One of the most brilliant things about India is just how big it is. Which means there is so much to see and do and that every place seems totally unique. Also it means that as I travel around the vast sub-continent there is plenty of time to catch up with my blog. This post is is being written in the most chilled out of all the modes of transport we’ve used. A ferry from Kollam to Allapey. The journey takes around 8 hours and passes along some of the major waterways of southern Kerala. We found out yesterday that KERALA is derived from the word KERA meaning Coconut Tree in Malayalam, the language spoken in Kerala. It really is a land of coconut trees, the waterways are lined with them, as well as colourful houses and lots of fishing boats and generally stunning scenery.
My posts seem to be taking shape retrospectively so whilst I am in Kerala, I’m actually going to be focusing on our time in Goa. Our trip has come in two sections, neatly separated into North and South. The North challenged me, tested my patience and gave me some unqiue, sometimes uncomfortable feelings. Like when we visited Amer Fort in Jaipur and so many people asked for our photographs, they stopped and stared and wanted to know where we were from. It gave me the most awkward and embarrassed feeling and made me certain that I would never want to be famous. Its just too uncomfortable! But, this kind of experience also holds some really fond memories. At the Taj Mahal we were taking the customary photos of each other in front of this magnificent wonder of the world. A family of Sikhs, maybe 10-20 people asked if they could get a photo with us. We agreed on the basis that we could take a picture with our camera too. It was such a crazy moment but my favourite photo taken at the Taj.
The second part of our trip was from Mumbai south. Goa, the smallest state in India is naturally beautiful, the food fresh and the people incredibly laid back. It felt like a holiday from the busy North! The wildlife is also incredible with dolphins, sea birds, cows, cats, dogs, crabs, jumping fish all over the place. Goa is so rich in beauty that I couldn’t stop taking photographs! The best photo opportunities came at the daily ritual of everyone gathering on the beach to watch the sun go down. It was absolutely stunning every time! A huge orange ball sinking into the horizon creating shimmers of light across the ocean. People practicing yoga and meditation along the waters edge and surfers catching their final few waves of the day. These are moments I will hold in my heart forever.
In Goa we also found a very calm yogi to practice with every morning. He was calm to the point that I could hardly hear his words over the sounds of the crashing waves. The setting was stunning, in a big open hut lifted high up over the beach. Whenever I closed my eyes I could still see the waves from this amazing viewpoint. This peaceful yoga in such an idyllic setting was exactly what we needed. Goa to me was about ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation.
For the first time I experienced Ayurvedic (Traditional Indian) massage. There were so many places offering treatments that it was hard to choose, but we let our sense of smell choose for us. The coco-nutty scent of the massage oils pouring out of the spa was impossible to resist. We tried a Shirodhara treatment where warmed coconut oil, medicated with herbs are poured in a continuous flow onto your forehead, otherwise known as brow chakra or third eye. This treatment totally relaxes your central nervous system and has a balancing effect on your pituitary gland. Which in Ayurveda controls all other glands in the body. It put me into an instant and deeply meditative state. I was so relaxed I had to remind myself to breath! Afterwards my hair was beautifully scented and the softest its been in years, from all of those gorgeous herbs and oils and the soothing head massage. In just one treatment I was hooked and returned on 3 consecutive nights for further indulgence after the sun had gone down.
While we were staying in our beach hut in Goa I received an email from an Ayurveda Healthcare Centre in Trivandrum, near the southern tip of India. I had inquired about the course last November as Ayurveda had always interested me. But I hadn’t booked onto any courses as I wanted to keep our options open and see how our trip was going before committing to anything. The centre contacting me after such positive experiences of Ayurveda felt like fate . The next course started in a few days and there was one space left! Needless to say, we booked our tickets to Trivandrum. More on this in my next post.