucky enough to be invited. I like Suryagarh a lot. It is sheer luxury that I can afford only through getting invited.
Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
We ate a lot of good food, I did swimming everyday, we went on a haunted trail at night, we went on a temple trail and then we drove around the Dessert National Park. We were extremely lucky to see a Great Indian Bustard too. And these were consecutive weekends.
Coming to weekend number 2 (which was again consecutive) I visited Pushkar Resorts and Lakshman Sagar (on invitation) and it was my second trip to Lakshman Sagar too. And Lakshman Sagar is a special place as well.
A Hoopoe at Pushkar Resorts, Pushkar
I came back yesterday from this trip and I have not even started writing about it. Pushkar has a lake, the only Brahma temple in the world and a small colorful market. We stopped at Dargah Ajmer Sharif on our way to Lakshman Sagar. So for the past three weekends I traveled every weekend.
And now coming to weekend number 1, which is the forthcoming weekend, take a guess. It is a working Saturday for me!
I had limited time in Fort Kochi. I initially tried to walked around the city but gave up soon. I then hired an auto and the driver, Sabu Babu took me around.
CTD Temple Pond, Fort Kochi, Kerala
He took me to Cochin Thirumala Devaswom Temple also known as CTD Temple. The main temple was closed at that time but there is this pond nearby with a temple. To enter you have to squeeze through an iron barrier to go inside. It was such a tranquil beauty. Do give it a try when you are in Fort Kochi.