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Monday, 22 March 2010

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India - Page 7

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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When we arrived at Thiruvananthapuram’s (also known as Trivandrum) airport near the southern tip of India our driver, Arun, was magically waiting for us even though we’d given him the wrong arrival time and flight number. Arun works for SITA and was very personable, spoke English well, and was the source of great conversation throughout the trip. I told him we wanted to do a bit of sightseeing in town before heading out to Varkala beach, so we stopped to look at Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple (non-Hindu’s cannot go inside) and then explored the city palace museum which had some beautiful ivory pieces including a basinet made entirely out of ivory, some nice paintings, and a large throne-like chair adorned with huge crystals from Slovakia.

 

We stopped in a small café for chai and kulfi (traditional saffron and pistachio ice cream) Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Boltonand then went to the waterfront to both the India Gate and the Taj Mahal Hotel across the street from it which was one of the places targeted in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. While most of the hotel is in excellent shape, they are still working on part of it and there is now a huge security operation before you can enter the hotel – every bag is scanned in an airport style scanner and you must go through a metal detector to get through. Once inside you’ll be welcomed by a cool marble lobby with many plush sofas and a series of very expensive shops.

 

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay BoltonOne of our favorite stops in Mumbai was at a Jain Temple with its incredible marble sculptures and the sound of the Jains’ rhythmic chanting. The Jains are a relatively small group in India, but have been very successful. They are strict vegetarians and follow a tradition of non-violence. While we were there a large group of women was gathering for prayers and it was mesmerizing.

 

Beaches, Ashrams, and Backwaters: Exploring Kerala (& Mumbai), India, Arabian Soul, guest house in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum, Claufouty Café, Harmony Restaurant, travel kerala, Amritapuri, Amma ashram, houseboat cruise through the backwaters, Kumarakom, Cocobay Resort, Kochi, Cochin, Malabar House, Kathakali dance performances, Chinese fishing nets, yoga and Ayurvedic retreat centers, Mumbai travel, Bombay tours, SITA, sita tours, Christina Kay Bolton

 

Mumbai is a very alive, energetic, youthful city. The main problem with it is its stand-still traffic. It took us almost three hours to get back to the airport as we went at rush hour (which is tough to avoid as it lasts several hours), but our excursion was definitely worth it.

Kerala is the place to go for relaxation and unique culture, but Mumbai is a place to stop to experience the cultural melting pot of India – with people from all over the country of every ethnic group and religion who’ve come for jobs or schools. With its waterfront location, it is almost an Indian version of New York City.

©Christina Kay Bolton

Details:

Tours and Drivers:

SITA: http://www.sita.in/

Hotels:

Arabian Soul, Varkala: http://www.arabiansoul-india.com/ 500-3000 rs/night (approx $10-70)

Amma’s Ashram, Amritapuri: http://www.amritapuri.org/ 300 rs/pp/night (approx $7)

Houseboat: Lake Land (book through SITA) http://www.sita.in/

Cocobay Resort, Kumarakom: http://www.cocobayresort.net/ 3000-10000 rs/night (approx $70-200)

Malabar House, Cochin: http://www.malabarhouse.com/ Rates change with dates, around $250.

(Page 7 of 7)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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