2.5 weeks in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in August

#1 May 31st, 2011, 03:06
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  • Brightonbelle is offline
#1
Hi,

I am currently planning a trip of about two and a half weeks, round Kerala and Tamil Nadu in August 2011 with my partner and would like some advice on route/ best airport to arrive at.

Having researched key the places we want to visit, I am trying to decide whether it would be better to fly into Chennai or Bangalore.

For either option we would be arriving at about 4pm on Friday 29th July and flying back at about 9am Tuesday 15th August.

I have been looking into train and bus times and this is the rough route I have come up with so far (obviously dependent on the airport we arrive at)

Arriving in Chennai:

1. Going straight to Mallampuram
2. Mysore (I realise we would have to go back to Chennai first, then take the overnight train)
3. Munnar by bus (possibly Kodai, weather dependant)
4. Cochin
5. Alappuzha
6. Kollam
7. then to Trivandrum to take the train back to Chennai. If we had time to go to Madurai

Or, arriving in Bangalore - the same route, but going straight to Mysore, with Mallampuram last.

Alternatively, I have considered travelling the opposite way by heading from Chennai and Mallampuram to Trivandrum first, then working our way up the Keralan coast to Munnar, Mysore etc.

We would be travelling by bus and train (probably 2AC). I have travelled extensively in Asia before and spent six months in North India, although this will be a first visit for my other half. We would like to travel at a relaxed pace, but still see sites, if that's possible. I know it will potentially be wet - we can't go at any other time unfortunately.

Any advice anyone has on the route or the best airport to arrive at would be very welcome.

Many thanks
#2 May 31st, 2011, 06:24
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  • vandy is offline
#2
Hi & Welcome to IM,

My suggestion to avoid any major backtracking,is to Fly into Bangalore and depart from Chennai.

Mysore can be done by train or Deluxe bus from Bangalore and worth at least a couple of days.

You can either then continue on to Cochin by Deluxe bus or return to Bangalore and take the Train to Cochin.

For Cochin > Munnar > Alphuzza(Allepey)hire a car and driver for this stretch,After Allepey you could get the same driver to return and take you to Kollam & Varkhala, or you could take the Tourist Backwater Ferry from Allepey to Kollam which takes all day to reach Kollam.From Kollam you can take a cab to Varkhala
and onto Trivandrum, from TVNDM you can take train to Madurai.

Browse through Kerala sub forum in Forums section and you should be able to gather some valuable info and options.

vandy
#3 May 31st, 2011, 13:41
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  • steven_ber is offline
#3
Hello Brightonbelle and welcome to indiamike.

I don't envy you trying to work out a Kerala/TN 2.5 week tour, I'm planning a 22 day Kerala only tour and I'm struggling to know what to leave out.

Like you, Gatwick is my prefered choice of airport, and I'm also taking a partner who's not been to Asia.

Why Mysore and Mallampuram?

Is it because you think you need to use Chennai or Bangalore?

What fares can you get for Chennai and Bangalore?

I've been getting 515-519 using Emerates flying in/out of Trivandrum/Kochi (Cochin)/Calicut (Kozhikode) or combinations of those airports.

A great site to use is Carlton Leasure, their fares always seem to be the lowest, and it's so easy to check prices for flying into 1 place and out of another (Multi-City), one tip, scroll down the results page to find the best times flight combinations, often for the same prices, also, Trivandrum-Gatwick doesn't work well using Emerates, but Kocki-Gatwick and Calicut-Gatwick do work well, Gatwick-Trivandrum works well, but I've not searched for other arrival airports.

Emerates is a great airline.

If Mysore, then why Munnar? (Coorg and Wayanad are close to Mysore, then down the hill for an overnight train to southern Kerala)(check if Wayanad is open during the monsoon)

What's your budget for hotels per night? (I've seen some real amazing places during my research)

Try to do 1 train journey in the old First Class (FC) if you go down the Kerala coast.

A Masala Dosa (comes with an amazing beetroot & potato filling) and a 'set' coffee (or is it 'tray' coffee, either way, it's coffee with milk and sugar seperate) from the amazing (and cheap) India Coffee House (opposite and to the left of Trivandrum station) is an absolute must, just take my word for it, any explanation would spoil it a little.
#4 May 31st, 2011, 19:46
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#4
Thanks for all that info - its very useful. I hadn't thought about a car and driver, or going straight to Cochin from Mysore then working our way along to Munnar etc.


steven_ber - I've looked at that website you suggested, yes, Gatwick would be so much better for us(!), but I can't see any flights any where near as cheap as they are from Heathrow, so I think we might have to stick to Heathrow. Also I couldn't see Trivandrum/ Cochi options that rivalled the amounts I could get for flying into Bangalore and out of Chennai. This might be the dates I'm trying, we've got to go in school holidays, which is never the cheapest!

