Bangalore -Kochi – 2 days – Aug 2012 – Day 1
We were faced with a long weekend after August 15th. And we hadn’t planned for it. Now that was just sad. Anyway, we needed to figure out how many days we could actually get off. The problem was that while the 15th was a Wednesday, 16th and 17th were definitely working days. SO we had a task of figuring out when exactly Hubby could get out of office. It turned out that we could leave only on the 17th. So that’s when we started looking at our options.
After a lot of deliberation we found Kochi. After a bit more searching, we even found bus tickets and a hotel. YAY! Of course all this happened on the 15th, and 16th was spent booking tickets and confirming hotel reservations.
Come 17th noon, we found ourselves at Kalasipalyam waiting for Kallada travels. The service we opted for starts from Bangalore at 1pm. however, it is a long journey bus, starting in Mumbai the previous day, with Eranakulam as the final destination. While we boarded at Kalasipalyam, the main stop for this bus was Madivala, stopping there close to an hour. Finally we made our way out of the city, and I settled back to sleep. We were of course provided with small neck pillows for added comfort just for this reason. Nice!
Unfortunately, the sleep didn’t happen easily. Movie 1 started. It happened to be the Salman Khan-starer Bodyguard. After struggling to sleep through the movie, it finally got over. By this time we were deep inside Tamil Nadu, so the next movie was in… u guessed it! Tamil. It happened to be some 2-3 yr old movie featuring Asin and Ajith, and a wholly asinine storyline. This was followed up with a Malayalam movie (after all we were going to Kerala), complete with English subtitles. This movie was quite like a train wreck. Its horrible, but you just can’t take your eyes off it. Ya, that kind.
Come to think of it, the Mumbai to Bangalore phase must’ve had Hindi, Marathi and Kannada movies. Hmm.
We reached Eranakulam at around 1am. Unlike all other cities we’ve visited, the place where the bus stopped was deserted. Not a single auto in sight. Nothing. Nada. When we called hte hotel to ask if they could help, we were told that there definitely will be autos there, and that they couldn’t help beyond that. Thankfully an auto guy happened to stop by. We gave him the address and we reached the hotel soon after.
The next morning started early. The Kerala Tourism touted a particular tour package covering Athirapally and Kalady. Since the tour left at 7.30am, we assumed that the office should be open by then. That basically meant that we rushed over to the closed doors of the office at 7.15 am, with not a soul in sight till 8.30am. We took the excuse to explore the nearby areas, have a hearty breakfast at a small vegetarian restaurant, and walk along the Marine Drive. The marine drive should of course be renamed the Marine walkway as no vehicles are allowed here! 🙂
Finally the KTDC office opened at around 8.30. While we didn’t get the Kalady-Athirapally trip, we booked for the backwaters tour the next day. Once we got out, we contacted the hotel, and asked them to confirm a taxi for the trip. The taxi came to the hotel within 30 mins, and once we confirmed our destinations we took off.
We managed to stay awake for the first 30 mins of the journey to Kalady. The soothing greens of the wayside quickly put us to sleep. it was only when we almost reached Kalady that we woke up.
Kalady is the birthplace of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. The place of his birth was rediscovered in the late 19th Century by the then Pontiff of the Sringeri Mutt. The house was then converted into a Mutt and the idols of Sri Adi Sankaracharya and Sri Saradamba Devi. There is also a memorial built for Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s mother, Aryaamba, and a shrine for Sri Shakti Ganapati. The river Periyar flows right behind the house, and can be access through a ghat built right beside it.
The Legend goes that Aryaamba had to travel 3kms to bathe in the Poorna river (now Periyar). As she grew older, it became more and more difficult for her to walk there everyday. So young Sankara prayed to Lord Krishna, his Kula Devata, to help resolve this problem. Lord Krishna, impressed with the prayers of young Sankara, gave him the boon that the river would flow to wherever his little feet were. Hence came the name Kalady. The river Poorna changed its direction and started to flow past the backyard of Sankara’s house.
Later, when Sankara wanted to take up sanyaas, his mother refused, as he was the only son. Later, when he went into the river for a bath, a crocodile took hold of his foot. He called out to his mother to save him. Aryaamba started calling for help. Then Sankara told her to let him take sanyaas, and only then would the crocodile leave him, as sanyaas is considered a second life. Helpless to do otherwise, Aryaamba granted him permission. The crocodile immediately left Sankara, and he went on to take sanyaas and leave Kalady.
After taking darshan of Sri Saradamba Devi and Sri Sankaracharya, we came out and made our way to the Sri Krishna temple nearby. Since it was under renovation, we didn’t get a chance to see it properly. Further down the path, we reached the ghat where the river passes the back of the house.
We made our way back to the car and proceeded to the next stop: The Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba mandapam. This was built by the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. This 8-faceted, 8-storied building is open to all visitors, and houses statues of various Gods and Goddesses, and features a pictorial representation of Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s life along the path to the top of the mandapam.
The next destination was to be the Athirapally. But since it was only past 12, I was reluctant to talk about food. But as we started along the highway, all the restaurants seemed to fall behind, and I also started to feel hungry. So then we started to look out for hotels.
Unfortunately all the hotels served non-veg food, and the driver assured us that, unlike other places where one can eat veg food in such places in peace, hotel in Kerala tended to smell of fish a little too much. That meant we had to look for a place that was exclusively vegetarian in order to eat. Tough call. We finally stopped along a small fancy looking hotel. The driver thought that it might be an ok place to eat, and went off to another small hotel to have his lunch. unfortunately, the smell was too much for us to bear, and we instead bought chips and Pepsi at a nearby stall and called it lunch. 😦
Finally the driver returned, and we made our way to Athirapally.