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Old 28th July 2010, 17:33   #76
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Wow...that was one wonderful narration, loved reading through it, you have some good skills. Enjoyed every minutes of it hear
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Old 28th July 2010, 20:02   #77
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Originally Posted by csentil View Post
Or for that matter Kodai Road which is even closer.
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Lovely travelogue. Thanks for sharing. Any reason why you did not want to get down at Dindigul on your way to Kumily, I thought its easier that way.
Both of you are right. As stated earlier I agree that . For some reason this had never struck me until I boarded the train and by that time it was too late to change the cab bookings.
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Old 28th July 2010, 20:46   #78
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There is a good website for the Periyar Wildlife Reserve.

Periyar Tiger Reserve -Thekkady, Kerala, India

They give complete list of all the activities that you can do there. Bamboo rafting, Camping overnite in the jungle.

I for one have done the Jungle walk from 10 PM to 1 AM twice. Its absolutely amazing. Just 6 tourists ( my set of 4 and a Belgian Couple), 2 guards and a forest ranger. We got stuck due to a herd of elephants and had to shoo them away and then run from that place to safety.

The most unbelievable part was this happened in a place that is normally so crowded during daytime. Its where the bus/vans are parked on the road near the boat jetty!! Normal crowded places during daytime is so scary when it is pitch dark and there's only the sound of the jungle.

Its Rs.500 per person and its worth every bit of it. You need to be pretty fit physically and tough mentally to do it. The leeches are the least irritating of it, though they give you something like a canvas socks and a torch light

A lucky foreign couple got to see a tiger pretty close to Aranya Nivas when they went for the same night trek a day before.

During the day trek we got to see Indian Wild dogs (Dholes or Sennai, literally Red dogs) hunt down a deer. First time I've seen an actual chase and kill in the wild. This was pretty close to the boat mooring.
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Old 29th July 2010, 01:33   #79
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And I thought a “bornless chicken” was called an egg. Well I guess this to some extent solves the riddle of which came first – the chicken or the egg. That stuff actually tasted good, so I won’t complain. From our table we have a good view of the pool.
on second thoughts again

Man, you have good narration skills and good sense of humor. The way you have gone about your vacation is very different. You must have come out a man with fully recharged batteries.
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Old 29th July 2010, 12:04   #80
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And I thought every self respecting hotel in Kerala had a nice bar. For a novice coming into Kerala, that’s how you identify when you’ve reached Kerala – half the white boards you see on the road will say “Toddy” and the other half say “Bar”. This is just a harbinger of the events to come.
I'm really surprised you didn't find a bar. Your description of the white boards is pretty much true.

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Ever noticed on how the scenery changes as you enter Kerala, especially from TN? And this is irrespective of your mode of travel. If you’re travelling by road, then the flat bushy landscapes of TN slowly change to pristine green mountains and plains. If you’re flying the brown landscape below turns to all green and if you’re in the train you suddenly start passing through forests. You see a lot palm trees and mud brick houses.

On the other hand, if you’re coming by road the good roads disappear and suddenly it’s like driving on the moon. Your car could go into one of the craters (pot holes) in the road and disappear only to appear a few meters down the road. You start seeing a lot of people in mundu / lungi. The average age of vehicles on the road suddenly multiplies by a factor of 10.

If you guys have anything else – add on. This is all in good humor.
^^ Very well put together thoughts.

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Old 30th July 2010, 11:09   #81
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Thekkady is a place which I have left out. Will club with some temple visits around Madurai and then followed
by Thekkady. Lots of info there. Thanks for sharing.
You are most welcome ampere. Thekkady is a wonderful place. I have not tried anything on the wild side of Thekkady so that is another reason for going. Check out csentil comment on the 6th page.

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Wow!! Lovely travelogue SafeDrive. Your narration is awesome.
Thank you very much addyhemmige

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Originally Posted by Majic View Post
Wow...that was one wonderful narration, loved reading through it, you have some good skills. Enjoyed every minutes of it hear
Thanks Majic. Are you by any chance a magician?

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There is a good website for the Periyar Wildlife Reserve.
I envy you csentil. Yes, the wild side of Thekkady is something that is missing here. Thanks for bringing it up. I was also interested in the treks but had to back out as my wife and son were not. Someday I will.

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Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
on second thoughts again

Man, you have good narration skills and good sense of humor. The way you have gone about your vacation is very different. You must have come out a man with fully recharged batteries.
I think it's more observation of the little things. There was a huge crowd at the restaurant that day but my family was the only one that was laughing at the bornless chicken.

