Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fort Cochin – touristic, but very nice

Fort Cochin, Kerala, India
After two hours on the bus, we reached Cochin. Most buildings in the old part of town are from the colonial times – in the 16th and 17th century the town was Portuguese, then the Dutch came and at the end, the British. 

Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

Today the town attracts tourists from all over the world – there are many hotels, restaurants and shops.

Chinese fishing nets, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India

The Chinese fishing nets are especially interesting. It needs 4 strong men to control the complicated system of weights and counterbalances. The fish is sold at the market nearby.

Ginger drying in the sun, Mattancherry, Kerala, India

The habitants of Cochin have been dealing with spices for centuries. They also deal in ginger. The roots in this courtyard lie in the sun to dry. 

Spices, Mattancherry, Kerala, India

In India, a lot of things are still done in manual labour, for example – turning the ginger once in a while to make it dry from all sides, cutting fruits and herbs or packing sacks with all sorts of spices.

Particularly exciting was our visit to the local market in Ernakulam. This market is gigantic. Everywhere vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, spices and tea. And wherever you look, there are the most photogenic people of all India....

Vegetable and fruit market, Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Vegetable and fruit market, Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Vegetable and fruit market, Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Vegetable and fruit market, Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Vegetable and fruit market, Ernakulam, Kerala, India

After 30 days my time in India was over. The 8th time India.... For sure, not the last time....

Flowers in auroville, India

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Alleppey and the famous Backwaters

Gurjeet and Andy in Alleppey, Kerala, India

Alleppey is the big center for trips to the Backwaters. In Alleppey, I met my good friend Gurjeet again. We first met in 2013 in Capetown, South Africa. When Gurjeet heard, that I was coming to India, he wanted to meet me. From Delhi to Alleppey – this meant 44 hours oneway on a train.

Alleppey, Kerala, India

Alleppey is a very touristic place and the big deal are renting houseboats.
However for Gurjeet and me a houseboat was far too expensive and going by ferry and canoe it is also possible to see quite a lot of the famous Backwaters.

Capitain Antony, Backwaters, Kerala, India

The best way to see the Backwaters, is a tour by canoe. With a canoe you can go to all these small canals and waterways of the Backwaters and see the daily life of the villagers. We were particularly lucky with our captain – Anthony. He fetched us in our hotel and together we went by ferry to his village. 

Backwaters, Kerala, India

After a great Keralan breakfast, we started our canoe trip.
On our way were small canals, rice fields, temples, churches and pretty villages. 

Gurjeet with Toddy, Backwaters, India

Gurjeet even got a bottle of Toddy – palm wine. In my eyes a really awful brew – he really seemed to enjoy...

Lunch in Anthonys house, Backwaters, India

After 5 hours we returned to Anthony‘s village. His wife already waited with a brilliant late lunch for us.

Thali in Anthonys house, Backwaters, India

Back to Alleppey the ferry was incredibly full – mainly because of the school kids on their way back home.

Full ferry to Alleppey, Kerala, India

Full ferry to Alleppey, Kerala, India

Backwaters, Kerala, India

Backwaters, Kerala, India

Having a coconut drink, Kerala, India

Capitain Anthony, Backwaters, India

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kollam – Alleppey by ferryboat

Ferry from Kollam to Alleppey, Kerala, India

For some years now, there is a ferry from Kollam to Alleppey. This is probably the most inexpensive way to see a bit of the famous Backwaters.

On the ferry from Kollam to Alleppey, Kerala, India

Hey, folks, some of the canals are so narrow, it is simply NOT possible to get through by ferry. 

On the ferry from Kollam to Alleppey, Kerala, India

By the way, some canals are so narrow it’s impossible for a houseboat to get through....

In my eyes, this was a great 8-hour journey by ship through canals, rivers and lakes. What more could you want for the equivalent of 5.- Euro?

On the ferry from Kollam to Alleppey, Kerala, India

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Varkala – beach time

Varkala, Kerala, India
Without any doubt - one of the nicest beaches of Kerala is the beach of Varkala. It is so nice, you will not be by yourself in Varkala.
There are the sun lovers on the beach, and on the cliff there are the hotels, restaurants and shops.

Right at the cliff edge there is a narrow path. On the one hand there are the restaurants and small shops and on the other side, the cliff drops about 50 metres. We are in India where there are neither fences nor railings.
It´s good advise not to have too many Kingfisher beer at night... Also advisable: have a good flashlight ready when going out in Varkala. Once in a while the power goes out and then it gets really dark in Varkala.... On the cliff, on the path and on the beach under it... It can be dangerous.

