Kerala – Gods Own Country

It took us two days to get from Himachal Pradesh at the top of India down to Kerala at the bottom. The trip was uneventful, apart from the sight of Kanvarias (pilgrims) walking into Delhi carrying water that they had scooped up from the river Ganges, which lies over 130 miles (210 kilometers) from the city at its closest point. They were part of the annual Kanwar Yatra pilgrimage for devotees of the Hindu God Shiva.

20150805_kanwaryatra5_WEB

Some of the pilgrims were showing the signs of wear from their long journey, with bandaged legs and feet. Our journey was considerably less arduous. Following our bus ride down from McLeod Gang, we stopped over in Delhi for one night, and caught a morning flight to Kochi. By the afternoon, we had a new view from the terrace.

20150807_TerraceView_WEB

We were staying in a part of Kochi called Kaloor, which isn’t very scenic, and with the new metro line being built nearby the traffic was fairly hectic too. Thankfully, the Thomas Inn homestay was tucked away from that, so it always felt peaceful; the wifi was good; and Mrs Thomas’ Keralan breakfasts was tasty and filling.

Within Kaloor there is an international cricket stadium. It was shut, but a friendly security guard let us in for 5 minutes, when we explained that we lived close by to the Headingley in Yorkshire. We had found that Indians are more likely to have heard of Headingley cricket ground than Leeds (no-one has heard of Leeds).

Here is the ground,

20150809_CricketGround_WEB

20150809_CricketHeroes_WEB

and some heroes from Keralan cricketing history (if anyone can put names to the faces we would be grateful).

On the way back we stopped off at St Antony’s Shrine, which because it was a Tuesday was thronged with people singing beautiful Keralan hymns as part of the Catholic ceremony. Kochi is full of Christian (mostly Catholic) churches, and many of the locals have Christian names. Basically, if you run out of things to say about cricket, you can start talking about saints.

Next day we took a Rs60 auto-rickshaw (the local phrase for tuk-tuk – ‘auto’ for short) to the ferry port. From there we could catch a Rs4 ferry to Fort Kochi, where the influence of the Portuguese, Jewish, Dutch and English was evident in the landmarks and architecture. We just couldn’t believe that we were on a ferry ride that cost four pence!

20150808_4pFerry_WEB

On the way we saw an Indian aircraft carrier.

20150808_AircraftCarrier_WEB

We turned left at the exit of the ferry station and walked up to where we could see the famous Chinese fishing nets. Unfortunately, their operation is done only for show, as the catch is too small to be commercially viable. The dirtiness of the area around them doesn’t help to sell the scene.

20150808_ChineseNets_WEB

However, around the corner we found this team of volunteers helping to clean up the beach, which must be commended and highlighted. The beauty of India does not deserve to be wrapped in refuse.

20150808_FC_CleanUp_WEB

The ice cream auto rickshaw was on the move.

20150808_IceCreamAuto_WEB

Outside the locked the Dutch Cemetery, an auto driver was trying to convince us that we needed a tour of the area in his Ferrari (an auto-rickshaw with a Ferrari sticker on it). Just walking around isn’t good for business.

20150808_FC_DutchCem_WEB

We persisted, and turned our attention to the flora in the area, which was more rewarding.

20150808_FC_Flower_WEB20150808_FC_Tree_WEB

20150814_Flower_WEB

A few days later we returned on the 4 pence ferry, and we were lucky enough to catch this heron majestically perched on some floating foliage.

20150814_Heron_WEB

This time, we turned left at the exit of the ferry station and walked down into Mattancherry, which is a trading area for spices.

20150814_SpiceSacks_WEB20150814_BarrowMan_WEB

20150814_Load_WEB

The traders and wholesalers were busy balancing lorry loads onto carts, and tanker loads onto lorries, which as mentioned in previous posts is standard practice in India.

Worked into this commercial scene, amidst the Dutch, Portuguese and English architecture, were some beautifully rendered examples of street art.

20150814_StreetArt3_WEB20150814_StreetArt2_WEB

20150814_StreetArt_WEB

We captured one of the artists taking a break,

20150814_StreetArtist_WEB

and soon after turned into a shop, which was in fact a treasure trove of articfacts from antiquity gathered from houses, churches and palaces of the area; and all for sale, though some were designated ‘not for export’ by order of the Indian Government.

20150814_Treasure_WEB

Having realized that in spite of our curiosity we were unlikely to buy (no room in the rucksack for a 10 foot high bronze statue), the sales assistant led us through to the adjoining restaurant, where we had their delicious signature dish of ginger prawns overlooking Kochi harbour.

20150814_GingerTigerPrawns_WEB

Then it was time to head off.

20150814_3OnABike_WEB

We stopped off for some chewing gum at a shop where we were treated to this smiling face, and then had to shell out another 4 pence each for the ferry home.

20150814_ShopGirl_WEB

That evening Nikki had a mobile phone crisis – the touchscreen had stopped working. Luckily Kochi has a place called Penta Menaka, which is a multistory complex devoted to the mobile phone. This immense automaton marked the entrance.

20150814_PentaMenaka_WEB

Within we found a shop, which was able to source and fit the part that evening, but at a price that made us realise just how great a proportion of their incomes Indian people spend on mobile phones.

We spent most of the next morning struggling to find the Folklore Museum, which isn’t particularly close to anywhere. Once in, Nikki was able to take this shot of a carved Jesus with her newly fixed phone. The feeling of joy derived from the phone’s rejuvenation was enhanced by a playful wooden St Antony photo-bombing the shot.

20150815_JesusPhotobombed_WEB

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Kerala – Gods Own Country

  1. Having googled Kerala, What a contrast to your earlier adventures, and most importantly you were able to have the phone repaired. Liked the picture of St Anthony and your curry. It would seem that Kerala is more relaxed and is something of a tourist location in stark contrast to your earlier adventures which doubtless were quite amazing.
    Enjoy your trip and look forward to receiving your next commentary
    Love Tony and Gaye.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s