Sunday, March 29, 2009

Summer calling...Kannur, Kerala

James (one of my very close friend) had some work in Kannur, Kerala and invited me to join him for a trip over the weekend. He had already done the booking for a to-n-fro

Starting off from Bangalore was quite frustrating with the bus delayed by one and a half hours. But once the wheels started rolling all that was forgotten. We had got the tickets only for the last row...and what a ride it turned out to be!! We felt each and every bump on the road, with us being thrown up in the air in cases where the driver missed seeing a speedbreaker. James did manage to catch up some sleep, but I just could not. Stayed awake for most of the journey.

Reached Calicut around 8 AM and immediately took a bus towards Kannur which was a couple of hours more. The drive was pretty good with the coast overlooking the Arabian sea providing some nice sights. We reached Kannur pretty soon, thanks to the dare-devil brand of driving of the bus drivers. In kerala, bus drivers rule...rash n fast. In streets just narrow for a bus to pass through, they would rip at speeds of upto 50-60 Kmph.

Refreshed ourselves in the hotel room and headed out to finish the work James had come here for, to ensure we had as much time as possible free to ourselves ;)
The work was done by lunch time, and we proceeded to have some sumptuous Veg. food.

From here the plan was to visit the snake park and then the beach. We took the local bus here towards the snake park. In fact, the whole is this trip we would use only public transport. The auto drivers here are a blessing. They would not charge extra, everything paid based on the!

Reached the snake park quickly (remember, the bus drivers here are real FAST ) to see some nice specimens including the Russell's Viper, Indian cobra, Common krait, Rat snake, the green vine snake, rock python and a few others.

The real awesome sight was seeing the King cobra in flesh. Had dreamt of seeing this wonderful creation...the true king of snakes. It feasts on other smaller snakes for a meal !! They were maintained in Air-controlled rooms with glass windows for viewing.

Sort of satisfied that we got some decent shots, we headed towards the Kannur beach with the sun beginning to set. The beach is pretty scenic and had a few people already. Also saw some jellyfish washed up in the sandy shore.

James had an allergy to salt water and avoided entering the water.

On the other hand, I could not wait to enter the water as it had been a very long time since I played in a beach. Just waited for the sun to set completely (to finish shooting the sunset), and then jumped in

The water was nice n warm. The waves pounding your body is quite a feeling, something inexplicable and is best experienced. Went in a little deep and then waited for the BIG wave to come. And when it comes, it comes with quite a force taking me high on it, with me being swept off my feet. Once that was over, the rush was so much, I wanted more n more. I think I got flipped in the water a couple of times, but that was quite worth it's salt (quite literally )
Spent a good half n hour or so among the strong waves, and came off refreshed! I can only imagine the kind of feeling surfers might have when riding the waves.

James n I made a small sand castle, that was loads of fun :)

Dried myself quite quick with the strong winds blowing and went on to gulp loads of sprite with some Shawarma roll.

Tired after a long day and not having slept the last night, we planned to sleep early.

Next morning was an early start with the alarm going off at 5 AM. Got ready and headed to the train station for a train to Kasargod (to reach Bekal fort early). A couple of hours and a local bus ride later, we reached Bekal fort (which we had heard a lot about)

Saw the fort from a distance and the first thing that crossed my mind was "If only some planted aqurist saw this!!!"
The whole fort was made from bricks of Laterite (which is the case with most of Kerala's buildings). The beauty of bare laterite bricks is the way they change color, from Black when they are cool to the Medium orange/red when they heat up.

The fort is extremely well maintained and is a treat to the eyes. Unfortunately, it was the wrong time/season to see this fort with summer browns everywhere (in/post monsoons, the whole place is colored various hues of green!). The fort is beautifully located on the coast of the Arabian sea.

The rocks form a nice surface for the clams to colonise and grow, they were found in plenty. We also saw a lot of fiddler crabs.

A few schoold kids were there for a day's outing too

As the sun rose further, so did the temperature and the humidity. But the serenity and beauty of the place kept us going.

Plus, there came a point where the body wanted to give up, and at this point is when the mind takes the decision of going on or giving in. (It is this feel that I like about being outdoors and the capability to instigate the character)

Was lucky to see the sea eagle for the first time in my life with it's HUGE wings.

We carried on along the fort's periphery exploring the many rock formations. Some of them formed small tide-pools, housing a few fish and crab.
Done, tired and very exhausted, we refuelled with some milkshakes. Next stop was "Kanjangad" to catch the train at 2:30 PM to head back towards Kannur/Thalassery.
Finishing lunch fast, we reached the station in-time, but only to find a huge rush with what seemed like the whole town trying to catch that same train. The train came and left, we just could not find any space to even stand in the bogies :(

We let it go since we had seen a train next @ 2:40 PM on the schedule-boards.
James and I kept the cell phone and the battery charger for charging at a power point. 2:40 became 3:00 PM and no sign of a train. We went to ask and turns out the 2:40 PM train ran only on Fridays.

