our first encounter with kerala

Our First Encounter with Kerala

It takes twenty-four hours by train to reach Thrissur from Hyderabad, perhaps just sixteen if it had not been for the dozen or so stations in between, where the train takes brief stopovers. This is my first trip to Kerala and I’m so excited about it.

Kerala is a southwestern coastal state of India. It is a region of great natural beauty.


Although isolated from the Indian interior by the mountainous belt of the Western Ghats, Kerala has been exposed to many foreign influences via its long coastline.

Kerala is known not only for its diverse religious tradition but also for its own language, Malayalam. Also notable is the high social status that continues to be accorded to women of Kerala, owing to the former strength of a matrilineal kinship system.

Agriculture is the state’s main economic activity. Its principal cash crops are rubber, coffee, and tea, which are cultivated in plantations on the slopes of the foothills, as well as cardamom, cashew nut, coconut, ginger, and pepper. The major food crops are rice and pulses.

The state is also a national leader in fish production.

Also, did you know that Kerala has one of the most advanced educational systems and the highest levels of literacy in India?

Our train ride from Hyderabad to Thrissur

The air-conditioned cabin makes the journey comfortable: clean sheets, blankets, and pillows; towels that look and smell fresh; electric sockets to charge batteries; electric fans; toilets with running water, hand wash liquid, and toilet paper; and crew that takes your meal orders. And most important of all, in my case anyway, is privacy.

 train to thrissur

We get the side bunk, which is my favourite when it’s just the two of us travelling.

We spend the day in the lower part, drawing the curtains to give us privacy while we eat or pray (the curtains are a convenience for Muslim women, like myself, who cover our hair). Masood climbs up the upper berth to sleep at night.

We spend the long journey looking out the glass window, competing who could first pronounce the names of the stations we encounter along the way, taking photographs, writing a journal (that’s me), reading a computer-related magazine (that’s him), talking, and arguing. With so much time on our hands, arguments over silly matters are mandatory.

The view outside the window for the first several hours is dull and brown: crops have been harvested, bridges over highways filled with cars and smoke, old buildings, cows grazing absentmindedly, dried-up streams.

After a light dinner consisting of vegetable curry and lentil soup, I draw the curtains; the rhythmic chugging of the train lulls me to sleep.

Silver-blue mountain that’s kissing the clouds, tall and strong palm and coconut trees, lush green vegetation, and rain–these are the elements of nature that we wake up to. I look out the window for the longest time to preserve the memory, then take a photograph.


The train arrives at Thrissur (formerly known as Thrichur) station at noon. It’s quite a small place as compared to Hyderabad’s busy railway station. The air feels fresh, cool and soothing. Within minutes, it begins to pour heavily.

Trissur railway station

A gentleman greets us at the station’s entrance and leads us towards a car. We drive through narrow roads and a few roundabouts.

roundabout in Thrissur

Thrissur, the 4th most populous city in Kerala, is also the cultural capital of the state.  We notice several churches, temples and mosques—both old and new. I feel the harmony between the people of different faiths.

The hour-long drive towards our destination reminds me of the Philippines; there has been a moment or two where I’d thought I am really there. However, I’m immediately reminded of my current location by the sight of men in lungis and women wearing colourful saris.

A small village in Thrissur

There are several impressive-looking houses along the way…

house in Thrissur


There are houses that have just the basics…

thrissur house

And houses that look like the ones we read about in fairy tales…

wooden hut our first encounter with kerala
wooden hut our first encounter with kerala

This is our first encounter with Kerala, India’s state that is famous for its backwaters, waterfalls, Ayurvedic treatments and tropical greenery.

Have you visited Kelara? What’s your favourite place in the state?


  1. Wow! Nadia,you’re in Kerala! 🙂 My friend has been there.She absolutely loved the boat ride,which was first class.The food,ambience,the sea,the sunset and sunrise were such memorable experiences for her.I think Masood and you will like the food there.I hear they cook it very spicy 🙂 And it sounds like a very clean state with a high literacy rate there. Btw,grazing cows are a fascination to me,where I stay I don’t get to see live cows anywhere 😀

    1. Hello, Lat! We’ve dropped the boat ride because of the rainy season (aka mosquito season). Food is good, but not too spicy (as compared to food in Delhi and Hyderabad). And yeah, Thrissur is very clean, and the people warm and friendly.

      The next time I see a cow grazing in the field, I’ll take a picture specially for you 😀

  2. I look farward to your coming posts. Would love to see more of south India.In their movies and TV, North India is mostly covered. BTW I notice that you are left handed.:) My son shows signs of being a lefty when he plays certain sports but other than that he’s more comfirtable with his right hand.:)

    1. Hello, Mehwish. Except for writing on paper, I do everything else with my right hand, including writing on the black board. I have a feeling my parents forced me to write with my left hand when I was little. Maybe they find lefties cute 😀

  3. “With so much time on our hands, the arguments over silly matters is mandatory” – but of course! lol

    Love the pic with the mountain!

    I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot about Kerala in travel news, I’m so jealous that you’re there and get to be somewhere so exotic, that’s so exciting! We’re going away in a week but it’s just to the boring old States and I’d so much rather go somewhere more interesting like you guys are.
    ‘liya recently posted..The Mayan Riviera – ‘liya’s Beach Ratings

    1. I knew you’d understand the argument part, ‘liya. But the best part is when you laugh over it afterwards.

      Kerala is gaining popularity worldwide specially for its ayuverdic treatments. Should do visit India, do remember to include this state in your itinerary.

