Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happyland - Makes Everybody Happy

Whoever invented water theme parks needs a real pat in the back coz he has succeeded in giving millions and millions of people an avenue for wholesome entertainment for a full day irrespective of the age factor.
These theme parks made a very late entry to this little state of Kerala, prior to which the closest one to Keralites was Black Thunder. The best water theme park is Kerala is undoubtedly Vega Land and its popularity has resulted in making this place little bit crowdy.

The capital city of the state - Thiruvananthapuram was bestowed with the first water theme park only 4 years ago. The park is christened "Happy Land". Eventhough it cannot be in no means compared with Vega land, it sure does give enough oppurtunities for an exciting day. Let us take a tour of this new water theme park created amidst very beautiful landscape towards the Eastern part of Thiruvananthapuram.

HappyLand is located around 25Kms from the Heart of the city. The drive through Kesavadasapuram, Nalanchira, Vembayam route via the Main Central road is a twisty one and it sets up the tone for the day. Watch out for the board of Happy land towards the right side (when coming from South) as it is quite easy to miss this one and proceed ahead.

The moment you reach this pretty prestine place the location is sure to make you give a very good first impression. The parking lot is pretty spacious too. Lack of popularity surely helps as this lot never seems to be full of vehicles even during the holidays.

The construction is quite colorful. Watch the entry point. The tomb like constructions are coloured in such a way that we will feel we are in a toy world.

The ticket rates are pretty cheap when compared to the popular water theme parks. Rs. 275 (INR) for adults. Get inside and the neat and clean changing rooms welcomes you. My kids are ready for a splash after the change over.

Half a kilometer walk ensues as we enter into the park and to make the stroll interesting lot of gizmos are around amidst the landscaping done without disturbing the natural undulations. This big pelican sits on top of the entry point itself.

The articial waterfall created amidst the natural rock creations has a kind of perfection which makes it look quite good and very natural.

As we walk further ahead we could see the sideprofile of the aritificial waterfall. It is sure to give the nature lovers a visual treat to see the water gushing out from top of those rocks.

Some really good professional has applied his creativity to the maximum to create life like structures in the midst of natural settings. What can one say about these set of monkeys sitting on top of the fallen trees trunk. My kids mistook it for real monkeys and was quite excited to see them in a group.

The first ride to enjoy is the lazy pool/family pool. As the name signifies we don't have much activity inside the pool, just lazily swim around and get a feel of water before plunging into the intruiging rides.

Watch this father - son combo lazily gazing around the lazy pool.

Towards the centre of the lazy pool there are some small slides, which are mostly aimed at kids. After getting a feel of water one can get on top of this thingy and enjoy the heavy shower from the top to get drenched completely.

Slide through the small pipe like rides which ends up in the lazy pool.

Some of the rides has interesting figures at the end, giving a feeling like the rider is coming out a snake.

Even though these slides are meant for little ones, people as big as this fellow can easily come out of this, but watch out for your back which is sure to touch down the bottom of the lazy pool.

My mouth is fully open not only because of the excitement of coming out through this narrow pipey, but also due to the thump which I got in the back.

Lazy pool seems to have some magic which will eat on our laziness, once we are out of it, all our laziness vanishes into thin air.
Time to move on to other stuff. Meanwhile keep your ears wide open for the announcement of wave pool, which will be switched on once every hour for 20 minutes or so. We heard one such announcement and we were already in the pool before the waves started.
Enjoying the big waves without the fear of wrath of sea is something which we can afford only in such pools.

A big green froggy is watching all the action in the wave pool. No wonder my kid wanted to take a ride in it, only to find out that the heat on top of the froggy is something which he cannot bear, thanks to the scorching sun.

Time to move on to the really lengthy twin ride in a rubber boat. Watch the beautiful settings, the length of the pipe and the twists and turns it take.

The ride starts from a pool and ends in the same pool. The upward journey from this pool is with the help of a conveyor belt, starting from this location

Once we are inside, it will take some time to reach the top. From the top it gains speed almost instantaneously, swirling to both sides and in between getting a feeling of being toppled upside down, it shakes up the whole body, and it is quite natural that a kind of scream emanates from our mouth almost instinctively. All this happens in complete darkeness.

For those who are standing outside watching the riders to come out, they can hear the scream coming out through the pipe, followed by a rush of water

This rush of water signifies that the riders are near and within a moment SPLASH, the rubber boat with riders are thrown into the pool.

Watch the amount of water displaced, just goes on to show the force with which we hit the water in this other wise calm pool being closely watched by three beautiful little dolphins standing right in the middle of the pool.

Aren't these fellows happy after experiencing this ride.