I wanted to go to Mysore, mainly to see the palace, I almost went on my last trip. It sounded like an interesting Indian city to visit. The main reason to visit Mallampuram was to see the shore temple, which I really want to see. Its the only place I really want to see on that side of the coast, and is definitely adding to travelling times on our trip, but hopefully worth it.

I've been looking at Wayanad and that definitely looks interesting and I'm going to do more research into places in the area, but being a hilly area and us travelling in Monsoon times I wonder if we might have to take a call on whether its possible when we arrive.

Budget wise we're looking at 20 - 30 a night, with a potential splurge now and again. I was in India about 10 years ago on a very backpacker budget, so I've no idea what kind of level of accomodation that will get us now. Again, more research needed!

Thanks again for your help, I might well be back with more questions once I've done more research!
#5 Jun 27th, 2011, 01:05
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#5
Hi again,

We've booked flights and I'm in the midst of doing more detailed itinerary planning and would really appreciate some more of the brilliant advice I had before!

Some of our main decisions depend on weather, which I know could be unpredictable at this time of year. We want to see things, but prefer not to travel too fast and having been to India before, I know its better to go slow! We are looking at travelling either 3AC or 2AC on trains.


29th July - 5pm - arrive Bangalore - take pre arranged taxi/ transfer to hotel in Mysore.
Can anyone recommend a reliable taxi company that would meet us at the airport? The hotel we want to stay at doesn't do transfers and after a long flight, I want to be met by someone and driven to Mysore - not the hassle of getting a bus!

Sat 30th July - Sun 31st July - Mysore

Mon 1st Aug - bus to Ooty or Coonoor.
We would really like to visit one of these, however are aware it may be very wet - can anyone advise whether trekking will be possible, or whether we should skip this part of the trip. Also, which place would be better to stay - transport wise Ooty makes more sense, however we prefer quieter places and I understand Coonoor isn't as busy as Ooty.

Thurs 4th Aug - Taxi/early bus to Coimbatore. Take train to Ernanakulam. I've found a train at 10.10 - arriving 2.15 (Himisagar Express). Is it necessary to prebook this before we leave the UK?

Fri 5th Aug - Sun 8th Aug - Kochi
Is this too long to spend here?

Mon 8th Aug - bus to Allepey. Arrange houseboat - possibly overnight or back waters tour.

Tues 11th Aug - Allepey

Weds 10 Aug - train/ bus to Varkala. Possibly stopping at Quilon.

Thurs 11th Aug - Fri 12th Aug - Varkala

Sat 13th - train from Varkala to Chengalpattu for the Shore temple. I am trying to work out the best overnight train for this, preferably leaving Friday 12th August. So far all I've found is the Guv Chennai Express leaving at 02.35 arriving at 19.03, which would mean all of Saturday on the train. Could anyone suggest a better way to get to Mamallapuram? I have considered taking a bus to Trivandrum, where I think the Anatapuri Express goes at 4.20pm arriving the next morning.

If the weather is looking wet and Varkala beach doesn't seem like a good idea, then the back up plan is to go from Allepey to Trichy by train on the 10th of August, spend two days there before travelling on to Mamallapuram. Having looked at train times for this, I realise we might be best to go back to Cochin to take the Ers Nagar Express at 10.05pm arriving at 7.45 am. Does anyone have any suggestions about better routes?

Mon 15th August - take taxi from Mallampuram to Chennai Airport.

Any comments on our itinery or answers to my questions would be very welcome.

Thanks in advance!
#6 Jun 27th, 2011, 01:33
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  • vonkla is offline
#6
I have only the answer on some of your questions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brightonbelle View Post
29th July - 5pm - arrive Bangalore - take pre arranged taxi/ transfer to hotel in Mysore.
Can anyone recommend a reliable taxi company that would meet us at the airport? The hotel we want to stay at doesn't do transfers and after a long flight, I want to be met by someone and driven to Mysore - not the hassle of getting a bus!
Take a pre-paid taxi at the airport
Sat 30th July - Sun 31st July - Mysore

Quote:
Fri 5th Aug - Sun 8th Aug - Kochi
Is this too long to spend here?
For a visit to the city two days is more than enough. The KSTDC organizes good backwater trips


Quote:
Weds 10 Aug - train/ bus to Varkala. Possibly stopping at Quilon.
There is no need to stop at Quilon since you have already visited Alleppey.
#7 Jun 27th, 2011, 14:18
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#7
Thanks for that, I had thought that about Kochi. Has anyone any idea on the cost of a Pre-Paid taxi to Mysore from Bangalore Airport?
#8 Jun 27th, 2011, 14:50
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#8
I dont recall seeing any pre paid taxis for Mysore from BLR airport but there may well be, you can enquire at the taxi counters there.

