Going up the Ghats again
Ooty Travel Blog› entry 17 of 22 › view all entries
Kerala is a wealthy state. Of course there's evidence of poverty, but the main image is of a lush rich countryside, big houses , high rise buildings, advertising hoardings for gold jewellery and silk sarees. India Shining. From Cochin our trip to Ooty took us via Thrissur (one night) and Calicut (2 nights). Even within Kerala the two non-touristy towns are obviously well off. Thrissur, wonderfully, had good pavements - we haven't seen them except in New Delhi. We normally walk in the road as elsewhere the pavements are unusable. It had a lovely museum, two huge Catholic churches (long queues for Saturday evening confession, men on one side of the open confessional, women on the other.
Calicut pavements were worse, but its Malls were glitzier. We went to Kappad beach, with beautiful golden sand, and saw the very small plaque noting it was where Vasco da Gama landed after rounding the Cape in 1498. We also visited some ancient wooden mosques, said to be 600/700 years old, having been picked up by Mohammed Ali to guide us. He showed us the huge doorway of an old merchant house. The family - actually 5 families - invited us to have a look round.
We set off up the hairpin bends of the Western Ghats, on the 200km 5 hour journey to Ooty. There were stunning views. It was the celebration of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday, and in small towns there were parades, often led by young boys with white shirts, sashes, berets and tambourines, doing a formal dance. The parades were mostly of men, occasionally girls were in them. The women watched, then all went for food by the town mosque. In one place a cup of coconut milk and chocolate sweets were thrust trough the car window for us. Refreshing!
Kerala was fascinating. "God's Own Country" is the strapline on the tourist and road signs. It doesn't specify whose or which God. Just as well, with the variety of beliefs we've witnessed. We don't think we've ever been in an area where religious worship has been so obviously declared - Hindu, Moslem, many varieties of Christianity - and all so devotional.
It has been a great visit. Now back to Tamil Nadu and on to Karnataka.