Saturday, 28 February 2015

The sweetness of Southern India circuit (Day 3) - Periyar - Visit to a spice garden and attending a Kalaripayattu martial art and combative sports performance - The 13rd of February 2015

I remember very little of the 140 kilometre drive between Allepey and Periyar not to mention the fact that I also missed the morning breakfast on the Kettuvallan house boat because of having had a dreadful feverish night. We did stop several times on the way to Periyar, which we reached by midday though I rarely left the back part of the bus where I managed to lie down most of the way.
I do recall having taken a photo of a church my trip companions visited on the way. The beggars who were lying by the road close to the church steps must have looked at me as if I could be one of them, judging from the way they looked at my pale looking facial expression (as I sat on one of the steps), which at the time didn't differ much from theirs. I was feeling really sick and was looking forward to reaching the hotel we would be spending the night at, so that I could lie down and have a proper rest. 

After having gobbled down a rather hot soup I headed towards my hotel room, having once more missed a walking trip to the Periyar National park, which my trip companions said not to have been anything special, once they didn't come across many of the mammals and other animal species they had envisaged to come across, according to what was written on the programme.

My tourist oriented day actually started at around four when I, feeling much better, decided to join the group in an extra visit to a spice and flower garden - Mr. Mohamed's private garden, said to have been considered among the best private spice gardens in the world.

It didn't initially look as big as it really was but the moment we ventured into the intricate forest like shrubbery behind Mr. Mohamed's house it became clear that one could easily get lost. We were all taken by his thoroughly informative explanations as he proudly showed us the plants and their medical benefits. He was inevitably proud of his garden and the world projection it had got (he had been on several international television programmes). After the one hour visit, which only covered part of his huge "magical" world we were taken into a family business shop where many of us bought medical ailments and beauty creams.

I had visited other spice gardens in past trips abroad but what mostly impressed me with this one was the fact that we were guided by the person who actually planted and looked after it and despite not being particularly keen on this type of visits his enthusiasm got the best of me and I found myself listening to every detail he conveyed and it was not that he was a good communicator he was a lot more than that  - he had been  so committed to this "adventure" that everything he said came from his heart.

We made it just in time to attend a rather unique martial art performance that took place in a huge stable like shed, whose disposition resembled an arena filled up with many foreigners but also local people. Having originated in the state of Kerala Kalaripayattu is considered to be the oldest fighting technique in existence. 

The performance  included strikes, grappling and weaponry methods being performed by groups of young men. Some of the moves were very elegant and flexible though I believe that the traditional weapons demonstration, which ranged from short  and long sticks,  strips of cloth, daggers, knives, swords and shields were the ones that mostly caught the overall attention of the public because of the uniqueness of the approach.

The second part of the performance was more like a circus performance with the use of rings of fire. It was visually impressive and there were times in which one could not hear anything but the heavy breathing of the public, such was the thrill involved in the performing exercises. 

I found it very difficult to film and photograph the performance though I managed to get some rather interesting images.


The evening ended with five of us going to a massage (I would later regret not having been to it) but I felt that despite feeling slightly better I was in need of a sound sleeping evening to further recover.


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