India - Kannur: we loved it the first time - and again the second time!
After my ayurvedic treatment we were ready to travel around for the next 3 weeks. Our original plan was to take a train from Aleppey north to Mangalore and then a bus to the pilgrimage town of Udupi. But after 3 weeks of being kind of away from the real world doing the treatment and living in a remote fishing village in Kerala, I simply could not face the "hardcore" travelling in India which would have meant to take a crowded train for 10 hours and a bus for 1,5 hours - only to stay for 2 nights and then another 6 hours through curvy mountain roads to reach our preebooked lodge in the Western Ghats for christmas. So we decided spontaneously to travel the lazy way (which still was not really lazy). We loved Kannur the last time so much and we have not seen all we wanted to, so we decided to go back to Kannur.
In the beginning, one challenge was waiting for us: we only got a general class ticket and were the last on the waiting list. This means in India: you can travel on this train, but you may not have a seat. Oh yes, this was right. The train which left at 6.25 am in the morning was crowded. So we had no other chance than sitting in front of the toilet at the open door of the train (like this we got at least some fresh air ;-)) on our backpacks. For the first 2 hours, we somehow even managed to sleep a little bit (sitting on one backpack, hugging the second smaller backpack and leaning the head on you knees - this comfortable kind of sleep, I mean). Then, in Ernakulam, a lot of people got off the train and we were lucky to catch two seats. Perfect. 2 more hours of sitting was pure luxury. Unfortunately, in Thrissur, some people came with a reservation, so it was 1 hour of standing. At that time, the train was so
crowded, we did not even have a chance to sit on the ground. At least later, we got 2 seats again. But no luck for me though, as I was sitting beside a lady with a baby. The baby, for whatever reason, did not wear diapers. Do I have to explain more....... Finally, it happend - the baby needed to pee. And here I was, squeezed in between people on a seat, not being able to jump up early enough as so many people were standing around me or hanging over me: I was sitting in a lake of baby pee. Well, at least Markus was having great fun watching my face..... Hahaha, it is all part of the experience...
Finally, after 8 hours we reached Kannur (my pants were already dry again at that time). As we have learned our lessons last time here, we denied the expensive offers of the taxi drivers and walked out of the train station to catch a cheap rickshaw on the main street. Easy thing to do, the driver even put on the meter! Again we were staying near Thottada Beach. Unfortunately our favourite homestay (KK Homestay) was already fully booked, this time we stayed in the Sea Shell Haris Beach House . It is a really nice and decent place with a great view on the cliffs towards Kannur. We had a nice but a bit noisy room (just beside the kitchen). And the food was simply amazing! So we were really happy that we had come back and just enjoyed our first evening with a walk on the beach, a great dinner and some freshly squeezed fruit juices.
The next day, we were still a bit lazy. We walked around the village towards Thottada Beach. This beach is simply stunning - it is clean and empty (a bit more crowded on weekends though) and it is no problem to be on the beach in a bikini. How wonderful is that! For 3 weeks I always had to wrap myself in a sarong after swimming. And now we could just let the sun touch our skins. We did some meditation and Yoga on the beach, walked along the shore for a while till we happily went back to the homestay. We showered and dressed up for the temple. In walking distance in the village there is the famous Adikadalayi Sree Krishna Temple. It is always important to be dressed correctly. Otherwise, as non-Indians, you may not be allowed in the temple. So I was wearing a traditional Salwar Kameez (long shirt and loose trousers for women) and Markus was wearing a dhoti. And indeed we were allowed to take part in the whole ceremony (Markus had to enter the temple bare chested - this is very common in indian temples for men). It was very nice although we had to get used to the strange looks of the locals who had never seen westeners taking part in the ceremony. But we tried really hard not to make any mistakes and in the end, on the initially sceptical faces of the people we could see some smiles.
As we had not been on the backwaters around Aleppey this time (this is too expensive and too touristy for us), we decided to hit the northern backwaters in Kannur. But not on a tourist tour - we decided to do this by public boat and combine the trip with a visit to another very famous pilgrimage spot: the Parassini Madippura Sree Muthappan Temple. By rickshaw we went from our homestay to Kannur town and further on to the Valapattanam Bridge from where a public ferry goes to the temple. Well, we had no idea how many ferries go there per day and when. We just had to trust Haris, the owner of the homestay, that there will be a ferry. We got off the rickshaw at the bridge and went to the ferry "terminal" which was a small shed. 2 men were hanging around who did not speak any english. Somehow we managed to find out that the next ferry would be at 12.50 pm. OK, one hour of waiting is not to bad. And it was true, the ferry arrived on time. It took us 45 minutes to go to the temple through the backwaters. We did not see any other boat and no tourists at all - it was a really remote backwater feeling with beautiful scenery. And it was cheap! Just the noise of the ferrie's engine was disturbing a little bit. But, hey, this is India. We arrived at the temple and had 1 hour for visiting the temple before the last boat was going back to town. That was enough time. The temple was really busy with a lot of pilgrims (it can also be reached by bus and car - but the boat is, of course, much more romantic). Again, we were allowed to go inside the temple which was really beautiful. In the temple there were around 40 - 50 people. But outside about 300 people were queueing for something. We asked someone and he explained to us that free lunch is been given to all pilgrims. How funny is that! Only a few people come here for praying, but all are running for the food! So much about spiritual India! Well, we did not queue for the food. After some meditation in the temple, we went down to the ghats to wash our feet (and to wash away our sins ;-)), browsed through the shops in front of the temple and bought some fresh fruit which we enjoyed on the boat trip back to town. From Valapattanam Bridge we decided to take a local bus to the bus terminal. That was fast and cheap. From the bus terminal we took a rickshaw back to the homestay. It was a very nice day really "off the beaten track" and we can highly recommend it. And it is a cheap trip! We only payed 390 Rupees for both of us.
In the evening we went down to the private little beach of the homestay for some yoga and a sunset swim in the sea. And then it was already the last evening. We enjoyed a huge dinner and some more delicious fresh fruit juices before packing our backpacks again. Time to move on to our destination for christmas....