Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to Neyyattinkara

Feb 24, Day 11 – to Neyyattinkara

Aaliyirakkam Beach, Varakala
Aaliyirakkam Beach, Varakala

After last night’s chit-chat with Ingrid and her friend, we left Varkala around 8.00am following the normal routine of having some biscuits to munch and then head out. Google Maps had suggested a route (I had picked up a walking route). Google Maps made every effort that we walk that route. It started off from Varkala then heading into a small village and then a sudden climb on a small rocky road, which could just be tread on cycle, soon the climb was little too much for us and we climbed down and followed the stretch.  It overlooked the lovely beach below through red rocky terrain laced with coconut trees with blue waters bordered with golden sands below.

Bridge near Chirayinkeezhu
Bridge near Chirayinkeezhu

Soon, we came down on a motorable road along Aaliyirakkam beach. We followed the coastline all the way till we reached Anchuthengu, where we took a left into the town, then crossing small lagoons, bridges, small and big temples, etc. We again had to carry our cycles on our shoulders when we crossed a high bridge near the town of Chirayinkeezhu and crossed the railway twice. While I was waiting for Surya to come down from the high bridge, kids in their maroon uniforms passed Surya, he too happily capturing the moments. When he came down…

ऋतु, मुझे फिर पाठशाला में जाके पढाई करनी है, क्या दिन थे वह.

We took a right again towards the west to continue on a coastal flat, straight road of around 7 km taking us all the way to Thumba! The road was a little disappointing, even though it showed in maps it was close to the beach, hardly we could see and feel the water and its ambiance. As we reached Thumba, we were stopped by a local suggesting to take another route as this was a restricted area from where “rockets fly”. He was referring to the Thumba Launch station. As we crossed Thumba, the ‘big city’ started welcoming us, first with huge residential apartments and other “Software / Industrial Parks”.  Unmistakably, we were heading into the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. We spotted a sugarcane juice vendor and we did kick off his day, his sugarcane juice even had a dash of ginger along with lime. We had our breakfast on the outskirts of TVM around 11 am in another “New Arya’s Veg. Hotel”. This one too had the same menu on the offering.

There on, we headed straight into the heart of the city, thought we could even have a glance at the famous Padmanabhawamy Temple, the temple where a rich stash of gold over ₹1000 Cr. was found in just one of the three vaults. As we roamed around the outskirts temple, trying to get through the security, a foreign couple asked me where had we been travelling from, when I answered Goa, both were stunned not just because it was really long way away but because he saw we just carried the measly backpacks with almost nothing in it. the temple’s God had a timing and we couldn’t get in. We headed straight down south for our night halt.

A typical evening in Southern India temple
A typical evening in Southern India temple

Through the heat and an evolving city, the path along NH-47 took us to Neyyattinkara which was the last big town of Kerala. We reached there around 3.00 pm where we quickly found a lodge and went through our washing chores. When we emerged from it we were ready to explore. First up, food. We had snacks of dosa, vada and tea and headed out into a close by temple where the serene surrounding relaxed us. The temple following the south Indian tradition of having a 1000 lamps was getting ready for the evening prayer. People started coming in and helping up light the lamps. It was a daily ritual which really took “team effort”. An uncle doing the same asked Surya if he could take his picture, Surya obliged. Smiling uncle responded – “facebook upload”. We smiled, Facebook has really peculated. I asked another uncle which God’s temple it is, he said Krishna, then gestured with his hands as a ‘small’. When I asked whether it was that of “Bal Krishna” his face lit up and he nodded and smiled back.

Amaravila Church, Amaravila
Amaravila Church, Amaravila

After our HIndu spiritual connect, we took a rickshaw and went to check out the CSI Amravilla church, which had closed it doors, this God like Padmanabhawamy had his timings. We came back and had our dinner at a pure veg. restaurant which served us Chettinad Paneer which was a dark gravy dish full of condiments and spice  with a rich hand of “garam masala”.

Back at the lodge, we awaited for the next day. The day when we’d reach our final destination.

