..continued from the part I.
Drive to Thiruvananthapuram was very slow with so much traffic on road. We reached Thiruvananthapuram at 12.20 and got to know that temple was closed at 12 noon. We noted down the next day morning timings of temple and inquired about the dress code. Dress code was only Dhoti for Abhijeet, frock for Saee and Saree for me. Since I wasn’t carrying and Saree along with me, other option for me was wearing dhoti on chudidaar. We purchased two dhotis from nearby shop and started our journey to KanyaKumari.
After leaving Thiruvananthapuram city part we had our lunch at Hotel White Dammar. We took Kerala meals. Guess what – in true spirit of national harmony, all waitresses there were from north-east India. Food was good and tasty…enjoyed it and even Saee enjoyed the special Kerala rice..she just loved it. I regret not taking any snaps.
On the way to KK we visited Padmanabhapuram palace. It is about 50KM from Thiruvananthapuram. The palace is located in TamilNadu but is maintained by Kerala government. Well maintained and is a wooden palace and one must visit this if going to KK. The palace complex inside is around four kilometers long and is one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture. As you enter the palace there are well marked arrow direction which takes you through whole palace. And at each important part of palace there is a person who explains the significance/use of that part.
At around 3.30 PM we left from here. We thought we would reach KK by 5.30 PM as it was around 34 KM and we took NH47 route. As we started from here there was huge traffic jam just before reaching Nagercoil. And we were stuck in this traffic jam for over 1 and half hours.
Firstly the road from Alleppy to KanyaKumari were the worst and to add it that, a traffic jam. Not good. But one that that we could clearly appreciate was the fact that no one – mind you – no one was cutting the lane. Unbelievable – especially for someone like me who is so frustrated of people cutting lanes in Pune.
According to our paper plan the idea was to visit KK before 5:00 pm, see the sunset and return back to Thiruvananthapuram for night stay (the distance was merely 95 kms) – But it took us well over 6.5 hours to cross that small distance.
The fact that apart from Munnar, Alleppy and Thekaddy we did not have advance booking of hotels worked in our favor. We simply decided to stay at KK (although not planned already)
And we reached KK at 7.30 PM. It was raining heavily and KanyaKumari did not appear like a big town in any angle in the dark. After reaching KK we checked-in at hotel SeaSun residency…average hotel. As we were already so exhausted (traffic and bad roads) that we didn’t even look for any more options for the hotel. We saw this hotel first and we booked room here.
Next early morning (5:30 am) we went to see sunrise…and there were clouds in the sky so we could not even see sunrise. After clicking few snaps..we took darshan of goddess Kanyakumari Amman. We left KK at arount 7 AM…KK was very disappointing for us.
Atleast for me, It would have been fine even if I would have skipped it, but nevertheless I do have “I was there” snaps – just for the records 🙂
Next in our plan was Padmanabha Swamy temple. Thinking that since we started early, atleast the road back would be less traffic and we would reach in tile at the temple – but we were wrong. There was huge trafiic as we entered Thiruvananthapuram. We reached temple at round 10.30 (4 and a half hours to cross 95 kms – can you imagine – especially when you frequently travel to Mumbai (140kms) in less that 1 and half hours)
The darshan timing was 11.15 to 12. We entered the temple and were in queue…we thought will have to be in queue for half hour. But then there was some speical pooja going on and queue was stopped for around 2 hours. We were in queue for 2 hrs standing still. After getting darshana we left Thiruvananthapuram at around 2.30. Had our lunch on the way. Our next destination was Guruvayoor. It was around 286 KM from Thiruvananthapuram so it was again 5 to 6 hrs drive.
We took a break at Alleppey and filled up fuel tank. We asked the pertol pump guy how much time does it take to reach Guruvaryoor he said 2.5 hours..we didn’t quite believe the guy looking at our past experience in Kerala and especially the route from KK to Alleppy. We stopped at Coffee shop and there we met a guy who gave us detailed route. And he said it will take max 3 hours to reach Guruvayoor. We were happy to know that only 3 hrs drive. We followed the route given by him and reached Guruvayoor at around 9 PM. Again, were never had plans to stay at Guruvayoor, but with flexibility on our side we had the luxury to find a hotel at runtime and change courses as needed. I quickly opened trip advisor on my phone and got a list of hotels around. We went to the road of temple and found one of the top recommended hotel Sree Gokulam Vanamalaa from a distance. And checked-in to the hotel. It was a good hotel with nice room service and food was also good. After having dinner we were off to bed.
