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Exploring the magical highlands of Kerala – Thekkady
“Unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling, soaring, tumbling, freewheeling, through an endless diamond sky…”
A hilltop view of Periyar Lake in the western ghats of South India
After we explored some of Kerala’s beaches, parks, temples, buildings with historical significance, rural villages, and its backwaters, we headed to Thekkady — a magical highland in Kerala which is famous for having Periyar National Park, and for being a source of natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, nutmace, ginger, and clove.
My Cottage in Spice Village Resort in Thekkady
We spent the entire afternoon traversing the long and winding highway, but we also had breaks in between. We had a quick stopover to one of the tea plantations, and we were also able to take a picture of Pattumala Matha Church—a beautiful hilltop Roman Catholic church in Kerala dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health.
After almost four hours on the road, we finally reached Spice Village Hotel in Thekkady — our official residence for two nights in the highlands. Upon arriving at the resort, we proceeded to our respective rooms to leave our things. The resort was nice and luxurious. It had dozens of villas that were surrounded by trees and spice plantations. All rooms were complete with amenities… but they didn’t have air conditioning units. But who needs one? We were in the highlands, and the climate was already pleasant anyway.
Stopover at the Tea Plantation
We had a short stopover for snacks during our road trip a while ago, so instead of having dinner right away, Mary, Kim, Kaori, Luke, and I decided to have a relaxed walk through the centre of the small town for some sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
Tea plantation and shop at pattumala #kerala #cometokerala #india #incredibleindia
Although it was already 10 PM, and although most of the souvenir shops were still open, we decided to head back to the hotel to have dinner and get some rest for our early morning activity the next day.
Day 2 in Thekkady
While the rest had a nature walk at the Periyar Tiger Reserve, I opted to stay in the hotel to rest, since I was quite under the weather that day. After their short trek, I felt better, and decided to join the rest in visiting some of the spice plantations in one of the villages in Thekkady.
Kids at the Day Care Center near the Spice Plantation
Upon arriving at the spice plantation, we had a short stop at a community day care center where lovely kids were taken care of while their parents worked in the spice plantations.
Cardamom spice farmers
After that, we visited a small plantation of cardamom, pepper, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Boat Cruise at the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary
In the afternoon, we visited Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Thekkady Kerala, this wildlife sanctuary is a protected area and is a famous elephant and tiger reserve.
From the parking area, we walked towards the main gate to get the tickets for the lake cruise. As we headed towards the gate, we saw hundreds of monkeys roaming around the area and some of them were amazingly friendly.. they even posed in front of the cameras:)
Friendly Monkey near Periyar Lake Entrance
Although the walk was long, it was fun and enjoyable since the climate was cold, and the park was covered with century-old trees.
After falling in line, we finally boarded a double decker cruiser boat. We got the upper deck seats, and we were lucky to get the front seats as well (thanks to our tour guide Manoj).
View of beautiful Mountain ranges in Thekkady
Everyone onboard was required to wear life jackets before the boat started cruising. Our tour guide, Manoj, told us beforehand not to set our expectations on this cruise too high. He told us that we might not be able to see animals during the cruise, since most of them rarely go to the shores. True enough. We weren’t able to see the tigers and elephants we expected, but the view of the scenic lake was more than enough for us
Our last activity for the day was to watch a traditional Kalaripayattu performance at a local theater. Kalaripayattu is an ancient Indian martial art that includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry, and healing methods.
Kerala Kalari Centre in Thekkady
I’m not a huge fan of martial arts, but I joined the group when I learned that this unique martial art which originated in Kerala was one of the world’s oldest form of martial arts.
Kalari Performers in Kerala Kalari Centre
The performance started with a religious ritual, and was then followed by an introduction of basic martial art forms. Towards the middle of the performance, the artists showed various techniques with the use of different weapons during each fight. As the performances got more intense, the sound of the metallic weapons scared me a bit, and this made me decide to leave the premises, and go to the nearby shopping areas instead, and buy some souvenirs for my friends.
Tusker Trail in Thekkady
The next morning, we left the Spice Village Hotel after we had our early morning breakfast. Before we headed to Munnar, our next destination, we had a short stopover at Tusker Trail.
To be continued…