Route

Varkala - Neyyattinkara
Varkala – Neyyattinkara

River Crossings

  • Anchuthengu Kayal, Anchuthengu, Kerala
  • Vamanpuram River, Chirayinkeezhu, Kerala
  • Kadinamkulam Lake, near Azhoor, Kerala
  • Aakulam Lake, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
  • Killi River, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
  • Karamanayar River, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzhas – 6
  • Ghats – 1 (which we had to walk with our cycles near Varakala)
  • Length – 65 km.
  • Time – 7 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to Varkala

Feb 23, Day 10 – to Varkala

Yet another day, and we are on our bikes by 7.30am. Leaving Alappuzha on the NH-47 (Salem – Kochi – Kanyakumari Highway) we are followed by the CPI(M) flags, banners. The road is very uninteresting, flat and straight. A little before Karunagapally, we witness an accident. An auto-rickshaw parked across the flow of the road, with crowd surrounding it. Cars, trucks and vehicles from either side waiting for the ‘problem’ to clear. A few men were helping a lady lay flat on the road, who seemed unconscious. As we walked past the crowd, a car stopped, few men helped the woman in the car along with another lady to assist her. I realized on the highway, things can turn sour in a flash. We stopped for our Pineapple juice stop where I thought we might as well help ourselves with some food. We ate some thick dosas and appams which reminded me of pancakes.

Kollam Beach
Kollam Beach

The road remained boring till we reached outskirts of Kollam, where the buzz of a big city inspired us to be looking out for some excitement or change. We asked for directions of Kollam beach and reached there around 12.30pm. When we turned in towards the beach road, we were welcomed by dark blue patch, this patch turned out to be the sea ! BLUE ! This colour of the sea was the bluest I had ever seen. I was mesmerized by its colour for a moment. But then I returned back to reality of the harsh heat of the midday Kollam sun. We headed for a beach side shade, where Surya kept chatting on the phone with his Couch surfing guests who happened to be in Varkala. After some relaxing time in the shade, we headed for lunch at Hotel Prasanthi. Here a waiter first walked up to our table, hearing us talk in Hindi, he retrieved and asked another Nepali-looking waiter to tend to our requests. Only meal (thali with rice) was on offer. It was a huge plate with 10 small bowls of chutneys, rasam, curd, sambhar, vegetables and a sweet made of jaggery.

Around 1.30 we headed for Varakala, which was around 30km away. First I had to get my height of the seat adjusted, I found a bike repair shop and got it set. Now it felt so much better! But riding in the sun is no fun. Soon on the outskirts we stop for drinking mazza and cool off. The road ahead was climbing up and down heading east, till we took a right at Chathannoor taking us westwards towards the sea. We stopped again near a primary school at Meenadu. Relaxing taking pictures of kids playing around. Some of them trying to interact with us, while most girls just shying away.

As we reached closer to the beach, the mundane scenery vanished and we were welcomed by lovely Kappil beach. Riding on a new laid road with clean markers and lines was good enough, but the blue sea on the right and backwater to the left made it special. Reminding us of Marvanthe beach in Karnataka. I took out my phone and tried to grab a video of this ride.

Road leading into Varkala was in a hilly terrain. We reached around 5.00pm and while we were trying to find a cottage suggested by Surya’s couch surfers, Surya spotted them walking. A short fellow with long blonde hair and a taller slim woman with short hair. After introductions and hi and hellos we fixed the cottage and headed for the beach. Where I relaxed in a small cove like beach which was only a hundred meter wide. It had to be climbed down from the hill overlooking the sea.

Varkala Swim
Varkala Swim

After the swim, I headed for shower back in the cottage, while Surya who had already freshened and didn’t venture into the sea went along with Ondur (the guy) and Ingrid, chatting along. I called him around 7.30 for food, when he said Ondur will come back to our cottage and we’d go for dinner. When he took me to the place, it reminded me of Aarambol. A small hilly road directly overlooking the beach below. The road full of shacks, shops, restaurants just trying to attract foreign tourists. We stopped at one restaurant which offered live music, which at best was a guy strumming something all to himself and another lady beating the bongos. The food was just as bad and we had to wait over 30 minutes to get our order of chapatis.

