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Old 24th October 2010, 00:19   #1
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Default Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Ah! Its getting closer to Christmas. People have started to talk about the annual year-end shutdown and for me its time to start thinking about locations, start date, end date and join the dots on google maps. Approx time at places, night-halt locations, things to do, buy, eat, see. Its usually a mix of hills/beaches/meeting-relatives/circular-trip. Its actually an annual event starting from my US trip a decade back. And now its transformed into a family road-trip in our year old Sparky.

Last year it was Chennai-CBE-Malabar-Coorg-Hassan-Bangalore-Chennai and this time we had thought of coastal Karnataka/Goa. However after the Mumbai trip and going thru KA recently and 3 months since last Kerala visit (which will be 5 months by Christmas) has made us to go to Kerala. And this time its going to be Southern Kerala. It was always my wish to go on a drive from Parasala to Manjeshwaram but I will take in KL section by section and this time I am targetting Kollam-Alleppey-Kottayam-Idukki from Thenmala to Chinnar.

Getting to Thenmala = 650 km via Madurai (25th) and
Getting out at Chinnar (into CBE to Chennai - 700 approx) (Jan 2nd)

That would leave me 6 days in KL with 650 km to do as below. Plan to meet supremeBaleno at Mavelikara, wife's friend at Oyoor, relative at Charumoodu, Aranmula, Munroethuruthu (go in and out of Ashtamudi for a 1/2 day cruise) Shaktikulangara church, Shastamkotta, Ambalapuzha.

Need info on:
1. Other big and important churches? I know they just jut out like castles in the air from within the rubber estates and are omnipresent but still.
2. I would prefer KWTC and take a 5 buck ticket - need info guys! Do they operate from Kollam bus-stand jetty to Munroethuruthu?
3. Will I get the mirror - any info on this guys?
4. As I look at the map I see I am not going over the hill much. I know there is a beautiful Kumily-Munnar road - all on the high-range, but is the following connections available.
a. Punalur-Achenkovil
b. Achenkovil-Sabarimala-Vandiperiyar over the hills? Or is it that its not possible over the hills and one has to come to Pathanamthitta go up to Sabarimala, again come down go to Kanjirapally and then again up to Vandiperiyar?
c. From Vagamon is there a hill road to Idukki Dam (Is it worth the effort to go to the dam?) or is it I need to get down to Erattupetta and then climb via Muttom?

I would not mind if I am invited to t-bhp homes during the festive season Plan to eat kakka-erachi from kall-shap.

All suggestions/advices/must-dos/visits/eats/temples/churches/route-change-suggestions due to bad road/better sights if I took a detour/hotels/restaurants/country-markets/phone-numbers/etc please let me know. Looking forward to it.

Thenmala, Kerala to Pooppara, Kerala 685619 - Google Maps

Last edited by jeevmenon : 24th October 2010 at 00:25.
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Old 20th December 2010, 11:21   #2
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

I am sure people missed reading this Just four days left to vrooom...
I have to include Trivandrum, to a relative's place. So please answer the above questions and also the following:

1. From Tirunelveli can I take the Pechiparai dam into TVM? Or Do I go till Nagarcoil and get in via Parassala?

2. Is Thenmala worth visiting?

All Nedumangad hills are 500m above msl and so would get heated up. So maybe not worth it to get into Bonocaud or Agasthyakood.

3. In Pathanamthitta district (50% forest) can I get into Konni/Ranni areas?

4. Which routes to be careful and avoid in Kollam/Kottayam?

I am driving to and within Travancore for the first time. Help and tips.
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Old 20th December 2010, 18:16   #3
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeevmenon
That would leave me 6 days in KL with 650 km to do as below. Plan to meet supremeBaleno at Mavelikara, wife's friend at Oyoor, relative at Charumoodu, Aranmula, Munroethuruthu (go in and out of Ashtamudi for a 1/2 day cruise) Shaktikulangara church, Shastamkotta, Ambalapuzha.
Our Wayanad trip is not yet confirmed - in-laws worried about A-Star doing it up the hills and wifey scared of any road-trips after the Innova accident at Cochin which took 5 lives. So, if this does not happen, I should be either at mavelikara or Kollam - do post your finalised schedule here so that I know when to expect you. If we do Wayanad, then I will be out 26-29 Dec. The other places you mentioned are close to each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeevmenon
Need info on:
1. Other big and important churches? I know they just jut out like castles in the air from within the rubber estates and are omnipresent but still.
2. I would prefer KWTC and take a 5 buck ticket - need info guys! Do they operate from Kollam bus-stand jetty to Munroethuruthu?
3. Will I get the mirror - any info on this guys?
1. Not too much into churches - but like you said, they are all over the place.