Guruvayoor is famous for Sree Krishna Temple. Next day early morning we went for darshan, even here only dhoti is allowed and for girls chudidaar or saree was allowed. The temple is huge – I have never seen any temple bigger than this till date. It is beautifully designed. There is a small temple of lord Ganesha nearby. Next to this small temple there is a small museum. This museum has very beautifully carved statues..it a small one but worth visiting.
Purchased some cotton Sarees and toys from near by shops. From there we went to Elephant Camp Sancutary..its around 3 KM from temple. Here there are around 50 to 60 elephants. These elephants are donated by devotees of Guruvayoorr temple.This facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as participate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. We visited this specially for Saee…as there were so many elephants to watch.
We left Guruvayur and our next destination was Mangalore. On the way we had breakfast at road side restaurant. What a breakfast he served…it was amazing. We ordered masala dosas..and the dosa was a giant dosa and not only this there was big vada also as a topping on it. It was like a brunch.
On the way visited Thalasserry Fort . Entry is free…nothing much to watch in this fort.
Generally speaking roads in Kerala a narrow and goes through the town so are slow but they are all in top condition (except for Thiruvananthapuram to KK). Inspite of the traffic and slow pace, it was indeed a pleasure for Abhijeet to drive there.
But as we reached the boundary of Kerala and Karnataka…the road conditions started depleting. But that was the only near the boundary areas. We reached Mangalore by 6.30 PM…and we thought we could drive still 50 km more so we proceeded to Udupi. Road from manglore to Ududpi is nice – more like an express way – there are quite a few patches with “work in progress” boards but still multi lane roads was delight after driving a kerala for over a week. We reached Udupi at around 8 PM, checked trip advisor..and directly went to Kediyoor hotel – right in the heart of the city – which was near to famous Krishna temple. After check-in we asked the hotel manager if the temple is open at this time. He said temple is open till 9 PM. We got freshen up- and went to Krishana temple it was at walking distance..10-15 mins walk. We took darshan. Thankfully here there was no dress code and no long queue – mainly because it was closing time at the temple. It was just a perfect time for the drashan.
We were back to hotel and ordered dinner at room. Dinner was perfect…very nice and tasty food. Although here’s an irony. They did not serve south indian thali in the evening – only north indian thali. South indian thali is served only at lunch 🙂
Our next destination was Gadhinglaj (my native place in maharashtra) it was around 425 KM from Udupi. So next day we started early at around 6.15 AM. We checked out with hotel manager -about the road conditions and traffic. Lessons learnt at Kerala were still with us 😉 He said the road is in good condition and there is very less traffic.
We also check teambhp and other sites for recommendations – there were atleast 4 options suggested. Confused, we decided to follow the hotel manager’s recommendation – with a bit of skepticism.
We took the below route to connect to NH4….
Udupi-Bhatkal-Honnavar -Yellapur-Kalghathi-from here it connects to NH4-the express highway.
Turned out to be a good decision.
Amazing road…very scenic drive. Filled up fuel tank at Honnavar.
We had breakfast on the way in small restaurant at Yellapur.
We reached Gadhinglaj at 2 PM..to have lunch at home. After having lunch we were relaxed …and all gup-shup started, as I was back from Kerala trip,my sister was already there and she was back from Singapore trip.
Next day after having lunch we continued our journey back to Pune. As we entered pune we started feeling the pollution in air. We reached home safely at around 7.30 PM. That’s the end of our Kerala trip. While the trip ends, memories remain forever.
We traveled through 4 states (Maharashtra-Karnataka-Kerala-TamilNadu)..
Few closing statements
Our Tata safari is such a dependable SUV. Not a single problem throughout our almost 4000 kms road trip. Just for the records we have been driving it for close to 8 years already.
My daughter Saee inspite of being just 5 years old was such a great fellow traveler – her energy and enthusiasm kept us going. No complaints whatsoever. Food no problem. Sleep no problem. Travel no problem. Energy infinite.
Tips for those travelling to Kerala
Kerala is a place to drive your own vehicle. Amazing curvy roads.
Extremely friendly people. Even if you don’t understand their language, you can easily make out the directions that they intend to guide you in.
Do not trust google maps for distance and speed in Kerala. You should easily add 25% more to distance and 75% to 100% more to estimated time shown on google maps.
National highway (NH) is a myth. National highway traffic is no different from your inter town traffic and times even more – specially because the roads are narrow.
Kerala is clean! Everywhere you go, it’s clean.
Food is amazing and surprisingly cheap. Do not hesitate to eat on the road side restaurants. The taste of food goes up multifold.
All in all its been an excellent experience.