Sunday, September 27, 2015

Less explored Holiday Destinations of Kerala!

I finally had a blissful chance to visit Kerala last week that is mid of September.... and I was more than pleasantly surprised and calmed by the charm and beauty of it... its rightfully the lap of God's own! I had always heard from several friends and made a mental note of the most visited tourist spots and heavens of Kerala-Allepey and Munnar. However, this trip had something else in store for me.  We were visiting family in Ezhimala and I was wishing in my heart if we could spare some time to sneak out to the explore the pulchritude of this state.  I'm going to unravel here 2 alluring places off the tourist map of Kerala. If you ever wander into North Kerala, you might want to visit them for once :)

The itinerary for a long weekend trip -
Day 1 - Payyanur or Kannur  or Bakal fort - Either of these 3 can be explored during the day time at leisurely pace
Evening can be booked for Kavayi backwaters and valiyaparamba beach.

Day 2 - Taliparamba and travel to Paithalmala and spend a day there

Day 3 - I'm keeping this slot empty as each individual as varying holiday moods and interests. You can choose to explore the nearby Kerala villages by passenger train, do some local shopping, visit Devsthans or simply observe the lifestyle of the people around. At the end, I've listed down various activities and places to visit in and around Kannur so you can take your pick.
We utilized this day to travel back to Mangalore for our departure flight to Mumbai. Mangalore is 2.5 hour journey by train from Payyanur.

1. Kavayi Backwaters - Much has been said, read and experienced about the backwaters of Alleppey/Kumarakom which lie in south of Kerala. The local northerners enjoy an equally large version of the back waters to commute between their several small island villages. Kavayi backwaters is the largest one in the north of Kerala and third largest in the state. Owing to less population in this rather less unexplored region, one could enjoy extreme solace and peaceful musings of the mind here. You can hire local canoe to roam you around the tranquil waters. Fisherman and boatman are often seen stuttering around taking locals to and fro and charge a minimal charge of around 10 rs.  Apart from that, there is a government steamer which operates on fixed timings and covers all the islands and boat jetty spots along the route.  So if you have enough time you can hop on one of these and cover the span of entire Kavayi stretch.  If you consider this option, may I also suggest you to probably come back in evening around 6-7ish for the local boat ride as well. This is by far the most peaceful and leisurely stroll you can have on water the delight of which is accentuated by the shades of the water and skies post the sun down.

Kavayi islands
Backwater jetty spot at Payyanur town.

Backwaters view in early morning

Backwaters view in late evening, you can enjoy to fro boat ride and experience tranquility
Getting there: if you are travelling by train, there are various trains from different directions of country halting at the near town Kannur most of which will also halt at Payyanur which is the nearest town and your most likely spot to stay. I was travelling from Mumbai by train (Kerala sampark kranti express) to stop by Kannur and come back for Payyanur. However, my train also halted at a small town Kannapuram mid way of Payyanur and Kannur. Following our instincts, we got down and took the next train to Payyanur. We reached our destination within 30 mins saving time of coming all the way back from Kannur.

Stay: You can stay either at Kannur or Payyanur. Kannur is a bigger town but Payynur is nearer. So we opted for Payyanur. Its a small with limited options of hotels. Some tried and tested are -
1. Green park hotel - little off town located on the highway and is slightly on the expensive side . Around Rs 2500 per Diem(standard room)
2. Hotel KK residency - This is strategically located right opposite the Payyanur bus stand and serves well for tourists who want to commute by local means of transport throughout the day. It is a good hotel priced at Rs 2000 per Diem.
3. Apart from these 2 we have Bombay hotel and Vyshak international hotel which are in the range of 1000-1500. You can take your pick.

Eat : you can try the local cuisine at Bamboo Fresh restaurant near the bus stand in Payyanur.

2. Valiyparamba beach - This beach is by far the most clean, isolated and one of the resplendent beaches in the country I've seen.  Imagine a long thin strip of land with backwaters on the right and the sea at the left. This is valiyaparamba beach for you. It is located right off the Kavayi island and is accessible by boat through the backwaters. Apart from a resort and local 3-4 huts it is a long pristine and untouched 10 kms stretch of beach on either side with a few fishermen for company occasionally. Water here is untarnished, the waves daring and beach has shells, crabs, coconut trees and sublime fine sand. In short, it is good way of spending sunset time here. The return back to land should be timed with the last ferry at around 7 pm. At our instance, it was late around 7:40, so you can probably keep the phone number of the ferry at the jetty spot handy before going ahead.

