God’s own country : Kerala by Brig Surinder Singh


If I were to tell you that I like the poems written by Rabindranath Tagore, it would be an under-statement of titanic dimensions. If I use words like admire or adore, I would be closer to the truth. However, the fact is that I revere Gitanjali and place it on par with scriptures.  Over the years, I know many of the 103 psalms by heart, and keep discovering new meanings, every time I recite them.

Despite the above assertions, I have the gumption to disagree with Gurudev at a few places. In 1905, he composed a song in Bangla, which eventually became our national anthem after being converted to Hindi. It was first sung on 27 Dec 1911, in Calcutta. In this, he described India as, ‘Punjab Sindh Gujarat Maratha; Dravid Utkal Banga’. He assigned distinct identities to the Northern regions, but covered the entire South India with just one word,Dravid’. In my humble opinion, he did not do full justice to the peoples of the rich cultures of South India. 

During my childhood, we used to refer to all South Indians as ‘Madrasis’  It was only when I went and live in Secunderabad, Bengaluru and Hosur that I discovered that there are several distinctive civilizations in the peninsula, south of the Vindhyachal. Kerala, for example is very different from Andhra Pradesh. My brother, Surinder visited this region and he is so impressed that he calls it ‘The God’s own land!’, and wants to go there every year!

It gives me great pleasure to share his travelogue with you. Thomas, who belongs to Kerala, has edited the text. Now, over to Surinder.


God’s Own Country : KERALA

(By Brig Surinder Singh)

All countries are God’s own, but some are more so. That is hard to believe…till you actually go there and see for yourself. That is just what my wife and I did, to celebrate my retirement in Jan 2017. I had worked for over 50 years in Military and Civil and thought I had done enough to earn this reward. Kerala we had seen before, but the best parts had somehow got left out.

From where does one start this tale? It has to be from Munnar or “Moonar” as the locals pronounce it. Sounds as if it has broken off from the Moon. In Malayalam it means the junction of three rivers.

The Duke of Wellington (then Col Arthur Wellesley) and his troops visited Munnar in 1790 to cut off the retreat of Tipu Sultan at Kumuli gap. Tipu’s intelligence, however, forewarned him of this move and Wellesley had to retrace his steps. It was nearly 30 years later that Lieutenants Ward and Connor of the Great Trigonometrically Survey located the mountain peaks of the High Range, and in particular, the Aneimudi and the Chokanad.

The sheer beauty of the place and its climate attracted the British who chose to develop it. They saw in it, a place where they could prosper and relax too. They experimented with various plants and finally zeroed in on tea, in which they saw a gold mine. The British were far sighted…they knew that tea bushes planted once had a long life, anything from 50 to 100 years or as per their estimate, for the entire duration of their Raj in India.

They took large tracts of land on lease from the local rulers but the initial  going was tough. With sheer grit and determination they overcame problems caused by diseases. Healthcare was introduced by doctors who came from England and their engineers developed infrastucture like roads and electricity.

Tea processing techniques were developed and soon it was a roaring business with vast exports. The entire area of thousands of acres was turned into an ocean of tea estates with neatly cut bushes in rows and rows of curved lines interspersed with an occasional tree just to break the monotony. The hills at heights between 3000 to 5000 feet altitude are themselves undulating and there are pathways in between just wide enough for one man to walk through.

In 1897, Finlay Muir & Co. of Glasgow formed the Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co. Ltd. Thus the flagship company KDHP was formed. Independence did not disturb the arrangement. But, in 1976, FERA did. The Finlay Group divested part of their holdings to the Tatas, forming Tata-Finlay Limited. In 1983 the Tatas bought out Finlay’s shares, giving rise to one of the biggest Indian tea companies with 33 tea estates. Tata Tea Ltd. spent the next 22 years modernizing its tea estates and raising the living standards of its employees.

Continuing losses, however, forced the Tatas to sell the plantations to the employees.  Thus the KDHP Company was reborn on the 1st of April 2005 with the name Kanan Devan Hills Plantation Company Private Limited. The 12,700-plus employees are shareholders and hold approximately 69 % of the Rs. 13.94 crore equity capital. TTL retained an 18 % stake, 7 % is held by a trust and 6 % is held by ex-TTL employees and business associates.  ‘Ripple’ was adopted as the brand name of the tea.

