Spice Trails: A Guide To Thekkady, Kerala

I do not remember the last time I took a break of ten days to get away from the city life, and most importantly, from work. While working with a national daily publication, we used to work six days a week and get a holiday only on Diwali and Holi days…and that cycle continued for the longest time. It was taxing on the health and more importantly, on the mental health as you were left with absolutely no time for yourself or your close ones. It has been a year since I gave up working full time and became a freelancer, but still, because of some reason or the other, it is only after one year that I’ve taken a break from the monotony of Mumbai and decided to join my family for ten days of holiday.

 

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Vernika Awal, of Delectable Reveries

The destination that was mutually agreed upon for the holidays was Kerala. The hill stations of Thekkady and Munnar were narrowed down to.

After landing in rain soaked Cochin, we headed straight towards Thekkady, which was about 4.5 hour drive from the Cochin Airport. We are members of Club Mahindra and the resort was to be our destination in Thekkady.

Information on Thekkady:

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Thekkady, Kerala

Thekkady is in the Idukki district of Kerala. It is the gateway to the Periyar National Park, which is an important tourist attraction in Kerala. Thekkady is located near to Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Distance from: 

  • Trivandrum:  257 km (160 mi)
  • Madurai Airport: 114 km
  • Cochin Airport: 145 km
  • Kottayam railway station: 114 km

The very mention of Thekkady conjures the images of elephants, infinite chains of hills and spice scented plantations. The drive to the hill town is very pleasant, with greenery surrounding you and the breeze that tickles you, as you drive by. On the way one can see numerous ‘spice gardens’ and on enquiry our cab driver informed us that Thekkady is famous for it’s organic spices and these spice gardens offer you a tour and also retail organic spices. I made a mental note to visit one of these.

About the resort:

We reached our resort – Club Mahindra, Thekkady in the evening around 7PM. Located slightly off the main town, it is a quaint resort in comparison to other resorts by the same chain. The highlight of the place for me, personally, was the spice plantation inside the resort itself. From the coffee plants outside my room to the cluster figs near the lobby area, you’re surrounded with spices as you take a walk inside the property.

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Our cottage at Club Mahindra, Thekkady

Our room was a 1BR i.e. one bedroom, hall with sofa-cum-bed, kitchenette, washroom and balcony. One 1BR accommodates 4 adults. The room was as good as a 1BHK apartment in Mumbai! Spacious and yet cosy thanks to the warm colour tones of the wall, the ambient lighting and the teak furniture.

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The cosy bed in the room

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The small kitchenette allows you to make simple meals in your room, with basic provisions like a microwave, toaster and electric kettle. The crockery and cutlery are also provided in the room itself and most of the times the resort houses a grocery shop with basic ingredients at your disposal.

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Appam with Stew

The food at the resort:

There is only one restaurant at the Club Mahindra, Thekkady resort which serves buffet as well as a la carte options. For one of our meals we tried the Kerala favourite – Appam and Stew and I can say that it was one of the best we’ve had till date. The use of locally grown spices enhances the taste of the stew and the appam was soft as pillow! The North-Indian food is quite delicious too, for those looking for that option. Do try the stuffed kulchas, you won’t regret it!

The food outside the resort:

We were told that a restaurant called Spice Village serves authentic Keralite food but is mostly non-vegetarian, hence, we couldn’t try it. For vegetarian options there is Shri Krishna Bhojnalaya, Arya Bhavan and Sarvana Bhavan in the main market.

The spice market:

If you visit Thekkady, there is no way you can leave without filling your bags with loads of spices! The spice shops make up 80% of the Thekkady market and there is no way that you can miss the scent of the spices that surrounds the whole hill station.

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From fresh cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon to vanilla pods, you name it and you’ll get it at this market.

I recommend the shop Spice World for buying spices at affordable prices – tried and tested!

The jeep safari:

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If you’re not buying spices at the market, then you’re surely being thronged by jeep-drivers/guides who are pestering you to take a jeep safari. But trust me, it is worth your while. The jeep safari guides usually offer you a package of a jungle jeep safari + elephant ride/shower + spice garden tour. We opted for the morning safari + spice garden tour.

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Our driver Rajan reached our resort sharp at 8:30am and drove us 20kms away from Thekkady town to the Periyar forest. Just when I had started appreciating the smooth roads, we hit the bumpy path which seemed like it would never end. The extremely talkative Rajan kept telling us that the tiger reserve was on the other side of where we were driving, which kept me wondering as to why are we driving on a path where there will be no animals to see?! Anyway, the journey on that bumpy, back-breaking road continued. He took us uphill to a viewpoint and proudly informed us that, that is where a Tamil film was shot a few years ago.

The viewpoint was beautiful, I must say, but I couldn’t ignore the trashed van that was there, acting like a blotch to the beauty. A local informed us that a herd of elephants who were extremely irritated with the noise of the tourists, came and trashed that van. To that I say, well deserved, dear humans! If you cannot keep your surrounding clean and respect the nature, kindly stay away from it.

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We proceeded to our next stop and throughout dear Rajan kept showing us elephant dung, but not a single elephant. I think the only animals we managed to see during this safari were cows, dogs and monkeys. Alas!

Some tourists might get lucky and actually see the animals, but seems like we weren’t the lucky ones.

*There will be a separate post on the spice garden tour. Watch this blog for more.

Unfortunately due to an impending strike in Kerala, we had to cut short our stay in Thekkady and proceed to Munnar a day earlier than expected.

For more information on Thekkady, click here.

 

All images are copyright protected. Please take permission before using.

 

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