Posts Tagged ‘ kerala ’

Backpacking trip – Day 5 – Cochin

We reached our next stop in our Kerala leg, Ernakulam, at 2:30 in the morning. We were wondering what to do till the dawn. Instead of hiring a room like we had done throughout the trip, we decided to travel around with our bags. While this was going to stress us, we wanted to have a experience of how it feels. After walking in and around the the bus station for an hour or so, we settled down in the waiting room and decided to catch up on some sleep. While it was difficult to sleep sitting in a waiting room we did mamage to get a bit of sleep. Just before the break of dawn, we boarded a local bus and went to Fort Cochin.

Fish auction at Fort Cochin

Fish auction at Fort Cochin

Fish stocked for auction

Fish stocked for auction

MK playing football with the localites

MK playing football with the localites

Fort Cochin is the place where the Portugese had landed in their search for a sea route to India. It has a nice beach and some Chinese nets that the fishermen use to catch fish at the shores. Being early morning the fishermen had just docked and were auctioning their wares. While I had seen fish auction on Discovery Travel & Living, it was the first time I was seeing it live. MK too was pretty excited looking at the fish aution. They had small fish, big fish, huge fish, squids, crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, and other species which I couldn’t identify. After photographing some of the action, we moved on to the beach. We found some people playing football and MK got instantly excited about it. Upon request they took him into the game and for the next 30 minutes MK was pretty much busy with the game. While he didn’t manage to score any goals, he did show some impressive play. We decided to move on with our trip and we took an auto to Mattancherry palace.

Mattancherry palace is also called Dutch palace for the fact that the Dutch had presented this palace to the King of Kochi in 16th century A.D. It was a pretty interesting place to watch but there were not many exibits to see. So we finished quickly and moved on to the Jewish Synagogue. The place is small and doesn’t have any exquisite art like we see in churches or temples across India. We were told that only 5 Jewish families live in the area now. The rest migrated to Israel recently. We were shown a piece of Torah that was written around the time when Jews landed. It was written on sheep skin. We were shown only one page. The guide went on to explain about the rest of the synagogue.

Radar used in INS Dronacharya

Radar used in INS Dronacharya

Torpedos used on board INS Dronacharya

Torpedos used on board INS Dronacharya

Helicopter used by INS Dronacharya

Helicopter used by INS Dronacharya

Navy arm badges

Navy arm badges

Navy shoulder and cap badges

Navy shoulder and cap badges

Navys officer shoulder badges

Navy's officer shoulder badges

Our next stop was INS Dronacharya. We assumed that it was a decomissioned Indian Navy ship. Instead we were told that they have only displayed some of the parts of the decomissioned ship. We got to see the radars, torpedos, missiles and other weponry used on that ship. They also had the uniforms and badges worn by the crew of INS Dronacharya. We were later shown a video on the history of the Indian Navy which was pretty interesting. It dated from world war II time to the recent Kargil war. After talking to the caretakers about the navy we moved on to have our lunch since we were roaming since the wee hours of the morning.

After having a heavy lunch, we did some window shopping at MG Road. From what I have observed any place that is given Gandhi’s name ends becoming the most commercialized place in the town. We now had to come back to the bus station and book tickets for our final destination, Waynad. During lunch we were discussing whether we have to visit Waynad since it is more of an adventure and trekking kind of place and we have had enough nature darshan in the past few years. So we finally decided to skip Waynad and return to Bangalore. After enquiring at the local railway station we found that no AC sleeper seats were available. We returned to the KSRTC bus station and booked tickets for Bangalore. The surprizing fact was that booking was allowed for only Kerala buses within the bus station. For booking Karnataka state buses, we were directed out of the bus stand to a small shop. It felt a bit ironic that even being a single country we are trying to differentiate each other on regional lines. The tickets were booked for 8 PM and we waited for around 3 hours before boarding the bus back home.

(Additional photos available @ Flickr)

Backpacking trip – Day 4 – Trivandrum

After successfully finishing our Tamilnadu leg we were now starting with our Kerala leg. We reached Trivandrum at 12:00 in the night. After some negotiation with the auto drivers, one of them took us to a nearby hotel called Aishwarya Lodge. After a long and refreshing sleep we freshened up and went to Padmanabha Swamy temple. I must tell, this temple has the biggest fleece scam of all the temples I’ve seen. As soon as we entered we were asked to hire Dhotis. As anywhere in Kerala, any man entering the temple must be wearing a dhoti. As soon as we entered, they thrust a basket of flowers, bananas and coconut and demanded 30 bucks. According to them it was mandatory to offer them. At the next enterance we were thrust a tray full of small oil containers and we were asked to pay 20 bucks for it. And the guy who was manning the lamp where the oil was supposed to be poured demanded another 10 bucks. I was already starting to get pissed at the blatant fleecing when another guy demanded 10 more bucks for letting us visit the gopuram. He didn’t allow anyone to go ahead without visiting the gopuram. I had already lost my mind on this. I somehow controlled myself, since I didn’t want to create a scene in the temple. After having a look at the diety we moved on. On our way out, we visited the royal museum next to the temple. While 2/3rd of it is still getting renovated the part we saw was pretty amazing. They had put wall sized paintings of the King greeting the Dutch when they landed in India and so on and so forth. One exibit that caught my eye was the crystal throne. It was a huge one, completely made of crystal.

One of the places top on our list was the Raja Ravi Varma’s art gallery. We took a local bus to reach the place. There are totally three museums in that premisis. While the biggest is called Chitra gallery, Ravi varma’s gallery is a small building located in a corner. The entrance is same as that of a zoo in the neighbourhood. Looking at the paintings is a delight to the eye. Anyone who admires Da-Vinci’s paintings must have a look at Ravi Varma’s paintings. The notable ones are “Ravana kidnaping Sita” and “Damayanti and the Swan”. The amount of detail that he has captured is mind boggling! While I was dumbfounded by the art, I felt sad about the way they are being maintained. Given these precious pieces of art, in many areas, there is nobody to keep an eye on people touching them. Also there is no protection whatsoever for them. They are just kept open to the incoming wind and dust. When enquired one official said that since these are oil paintings they will catch fungus if they put glass on it. They said they use a varied set of brushes to clean the dust and grime off these paintings every week. I was damn surprised at the ignorance of the officials towards such exquisite pieces. When exiting the museum, I wanted to take a photo of the building for myblog. The cop guarding the place acted rather stubborn telling that photography, even of the building will attract penalty and legal action. Being already pissed at the state of the paintings, I decided not to argue with them and just left. We hadn’t yet planned which place we will visit next. So we decided to go to the bus station, enquire about the available buses and plan there about out next stop. On the way we saw a railway repair garage (the railway station is next to the bus station). Being software guys, we had never seen what goes into a railway coach. We were a bit reluctant about asking the engineers to give us a tour. But we decided to atleast go have a look. While all the mechanics were staring at us, we approached the station engineer and introduced ourselves. We told him that being software engineers we were curious about how the Indian Railways builds and maintains it’s coaches. After verifying some of our credentials (for security purposes) he did explain a bit about the coaches but was pretty discrete about the information he gave (understandable given the security requirements of the country). After taking a few pictures with the mechanics we went to the bus station and booked tickets to Cochin. We visited Indian Coffee house, had snacks and returned to the lodge. We packed our luggage and left for the bus station.

Workers doing maintenance

Workers working on the coach

Wheels disassembled

Wheels disassembled

MK with coach workers

MK with coach workers

Me with coach workers

Me with coach workers