Breathtakingly beautiful…. the whole place is as if God has taken a green brush and painted the entire landscape with it. A small cluster of shops and houses form the town of Munnar and the rest of the area has only lakes and  rivers and tastefully made resorts where tourists come from all over the world in droves all round the year. They come in search of peace and tranquility and Munnar gives that in plenty. The spas and massages add to the bliss…the bliss not of solitude but that given by the sensual delight of a fellow human being soaking you with therapeutic oils rubbed in leisurely but carefully. It is a skilled job that requires one year’s training and a certified diploma.

Even if you don’t indulge in spas and massages, you can still get into a state of bliss merely by walking through the tea estates or if you wish to avoid that effort, merely by looking out of the window. We were fortunate enough to get a cottage in the Lakeview resort of Club Mahindra. The sun rises into our window and the entire lot of hills and lakes are irradiated with golden light urging us to bathe and go down to the lake and soak in the sunshine and the early morning fresh air. 



We take off in a cab, for a long drive. Our driver, young Abhijeet, is also our guide. He is a man of few words but knows the area well. He has a sophisticated taste for music and plays soft numbers, be they in Hindi or Malayalam. He shows us all the local fruits and halts the car to enable us to taste them. Passion fruit and Water apple are novelties for us so also ornamental pineapples. One is never too old to experiment with new things unless they are sour like miniature oranges of Munnar.

The Rose garden here has a large variety of beautifully grown flowers, Double Dahlias stood tall and majestic. The roses themselves were in full bloom and colorful, so were all the other flowers. Further we drove on to Matupetty Dam, said to be the turning point in the history of Munnar since it has a hydroelectric power station.

The Tea Museum

We became quite familiar with the history of Munnar because of our visit to the Tea Museum. It begins with a documentary film which shows how the British and subsequently the Tatas have taken great care to preserve the environment or rather to enrich it. It is a lesson for all those who now struggle with these problems. The museum also houses a working tea factory which shows all the intricacies of tea making. One kg of tea leaves yields 250 gm of processed tea…so said the guide in the museum. The museum attracts a lot of visitors and they end up tasting and then buying the various varieties of tea that are up for sale at Company controlled prices. I think our trip to Munnar would have been incomplete without a visit to this museum and that too right in the beginning of the three day visit. It puts everything in the right perspective because the whole place thrives on tea just as Yamuna Nagar does on sugar-cane. I cannot think of a better analogy.



The Tea Estates

Munnar is synonymous with tea estates. There are around 38 tea factories in and around Munnar. They employ almost all the people who live here. The rest are engaged in looking after those like us who come to see Munnar. As you drive through you see tea on  your left and tea on your right almost as if the road has been made by cutting across tea plants. Tea is said to be the cup that cheers. If merely a cup can cheer you up, imagine what acres and acres of tea plants can do to you.

 tea estate



tea estate22


Pollution ? What is that? The people here do not  know that…nor do they have these computer training institutes. No wonder they have the highest life expectancy which is 77 years… almost at par with nations like Sweden and Norway. May God keep them away from the rat race which the rest of India has gotten into!


The abode of elephants

 abode elephants




Club Mahindra overlooks a lake. Near the lake, is a piece of land known as the abode of elephants. It is said that elephants used to come here. No longer now.

Has the elephant become extinct? Not yet. Ownership of elephants is now banned. An elephant can now be leased but the cost is enormous. It may be around 40 to 50 lakh rupees with subsequent maintenance charges both for food and for medicines. Who then would like to have an elephant? Some rich people still like to own elephants as status symbols but such people are rare. Only temples in Kerala can afford elephants because their daily earnings from devotees may exceed 20 thousand Rupees during festivals.


Such are the factors which prevent the extinction of this marvellous species!




If Munnar is the home of tea, then Thekkady is the home of spices. A list of all Indian spices is given in Wikipedia. Thekkady grows almost all of them. Spices were the major export from India in the olden days. Their use in cooking is well known to all Indian housewives but their use in medicines is known only to Ayurvedic practitioners.


