Friday, December 22, 2017

Kochi - Land of Backwaters! #Travelogue



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It was a Friday evening and I had a long weekend ahead of me waiting with no plans. I did not wanted to spend all of it in Coimbatore, my training location. I looked up for the places around and found out my cousin in the Navy stationed at Kochi. "You can catch the morning bus if you get up early", that’s what my mind said but my habit of sleeping late kept everything in suspense. I went off to sleep packing my small bag sincerely hoping to get up and make it to the nearby bus depot. To my luck, it was some day as I got up by 5 in the morning and by 5:30, I was in the bus sleeping again hoping to see Kochi by noon.




The Journey from Coimbatore started by 0600 hours and I was awake by 0730 when the Volvo stopped for breakfast. I removed my curtains and it was a bliss, in the middle of nowhere with all the greenery around, shading the bus completely. I got down, splashed my face with water and here was my morning - Serenely placed in the greens of Kerala. When in Rome, be a Roman, and so was I, sitting at the breakfast table with a banana leaf topped with Idli - Vada - Sambhar and Coconut Chutney, in short heaven.


The bus took off after a while and the journey witnessing the splendid landscapes continued, the journey from Coimbatore to Kochi is mostly dominated by boring straight national highway with few stretches of beautiful state highways. I could see backwaters and coconut trees hanging low on them throughout and it was refreshing. The Weather was slowly becoming humid, expected due to the shores and I could see Ernakulam boards hanging around. Being a native of North India, I had heard Ernakulam mostly with a suffix "Express" for the trains which commuted down south. I asked one of my fellow passengers and he told that Kochi is a city in the Ernakulam district of the state. I did not know that, was a new one. The bus stopped at Willingdon Island ending the journey.



My cousin was staying at this island which was close by to the historical locality of "Mattancherry", the island was full of huge ships of Navy and proud officers in uniform. Patriotism hits a new high every time I get into such surroundings. My cousin came to pick me up at the Gate where I had to show my identity card and log my details. We went to his house, typical huge government quarter and surprisingly well maintained. We got out for a late lunch at Naushad's, a famous food chain there and had a steamed pomfret with spices in banana leaf. It was amazing, till date I long to go back to Kerala and have the same dish again. "We work on Saturdays you civilian", he said and left for work again after dropping me back. He had given me instructions on how to take the ferry to Mattancherry and go around, as expected from the independent defence brother.


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I took the ferry to Mattancherry from a dock near Taj Malabar, another marvel of the Taj Hotels. This was a new experience, travelling alone, exploring a new place alone, the ferry, the people and Mattancherry. It took hardly about 10 minutes to get on the other side and I was on my feet, exploring the old town. 

Mattancherry is mostly a historically rich site hosting the grand Mattancherry Palace, a Synagogue, Classic Old Churches and a beautiful beach with all kind of flea markets. When you walk here, you can feel time sliding into the older eras seeing the old houses with vintage doors and windows. I took plenty of pictures, thanks to my Canon point and shoot camera.


I covered all of it and sat on the bench at the beach for a while watching the fishermen catching fishes using the Chinese fishnets, the sun too went low and it was a beautiful evening as I took the ferry back to Willingdon island where my cousin was waiting at the dock. Later, we went to few local eat outs, had dinner and crashed to sleep by 10 as next morning we had planned to drive around Kochi and Old Ernakulam town.


And as planned we were on the streets exploring the town, but weather had a different plan as it started pouring, so we had to return back. It was a blessing in disguise, as my cousin took me inside the huge naval ships and one word for it - unbelievable. It was really unbelievable how complex these ships were and the operational procedure they had, it was so much of patience and hard work managing the whole ship. 

I soaked it in, it was really a proud moment to see one of our biggest defence weapons in its calmness.


The day passed by exploring more about the naval base and its history and the tasty tandoori chicken at the canteen, and it was night. One thing I did not like about Kochi was that the commercial areas shut very early, it was almost lull by 2100. We had another meal at Naushad's as I was asked to choose. Had the same fish again and went back and slept.

Next morning, I took the Volvo back to Coimbatore after my cousin gifted me- I love Kochi t-shirt.


It was a refreshing trip and Mattancherry remains the place in my mind for another visit whenever time permits next.




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