75. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY- 3. Thalassery, Muzhappilangad & MAHE

It is 31st of December and we have planned to celebrate the New Year at Mahe which is a part of Union Territory of Puduchery but is surrounded by God’s Own Country. Before we reach Mahe we have two other places to visit within Kerala.

The first stop is a beach and a great novelty. Muzhanppilangad is called a Drive-In beach. Here you can drive your car on a 4 Kms long beach by paying Rs. 30/-. There is no time limit specified but there is speed limit of 20 Kmph. This is made possible by District Transport Police Commissioner’s order No. 420/16.

It is a pleasurable experience to drive 4 Kms. on the wet and firm sand by the sea and enjoy the breeze.

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There is no extra charge for posing for photographs. Police however do make rounds in their jeep perhaps to enforce the speed limits.

 

At the southern end of the beach there are a few rocks close on the beach and the Hammer& Sickle can be seen there. The fishermen seem to be unfazed by the drivers and carry on their activities.

At the southern end it is an out and out fishermen’s beach.

The fish caught here uses saloon cars for transport to the market.

The beach has some birdlife.

Thalassery Fort is the second stop stop. Thalassery was known in colonial times as Tellicherry and the British East India Company built a fort there in the year 1708. It was meant to be used to make the British presence in Malabar Coast firm in the face of opposition from native Kingdoms. This was achieved by 1792 when Tipu Sultan ceded the Malabar coast to the British.Compared to Bekal Fort and St. Agnelo Forts in Kannur district, this is a smaller one but was perhaps strategically more important.

The fort has ‘dwarpals’, the sentries which are more often found on the gates of Hindu temples. Here they are very obviously Europeans.

The fort is located in the middle of Thalassery town and hence has many visitors. To the credit of Archaeological Survey of India. The fort is maintained clean and neat.

Behind the fort and closer to the sea you will find a nice little church perhaps built in the colonial times for the use of the fort’s occupants.

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On the western side of the fort we found a Lighthouse which appears to have been abandoned.

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Not far from there I found this crious metallic object. I could not understand the resons for it’s existence.

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Could it be a sentry post? It has a roof. It is decorated, so it is not meant for prisoners.

By lunchtime we hit Mahe or what is also called Mayyazhi. This used to be a French colony and we expect some good time on the New Year eve. There is none. It is total disappointment. The official celebrations organized by the District administration started at 5.30 pm and ended at 9.30 pm. They had invited a singer (solo) who sang like it is the end of the world, not the year.

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When you book a hotel for the 31st of December with a name like ‘Paris Residency’ in a past French Colony , with a facade like in the picture below you have some expectations.

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What would you do if they tell you that their restaurant is closed!!!! Car parking is on the roadside. There are no good restaurants around!!!

We dont believe the hotel manager. There is something wrong here and we decide to walk around the place.

It is indeed a small place. I dont understand what the French gained by retaining this place so long. Proabably the only beneficiaries of its status as an Union Territory are the liquor vendors. For a population of 42000 ( 2011 Census),  this small town has 72 liquor outllets. Most of the consumers appears to be the motorists passing by and the people from surrounding areas of Kerala which has a partial prohibition in place.

There is a small park and a walkway along the creek or the river which meets the sea nearby. Not a real beach but OK for an evening walk.

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There  is a Lighthouse on a small hillock by the side of the walkway. The visiting time was over by the time we reached there and hence had to take a picture from afar.

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When we ask the hotel manager about the ‘French connection’, he says there is none here. No old buildings, no old houses or anything remotely French. I believe him now. The only thing he suggests we should have a look at is the Church which is located bang on the highway. It is a nice little chruch. It was late we did not have time to find out more about it.

There is a Bus-Stop shelter on the mian road which looks like from the colonial days but no. It is of more recent origins.

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The best saloon for men in the Union Territory looks like this? well,  I could be wrong.

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Disappointed, we walk towards our hotel ( with the restaurant closed) worried about possible starvation on our 33rd wedding anniversary. On the way we see a stall selling fish and we start salivating. We peep in.

Green mussels!!!!!!!!!!!!

I shout out with joy which is short-lived when the fish vendor says that they are not offered in the restaurants.As if sent by God the man to the left in the second picture above who has come to buy fish volunteers with some information. There is a restaurant at the end of the road, opposite the park which sometimes have them on the menu.God bless him.

Our joy returns when the restaurant confirms that they do have the mussels and also chicken Shwarma to go with it. We order some of both to be delivered to us at Paris Residency.

On the side of the walkway, there are some interesting inscriptions. One is about the story of  Dasan and Chandrika who have now become dragonflies and live on the Velliyan Rock in the sea. I am sure they must be eating the Green mussels.

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Text and Pictures : Suryakiran Naik

 

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