Travel to the Thrissur Pooram Festival in Kerala

Pooram is a demonstration of splendor that takes place every year in several cities of Kerala. And I went to see the most famous of them, that of Thrissur, in other words, the Thrissur Pooram. I had to change my travel schedule to be especially here for the Pooram and finally, it was worth it. After attending a traditional dance show called Kathakali, I left Cochin with the ferry and then the train to go to Thrissur to attend the Pooram.

The train trip went well, but it was the arrival at 2am and the night on a bench at the station which was harder. Obviously, I do not close my eyes without having secured my stuff with my two bags hanging on the bench by a chain and padlock. At 6am, I get up and I start looking for a hotel. Thrissur is much bigger than I imagined.

My challenge is to find a hotel, and especially at a decent price. Because of the Pooram, the hotels charge 10 times higher than usual. After an hour of walking and a good number of refusals, I find a lodge! I settle in my room. The room is decent. It is very hot inside but I have a nice balcony.

At noon I go around for the discovery of the city and I meet elephants being fed near a temple. One of them, the star (the central elephant), is in an interview with a video reporter. Obviously, it leaves it to its master to answer questions and just eat. On my way, I see a nice restaurant, with air conditioner and at super affordable prices! The waiters were always smiling and very happy to welcome a tourist.

Later I went to the tourist office to gather a little information and the person in charge give me a pass which gives access to a private platform for tourists to admire the show, which will be very practical afterward. In Pooram, in fact, there is a competition between two temples. They each have their God of course and 12 elephants each.

The competition is quite special. Participants are to open umbrellas of all colors and change them fast. The group that will have the most colors, the most eccentricity and, the fastest changes will "win" the competition depending on the shouts of the crowd. The Pooram is supposed to start at 2:30, but in fact, in the temple, some processions are already taking place.

In the afternoon the teams practice in their respective temples. I decided to visit one. The line lasts more than an hour to enter the temple, and the crowd gets bigger. Inside, some elephants and those who do the maneuvers practice. We are getting closer and closer but the density of the crowd is increasing. I decided to try to pierce this human wall to go into the fire of action. When I manage to get close to elephants, it's madness.

People are crazy. They jump in places to the sound of musician and they shout with all their strength. A lot of people come up trying to see what's going on. Eventually, people are just on fire and the craziness is at its peak. Of course, there is the practice of changing the umbrella, but people do not care. I think people are just happy to share it all together and to party. In any case, I do not regret moving forward!

The elephants move in the city to a nearby temple, preceded by musicians (drums, timbales, and kind of horns). People shoot fireworks with a parachute that come out during the explosion. The funniest is to dodge the shells the size of a coconut that falls on the crowd with each shot. At 5pm the demonstration takes place.

Well, I go back to walk the streets and head for the stage to watch the show. But there are so many people that we cannot make it. Alone, I managed to sneak behind the stairs that I climbed from behind since almost impossible to get to the front. Meanwhile, I with two locals climb on a sort of presidential platform, reserved for tourists. Given the crowd and the superb location of this grandstand which is at the front row, I enjoy it!

thrissur pooram elephants images wallpapers

The show begins. Every 2 minutes, the teams prepare and change their umbrellas under the shouts and applause of the spectators. It is quite surrealistic as a show. This last for a few hours, interspersed with a pause or the elephants enter the temple. The crowd in waiting seems ready to explode.

After the musicians leave, 15 elephants leave the temple one after the other. As the first elephant come out of the temple, the crowd bursts. There are so many people. I would easily say more than a lakh people. The worst is that a good part of where they are, they cannot see anything of the show. It's no big deal. The platform allows me to see but especially to have a little space.

The elephants face the public, then advance and go 500 m further, passing a few inches from us. Then once they arrive, they turn back to the temple. Then 15 more elephants leave the temple and face the other elephants now 500 m farther. Then, in turn, each group change the umbrella. On each elephant are three people to change the umbrella.

Each group represents a temple. The Thiruvambadi temple is dedicated to Krishna and the Paramekkavu temple is dedicated to Parvati. It lasts a good two hours, during which the crowd intensifies and the atmosphere goes into a crescendo. There is a wave of cheers and dances with every change of umbrella. It was a great moment!

I end the day in a good restaurant where I enjoy mutton coconut fry with rice. I decided to find a bar that welcomes me to allow me to drink a second beer! Well, there are a lot of people in town, and the streets are pretty amazing.

