Holiday in Kerala, Part 1 - Houseboat at Allepy
There are so many places to visit in Kerala, but the very thought of Kerala only brings back pictures of backwaters to my mind. Yes, there is Munnar and similar places, but you have those type of places elsewhere - for me, Kerala is quintessentially, backwaters! So, for the second time, I did the same routine and did not regret any of it - Allepy and Kumarakom.
The trip started with the overnight journey on the Allepy Express - left Chennai at 915 PM and was scheduled to reach Allepy at 930 AM. From the words of the houseboat owner -"Saar, dat drain olways late by adleast won over", and so I was prepared for the delay. Took a ride from the station to what they call the 'Starting Point' and was escorted via a small lane into the backwaters where our houseboat was waiting for us. We paid the house boat owner, were introduced to the cook, the boat 'captain' and his assistant and we entered the two bedroom houseboat, all for ourselves. There are many varieties and up to four families can travel together in a houseboat that has 4 rooms! Ours had a spacious 'hall' on the front of the boat, two bedrooms and a kitchen at the back of the boat.
The trip started with some coffee and snacks that the enthusiastic cook served us while he prepared our lunch. This is not a holiday with activity, but one with absolutely nothing to do - just sit back, read a book and enjoy nature going by with soft bumps! It was noon within no time and time for our lunch - a superb home style meal with rice, a gravy, some papads, a poriyal, curd, chicken kothu, and the fish catch of the day - a fried whole fish - all of which were excellent. It was relaxing in the village of my great grand mom (my grand mom lived in Chennai!) and feasting on local foods -bliss!!
Had a short nap and woke up to noise - all the house boats were converging upon a meeting point and people got out for refreshments! Refreshment from what? Well, at times you need a break from doing nothing, don't you? So, you could shop for short eats, chips, drink some tender coconut water or buy the (overpriced) prawns and sea food that your cook will be more than happy to make for you! At about 530 PM, all the house boats come to a halt, no more sailing after 6 PM. Our cook made us some bajjis (fried raw banana) and tea and I was trying to admire the sun setting, but it was difficult! That does not have to spoil your evening, it was just relaxing!!!!
We were lucky to witness a traditional Kerala pot fire festival celebrated by the locals - I have no idea what they were celebrating and they looked at us as if we were prying on their private lives (which we were), but our boatman spoke something to them and they let us watch. They were shouting loudly, dancing around a fire and lots of ladies were sitting with some food in front of them! After about thirty minutes, we walked back to our boat and were served dinner - a rather simple dinner, though. If we had bought sea food, that would have been part of it, but since we did not, we had to settle for a vegetarian dinner. Retired for the night!
We were woken up by birds chirping and spotted some colourful birds on the slush and sides of the backwaters. Our cook, cheerfully, served us breakfast with idlys, chutney, an omelette and cut fruits. It was time to say good bye to our hosts and because of the weather conditions, we were not dropped off at our next destination - Kumarakom, so we had to take a 45 minute cab ride! An account of Kumarakom will be up next, so till then...
The houseboat for one night for two cost us Rs 6500 which includes lunch, tea, dinner and breakfast. A drop off to Kumarkom by the boat will cost an extra Rs 750, but the cab costed us Rs 900, not too much of a difference.