      Enjoy your trip to the States. I’m sure it wont be boring. ‘liya knows how to make each trip a memorable one.

  4. We spend the long journey looking out the glass window, competing who could first pronounce the names of the stations we encounter along the way, taking photographs, writing a journal (that’s me), reading a computer-related boring magazine (that’s him), talking, and arguing. With so much time on our hands, the arguments over silly matters is mandatory.

    Accha, so tell me who won? 🙂 LOL…. I am guessing Masood was pretty close in pronouncing the names of the stations 🙂

    Kerela is a nice state with all the palm trees and a nice climate overall…. Try going to the coastal areas and if you get an opportunity to grab a sugarcane, then do so…. they have some of the best juicy ones there…!!
    Behbood recently posted..When you feel proud to be a parent

    1. Hello, Behbood.

      Masood won because he had the advantage of being able to read both English and Hindi. I had to completely rely on the English text, and sometimes, the spellings do not do justice to the real pronunciation.

      We’re not going to the coastal areas on this trip. We’re here to meet someone and it’s just a three-day stay. But I’d definitely like to return next time for the houseboats (and sugar canes) 🙂

  5. hey, nadia, i feel like you took me to Thrissur with you. i can almost feel the breeze with the pics you furnished. thank you for sharing.

    yessum, the place is a lot like the philippines, especially the pic of the mountain, the road and the clothesline…

    i like the humor on the early part of the narration, lols to how you describe masood and the mandatory bickering, haha… masood has a pic here, what can i say, eh?

    i’ll be looking forward to the rest of the Kerala trip. btw, ba’t nga kayo andyaan sa banda ryan? :c hala, ingat kayo! 🙂
    doon po sa amin recently posted..Dantay

    1. You are most welcome, San!

      It was a 24-hour journey, with us confined in one cabin, and having absolutely nothing to do at all. And then we’re already married for 4 years, which means we are way past the getting-to-know-you stage. In fact, we’re even past the I-know-you-more-than-you-know-yourself stage now.

      We’re here to meet someone, San.

      1. i wonder what stage you’re in now. i bet it’s exciting, lols! i..e., the new stage and what you’d be doing for 24 hrs, haha…

        akala ko, napalayo lang ang paghahanap nyo ng duhat at iba pang rare fruits, hehe… 🙂 have fun, you both!
        doon po sa amin recently posted..Dantay

        1. San, this stage we’re in right now…I’m not sure what it’s called…hindi na kami excited like newly weds, pero very comfortable kami sa isa’t isa.

          Here’s what we also did in those 24 hours: made sure to buy food whenever the train stops at a major station (you get more hungry when you’re not doing anything), I keep reading a book, he keeps telling me to put down the book since he’s getting bored, I finished the book anyway, we took random photographs through the tinted windows of the train, and made scary faces to unsuspecting kids.

          OK, so that last one isn’t true. But it must’ve been fun.

          Ha ha .. wala akong nakitang duhat dun…niyog at saging lang (both of which are not rare) 😀

    1. San, I changed the header because I got bored with the previous one. Is the page loading slowly for you?

      Hindi ko naisip mag-host ng blessing for the blog, lol. Consider yourself invited anyway 😉

      1. oh, it’s loading alright. and i like it better…

        hala, ang gusto kong handa, yong lahat ng mga masasarap na food na na-feature mo – lahat ‘yon, ahaha. hwag lang yong curry, hihi…

        dapat meron noong inihanda ng new bride, your favoritest dessert, malinamanam! yummy! 🙂 gutom na tuloy ako… :s
        doon po sa amin recently posted..Dantay

        1. Thank you! Let’s see how long before I get bored with this header too 😀

          Come on over! I’ll make all these for you (except yung inihanda ng bride kasi one has to be a bride to make that) 😉

  6. Your post makes me miss Kerala. I’ve been thinking of taking a vacation sometimes next month in Kerala. Rainy season is just my favourite season there 🙂
    Can’t wait to read more about Kerala in your blog, especially about food 🙂 Have you tried Kerala Biryani, it’s amazing 🙂
    Tes recently posted..Instant Tom Yum Noodle

    1. Hello, Tes.

      We did try biryani once, but I didn’t quite like it. It felt like something was missing. I’ve found that Hyderabadis make the best biryani.

  7. Hi,

    My wife is from karachi and i am a keralite settled in chennai and we got married in dubai too! We were staying in dubai till 2010 june and have since moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
    I suggest that you try having Pathri & erachi(parota & mutton curry) and the flavour is much different from what you get in the cafeterias in dubai or elsewhere. Not to mention the black halwa(try only the black colour) which tastes better after you refrigerate it. Biriyani is a big disappointment since over the years the cooks in kerala seem to have lost the original recipe while experimenting. Still, don’t be surprised if you get a pappadom along with the biriyani. If you love fish, then try the fish curry which is quite good irrespective of the hotel you go.

    Last but not the least, maintain a low profile if you understand what i mean:)

    1. Hello, Shiraj! Karachi and Kerala, what an interesting union! Have you been to Karachi?

      Well, I’d only been interested in eating fish during my stay in Kerala…mutton and chicken are something that we have on a regular basis in Hyderabad and Dubai. But yeah, fish is very fresh and tasty. LOL @ pappadom with biryani … we did get that 😀

      Yep, we did maintain a very low profile 😉

      Thank you so much for your tips!

      1. No nadia, i still didn’t get the chance to go to karachi since the situation there seems to be quite bad at the moment. Insha allah, hope to go there when things settle down but i feel it may not happen soon:)

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