More adventours are to follow as we ventured into the longest slider which gives a freefall experience. The more the weight of the rider the more faster he moves and he may even jump up on the way.
We formed pairs and a racing kind off stuff was on display. Watch us streaming down just at the jumping point.

Once this point is crossed the speed increases and we are ready to hit the water in maximum speed.

If we practise a little we can simply hold the surfing sheet a little up and cover a pretty good distance through the pool without drowning. This ride also gives lots of excitement as can be seen in the face of this guy's wide grin.

If this ride was with a surfing board falling down in our belly, there was another one without any board and the we had to lay down on our back, facing the sky and fall down through this slide which is pretty steep.

During the fall we could feel butterflies flying our stomach and the touch down is superb with the our body hitting against the still water giving a very loud splashy sound. A real addictive kind of a ride which once experienced make us do it again and again. The height from which the ride starts is quite intimidating.

The pendulum ride was another slide kind of ride in which two person can sit in a rubber boat and slide down, the force of which will take them up in the opposite direction and the oscilllation motion ensures that the ride goes on for some more time. Since I was completely involved in this ride, I could not take a pic of this ride.

Lunch time and no need to go any farther as the hotel inside is good too..

By the time the lunch is over, our clothes were again dry. So before plunging in to water we decided to have some dry fun.

The kids play area is quite inviting. The tortoise shaped cool bar, the shoe shaped slider, the crocodile shaped merry go around, the helicopter, beautiful toy train, everything has the kind of color which any kid will get addicted to.

My kids had a thoroughly enjoyable time there. The helicopter thing was my son's favourite though.

The shoe shaped slider reminded me of a similar thing in Mumbai. My bro striking a pose in front of the shoe slide

It was really difficult to make the kids come out of the park. Finally somehow convinced them of more good rides outside. Decided to take on some of the other dry rides. The traditional swing was the first one to be enjoyed.

The next one proved to be more adventurous than what it seemed. The merry go around was travelling so fast that the occupants seated in the seats hanging from the top began to rise up high and at every point of time we feel as if we will be thrown out into wilderness.

Surprisingly my son too enjoyed this ride along with all of us who were courageous enough to get on top of this one.

One more merry go around thingy was waiting for us. This one was created in the top most part of this park. The ride while rotating, will also go up to about 25 feet height from where we could see the eastern ghats and the panoramic view is just mind boggling.

Beware of the fact that looking down can yield disastrous results as we will feel like we are suspended in thin air touching the sky. Needless to say it was a thrilling experience.

Time was moving in a fast forward manner, which signifies that we were thoroughly enjoying the day and we have only one more hour left before the scheduled close of the park at 6.30pm. We chose to relax in the pool by the side of natural rocks, which is christened as water fall pool.

The water gushing down through the natural rock formations has a tremendous amount of naturality associated with it.

We could lie down between these rocks and the water flowing down will give a superb body massage which will ensure that all the fatigue due to the days hard work is gone before we leave the park. There is a waterfall too, with crystal clear water droplets giving you the same kind of effect when having a bath in the natural waterfall

We all had a pretty relaxing time in this pool

At times such kind of places can bring out the kid inside you, as is evident from the water splashing exercise by this husband and wife.

It was only after the staff repeatedly mentioned about the closing time that we managed to get out of the pool. Just like our kids we too were not enough with what we had for the day. Thanks to the fact that this place is pretty close to our home, we could visit here whenever we feel to do. With lot of satisfaction of a fun filled day we drove back home all the while blah blahing about what we did today.

Quick Facts.

Name of the place:
Happy land water theme park, Thiruvananthapuram

At Vembayam, 25 kms north east of Thiruvanathapuram

When to visit:
Park is open from 10am till 6pm on all days

Rs 300 for adults.

Best time to visit
All through the year, monsoons are also good at this place.

There is a good restaurant inside the park. But the menu is limited.

Lots of Hotels available at Kovalam, Poovar or in Thiruvananthapuram.

Other places to visit (click on the links to see some exquisite photos too)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Award Time !! - A Beautiful Blogger Award


I was given my first award in the blog space by a fantastic travel blogger "Miilee". This award thingy happened in feb 10, and ever since it was in my to do list to accept and acknowledge this one.

Here goes the rules for the award.

1) Thank the person who gave you the award.

Thanks to miilee, Thanks once again and Thanks a ton for giving me this award !!!!.

Miilee is a real passionate traveller, who has a flair for photography and has even better flair for ariticulation and whose blogs are fun to read. Carry on your good work !!!

2) Paste the award on your blog.

3) Link the person who nominated you for the award.

