Chasing the Monsoon in Kerala

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Chasing the Monsoon in Kerala

 

Kerala, then you’ve probably been living under a rock.Located North West of Kerala,  justabout 16-18 kms from Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, Kovalam is a lovely crescent-shaped stretch of beach which actually is acluster of 3 beaches separated by rock promontories viz.,Lighthouse,Samudra and Hawa beach.

It is here that the famed South Westmonsoons hits India, using Kerala as the gateway, making its waythrough the Southern states to other parts of this vast country.You’re at Kovalam. Pause. Will it rain or won’t it?

Well, based on the outcome you could decide to:

  • laze languidly under the shelter of a beach shack or get an Ayruvedic massage
  • sip your beer alongwith some mouth watering fried squid or fried fish Kerala style, for company
  • look for bargains at the local shops lining the Lighthouse beach
  • find out the real story behind the name Hawa beach or
  • dash off to the Indian Meterological Observatory located at Thiruvananthapuram (new name meaning, City of Lord Anantha) and check with the rain astrologers (the Met dept. folks) if the rains are “on course”

Going by historical records, the rains have hardly ever strayed beyond 1st week of June.However, if the rains disappoint by not showing up, you can show up at the iconic Sri Padmanabhasamy Temple where Lord Vishnu is found reclining on his serpent and pray fervently. Spoiler alert:adhere to their dress code (yes they can refuse entry if your attire doesn’t meet their criteria, your fervent prayers not withstanding).

Journeying with the rains as itsnakes its way across the state to Karnataka, Goa and beyond, is compelling in its beauty, tranquility and urgency. Cue: run out and get drenched, photograph the soft after-rain glow or just hold your breath till your next lush and abundant destination. Metta!

Delicious tidbits:

  • The South West monsoons are known as Edavappathi, after the month of Edavam.
  • The Meteorological Observatory in Trivandrum, one of India’s oldest observatories was started by the Maharaja Swathi Thirunal of Travancore in 1836
  • Prince G V Raja found immense tourism potential and invited Thomas Cook & Sons, UK to develop and promote the region
  • The candy striped Lighthouse is 35 m tall and you can climb to the top for spectacular views
  • Fusion, German Bakery, Swiss Café are where you get some good grub at Kovalam

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Kerala and the South West Monsoons –

a match made in the clouds

After Kovalam’s rainy beach and Trivandrum’s good Lord SwamyPadmanabha watching the world go by on his recliner serpent, it’s time to move on to more languid country. So think Vasco-da-Gama,the spice trade, Travancorekings, Namboothiris, and as your mind meanders, stop and gasp at the magnificence of the Ashtamudi Lake. Inhale. You’re at the gateway to the famed backwaters of God’s Own Country, Alleppey.

As you make your way to backwaters-world, en route you could wrap yourself in acres of paddyfields like a wet sarong on a rainy day. Idyllic, green and wet, thisis Kerala’s rice bowl, probably the only place in the worldwhere farming is done below sea level

 

Kettuvallams wait for experience-seekers patiently, tethered to the pier at Alleppey. As you step into one, you know it’s time to go with the flow. You watch the world go by, wave to the young boys running along the embankment, look up at the sudden flash of avian colour and enjoy the languorous ride.

 

From Alleppey chase the dark clouds to Kochi, a delightful blend fold-word charm and bustling metropolis. Fort Kochi is a must-see place ideal for rambling and sauntering through its rich historical and cultural heritage. From the peace of the old colonial bungalows experience a different kind of peace in a Namboothiri home in Nilambur. This district is rich in different wooded forests especially teak, housing the world’s first Teak Museum. As you sit in the courtyard of a Namboothiri home with the rains pitter pattering down, time stands still. Until suddenly…

 

 

you see a row of men lining up thepath, beating their drums, and dancers dressed in the most vibrant,eye-popping elaborate costumes and head dresses, dancing in slowrhythmic steps, propitiating the Gods. Watch with awe as these Theyyamdancers perform this ancient dance to worship ancestors, in frontof age-old shrines.

After the Theyyam routine, you comeback to earth and chase the rains to Bekal, one of the best preserved forts in Kerala. Located at Kasaragod, this 300-year old fort offers a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea. While in Kasargod, a visit to the oyster farm, OysterOpera, is a must. Listen, see and experience the transformational oyster and mussel farming conducted in this award-winning eco farm recognized for its innovative methodologies.Yes, it’s time to whip out your travel diary and journal away about this remarkable enterprise accompanied by the warm outpourings from the sky.

As you chase the South West monsoons from one place to the next, enveloping you in perpetual dampness, you are reminded of Coleridge’s Rime of The Ancient Mariner: And now the storm blast came, and he was tyrannous and strong: He struck with his o’ertaking wings, And chased us south along.

Photoscourtesy:

a) Paddy fieldsat Kuttanad – Kuttanad.org

b) Chinesefishing nets at Kochi – celebrations-of-life.blogspot.com

c) Theyyam dance– kallyalmuchilot.blogspot.com

d) Bekal fort –en.wikepedia.org

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