So here we were looking at each other's face what do we do for another hour. (waiting an hour would also mean losing out on an hour of the time we have to explore Thalassery)

We decided we would catch a bus instead and proceeded to the bus-stand. Almost at the bus stand I see a mobile phone Ad and

Me: Jamie, your cellphone and my charger (we forgot to take them from the power point)
James: WTF !!!

And we both start running back to the train station in the hot sun. James ran faster than me and thankfully found the cellphone and the battery charger intact
Looks like there was some other guy near the power point talking on a phone (that probably acted as a deterrent for anyone to try flicking the valuables).
Ever thanked someone for just being there ?? This was one such moment,
James thanked that person and that guy had the look of "What are you talking about?". James smiled and moved on.

We both had a hearty laugh, and decided we would rather wait for the train now (tired after the sprint in the hot sun)
The train came at 3:45 PM jam-packed and having equal number of people wanting to get in! We muscled our way in not wanting to be left out.

We stood all the way to Thalassery, a good 2+ hours journey. At every stop, more number of people would board than the number of people who boarded-off it. Our calves were aching like crazy and we took turns sitting on the boarding platform.

An interesting name for a stop

Reached Thalassery with the light diminishing, and we made a quick run to the beach. Wanted to go to a beach which I had seen earlier and we failed to explain the way it is to the Auto driver :( (James is fluent in Tamil and can somehow manage with Malayalam, and I'm as good as a NO with it )

The auto driver dropped us off to a park over-looking a rocky sea-shore.

But this wasnt what we wanted and wanted to get out of there FAST. On the main road, we did not get an auto for a very long time, and we were getting tensed about it (as the sun was going down very fast)
Finally we got an Auto and he dropped us off at the "Meen market" (Local fish market) on the shore of the fishing beach. We ran through the market to try and get some clicks of the setting sun.
Reached the beach...but...the sun had set already :(
We tried clicking a few shots here.

We got back to the Fish market where Vyas had told us they have Hammerhead sharks, Octopus, Manta rays and others for sale sometimes.
There weren't any giants though, just the normal ones you see.
Saw good amounts of Etroplus suratensis, some mangrove snappers, tiger prawns amongst others.

James picked up a small amount of dried salted shark meat. (There are stalls where they sell only dried, salted fish)

Had a chilled 500 ml Sprite (as I had for all of the trip due to the searing heat). Maybe I had finished a couple of litres of cool drinks over two days.
It was 7:15 PM now, and we had a bus back to Bangalore from Kannur at 8:30 PM. It was a mad rush back to the hotel room at Kannur.
We picked up our luggage in time and got to the main road.

One, two, three and a lot more other autos just pass all full. 8:15 PM and were still at the main road, no idea knowing how far the bus station was !!
Finally some kind soul auto driver stopped and we asked him to rush rush to the bus station. A quick drive and we were there in time....phew.

Having made the day and reached the bus-stop in time, James n I had a Hi-five
A cold water bottle in hand, we boarded the bus and reached Bangalore the next day at 7:30 AM. (The bad stretch of road had the bus take a 150KM detour)

Our own Bangalore auto driver dropped us back to our houses.

All in all.
1. The fabulous company of James.
2. The excellent public transport in Kerala (the trains touch almost every district, the buses are good, the auto drivers prompt and honest)
3. Playing in the sea after a long time (getting washed out many times)
4. Bekal fort for the fabulous balance of architecture and the aqua-life on the rocks

1. The sapping heat and humidity
2. Sitting in the last row of a bus with not so good suspension (but Hey! that sure was fun in hindsight)

Adios till the next trip/ride.

Yours truly



Umesh U V said...

As usual 'FUNtastic' snaps

santasizing...Fantasizing said...

Awesome pics...and ofcourse a great write up..
i felt as i almost visited the place:)

Niranjan Panse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Niranjan Panse said...

Great Shutterring...
Lucky YOU to get that Eagle..Wings Spread.. in your lens..

Sudha said...

Loved every bit of it. Now I know where to head next.

By the way, which is your next destination?

Kshitiz Anand said...

WOW!!!! Thats one awesome report Hayath! :)

Gayathry said...

Excellent pics and photography. Very refreshing. Please keep posting more.

JerzRavein said...

The pics and the story line, were really mesmerising!!!
feels like I just came back from Kannur trip !!!
gr8 going, eagerly waitin for the next trip.

cheers !

Shilpi said...

Neeraj shared your blog with me..i am glad that he to see some amazing pics..:)

Hayath said...

Thanks everyone.

Apologise for the super late reply!

Glad you dropped by.