Saturday, May 26, 2018

India


The sea is the limit
August 2004 6
Kerala is a land of natural wonders, writes ALEXANDER M ARRACKAL

The Indian state of Kerala is a tropical paradise, full of rivers that offer the ultimate potentials in tourism.

The land boasts its backwaters and forests and hills, palaces, temples, sanctuaries – both bird and wildlife – and is a trekker’s paradise.
Kerala is a land well connected to all parts of the globe. It is perhaps the only state in India with three airports where international flights operate. Of the Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode airports, only Thiruvananthapuram airport has been declared international.
Of the other two, Kochi is heralded as an architectural beauty, with almost all the Gulf airlines operating multi-frequency. Kozhikode maintains a rather low profile, but has its own bevy of airlines operating to it.
For those charmed by the blue waters of the oceans, Kochi harbour offers the ideal link to the rest of the state. The state is interconnected by a excellent network of roads and railways and the canals, operating almost round the clock.
Transit passengers however beware, because out of the airport terminal if one looks for accommodation for a day, at all the three airports and at the harbour, people are sure to draw a blank. The nearest star hotels, are a few miles away.
This is the land where the sea kisses the golden sands. The land where the glen and the glades melt with the uplands and the rivulets that flow singing their own songs soothing many a tired and weary soul.
A walk outside the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport and people are sure to be taken in by the cool breeze blowing from the sea that is hardly 10 paces away. The sights and beauty of the state takes visitors by surprise.
 Kerala is the land of the countless temples and palaces, where architecture and history mingle effortlessly with religion and traditions. It is the land of Ayurveda that ancient system of traditional medicine whose renown has today transcended the oceans. No wonder then that tourists throng to this state.
Accomodation is available for all budgets. Hotels range from the five-star deluxe in the bigger cities of Trivandrum and Kochi to single star in the satellite towns of Kottayam and Thekkady. The sights too vary. While the state’s capital of Thiruvananthapuram is steeped in history and religion, with the international destination Kovalam as its beach resort, the financial capital of Kochi is steeped more in religion with the synagogue and the different temples.
Move further up north and there is the wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady, where a safari leaves visitors breathless for the sheer variety of animals and birds. In between come the backwaters, that compare in beauty and variety only to Venice. Here there is a novel type of accommodation gaining ground, where ancient houses are being turned into tourist resting places. 
Room rates are as fixed by the  owners of the premises. The charm of this accommodation is that tourists get to know the tradition and the authentic cuisines of the place. However, here accommodation is not for all and sundry, since most of these houses belong to families with age-old traditions. Kettuvalams or boats tied together with coir and on which accommodation has been made possible is another novelty of this area. The best way to see Kerala would be through packaged tours or through friends. Venturing out alone could mean leaving gaping dents in the pocket if visitors were to use taxi cabs and three-wheelers. They do not bat an eyelid in having their pound of flesh.




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