Click here to jump to Miilee's world

4) Share 7 things you find to be beautiful around you.

1. My wife: My best friend who brought a real change in the way I lived my life !!!!!! (No, she won't scold me if I don't put her name here :) )

2. My son: This beautiful little one started teaching me the art of parenting.

3. My daughter: My second baby,whenever I see her playing and talking around after a real bad day at work, all the sadness and madness is a goner.

4. My loving parents: Whose only aim was to bring up their kids and give them the best of education,even though it meant "terrible" sacrifices for them.

5. My Bike: Right from childhood I dreamt of owning one and when I could afford one, started seeing it as a pal rather than being a mechanical device.

6. My car: The same feelings which I have towards my bike.

7. My camera: Got my first analog camera as a wedding gift and ever since got 2 more, one a 3.1 Mp sony cam and another one an 9 Mp sony cam, both of which I use to take photos during my trips and share it here. (Click here to view My five best pics). The 9 Mega pixel one's manual mode has not been fully mastered. Still wondering how difficult it will be to master a DSLR.

5) Nominate 7 bloggers or more.

Anu ( ) : A Travel blogger based at Mumbai who regularly updates her blog and explains everything in simple terms.

Rajesh ( ): A real travel blogger, who posts about new destinations around India

Traci , ( ): A honest blogger from another part of the world who loves her family.

Chitra , ( Watch her Pilgrimage to know about Temple's in South India.

Prashanth( A superb photographer !! See his photos to believe what I say.

Roshmi Sinha ( No words to describe her writng skills.

Anupama ( Read her blog and you will feel as if you reached her home and she plays a perfect host.

You all rock and needless to say your blogs are really beautiful and I follow each of your posts !!!

My Popular Travelogues

Monday, June 21, 2010

Achenkovil - A Jungle Trail !!

Kerala - The God's own country is sandwiched between Western Ghats, the beautiful mountain ranges and the Arabian Sea. Lots of rivers originate from these Ghats and criss crosses the state to end up at sea. Add to it the n number of back waters and the stage is set for a tourists paradise who want to experience the nature upclose.

Eventhough there are many many beautiful spots, only some gets prominent noticed by travellers coming from abroad. The reason is plain simple. Where there is a big resort, the resort people will naturally promote that place as the most beautiful location in Kerala.

Being a Keralite I am lucky to explore the unexplored places and I like to do it regularly atleast once in a month which will provide a world of good for me and my family since such trips surely brings out a sea of change from our regular routine and I do enjoy the drive along the winding roads and shooting down some good frames.

An unexpected trip occured last weekend when one of my Bullet Riding Pal, Mr. Rag called up and told about their impending trip to one of the temples in the western ghats which is not a popular tourist spot at all. I had heard of this temple earlier too, but never got a chance to visit there. The place is called Achen Kovil. Another speciality is that the Achen Kovil river originates here. I had other plans for the weekend, but the pressure of doing this trip along with a like minded family made me and my wifey postpone all other engagements and decide on the trip as late as friday night.

Come saturday morning, I was on the wheel driving out of my home with my wifey and kids who had stocked all there gizmos for a fun outing since the other two familes which are tagging along with also had 2 kids each. So they were pretty excited too.

So it was two cars, 3 families (6 adults and 6 kids). Mr Rag &; family, Mr Sur & family and Subu & family
The route we took was

Thiruvananthapuram - Peeroorkada - Nedumangad - Kulathuppuzha - Thenmala - Aryankavu - Shenkottai - Achankovil

Once we passed Peerorkada the road is quite curvy and we were pretty much warmed up for a day full of twisty trail. The sight of Mr Sur's car was pleasing as the car was a looker and the auto enthusiast in me was gulping in each of the curves and lines of the majestic looking vehicle while cruising behind it.

The road was superb and once we got past Nedumangad, population density also went down and vegetation density increased. Just watch the Japanese beauty crusing through the nice roads

Our first stop was at Kulathuppuzha for a breakfast and we got introduced to Mr Sur and family. By the time breakfast was over we also aquainted with each other pretty well and the all kids occupied my car for the rest of the journey. So it was me and my wife and 6 kids. We provoked all the little ones to open up by discussing topics which they are interested, mainly video games, movies and cartoons they like. Soon they all came to life and the mood inside the car changed.

I was enjoying the twisty roads and was crusing leisurely with the kids giving me a lesson or two about their automotive gyans and about a lot of subjects, some of which took my wife and myself by surprise.