Our visit began with a visit to a spice garden. A very energetic host explained the salient features of almost all spices. If one were to go by his discourse, all human ailments can be cured by these herbs. His vigour and enthusiasm at the age of 65 years inspires confidence in the whole system. The only snag is that a single herbal plant seldom makes a medicine by itself. A large variety of them are required to be mixed and processed. The subject is complex and requires knowhow which the traditional Vaids generally inherit, or else you need formal training in the subject. Growing and selling spices is a lucrative job. No wonder we ended up with a lighter purse and heavier baggage before we left the spice garden.


The only other thing noticeable in Thekkady is Ayurvedic massage centres. It appears that at any point of time half the people in Thekkady are engaged in massaging and the other half in getting massaged…male to male and female to female. They consume large quantities of expensive medicinal oils. After a little research, we also chose an Ayurvedic hospital complete with a doctor. It had 36 cabins where massage was being done simultaneously. The doctor noted the complete list of health related problems which we had, and then assigned us one specialist each. He administered the medium massage to me, whereas the hard one was reserved for bodybuilders and the soft one for ladies. The entire procedure from top to toe lasts for 100 minutes and is said to have long lasting benefits if done regularly. As a one time exercise, it was quite relaxing and certainly worth the time and money.

Club Mahindra, Thekkady

An aerial view of Club Mahindra,  Thekkady, would perhaps look like a platoon of Indian Army deployed in defensive positions, complete with the camouflage and concealment provided by the plants and bushes. The resort has a complete variety of herbal plants and can as well compete with the spice garden if they provide a guide.

 Club Mahindra





A camp fire organized by the club had kathakali and kuchipudi dances and a display of native martial arts. These two are the major sources of recreation in this region other than cinema which is mostly Malayalam movies. Thekkady had its first rainfall in a year the day we went and that must have partially filled the Periyar Lake which is the major source of water in the region.

The back waters of Allepey

Officially, Allepey has reverted to its original name of Alappuzha. I was curious to know what “puzha” means since it is frequently used as a suffix. I am told it means river in Malayalam and thus Alappuzha could mean God’s river. The local people neither agree nor disagree with my conjecture.

The backwaters are water bodies flowing between landmasses rather like the canals of Venice or Amsterdam. A full circuitous round of the backwaters takes about 4 to 5 hours in a motorboat. We opted for a truncated tour lasting 2 hours.

There are a very large number of other tourists who keeping waving their hands to say hello…an expression of their joy. The view all around is simply beautiful. A large number of inhabitants live on the shore using the waters for washing utensils and clothes. You can get coconuts and some snacks from shacks located all along the coast. A particularly fascinating sight was that of an eagle that willingly sat on your hands without protest. The owner provided that joy free of cost.




The houseboats in the backwaters are mostly air conditioned with on-board generators. They have all other amenities and cater for food and drinks as well. A little nap on the serene waters can be quite relaxing. We had spent 5 days only last year on a houseboat in Srinagar and therefore chose an ordinary motorboat. For the more energetic people, rowing boats are also available.




This small non-descript town would never have been on our itinerary, but for Brig O.A. James, my colleague from EME. He retired and settled down in his home town. His actions there remind me of the book “  The townsman”. He possesses the same amount of dedication to all that happens in Changanaserry and keeps every one apprised through social media.

With pride he shows us the town, and in particular the place where the Church, the Mosque and the Temple are all co-located. That takes care of communal harmony…the hallmark of Kerala. He himself is a devout Christian and is very actively involved in the projects of the historical church which is magnificent. We spend a little time in the service which is going on at that time. It was a mesmerizing experience.

Church Kerala





James and his wife Mary then take us home which is full of his memories in the Corps of EME and includes a large Eagle made of cement in 508 Army Base Workshop, Allahabad. He then shows me a group photograph of the officers of the Faculty of Electronics of MCEME taken in Feb 2000 when  I was the Dean and he was HOD , Communication Deptt. It was easily my most memorable tenure in  life since it was a precursor to all my subsequent appointments. I was destined to be Dean for the next 20 years in various colleges. It seems I was comfortable with that “title”.

James has considerable clout with the travel agencies in Kochi. Our trip was meticulously planned and beautifully executed by Shahab, based on instructions from James that nothing less than the best by way of hotels, taxi and driver would be acceptable, and Shahab ensured that.

But for James, this trip would never have materialized. Whether it was due to him or the climate, or the places or the massage, I do not know, but I came back rejuvenated.

