God’s own country had been beckoning us to its fold for some time, but though we had traveled to different places in Kerala we had never spent time in the interiors of this beautiful southern state of India, known as Kerala. But last week, things changed, the stars collaborated with the hand of God and we found ourselves waking up to a beautiful morning, nestled between the sea and the serene backwaters near Kochi, off Cherai Beach. We were in Kerala for a week and staying at a lovely little boutique resort called Le Petit Elephant. We explored places in and around Kochi from this lovely place that we had made our home during our stay.
We have a great fascination for sunrises and love to catch a glimpse of the radiant beauty of the sun against different backdrops, hills, sea, waterfalls, desert, and many others. So, of course, we had to experience the sunrise across the serene backwaters of Kerala. So off we went in the wee hours of the morning on our sun chase.
It was still dark as we walked towards the place from where we would board our boat for an hour long cruise on the backwaters. As we walked in pitch darkness, we could hear our footfalls above the roar of the sea to our left. The sound of the sea receded as we walked away from it towards the backwaters. The birds had now risen and were up to their daily morning chirping. We heard strange bird noises, including seagulls who made a wailing sort of sound. Coconut Palms swayed in the darkness as we passed them. The small village that we passed through still seemed to be in deep slumber as not a soul stirred. A small chapel emitted an ethereal light as we passed it, a dog gave us a silent and benign look and scurried off in the distance, a curious toad hopped in front of us and let off a sweet croak, elsewhere crickets were chirping while a rooster crowed “cock-a-doodle-doo”.
We soon reached our destination and waited on the edge of the backwaters near a small wooden jetty as the boatman readied the boat. The water shimmered with a silvery hue in the darkness. In the distance, we could see the dim shapes of the Chinese fishing nets and crows flying over them in search of early morning prey. A flock of seagulls flew past in a graceful white wave as the boatman silently beckoned us to board the boat. The boat was quite a big one and could have seated at the least 10 people. But it was just the two of us on board.
The boatman gently and expertly rowed us away from the jetty and into the wide expanse of the backwaters. He used a single, huge wooden pole as an oar to row and steer the boat. His oar gently caressed the water as if afraid to damage the fragility of the water as we headed towards the distant coconut groves in an easterly direction.
We looked at the shimmering water, at the lush green coconut palms all around us, at the sky which was just transforming into a shade of blue from a somber gray.
We saw a few fishermen in their small canoes casting their nets for an early morning catch. A pelican swooped down gracefully on the water and flew away with a fish between its bills. It was just the two of us with the water, the sky, the trees, the birds and a silent and unobtrusive boatman and his boat. None of us spoke as we immersed ourselves in the intoxication of the moment. The only sound was the gentle sound of the oar against the water and the chirping of the birds. At that moment the world seemed in perfect harmony and we felt one with the environment silently cruising along on the water.
And then we had our first glimpse of the morning sun. He peeped out in the distance from behind a clump of coconut palms in resplendent orange. As he slowly emerged from behind the trees, the water turned from silver to gold and the sky was bathed in shades of orange and yellow.
A few white clouds seemed to serenade the rising sun and also cast their shadow on the water. It seemed as if the clouds had fallen into the water from the sky along with a slice of the sun as they reflected in the water.
The spectacle before us thrilled us to the core but none of us spoke, for we had no words, words seemed so woefully inadequate to express our emotions at that lovely moment. As we cruised along bathed in a golden glow as if the sun was blessing us with his benign touch, we realized why the state of Kerala was called, ‘God’s own country”. We felt we were close to God amidst the beautiful environs, it was our moment of Zen. Tears flowed from our eyes as we were swept away in the bliss of the moment. Both of us were immersed deep in our own inner selves, yet we were strangely connected by some magical thread of romance woven by the hands of the sun and the enchanting waters that flowed beneath us.
We sat silently absorbing and relishing each and every nanosecond, knowing fully well that the moments would not last forever, but making the most of it while it did.
By now there were quite a few fishing boats but all of them moved silently, almost reverently in the water as if afraid to break the delicate balance of nature. A fisherman cast his net and heaved in his haul as we watched silently. Another pelican swooped gracefully and swished away with its catch. A flock of seagulls and crows crossed each other creating a mosaic of black and white against the backdrop of the blue sky.
Soon it was time to head back and the boatman still silent, slowly rowed us back to the jetty and helped us disembark. When we thanked him, he gave us a warm smile which melted our hearts.
We turned around to take one last look at the backwaters. The sun was now a blazing ball of fire, the water reflected the blue sky and the white clouds, birds still flew over the placid waters, but something was missing.
“The magic is over”, I said, as we slowly retraced our steps back to our hotel.
Experience a slice of the magic our Kerala Backwaters Boat Cruise by watching this video.
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