One guy actually gave a stunning philosophical explanation which I will not forget. We were talking about the Achen Kovil temple, when he replied that the temple thingy and different gods are all a creation of people having different perspective while the real fact is that there is only God in the whole world which is nothing but TRUTH. Words of wisdom from a guy who is hardly 11 years of age and way in which he described the things made us a fan of this little genius.

As we approached Thenmala we saw a big wall on one side of the road, stopped the vehicle on the insistance of the kids and they were eager to read out the board which said that it is a saddle dam having a length of more than 225m.

I was more interested at the skies and the beautiful frame it presented before me. Kids sure are more enthusiastic than us and if we let them pursue their enthusiasm they will surely open up their minds more.

Amidst the lively atmosphere inside the car we kept on munching miles and soon the beautiful Thenmala dam was in sight.

Kerala govt has made some attractive facilities for a day full of enjoyment at Thenmala called Thenmala Ecotourism ( Click here to read my experience on Thenmala

We did not stop here as our destination for the day was atleast 60 kms away and we have to cover lot of Ghat sections to reach there. Slowly but steadily we started climbing up the ghat towards Aryankavu. The beautiful metre gauge rail route (the Kollam - Thenkasi route) was on our side and at certain places the rail bridges are a sight to remember.

Watch one such bridge here constructed atleast 50 years ago

Just watch the terrain behind the bridge, to decipher the engineering skills and effort which might have gone into the creation of this one.

Some hair pin bends ensued and we crossed the Aryankavu check post to enter the state of Tamilnadu. The most interesting part of this journey is that eventhough the place Achen Kovil is in Kerala region of the Western Ghats, the route from Kerala side to this temple cannot be traversed in a vehicle. So one has to get to
Tamil Nadu travelling eastwards, through Aryankavu, climb down the western ghats,
proceed northwards till Shenkottai in plain land,
then turn westward to climb up the ghats again to reach Achen kovil.

Once we passed Aryankavu, we were on a descending mode, climbing down the ghats.

So now we are on the other side of the ghats and definitely the flora and fauna has a difference from what we see in Kerala's side. The climb down was brisk and we were soon in the plain roads of Tamil Nadu which are drivers dream roads.

Proceeded through this route till we reached Shenkottai, where we had to again turn westwards towards Kerala. The plain roads continued for some more time. In between we saw these two trees striking a good pose from opposite sides of the road.

The roads were narrow, but there was no traffic at all and pretty well maintained tooo.

Soon we began to see some more moutains around and seems like we are approaching the ghat section again.

The thing which I liked the most is the sky which was giving me maximum possible support for getting some lovely frames. We moved closer and closer to the ghats and isn't this sight lovely. The clouds touching down the top of these glorious ghats as if they are taking rest on them.

As expected the ghat section started and the upward climb followed suite. Within a short time, Kerala border was in sight and we crossed the checkpost again. It was thick dense forest with hardly any human activity. The drive was really tremendous as the twisties were really keeping the adrenalin levels high.

One of the boys travelling along with us wanted to have a short break since we were taking so much of hairpin bends and the kids were not sitting quietly. We also thought to take a break. Soon found a small space between the woods where we could hear the sound of a gushing stream too. Stopped the vehicle and stepped out. Unfortunately there was no mobile coverage and we could not inform our pals in the other car. Neverthless we thought of spenind some time in these beautiful woods.

One of the kids found out the presence of mushrooms on top of the trees. These kids never stops to amaze. Always they have something in their stock which we never expect.

Walked a little ahead and found out this beautiful stream, the sound of flowing water and the purity of the water makes anyone desirous of having a dip in it, but since we could not inform our co travellers on this stoppage, we decided to not to take a dip. After somehow convincing the kids that we will take a dip in water during our return trip we proceeded ahead.

Neverthless this stop made us aware on what to expect out of this beautiful place.

The landscape was just getting better and better and it was pretty difficult for me to stop taking photos every now and then.

We reached a place where we found the first trace of human activity. The place was Kumbhavurutty and we could see people getting ready to take a bath.

When we were on top of the bridge at Kumbhavuruty, we could see for ourselves why people stopped here. Who wouldn't want to spend some quality time in this august company.

Again we did not stop but proceeded ahead, with the kids equally enjoying the scenic beauty. All of sudden we saw a beautiful female peacock on the road and the kids sure were excited.

We had to stop there for sometime as the kids were of the opinion that a male peacock might also be around and they wanted to see the more beautiful male counterpart. But we could not spot one and proceeded ahead.

I am just at loss of words to describe what we experienced further ahead. Don't know whether this picture could convey the real beauty of the place.

Soon we got a call from the other batch and we told them that we too are approaching Achen Kovil after lot of photo stops.