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I'm really surprised you didn't find a bar.
I was very surprised too. Kerala without a bar - unbelievable.
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Old 30th July 2010, 14:22   #82
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Smile Thekkady - Day 3, part II

Went back to the room and crashed onto the bed. I’m on vacation ain’t I, so I can afford the afternoon nap. Wake up and have a cup of coffee (we ran out of tea bags). Working in an office that provides me free coffee and tea is probably responsible for this. I need a cuppa every morning and every afternoon. Need to get out of this habit and fast.

We leave the resort and walk towards the theatre (can you call it that?). On the way we pass through the front of Cardamon County and see this.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0342.jpg
^^ Yup, gotta get my free bees. (Looks like it’s not just Club Mahindra).^^

We’re early at the place as I want to see the Kathakali makeup being applied. The place has two sheds – brick and cement structures with asbestos roofs. The one in the front is the place for Kalari and the one behind is for Kathakali. It’s around 05:15 and after asking at the front we move back to have a look at the Kathakali make up being applied. We’re unable to find this as none of the doors are open and so we go back to the front and ask again. This time someone comes with us and opens the doors. We enter the room and are escorted towards the stage, There are some parts of the costume on the stage.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0343.jpg

The makeup is happening in a room behind the stage. We can see it happening though a door but I want a closer look. We remove our footwear and go up on the stage and onto the room. The story for today only has two characters, a male and female. They are both played by men. There are very few women who take up Kathakali. We are provided with some chairs and I observe for a while and then we start talking. This is one advantage of knowing the local language.

The male character has been putting on his make up for some time now.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0344.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0345.jpg

All the makeup is done by the artist himself, i.e. except for the beard. That is done by a makeup man. And by the way the beard is three or four layers of paper.

For the makeup, all the colours used in the make-up are obtained from natural substances and herbs. For example, the red and yellow colours are made by powdering stones like Chaayilyam and Manayola. A mixture of lime and rice flour made for white. The green colour was made by mixing some powder to the white (so much for the herbs I guess). Coconut oil was used as the base for mixing these stone powders. While I did see them rubbing some stones to get the red and yellow, the rest is information that I gathered from them. They seemed to be using some sort of thin stick (only as thick as a broom stick) to apply these colours. The total package takes a few hours. We were there at around 05:20 p.m. and the male character already was in the above state as in the previous picture. When we came back for the show at around 07:10 he was still not completely done! And for the women reading this here’s something to use against your husbands/boyfriends when they complain the next time on the time you take to get ready. In Kathakali, the male characters require around twice the time to get ready as the female characters!

“So, are there schools that teach you this?” “Yes.” “How long does it take to learn this?” “6 years.” What!!! That’s a B.E. and a M.B.A all rolled into one. Six long years and that’s not all. As we talk more on school life, I get to know that a typical day for them starts at around four in the morning! And end time? Late into the night. Six years of this to learn this ancient art, their dedication really needs to be appreciated. I also learn that they’ve travelled around the world performing and that most of their trips are during Onam. He’s even been to Vietnam one year. The lessons are also based on the seasons. So for one particular season (I don’t remember which), their early mornings are spent doing eye exercises to perfect their eye gestures. The next season it’s something else.

“And your performances?” “Well they are mainly for festivals.” “You mean like Onam?” “No, more for temple festivals. We do get bookings for Onam also but they’re mainly from abroad.” I’ve seen these scenes of performances for temple festivals in some Malayalam movies but I really had no idea on the scale. These temple performances are all night affairs. They can start around eight or nine at night and go on until the wee hours of the morning. That’s how long it takes to tell a story in Kathakali! Add to that a few hours to get into costume and that gives you an idea of what these folks go through. I suddenly have a new respect for them. My only prayer is that they make enough money for all the studying they did and all the effort they put in.

It’s time for me to shut my trap as the main person that I’ve been talking with starts putting on his makeup. He’ll be playing the female role for the day.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0348.jpg

It’s time for us to move to the Kalari side as the show is about to start. On the way out we take a picture of the hall.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0350.jpg

You can see them applying makeup behind stage.

Next – the Kalari show.
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Old 30th July 2010, 14:46   #83
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Yes, with family it is not very easy especially the night treks. The day treks are also nice but one has to walk a lot and its not even 10% as thrilling as the night ones!!

The boat rides are pure luck. Usually the first boat ride in the morning and the last one in the evening are pretty good. Its better to take the smaller Forest Department boats as they are smaller, make less noise and will get you closer to the shores.

However the bigger boats especially the double decker ones (the one that had an accident) offer a better and higher viewpoint and you can certainly spot more.

Unfortunately a lot of tourists tend to scream and shout when they see animals, which is not good. The animals are used to the boat engine noises but are scared to hear human voices especially as sound travels clearly over water.

