Sunday, March 15, 2009
Govind recommended me to visit Fort Kochi before I head for his home at the Vipin Island. The ride from my hotel near Ernakulam North station towards the Vipin Jetty was through some of the ‘upcoming areas’ of Cochin, with plenty of construction work on the way. There was also the international container terminal that was then under construction. The stretch was a complete contrast to the riding experience I had on the previous 5 days. I wondered about the rationale of setting up this container terminal which I learnt later involved some ‘land grabbing’ too. On one side, I could notice the closure of Alapuzha and Colachel ports and on the other side, we have this ‘mega’ port being developed.
I had to catch a Jhankar boat from Vipin jetty to Fort Kochi. A Jhankar boat can carry people, motor bikes, cars or even mini-lorries and is tradionally a substitute for a bridge. The trip charge from Vipin to Fort Kochi was just Rs.2. It was first time I had been on such boat and also the first of the many boat rides during the tour. Fort Kochi happens to be the oldest area of the Cochin City. Filled with trees and old buildings, it gives a glimpse of the old town. It was a pleasant experience to ride around the place.
My next stop was at ‘The Shenoys’. I was given a warm welcome at his home by his parents. Govind’s mother was keen on meeting me as I learnt later that she is interested in promoting the cause of cycling. A few days before my visit, she had gifted a cycle for Govind and has been asking him to switch to a cycle from motorbike whenever possible. I was offered a loving and delicious breakfast including Kerala’s authentic Kadla and steamed bananas. After some pleasant conversation, I took leave and continued with my ride. Govind accompanied me for few kilometers thus becoming my only ‘accomplice’ for the whole tour!
From there, it was a long tedious journey till Guruvayur through the highway leaving very little to describe or write about. The lunch was at a place called Kodungallur and afternoon rest outside a shop. Most shops in Kerala were closed for after-noon leaving me some space to take rest!
I reached Guruvayur by evening and freshened up in Arun’s apartment which was closer to the temple. It happened to be a festival day and I got to consider myself lucky to be there. The temple dress code demands me to dressed in a Dhothi and I went around scouting for a ‘Dhothi rental’ shop. After few enquiries, one of the shopkeepers was kind enough to take some time and advise me about the function on that day. There seems to be no activity in the temple as the Deity is taken on a procession around the temple. He informed me that I can watch the procession without adhering to any dress codes. The procession comprised of 5 elephants led by ‘Panchavathyam’ group. The atmosphere was electrified by the Panchavathyam troupe with nearly hundred instrumentalists playing the cymbals, drums and pipes.
Kochi – Fort Kochi – Vipin – Kodungallur – Chavakkad – Guruvayur.
More images from the day in my photo album.