In God's Own Country

God's Own Country
Kerala --- God’s Own Country

How green is my country? Most of it is. In varying degrees and shades. But when we traveled from Trivandrum to Kanyakumari on a train, the green opened up. Something different from what I have hitherto seen. Enthralling. Soothingly caressed our visual system throughout the journey. We were struck by the abundant creation of nature as our train glided through the green corridor. Lined up on both sides by coconut trees, some short and some very tall. Interspersed with fleeting views of giant banana trees, with some dark green, some light green, some heavy and thick in foliage only to be broken by sporadic patches of bright green meadows This continued till our train reached the land’s end. We put up at Vivekananda Kendra, not far from Kanyakumari station. A serene campus that induces an aura of meditativeness. So comfortable that we longed to prolong our stay. Getting up at three in the morning and sauntering down the pathway in darkness to the sea about one kilometer from our lodge was a thrilling experience. At the seashore, we waited to watch the sunrise over the confluence of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian sea. The moment the sun rose, a twinkle of fire lit the snowy clouds at the horizon. Then the entire sea and Vivekananda Rock would get suffused with gold and blue. We walked back to our base after getting cheered by the beauty of such sunrise. Apart from serenity and sunrise what we liked most about Vivekananda Kendra was their free bus service at fifteen minutes intervals up to the city center near the beach. From there one could walk down to the ferry point for Vivekananda Rock, or take an auto or toto to sunset point and other sightseeing places. Sunset is again invincibly beautiful with rocky faces turning to ruddy gold as the sun sank into the sea. From the shore of Kanyakumari up to Vivekananda Rock the water is rough, splashing wherever it encounters the jagged rock formations underneath the sea. It is hard to believe how Swami Vivekananda swam this rough stretch to reach the huge rock protruding out of the sea in order to meditate atop the rock before leaving for the USA to deliver his famous discourse on religion in Chicago. From Vivekananda Rock, the view of the meeting point of the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal is a mind-blowing sight. So clear is the demarcation and different shades of the ocean and the seas. After three days of stay at Kanyakumari, we traveled northward deeper into Kerala. We retraced the railroad up to Trivandrum. Beyond, it continued through a similar green corridor only to be broken at places by swathes of rippling waterways of Kerala’s iconic backwater. Yes, our destination was Kottayam, and from there to Alleppey to discover the entrancing Backwaters. Allepey or ‘Allepuzha’, a town endowed with whatever nature showers in one’s dreams – sea, serene and wonderful beaches, backwaters infringed with lengthy land strips of swaying coconut trees. We moved into Allepey before sundown. We dumped our luggage at Pine Beach Residency, a homestay arrangement. Homestay is quite popular in this tourist city. Hungry after the journey, we walked down the beach to Indian Coffee House. I ordered beef fry and toast to satiate my appetite, as I am extremely fond of Kerala’s beef fry. In the night we indulged in romantic candlelight dining on the white beach at Palm Beach Residency. Half a day trip on backwaters in an exclusive houseboat was another first. Nature engulfed us with its extraordinary beauty. The boat stopped at one of the several islands on the waterway. We had Karimeen fry. A delectable sweet water fish of Kerala, very similar taste of much sought after ‘Koi’ of Bengal. Local people told us that this fish is available in plenty in the backwaters. After returning back to Allepuzha Boat House Station, we decided to have a hearty lunch at one of Kerala’s most popular eateries. Thapp is walking distance from the finishing point of Allepuzha Boat House Station. One has to just cross the footbridge over the backwater canal.  Since the recipes of Kerala are among the best in South India, we ordered ‘thalis’ (meal platters) – plus mutton curry for myself and pomfret fish masala for my wife. Believe me, this is one state in India where servings on a platter show no stinginess. Sumptuous Kerala thali comprises rice, three or four varieties of vegetarian preparations, rasam, sambar, fish curry, pappad, pickle, and payasam galore.Added to this one's choice of a non-veg delicacy. All equally delicious and filling. Another discovery at Allepuzha was a rejuvenated ayurvedic full body oil massage of Kerala. It works wonders. After two refreshing days in Allepuzha, we took an early morning train to Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital. The train journey captivated us again through the resilient green corridor. Thiruvananthapuram (colonial name Trivandrum) is a beautiful city on the shoreline of the Arabian Sea. Beautiful because of its internationally famed Kovalam Beach and Shanghumukham Beach adjacent to the airport for sunset viewers; beautiful because of old temples of Dravidian architecture including the Attukul Temple and the famous Padmanabha Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu; beautiful because of Kuthira Malika Palace adorned with carved horses built by Maharaja Balaram Verma, King of Travancore during the eighteenth century ( now a museum displaying paintings and various priceless collections related to the Travancore family); beautiful because of the city’s colonial architecture; beautiful because of its proximity to Western Ghat mountain range that runs parallel to the Arabian Sea. The newly constructed Central Bus Terminus, opposite Trivandrum Rail Station is also laudable. We had taken a bus from here to visit Ponmudi about sixty kilometers from Trivandrum. The route to Ponmudi passes through clusters of thickets including banana trees, coconut trees, pine trees, and rubber plantations leaving us gaspingly admiring the infinite green spaces. Sunshine drifted in and out of the thickets creating patches of light and shade as our bus moved on gentle slopes of the winding roads. Because of the thickets all around the realization of 3000 feet climb came only after flurries of cool mountain breeze started wafting through the window. A pretty hill station so close to a bustling city. And nothing more refreshing and relaxing than the sights of mountain flowers, butterflies, rubber plantations, and the sound of gurgling springs. We had lunch at Ponmudi, and watched monkeys playing their tricks before returning back to Trivandrum.

Photo courtesy: Arundhati Sengupta
View captured from the train on way to Kanyakumari from Trivandrum

At the Land's end - Kanyakumari Railway Station

Sunrise as viewed from private beach near Vivekananda Kendra

Another view of the sunrise

At the premises of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari

Sunset viewed from sunset point, Kanyakumari

Sunsets at Kanyakumari

Vivekananda Rock, Kanyakumari

Three distinct colours of the sea at the meeting point of Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal

Kanyakumari town from Vivekananda Rock

Allepuzha Beach, Allepey

Backwater at Allepey

A boat ferrying local passengers on backwater at Allepey

Houseboat on backwater

A strip of the island on the backwater

Another view of backwater

Where backwater meets the sea

This eatery at Allepey is a very popular joint for authentic Kerala delicacies

Thali served at Thaff, Allepey

A seahorse caught by the owner of Pine Beach Residency where we stayed

A private beach at Allepuzha

Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.

Kovalam Beach with a view of an old Lighthouse

Another view of Kovalam Beach, Thiruvananthapuram

Sanghumukham Beach adjacent to Thiruvananthapuram Airport


Another view of Ponmudi

Mountain Flower, Ponmudi

Mountain Flower, Ponmudi

Mountain Flowers at Ponmudi

Spring, Ponmudi

Monkeys at play, Ponmudi

(Pics were taken by Arundhati Sengupta)


Extremely lucid and almost "poetic" description of this tiny state tucked away at the southern-most corner of India. The myriad shades of green, the tantalizing blues of the oceans are so well described in this beautifully written blog. Ranada is indeed gifted with “word embroidery”. To top it all, the mention of karimeen fry and beef fry sizzles the taste buds too. Awesome job!

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