Great time in back waters resort in Kerala
Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
17Trip End Jan 09, 2014
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Where I stayed
Spice Fort hotel
The end result was that I missed one of the Indian-Dutch heritage highlights that I have been reading about since 1989. It is the tomb of Eustatius de Lannoy within the Udayagiri fort in Tamil Nadu. He was a commander who defected from the VOC and then teamed up with the Nawab of Travancore, he trained the army and served him for 16 years. The Travancore army defeated the Dutch on 31 July 1741 in the Battle of Travancore. De Lannoy died there and the Indians erected a monument in admiration for his contribution to their liberty. If there is one thing Indian-Dutch, it is this one.
I missed it because the driver and the travel agency put me on the wrong foot. I saw Udayangiri on the Tamil Nadu map, close to the main road to Trivandrum and not far away from Kanyakumari, from where we could have gone to Colachel on the coast. But our official travel programme gave a visit to the Udaygiri Fort a day later from Trivandrum in the afternoon. The driver did not react to our suggestion to go through Udaygiri to the coast.
Fortunately, I found some information online about the fort later. Udayagiri fort is located at a distance of 14 km from Nagercoil town in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. It had been originally built in the 1600s, and then rebuilt by the King Marthanda Varma of Travancore during 1741-44 under the supervision of Eustachius De Lannoy, a Flemish naval commander of the Dutch East India Company,who later served as the Chief of the Travancore Army.
So we went on the coast road to Colachel. Every year the Indian army celebrates their victory over the Dutch on 31st July with a military ceremony there, in front of a pillar erected in memory of the battle. A student at a Bombay college spending his holiday at home told us that in reasonable English. Constructions are encroaching on the pillar from behind, so it is becoming less visible.
Opposite the pillar is a small chapel commemorating the 414 victims of the 2004 tsunami in this village. Next to that is what looks like a brand new catholic church. A group of musicians playing music nears and enters the church. A marriage is starting in the church.
Estuary Island Resort
The next surprise was that we did not drive to the city of Trivandrum
On the plus side: the resort was nicely located and constructed, with a good swimming pool. The beach was across a lake some 500 metres wide. Small hotel boats dropped and picked up resort guests. There were many Indian families with kids, clearly middle class and upper middle class people enjoying the Christmas holiday. The food and staff were excellent and we had internet again in the lobby area of the resort.
The Christmas gala dinner buffet was on the day we arrived. It started at 20:00 with loud music and a Deejay. Eating and drinking as much as you wanted. At a given moment Santa Claus appeared, jumping around from table to table. As we had seen before in other places Santa Claus in India wears a white mask.
Chris did quite a bit of swimming, not only his daily 50 laps in the 20-metre pool, but after meeting the chief cook he got a small boat to accompany him crossing the 500 metres to the beach and back. He stayed back on Christmas Day when I went to Trivandrum. Little Indian boys watched him crossing the lake, and one of them of a family who had talked to Chris, came to see him after dinner shaking his hand saying: “Good night uncle”.
So on Christmas Day I did the tour programme alone
speak to his boss. I also reasoned that driving 150 kilometres on Christmas day for a few pictures was too much too ask. So I did the Trivandrum programme.
The famous Sri Padmanabhaswamy Vishnu temple in Trivandum, now Thiruvananthapuram, was impressive. It attracts many worshippers that dress in white doties that can be hired or bought there. The atmosphere was great, serene and a little festive. I could only walk around the temple halfway.
There was a big pond in front of the temple and through many iron bars surrounding it I could see that there was something in the middle. I could only see the back of a big snakehead. I had to walk around the pond to see that there was a big lying Vishnu statue in the pond. Four black-clad pilgrims asked me to take a picture of them in front of Vishnu. When I asked if they had email so that I could send it to them they said they did not.
On the way back we stopped in the Trivandrum harbor for some pictures. Many motor boats were doing a tour with Kovalam beach tourists. With only limited traffic on Christmas day, I reached the resort at 13:30. It gave me the opportunity to publish my last three blog posts from there.