2. I have seen ferries going about in the Ashtamudi - and there must be one to Munroe Thuruthu too. You can take Sparky also along on the ferry.
There are also speedboats and houseboats (1500 per hour) at Kollam.

3.Never bought an Aranmula mirror myself, but I am sure it is available - it is kind of a cottage industry there. Check out the Aranmula chundan (snake boat) when you are there. It is parked (berthed) in its 'garage' on 1 side of the Chengannur-Kozhenchery road, the other side being the Pampa river. The Maramon convention is held on the Pampa river (at that time of the year, there is no water, just sand).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeevmenon
I would not mind if I am invited to t-bhp homes during the festive season Plan to eat kakka-erachi from kall-shap.
If you happen to do the Alappuzha-Changanachery road which I am told is quite scenic, there are lots of good 'family' kallu-shaaps enroute with awesome range of food.

More as I remember.
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Old 21st December 2010, 23:45   #4
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Thanks sB. I have your phone number. I will be leaving TVM on Sunday towards Kollam. Will call you to exchange status on Saturday or so. Thanks for the info, I will take a printout of the same.

Btw, does anyone know a good place to eat breakfast on the NH around Trichy and lunch around Tirunelveli. A2B? A good place with clean rest-rooms, petrol bunk, roti/chappati/curry. I plan 2 stops around these.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 07:01   #5
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

'Family' kallu shops - what are they? (I will be doing that route in about a week and a half's time!)
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Old 22nd December 2010, 09:45   #6
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

The normal kallu-shaap (toddy-shop) is an all-men affair, where a woman/family would not dare tread. These family kallu-shaaps cater to the families - so you can go with wife/kids etc and enjoy the wide spread of dishes that these places dish out. Some of the best tasting food in Kerala is found in kallu-shaaps.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 09:54   #7
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeevmenon View Post
Thanks sB. I have your phone number. I will be leaving TVM on Sunday towards Kollam. Will call you to exchange status on Saturday or so. Thanks for the info, I will take a printout of the same.

Btw, does anyone know a good place to eat breakfast on the NH around Trichy and lunch around Tirunelveli. A2B? A good place with clean rest-rooms, petrol bunk, roti/chappati/curry. I plan 2 stops around these.
I am not aware of any break-options between Trichy/Madurai/Tirunelveli sector. Within Tirunelveli, you may find hotels at the main circle who serve meals. Average quality.

I am not aware of A2B in this region. Is there one?
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Old 22nd December 2010, 10:15   #8
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Can I get toddy at these shops (and drink it without fear of grave illness)? Also, I'm happy to live life on the wild side in terms of going with street food when on this trip, but, would it be taking it a step too far on the wild side in terms of gastro/delhi belly issues to go with these shops?
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Old 22nd December 2010, 17:51   #9
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Food should not be an issue at these places.
Toddy - stick to good toddy-shops - the family ones should be safe.
Other places, it is better avoided as what is served is anything but toddy.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 18:12   #10
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Thanks SB! Looking forward to putting together my travelogue. The fun begins on Friday.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 23:01   #11
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

You do get Aranmula Mirrors in Aranmula, there is a famous establishment which makes and sells, but I don;t know their name.

This s teh worst time to be travelling in the Sabarimala area because of teh pilgrim season. All roads to and fro are choked, so I would advise you to keep it for another occasion.

There is a Punalur-Achencoil road on teh way to Sabarimala.
You can go from Sabarimala to Vandiperiyar, but you need forest dept permission to go through, it is a very narrow and forested road. Not sure if they will permit during the Sabarimala season.

You can connect from Sabarimala at various towns directly such as Erumeli, Kanjirapalli, Mundakayam, Ponkunnam, Pathanamthitta, Tiruvalla & Adoor.

The shortest route from Vagamon to Idukki Dam is via Kattapana direct to Cheruthoni/Arch Dam/Painavu. You do not have to go south to Erattupetta and Muttom, which is the longer route.

There is no road from Tirunelveli to Trivandrum via Pechipara Dam, that is a mistake in Google Maps. You have to come via Nagercoil to go to TVM via Parassala (NH47).

