We woke up hurriedly in morning, because we were visiting Kodanad as well as Kalady at the same visit, and thus had to be bathed and all before going to temples. The roads were wonderfully vacant at morning, and I could cover good distance in short time. At 7.45 A.M. we reached Kodanad Elephant Training Center and Zoo. We saw a very small elephant, about waist-high, getting royal bath from a worker of the zoo. The kid was clearly enjoying the cool water, seeing how it danced around and stretched itself to allow the worker to reach hard spots.
Unfortunately the guard had not come yet, and the workers did not know any language other than Malyalam. They were also answering us in loud scolding type of way, which at first startled us. But when we saw them later handling the elephants, we realized this is the way they talk to elephants, and thus are habituated to do so all the time.
At about 8, slowly the elephants started moving outwards. We were wondering where the bathing takes place. At that time, the guard had arrived. He said ‘follow the elephants!’ and so we did. The huge animals walk their own pace, and so we had to stop again and again, for not missing them en route. After a 5 minute walk, they turned left to approach the river flowing besides the town. Surprisingly a large number of people, 90% of them foreigners, were already gathered there. Seems this spot is more famous with foreigners than with Indians. I don’t remember Kodanad being on any tourist agency’s itinerary.
The royal bathing is really something to see. The elephants are made to lie flat on the shallow waterbed, first on this side, and then on that. The mahout then scrubs the hell out of the animal by using the inner shell of coconut. They reach some really unimaginable places – yes, there too – and scrub them. I was half expecting them to put on polish on the elephants, the way we do when we wash our dirty bikes after many days! Though there was no polish applied, the elephants were sure spick and clean at the end of the bath.
The bath lasts about 1 hour, and that’s the only thing worth seeing in Kodanad. They do have a collection of animals which seems too much of an exaggeration to be called ‘zoo’.
Here I saw this sad scene, one monkey was kept in a cage, and other was hugging it from the outside.
Later we again roamed around the campus, to see the now clean elephants all dolled up, happily munching their breakfast.
Kodanad is famous for its elephant safaris, that’s the elephants are trained for. But on Sunday, the elephants too have leave, and thus no rides that day. People were slowly turning up at the zoo, but now there was nothing to see or do there. If you want to visit Kodanad, then make it before 8 to see the bathing. If you can’t make it, then forget about it, because there is not much you will miss.
After breakfast, we went to the Adi Shankaracharya mathh. Here there is the famous ghaat, when a crocodile had caught Adi Shankaracharya’s leg, and he asked his mother to permit him to take Sanyas, before that crocodile could relieve him. The mathh as well as neighboring Sri Krishna temple are nicely maintained.
We returned to the hotel in hard sun. Somehow, the ride in the hot afternoon had made me so sleepy, that I dozed off few hours! Nandinee patiently waited for me to wake up out of my slumber. We moved toward our last stop at 35 kilometers – Ernakulam – at about 3.00 P.M.
We learned from Rajasthan ride that if you are parceling the bike in morning train, it is better to stay in a hotel near railway, because in early morning the rickshaws charge manifolds. The map was saying there are a few good hotels on station road, and we decided to check them. After one – two bummers, we stumbled on Shalimar Metro. It’s really a good hotel, the second one I liked on this tour. The hotel just below too serves good food.
We roamed around in evening on the MG Road. Almost every city has named its major road as MG Road, and Ernakulam was no exception. There are a lot of shops that sell jewellery and sarees and most things that your wife loves and your wallet hates. We checked out a few big names in saree business, before settling in Chennai Silks.
Life has taught me that there are few things that are best accepted without attempting to understand them – some in general, and some pertaining to females. Selection of a ‘best shops’ is amongst them. After walking out of shops that housed several thousands of variety of clothes, because none was to the ‘liking’ of Nandinee, I have come to the conclusion that this ‘best shop’ decision is better accepted blindly that to be discussed with. First I used to feel bit ashamed, walking out of the shop empty handed after getting a considerable amount of sarees or dresses piled up on the desk on the pretext of display. I used to sympathize with the salesman and avoided the gaze of the doorman. But now I am hardened to this, and have perfected my poker face. Now whenever I enter a shop for her shopping, I first hunt a chair and fan or AC, and make myself comfortable.
A tip for unmarried folks, the decision of clothes is already taken when she shows them to you for ‘opinion’. It doesn’t matter what you say, she is just testing you. In fact, I tested this while our shopping in Cochin, and found that after a lady spends about 30-40 minutes in a shop, only the sound of your voice is hearable to hear. I would answer randomly, and yet that answered the query perfectly.
‘How is this saree looking, Aniruddha? Good na?’
‘I think it will rain early this year.’
‘I thought so too… please pack this. Eww, look at the color of this! What do you think?’
‘Sine theta by cos theta equals tan theta’.
‘Absolutely. Who could wear this?!’
As if on a voice detector module, only the presence of my sound of voice would be detected, siphoning out my sentences. I found it really ironic that we were buying Tamil Nadu sarees in the state of Kerala, but didn’t bother to illuminate Nandinee about this geographic dilemma. She was already neck deep in a bunch of sarees from various counters, in search of that ever eluding ‘different’ one.
Finally at about 9.00 P.M. I dragged her out of the shop, calculating the total damage of wallet done. Surprisingly not much! Hmm, guess these things are cheaper here!
Tomorrow’s agenda was to have a tour of Fort Cochin and surround areas. Then the bike was to be submitted to the railway folks, which was a bother considering the language difference.