Alternately, pre book a private taxi in advance from any of the regular car hire agencies. Here are a couple of websites to get an idea of prices, if you do a search you will get quite a few more.

http://www.startaxicars.com/car_hire_four_tariff.htm
http://karnatakaholidays.net/karnataka_taxis.htm

Note that most will charge you a minimum of 250km as it is an outstation trip from BLR airport, and also they will charge you the return fare if its just for a drop from the airport to Mysore. Though it will be expensive, it is a good idea to proceed straight through to Mysore rather than waste time in BLR unless you have something specific to do there.

August on weekdays will be un crowded in Ooty, it is certainly not the season and you will have the place to yourself. The weather at that time is unpredictable, it could rain heavily or it could just be misty or light rain.

Have a good trip.
Travelpod / Flickr


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#9 Jun 27th, 2011, 14:52
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  • spiceymasala is offline
#9

July end to August middle

Better to avoid Varkala Beach and House boat stay in backwaters .
#10 Jun 27th, 2011, 15:36
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  • steven_ber is offline
#10
BB, I really feel for you because of the time of year you're going, there's a reasonable argument for forgetting about almost everywhere you plan to visit.

Ooty/Coonoor - I read almost every monsoon of large landslides that take the railway track with them, surely they take the road as well.

Backwater cruise - they mostly seem to move around at the same times of the day, and stop off at places at the same times, this could be a problem with unpredictable weather.

Varkala - there's a pull in the water at Varkala, I dread to think what it will be like during the monsoon, but anyway, the beaches will be awash with debris, this happens in the monsoon, and almost everything will be closed.

Himsagar Express - the longest train journey in India, him = Himalaya, sagar = sea/ocean, the train starts from Jammu (close to Kashmir), I wouldn't be surprised if this train was 8 hours late, the monsoon can cause all sorts of delays.

From Mysore, maybe Coorg could be a better option, then down the hill to the coast for an overnight train to a backwater destination (Kumarakom or Alleppey), then stay in a backwater hotel/homestay for a few days, this way, you get to go out on little backwater trips when the weather is best, and relax in a lovely scenic hotel when it's raining, if you take the money you would have spent on a houseboat, you can choose a very good quality hotel, their rates are low during the monsoon.

From the backwaters to Kochi, 1-2 days in Kochi, then you're overnight train to Trichy.

Sorry it's not the advice you were hoping for.
#11 Jun 27th, 2011, 22:00
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#11
Not the advice I'd hoped for but the advice I need! I always knew it was going to be tricky going when we are going.
I'll look again at the route - I hadn't considered Coorg, but it sounds like a better plan and v useful to know that it isn't worth trying to get to Varkala at that time of year.

Thanks for all the info everyone, I'll do some more detailed planning, then may well be back!
#12 Jun 28th, 2011, 00:48
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  • steven_ber is offline
#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brightonbelle View Post Not the advice I'd hoped for but the advice I need! I always knew it was going to be tricky going when we are going.
I'll look again at the route - I hadn't considered Coorg, but it sounds like a better plan and v useful to know that it isn't worth trying to get to Varkala at that time of year.

Thanks for all the info everyone, I'll do some more detailed planning, then may well be back!
I'm a bit concerned that you may be changing your plans because of my words, and I'm no expert, only offering my opinions, and looking back at my post, my opinions are expressed rather strongly.

I stand by my opinions, but wish more people with experience of Kerala at that time of the year would reply.

If you did go from Mysore to Coorg (or Wayanad, hotel suggestion + hotel reviews), you could consider going to the coast from there and maybe looking for info about North Kerala backwaters, this place looks interesting. (north of Kannur), or this place near Kasargod (poor website, do an availability search on the home page to find out the surprisingly low rates, here's a couple of reviews)

Then perhaps a very highly recommended homestay, a place that has it's own beach in a stunning location, if the weather isn't the best, you could learn some Keralan cooking.

Chera Rock beach house (trip advisor reviews) Chera Rock is 10km south of Kannur

You could then get an overnight train to Chennai, then make your way to Mallampuram.

Although I've been to Kerala 3 times, I've been seriously researching Kerala again as I'm taking my Girlfriend in November, so wherever you decide to go, I may have some good recommendations.

Here's a backwater place I'm looking forward to trying, and only 18km from Kochi.

Kondai Lip (reviews)
Last edited by steven_ber; Jun 28th, 2011 at 01:59..
#13 Jun 28th, 2011, 15:39
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#13
Hi again,

Well I think we are going to miss out Varkala and make our way over to Tamil Nadu instead. The part I'm still not sure about is that we did really want a couple of days in a hill station. I'm trying to work out the best place to go in terms of transport connections, intinery, weather, road conditions etc.

Can anyone who is more local on IM make any recommendations about the best hills to visit in the area, at that time of year?


Thanks

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