Southern India – Kerala

by | Asia, Australia, New Zealand

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Paintings reflect this Trip

A visit of 2 months to Kerala in SW India left a truly lasting impression of this friendly, diverse people and their colourful environment. I have to admit that this was “India Lite”, done with diversity, scenery, people and painting opportunities in mind. Apart from some urban chaos in Cochin and some packed trains, mega crowds were kept to a minimum, which was the plan. Mind you there were lots of local crowd experiences. Kerala is quite diverse culturally, with many people coming to work from many parts of India including North and Himalayas. It is also quite diverse religions-Hindu, Christian and Muslim, all of whom make their presence.

Our base was Varkala which, whilst typically Keralean, gets quite a few visitors which is reflected in a very attractive diversity of restaurants, shops, therapies, etc. (I’m still recovering from first 3hr yoga session!)

Not far distant was the town of Allepey the central town of the Kerala Backwaters – hundreds of km of rivers and canals.

Fishing is huge. Every night you could see hundreds of lights on boats out fishing. A really interesting activity I came across was a group fishing. On a beach about 100 older men would assemble at dawn. In a very heavy wooden currach-like boat, a very large net would be taken out maybe 1km+. Two groups of men would pull on ropes for maybe an hour. Eventually “the catch” would come ashore to be divided. This catch could vary in size from a disappointing few kgs to hundreds of kgs. Then the lads would chat away and head off.

One of the most interesting activities witnessed were the constant festivals which were weekly occurrences. The centrepieces of these festivals were huge Asian elephants decorated and under the control of very experienced mahouts. These elephants would lead a massive parade with very loud noise emanating from local steel bands. These very colourful events provided a low cost opportunity for all the local people to socialise and celebrate and were all around very attractive.

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