By the time we reached back to the cottage it was 11. Yet we continued to chat. Only Ingrid and Ondur realized it was really late for us cyclists, that we head to our beds.

Route

Alappuzha - Varkala
Alappuzha – Varkala

River Crossings

  • Kollam – Kottapuram Waterway, Thottapally, Kerala
  • Kayamkulam Kayal, Kayamkulam, Kerala
  • Vattakayal, Karunagappally, Kerala
  • Ashtamundi lake, Kollam, Kerala
  • Ithikkara River, Chathanoor, Kerala
  • Edava Nadayara Kayal, Kappil, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzhas  – 6
  • Ghats – a small one
  • Length – 115 km.
  • Time – 9:30 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to Alappuzha (Alleppey)

Feb 22, Day 9 – to Alappuzha

Left N. Paravoor around 7.30am, again crossing the backwater heading westwards for Cherai. A left took us all the way towards Vypin and southwards. The morning ride was spent singing ‘Mona Mona Gosolina’ as we reached the northern side of Fort Kochi. We had left the NH-17, which was our partner from Goa till this place. Waiting for the ferry, we had some tea and crossed the huge Lake Vembanad and landed on the shores of Fort Kochi, Kochi! Last time I was here it was on a cycle with an engine, this time without it ! It was the first time I felt that we did travel some distance and now were really into the heart of Kerala. We spent time by the Chinese fishing nets and enjoyed another round of tea.

Leaving the almost white-washed buildings in Kochi, we headed for Alappuzha along the state highway along the coastline. The same route that I had done on the motorbike. The road between Kattiparambu and Kandakkadavu was too the same ! Bad ! with just rocks, the gravel had fallen lose. Perhaps it was the sea right to it and the backwater to its left that caused road problems. Terrible road, 3 years on, the state was same. But it immediately improved. We were hungry and thirsty. We stopped at a local shop for some Mazza / Splice (mango drink) where the uncle treated us with a local orange drink filled in the Mazza bottle. When I asked him in broken English – he even replied – same! Just around the corner, I asked Surya if we should also eat something. I stopped at a local eatery, and asked / gestured to the ‘uncle’ for food. He nodded, when I asked what is available…

beef curry, mutton curry, egg curry, chicken curry, parota….

I stopped him, and asked for Veg. to which was the award winning response.

haaan.. vada, dosa, parota, kurma aur andaa bhi, woh.. baddak ka, murge ka nai

When I narrated this to Surya, he laughed and was too scared to try this eatery where the owner considers egg of a Duck as veg. !. We moved on. Further up around 11.30am, we stopped when we saw a decent baker shop for juice at Pallithode. We had Pineapple and Black grape juice, since we wanted more, we asked for Mazza, this time we sure to check if it was the original one. The owner, an aunty suggested we go to the near by Picnic spot at Andhakaranazhai Beach.

Forty Winks at Andhakaranazhai beach
Forty Winks at Andhakaranazhai beach

I remembered, the bridge and the construction by the beach, it was a tourist building with some shops, etc. We headed to the end of the beach where we found a spot beneath the trees on the sand where we found locals playing cards (probably Rummi). We rested there for some time, Surya even found time for Forty Winks.

Around 2pm, we were famished. Travelling through the inner state highway was good for the eyes but not for the stomach. We could hardly find anything good hotel to eat. Finally crossing through multitude of Churches and small villages, we decided to stop by a local eatery. Where we were served thick round rice, sambar, beetroot chutney and pickle. I pointed to Surya, a local who ate there. He made balls of rice with his entire palm, and then put the ball into his mouth with the base of his palm. The waiters both of them probably in their mid-50s were waffle thin, dark. Surya joked if he kept continuing his running and cycling trips like this one, that physique would be his future 😀

