When I got posted to Kerala, I was deeply saddened but extremely excited at the same time. Saddened because I would have leave my daily ‘adda” sessions with my friends in Kolkata and happy because I was going to God’s own country Kerala.

Finally when I did reach Dumdum airport I heaved a sigh of relief that all the humdrum and hullabaloo over going to a place for three months had finally materialized. With an equally beaming mother sitting by my side, I was set to join a new project at Kochi for three months but with the promise of taking my mother around in Kochi before I joined work.

As we landed at the Kochi airport, something about the surroundings set the ball rolling for us to get into a great holiday mood. So when we were in the car that took us to the hotel, my office had arranged for me, it was a happy mother and son duo who refreshed at the hotel café. After a good deal of going through the pamphlets supplied by the hotel, my mother and  I decided to go to the lovely  Kochi backwaters first before going anywhere else. It was mid afternoon so we still had had a lot of time left.

Kochi is more famously known as the Queen of Arabian Sea in history. Rightly so, as its majestic surroundings gave it the pride and dignity of a Queen. Kochi basically is a group of islands. I knew that. My father had often told me that Bolgatty, Vypeen, Vallarpadmit, Gundu are some of the islands due to which the harbor at Kochi has grown.

Lying on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the backwaters of Kochi took us through the city on boat. We loved to sit on the boats here and wade through the waters seeing the beauty around.

We had a small ride on the boat after which we decided to go around Kochi. First we went to the Bolghatty palace. Situated on an island, this palace was built by the Dutch. The island on which it lay had a nice golf course and from here we could see the entire city of Kochi in full bloom.

We saw the Chinese Fishing Nets here which apparently I had read in the newspaper were the only ones of its kind.

“You know Shonu, these nets were introduced by the traders of the past during the times of a Chinese ruler. His name was Kublai Khan.” Said my mother.

“How would you know that Ma? “ I asked and then it dawned on me that she was a geography teacher so obviously she would know all this.

From the Boghatty Palace we went to see another palace called the Dutch Palace. Here there were lot of mural paintings. All these paintings showed scenes from the Indian Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. We were quite drawn in to see the exquisite architecture here and also had the whiff of the Indian history of the past.

By now, it was evening and we went to the beach. The beautiful sun setting in the background and the lovely blue waters rolling in posed the perfect scene for a camera shot. So we took some good photographs on the beach and were quite thrilled to see the Chinese fishing nets again and the ships sailing in the distance. If I had had a stand and a canvas I would have painted the scene. It was mesmerisingly beautiful and hypnotical.

We spent the evening listening to some local folk songs sung by local singers in the shamiana of the hotel. The songs were all in Malayalam and we didn’t understand. But music is universal , you don’t need to know the language. We were quite at ease at the hotel and the constant beaming face of my mother rendered the entire visit fruitful.

The next morning we woke up to see the sun rising and the entire horizon turned orangish blue in the full glow of the early morning. I would have given anything to trade anything for this beauty. After a good morning walk on the shores, we went to see the Hill Palace after breakfast. This was actually a palace before but is now a museum. It had the best collection of articles which were used by the Kings of the past. The museum also housed some of the main archaeological discoveries.

After this, we went on a ferry ride in the Kochi backwaters. The enthralling view as we are on the ferry is a sight to behold. The lovely green verdant expanse stretched in front of us like a carpet. The teak poles holding the Chinese Nets dominated the sea. The silhouette of these nets against a rising sun was unbelievably beautiful .

We then booked a houseboat for half a day. These houseboats were lazily rolling on the sea. The houseboat that we booked was beautifully decorated as it had finished a year of service. The interiors of the houseboat was as if we were in a hotel. We had all the amenities within and if the curtains were drawn all that we could hear was the water swishing below us.

I went out of the room and stood at the peak of the boat. WE were drawing closer to the Willingdon Island. I called out to my mom, who came after her siesta and found the scenery around breathtaking. Situated in the backwaters, the Willingdon Island has been named after the British Viceroy by the same name. It is here that the naval command has its headquarters. The entire island is made up of dragged up silt. WE went in and visited the Central Navy office. The discipline and the integrity around was felt as we went around the naval office.

We then passed Kochi Fort. This was actually earlier a fishing village. Towards the middle ages, it had become a trading centre.

The houseboat ride was wonderful. It could have been for a full day and night but I had to join work the next day. From the houseboat we proceeded further and reached the Mattancherry Palace. Built in the 15th century this was another exquisite piece of art by the foreigners. My mother wanted to visit the St.Francis Church. The beauty about this church is that it was built of wood. A 15th century church , it is here that Vasco Da Gama is buried.

We also saw the Goshree Bridge which is the connecting link between Vypeen and Ernakulum. It was in the stage of getting completed when we went . At Vypeen Island, we were completely taken in by the populace here. The crowd was unbearable and the visitors thronged here to see the Ochanthruruthu lighthouse which gave a bird’s eye view of the Queen of the Arabian Sea – Kochi. I never knew such a place existed in India and thanked my mom for having brought me here. She had been here before.

As our voyage on boat continued, we went to the Paradesi synagogue. This 15th century construction, had its own beauty with the lovely floor art and the beautifully plated copper decorations adorning the place. Then we of course had to visit the Vasco Da Gama Square.

But right then, we were seeping in the beauty of the flora and fauna around. The lovely coconut trees with their height smiling down at us and the equally beautiful palm orchards made us feel we were going through a Garden of Eden. With the quiet waters swishing along and the sun sparkling on the still waters, we felt as if we were in some kind of fairyland.

We came back to our hotel but not before the boatman reminded us to be there the next morning for the Boat Race on occasion of Onam. I slapped my forehead in disbelief. Of course! We had reached there during Onam. No wonder the place was so agog with a festive mood. I had to anyway  join two days later. So, the next morning saw us watching the Boat Race. With the entire atmosphere completely dominated by the cheers and the color of the people around, we saw the start of a race of the snake boats. In canoes, with many people working in tandem with the oars, this colorful race was a show of the unity and strength that goes to make a beautiful race and obviously a lovely country.

There were many tourists like us who were lucky enough to witness this race. With the emotions running high and the memories of a lovely trip with her son, my mother boarded the flight back to Kolkata and I edged my way back to joining office.

My say : Just visit Kochi backwaters and get lost in God’s own country.