Friday, September 25, 2009

Nelliyampathy Hills - Nature's Pride

It was the dawn of a New Year, the beginning of new hopes, new resolution and being a holiday had to find some place to prepare our minds for the challenges ahead. Being in Calicut on that day, decided to go to some place which is some 3 hours drive away and the destination chosen was Nelliyampathy @ Palghat. We had never been to this place. Most of the people whom I contacted were of the opinion that, it is an isolated place and nothing much to explore. Still decided to make a visit.

We started early at around 5.30am. Total of 5 adults and 2 kids. Roads were pretty good.

From Calicut, we went through Ramanattukara, Manjeri, Angadippuram, Palghat, Nenmara to Nelliyampathy.
Small twisties in Manjeri stretch is a delight, and I enjoyed taking these turns like any driving enthusiast will do.

We had breakfast from one of the KTDC restaurant at Manjeri. This restaurant was on the road side but at a slightly highly elevated land. The view from the restaurant is really good. Food was good too.

Good roads continued, traffic was less too. Huge trees adorned both sides of this road was a treat to watch.

Palghat town also seems to be sleeping owing to the holiday. The traffic stop in front of the Muncipal childrens park.

From Palghat we took the thrissur route. We had to turn left from a place called Nenmara. The name of the place symbolises that it is a land of paddy fields. Soon the trademark paddy fields of kerala are seen aplenty signifying the approach of Nenmara.

Lush green paddy fields on both sides of roads.

Don't know how greenery soothes ones eyes and we never seems bored seeing it again and again. We were moving at a very slow pace enjoying the scenic places to the core.

Nenamara slowly moved back and the roads continued through the plains.

While we were travelling in luxury, the travel for these fellows were not that luxurious, Just for a moment thought about the fate of these poor creatures whose destiny is quite evident after a day or two.

The geography was becoming slightly hilly and density of trees increased.

After about 2 and half hours of journey we reached this place.

There was a signboard on the left showing that it is the Pothundy reservoir. No tourists were around. We asked one local whether there is anything to see here. He replied that there is a garden and a reservoir, entry is free, and sometimes tourists visit this place. From his tone we felt that it is not a good place. Anyway we decided to have a look inside. We climbed some 200steps to reach the top of the reservoir. But once we reached, atop we found that the climb was really worth it. Superbly scenic.

On one end of this dam there was this view point, where we spent some time enjoying the cool breeze and the huge resorvoir

A view of the dam from this view point
Pothundy Dam

we can see the Nelliyampathy hills from here

The reservoir is fully visible in this view

The climb to Nelliyampathy starts from this point with hair pin bends and real good high range roads.

Roads were narrow but maintained well. I was testing my vehicle's performance in such stretches alongside enjoying the scenary. Thick dense forest was the order of the day.

Found this bird's nest on the way

Coffee plantations were aplenty as we were approaching Nelliyampathy

Once we reached Nelliyampathy we were in a different world alltogether. Went straight to a hotel to have our lunch. From the hotel guy found out that there are many places to explore here. Some of the places could be explored in a 4 x 4 jeep only which is available for hire along with the driver. But at least half a day is required to visit one such spot. Hence we will be able to go to only one place if we go to such a place. Decided to explore such places during our next visit.

Our plan being for one day decided to go to 2 spots where my vehicle can go. I want to spend more time at a single place than covering the entire picnic spots in one go. Hence decided to go to Poabs estate and kesavan para.

The poabs estate is a really sprawling campus. We can take our vehicle to some 2 kms inside this estate roads.Roads were not good, but the scenary made up for it.

We parked our vehicle and went for a walk inside. The climate was really cool and the walk never seems to drain our energy with such kind of flora and fauna around.

The coffee plantations inside the estate was giving a green cover to the hills.

Soon we reached the suicide point. Just see the height of this point. The low lying areas are visible amidst the mist

Some local inhabitants came here for our company

After walking for some more time, decided to take rest in the shade of trees.

Time to go back from the Poab's estate. On our way back saw this beautiful pond and small temple on the other bank.

Soon we were out of the Poab's estate and on our way to the Kesavan Para. The roads and the roadside view seems to be pretty munnarisque.

Reached the KesavanPara view point. Has to park the vehicle here and trek ahead.

The trekking route to Kesavanpara. Vehicles also can be taken here, but the best is to walk.

Finally we have to climb a rock, which is not so steep and we are on top

The view from the top is breathtaking. The rocks are so plain and vast on the top.

To add more to this scenic place, there is a small pond. Just sit near this pond atop these beautiful rock enjoying the scenary around and one is sure to forget to keep track of the time.

Towards one side of the rock there was dense forest. We just had a walk around and the excitement seems to have caught up on me since I was seen jumping and hopping around.