Vrundavan Heritage Home, Alappuzha
Vrundavan Heritage Home, Alappuzha
Alappuzha Beach
Alappuzha Beach

After spending an hour at the small eatery, we headed for Alappuzha which came early by 3.30pm. Around 4 – 4.30 we found a lovely 200 year old heritage home / hotel – Vrundavan Heritage Home. A beautiful old traditional home of a squarish garden right in the centre. with rooms all around it. We headed out for the beach later after Surya got his shave at a barber. At the beach, CPI party’s flags were all along, there was a football tournament with commentary and spectators. We too enjoyed the match for some time and then had some tea and snacks of pakoras of chilli and potatoes.

I found out an “Arya’s Veg Restaurant” which was 2 km. away from the beach and decided we could have dinner there. We walked almost 4-5 kms from our hotel to the beach and then to the hotel – Only to find it served the same old, short, stunted menu. I had a few dosas, parota and aloo subzi listening to the Marathi and Gujarati tourists conversations. We returned back in an auto-rickshaw. It felt awesome, the road buzzed behind, and we didn’t have to pedal ! It was a strange feeling and a comfortable one too.

Back at the hotel, the manager was chilling out with the foreigners, I asked him that if we could settle today itself since, tomorrow we’d be leaving early for Kollam. We paid him, he didn’t even bother to register our names in his log. He suggested us we stay at Varkala beach, another 20km from Kollam, which is more like Goa, so that we can enjoy more.

Today, we saw a change – the Masjids had given way to Churches, a lot of Churches. The local population too could speak better English.

Route

N. Paravoor - Alappuzha
N. Paravoor – Alappuzha

River Crossings

  • Chendamagalam Lake, North Paravoor, Kerala
  • Vembanad Lake, Fort Kochi, Kerala
  • Endless number of backwaters, Vypin to Alappuzha, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzha – lost the track
  • Ghats – 0
  • Length – 82 km.
  • Time – 8:30 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to North Paravoor

Feb 21, Day 8 – to North Paravoor

Tirur hotel tariff had a breakfast included option. And we didn’t want to miss out. However, we had to wait it was almost 8.15am when we got our room-service guy (a Nepali) to deliver Poori (almost like a bhatura) and aloo rassa (soupy like potato curry). It was yummy. But we were stuffing ourselves – generally by this time we would’ve covered 20 km.

We finally left Tirur by 8.45am. We had our first big river crossing at Chamravattom where we headed south of Bharathappuzha river. As we towards Chavakkad from Ponnani, we could figure out a change. The majestic, big bunglows were dwindling. The typical white-grey combination of colours now turning colourful and looking more local than urban. Probably the Saudi influence was lesser here.

Majestic Beach, near Perinjanam
Majestic Beach, near Perinjanam

Even though the route to Chavakkad was flat and straight – it was boring. Riding on any highway is not a cyclist’s paradise. Even in the early sun of 10.30am, it was tiring. We stopped for our traditional juice break at Chavakkad and continued south, today we had to cross the longest river in Kerala, the Periyar River and head into North Paravoor. Around noon, it was getting utterly tiring we were close to Valapad where Surya asked if there is an alternative route. Google Maps suggested that there is an inner parallel route to NH-17 that continued right till Azhikode where it showed a ferry crossing for Periyar River. If the ferry didn’t work it was max of 2-3 km. extra riding. As soon as we took a right at Valapad for the beach road, the hot and dusty ride turned into a lovely canopied and cooler comfortable road. The flat straight big tar changed to a curvy smaller route. We stopped for coconut water refreshments and continued along the coastline. This road gave me the feeling of riding through Konkan villages, where the road is small, clean, trees all around. The houses not too big, colourful. Beetel nut trees swaying along with its Coconut cousins. No sooner we were in this scenery, we started to feel a lot better. The tired legs felt springy again and with more zest to continue further and longer.

