A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Mike Casey

My Big Adventure Trip to India: The Plan

There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes and minds open.

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View Overland through India on Mike Casey's travel map.

My plan was to complete an overland journey through India from the Himalayan mountains in North India to the very southernmost point of India at Cape Comolin, Kanniyakumari. The idea to return to India was because of my experiences in India the previous year, then meeting a motorbike adventurer from England, Gordon May.

The few countries in the world that I have visited have not carved such a deep and lasting impression as India did, and I have enjoyed travel and adventure in the UK and Europe. The previous year I was in Southern India for a short time in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I was stunned by the richness of this land, its lush beauty, the intensity of its colours, smells, tastes and sounds...India overloaded my senses. One thing was certain...I was going to return to India to explore more of this amazing country, including one of the worlds great motorbike journeys, from Manali in the Himachal Pradesh into Ladakh in the Western Himalaya.

The Plan was to arrive in Delhi on Sunday 3rd October, the day when the Commonwealth Games opens. I'm being picked up at Delhi airport and taken to a pre-booked hotel. I have my Visa (just ) , passport and travel documents, kit for trekking and a motorbike trip in the Himachel Pradesh, the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, Japuir, a three day train journey from Delhi to Kerala.

I am very excited about this great adventure and very thankful to a number of people who have made this trip possible. First my wife Jane, for giving me the freedom to follow my dreams. and next the support, advice and encouragement of my two great sons, Nick and Tom, "Dad just do it".
I would also like to thank my good friends in the Boundary 500 motorbike group for enabling me to hone and develop advanced motorbike skills and training thorough the IAM, plus many ride outs after a break from riding a motorbike. This gave me great confidence and safe riding during a challenging motorbike adventure in the Western Himalayas. Thank you Ali, Nick, Brian, Paul J, Wilky and others.

Gordon May, motorbike adventurer and writer, who I met at Rufforth Park, gave me to the idea of a motorbike adventure in India on a Royal Enfield, with the advice, "Get on that big journey soon" and sowed the seeds for this journey to explore India. I now own a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Sixty 5. I love the "thump, thump" of that single cylinder 500cc engine, it puts a smile on my face, turns heads and makes new friends. I am now going to follow Gordons advice, and will ride a Royal Enfield in India, along the Manali to Leh road in the Western Himalayas.

Finally my grateful thanks to my friends Naresh and Saurabh in India for all their help and support in putting this trip together for me, and keeping a watchful eye on my progress . An adventure has got to be something that takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you. You should tell people what you did, and not what you were going to do, "One day I'll do that" means never. Plan it and do it.

Posted by Mike Casey 05:34 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

DAY 39: November 9th: Sunrise at Cape Comolin

The end of my journey from the Himalayas to the very Southern most tip of India, where the 'Three Oceans' meet.

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Up at 5.30am to see the 'Sunrise' at Cape Comolin, the very Southern most tip of India where the three oceans meet, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, also the end of my journey through India from the Himalayas. It was going to be a significant moment, as yesterdays 'sunset' was overcast.

As I walked down to the harbour area of Kanyakumari it was still dark, but the night sky was clear, with many stars. The prospect of a spectacular 'Sunrise' was very good. People were slowly walking down to the Cape harbour area, I took up a great position on the outer harbour wall, built after the 2004 'Tsunami' hit Kanyakumari, killing over 1000 people, most of whom were pilgrims visiting the Gandi Mandapam holy temple, and watching the sunrise.

By 6am the light was beginning to change, an orange - red glow began to increase on the flat horizon, and some light cirus cloud was reflecting these colours, sunrise was going to be wondeful. I was shooting this event with my fully charged camera, then a clear, sharp and bright red ball began to rise above the horizon to the cheer of the waiting crowds. Finally a full sunrise bust open above the horizon, it was fantastic magic moment as the Cape area reflected wonderful red and orange colours.

This atmospheric moment at Cape Comolin completed my journey that had started 39 Days earlier in the Himalayas. I had travelled south though India by train, car, on foot, by bamboo raft and by motor bike, a Royal Enfield ofcause. I have had a brilliant adventure. An offical 'paddle' in the three oceans was required next, followed by a celebration breakfast.