I desire to make one such trip every year…I know a lot of people who do that!

The return flight gave us a view of the sunrise when we took of from Kochi. The clouds below looked like this. 




On return, we got the traditional welcome from Surjit

Laut ke budhu ghar ko aaye “



Gurudev Tagore had a profound and abiding belief in God. And yet, he was not religious in the conventional sense of the word. In Gitanjali, you will not find even one reference to any specific faith. His God is universal. For those who have not read this Nobel Prize winning book, Gitanjali,  let me give an example below.


Poem Number 102, GITANJALI

I BOASTED among men that I had known you. 

They see your pictures in all works of mine. They come and ask me, “Who is he?”

I know not how to answer them. I say, “Indeed, I cannot tell.”  

They blame me and they go away in scorn. And you sit there smiling.

  I put my tales of you into lasting songs. 

The secret gushes out from my heart. 

They come and ask me, “Tell me all your meanings.” I know not how to answer them.

I say, “Ah, who knows what they mean!” 

They smile and go away in utter scorn. And you sit there smiling.





  1. P S Bajwa says:

    As writing about ur brothers visit to Kerala is so interesting. . One really gets to know the beauty of the places .. hope u will keep telling us about the wonderful things always.

    Thnx so Very much. .

    PS Bajwa

    • P S Bajwa says:

      These posts will keep coming to you, as long as we keep receiving your messages of appreciation!

  2. Brig OA James says:

    “This is a marvelous piece of travel blog by my Instructor, Dean and boss( While I was Commanding a Battalion in Punjab) . Accompanied by his wife,the ever loving ,vibrant Mrs Satinder Kaur they were on a week long tour of Kerala. .Worth reading every line of it. I recommend this blog to everyone of my dear friends. We were honoured by his visit to our house in Changancherry. Thanks, Nirmal Iype and Shihab Khan for making this possible.”

    OA James

    • Brig Surinder Singh says:

      Dear James,
      Your hospitality can only be reciprocated if you come to Mohali and Simla. that may turn out to be equally memorable.

  3. Lt Col H.S.Bedi says:

    Looks very inviting. Hope I can make it there one day.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Good idea…I did this trip a few years ago, and I assure you that it is value for the time and the money you spend.
      And, how about writing for our blog?

  4. Surinder Singh says:

    Thank you, Sir


  5. Brig C Prabhakaran says:

    Nicely put. For some inexplicable reasons, tourists coming to kerala visit only places South of Cochin. The Northern part of kerala is relatively unexplored and that part of ‘God’s own’ is as enchanting as its Southern counterpart.

  6. Vijay Malik says:

    Your visit reminded me of my own. We did almost the same itinerary couple of years ago and enjoyed as much. Only, I do not have the flourish to put such thoughts in beautiful words. You have really spun a lovely web. Enjoyed reading it .

    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Vijay
      We seem to have been bitten by the same bug..the one which makes us travel far and wide.
      Your pictures of Dubai are lovely

  7. Gopinathan Nair says:

    Dear Friends,
    I read the whole narration with total and absolute attention.Please send this to Tourism minister of Kerala. He will be tempted to use it for his publicity.
    I may exaggerate the importance of spices since our spices are the cause fro to days richest country in world,USA.Further Sree Padmanabha swamy Temple got millions worth of gold coins from entire Europe by exporting spices mainly pepper during famine in Europe in 17th century.Mainly pepper for preserving beef Which earned it the name BLACK GOLD.I compliment Brig for his forthright opinion and an outstaning travelogue.
    With Fond Regards
    Col R G Nair(Retd)

    • Surjit Singh says:

      My friend, Joseph Thomas is doing a piece for this blog, which shall be posted next week. You are welcome to add to it.

  8. S.S Aulakh says:

    Thank you Sir

  9. ravi bhatt says:

    Dear Sir,
    I am Col RK Bhatt (retd) staying in the AWHO township at GNoida. Thanks a lot for the blog which gives me details of the tour itinerary meticulously very well planned around Munnar, Thekkeddy, Alleppy back waters and numerous beautiful locations.
    Kindly do give us the contact no of the tour planner /operators to enable us to get similar conducted tour planned for veterans here. We will be extremely grateful to you Sir.
    Thanks and regards
    Col Bhatt

  10. ABS Sidhu says:

    Hi Surjit ,
    Thanks for sharing info about
    Kerala .
    It is really tempting to plan visit
    to the God’s own Country .

