Writing about travel escapades, is the only thing which is keeping me linked with writing these days. They are easy to write, you have lot of material on hand, and if actually you did some research before writing it, then it was on vacation. All in all I see no reason why I shouldn’t become a travel writer; but then let us save it for some other time. Anyways this one is about a short trip to God’s own Country, Kerala.
Had it not been to Swaroop’s sister’s marriage, I don’t see this trip coming up, not in the foreseeable future. It is not that I don’t like south India, but going there means a long trip and planning [me and Shantnu have been planning a trip to Rameshwaram since ages but our grand plans seldom materializes], and for me spontaneity is the fun element in travelling.
Early Saturday morning I took a flight [Indigo, 6:20 a.m.] to Kochi [I won’t talk about the flight, as I don’t like them; sitting in crunched seats, unable to go anywhere and without freedom of movement is just too uncomfortable for me] and after 3 hours of ordeal I was at the Kochi airport.
Airport is situated at the outskirts of the city and to MG road it was a 33 km drive which cost me 530 bucks and more than an hour. After being tugged in the hotel and ready to start exploring the surrounding I took an auto to Marine Drive for 20 bucks. If you have been to Mumbai you know about Marine Drive, and the Kochi Marine Drive is no different. There are malls and residential apartments and behind them there is pavement to walk besides the sea shore. For many sitting there might be fun, but for me it was like walking along any sewage stream in Delhi. The only difference being there was no noise of traffic and nice breeze was blowing.
My stay there was as brief as possible and before I knew it I was standing in a queue to by a boat ticket for Fort Kochi. There are many ways to reach Fort Kochi, but I believe at Rs. 2.5 and 10-15 minutes travelling time this is the cheapest and fastest. It was while standing in the queue that I met with Ajjin and Anoop. Both of them are students in Kochi University, working part time with Vodafone and for the day they were my guide and companion for exploring Fort Kochi.
While on the boat to Fort Kochi, I was expecting to see a big fort on some small foot hill; but don’t be mislead by the name, there is no fort there. In past there might have been one, but now there is everything except fort.
In Fort Kochi minus fort, I started with Cheena fishing nets lined up on the shore one after another. These are big fishing nets and probably among the earliest mechanised fishing techniques. From there you can walk towards the Vasco-De-Gama church. Actually the name is St. Francis Church, but it is famous as Vasco-De Gama as it was here the Portuguese explorer was originally buried [later his grave was moved to Portugal].
Another attraction there is Kerala centre for art and culture, where you can see performance in dance and Indian martial arts Kaleri. From the boat harbour about 1.5 kms is Dutch palace, which was the palace of the Verma dynasity of Kochi. It has been turned into a museum now, and at 5 bucks ticket, it is worth a watch.
All in all Fort Kochi is nice place to visit and kill some 4-5 hours. The village is all about Dutch architecture, it is nice and clean. As earlier it used to be the main port as well, so there are lot of traders there whom you can see while walking towards the Dutch palace. The place also appeared to be a hub for foreign tourists, as there are many hotels and resorts which mostly had tourists from abroad. Also there are many cafes which they have tried to model on different themes and at best are again aimed at the coveted foreigners.
By the time I got free from fort Kochi it was 6 and I was already very tired, from waking up at 3 in the morning to walking for more than 5 hours. So it was time for me to head back to my hotel by same route I came and have a nice sleep and rest for the day.