Stayed on till 7pm in the evening. Felt like staying there for more, but we were not prepared. Hence decided to proceed back to calicut. By the time we reached Palghat it was 9pm, thanks to a procession which made us halt for almost 1 hour. After taking dinner from palghat, we started our journey at about 9.30pm. The roads were empty by then. No sound at all. Only the sound of music. We reached our destination at 12pm after a day which will be there in our memory for a long time to come. Overall it was fantastic drive experience tooo.

To summarize the place, it is really wonderful landscape out there, you will have a munnar like feel minus the tourists, a kodaikanal like lake, 2 to 3 spots where only a 4 x 4 can reach. Atleast 2 days required to cover the entire area and there are some resorts and home stays around.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Allappuzha- A day out @ Punnamada resort

Onam the festival of flowers, the festival which each and every malayalee celebrates, is an occasion to enjoy, an occasion for a family gettogether, an occasion to have some fun together, an occasion to take some time off from the daily corporate chores. This year also it was no different.
We were badly in need of a family trip together with maximum participation. As is usually the case a very futuristic planning for such a trip won't work out owing to the problem in getting a convenient date from all the members.

Finally it was decided to have atleast a one day outing and we needed a place which should be calm,
which should be scenic,
which should make us feel as if we are in close contact with the nature,
which should keep our interest for the whole day,
which should cater for the needs of all age groups and
last but not the least: not very heavy on our pockets.

Based on my wife's previous team outing feedback, decided to visit Punnamada resort @ Alleppey.

The reservation process was quite good, and the marketing manager was quite clear on what to offer. The email feature really helped us in clearly knowing about all the facilities on offer and all communication by email was promptly responded. This itself showed that these people means business and we eagerly awaited for this trip. The package name was "Day out at Punnamada".

There were 12 members in the team ranging from 1.5yrs old to 60yr old. We travelled in two vehicles. 7 in one and 5 in another. Started at 7.30am. Reached alleppey at 11.00am.
The route from Alleppey is When coming from Trivandrum, don't deviate from NH 47 until we reach a dead end. Turn right at this point, go straight, the alleppey boat jetty is in this route. From this point onwards there are clear sign boards showing where to turn.

Reached the resort at 11.30 am. Parked our vehicle in the lush green parking lot, close to the Punnamada lake. This lot itself was quite a scenic location and the lake in the background added to the ambience. Already some visitors are here as is evident from the vehicles parked here.

The resort presents itself as a traditional kerala home with the typical wood work reminiscent of palaces and temples of Kerala.

There is a courtyard near the reception area, and its centre is adorned by an idol of lord Krishna

After check in, went straight to activity room.

Without wasting any time we started with a game of Table tennis, elders started a game of carrom board

Billiards soon followed suit.
Luckily Pankaj advani was not around, otherwise he would have learned a new way of playing this game.

After this game ventured out of the activity room towards the lake side, this door and ambience was really eye catching

As soon as we got out could see this house boat in the beautiful lake, the clouds, the coconut trees, the lake and the beautiful houseboat is a treat to watch.

Just watch the vastness of this lake. The cloudy sky lit up by sun adding more colour to this portrait.

There was this small man made pond in the lawn of the hotel.

Could not stop clicking snaps of the beautiful scenary around. Kerala is truly God's own country. These pics are a testimony to that.

Pictures are not doing justice to the actual beauty of the place. In a way itz good, otherwise no one will visit any of the tourist destinations, rather will be satisfied by seeing pictures of such places.

It seems that some people go crazy on seeing such beautiful locations. Just watch this guy, who happens to be my brother.

Seems like he is teaching my baby some flying lessons.

But it seems that baby has got something more interesting to explore.

Soon a game of disc throwing started by the lakeside.

The cool wind blowing across, was enough to keep us cool amidst all these activities

It was time for lunch and we all soon moved towards restaurant.

The buffet lunch was neatly arranged.

But what followed suite was something which should have been avoided by the staff. Most of the plates were empty.

It took a hell lot of time to fill up these and when enquired about this the restaurant staff were not quiet cordial either, something which we never expected from such a place. One of them even tried to pick up an argument with us. Soon we had to make a call to the marketing guy who had initially coordinated with us for the booking and he assured that he will call the restaurant manager and everything will be back to normal soon.

One guy came and introduced himself as assistant manager and apologized for what happened. But words and deeds are something which once said or done cannot be taken back. But we were happy that atleast someone was there to listen to our complaint and we soon forgot this episode and got back to the thick of things, otherwise the whole purpose of this visit will be lost.

Got out of the restaurant and went straight to a house boat parked near the lakeside.

