So left Bangalore on a friday evening and drove non-stop till Coimbatore with a dinner break at Salem. Covered the entire 370km distance in around 6.5 hrs and that demonstrates the condition of the tolled multi-lane highway all the way to Coimbatore. Covering maximum distance was the only criteria and we were able to achieve that with ease. The following day we got up early and headed towards Pallakad. Road between Pallakad and Coimbatore is good and we entered the state of Kerala. Visited the Pallakad fort , which was mildly interesting , but the greenery and the cool monsoon breeze made it a pleasant experience. The fort has a small temple in the centre and a functional sub-prison too. Other than that , there is nothing much to view at this place. Left this place soon enough. Thrissur was our next destination. However the route between Pallakad and Thrissur was in bad condition, with lot of ongoing road widening work.
Reached Thrissur and directly went to the Vadakunnathan Temple, which is famous for the line of elephants adorned in attractive attires during a specific festival. Unfortunately the gates to this temple closes at 11 am and we reached at 11.05 :P. Hence had to content ourselves from the outside. From here we started towards Athirepally falls and in my opinion its one of the best falls in India. This falls has been made famous by a lot of movies such as Bahubali (where they have added a lot of special effects on top of the original) , Raavan , Dil Se etc. The route was a pleasure to drive from Thrissur, including a drive through forest. Reached the forest entrance, paid the required fee and then walked towards the falls. The first view of the falls i.e. the upper side view takes around 15 min easy walk from the road. The falls drops from nearly 100 ft and is really breathtaking, kinda like a mini Niagra, with the width of the falls more dominating than the height. From this viewpoint one has to take a steep 15 min walk to reach the base of the waterfalls, from where one gets the lower front of the falls and without doubt the best place to experience the falls. Due to the onset of monsoons the falls was brimming with capacity and the entire base was shrodded with thousands of droplets drifting from the main falls. However no one was allowed to take bath directly under the falls.
From the falls our next destination was Kumarakom, where we had booked a houseboat for the night. In my previous visit to this area I had gone to Allephey and hence decided to explore the backwaters of Kumarakom. In comparison Kumarakom is a lot quieter, with fewer house boats running through the backwaters. It has a more village feel to it in comparison to the city feel offered by Allephey. However reaching Kumarakom might be a bit tricky, if not having a private vehicle at ones disposal. We enjoyed the view of the huge backwater lake and were accompanied by hundreds of ducks which were flying and feeding along with the houseboat. In short Kumarakom was much was soothing and relaxing than Allephey.
The following morning after the 2 hour boat ride in the morning , we left for Trivandrum. One unique thing about Kerala is that the entire state is highly urbanized and you dont get the feeling of riding on an isolated highway. At any section of the highway there would be houses flanking both sides of the highway, unfortunately leading in higher traffic density and narrow roads. We reached Trivandrum by noon. Only thing we wished to visit in this place was the famous Padmanabhaswamy temple, which has been in headlines for value of the treasure found in its underground vaults. Since we had still some time we decided to visit the famous Kovalam beach. This beach is unique for having black sand and was pretty neat and clean . Spent some time in here and had our lunch.
We were back to Trivandrum sharp at 4.30pm when the temple doors open. This temple has one of the most strict security measure I have seen anywhere, and even eclipses the airport security measures. You have to deposit pretty much everything. No phones, camera, remote car key, fitness band etc. And one is expected to strictly follow the dress code. For men its white dhoti and for women its either sari or a white dhoti wrapped around the waist and no salwar etc. We came across a temple representative and he acted as a guide detailing the history and mythology of the temple. The temple was huge and very beautiful from inside. The kings of Travancore believe that the main deity of this temple is the actual ruler, and they are just the caretakers on his behalf. Hence because of this reason all the taxes collected would be deposited in the temple and this has resulted in such a huge stockpile of gold and other precious stones.
From Trivandrum , it was again through the narrow highways of Kerala and by nightfall we reached Kanyakumari, the southern tip of mainland India.