We reached Achen Kovil, but by that time the temple was closed. But my pals could have darshan as they came fast.

Neverthless I too had a good drive and the scenic beauty of the place is just mind boggling. Add to it the kids who added another dimension to the whole journey. My little ones also enjoyed there company so much and by this time all them were talking in the same frequency.

We took a short break in front the temple and was exchanging our experience of this upward journey. A local guy who sells palm toddy came to us with a good bunch of toddy palm fruit. It was interesting to see how his whole business set up was packed.

The kids were wanting to have a break for playing and so we all decided to make our return and find a suitable place to spend some time amidst the beautiful woods.

Seeing this car in the rear view mirror of my vehicle made me think of changing the warning quote in the mirror as "Objects in the rear view mirror are more beautiful than they appear"

We soon found a place where we could spend some time and the sound of gushing water means that the river is close by. Parked our steeds amidst the thick dense forest. Even they seem to relish the surroundings

The kids walked in front of us towards the sound of stream and they were pretty much excited to see the river nearby. What a sight it was. So serene and beautiful. Just see for yourself.

We could spend the whole day here. It was just amazing.

All of us were soon in the stream. Initially we were just walking around the clear pool as the lady folk brought all eatable from the car. Kids were the first ones to remove there dress and were already making a splash.

There were lots of fishes too and people began to catch them using a cloth.

Innovative ways of having food in water was being tried out as the eatables were seen floating around.

For the first time in our life we were eating from a water table and it was fun all around with no trace of any other human activity. Mr Rag was busy reenergising himself.

It was only our gang and the beautiful nature. Soon Mrs.Sur joined my son in the clang of fish hunters.

They were successfull in catching a poor little one too.

Once they showed everyone the result of their achievement, left the poor one back in the water to join his free world.
Meanwhile I crossed the stream and found out jeep trails. Wonder how fantastic it would be to take ride through this beautiful jungle trail.

More and more people were getting a closer feel of the pool.

What followed suite was a tremendous session of swimming activity. The beautiful clear flowing water had a soothing effect on our bodies and we forgot all the fatigue of the long journey. Kids were enjoying to their maximum diving around and we were happy to let them free coz the water level was pretty low and the flow was also minimal.

I too could not resist the invitation and soon found myself under the water, playing with the kids, cracking jokes, making fun of each other, the joy of being together with like minded people in such a setting is awesome.

This place made us lose track of our time. We forgot to have lunch and it was almost 4 pm when we decided to part with one of the most beautiful and serene picnic spots we ever had visited in our lives. We vowed to back here again.

Soon we were on roads again and the scenary around was keeping us entertained. Eventhough we were following the same route which we took in our upward jouney everything was looking different.

The clear blue skies at times gave way to dark clouds too

We again crossed the Kerala border towards Tamilnadu and were starting to descent when we found a series of windmills at a far away place.

Zoomed my cam to the maximum, Still I was not able to capture what I saw coz it was very foggy at a distance.

Saw another temple on top of the rocks on our way back, but by this time clear blue skies completely gave way to dark clouds.

We had another good driving session through the Ghats and crossed over to our home state again and was searching for a hotel. We found Motel Araam, a Government run hotel on the way to Thenmala.

The motel is good, but there was no food, and the employees told that it is offseason, hence lunch will be served only upto 2pm. This motel is just opposite to the road which leads to Palaruvi a beautiful waterfall. 

Since our kids did not had lunch we decided to proceed further ahead towards thenmala. Atlast found a hotel at Thenmala from where we took our lunch at almost 6pm in the evening. But no one was complaining as our appetitie was completely satisfied by the mother nature.

We had some time left to watch the Musical fountain at Thenmala. Took the tickets and proceeded to the venue. The show starts at 7.00 pm and ends at 7.45pm. The deserted venue before the start of the show.

The musical fountain soon started, and it was visual treat for the eyes and they played some real fast songs too.

All thats well has to end and once the musical fountain was finished, we started our return drive. The return drive was pretty fast as all the kids fell asleep pretty fast. We soon reached our hometown Thiruvananthapuram. Decided to have dinner together, to have one more bash. It was almost 11pm when we parted ways after bidding good bye.

It was a day when we experienced the joy of friendship, the joy of being together with like minded people, even if we are getting to know them for the first time, the way kids open up, the excitement of kids, the joy of being in close company of the nature and above all the joy of travelling !!!

Thanks to Mr. Rag & family and Mr. Sur &; family for giving some pretty happy moments .

Other similar locations
Golden Valley @ Ponmudi - Prestine Kallar river flowing amidst rocks

Kaveri Nisargadhama - An island surrounded by river Cauveri in Coorg


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