Kabaddi @ Munambam, near N. Paravoor
Kabaddi @ Munambam, near N. Paravoor

Along the way stopped near Majestic beach which was more of a rocky boundary to the Arabian sea. Had some Electral water and biscuts and continued down south. Around 2 somewhere before Azhikode we stopped for food. After which at Azhikode we waited for the ferry. There was a different queue for the cycles! On the other end at Munambam, we saw a local Kabaddi tournament. Teams from Kochi, Trivandrum, the local town, Thrissur and even from Kollam were participating. Kerala does promote sports much better than its siblings. Crossing the backwater at Cherai we got into N. Paravoor. We tried the inner city but couldn’t really find a good stay. Either it was out of our normal budget or just didn’t fit in. We decided to continue along the NH-17 and we found a hotel ‘White City’ around 6pm.

Post our wash we went to a local Pure Veg. restaurant, again the menu was same. No real veggies available. Had to do with a Paneer subzi and Kerala Parota. Back at the room, we continued our dosage of Kollywood songs. But we couldn’t latch on to something specific as last night’s Shruti Hasan movie. Sleep was dead on time by 9 – 9.30pm.

Route

Tiirur - North Paravoor
Tiirur – North Paravoor

River Crossings

  • Bharathappuzha River, Ponnani, Kerala
  • Beeyam Kayal, Malappuram, Kerala
  • Canoli Canal, Chavakkad, Kerala
  • Chettuva Lake, Chettuva, Kerala
  • Periyar River, Munambam, Kerala
  • Chendamagalam Lake, North Paravoor, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzhas – 6
  • Ghats – 0
  • Length – 105 km.
  • Time – 9:15 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to Tirur

Feb 20, Day 7 – to Tirur, Kerala

Its our 7th day of our trip, a week in total almost 700km ! Today’s stop is at Tirur, which is re-scheduled stop, the original being Kozhikode / Calicut. Kozhikode is just 50 km away and we should be there for breakfast. Leaving around 7.40am we reached Kozhikode around 10.30am. We found a good restaurant but it offered primarily Beef, chicken and other meaty delicacies. We found a Veg. restaurant unfortunately offering only standard few dishes in veg. Vada, Dosa, etc. I opted for a “Tiffin 2” a mixed bag of dosa, upma and vada. While waiting for the food, I got to a medical shop to find a Sun screen lotion. The guy at the counter began in the local hi-speed tongue. I said…

No Malyali !

to which he immediately smiled back and said

No Malayalam.

I smiled back and repeated after him. Big Mistake I had just gestured the Mallu guy – “No Mallus !” 😛 Damn !

After a fairly average breakfast, we headed for Beypore. This was going to be another ferry ride, on our way towards it we tried to find out if the ferry worked fine from Beypore to Chaliyam. But all we got were nods. As we reached Beypore, the local guys at the port said that the boat had broken down and you’d have to go all the way around Feroke and back to Chaliyam. We did another 5-7 km. extra. The route from Feroke was coming off NH-17 wandering along coastal villages and then reaching Tirur, which itself was 8-10 km. west of NH-17.

Surya’s cycle had its first and last problem here, somewhere before Parappanangadi. We heard a breaking sound near the rear wheel of Surya’s bike. Surya stopped to check each spoke, one had given way. The rear wheel too seemed a little out now. Rest everything seemed fine, and we continued cautiously. Had another round of Pineapple juice near Parappanangadi and continued.

Around 4pm, on the outskirts of Tirur, we stopped at a cycle shop where the guy helped us re-align Surya’s rear-wheel. We asked if we should replace the spoke, he said

No worry ! 1 spoke – 2 spoke no problem – जाऒ दिल्ली – no problem

He kept talking about his stint in Mumbai as a labourer and how costly our cycles were, He was astonished to know about its price of over ₹10K. He offered us tea and asked us to sit and relax. He didn’t even charge for re-aligning Surya’s wheel. We paid him a tenner and got into Tirur town, where we first stopped at a Pure Veg. Olive Restaurant for snacks and tea. While having tea the owner suggested ‘Sangamam Residency’ which was just in the lane behind the hotel.

