Thekkady – a tad bit disappointing

Next stop on the itinerary – thekkady. A place that is the entrance to the periyar tiger reserve which has about 40-50 tigers. To support this there is a bustling market, cultural shows, elephant rides and some beautiful properties to stay in.

Situated about 100 kms away from Munnar, the drive takes about 3 hours, waterfalls, rivulets, spice plantations all along the way to keep company. On arrival we checked into Treetop hotel,  beautiful property with independent self contained cottages. The calm and greenery in and around the hotel is another reason to stay.

On reaching we booked the boat in the lake online. The same is highly recommended as you reserve seats on the boat. Simply reduces the hassle the next morning. The early morning slot at 7.30 is what we booked.

Persian Paradise elephant park

There are variety of options to spend the day. We went to Persian Paradise, a place where they have 3 elephants on which you are supposed to get a ride inside cardamom plantations. The ride itself was a new experience, so it is seems ok spend that 350 per head. The cardamom plantation was a farce and some cardamom trees were sprinkled along the way. The place also provides atv’s and jeep safaris. The jeep safaris is another scam there. The jeep would be with you for four hours, showing you some random locations which dont seem interesting even in the brochure. The main attraction is ‘ off – roading ‘ in the jungle. As far as my knowledge of wildlife sanctuaries go, no private vehicle is allowed inside a reserve. On confronting the driver about the same, he confirmed that it is some hilly area outside the forest. And with no guarantee of spotting even a wild elephant spending 4000 on such ride is pointless. Similar jeep safari people throng the bazaar.

With the jeep safari out of the window, we went for some spices and chocolate shopping. Some very good wholesale shops, equipped enough so satisfy all requirements for spices and chocolates. The rest of the afternoon was spent on getting a massage. Lots of options to choose from. You could probably choose anybody and wouldn’t be much of a difference.

Kalaripayatu, a form of martial art and Kathakali, a dance form are on display in Thekkady as hourly shows. The Kalaripayatu show kept us enthralled for the hour. It was an amazing display of fights with bare hands, sticks, swords, spears and the flexible sword. Jumping through the fire and standing back flips amazed the crowds. Well organised show, I must add. The Kathakali show is divided in 2 parts, demonstration and performance. The demonstration part where the rasas ( facial expressions), eye movements, lip movements etc were explained was much better than the performance. The performance missed all the eye movements, and the rasas. My apologies to the artists if they were correct. I’m no expert in dance but I didn’t enjoy the second half.

Navarasa, Kathakali, Thekkady, kerala
The Kathakali performance

Next day early morning we went to the reserve. To our surprise there were 3 big boats, holding about 30 people each were waiting for tourists. The started moving one behind the other like it was a rally! The idea itself is stupid. As pointed out by one of the co passengers, there is a maximum chance of spotting animals near water, but if you put big boats with blaring engines inside that water, that to three of them, the chances of seeing any significant animal become negligible.

Periyar, Boating, view, Dried stem, morning, Thekkady, kerala
Early Morning calm of the place
Periyar, Boating, view, Dried stem, morning, Thekkady, kerala
The 3 boats in the rally!

Having said that, being the duck nesting season, we found some duck nests and hatch lings. Also spotted the bee eater bird that is native to Periyar. Apart from that the early morning gives some stunning views and the peace and calm in the reserve apart from the blaring engines is uncanny. It is a good hour and a half spent if you aren’t expecting animals.

Periyar, Boating, view, Dried stem, morning, Thekkady, kerala, ducks, hatching
The Duck Hatchlings
Periyar, Boating, view, Dried stem, morning, Thekkady, kerala, bee eater
The Bee eater Family – A type of kingfisher.

Just left Thekkady wanting more. As a tourist was a little disappointed. As a wild life enthusiast you could spend a few more days. The options that the reserve offers are very different. From night trekking to bamboo rafts to camping inside the jungle. In would like to assume that you would be able to see some wildlife. Would like to try these options sometime in life.

Further ahead on our itinerary was Alleppey. It is the most essential of the Kerala stops with the houseboats, backwaters and coconut trees.

Vegetarian Perspective
Hotel Tree top served a good breakfast and lunch as expected with the star categoried hotels. he breakfast was a good mix of South Indian and North Indian courses with fruits and cereals.  . We played it safe here. We chose Pizza Max here. It is a pizza chain with 304 outs in Munnar, Thekkady and a few other Kerala cities. The food was decent and like I said a safe bet. There are ample number of shops selling chocolates and spices. We found some different spices like 7 in 1 spice, which we don’t usually use at home. Even the cloves were without the oil being removed and fresh off the farms. As far as chocolate goes, in Mumbai I have had better home made chocolates. However, a box of chocolates can never go waste. So you should just pick one up.

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