Three friends. One goal – “Exploring Kerala”. The love for nature and exploring took us into a journey we cherish for the rest of our lives. It took us from the bustling cities to Vagamon, a pristine landscape – comfortably located in the district of Idukki in Kerala. There’s nothing like exploring a place that you visit by just being on among the locals, enjoying the culture and practices, the local yum food and all that in your own pace.
Day 1- Journey from Kottayam to Vagamon:
Train journey took us to Kottayam station early morning and then a bus from Kottayam took us all the way to Vagamon. The first look of Vagamon as soon as we got down did not reveal us too much about its beauty. We got down at the bus stand of Vagamon and started our hunt for stay places within our budget. As the time we visited was in December and it was not much touristy time – the home stay owners did add a hefty margin to their sum and we had to check more than 3 to 4 home stays before coming to a conclusion.
There was this place which was spacious enough for three of us and charged Rs. 800 per day stay which still was not in budget but we didn’t have much options. Then the next immediate thing we did was to go check out for food as we were totally hungry by then. Treated ourselves with paratha, egg curry and fish curry gravy and it was something we could remember by taste even now.
Without much further wait we set to explore the beautiful meadows of Vagamon by afternoon by share auto. The three of us got into the meadows in 3 separate directions in search of what each of us want. One went talking to nature, the other was collecting memories and I went around the beautiful meadows capturing even the tiny bits.
Now that all of us were done with the meadows soaking in all that it has got to offer. And upon suggestions from locals we wanted to go to pine forest. They said the pine forest can be reached by autos but we had other ideas. We wanted to hike all the way up the hills to the pine forest. We had to walk past villages and its pretty lanes and hospitable people who didn’t think twice to invite us to their homes.
And on the way to pine forests the real beauty of Vagamon. The beautiful tea estates are so serene and calm that one cannot go past it without sitting by the banks of a small pond in the middle of tea plantations. What a beauty!
Finally we made it to the pine forest which is like any other hill station touristy place. And to our help came the rain in the evening and it was getting dark faster so we ran out of the pine forest to catch the last bus to center of Vagamon village in which we had booked our rooms.
The bus ride was like a roller coaster and we reached a hotel nearby our stay place and we had again a finger licking dinner aapam, roti, paratha, fish curry & egg curry. Finally the lemon tea they served was real good along with splashing rain outside.
We had to return to our stay for the night.
Day 2- Exploring the pristine Vagamon:
I am that early bird during my travel since I love catching up with how the place wakes up to their normal day along with the nature around.
I took my camera gears and set out to explore the nearby areas and I was welcomed absolutely peaceful countryside scenes, ethereal churches, tiny cabin like homes – and the place wakes up real early.
Pigeons were perching on the road, the cattle grazing through, the hens, ducks & turkeys all enjoying a walk in the dew grass.
And people have already started to their work day to tea estates through the woods and peaceful lakes. After all this I had to get back to homestay to explore the rest of Vagamon with my friends and caught them in a tea shop and enjoyed a hot cup of lemon tea.
We spoke with the stay owners to arrange for off-roading in Jeep through the green meadows. The Jeep arrived and we set out to off-roading.
I must say it was totally mind blowing and I relished in the moments as I got stumped by nature – mountains, cliffs, massive landscapes and was my happy self photographing and filming videos.
In the afternoon we hiked up to a tunnel that was 5 kms long and a river flows through it. Pretty isn’t it? Yes, we walked inside the tunnel on the loose rock river bed in the direction opposite to that of river flow. Not to so pretty – but I loved every bit of it – except that as we went inside the light seemed to go off completely and we could see bats hanging upside down in roof of the tunnel. I couldn’t stop myself from being obnoxious with that creepy belief of having snakes around if bats are there.
However it was completely fun and adventurous.
Again it started to rain and we had to return before 6.30 pm to catch the last bus to Parunthumpara but we missed it and after several discussions we thought we’ll go to Allepey instead the next morning. So we stayed another night in Vagamon.
Day 3 – Journey to the Backwaters:
We set out in local bus to Kottayam and from there we took another local bus to Allepey which we reached around midday. This time we had searched our stay place in booking.com and since it said tent stay with lake view and all this for 700 per night we booked it without any second thoughts on our travel time in bus from Kottayam to Allepey.
And I must say it was one of the best places I have camped or stayed till now. The view was like this – you wake up and see its like a infinite pool. This lake Punnamada just lying there in full glory in front of you.
There were busy houseboats docking, fishermen fishing, variety of species of birds flocking all around.
That evening we took an auto to Allepey beach to see the sunset . I was very curious to see sunset in a beach since I am from the south eastern part of the country we get to see only sunrises in beach.
The auto driver convinced that Marari beach in Allepey is much more away from tourists unlike Allepey beach. It was peaceful, clean and the light was beautifully calm.
We did lie down on the sands of Marari beach. And shortly after dark it felt blissful to look up at the sky with waves crashing nearby. Later in the night we went to a cafe with beach view. We returned to our stay place eagerly waiting for tent stay.
Day 4- Lakeview Camping in Allepey:
I got up at 4 so as not to miss the sunrise directly from the skies of Punnamada lake. However it was dark which slowly transitioned to twilight like nothing be more romantic – with a crescent moon too.
Then the sun rose in full glory which was absolute delight to watch.
Then it was time for us to wrap up with the trip. So we vacated the place and started off to Kottayam Railway station.
Its not about ticking off your checklist – but to know fully what does visiting places like this put into your mind, body and soul. Here is the video that I compiled out of this travel. I am sure it will help you to get a feel of going through these places.
Simple experiences are one of the greatest memories. Catch you all with another interesting travel episode.