Sangamam Residency by the back water
Sangamam Residency by the back water

At the hotel suggested, we finalized the ₹1035 tarrif and were happy to see a fairly big room, well lit, airy and clean. TV too ! After our baths, went downstairs to backside of the hotel to see the sun setting behind the backwater flowing adjacent to our building. Then it was the road to get the feel of a town. A procession went on, a few tigers (men colored as yellow and black stripes) danced along with crowd following them, some of them dancing to the hindi song of ‘Mere sapno ki rani’.

Bikes in the Audi
Bikes in the Audi

After roaming in the market and walking along the railway station we got back to the same restaurant, had our food and went back to the hotel where Mr. Unnikrishnan (the hotel manager / owner) helped us lock our bikes in the auditorium. He also answered our question about the awesome bungalows that we’d been discovering.

Back at the hotel, it was Shurti Hasan! We switched on the TV going through a thousand channels showing guys with heavy stubble dancing crazily ! With the heavier female leads following their steps. Surya commented.

एक चीज़ नोट करो, फीमेल और मेल के same steps होते हैं. ऐसा नहीं की females का थोड़ा sober dance step होगा

We checked few more songs and his hypothesis was up-voted. I also noted that for the females, the face was least shown! And, unlike the hindi promotional / song channels, the southern channels aired the complete version of the song 4min+ songs – complete. Nothing went to waste. We went through multiple songs like Rajni sir’s Mona Gasolina and the current hit Adhaaru Adhaaru and others until we finalized on a tamil movie with Ms. Hasan as a bio-chemist trying to prevent a epidemic. Beautiful Shruti and her over acting (probably forced as Surya again analyzed) continued till we were dead into sleep.

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Route

Vadakara - Tirur
Vadakara – Tirur

River Crossings

  • Kuttiyadi River, Iringal, Kerala
  • Korapuzha, Elathur, Kerala
  • Mampuzha, Kozhikode, Kerala
  • Chaliyar River, Feroke, Kerala
  • Kadalundi River, Kadalundi, Kerala
  • Poorappuzha, Pariyapura, Kerala
  • Ponnani River, Tirur, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzha – 7
  • Ghats – 0
  • Length – 100 km.
  • Time – 8:30 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: to Vadakara

Feb 19, Day 6 – to Vadakara, Kerala

Getting up without the alarm was now a norm, and similarly mounting on our bikes by 7.30am. We took a right after Pilicode leaving the highway on the left and heading towards Payyanur. The inner roads obviously peaceful and the early morning ride meant getting to see lots of young students mostly in their primary grade leaving for school. Typical uniform was dark shorts and light chequered shirts for boys and for girls same dark coloured dress with a gray jacket. The lively children were always a pleasant sight to watch with them extending their hands to give a clap to the riding travellers. Girls didn’t do that they just had a smile which they tried to hide.

We joined NH-17 at Payyanur and soon we left the NH at Pilathara. The road just kept going through small villages where we saw आलिशान bunglows each with a unique design and really well maintained. The small villages were plush with small malls, furniture shops. Each village seemed to be independently developing. The bungalows never stopped fascinating us, I found a very typical colour scheme though – White and shades of Gray.

By the time we reached Pappinseri, we were dehydrated. Even though the ride was through early morning, we kept going at a faster pace not really stopping for drink breaks assuming it was cool enough to ride harder. At Pappinseri we had a glass of Sugarcane juice. The pleasure that it gave to Surya was evident on his face. We couldn’t say no to another big glass. Loaded with 2 glasses of Sugarcane – the sugar rush prompted us to ride faster and harder.

We reached Kannur around 11.30am, having covered almost 60km. We stopped for our brunch. It was too late to have just breakfast and we were famished. The waiter was nice to ask

English ? Hindi ?

We had a nice comfortable conversation with him about the road, places along the way, etc. Leaving after an hour long break we reached Thalassery around 1pm. We rode along the beach. This trip was wonderful in a way that the national highway itself takes you along the beaches, first Goa, then Karwar, Marvanthe, now Thalassery.