What a special day !

Posted by Mike Casey 07:49 Archived in India Tagged india the of cape tip southern most comolin Comments (0)

DAY 40 : November 10th: The Last few Days on the Backwaters

Birdwatching and mosquitos.

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Based at the Kottayam Club at Kumarakom for my last couple of days, a very nice old colonial style building right on the Backwaters, but no one else is there, how odd ? Anyway its a good location for bird watching at the Kumarakum Bird Sanctuary. So up early at the crack of dawn (Again), into the Bird Sanctuary and around it by boat. Almost immediatly kingfishers, cormorants, darters or snake birds, egrets, pond herons, purple heron and a rare night heron out during the day. So a great morning.

Then an autorickshaw ride down the road to the Driftwood Museum, the brain child of teacher Raji Punnose, from the andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. She has collected driftwood for many years, and prunes them into "wildlife sculptures". Some are very good, others are very abstract, and you have to look hard, but her descriptions and poetry for each piece is excellent, and she fund raises for charity. A very nice lady.

Walked back into Kumarakom, and stopped for some lunch when an almighty monsoon downfall dropped from the heavens for the next couple of hours.

An autorickshaw back to the Club, a kingfisher beer and some reading. A pleasant restful day after all the travelling and adventures of my trip.
That night I was targeted by every mosquito in the Backwaters, I was eaten alive.

Posted by Mike Casey 07:26 Archived in India Comments (0)

Overland through India in 42 Days

From the Himalaya's to Cape Comolin by train, on foot, by car, autorickshaw, bamboo raft and on a Royal Enfield - What an Adventure !

sunny 38 °C

Its the end of my Great Adventure from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. I Landed in Dubia a couple of hours ago, staying overnight, then a 7.30 flight back to Newcastle tomorrow, landing at 11.30am.

After seeing the sunset and and sunrise at Cape Comolin I dipped my feet in the three oceans, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This marked a significant end point to my trip. I returned to Thiruvilla and spent two nights in the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. At dawn I went on a two hour boat journey on Lake Verbrandrum, in the Kerala Backwaters, spotting all sorts of birds. I got savaged by mosquitoes, worse than the Scottish midgie !!!!!!

I left my base at Thiruvilla yesterday tea time for Cochin, overnight there, then up at 6am this morning to the airport. I am staying in Dubai overnight, up at 4.30am for my flight back to Newcastle.

I am a bit behind with my Blog and photos, but that will be completed when I get home. I have used up all my brownie points now, so Jane will have a list for me. But I have a serious condition now, its called the "Travel Bug". I have proved that I am safe to be let loose on the planet, with no great mishaps or misadventures, only that bad day on the Rohtang Pass. My travel kit will be reduced by over 50% next time. I have made many new friends on this trip from India, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain and Cornwall.

Highlights, there have been many, the trekking in the Western Himalayas, the Royal Enfield motorbike trip over the Rohtang and up to Zingzingbar, my five days exploring Periyar Tiger Reserve, reaching Cape Comolin (the very southern most point of India, and my meeting with the King of Kerala, the Maharajah of Tranvancore, the Taj Mahal, the Amber Fort of Jaipur. I have met so many interesting people on this trip.

Looking forward to seeing everyone back home with my traveller tales, blog , photos and video clips. There is much to do when I get back, to complete this travel blog, make the documentary "A Passage through India", contact all my travel companions, and to thank Peter and Travellerspoint.com for their support and use of what has been an excellent Travel Blog website.

My thanks to all the emails during my trip from family and friends, they were a real tonic and well received.

My thanks to Gordon May for sowing the seed, especially the Royal Enfield. To Naresh and Subrah for all the planning, help and support in India, and making it a great trip.

