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India - Munnar and Thekkady, Kerala - Days 10 & 11: 14 Magical Days in India: #7

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Kerala is an amazingly picturesque state, especially during monsoon season. Thankfully, we had a waterproof camera.

Have we mentioned the rain (monsoon season)? We arrived at a Tea Plantation in Munnar where these tea pickers harvested large bags of tea. We wondered if they were paid by the bag or the pound.

When I decided to stop covering my grey and bleach the remaining black hair on my head shortly before going to India, I didn’t realize that no one under 80 had white hair there. In fact, no one had blonde or red-hair either. My husband was prematurely white and the two of us, aside from being non-Indian, stood out because of our hair. Generally when I travel, it’s just my cameras that make it difficult to blend in. Over time, people have grown accustomed to me in my hometown though.

Many of us have heard the saying that neither rain nor snow will keep the postman away. In India the cold, heavy monsoon rains do not stop the tea pickers from harvesting tea leaves.

The pleasant smell of rain permeating the air as it saturated the herb and spice gardens and tea fields surrounded us as the cold dewy air hit our faces when we viewed the landscape from a hilltop.

One way to enjoy India and the culture of Kerala on a rainy day is to go to a Kathakali performance.

If you travel to New York City, there is a good chance that you will visit a performing arts venue. New York has Broadway, Kerala has Kathakali.

Kathakali is a stylized dramatic dance showing intense emotions. Makeup is applied heavily to the actors eyes so that facial expressions can be seen from across the theater. Like the ballet, performers use body language to convey a story. Hands play a significant role in Kathakali performances. The photographs below of the Kathakali, Narakasura Vadham (Nakrathundi), were taken at Punarjani Traditional Village.The story is about beautiful temptress, Lalitha who is trying to get the affection of Jayanthan(green character), the son of Indra. His family does not want her and so he rejects her advances. She becomes angry , turns into her real self, the evil Narakathundri, and attacks Jayanthan. Jayanthan kills Narakathundi/Lalitha in self-defense.

The costumes used are also of significance in denoting the essential nature of the character. In this play the costumes used were: Sathwika (the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minukku (females), and Thatti.

Jayanthan, the Kantakali’s hero. His green face represents his Sattivika or good nature

Jayanthan, the Kantakali’s hero. His green face represents his Sattivika or good nature

The next day we headed to Thekkady from Munnar with a stop in Kuchinthanny.

One of the birds that I have seen in the wild only once before visiting India is the Owl. When we arrived in Thekkady and walked towards our cottage I had to scramble for my camera in order to catch this beauty.

These small owls are most active at dawn and dusk. This photo, taken one late afternoon in Thekkady, Kerala, India. The one above is caught basking in the sun prior to heading home to roost.

So many beautifully carved temples dot the landscape in India.

Even on a rainy day one can appreciate the many beautifully carved temples that dot the landscape in India.

Standing in the rain

Too bad Steve didn’t have a poncho or a longer rain jacket highlighting another reason why packing a pair of rain pants is a good idea.

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Next destination: Alleppey and Kochin, Kerala, India

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