Posts Tagged With: kanyakumari

India… The good, the bad, and the downright evil

Well India has provided some of the best and some of the worst experiences of our lives. In some areas the scenery, people and food are among the prettiest, friendliest and tastiest (respectively) we have seen, met or had…in other areas …not the same story. Despite this we covered a lot of the country, saw a lot of sights, places, cities and have some insights that may prove useful to future travellers.

India certainly has a lot positive to be said about it and there are some must see items that make planning a trip very worthwhile. There are also some places that quite frankly are ruined by the people that you are forced to encounter along the way. Our trip was more low budget that some but higher budget than the typical backpacking style holiday.

We spent our money on the food, beer, accommodation and transport…choosing to pay that little bit more for the extra space and comfort and things like private bathrooms. That said…accommodation was generally about $20 a night for both of us and at its cheapest was $10. For not much extra (than our allowance) per day you could plan a very nice Indian sojourn and by paying the little bit extra can avoid some of the shonks that we hit along the way. You will be overpaying for what you get but the extra money takes away some of the headaches and surely that is worth a little more.

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Indian Must dos

With the beauty of hindsight this is where I would go to if I was to plan a short (2-3 week) holiday in India (in no particular order).

Agra – Taj Mahal and the fort…this one is obvious but they truly are that good. I suggest that 2-3 days is about the right amount of time here.

Amritsar – golden temple and the border show. Can be done in a one full day journey if time is tight but the people and food are so nice you will want to stay more.

Aurungabad – Ellora and Ajanta caves…absolutely stunning. Two days is about right. This was the surprise for me, had never heard of them but were the highlight of the trip.

Hampi – absolutely fantastic with so very much to see, need about 2 full days but will want more as the people and place are so good.

Jaipur – this has 3 forts, temples, a palace and all the old city walls and is again worthy of about 3-4 days depending on your schedule and timings. Jaipur is in Rajasthan and most of Rajasthan is pretty similar with forts and palaces etc. They are all different but are also very similar so if time is against you Jaipur would be my pick.

Ooty – the Indian blue mountains (Nilgiris) with a toy train ride to boot. Stunning scenery and clean by Indian standards.

Udaipur – we loved this place. The water and lakes make it very different to the other sights you tend to see. If you come in early in the morning you could see everything in a day and a bit so one overnight would be about right..add an extra night if you want to hit the fort and Jain temples which are a bit of a way out. We stayed for 6 days and enjoyed it all but most people will not have as much time.

The end.

My list would leave out 2 key ones on almost everyone else’s list and they are

Goa – a must for beach goers…we could have skipped it. It was nice and we had a good time but unless you are in dire need of sand and water it could be skipped.

Kerala – the cruise of the back waters was nice and a good treat. Our cruise was probably a bit long and one to two nights would be about right. There are afternoon cruises but you stay in the main channel with all the boat traffic.

Great if you have extra time

Now if you have a little more time available then these are my choices for good second tier spots with nice attractions, people etc

Darjeeling – tea fields, toy trains and the Himalayas on a clear day.
Hyderabad – an Indian city that is really trying to get it right.
Jaisalmer – desert, fort, safari. Nice if you have the time.
Jodhpur – nice place..very Rajasthan with forts and palaces.
Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip at the edge of 3 oceans
Mumbai – beautiful architecture, the gateway to India and Elephanta island.
Pondicherry – the French parts

Nice if you have LOTS of time

Mangalore – still the best food I have eaten in India (just not much to see)
Cochin – a nice afternoon but not too much to see
Trivandrum – good zoo and some nice architecture
Bangalore – not too much going on here

Don’t even bother

Bhubaneswar – caves and temples…not that fantastic and the experience is wrecked by the lying and cheating of what feels like almost everybody in the town. The worst that India has to offer.

I have left New Delhi off this list entirely because my experiences in New Delhi were entirely terrible. I came to Delhi 4 times (including transits) and had an atrocious experience each and every time. I may have been entirely unlucky…or it may well be the worst capital city on the planet, full of lying cheating scoundrels. Alas as New Delhi is a major transport hub you may just have to stop here to get to some of the nicer parts of India. Should you wish to do such a trip then I will let you form your own New Delhi opinion and would be happy to hear it.

I will leave the India topic with a few of my favourite moments…

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And my all time favourite moment…was…

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Farewell India…it has been an experience…

 

 

 

 

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The Deep South

Having prised ourselves off the houseboat we continued our journey south to Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivendrum). We checked into the best ranked home stay on trip advisor. It was great…we arrived in the heat of the day, hot, sweaty and a little dehydrated. Were met by the owner who took us through our room and then we settled with the other guests…in the sitting room, in the breeze, under the fans with a cool beverage. We felt very colonial. The gang staying there was lovely and we chatted, shared stories and (headed out with Simon and Ann a Brit couple riding bicycles around India) shared meals.

We headed off the next morning to the zoo which was surprisingly much better than I imagined. They were largely in open pens and in good condition. The exception to this was the big cats that were jammed into cages with concrete floors. It seemed as though there was a fair bit of construction going on so hopefully they are working to address the cage situation…one open style pen was finished and housed the lions. The up side to this was that we arrived at feeding time so got to experience lions, tigers and cheetahs crunching fresh chicken carcasses. The sounds made as their powerful jaws splintered the bones of the chickens was something to behold. the other standout to this was the exceptional hedge art that was on display at the entrance.

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As per previous posts…it is hot here. We arrived at the zoo at 9am and hung around until about 11 and wandered out. Now the zoo was a leisurely stroll, largely in the shade and with a light breeze. By the time I had walked out there was not one dry section left on my shirt. I had a moist bandana to cool me off but in the shade and the breeze I still managed to sweat my way through a shirt in under 2 hours. So much so I stopped on the side of the road, bought a new shirt, stripped off and changed while a bunch of Indians stared at my Canberra tan.

The next journey that we had was the hunt for the Manjadikuru seeds. Now my family know these well as they are the seed pods with the carved elephants in them. For the rest of you the Manjadikuru seed is hollowed out and filled with small carved bone in the shape of elephants. The seed itself is about the size of a pea…it has a carved elephant shaped cap and inside is a number of elephants. The number and quality of elephants depends entirely upon when you bought the seed. If it was bought in the last few years there are 4 elephants of poor quality, a few years before that you could get 12 of better quality within a single seed. I grew up with one purchased by my grandparents that had 100 carved elephants of excellent quality within (I believe my mother still has this in a jewellery box somewhere). Due to generations of busted eyes these are no longer available as the carvers have been banned from doing such fine work.

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The next stop was to Kanyakumari which is the southernmost tip of India. As you stand on the point you look out over the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue which dominate the southern tip however the key thing is the intersection of the three water bodies. The Bay of Bengal to the east, laccadive sea to the south and the Arabian Sea to the west.

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The hotel that we stayed at was perfectly located, although a little bizarre. The urinal cakes in the shower drain and the cartoon mural on the bathroom door (of Japanese anime characters) were a touch odd. That evening we headed to the rooftop to watch the sun set over the Arabian Sea…the next morning we were on the same rooftop to watch it rise over the Bay of Bengal. This is a pretty nice concept any way you look at it.

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For the facebookers amongst you this has been seen. For the others this cute little fella was what turned up when I ordered a Kebab from a Kanyakumari restaurant. The image does not do it justice so I will break it down for you. The base is a mix of capsicum, cabbage, pineapple carrot, a lemon wedge, onion, cucumber and tomato. Our little friend is a curried chicken kebab (off the stick) covered in an unsweetened meringue (fluffy texture) underneath a tube of spun sugar. The eyes were grapes. This was wrong on every level.

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