Thalassery Park
Thalassery Park

We were tired and got into a beach side park where we relaxed in the shade of the trees and enjoyed the breeze from the sea. As we dried I suggested we might as well fill in our stomach with little so that we can do the next 20 km to Vadakara in a stretch. Just next to this park was another public park where we found a beach side shack serving refreshments and snacks. First up, we ordered juices, me going with my pineapple and Surya with orange. Then we asked him about veg. food (In Kerala unless you tell the guys you want veg. food, they’ll start with non-veg dishes). He listed standard veg. snacks of vada, etc. then his eyes lit up as he said

Gopi Chilli and Gopi Manjuri !

It took us a moment to realize that Manjuri was a reference to Manchurian. We had to order it this time, so did we with fried rice. Even though we didn’t want to go the Chinese cuisine – we had no choice. His Gopi was not a Cabbage the normal ingredient in Manchurian balls, but it was Cauliflower, with big pieces of the vegetable lathered with the brown chilli like sauce seemed to be the most popular dish in south India.

After our first encounter with Gopi Manjuri we headed southwards, first we checked out the Thalassery fort, which wasn’t much. It was more of a chillout zone for school kids who either had bunked or waiting for their periods to start

A little further we crossed a very beautiful and clean Mahe river. We noticed on the board, that Mahe was part of the Union Teritorry – Puducherry (Pondichery). This meant a lot of liquor shops! Vadakara wasn’t far, by 5.20 we were looking for lodging. The lodge we found had a common TV viewing area with benches neatly laid for viewers to experience the nuisance called the TV.

After our long ritual of cleaning, we headed into the town for tea, food and some touristy destinations that it offered. First we roamed to find medical shop to purchase skin creams to keep my घमोरी in check. Then checked out the railway station hoping to be a small lovely one like Murudeshwar was a quite well built one, we disheartened finally got into a veg. restaurant where a busy, dark, thin waiter offered the only veg. dishes as vada, dosa, nai roast, masala dosa, tomato fry, chilli gobi and gobi manchuri. We couldn’t brave another gopi dish so went for tomato fry.

Schedule replanning
Schedule replanning

At the lodge, we re-planned our itinerary as we were running around 60kms ahead of our schedule. Our new plan was as follows

  • Vadakara – Tirur – 90 km
  • Tirur – North Paravoor – 100 km
  • N. Paravoor – Alappuzha (Alleppey) – 80 km
  • Alappuzha – Kollam – 90 km
  • Kollam – Neyyatinkara – 90 km
  • Neyyatinkara – Kanyakumari – 70 km

Route

Nileshwar - Vadakara
Nileshwar – Vadakara

River Crossings

  • Thejaswini River, Nileshwar, Kerala
  • Perumba River, Payyanur, Kerala
  • Vayalapra River, Madappuram, Kerala
  • Kuppam River, Pazhayangadi, Kerala
  • Valapattanam River, Kannur, Kerala
  • Kaanaam River, Kannur, Kerala
  • Anjarakandy River, Dharmadom, Kerala
  • Kuyyali puzha, Thalassery, Kerala
  • Mayyazhi puzha, Mahe, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers / Puzha – 9
  • Ghats – 1
  • Length – 100 km
  • Time – 10 hrs

Goa – Kanyakumari Cycle Trip: into Kerala

Feb 18, Day 5 – to Nileshwar, Kerala

Last night was a mosquito mayhem. Both of us had got up a few times irritated by the insects. Yet we leave on time, and use Google Maps to zip thru the Mangalore city and get on to the highway. But the state of the highway isn’t good at all. Potholes, dirt, etc. makes the road highly tiring. Almost an hour of riding and we are tiring. Crossing the Netravathi River, Surya says, I don’t understand why Karnataka has water problem. And it seemed true whole of Karnataka, we had so many river crossings and each river seemed clean and full.