After a short nap, I return to town at 3am for the 3 hour long fireworks. There are too many people. The police help us to pass in the crowd. But all is well worth it since the fireworks begin. It looks a lot more like the bombardment. People like the explosions, the fire, and the noise. But for a few minutes, there is an escalation of explosions on the ground.

Then, a break and the second temples try to surpass these explosions of fireworks. Despite the huge noise of the first it still succeeds to go beyond. It is completely crazy! So after all these emotions, I go back to my hotel. My room is like an oven and I have to sleep outside on my balcony.

Overall, it was Thrissur Pooram and I'm really happy to have participated. I saw things too that I would never forget. All ended at noon with the last fireworks that I listen from my balcony.

Stopover in Cancun in Mexico

We fly to Cancun, the tourist capital of Mexico. We feel pinched like in a sardine can and there is no entertainment program integrated in the seats on this 20 hour flight. After endless hours later we reach Cancun in the morning, where the owner of the booked apartment in the hotel zone chauffeured us.

During the trip we talked to the two Mexican women we met at the terminal and they explained the things to do in Cancun and which were not worth it. They also tell us that it is not a good year for the tourism industry in Yucatan. Many Americans and Canadians spend their holidays elsewhere because they are worried about violence and drugs in Mexico.

Through the window I saw that we were approaching the center of Cancun, which was horrible. There were concrete buildings without any charm. The shared van left us at our hostel. The hostel, for the prices that we then paid during the trip, turned out to be very basic and a tad expensive.

The room was clean, but it was a bit seedy. Unfortunately, our bedroom is located exactly on the four-lane highway, so we must first get used to the noise. The cockroaches on the toilet and dripping water from the ceiling greet us. This is all very normal here, welcome to Mexico!

In the apartment, a small highlight already wait for us. We are allowed to carry the baby turtles hatched today through the day into the sea. This is possible only at night, because otherwise they are eaten by hungry birds. Together with an area guard, we go down to the sandy beach. We wet our hands with sea water, grab few of the cute babies and release them with our best wishes in the ocean waves. Only one in a thousand babies will survive the youth and one day return to the beach as an adult turtle.

The warm temperatures demand a cool down. In the swimming trunks, we pass the spacious pool area to the private beach area, where we deposit our things on the sun loungers and treat us to a long wave pool in the salty sea. The water is wonderfully clear, but we cannot swim here because of the wide sandbar and further out there are dangerous currents. On the beach, various traders compete for the few guests. They want to sell Cuban cigars, shells or cheap jewelry.

cancun travel guide mexico images wallpaper

Our walks along the beach are limited. There are practically no bars or restaurants to be found, except the hotel's own all inclusive bars, where foreign guests are not welcome. When we got tired legs from running sand, we realize that we can not get up onto the road anywhere because everything is closed. In front of most hotels there are guards so that strangers cannot go inside. We still sneak in and get lost in a spacious hotel complex. Three times we have to ask ourselves, until we finally find the exit to the street!

The Mexicans celebrate today the Dia de los Muertos, the day of the dead. This is a colorful folk festival in honor of the dead. The streets are decorated with flowers and symbols of death, skeletons and skulls are in the shop windows.

In Cancun Downtown, some celebrations should take place. We walk to the Parque las Palapas. There are countless food stalls and some tents. Candles are lit. Pictures of the deceased are hung up and decorated with colored skulls and other offerings.

We move through the food stalls and various treats land on our table. We have somehow missed the announced parade, but on the main stage various performances are presented. The dancers are creepy. There are also artistic ballet and acrobatics. Of course, the accompanying music sounds in a loud volume that makes our ears wobble.

Later we plunge into the nightlife of the hotel zone. In front of the hottest club, about 20 ticket vendors are quite aggressively waiting for customers! Although we do not like it in this loud party zone, we allow ourselves a cool drink.

A culinary highlight awaits us at the resort, where we dine in the restaurant. Dressed in black we are led to the entrance where the rules are explained to us. No pictures may be taken and the mobile phones must be switched off.

We get used to the coming darkness. In the restaurant there is a dark night! We are seated at our table. We do not see ourselves or the table in front of us. Two dark purple neon lights on the ceiling are enough for the waiter to help us with the night vision equipment.

You can only see the white napkin with which we can wipe our hands after each course. 25 different small bites are presented to us. Of course we try to find out what we are currently eating. We do not always succeed, but the strawberry is easy to taste. There are apple chips with goose cheese mousse, citrus spaghetti with ginger soy sauce, salmon confit with saffron or Soursop daiquiri. Recognizing such dishes on the palate is more difficult!

Animators in white masks massage our backs to make us relaxed. During the dinner, they surprise with some tricks, give us roses or serenade us. We are excited about this unforgettable experience in the dark!

