So, you’re a teacher and the only time it makes sense to go to India is during the summer which is during monsoon season there - you grab a crew of five people and say YES to vacation. But since it is the monsoon, you pick places that are worth visiting during that season. Places that are even more lush and just hope not to fall sick.
After our first time getting caught in the monsoon at Sanjay Ghandi National Park, we learned that our shoe wear was no good. We headed into Bata and left with power sandals. Now we were sufficiently ready to take on the rest of the trip and with of course my snack bag.
This was the route: JFK - Bombay - Kholapur - Amboli - Goa - Munnar - Alleppy - Kochin - Bombay - JFK
An overnight train is a must during a trip to India so there we were, music playing, cards being delt, and AC flowing. Until the rest of the train car came and we all had to disperse into the top bunk. We woke up in Kholapur. I hadn’t visited since I was a kid, but I have always loved this little city. We spent the day visiting a fort called Panhala. Visited some shoe shops and ended the day with the most amazing homemade Misal. I crave spicy soupy things in the rainy cold weather. Dishes like chili or ramen. Well, in India you get Misal its soupy, oily, and spicy.
The next day we were en route to arguable one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Amboli. The mist and fog came in and out and left us in complete awe. Once again we got caught in the monsoon, but I made sure we got chai and bhajia (fried potatoes and onions in chickpea batter) right after in a little shak.
Next up was Goa which is known for its beaches, party scene, and Portuguese influence.
An early flight took us down to lush and clean Kerela. We started off in Munnar which is a hill station nestled in tea plantations. As we continued to climb the steep mountain the views just became more and more breathtaking.
We got oil massages, ate the most amazing bbq at Club Mahendra (twice!), went off roading in a jeep to visit the highest tea plantations, and saw a kathakali show.
I can still taste the tea up high in that plantation and the smell those leaves.
Next we got a day to just slow down. We drove all the way down the mountain and to Alleppy where there was a house boat waiting for us. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. We just hung out and played cards for hours on end while indulging in the most fresh and tasty food.
Off to Kochin for a night to end our trip within a trip in Kerela.
Nihar has some family history in the south and still has a few family friends who live there in the spice industry. So, we had a very knowledgable tour guide show us around Kochin for a day. The sights included, feeding pigeons at the Jain temple, Jew Town, Chinese fishing nets, the pepper factory, a traditional banana leaf lunch, and my least favorite - the hyper mart.
And just like that we were back in Bombay for the last days. Some last minute shopping and dividing time between family and we had to say bye to India.
The inspiration that resulted from this trip was definitely from all the lush green we encountered. I’ve noticed some of the landscapes creep into my prints and definitely some of that green color. It has also brought some Indian inspired lessons to life back at school and led me to start the school year with a theme - a year of culture.