The last two days we spent in Fort Kochi in the Brunton Boatyard Hotel. Fort Kochi is a region in the city of Kochi.
We visited the St. Francis Church which is the oldest European Church in India. The body of Vasco da Gama (he discovered the sea route from Europe to India) was originally buried in this church.
Kochi was a fishing village and you can see a lot of Chinese Fishing Nets near the shore. They are shore operated lift nets. They are mostly found in the state of Kerala.
Huge mechanical contrivances hold out horizontal nets of 20 m or more across. Each structure is at least 10 m high and comprises a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen. (Wikipedia)
And of course there are always a lot of birds near the nets to catch the fish before the fisherman gets it’s hand on them.
After the house boat trip we stayed two nights in the Marari Beach Resort which is also part of the cgh earth group. It was an excellent resort and we were lucky to get a private pool villa.
From the hotel you can book a lot of different tours to Alappuzha and nearby attractions. We visited Alappuzha to see how carpets are made from coconut fibers and to watch traditional gold smiths while they were melting tiny gold pieces together. Good to see that these traditional crafts still exist.
Marari Beach and Alappuzha
If you stay in Kerala near the Vembanadu Lake you have to rent a house boat. Best thing is to book a full day with a night on the boat.
We started our journey directly from the Coconut Lagoon and made our way through the backwaters until evening. We had dinner on the boat near the town Puthanagadi and also stayed during the night there. The food was excellent and our crew very friendly and supportive.
The Coconut Lagoon is a very nice place to stay. You can reach it only by boat and it is a vast region where the hotel is naturally integrated. It is also part of the “cgh earth group” like the other hotels we stayed in. There are several isolated bungalows (like in Spice Village) and you have a perfect view of the sunset over the Vembanad lake. You can book a bird watching tour in the morning or rent a kajak to explore the backwaters.
Gudalur is a panchayat town in Theni district in the state of Tamil Nadu. We went there for half a day and started a trip from Thekkady (Spice Village) to Gudalur.
Although it is very close to Kerala, Tamil Nadu is very different in climate, nature and the people. You can see a lot of agriculture there from Mangos, Red Chilly, Rice,..and even grapes.
Prices are half of that in Kerala and so a lot of people go for shopping to Tamil Nadu. The towns looked less developed and people seemed to be poorer than in Kerala but still they were very friendly and happy to see some foreigners.
The Periyar lake is an artificial lake. It is the reservoir of the famous century old Mullai Periyar dam. During the boat journey you can see not only wild animals but also the remains of old trees in the lake. Thekkady is the home to a large number of rare birds, which can be found in these trees.
The lake is kept very clean and it is a nice experience to take this boat trip. The forest people care about this region and Thekkady itself was declared “plastic free” in September 2011. “Tourists visiting Thekkady, please keep in mind that you cannot carry plastic bags to Thekkady.”
I definitely recommend the 1,5 hour boat journey to everyone who visits the Periyar Sanctuary. We chose the trip during lunch time because we had some other activities in the morning, but now I must say that the trips early in the morning or late in the afternoon are better for spotting animals. Never the less we were lucky and saw bisons, wild hogs and even a elephant.
Boat Ride, Thekkady
In the morning we went for a three hour nature walk in the Periyar Tiger Reserve which is very close to the place we stayed (Spice Village). Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Southern Western Ghats of India.
The reserve is huge – about 925 square kilometers – and so spotting elephants or other bigger animals is not a sure thing. We had luck and saw some bisons, beautiful insects and birds. It was a great experience and our guide always explained the different kinds of plants and animals.
Nature Walk, Boat Ride and Jeep Safari (Thekkady and Tamil Nadu)
The Champakulam Boat Race takes place every year at the Champakulam Lake in Alappuzha, Kerala. It is the most popular and oldest snake boat race of Kerala and the start of many races during June and October. It is held on the River Pampa in Champakulam village of Alappuzha district on the Moolam day (Mool Nakshatra). Before the boat race, a procession is held every year in memory of the installation of the idol of Lord Shri Krishna.
The snake boats are very long boats with a length of about 30 meters or more. They have a raised prow which give them their name- ‘Snake Boats.’ When more than 100 oarsmen make the long snake boat cut the waves of the river and speed through the water to leave the other racing boats behind, thousands and lakhs of people standing at the river bank can literally feel the adrenalin rush in their bodies!
We stayed at the Triveny River Palace and had from the hotel’s garden a nice view of the finishing line of the race. We had full service of the hotel and the garden was less crowded than the opposite side of the river as you can see in the pictures.
Champakulam Boat Race, Kerala Trip