Cycling Through Kerala: India Travels Part 4

January 3, 2023: And we’re off! Day 1 of a four-day bike ride through Kerala with my sister @naomicb98 . This part of South India is lush, tropical, and steamy. It is, as the Kerala tourism bureau says, “God’s Own Country”. Perhaps it is because every mile or so there is a Hindu temple or mosque or Syrian Orthodox, or Jacobite or Roman Catholic Church— but few forts or palaces and grand structures as in the north. We crossed the Periyar River in a ferry that looked as if it had been crossing the river for centuries, cycling through bustling villages with names like Perumbavoor and Pukkattupady to a quiet resort on the banks of the river. #kerala #indiatravel #cyclingkerala #happytobehere @spiceroads

Getting set up with our bikes in Puthencruz, about 15 miles out of Kochi.
We always stopped for chai mid-morning.
Kerala is incredibly lush at almost every turn. A woman walking in Ernakulam
one of the hundreds of roadside chapels
Near our first night’s hotel, Whispering Waters
To cross the Periyar River, we took this ferry which looked like it had been transporting people for centuries
A Hindu temple along the way. Note how different the letters are in Malayalam from Hindi.
More lushness in Chelamattom
The sign reads: Brihath Nandi (the Great Nandi). Installed with blessings from Kanchi Kamakoti Peetom. Commencing Brihat Nandi with Shower of blessings from Lord Shri Aimury Mahadeva .45 feet hight from the base. Installed in 2009.
View from Whispering Waters, our first night’s hotel on the Periyar River, near Thodakayam

January 4, 2023.

Bike Ride Day 2. Traveling through Kerala is a reminder of Where Things Come From. Food and spices are growing abundantly – pineapples, bananas, papayas, guavas, mangos, ginger, turmeric, henna,tapioca, rambutan (a South Asian fruit, the translucent pink bell fruit, all manner of chilies. The word Kerala means Land of Coconuts and they are everywhere and form the basis of the food the way corn does in Mexico. And though not a food, rubber trees are ubiquitous—the tapped trunks are everywhere producing the latex sap. Hibiscus is bountiful and the leaves are used to make shampoo.The man pictured- George- has a delightful homestay on his family’s farm that is now in its fourth generation. He explained how over the generations they have rotated crops from coconuts to rubber to a mix of other fruits. We had dinner with his family- a traditional Kerala meal cooked by his vibrant 90-year old grandmother. For more about this most delightful and welcoming family, check out their website here. I love this comment from their website: The farm gets its name from Mr. Ulahannan Ouseph who strived hard to bring the family to its current status. Ulahannan, the Malayalam equivalent of John owes its origins to its Hebrew word Yochanan. #kerala#indiatravel#keralagram#happytobehere#traveling @farmnhome.

Four generations of the Moolasseril family.

At the pineapple market in Muvattuphuzha


Dinner with the Moolasseril family. The 90-year old grandmother still does all the cooking. They are at once very modern and very traditional, like all of Kerala

Pineapples growing on the family farm
a bucket for collection of rubber sap or latex
Sunset from a hill on the family farm
Turmeric Root
Our guide, Abi, often stopped along the road to show us native fruits and vegetables as well as local artisans

January 5, 2023. Bike Ride Day 3: I am continually struck by the new and the old—Kerala is one of the most progressive, educated states in India and we have seen far less of the extremes of poverty here. Yet it is devout and traditional- religious chapels every few feet, 80% of marriages are arranged. And one of the very few states that is crazy about fútbol, so lots of Messi billboards. We got off our bikes and spent the afternoon and night on a houseboat- a magical float through the Alleppy backwaters-one of the highlights of tourism here. And of course, we are very well fed-our Indian hosts everywhere have been extraordinarily gracious

Floating on the Pamba River and hearing morning prayers
Houseboats, a popular tourist attraction in Kerala
Lunch on the houseboat — for two!!
along the backwaters
When we stopped for the night, Naomi and I got off the boat and went for a walk. Had a lovely chat with these two gentlemen
Egrets in a rice paddy near the river
Kerala is one of only two states in India where futbol is popular, and boy is it! Posters of Messi and Ronaldo everywhere
Fishing from the shore — the same the world ’round
Sunset on the backwaters
Even the locals get to relax once in a while

January 6, 2023: Bike Ride Final Day 4: We made it back to Kochi over flat roads along the coast, passing through busy villages and many evangelical churches bursting with the music of ecstatic prayer. We stopped to visit a woman who weaves coconut mats, spinning each coir thread painstakingly by hand (see video). We stopped to visit a group of men who were making a paste of jaggery, which tastes like molasses and is from cane sugar boiled over an open flame, much as it has been done for centuries.

a loom for weaving mats out of coconut fiber that has been spun into threads
Hand spinning coconut fiber into threads for mats

boiling jaggery
Jaggery paste
Abhilash showing us how peppercorns grow

As always, a trip is made memorable by the people I meet. Abhilash, our guide, was ever-pleasant and patient, taking time to show us, plants and spices and churches and artisans along the way. Sekhar, our driver, the Keralan Henny Youngman, filled water bottles and fixed flats always with a wink and a smile. Thank you @spiceroads for giving us these two for four days and allowing us to see Kerala through their eyes.Now off to the mountains for two days, then home to snow! #keralatourism #kerala #indiatravel #travelgram #india #cyclingkerala

A flat tire replace in the blink of an eye
Along one of the canals in Kerala
Celebrating a fabulous trip back in Kochi

7 Replies to “Cycling Through Kerala: India Travels Part 4”

    1. Thanks for reading, Nancy. I had previously only posted on Facebook and wanted this to live in my blog too. Trying to get back into being a more regular blogger. Really appreciate your taking time to read and comment

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Periyar River is not only a source of livelihood for many people living in its vicinity but also holds a significant place in the cultural history of the region. The river has been mentioned in many ancient texts and is believed to have played a significant role in the development of the region. The river is considered sacred by the people of Kerala, and many temples and shrines are situated along its banks.


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