We go to the car rental agency, where we want to receive our car for the next three weeks. We are told that today, unfortunately, no vehicle in the booked class is available. After the intervention on our part, the telephone wires glow and already 10 minutes later, a practically new one is at the door. We take it back to the hotel.

After more than 20 hours of travel we went to bed very tired. The next day we will leave the horrible and expensive Cancun to get into the state of Yucatan. I know that this post is a bit decaffeinated, but soon the action will begin.

Travel to a Cultural Renaissance in Hyderabad

After a short tour in Delhi, we visit the old city of Hyderabad to discover a scene of extraordinary life. We took a night train to the city of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana), about 700 km north of Bangalore. 6 hours passed and we woke up to see the city that gave us a first glimpse of what Hyderabad would be like.

We arrived at 6 in the morning after spending the whole night awake because of the cold that came in from outside, the noise of snoring, and trains that passed by. Slowly we went into the city. The good? We are very close to the hostel. The bad? The hostel was on the other side of 8 tracks with unstoppable traffic and no type of crossing in sight.

Even with our backpacks on our shoulders, we crossed the first street, and again the second street. Upon arrival, we found a strong harassment of the rickshaw, who insist on following us to sneak in front of us in the hotels and so take a commission. The search was very intense. It seems that the hotels are more expensive here and in the end, we ended up at the hostel. They treated us very well.

We went for breakfast near the Falaknuma Palace and waited for the driver who took us to Fort Golconda Fort. It is an eight-hundred-year-old fortress built on a mountain, which is mostly built on and around the natural granite cliffs of the mountain. In addition, the fortress is considered one of the most important diamond mines in the area.

For example, important and famous diamonds such as the Hope Diamond and the Koh-i-Noor, which is now part of the British Crown Jewels, have been found here. Many "unimportant" diamonds were placed in the fortress so that they reflected the light and brightly lit the many splendid halls. For example, they were placed in front of candles in the "shelves" to break their light.

After my very strenuous up and down descent, we went to see the spectacular tombs of the Qutb Shahi kings, which were about 5 minutes away by car. It is a huge garden where seven of the nine Qutb Shahi rulers rest together with other members of the royal family.

tourist map of Hyderabad travel guide

We only had one day to get to see Hyderabad thoroughly. So, we decided to squeeze the little time we had left. We then get back to the center of the city. In front of the Charminar, we ate and took a tour of this bazaar discovering what this city is famous for. We see many jewelry shops. As good tourists we took pictures. We try to do some "tourism", but we find that Hyderabad does not have much to offer.

But we walked a bit around. And the picture is more or less the same. Among all this madness, I pass through small alleys where they mainly sold clothes and shoes. In the street, there are many women who wear a burqa, and only their eyes are visible.

We arrived at the Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Devasthanam temple that we had seen on the map. It is built completely in white marble and we went in, took off our shoes, and went around images and flowers. We sat watching the sunset, to leave from there to the upper area of the city.

To finish our tour we went to the Hussain Sagar lake which separates Hyderabad from Secunderabad. On the map, it looks like a blue lake, with parks and pedestrian walks around. In reality, it has nothing. It has floating houses here and there. In the lake, there is a large figure of Buddha somewhat worn.

The parks turned out to be sets of grass and trees. We could only get close to the lake through a half-fallen gate that opens the way to a kind of viewpoint. What did catch our attention is that many families came to the place in their cars to see the lake. They stayed a few minutes there and then they left.

To end the stay we decided to go for dinner in the best restaurant in the city of Hyderabad. Once arrived on the spot, we discover a hideous tower, which deserves to be demolished. We climb into the elevator, ready to go get another restaurant. When the door of the elevator opens we have the breath almost cut to see a whole army of porters, hotel masters, waiters who greet us with deference.

The chairs are pieces of a museum. Many statues and delicate paintings are arranged in a very oriental decor worthy of the Arabian Nights. The waiters bring us the chairs and make sure we are properly seated. Once the order is over, and the dishes are on the table, the waiter flutter around us.

They do not let us serve ourselves and delicately portions of Hyderabadi Biryani in our plates. The way of serving with two spoons in one hand is also very classy. We feel a bit like princes. After having dinner there with enough Raita, we went to our hotel where there was a terrace with a pool and views of Lake Hussain Sagar Lake.

We go down to the disco and enjoy the party that allowed us to enter free to the open bar. We then run to the station to catch the train at 1:30 in the morning to Aurangabad. And well, that was Hyderabad.