    With warm regards .

    ABS Sidhu

  11. Bhupiner Oberoi says:

    A very nice and educative travelogue .Thanx a lot Surjit.

  12. Amrolia J.N says:

    Very Nice

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear JNA,
      It gives us great pleasure to hear from you.
      Please give us all the news. How is your institute doing and what are the young ladies doing.
      Surjit & Surinder
      Our younger son, Jasdev was recently blessed with a baby boy. So we have a grand son!

  13. Vatsalan Nair says:

    Dear Gen Surjit,
    Great that your brother enjoyed Gods Own Country.Next time,ask him to go to Kozhikode and enjoy a meal at Paragon.Then drive to Vythiri Resorts at Waynad.It is a natural stay.

    The panchayats/PHCs function well.The “kudumbashri” organisation is grand–We must learn from itAs a Rotarian,our club adopted a Panchayat.

    Let us maintain Kerala neat and Clean

  14. satish kumar bhandari says:

    Thanks. sir.

  15. Gulu Hora says:

    Thanks sir. Shakespeare said Brevity is the soul of wit. I will therefore only say Eminently readable and enjoyable!!

  16. zal kabraji says:

    General—-Col. Rai as you well know—–is a very old veteran from the Corps of Signals & an old respected friend of our family—-my late dad had very high regard for him & what he does not know in the field of electronics—is not worth knowing–take it from me because we had some great times together as fellow radio HAMS !!!!!
    Zal Kabraji.

  17. Bhanu Rai says:

    Very interesting read. I too had the opportunity of holidaying in Kochi, Tiruvanathapuram, Kannoor, Kalpetta, Ashtamudi (near Kollam), Alpuzha, Munnar etc. and have enjoyed my visits immensely. Incidentally the slogan: ‘God’d own Country’ was coined by IAS officer: Amitabh Kant, currently CEO of Niti Ayog, whom I knew a few years back, when he was Secretary Tourism of Kerala.

  18. Gvk Unnithan says:

    Rabindranath Tagore did a great injustice to the people from down under. He would not have seen these parts and only praised (and mentioned them in the poem) the states or territories ruled by the King Emperor, for whom he was a devotee. That is the reason he never included Travancore, Cochin, Mysore, Hyderabad, Oudh,Rajputana and Kashmir !All these were independently ruled by native kings. This would have never become the National Anthem, but for J Nehru’s strong recommendation in the guise of fit for the military to march on.
    Your brother did not see the both ends of Kerala- the Vynad and Kollam-Trivandrum which are more beau tiful than the central parts. The southern end of Kanyakumari was also a part of Kerala, though now in TN. Please advice him to see these areas during the next trip. He should see Vynad during monsoon and Kanyakumari and the adjecent Thovala during winter.
    Cdr GVK Unnithan,

    • Surjit Singh says:

      I agree with you.
      The South Indian states have contributed a great deal to our country. We need to correct this imbalance

  19. Thomas Manimala says:


    Language is not an ample vehicle to convey my gratitude to this foot loose man, being a Keralite my self I am ashamed to read this travalagoue since no Malayalam guys expressed it so except certain poems.

    Next visit please advise him to loop me so that I may be in a position to make him explore villages of Kerala with five star comforts ie. Greenery in abudence.



    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Thomas,
      Another visit to Kerala with a different circuit will be dream. Your offer is magnanimous… God willing it may just happen

  20. Mahavir S. Jagdev says:

    Excellent write up, Sir.

  21. zal kabraji says:

    Dear General,
    Very super photography & certainly an ideal holiday location far from the maddening crowd !
    Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Warm Regards,
    Zal Kabraji.

  22. arun joshi says:

    Just returned from third Kerala trip on 07 Feb 2017 . The first was in 1999 . Greed is taking it towards disaster. Deforestation and water shortage is the killer. Even GOD will not be able to salvage if destruction continues the way it is

    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Joshi

      It was my third visit too. Each time with a gap of 20 years.

      Perhaps the solution lies in visiting places which are not crowded.


    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Joshi

      It was my third visit too. Each time with a gap of 20 years.

