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After our amazing stay in Munnar, our driver Arun drove us back to Kochi and from there we said goodbye to him and the car and caught a train north to Kannur. On our drive back we saw hundreds of women walking in matching sarees along the side of the road. Our driver Arun could not really explain what it was all about but we suspected it might be a political protest, perhaps about the Cauvery water issue (more about that in upcoming blogs).
Many visitors do a one week loop around southern Kerala, but Kannur and northern Kerala are much less visited. Kannur is in northern Kerala along the coast and after a 6 hour very comfortable train ride, we arrived just after dark. Our homestay host picked us up and after a crazy drive out of the busy city of Kannur we arrived at the beach side village just to the south. We even saw some porcupines on the road as we got out of the car and headed with our packs on over a roaring, narrow bridge and along a small footpath in the dark. It is always interesting to arrive somewhere in the dark and wake up the next morning and see where you are. Like many homestays, we were the only guests and their first guests of the season. We were back on the coast and back in the heat and our homestay had no AC. The host suggested we keep all the windows open to let the breeze in, but because we worry about mosquitos, we slept in a sweat box. When we awoke, it was a welcome sight to sit out on the balcony over the lagoon and tall swaying palm trees full of bird life. Thottada beach is just a couple of minutes away, which is a beautiful beach, calm enough for swimming. We spent half our days at the beach surfing the waves and playing in the sand and half our days touring around.
The kids passed their time making up games. Gavin spent hours trying to catch the small crabs in the canals. The kids also built a coconut boat and enjoyed watching it sail down the canal. We only saw a handful of foreigners during our time in Kannur and our homestay was definitely nestled in a typical Backwaters village. The kids watched the fisherman throwing their nets and steered clear of the many cows in the fields (we are total city slickers and scared of cows). The kids have a healthy fear of “wild dogs” as they call them and take great care to stay away from the dogs.
We went to a Theyyam, which is a local ritual performed at the temple, unique to this area. We still don’t totally understand what we saw but there was a man in an elaborate costume, drummers, dancing and chanting and blessing of rice and other offerings. All men in attendance had to go up three times through the ritual to receive blessings and offer rice to the dressed up man. Paul lined up and watched carefully what he was supposed to do. I was thankful that the women just got to stand and watch.
We visited the government loom factory where they make fabrics, rugs, and lots of other things using unpowered, ancient looking, dusty looms. It is great that the government is keeping this age old industry alive, but you couldn’t help but think a machine would be much more efficient. We did visit the store and bought a tablecloth and placemats, which will be great souvenirs. We of course also had to pose for a photo with the manager.
Fort Angelo was built by the Portuguese and was a pleasant surprise. It was a nice place to walk along the old fort walls in a park like setting along the ocean; and was free which we love.
We wandered through the market, which I always enjoy even if you have to watch where you walk. Since so many people in South India are vegetarian, the markets actually don’t even smell too bad compared to the wet markets of Southeast Asia.
On our way back we stopped at the Hypermarket (grocery store) and the kids ran around thrilled to see products from home. The biggest score was finding soya sauce, which we hoped would entice the kids to eat more rice, since often this was the only real thing they ate at meals. The kids were also happy to find some cereal.
Kannur was a great place to relax and the kids spent hours in the ocean and the beach. We got into a lovely habit of watching the sunset each evening at the beach and even saw dolphins just offshore one day.
- We had planned to stay at Ezhara Guest House because of the fabulous reviews, mostly attributed to the fantastic host, Hyacinth. Unfortunately she was doing renovations, but after numerous helpful emails back and forth, she recommended an alternate homestay.
- We stayed at KK Heritage, a homestay. We were the first guests of the season and Sreeranji was very helpful and even picked us up from the train stations. We paid 4000 rupees ($80 CAD) for room and all meals. We had a room with a double, single and an extra mattress on the ground. No AC, but good fan and mosquito nets. Cold shower, no toilet paper (by now we were used to carrying around our own). 2 minute walk to the beach. Suma, the maid who prepares all the meals was very sweet in trying to prepare meals the kids would enjoy. We had some good Keralan food including fresh fish twice. Sreeranji helped us organize rickshaws and a visit to a Theyyam.
- We took the train from Kochi-Kannur in 2AC, which is very comfortable – 5 hours. Cost was 695 rupees/person ($14 CAD/person).