Had a two night’s stay in Thekkady this February. A flight to Kochi, a 6-hour drive through the hills and tea plantations, and you reach Thekkady. It’s a small town situated near the Kerala-Tamilnadu border and is known for the Periyar National Park and ayurvedic spa resorts.
But go there, and you’ll find there’s more to Thekkady than wildlife.
It was going to be evening by the time we would reach Thekkady, so asked the driver what all we can see in the single day we had. The wildlife safari was the first in the list. So, we stopped at the booking office which was on the way to our hotel.
Ten minutes of discussion and we had our receipt for the 6 AM jeep safari the next day, and also for the nearby farm tour. There was nothing else planned for the day, so I secured my spot on the bed and picked up my novel. Parents, in the meantime, went for some Kerala style massage.
It was going to be an adventurous day tomorrow.
And the vacation starts with early morning waking up. We reached on time for the jeep safari and sharp at 6, the ride began. It took about 45 minutes to reach the forest area. I was excited to see the elephants and whatever I could see. But even after 1.5 hours of driving around in the forest, we could see nothing except monkeys and wild hen.
Oh, we came across lemongrass, by the way, if that’s worth a mention. Else, wasted three hours (it took 45 minutes to return too). There were no animals in sight even from the designated viewpoints. After having our breakfast, we were back there for the tour of nearby farms and a bit of sightseeing.
It was a tour that took two hours. And in those two hours, we came across vineyards, cotton plants, tamarind trees, bananas, coconuts, and numerous other vegetable farms. Then, we stopped at the Thekkady viewpoint. A few minutes there, looking below at the town of Kumily and Thekkady, and we were back at the base.
The next in the queue was elephant showers.
We took our lunch, and there still were 2 hours left for the elephant adventure. Boating in the Periyar Lake was an option, but it needed prior permission from the forest office. So, marketing it was. And we ended up having a variety of home-made chocolates and chips!
After that, we were at the Elephant Junction. One hour of elephant ride, bathing the elephant and then letting them drench you… with water. While others did participate, I watched from a safe distance. Have always been wary of animals.
By the time, everyone freshened up, it was 4 in the evening. We went for tea and were back for the cultural shows. We had tickets for an hour of storytelling and Kathakali (a dance form), an hour of Kalaripayattu (a type of martial arts) and the tribal dance show.
Brief introduction of Kathakali, the facial expressions, various hand gestures and then, even the performance was so mesmerizing that I lost track of time. It was magical, I would say. Never did I enjoy cultural programs earlier. The Kalaripayattu show next too had a similar effect. Both the performances – Kathakali and Kalaripayattu – were intense.
The tribal dance afterwards was a bit disappointing though. But then, those power-packed plays could be one of the reasons. The day, however, was well-spent.
We left for Kochi after breakfast, but there still was something left – the spice farms. There were many businesses around which sold spices and also organized guided tours. The one which we visited had hundreds of different spice plants like clove, cardamom, pepper, insulin plant, cocoa and also, coffee.
The lady also explained the extraction and processing of the plant parts which bring spices to home, in the form we see, feel, smell and taste. It was an hour worth of fun, and soon we were cruising back through the same path which we took two days ago.