At some places, rather adventurous stairs lead down to the beach. These stairs do not correspond to the European stair norm... and have no railings with which to hold on to.

Beach at Varkala, Kerala, India

But once you made it down to the end of the stairs, there is a real dream beach. The water temperature is warm, the sand is fine and the scenery is beautiful whatever direction you look to - the sea as well as towards the cliffs. What more do you need?

Varkala, Kerala, India

During the midday heat it is best to sit in one of the shady restaurants having a cold Lassi or Lime Soda. All of them have Wifi, so todays travellers can inform the rest of the planet where they are, and what kind of food and drink they are having right now...

Varkala, Kerala, India

 In Varkala, there is an abundance of restaurants, bars, shops and cafes. Basically, each local has a massage center, works in an ayurvedic clinic, is the best cook ever or has a travel agency. Or at least knows someone, who knows someone, who offers such services and is much better and in addition less expensive than all the others...

For my taste, Varkala is a little bit too touristic, but exciting enough for a few days... And it is still a wonderful, relaxed place with a great beach and wonderful fish dishes.

My good old friend Siraj with my dinner

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The most southern part of India – Kanyakumari

Kanyakumari, India

Pilgrim, Kanyakumari, India

Kanyakumari is the most southern point of India. Here, the gulf of Bengal meets the Arabic ocean. A lot of pilgrims come to Kanyakumari.
The pilgrims pray in the big temple, take a bath in the two oceans or give the ashes of their dead into the oceans. Some pilgrims sit hours at the seashore and meditate. 

Everywhere you look, there are souvenir stalls.

Souvenirs, Kanyakumari, India

Holy men, Kanyakumari, India

Right at the sea, there is a small temple. In this temple, there are some holy men living there. These two were very friendly – the left one was in former times, a medical doctor. The other one was a manager in a big hotel. For many years, they traveled through India and live from the offerings of devote Hindus. 

Fish market, Kanyakumari, India

Very interesting was also the local fish market – the fishermen arrive early in the morning with their catch of the day. Right away the haggling starts. The haggling is only done by men – the selling of fish is only done by women. 

Fisherman, Kanyakumari, India

Fisherman, Kanyakumari, India

Fish sellers, Kanyakumari, India

Fish sellers, Kanyakumari, India

Fish sellers, Kanyakumari, India

Local tourists, Kanyakumari, India

Kanyakumari is a very famous holiday destination for indian families and school classes.

School trip, Kanyakumari, India
They bath in the sea and visit the Gandhi Memorial. Some part of the ash of Mahatma Gandhi was thrown in the sea in Kanyakumari after his death in 1948. Exactly at the place where the urn, with the ashes of Gandhi was stored, there is todays memorial. 

Gandhi Memorial, Kanyakumari, India

Every pilgrim, all families and school children do a trip by ferry to the island of the Vivekananda Memorial. Vivekananda was a hindu philosopher, who medidated several days on the island. 

Vivekanda Memorial, Kanyakumari, India
Most southern point of India, Kanyakumari

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rameshwaram – praying, bathing and offerings

Temple, Rameshwaram, India
The Ramanathaswamy Temple is another great example for the drawidian architecture. In the 12. century they started building the temple. 

Taking a bath in the temple, Rameshwaram, India

In the temple, there are 22 watertanks. Each water has other powers. The pilgrims take a bath in all 22 watertanks and drink some water out of each tank. One thing is fore sure – these pilgrims have a lot of fun bathing in their 22 tanks.

Even Sadhus, the holy men of India, come here.

Sadhu, Rameshwaram, Indien

For sure, for all pilgrims it is also important to take a bath in the sea. And in a holy place like this, a holy cow should not be missed!

Taking a bath in the sea, Rameshwaram, India

Holy Cow, Rameshwaram, Indien

Santosh with offerings, taking a holy bath, Rameshwaram, India

Here, in Rameshwaram, I got to know Santosh, a pilgrim from Hyderabad. Santosh was very eager to explain the ceremonies and all the does and don´ts. I was very happy, as this is the way to learn even more about another culture - with someone explaining just anything you want to know! Thanks a lot, Santosh - for not being a second offended or annoyed by my millions of question....

Puja, Rameshwaram, India

Pilgrim, Rameshwaram, India

Little Pilgrim, Rameshwaram, Indien

Puja, Rameshwaram, India

Taking a bath in the sea, Rameshwaram, India