Tour of Kerala, India, 2018

Washington Forge Rotary visit to Southern India

Prior to his year in office, a proposal was made to Club President Mathew Thomas that he arrange a trip to India during 2017/18. Mathew immediately took up the challenge and January 2018 saw a group head off from Newcastle to South West India via Dubai.

A party of 19 persons - Rotarians, partners and friends arrived in Kochi (Cochin) for their first stop in the state of Kerala. Kochi (made up of Fort Cochin and Ernakulam) is surrounded by waterways and lies on the coast. Visits to spice and fish markets, viewing Chinese fishing nets, and a sunset cruise on the backwaters and Arabian Sea all formed part of the itinerary.

Next location was Munnar which lies in the Western Ghats mountain range and the Cardamom Hills.It is surrounded by rolling hills and stunning scenery dotted with numerous tea plantations. The journey included a visit to Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including the Nilgiri tahr - an endangered mountain goat.

Thekkady was next on the list. Lying 90 miles from Kochi and near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, it is home to the Periyar Wildlife Santuary, a tiger reserve which also has herds of wild elephants, deer, bison and monkeys. The organic fruit farm in the serene Cumbum Valley proved to be a colourful and interesting excursion. Excellent accommodation at the Poetree Sarovar Portico Resort.

Before leaving Thekkady, most of the party took the opportunity to interact more closely with the local characters by taking an elephant ride along the trails. Then a journey down through the mountains to Kumarakom, a village in the backwaters on the Vembanad Lake. The party was able to take a day cruise on a houseboat from Kumarakom to Alleppey, the 'Venetian Capital' of Kerala.

Alleppey then the long journey to Kovulam. The group had an early start when they were hosted by members of the Rotary Club of Kazhakuttom. After a visit to a local organic rice project supported by the club, the party attended the lunchtime Rotary meeting. Wonderful and kind hosts and a great day was had by all. Many new friendships were established.