I resisted making references, comparisons and lists for the New Year as compared to 2014, but I’ve already defaulted twice. And this is too big a piece of news for all you working folks to give it a miss. Mark your calendars for a year that promises many a long weekends – which means many a weekend getaways, long drives and lesser Monday blues. With some strategy around well-planned ‘ill-nesses’ you could be on the road for 58 days! Here are a few suggestions for visiting Kerala:
24th, 25th, 26thJanuary (Sat, Sun, Republic day) – Bangalore weekenders should book ahead to prepare for longish drives to Kannur in Kerala. Here you could have a tryst with Theyyam (www.theyyamcalendar.com). The ritualistic performances take place in villages and temples off Kannur along the northern belt till Kasargod. You best bet would be to base yourself at Kannur to catch atleast 2 or 3 performances over the weekend.
14th, 15th, 16thand 17th February (Sat, Sun, Fall Sick, Maha Shivratri) – The Kochi Biennale is bound to be packed for these days but it’s a good time to visit Fort Kochi and stroll through the city to take in all the art. Consider Silverweed Homestay to put up. It is a short walk from all the action and the clean rooms with a lovely balcony are best to enjoy the Kochi weather in Jan.
6th, 7th, 8thMarch (Holi, Sat, Sun) – As the slight chills of south India leave the weather map for the year, head to the hills of Wayanad on the Holi weekend. You can opt between Chateau Woods in Kalpetta, or Tranquil neat Sultan Bathery – both close enough to Bangalore so you can maximize time at the destination. From these stays, you can detour to see the Soochipara waterfalls, Edakkal Caves, Banasura Dam and Pookote Lake.
3rd, 4th, 5thApril (Good Friday, Sat, Sun) – How about roaming the narrow criss-crossing canals of Alleppey in the backwaters of Kerala? Arrive on 3rd and hop onto a houseboat boat on 4th for 24 hours. This will give you plenty of time on the houseboat, as well as the waters. The quintessential Kerala experience is to be lived once to know how relaxing it is. Add the ancient town of Aranmula to this.
1st, 2nd, 3rdand 4th May (Labour Day, Sat, Sun, Buddh Purnima) – A perfect way to combine Kerala with some Coorg. A trek in the cool hills of Brahmagiri, from the Kerela side will take up two days. Then drive to Coorg on the east, stopping by at the Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement for Buddh Purnima, before heading back to Bangalore.
15th, 16th, 17thand 18th August (Sat, Sun, Fall Sick, Parsi New Year) – If you like the rich green rain washed hills of Maharashtra, Bombay folks (perhaps the only who will have a four day weekend) should take in the verdant surroundings of Kerala. Two days each in Munnar and Periyar are perfect for this time.
17th, 18th, 19thand 20th Sept (Ganesh Chaturthi, Fall Sick, Sat, Sun) – Four days, mid September and a trip to beat the tourist season in South Kerala. Mix up the museums of Trivandrum, the balmy beaches of Kovalam and the north cliff psychedelia of Varkala before the western tourists descend on this sector in October. If not this, then the next weekend is great as well (24-27th Sept, Bakra Id, Fall Sick, Sat, Sun)
2nd, 3rd and 4thOct (Gandhi Jayanti, Sat, Sun) – Head to Vagamon in Kerala for a paragliding adventure in the low hills of Kerala. This is the best season to take on wings with professional instructors who do tandem flights with you. Book ahead with firstname.lastname@example.org/ +91 – 9447288252, www.paraglidingkerala.com
7th to 15th Nov (Sat, Sun, Dhanteras, Take Leave, Diwali, Take Leave, Bhai Dooj, Sat, Sun) – Nine days and a long trip to God’s own country await in the month of November. Plan ahead as this is peak season for the state. You could add a bit of everything starting from Fort Kochi’s historic draw, to Marari’s beaches, then heading to Alleppey for a houseboat experience, then hopping over to the hills of Munnar and onto Thekkady before curving back into Ernakulam to fly out. Nine days are ample for the best of Kerala at this time.
24th, 25th, 26thand 27th Dec (Eid, Christmas, Sat, Sun) – No better way to celebrate Christmas than the town of Kottayam with a large Syrian Christian population. You can head out 5km from town for a quiet retreat at Aymanam, the village where God of Small Things was based. Stay at home run, 100 years old Maya Heritage, flanked by three acres of fruit trees and facing the river.