Hope that you are all keeping well.
Well this is my last week in Fort Kochi and Saturday morning should see me arrive in Mysore on the overnight bus from Ernakulam if all goes to plan.
This week in Fort Kochi has been pretty laid back, but I’ve been able to get more into a routine of doing my yoga practice each day which has been nice as I’ve always struggled to do it on my own and always preferred to go to a class, but here I’ve been able to just take a mat up onto the roof in the early morning or evening when it cools down and work though some routines and postures and I definitely feel better for it as it has helped with a bad lower back that I seemed to pick up somehow last week but it’s gone now, also the running has felt easier this week and I’ve been able to get out 4 times in the morning and run between 5 and 8 kilometres and even increase the pace a bit.
Early morning and evening walks here seem to be a popular exercise routine with a lot of people getting out around 6 in the morning and walking briskly around the same route I use for running, I do see more people out running here than I did in Goa though, and one guy joined me for a couple of miles during the week and introduced himself which was nice as it was nice to run with someone else.
The highlight of the week so far has definitely been a visit on Monday morning to Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple which is about a hours drive from here just the other side of Ernakulam.
I had seen a poster saying that there was a Hindu festival going on this week which involved 15 elephants and two hundred drummers, and as I had yet to see any elephants since arriving in India I wanted to take the opportunity whilst I could, the man that organised it I had met before as he runs the Kerala Kathakali centre here where I went to see a traditional Kerala show and attended few morning yoga classes, so he was our guide for the morning and explained a lot about the temple itself and the festival which goes on all week.
So on the Monday morning 4 of us from the home stay here and one other that we picked up nearby set off though the morning traffic to the Temple, the traffic wasn’t too bad for India and it took about an hour to cover the 6 or 7 miles to the Temple.
On arrival parking was difficult so we got as close as we could, then parked and had a short walk to the Temple. On my previous visits to Temples, we would just leave our shoes outside but here they gave us a ticket to reclaim them on the way out, We arrived at just about the right time as they hadn’t started to adorn the elephants for the festival yet and it was great to be able to get so close to them and watch them and their handlers as they were prepared for the festival, it also allowed me time to have a look around the Temple which is fairly big and observe some of the worshipers as they entered the Temple.
The elephants were bought up 3 at a time to be draped with elaborately jewelled headwear, it takes about an hour for all 15 elephants to be prepared for the festival.
There are now strict rules as to how the elephants are looked after in India and although there are morning and evening processions each needing 15 elephants, 30 elephants are needed so that they are each used only once a day, and they must be provided with shade when they are not actually in the procession, there were handlers preparing coconut leaves and feeding them and constantly cleaning up after them while I was there. They did have chains on their back legs which didn’t hinder their walking but would stop them from being able to charge with so many people close by in a confined area.
When the procession started it was just 3 of them that walked around the Temple with the one in the centre carrying an image of Lord Vishnu ( Protector of the Universe ), I was surprised that people were able to get so close to the elephants as we walked around the Temple ( I will put a few pictures up on the blog site ) actually close enough to touch them but I didn’t see anyone do that. After the circuit of the Temple the 3 elephants joined the other 12 that had been lined up under a shaded part of the Temple and the drummers finished off the celebrations with around 10 minutes of drumming.
It was a spectacle that I’m glad I got to see and will definitely be trying to see more elephants whilst here, hopefully in some of the wildlife parks in India.
On the Tuesday here I decided to get the ferry from Fort Kochi to Willingdon island which is a man made island between the main land and Fort Kochi which was built by the British and finished in 1939 and used as an airstrip and port during WW2.
Today there is very little on Willingdon except for the port and a hotel that is used mainly for when the cruise ships dock but it was nice to get over there for a look around although it did seem to confuse the Tuk Tuk drivers who are probably just used to ferrying people from the cruise ships between Fort Kochi and Ernakulam and not just out ” walking” around.
Thursday so far has just been going around Fort Kochi this morning and saying good bye to a few people I’ve met here, mostly shop owners who have sold me something or stall owners long the front, as I’ve been here quite a while they have come to recognise me and rather than try to sell me something will just have a chat which is nice.
So tomorrow night it will be off to Mysore on the overnight bus from Ernakulam which will be a different experience and I should arrive on Saturday morning, so I will update date this from there and publish it.
Hello again everyone
It is 0900 on Saturday and I’m currently sitting on a wall opposite Mysore Palace updating the blog as although the hotel isn’t far from here check in is at 1300 so this is a good opportunity to get this done.
The final day in Kochi went fairly quickly and I started the day with a final run there and some yoga before breakfast at what had become my favourite place to eat in Kochi called the Breath Inn and run by two Japanese women and the food is delicious, I will miss it, I also had a late lunch there and said goodbye before going back to the room and relaxing until it was time to leave.
The bus to Mysore didn’t leave Ernakulam till 22.50 so there was no rush and I eventually left after saying goodbye to my hosts for the last month and failing to order an Uber as it wouldn’t go through for some reason, I ended up getting a Tuk Tuk instead at 20.00 over to the bus station in Ernakulam, on the way though Ernakulam I noticed how different it looked at night and realised that I had never been over there at night whilst being here but I don’t think that I missed too much except more shops and restaurants.
On arriving at the main bus station it was going to still be a couple of hours till the Mysore bus was due and the station was quite busy, but as people left I eventually found a seat and was kept amused by the same 4 Indian music videos on a loop all with the same theme “Boy meets girl Boy woos girl” and that passed some time anyway.
As it got closer to the time for the bus to arrive the guy next to me started talking to me and introduced himself and was helpful in finding out that my bus was inevitably late and directing me to the right bus as it can be quite confusing the first time in a large Indian bus station.
The bus eventually arrived 40 minutes late and we were away but again even though seats were allocated there was someone already in my seat asleep as well as taking up the seat next to him but he woke up when I moved his feet off the seat, fortunately he got off at the first major stop which was only a couple of hours away and I was able to take my seat near the window.
In all the trip to Mysore takes about 10 hours from Ernakulam and isn’t all that comfortable although I’ve had worse, I would definitely prefer to use the train to travel around India whenever possible.
There were more stops in small villages along the way than I expected and when going over the hills ( Western Gnats ) the roads were being repaired and down to a single lane in places, so on sharp uphill bends so we had to reverse a number of times when we met other traffic.
Just as it was starting to get light I was surprised to see us entering Mudumalai Tiger reserve as the main road goes though it, taking over an hour from one side to the other, I didn’t really expect to see much wild life from the bus but did actually see a lot of deer ( brown with white spots, not sure of the breed at the moment ), 2 elephants and some peacocks I’m not sure whether they were there for people to see or if they were Tiger food ?.
After leaving the reserve it was probably only about 2 1/2 hours into Mysore and on arrival at the bus station I was immediately pounced on by Tuk Tuk drivers but I always expect that, and as I knew I wasn’t far from the Palace managed to escape them and walk here.
Since I’ve been sitting on this wall I’ve had 2 Tuk Tuk drivers approach me and say that cannabis is legal in Mysore ( I’m not sure that I believe them ) and that their was a good ” coffee shop ” nearby but when I said I wasn’t interested they left it and just tried to push cheaper hotels and sightseeing but eventually gave up.
I’m going to wrap this up here now and go and find some breakfast to kill a bit more time before check in but I’m really looking forward to exploring Mysore over the next week or so.
Take care everyone
Until next time. Regards Chris