My thanks to all the really nice people I met on my great adventure in India from the Western Himalayas through India to Cape Comerin. I enjoyed your company and friendship on my journey in so many unexpected places. People are genuinely friendly and helpful, and want you to be there, they want to know where you are from, and what you think of this amazing continent. I found throughout this journey that people want to help other people, particularly those who have little, but share their richness in so many ways, “How much do I owe you for fixing my Motorbike”...”Nothing, you are my brother and a guest in my country “ (Ajay, motor mechanic, Keylong, Lahaul, Himachel Pradesh, on the Manali-Leh road NH21, 3082m)

Everyday day gave me new experiences, encounters, views, people, places and landscapes, often having a spectacular place or view to myself, if only for a while, especially those places that were so remote and beautiful...I found nirvana, that place of perfect peace and happiness many times in India, that state of enlightenment which you find when you have no suffering or worries, a total feeling of peace and contentment.

Finally my grateful thanks to my wife for giving me the freedom to follow this adventure, and to my sons for their sound advice to their Dad.

Posted by Mike Casey 04:14 Archived in India Tagged india overland journey an through Comments (0)

DAY 37: November 7th: A meeting with the Maha Raja

An audience with His Royal Highness, the Maha Raja of Travancore, the King of Kerala.

sunny 38 °C

There are not many people who can say that they have had a private audience with an Indian King, Well I have today at 10am in the Royal Palace of Travancore, in the city of Trivandrum, the state capital of Kerala, in the Maha Raja's private room, with Her Royal Highness the Princess Lakshmi, and a former Indian Ambassador and High Commissioner. Forget Obama's visit to India !

It was a beautiful morning as I left the Mascot Hotel at 9.30, picked up by my driver to go to the house of T.P. Sreenivasan, Former Indian Ambassador to the UN, for a briefing. He was a tall and very comanding man, but extremely pleasant. He has served in the Indian diplomatic service for forty years, all over the world. It was then on to the Royal Palace of Travancore. I was driven to the gates of the Palace, with guards saluting me, then up the long drive to the main entrance of the Palace, the car door was opened, another salute, then up the steps of the Palace, guards to attention and more salutes ! I was walking into another world.

Her Royal Highness, Princess Lakshmi greeted me (I was expected), along with her twin grandaughters, she then escorted me into a beautiful room, and there in a corner was His Royal Highness, the Maha Raja of Travancore, sat in his chair, an old man of 87 years, dressed in simple white clothes, he had sparkling eyes, and a warm and welcoming smile. He stood up to greet me, as I greated him with joined hands and "Namaskar"!

I respectfully greeted him, introduced myself, and thanked His Royal Highness for his kind invitation to meet him. I am blown away by his presence, but he immediatly put me at ease, and I told him why I was in India, and my journey through India from the Himalayas to Cape Comolin.

We talked about Kerala and the UK, the great Keralan Community in Newcastle, Indian and British Colonial history, the famous 'Magnificant Ivory Throne''at Buckingham Palace, and he wanted to know my impressions of Kerala and India. He is a wonderful old gentleman, highly educated, and razor sharp, a very keen sense of humour, and a great story teller. He was clearly a very educated man, in fact he studied at Oxford. He was widely read and extremely knowledgable about many things, including history and literature. While we were talking he told me of all the great political leaders, statesmen and royality that had met him at the Royal Palace. It read like a 'Who's Who, and that they had all sat in the chair I was sat in, how amazing is that !

Our planned 15 minutes became an hour. I told His Highness that I was very grateful for his time and for our wonderful conversation.
I asked his permission to take photographs of him, which he was delighted to allow. He then asked me to sit next to him, to have our photograph taken. He then stood up, followed by everyone else in the room, he joined his hands and thanked me for my visit, said "Namaskar", I replied in the same way with a deep, respectful bow, and His Highness left the room.

Princess Lakshmi then came up to me, and we talked for another ten minutes, she also was very gracious, warm and welcoming.
She thanked me for my visit, and told me about India's great history, culture and civilisation, of which she has written many books on this subject. She asked me about my impressions and thoughts of India, and especially, Kerala. I thanked her, joined my hands, bowed and said "Namaskar", and left the Palace on a magic carpet, which Palace guards saluting me and standing to attention at every corner.

I then went off to kovalem Beach for the afternoon to relect on my special morning with His Royal Highness, the Maha Raja of Tranvancore.

Posted by Mike Casey 03:18 Archived in India Comments (0)

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