      Perhaps the solution lies in visiting places which are not crowded.


  23. george says:

    Hi Surjit:

    Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures of Kerala(thanks to Brig Surinder Singh, also). It is nice to be reminded of the beautiful sites of Kerala, many of which I have not seen, although I come from that state, too. (spent most of my school days in Delhi, however).

    There is a story about VK Krishna Menon ( the brilliant but outspoken Foreign Minister for Nehru – also from Kerala). When he visited Kashmir he was asked at a Press Conference in Srinagar. “Which is the most beautiful state in India?”. Krishna Menon was no dummy. He knew the press was seeking a headline Sure enough, he said “Kerala”. It was headline news in all the newspapers the next day.
    We are very lucky. There are many many beautiful states in India. Sometimes when we are too close to something we do not appreciate it as much. It takes someone from outside to open our eyes! Thanks Surinder.


    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear George,

      Literally, the nearest to God’s own country, would be Devbhumi,Himachal. There is so much beauty there also.

      ” Nazrein badli to nazare badle, Kishti badli to kinare badle”


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Hi George,
      Thomas is doing a piece on Kerala.
      It is your turn to send us something from the US!

  24. Ernest rozario says:

    Thank you pal, for this mail. You’ve made up my mind to have a ‘dekko’ of ‘God’s Own’. Aye, Ernie.

  25. Anil Sunita says:


    When did Surinder go there as we too were there from 25th Jan till 01 Feb ?

    Give our love to the couple.


    • Surinder Singh says:

      We were there from 18th Jan to 26 th Jan. You seem to have come just when we left.

      Nice to hear that you too are in holiday mood.

      Warm regards to both of you.


  26. PI Thomas says:


    We had been to Munnar few years ago
    Revisited Kumily/Thekkady in Jan this year, enjoyed it.
    We went trekking through the forest too… saw elephants real close ☺️

    Kerala has loads of “home stays” ….. rated as the best in India.
    They are better than Club Mahindra, unless you want the standard hotel atmosphere.
    Kumily Munnar Kochi etc are noted for the home stays

    • Surinder singh says:

      Thanx a lot

      Next time we will try out some homestays. Even this time my wife was keen to see some but the bookings had already been made.


  27. Surindar Singh says:

    I have received some messages on the ‘Facebook’ I am appending them below for record:

    Dear Col Nair,

    Thanx for your mail.

    The inputs on pepper are valuable.

    The compliments on the write-up are as handsome as any we can ever get.



    “Presented beautifully”
    Comments from Bobby Bhatia on Chandeles facebook

    “Sir,You have written so well ,may be the Kerala Govt may declare you as their official blogger. Only one minor amendment ,The Church photo seems to have got mixed up. I will send you the photo of our Church ,which probably is the best in Kerala.”
    Comments of Brig James on Chandeles facebook

    “Back waters and Beautiful women!”
    Comments of Malladi on Chandeles facebook

  28. Gopinathan Nair says:

    I read the whole narration with total and absolute attention. Please send this to Tourism minister of Kerala. He will be tempted to use it for his publicity.

    I may exaggerate the importance of spices since our spices are the cause fro to days richest country in world,USA. Further Sree Padmanabha swamy Temple got millions worth of gold coins from entire Europe by exporting spices mainly pepper during famine in Europe in 17th century. Mainly pepper for preserving beef Which earned it the name BLACK GOLD. I compliment Brig for his forthright opinion and an outstaning travelogue.
    With Fond Regards
    Col R G Nair(Retd)

  29. Thomas Mathew says:

    The details about the tea estates at Munnar are new to me. But I do not think the para about elephants is factual. The reference to the elephants at Thekadi is wild elephants, which are still seen at the banks of the lake.. There are many people in Kerala who still own elephants, the main source of their income is from temple festivals like poorams where tradition demands the presence of elephants. The tall and elegant male elephants fetch 4-5 lakhs per day during the temple festival season which is from December to March end. Only a few temples keep elephants. Guruvayur temple keeps about 59 elephants which are loaned to other temples for festivals. Guruvayoor is the second richest temple in India, the first being Tirupathi in income; in assets Padmanabha swamy temple of Trivandrum may rank first now after valuation of part of the god in their coffer.

