Saturday, 13 February 2016

... and down the other side to Guruvayur

It was a chilly start at 6.30am in Ooty, and we were in for a long descent to sea level, through wonderful countryside.

a tea break before 9am!

with appropriately parked bikes.

Down through tea plantations where the workers were clipping the tea bushes using shears with a box on one blade to catch the leaves,

and through a forest of majestic eucalyptus trees 

and a huge traffic jam where they were resurfacing the road, one half at a time, leaving the other half covered in scattered gravel, so the effect was like riding on marbles. 

Finally we reached our lunch stop (delicious and well earned after 85km downhill) and boarded the bus for a 3.5hr transfer to Guruvayur - another temple town, finally in Kerala.

Next day we set out on our bikes to explore the back roads, looking at big, brightly painted houses, and Catholic Churches as well as Hindu temples, many of which were getting ready for festivals as it was Saturday, complete with the obligatory decorated elephant.

Next we cycled to the beach, where there was a party of children on a school trip eager to chat and have photos taken

and their teachers - looking much more colourful than your average geography teacher

The local fishmonger 

Round the corner the big fish at the wholesalers

Loads of colourful boats

And a great use for the ubiquitous plastic bottle and a picturesque pile of coconut shells

After out first glimpse of the backwaters

we cycled on to a Catholic Church founded by St Thomas in 54AD.

They had a museum full of interesting stuff including musical instruments, and the biggest cemetery in India (tiny by our standards)

Returning to Guruvayur we had a traditional Keralan meal on a banana leaf - eaten with the fingers - in the same restaurant as an important Indian politician - being in cycling gear we felt a bit under dressed!

In the evening we explored the town:

It was refreshing to be able to wander round the shops here with no pressure to buy at all. The town was in the middle of a festival weekend, and there were loads of Indian pilgrims, for whom the shops all catered. There was a lot of bling - brass bells and plastic charms which seemed very popular; one of the girls (Lorraine) bought us one each for our bikes - Ganesh (the elephant god) who seems to be a bit like St Christopher.

At the temple was a traditional Indian dance performance portraying the Durga story (again).

Fascinating to watch but quite long so we left before the end as we needed to get up early for a long ride the next day.

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