It was not for nothing that the Keralites call their land the God's own country. Richly endowed with backwaters like those of Poovar, Kochi and beaches like the Golden Sand Beach and Kovalam beach, it is indeed an Eden on the Earth in its own right. We extricated ourselves with an effort from the spell of the Golden Sand Beach to get on board the hired speedboat for our back journey. On return we had to refresh ourselves at the public facility at the starting point. The bathhouse and toilets have modern fittings and are maintained very well.
Now it was time for lunch. Although it was late, we decided to drive for about 40 minutes to reach a restaurant that serves fish. On learning we loved fish, the driver took us there. Well, here we found a cousin of our sweet-water small mola fish-a little larger but of similar taste, prawn, kalanchi and chub mackerel, all preserved with ice in plastic baskets. We chose from there and then those were processed, fried and cooked. It took quite sometime. But the meal was good. It was served on one of the tables laid out in the open with only a thatched roof above the head. There was an ambience of a garden and this made the meal more enjoyable.
After lunch we rushed to one of the most famous temples, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, in India. Approaching the temple, we were rather taken aback by the layers of armed security. The army guards wielded the most advanced automatic rifles. Our driver then revealed the secret, there are tons of gold inside the temple. In fact, it is the richest temple in the world with its gold treasure worth 1.0 trillion rupees and this warrants so much caution and changes in batches of security guards frequently in order to keep them on their toes.
However, there were only 20 minutes left for paying a visit to the temple. We decided not to enter it because, to enter there one has to purchase a new dhoti and must leave every article of attire but the dhoti to wrap oneself before entering. Time would not permit us. So all we did was to marvel at the beautiful work on its outside wall. This too is golden in colour.
Naturally, we return somewhat dejected. Another time perhaps, if ever we get a chance, we console ourselves. Our next destination is Kovalam Beach. In contrast to the Golden Sand Beach, this has a flavour of something homely. A docile sea front with lots of houses, buildings and a busy market on the shore, it is not awe-inspiring but gentle like a familiar neighbourhood ready to receive you when you turn to it for help. The specialty of the beach was the angular shape where a knoll of red soil protrudes like a nose well into the sea. Here the waves break rather in a more spirited manner than on the straight line stretch.
It was dusk. But the beach was full of people doing what visitors are supposed to do on a beach. Also, vans on which all kinds of light refreshments starting from fried peanut to chatpati were available, made the place rowdy. No, there was no peace over there. Now it was time to be on our return journey to Kanyakumari. But this time it was my daughter who, enlightened as she was from the driver, insisted on making some purchase of banana chips. I was not enthusiastic but on journeys we have to relent to persuasions and pressure for shopping -be the commodity spice or chips.
Later on, we discovered that the banana chips were really something unique in taste. They make it from what we call the sagar variety of banana. The green bananas are used for slicing and frying with spices which are a top secret. If someone in Bangladesh ventured to set up a factory of banana chips on learning the art of doing it the Kerala way, I am sure it would have sold like hot cake.
We returned to Vivekanda Kendra well past 10 pm. Now most restaurants were closing. So I had to look for a decent one from where I could at least fetch dosas for the members of my family to survive the night after such a full day's busy schedules.
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