    Earlier when timber from forests were auctioned, elephants were much in demand for moving the logs from the forest areas to the road sides where it could be loaded to trucks.The elephants were also used for the loading purposes.

  30. Dave Sood says:

    I have met most of your family through Amolak. You are a very unique family and have contributed well to the Indian might.

    We did the same trip as yours except Munar. The week just flew by. I did visit the temple at Trivandrum which is now famous for its riches. I also did visit the Palace attached to it of the King. Simplicity of the Palace tells you of the people of this God’s Country. They are simple, proud and high achievers in whatever they do.

    The travelogue is well recorded and introduces the place very well.

    Surjit.. you really entwined the Gitanjali extremely well. The fact that you remember it by heart is amazing.

    Another well scripted chapter of Amolak.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Our family is blessed by a Saintly ancestor, Bhai Hira Singh ji (1879-1926) His biography was entitled, “Amolak Hira”
      This website draws inspiration from his life and noble deeds.
      Thanks for the kind words.
      We now look forward to a piece from you.

  31. Surinder singh says:

    Dear Col Kapoor,
    For a trip to Kerala, the older the better!
    Our itenaray was beautifully planned by Shihab, the owner Trawell Holidays.His mail ID is given below
    You may contact him giving this reference.

  32. Lt Gen Raj Mehta says:

    A beautifully written travelogue. Enjoyed reading it immensely and it was nice to see both of you looking so good.

  33. Brigadier(Retd) K Harikumar says:

    Thank you Surinder for the nice travelogue on my home state. I liked your research on the rea gardens. How come you did not write on the Periyar lake and the wild life sanctuary near Thekkady?

    We keep discovering new places in Kerala whenever we go there from Hyderabad.One notable feature of the culture of Kerala is the communal harmony displayed.Another trait of the people is the great interest in personal hygiene. Everyone takes a bath daily in the morning before they start their daily chores.

    Glad to hear about my friend O A James.

    • Surinder singh says:

      Dear Sir,
      Thanx for your remarks. On the day of our visit to Thekkady there was heavy rainfall which was much awaited by the local people, but it prevented us from going to the lake and the sanctuary. May be next time we may do that.

  34. Dr. A Koruth says:

    Very happy that you visited and came back refreshed in body ,mind and spirit .Due to urbanisation the greenery in Kerala is gradually diminishing but even so the landscape captivates a visitor.
    A well written account of your visit and the history of the tea estates is nice to know.Thank you .
    I only wish to add that the trees in between the tea bushes are planted at regular intervals for a purpose ..viz to provide shade and filter the light for the tea bushes below. The shaded area moves through the day and the trees provide a microclimate for the bushes. The trees have deep roots and help to prevent soil erosion.Kindly Google and find out more about this need to plant trees in tea estates and how the trees are maintained .
    ( A relative of Wg Cdr ( Retd) J Thomas )’

  35. Col V P Kapoor says:

    It is beautifully described and at a age 78 I feel that I have missed so much. The max south is Chennai that I have visited.
    Hopefully 2017 will give us an opportunity to visit Kerala, suggest us some good iterniry.

  36. J Thomas says:

    Kerala is a nice place to visit but I don’t wish to live there. I did go back to Kerala on retirement, built a house etc. Within two years we moved to Delhi and now to Bangalore. Have also sold off the plot of land and the house.

    Yes, Kerala is different in many ways. Being close to the equator, it has a humid tropical wet climate experienced by most of Earth’s rainforests. The mountain ranges have a temperate climate with little difference between summer and winter. Kerala receives an average annual rainfall of 3100 mm (122 inches).

    The history of Kerala is different from most other parts of India. Yet, the Malayalam language is the closest Indian language to Sanskrit. And it was Sankaracharya of Kerala who revived Hinduism after India was Buddhist for 1000 years.

    For thousands of years Kerala has engaged in trade with Africa, Middle East and Europe. Marco Polo anchored the Chinese emperor’s fleet here for several months before sailing on to Persia. To this day Kerala has Chinese influence in boats, fishing nets, architecture, food and even utensils like the wok.

    Kerala has always been outward looking. Today Malayalis are found all over the globe.

    • Surinder Singh says:

      Dear Thomas Sir,
      I heard much about you but never had the privelege of meeting you. Thanx a lot for your inputs on the tea estates of Munnar.

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