India Travelogue: Kochi and Alleppey
This is the final installment of my travelogue to India. For those of you dreaming of a trip to India or for those of you who have been, feel free to add tidbits of your travel stories in the comments section!
The final leg of our journey in India took us south to Kerala for a bit of a beach holiday. We hit a bit of a snag in our travels and had to spend the night in Mumbi, but in the end, we made it to Kochi.
We’d planned this leg of the journey as a respite from our travels so elected not to stay in the more touristy Kochi. We instead drove 2 hours south down the coast to a place called Alleppey.
South India is a trip all of its own so we weren’t able to explore widely, we just wanted a taste – to whet our appetite. We chose Alleppey because it was on the sea, but also because it was a gateway to the maze of canals where we could float through the backwaters.
It is a more natural place – and I finally got an Indian sunset.
We chose our guest house well. It was right on the beach and had only six rooms. Joining us was an Indian family – one of them being a bird photographer – and an Englishman who grew up in the same area of north London as my husband. They had a lot to talk about!
We arrived at the guesthouse just in time for the end of a football match on the beach between the youths in the neighboring fishing villages. A Christmas tradition, it seems.
The south of India has a higher percentage of Christians so the town was much more festively decorated for Christmas than we’d encountered so far in India – in fact, over the last few weeks of traveling, we sort of forgot about the holiday season. The German owner of the guesthouse put on a bit of a party for Christmas Eve and we got to know our fellow travelers quite well.
We woke on Christmas morning to the sound of the surf and feeling the warmth of the sea.
A leisurely day at the beach is exactly what we needed at this point in the trip. We walked to the nearby train station for a quick dosa, but it was very hot in the sun, making us extra lazy. We took a walk along the beach and into the town.
The guesthouse was not in a tourist area of the beach. We’re really the only tourists around being surrounded by small fishing villages. The town is about 4 km away so we’re pretty far out, but I’m glad in a way. We wanted something a little different and a little relaxing.
I took a walk along the beach and joined a group of fishermen who were emptying their small nets. They didn’t seem to get much, but they seemed happy enough to sit around while a couple of the men teased little fish out of the nets.
Late afternoon took us onto the canals for which Alleppey is famous and we had a very slow canoe trip. The canals make for a series of water networks, sometimes large enough for houseboats, other times only our little canoe could pass. Even then, we had to turn back at times when the canal was choked with weeds. I enjoyed taking pictures of the local bird life.
The town was having a big festival for the holiday and we stopped by, but it was absolutely packed with people! We were hot and tired from our trip so we stopped in a local restaurant to get our feet under us and then the skies opened up and poured rain. That emptied the streets in a hurry! Luckily we caught a tuk-tuk fairly quickly and headed back to the guest house.
For our last day, we’d arranged for an all day taxi to take us to the touristy part of Kochi so we could get a taste of the city. We could have stayed much longer in this city along the coast, but we’d simply run out of time on our holidays.
The feel of Kochi was very different from the other cities we’d visited. It seems much wealthier and artistic. There was terrific shopping – just when I have no more room in my suitcase!
Fort Kochi has a large street market and the famed fishing nets. I regret not being able to photograph the fishing nets at sunset, so I really only got documentary shots. These were elaborate contraptions that worked on a counter-weight system probably centuries old.
We made it over to “Jew Town” the area around the synagogue. There were quite a few aggressive salespeople so we felt a bit more like we were in Varanasi, but we were seeing art galleries and lots of antique shops – something we hadn’t seen in all the time we’d been in India.
Kochi is a much more artistic type of place. We’d have to schedule a return visit and base out of here.
And there will be a next time. We knew from our research that the south of India would be its own trip and we were only going to get taste of it on this trip. We want to explore the north, into Lucknow and Dharamshala and I’m dying to go to the Pushkar Camel Fair. We met people from Bangalore and Mumbai who made these places sound enticing.
We may need to rethink flying Air India – our trip home was a bit of an adventure all of it’s own – but in the end we made it.
We loved India and there is much, much more to explore!