But, its Thalapady. The border of Karnataka and Kerala. We stop for our banana break and take a few snaps. We’re in Kerala! We check with the KL Police if the road continues in the same dysfunctional manner, but he says its good ahead. North of Kerala seems to have high muslim population, a lot of Masjids, Madrasas are encountered. But as soon as we’ve hit Kerala, the scenery has changed, from the slightly hilly and rocky terrains in Karnataka, its now flatter. The roads seem to have narrowed  a bit and passing through many greener patches and going over rivers / water bodies.

Most of the milestones had Kochi showing 400km+. It was one of our stops, and it felt so far! I concentrated back on the road and the immediate destination.

We reach Kasargod around 10.30 am and stop for breakfast. Here Surya encounters the Red and warm water served in restaurants. We have another round of Dosas, Onion Uttappas. We leave Kasargod for Kanhangad. Today we seem to have covered a lot of distance with another 30km for Kanhangad. Through the Kasargod town, we get to a point where we encounter a ghat, where I stopped to verify with Google Maps, to my fear, we have gone more than 8km off road towards the east from Kasargod instead of South. Surya decides we’ll take the ghat route and join back on the NH-17 near Udma, there was no point in doing the bad hot city road again.

Coming from the Easter ghat of Kasargod, we land up in Udma cover almost 20 km. Had we gone the right route, Udma was just 5kms. There on at every small town that we encountered I was checking Google Maps. We reached Kanhangad around 2.15pm. We stopped for lunch which seemed like a good restaurant. It was AC, when I entered it I immediately stepped out. It was way too cold for us cyclists riding in the heat of the noon. We waited for some time and got inside where the guys had just one or two subzis and chappathi. Even for a good restaurant that with clean table cloth and nice furniture, it didn’t have much for us veggies. The food was strange, we finished it off early and wandered back on road wondering if we should stay in Kanhangad or move ahead, we thought of getting to Nileshwar.

However we thought of visiting the Bhagwan Nityanand Swami Ashram. Here an old man guided us along the ashram, showing us the 44 caves and narrating the history of Bhagwan Nityanand.

There on we reached Nileshwar which was around 12km / 30mins away. At Nileshwar we were for a shock none of the Lodges had an empty room. A resort before had an AC cottage with Rs. 3500 for a night which we didn’t want. Luckily with help of few locals we ended up finding another lodge with just Rs. 400 / night.

Boat Shaped Restaurant, Kerala
Boat Shaped Restaurant, Kerala
Red and warm water, as served in Kerala
Red and warm water, as served in Kerala

After our baths and wearing clean clothes (which seemed like we’ve been wearing all our lives) we headed to see a local temple, where people were just lazing and relaxing under a big banyan tree. Next up was food, we got into a boat shaped 3 storied hotel. We first had juice, having Pineapple juice (the first of many to come) we headed a tier below where food was served, the topmost only served Ice-cream and juices. Here with broken language and hand movements we asked the waiter-uncle to get Masala-dosa and one neer-dosa. He got us 2 neer-dosas. Later again we asked him to get something and he got something of his own choice. There onwards, we referred to Nileshwar as the place where the waiter didn’t care for our choice just ordered what he thought we ordered.

Back in the room, the bed sheet was sticky with our sweats, it was so hot and humid, we could hardly sleep with comfort. Google showed the humidity close to 90% ! With odomos on our skin and blasting ceiling fan, the night dwindled.

Route

mangalore-nileshwar
Mangalore – Nileshwar

River Crossings

  • Netravathi River, Mangalore
  • Backwater near Poyaa, Uppala, Kerala
  • Chandragiri River, Shiriya, Kerala
  • Mogral / Madhuvahini River, Mogral, Kerala
  • Chandragiri puzzha (Chandragiri Backwater), Kasargod, Kerala
  • Kalanad River, Udma, Kerala
  • Bekal Backwater, Bekal, Kerala
  • Chithari River, Kanhangad, Kerala
  • Thejaswini River, Nileshwar, Kerala

Numbers

  • Rivers – 9
  • Ghats – 1 (thanks to Kasargod de-tour)
  • Length – 110 km (thanks to Kasargod de-tour)
  • Time – 10 hrs

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