House boat trip was not included in this package as such a trip is not something which small kids will enjoy. But it is something which will relax both your mind and your body. A 2 bedroom houseboat with kitchen will cost around 10k to 15k for 12 hours.

We had a nice time relaxing in the lounge of the house boat

Soon we got out of the house boat for other activities. Still these guys were not finishing posing themselves in the backdrop of the houseboat.

Before we could start another round of outdoor games, the rain came pouring down and we ran for cover.

We were lucky that the rain gods soon cancelled the heavy downpour and sky became clear again.

Onam and swings (oonjal in malayalam) has a close relationship. But what about a swing near the lakeside and that too a huge one. Each one of us had a swing in the swing keeping aside all the age bar and we were delighted to see the smiles in the faces of our mothers,sisters etc.

My sis in law and my son in the swing.

After the swinging times we went for a bicycle ride. This ride reminded me of my school days when I used to go to school in a cycle and the satisfaction which I used to gain when I reached different destinations using my own effort. Bicycle was the first vehicle which I could ride through the roads and I used to enjoy riding it a lot.

Riding it through the lawns by the lakeside is a different experience alltogether.

After some riding when confidence level increased people began to show of their biking skills.

After warming up by cycling, we set off to the outdoor playing area with arms and ammunition for cricket and basketball. The playing area was near the parking lot. Other vehicles were gone by now and only our carriers were taking rest here enjoying the lakeside view and the cool breeze.

First we tried our hands in cricket with the hard tennis ball. But lack of play in the recent years made our arms and shoulders pain after bowling few overs.

So we soon switched to basket ball.

Wonder why these guys didn't opt for professional basketball. All that looks good in foto may not be so in reality.
Soon the women folk tooo joined the game.

But these guys never shed the limelight.

The disadvantage of carrying the camera is that the cameraman won't get a chance to be in the thick of the main activity. So let me not be left behind.
Atleast one in basket

Enough of basketball, how about a game of football. The sprawling lawn means no worries on falling down the lawn will protect from bruises. So the game was to kick the ball in different styles and that too when in air. These people seems to have done a good job.

Now time to kick both ball and player simultaneously

Goal keeping practise with the Volleyball net doubling up as the goal posts.

Time to play volleyball, the smash and the block

Time was running fast and it was 4.00pm by now. The boating through the backwaters was scheduled from 4 to 6pm. Rushed back to the resort, and found that my babies were completely enjoying their stint with the swimming pool. Decided to let them enjoy the pool as the activity manager came and told that boating will start only after 30 minutes.

The boat arrived at 4.30pm. Climbed up on top floor of the boat. Again some confusion prevailed over the dropping of another family who were also present at the resort and boat journey got delayed by another 30minutes. Finally we started off at 5.00pm through one of the most beautiful and scenic backwater cruise. All of us were dead tired and the boat journey at this point of time helped us to relax as well as to enjoy the scenary around.

we were sailing amidst the house boats.

The resort also offers pedal boat which can be used to cruise through these backwaters, a truly romantic ride, sure to bring out the romantic spirits. This foreign couple enjoying such a moment.

There was this small island in the lake

This house by the lakeside shows how aggressive Vodafone's marketing strategy is

The boat was stopped by a lakeside shop for quenching our thirst. They served tender coconuts and soon we were energized. This beautiful eagle was found near the shop.

We formed two teams and played "anthakshari" and later "dumpsharads" and the spirit of competition made all our tiredness vanish away soon.
1.5 hours passed away just like that and we were back at the resort by 6.30 pm. Coffee/ Tea was ready and we had it right at the lakeside with the moon and moonlight in company. The scene was something which we could never forget in our life time.

No wonder why a lot of poets has made this a theme of their poetic creations. We are sure to switch to a different kind of mood when presented with such an ambience and each one of us were just trying to describe the feeling they were having.

A view of the resorts restaurant, all lit up at night

Settled our bills, thanked the resort staff who once again apologised for what happened in the afternoon. To be frank, we had forgotten the episode, thanks to the ambience and the avenues for entertainment provided by the resort.

We were in our vehicles by 7.15 pm and the steeds started treading back to our home back in thiruvananthapuram. After searching for a hotel right from Kayamkulam, we could find one open only between chathannoor and Paripally. By the time we were in, it was 10. Still the staff who attended us was very courteous. Finished our dinner by 11pm and by 12pm we were back in our huts after a day full of enjoyment for all the participants which included my parents, my brother, sister in law and her parents and uncle, my wife's sisters family and my family.

Overall it was a nice pacakage. The location and the activities are sure to help us forget all our other official chores, pressures and ill health. The greenery and the blue shaded vast lake is really soothing to ones eyes. Food is certainly not one of their highlights and so is the service of the restaurant staff. Barring this everything else is superb.


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