When we returned to Chellarkovil from Periyar Tiger Reserve, we felt a little pang that we had to leave the next morning, so peaceful was the place that we wished we could spend days together there. But then, if you were to live there everyday, would it still hold the same charm? Funny life, isn’t it?
With such philosophical thoughts, we stretched ourselves for an afternoon nap and some rest. That was followed by a walk around our homestay owner’s kitchen and spice garden. We were impressed when they told us all their vegetable supplies came from their own garden.
A cup of not so great coffee and some rummaged-from-the brother’s-travel bag dip tea later, we walked to the Chellarkovil Ecotourism centre.
Chellarkovil Ecotoursim Centre – For a better planet !
The Chellarkovil Ecotourism, as per the website, is an initiative taken up by the village in collaboration with the Government of Kerala. From our homestay, it was only a 5 minute walk. We went there at 5 PM, so there was nobody around except for the guard.
According the website, the centre conducts guided ecotours, spice tours and the like. The best part of the eco tourism centre is their watch tower from where you can get a great view of the hill range and the plains. The cool breeze on top of the watch tower is the icing on the cake. You really feel on top of the world !
From the vantage point of the watch tower, you can see the entire eco tourism park, a cluster of green stretching before you, dotted with pretty flowers entwining cute huts, lovely sights everywhere !
The information board listed a telescope too but we were told it was not yet functional.
They also have a shop that sells spices and other home made products, the outlet was closed by the time we went there.
There are a variety of trees and plants, fruit bearing, flowering, herbs, medicinal plants and so on. Taking a guided tour should be interesting.
We spent a pleasant hour at the ecotourism centre walking around and practising some close up shots of flowers. What we managed to capture was not even a speck before the beautiful flowers ! We left at 6 PM, just before the closing time.
The rest of the evening was spent relaxing outside our cottages and chatting into the night. A very simple dinner of greens and rotis wound up our day spent in total serenity.
From hills to plains, scenic Kerala reigns !
Early next morning, we waved a bye to Manayath Heritage, Chellarkovil and Thekkady, we had a wonderful time and would love to go back there again. A parting shot of our homestay for some memories.
We were headed to Kumarakom. Our cab drivers had insisted that we start atleast by 6 AM but by the time the kids and senior citizens got ready and we started from Chellarkovil, it was past 7.30 AM, our check in time at Kumarakom was 12 noon and we had 5 hours to cover 130 kms. Our homestay owner suggested that we could stop for breakfast at Mile 36, most junctions/areas around Thekkady seem to be referred by mile numbers, Mile 36 was one such junction. We had breakfast at Hotel Rani, Mile 36 of which town we don’t know ! The breakfast of Parota and Appam served with vegetable kurma and egg curry, a delicious memory !
Soon, we were driving through some amazingly scenic landscapes. The weather was lovely with a light rain, the scene on either side of the road was a flash of bright green.
A short distance away, a waterfall cascaded down the mountain slope. We got down to take a picture, outside the car, the breeze was cool and it was drizzling, the sound of the water flowing down in the background, it was a moment of sheer bliss !
An hour or so later, the mountains grew distant but we continued to get glimpses of some breathtaking views of the Western Ghats and the valleys. At a particular spot, clouds were descending onto the mountains, clouds covering mountains is always an unbelievable sight !
We drove on leaving the mountain range behind, the plains took over, as we reached Kumarakom, coconut trees, backwaters and canals began to make an appearance. We could see hundreds of houseboats lined up in the backwaters, we were going to stay in one such houseboat at Kumarakom. The excitement began to build up as we approached the boat jetty. There were a few confusing moments trying to locate the jetty, none of us understood Malayalam and couldn’t follow the route instructions of the houseboat in charge, even our cab drivers who spoke chaste Malayalam somehow couldn’t make out the route.
It was amusing how we always managed to lose our way whether the car was our own or a hired one ! We found ourselves in a muddy, village road that was so narrow that there was no space to even turn the car around. The cars had to be brought out of the road in reverse the entire distance ! Luckily, half way through, we met someone who broke into a smile the moment we told him we were heading to the boat jetty to board a houseboat and gave him the name of our boat and the person in charge. He asked us to follow him and took us right till our boarding point.
Turns out, he was the Master/Captain of the houseboat we were going to stay in ! Then we understood the reason behind his knowing smile, it’s a funny world !
We’ll tell you how it feels to stay in a houseboat in our next post.
– Information on Chellarkovil ecotourism is available at their website http://chellarkovilecotourism.com
– The ecotourism centre is open till 6 PM, we didn’t check what time it opens ! There is an entry fee of Rs.30/- and a separate ticket of Rs.50/- for the watch tower and telescope. Since the telescope was not functional when we visited the place, we didn’t pay for the watch tower and were allowed to just climb up and see the views.
– If you are interested in guided ecotours, you can contact the centre at the numbers given in the website.
– The best time to visit Thekkady/Chellarkovil is post monsoon season but usually the stay and other deals are expensive, off season is when you get some very economical deals but you may miss seeing Kerala when it is most beautiful. Take a call on what you want to trade off. We were told during the monsoon time, Idukki district of which Thekkady, Chellarkovil, Periyar Tiger Reserve are part of, receive very heavy rainfall and you may not even be able to step out. Though we went in the rainy season, like everywhere else, this year the monsoons were not very heavy and we had pleasant weather throughout.
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