Tenmala is a nice place, popular for its Eco-Tourism Park and its dam where you can do boating.

On the TVM-Nedumangad-Palode-Tenmala road, you can also cover Ponmudi which is off this road. Bonacaud is attractive only if you plan to trek to Agasthyamalai and not otherwise.

Konni/Ranni are all accessible by road. You can take the road from Punlaur via Pathanpuram towards Kanjirapalli to reach these places or alternatively come via MC Road running between TVM and Kottayam.

There are no good restaurants on the way from Madurai to Tirunelveli and the new T'Veli bypass is absolutely bereft of any facilities. There are several good petrol pumps on NH7 though. No BPCL Ghars though after Madurai AFAIK.

SH11 between Alapuzha (near Kalarcode) to Changanaserry is one of the most scenic roads in KL, bordering the Kuttanad/Vembanad backwater region. Recommended if you wish to connect from the coast (NH47) to the interior highlands (MC Road & beyond).
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Old 22nd December 2010, 23:09   #12
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

You do not have to go to Tirunelveli to go via Tenmala.

Turn off NH7 at Thirumanagalam (after Madurai) and go via Srivilliputtur, Rajapalayam, Kadayanallur, Tenkasi & Schencottah to enter KL at Aryankavu and proceed to Tenmala, where you have teh option of going to either Kollam (via Punalur) or TVM (via Palode & Nedumangad). Lovely route, but it is messy going via the TN towns of Srivilliputtur & Rajapalayam and roads are not teh best of form after you start climbing up the hills before Aryankavu.
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Old 22nd December 2010, 23:34   #13
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Thanks HVK. Now its getting clearer. I know I can go via Rajapalayam to reach Tenmala. However, I am trying to make the most of the NH7 till Tirunelveli and then divert (avoiding the TN towns you were mentioning.) I would love some scenic route than the dry Nagercoil route. So how is the Tirunelveli to Tenmala route? It should be worth it. Is it as bad as Mettur-Mysore road?

This way I come down via Palode but get up to Chadayamangalam, Oyoor on the MC Road and then into Kollam via Chathanoor.

Maximum coverage in Kollam district.

Further is MC Road better than NH47?

Further from Kollam - Sasthamkotta - Charumoodu - Mavelikara - Aranmula - Kottayam - Ettumanoor - Vagamon - Kattapana - Painavu - Munnar - Chinnar - Coimbatore. Uff! Its gonna be hell of a drive.

And I missed the Kuttanad drive.

Moreover a drive to Kozhikode on New Years Eve from Coimbatore. Wow! Just cant get enough of Malluland. Plan plan plan... Just thinking about it gives so much joy.

Last edited by jeevmenon : 22nd December 2010 at 23:37.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 00:14   #14
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

@wheretonext, have a fun and safe trip.

@jeevmenon, as much as I love driving, just seeing your whole itinerary tires me.

A Chennai - Palghat drive awaits me tomorrow (today actually since it is 12:11AM now) - then a train/bus journey to Mavelikara. Spend X'mas with friends/family.

Maybe a Wayanad trip after that. If not Wayanad, it would be church-hopping - my FIL seems to have vowed to visit almost all major churches in Kerala on buying the car. Funny thing is he insists on doing them in the order he made the vows. So Bharananganam (St.Alphonse) has to be done before Arthungal, inspite of the latter being on the way to Wayanad.

Anyway, give me a call when you start off from Tvm and we will plan things.

P.S. : In our part of Kerala, MC Road is 100x better than NH47. Not sure about other parts of Kerala.
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Old 23rd December 2010, 00:31   #15
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Default Re: Christmas 2010 in Southern Kerala: Suggestions needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar
Turn off NH7 at Thirumanagalam (after Madurai) and go via Srivilliputtur, Rajapalayam, Kadayanallur, Tenkasi & Schencottah to enter KL at Aryankavu and proceed to Tenmala, where you have teh option of going to either Kollam (via Punalur) or TVM (via Palode & Nedumangad). Lovely route, but it is messy going via the TN towns of Srivilliputtur & Rajapalayam and roads are not teh best of form after you start climbing up the hills before Aryankavu.
I did this route with wifey in 2005 IIRC and the roads in TN were a dream. I especially loved the stretch from Tirumangalam - is that NH245 ? Its just a 2-laned highway, but mostly tree-lined and very less traffic. The nightmare began on entering Kerala with roads almost non-existent + quite some Sabarimala traffic - took me ages to reach home.
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