3. Paithalmala - Day 2 can be reserved for a trekking adventure activity to serene hill station Paithalmala. It is bounty for nature-mountain lovers, photographers, hikers. It is a good 1 hour walk to the top of the Paithal hills which provide an unperturbed view of the Nilgiri ranges and if it is cloudy you can soak in the white mist and soothing breeze. The amazing view and the forest like feel keeps you going throughout the climb. It is the most refreshing experience spending your day hiking and in the lap of nature with crisp air and greenery.

on the way to the top!

The journey
Getting there: Paithalmala is a 4 hour bus drive from Taliparamba which is a big town and can be explored for its beautiful temples. Taliparamba can be reached in around 45 mins from Payyanur by bus. From Taliparamba, the bus will stop at Kudiyamala village as its nearest halt for Paithalmala before changing the route. Autos and taxis are available easily to take you to the ascent point for paithal hills which is also where Paithal resorts are located. The autos will charge you around 300 Rs. after a good bargain. After descent, if you wish to stay back for snacks etc, Paithal resorts is at the right place!

Some foodie observations -
The trip to Kerala busted few of my myths. As a south Indian food lover, I was so excitedly looking forward to gorge on the authentic taste of the yummy  Idlis, dosas, sambhar , rasam etc. I had dreamt of eating all this to my heart's content for all servings three days. But to my severe disappointment, I could hardly find any eating joints serving this cuisine. Probably, I always arrived late when the dosas were finished. Instead, there were a variety of parottas (read paranthas), punjabi chicken and fishes! Whatever the reason, my only source of content was the breakfast buffet at my stay hotel in Payyanur where I could eat only idli and sambhar.
Similar was the case for coconut water, there was not even a single 'redi' or stall for fresh coconut water which I had assumed to be in abundance in this paradise. I could only quench my thirst in Mangalore where there were plenty at each corner.
Also, in Kerala they serve red medicated lukewarm water in all the restaurants. So just in case, you would want to order bottled water for you separately!
P.S. - this is a personal observation based on my local 2 day stay in Payyanur only. The food culture may vary in other towns and cities in Kerala.

Other places around -
There are several other places in and around Kannur which are worth a visit if you can squeeze some more time out of your schedule. Bakal fort is a small reminiscent at the beach and hour by train from Payyanur. Matool is another splendid beach stretch and serves as sea- backwater dividing body like valiyaparamba. There are several churches, forts, drive in beaches and arlam wild life sanctuary in Kannur itself. So you have plenty of options to explore in the days if you wish to expand your stay.

Overall, it was a wonderful and a memorable trip and I did not at all miss alleppey and Munnar this time :)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fair and Lovely : BB cream- natural make up!

I'm not an ardent fan of cosmetic products and don't usually have clear favorites.... I've seen some of my friends speaking in a totally alien language - "Oh I m just into Colorbar....!" "I can't do without a Chambor !!"  and I pick some fresh aloe gel back from the garden :D (well my skin is not perfect either still :D) .  Perfect skin is every girl's dream. If not natural, then atleast for the image. And if with least chemical impacts, then God bless the product !
The fact is that we are living in the society of spic and speck public image where our dresses must always be fashionable, our shoes adorable, our hair shiny and glossy and skin radiant !
So while I am contemplating this, someone just gave me an instant solution to the last of my public image checklist...
I was invited to an exciting event where I got introduced to the Fair and Lovely new beauty product - BB cream. And it was a lot worthwhile !

This beauty product serves multi benefits for the Indian women....I am glad to know that this is particularly designed for the Indian skin tone....a non Caucasion look with smooth texture. A skin which has to face harsh sun and heat, slimy pollution and aunties' scrutiny :P . FAL BB Creme is an answer to our basic worries. It is so light and MATTE, blends perfectly in the skin without feeling oily or greasy specially in summers ! and has sun protection of SPF 15. It doesn't contain bleach and gives a make up finish naturally !!! Bingo :D
So if you are going on a date, an office party,a work day even, an evening get together with friends or family.....this is what will satisfy your most makeup needs .....and you can spare your kit for a while ...just carry this small tube in your purse and you are done !!
I tried it for a movie night and it worked wonders for me.... My skin looks almost perfect and it doesn't look too much either (I'm glad that this does not try to make me look too much whiteyyyy and  just enhances my skin tone (I'm dusky and usually creams tend to just bleach my face)