Its just sheer luck to see animals. I once went on the first boat ride didn't see anything, took the next one and saw almost all the major ones that are there to see except the big carnivores.

The funniest and most irritating part is when people complain and argue with the forest guards that they were not able to see animals. Its a forest and not a zoo, one guard shot back once... If you want to be assured of seeing animals go to the zoo he said!!! You will get to see sad looking animals, sometimes malnourished and just slouching around without much to do.

Anyways sorry for hijacking the thread. Thekkady is such a lovely place. I want to visit it atleast once a year but being stuck in the rat race its not that easy!!!
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Old 30th July 2010, 14:50   #84
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Was this part of the Mahindra package?

I feel pity for the guys that after so much hard work for 6 years and more they get just enough for survival. May be reason for dying art.

Waiting for the show pics.
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Old 30th July 2010, 18:01   #85
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Anyways sorry for hijacking the thread. Thekkady is such a lovely place. I want to visit it atleast once a year but being stuck in the rat race its not that easy!!!
Go right ahead csentil. This is very useful information for people doing a search on Thekkady.

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Was this part of the Mahindra package?

I feel pity for the guys that after so much hard work for 6 years and more they get just enough for survival. May be reason for dying art.

Waiting for the show pics.
Mahindra is not a package. It's a timeshare. I had to pay Rs.250 for the Kalari and Kathakali.

My feelings exactly for those guys. But I believe they are doing quite well.
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Old 30th July 2010, 18:10   #86
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I agree to Safedrive and taureanbull. We are not preserving our culture and heritage. There's nothing wrong in aping the west. But not at the cost of one's roots.
There was a cultural exposition in trafalgar square that my wife and I went to. In an open air auditoria, the chinese show-cased their martial arts, music and dance, all decked in traditional chinese dresses.
When the Indians came up next, they went through the routing of bollywood songs and dance. We left after a couple of K Jo film songs feeling disgusted.
Trafalgar square was packed with people from various nations till the chinese did their bit.
When the Indian "cultural" bit started, most of them left. Only Pakistanis and Indians stayed back munching samosas.
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Old 30th July 2010, 18:39   #87
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Cool Thekkady - Day 3, part III

So we walk into the Kalari place and take the seats allocated to us. We’ve not bought a ticket for Calvin so he’s got to sit on our lap. It’s like sitting on a ringside boxing match except for the fact that the ring is below ground level. When we walked into the place, there was a person lighting the lamps in the Kalari.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0351.jpg

And this is what it looked like fully lighted.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0356.jpg

The show soon starts and there is an “announcer” (unseen to us) who tells us a little bit about Kalari. The legend of Kalari traces the art form to Sage Parasurama. It’s an art that is over 3000 years old!! He even said that Karate and Kung-fu are derivates of this – well maybe. Found this on the web. “Kung-fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma - an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master.”

The movements in Kalari are inspired from nature. They take inspiration from animals like lion, tiger, elephant, snake etc. From what I understood the training is in four phases. The first part is toning the body and getting the movements right, the second part being learning combat using sticks, the third part is combat using weapons and the fourth is bare hands combat. This was a totally one sided conversation and the announcer being hidden, we could not ask any questions or get any doubts cleared. Anyway from what I saw, learning this will really make your body flexible. There was one particular part where a guy was defending himself against a person using a weapon just by using a “thorthu”. A “thorthu” is a towel used locally in Kerala.

I do not have much to write here, let the pictures do the talking.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0360.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0361.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0367.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0372.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0373.jpg
^^ They looked like novices compared to the others. Probably explains the woodden sticks^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0374.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0375.jpg
^^ They all touched the ground!!^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0376.jpg
^^ Playing with fire. I think this was done for us and is probably has nothing to do with Kalari^^

At the end of the show, we were told that we could come down and get our pictures taken with the artists. I'm not sure if there was a cost involved. We didn't go.

Sorry guys, I was too engrossed in the disaply to click more pictures. I found it absolutely fascinating.
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Old 30th July 2010, 19:49   #88
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@SafeDrive : Amazing narration mate and enjoyed every moment of your log. Makes you always realize that you are due to get out of the concrete jungle.
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Old 30th July 2010, 20:22   #89
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Beautiful symphony and symmetry I must say.

1. Between the artists
2. Between the act and the Photographer!
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Old 1st August 2010, 11:20   #90
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@SafeDrive : Amazing narration mate and enjoyed every moment of your log. Makes you always realize that you are due to get out of the concrete jungle.
Thanks shiva_shann

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Beautiful symphony and symmetry I must say.

1. Between the artists
2. Between the act and the Photographer!
For point 2, it was more the ability of the camera
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