During the early hours of a Monday morning, I stood atop a mountain, smiling ear to ear. With the breeze caressing my face, a majestic view of the valley and the sun slowly peeking out, for the first time in forever I was unaffected by Monday morning blues.7 hours before this freakily awesome moment… my friend and I were packing for a Kerala road trip.We were going to foray into all that Kerala had to offer, palm tree fringed backwaters, crystalline beaches, roaring waterfalls and magnificent hillocks.
This trip was going to be different, with no affordable hotels, our car was going to be our lifeline. So, we loaded the car with enough perishables, plush blankets and all-weather clothes. Soon, we set off on our grand adventure to the first of our many stopovers, Ramakkalmedu
After hours of misguided navigating, we arrived at Ramakelmedu, just in time for the sunrise.We ran up the hill, to catch some of its morning glory and scoffed at the simple trek. But, we were silenced by the strong gusts of wind blowing across the hill, knocking off glasses and lifting skirts (**blush **). It almost felt like the wrath of the wind gods was upon us so we dared not make it to the peak for fear of being blown away. But, we went to the neighbouring hill to marvel at the statues of Kuruvan and Kurathi, towering over us.
The view from the top was amazing, the steep gorge, the farmlands, and villages of Tamil Nadu glistening under the rays of the sun and it definitely felt like a good time to get some sunbathing done but we made our way down to calm our grumpy tummies and go forth to our next destination, Varkala.
This one had been on our bucket list for a long time now, calling out to our wild, free souls so we set off through the picturesque winding roads of Kerala to beach more and worry less.
We got there just in time to catch the sun setting over the sea. As evening faded into night, we strolled along the cliff, until we found our spot- Darjeeling Cafe. Overlooking the sea, this cafe had an otherworldly feel, lit up with candles and fairy lights and old school music, everyone in there was in the most pleasant mood, singing along and dancing to some old school music.
After dinner, we stepped out to feast our eyes on the moonshine sparkling over the sea till sleep got to us. The shoestring budget we were on made comfy beds of the car’s seats with layers of blankets. We tried to get some sleep but before long it was time to head out for our camping adventure.
Camping with tents, bonfires, fireflies, and smores had been a thing of dreams, only to be seen on TV shows. After much R&D we thought Braemore Estate with its jungles and waterfalls would be the best place.
When we got there, the mountain ranger’s office told us that a trekking group was just about to go to Ponmudi, a discreet and beautiful hill station in Thiruvananthapuram, and it was only a one-and-a-half hour trekking distance from here.
The trail was enchanting, through forests and grasslands. Our ranger even took us to a hidden temple where he let us participate in a yearly family ritual. The trek as such was simple but pretty tedious because of all the leeches attaching themselves to our bodies. But, all the trouble was worth it when we saw the view from Ponmudi.
After the trek, we made our way down to Braemore, well rested and ready to camp. But, there was an elephant loose in the forest and we had to cancel our camping plans. So we started for Cochin but with the holiday mood still on, we were not ready to get back. So we got on Google Maps and Kovalam was the nearest spot that showed up. I guess we had some more of the road trip and beach hopping left to do!
We walked along the beach, the waves tickling our feet, watching the ebb and flow of the waves. As night fell, it was time to say goodbye to what was a splendid three days and go back home. But, we were in dire need of a nap so we parked somewhere on the highway and nodded off to sleep at around midnight.
A knock on the door woke us up and a lady peeped in asking for a lift to the nearest hospital. We got a little freaked out and flatly refused. But, before we could get away, a police van backed up and what followed was hours of questioning. They figured we were a highway gang, planning our next heist and it took awhile to convince them otherwise. But once we did, they told us that this lady was part of a highway robbery chain and had been on their wanted list for a long time. They warned us about more such dangers and let us go.
And that’s a wrap to our Kerala road trip
Breathing a sigh of relief that we just escaped what was a near-death experience, we raced back home. Once back to the safety of our homes, we felt the rush of adrenaline from the views, the treks, the sun and the sand and gratefulness at having made it back safe from our epic road trip.
We learned an important lesson that day, to travel but with caution especially when on a road trip. To be wary is to be wise and it doesn’t do to be carefree all the time. But this little incident did not dampen our spirits for long!
So, despite moving to different cities and 9 to 5 jobs we’ve vowed to go on more road trips, alone or with strangers , talk about nothing and everything, to sing our hearts out, learn to hold in our pee till the next gas station, stop at thattukadas to fill our tummies and so much more. After all, we can always make money but not memories! So just go, without a destination in mind, just you and the highway under the never sky.