It’s been over two decades since we started traveling and more than 5 years now since we got into full time travel blogging. From amateur travellers, we have now evolved into expert road trippers with immaculate planning and sound execution. But there is something about unplanned, last minute trips that is amazing. Something like our Chathurangapara trip!
So last year, my friend came over from Delhi and on a Tuesday afternoon, we decided to take off to Kerala on a spur of the moment travel plan! I had heard about a small town, Chathurangapara and it had been in my travel list for a long time! Kerala has a unique appeal – with its tropical beaches, waving palm trees and clean sandy beaches, they appeal to our wanderlust. Chathurangapara is a small town in the Idukki district close to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The hills around the small hamlet are surrounded by towering wind mills, tall green grass and a panoramic view of Idukki district.
We scampered around the house to pack, and in no time were cruising along the highway talking about how we would find a place to stay. A quick glance through google maps showed us some homestay options in and around the region but we still needed to confirm our stay there. And luckily, in the first call we found a small B&B located in the heart of the town.
With the city behind us, we were cruising along the national highways and in a few hours the sky grew darker and showed signs of a heavy downpour! The menacing clouds seemed to get thicker and heavier as we approached Theni, a border town in Tamil Nadu located 70 kms from Chathurangapara. Driving on beautiful country roads dotted with beautiful paddy fields and cute houses, we encountered rainfall as soon as we hit the Ghats.
Experiencing Kerala Hospitality
The pitch-dark surroundings (it was 4am), with shades of black and yellow (our headlight lighting up the landscape), gave way to total darkness under heavy rainfall. We chuggged along the village roads and soon found ourselves lost, with no mobile connectivity. My harrowed friend, not used to being lost in the woods, seemed to panic a bit. We parked by the road hoping someone would come along.
From behind the sheet of water falling on our windscreen emerged a white light, a sight straight out of a Hollywood movie. A slow-moving vehicle approached us and we jumped out of our car to signal it to stop. A group of villagers were headed to a nearby estate. In broken English, I asked if they knew where our accommodation was. I showed them pictures and they seemed to know it. In Malayalam, they gave me a bunch of “go straight, then right and down the hill to the right.” Nodding my head, in confusion I asked them if they could lead us to it. The driver threw an unconvinced glance at his co-passengers who seemed quite amused by our situation and decided to escort us.
5 minutes later, we were driving behind them. 10 kilometres later to our delight, we had reached the place. The right one! A sense of calm overcame us as we saw our host coming out of the house, wondering why we were 3 hours late! I thanked the driver and offered him money. Pushing back my hand, he said, “You’ve come to my village as my guest. All I want from you is to put in a good word to your friends so that they can also come visit.” I shook his hands and in a muffled voice, unconfident of my pronunciation said, “Nanni”, which translates to Thank you in Malayalam.
Our host emerged from the house once again, carrying a couple of umbrellas and dry towels. Patting us down with them, he offered to make us some hot tea and breakfast. It was 5am and the host’s eyes seemed to be heavy with sleep. He was fighting it, wanting to be a good host to us! The offer was tempting as we were all tired and in need of some instant energy. Bread omelette and black tea were consumed in no time as along with us the host seemed groggy too! All of us retired to our beds.
The afternoon sun hit me hard through a gap in the roof and I could hear squirrels run around collecting food from the nearby trees. It was noon and we had slept for a little over 6 hours. We quickly got dressed and after taking some pointers from our host, went out to explore Chathurangapara. The highlight of the town was the windmills, located close to our stay. As we drove there, through a short off road stretch we saw a few, gigantic windmills, located on a small grassy hill. They overlooked Idukki and the sight from there was simply breath-taking.
It's all about the windmills!
It was a unique experience as we had never been so close to a windmill before. It’s a dizzy experience – looking up, watching the blades go round and round! The view point is a great photo op location and we made the best use of it for the next few hours. A short walk from there, can take you to adjacent located hills which are great for a short trek. However, it can get real windy real fast and when it does, avoid going close to the cliff side. We didn’t do the trek since it was getting late for lunch and we headed to the village in search of a local mess.
Chathurangapara doesn’t have restaurants but you can find 2-3 local messes serving traditional food. Our short quest ended in a small mess that prepared fresh meals along with a few a-la-carte dishes. The food was piping hot, fresh, tasty and definitely worth coming back to. After lunch, we all felt a little sleepy thanks to all the rice we’d eaten! Our stay was quite near so we decided to spend the rest of the day there, with our host.
The nice chap was eagerly waiting for us at the entrance and we saw a hint of a smile our we entered the driveway. Hot tea was served as we chatted up the young bloke. Apparently, he loved to cook and offered to cook us some local food even though it wasn’t included in our tariff. So, for dinner, we were served appams, chicken pepper fry and mutton stew. The lavish spread was probably the best Kerala food we had ever tasted – rich in flavours, low on oil and a sensory orgasm to the taste buds!
The next day, the skies had cleared up and it was a bright and sunny day. All set to leave, we thanked our host, cleared our dues and headed off to Bangalore. We hadn’t seen much of Chathurangapara, but what we took with us was the memories of everybody who had helped us – from the jeep driver going out of his way to our host, offering to cook for us. They say Kerala is God’s own country. But we should more about how its people do God’s work as well! For us, it’s the people who make our travels more interesting.
Best time to visit Chathurangapara
Located in the Western Ghats, Chathurangapara is an all year-round destination due to its pleasant weather and unspoilt beauty. However, if you don’t want to experience heavy rainfall avoid going there from June to September. The best time to go there to experience cool weather with fog is during November to January.
How to reach Chathurangapara
By Air – Kochi international airport is the closest airport to Chathurangapara and from there you will need to hire a cab to get to the town
By Rail – The largest and most well-connected station is Madurai, 140 kms away. From Madurai, you will need to take a cab and get to Chathurangapara.
By Road – Distance from Bangalore is 530 kms, Chennai 580 kms and Kochi 130 kms.
**This article has been sponsored by Kerala Tourism.**