Friday, May 15, 2009

Lakshadweep Diaries 1

Our Group




So my second internals were over, and barely a week remained for the second sem to get over and the preparatory holidays for the sem exams began. The summer heat was also getting unbearabable and I longed for a holiday. Thankfully, my parents longed for it much before me and we had started planning a holiday to Lakshadweep islands way back in march.

So after days of endless waiting (made even difficult by the file submissions and exam pressures), the day for our departure finally came on 24th April. We were a group of 14 people i.e. 4 families who have been neighbours long enough to outgrow the term ‘neighbours’ and are more like one big family. Trust me, the larger the group, the holidays get even better. And the fact that made it even better was that we were going to Lakshadweep ON A SHIP!!

But the ship left from Cochin/Ernakulam in kerala and we had to first go there by rail. We were supposed to leave Margao station by Mangala Express at 7.25 pm but the train actually left at 8 pm, in a true Indian railways tradition. And after a pretty uneventful journey, we reached Ernakulam Junction railway station, somewhere around 10 am. The ship was to leave from the Jetty at Wellingdon island the next day (26th April) and we had already booked rooms in Maruthi Guest house near the jetty for the night. So we hired prepaid rickshaws from the station to the guest house.

This was my first time in the city and on the way to the guest house, at first, the city looked like any other south Indian cities. The ubiquitous posters of the south Indian movies with heroes who looked more like uncles were all there. So were the local lungi-clad men and gajra-flaunting women. Didn’t look like the city would have much to offer. Man , was I wrong!!

Anyway, we checked into our rooms and had our lunch at the hotel’s restaurant. The ship was to leave the next day and so we had an entire evening to see cochin aka ernakulam. The city is blessed with a vast network of waterways and ferry is the best way to get around the city quickly. Ferries travel between the various jetties at regular intervals and the fares are as cheap as Rs.2 per adult!!

We first took the ferry from Wellington island to Mattancherry. Mattancherry houses the traditional Jew town area of the city and also the historic Dutch Palace. Some of my group fellows bought cow boy style hats here. Jew town is a traditional settlement of immigrants from Israel who settled here over the years. It was an interesting place with it’s rows of exquisite antique shops and vintage architecture. The Dutch palace was actually built by the Portuguese for the Maharajah of cochin(then known as ‘cauchin’) and is now a museum. Just that the dutch happened to renovate it after that. Other then the murals painted on its walls, it wasn’t much exciting to see it but with single digit ticket fares, it doesn’t hurt to see a part of our history, does it?

From Mattancherry, we took the ferry to Fort Cochi area of the city. On the way, we also caught our first glimpse of the ship that was to take us to lakshadweep the next day- the MV TIPU SULTAN. It looked majestic!!

Anyway, Fort cochi is famous for the Chinese fishing nets. I must say, the Chinese fishing nets were very ingenious. In these, a group of fisherfolk lower a net horizontally in the water using a very clever wooden contraption. After a few minutes, with a few rhythmic oscillations of their butts and lots of muscle power, they pull the net up and the fishes which were swimming above the nets just a moment ago get caught. The nets have been used here for decades now. One can’t help thinking—are the fishes so stupid so as to come to that area so faithfully to get caught year after year??!!

Anyways, from there, we were back once again on the ferry, this time to the main Ernakulam city. The ferry station at Ernakulam city was bigger then the other ones. And it was on this ride that I first discovered that the city had a lot to offer. From the water, the city looked modern, with it’s skyline rivalling that of the best Indian cities, may be even a few foreign ones. We didn’t have much time left to return, so we had a meal in the Indian Coffee house and then went on to do some shopping at the Bay Pride Mall nearby. I bought myself a pair of Philips Headphones for 599 bucks. The electronics shop at the mall had some interesting products like the flexible rollable keyboard, USB powered fan etc. From here we went to Penta menaka mall which had literally hundreds of shops selling nothing but mobiles and related accessories. I don’t get the point—doesn’t it make sense to set up a shop in an area with little or no competition instead?!

After that, we came back to the hotel, had our dinner for the night, and went to sleep. AFTERALL, WE WERE GOING TO BE ON THE SHIP TO LAKSHADWEEP THE NEXT DAY!!
for more on lakshadweep, visit www.lakshadweeptourism.nic.in

1 comment:

  1. Very well written. A PERFECT BLEND OF U R BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS AND MOODS OF THE NATURE BEING CAPTURED IN THE PICS AS WELL IN WORDS.A helpfull article for all who would like to visit lakshwadeep

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