113. WEST BENGAL. (2) South 24 Parganas

South 24 Parganas is the largest district of the State of West Bengal. It is also among the most difficult to travel in. The river Hoogli is everywhere crisscrossing the district and forming innumerable islands. We decide to visit the southern-most town located on the Bay of Bengal called Bakkhali.

We drive easily from Diamond Harbour up to a place called Namkhana. Our ordeal starts here. It is a river crossing and there is no bridge. Construction of a bridge has just started. The traffic is heavy and to make things difficult for us, one of the two ferries have broken down. They have to manage with one ferry. The que is endless. Calculating the number of vehicles in front of us and the number carried per trip in the ferry and the time taken by the ferry for the round trip I make an estimate of around 3 hours to get to the other side of Hoogly. In the event, my calculations are way off the mark. I had not considered the time taken by the crew for the lunch and the large number of ‘priority’ vehicles like those of the Government departments and the VIPs who are allowed to jump the que. The actual time taken was five and half hours.


Namkhana is the only place where the crossing to the southern part of the district is possible unless you use a boat. The name applies to the land on the both banks of the river. Namkahana Post Office is on the north bank and Namkhana Police Station is on the south side.  The place services, by ferries and country boats, not only the Bakkhali but also several other islands including the large Sagar island which is approached from here as well as Kakdwip.

Fishing appears to be a major occupation. We could see some large fishes being hauled from the river.

The ferry crossing points on both sides have sizable local markets. The views are interesting and keep our cameras busy whilst crossing to and from Bakkhali. Here is a selection:

This ancient musical instrument is still in use in this part of the world:


This variety of potato is not required to be cooked. One can eat it raw. It is sweet but is not the Sweet Potato.


These fans are still in use to beat the heat:


So are the earthen cooking pots:


So are the locally made kitchen tools:


Mishti Doi, the sweet curd, sold in the traditional way:


The passenger transport system to and from the river crossing:

Here is a load of stems of Jute plants probably meant for use in the Paan plantation.


Amidst the chaos of the town on both sides of the river, Karl Marx is remembered.


To reach Bakkhali one has to pass through Frasergunj. This town has been named after Andrew Fraser who was the Lt. Governor of Bengal from 1903 to 1908. The beach, among the few in West Bengal stretches from Frasergunj to Bakkhali.

Bakkhali beach is quite popular, being the beach nearest to Kolkata city although not connected by railway like Digha. The beach is extensive and has a forested area not far away.

The Kingfishers feeding on varieties of crabs on the beach is interesting to watch.

This crab species has evolved a colour to match that of the sand on the beach to beat the predating kingfishers.


One can see several islands off the coast in the Bay of Bengal. Inquiries reveal that a few of them can be visited by boat. The boats start from the fishing jetty. It is a well-organized operation and the island most visited is called Jambudwip.

After we reach the island we realize that the deal does not include landing on the island. One can ‘view’ the island from on board the boat and take pictures. Landing, we are informed, is not allowed as the island was found in the past to be harboring a Terrorist training camp.

The visit to the Jambudwip turns out to be a non-event. The boat ride to and fro the island however gives some idea of the hardships faced by the people living by the riversides.

Whilst at Bakkhali we get to see, for the first time for us, the plant called Sundari. This is the plant which gives the name to Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest shared by India and Bangladesh. The plant it true to its name.

We return to the shore after the island ride and try to explore the areas around Frasergunj. One of the occupations practiced in the area is Prawn Culture. One can see the ponds everywhere. And then there are the local people looking the prawn eggs in the seawater.

It is time for us to return to the mainland and start our journey to the great Sundarbans which is last part of this coastal drive. We then realize that we had missed on something which was part of our ‘things-to-see’ list. It is an old abandoned lighthouse on the banks of Hoogli at a place called Kulpi. Located about 10 Kms from Diamond Harbour. Kulpi was a port during the British rule. Not much is known about the place and much less has survived. The only prominent surviving landmark is the old lighthouse which now is quite far from the river but was probably located closer  when built. The area along the river and the parallel road called ‘Military road’ is quite interesting. It probably had some military establishments which explains the name. The stretch is used extensively by brick kilns. One can see a number of them along the river.


One can also see the industrial units across the river, closer to Haldia.


And here is the antique Lighthouse.



Text by Suryakiran Naik.   suryakiran.naik@gmail.com

Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik


109.ODISHA. (3) Jagannath Puri & Around.

With the objective to write an integral post on the Chilka Lake we had bypassed the important town of Puri between western and eastern part of the great lagoon. We have now returned to Puri, one of the four most important ‘dhams’, the holy places of Hindus. The pilgrimage to Puri along with the other three ‘dhams’ ensures that all your sins are ‘washed’. By implication if you visit Puri you have been pardoned for at least 25% of your crimes in your life so far. I am not sure if this is part-washing is officially sanctioned. This applies only if you are a Hindu, of course. Such facilities are available in the Middle East and Europe for other kind of Believers. Hinduism is probably the only religion which has made the facility available at four different convenient locations in the country. Countrywide marketing and distribution of services practiced of late has its origins here, not in Philip Kotler. Marketing boys, please note.


The hotel that we booked online is very close to the main temple. So close that cars are not allowed up to the hotel. Not knowing what to do we call the hotel and they send us a man on motorcycle to pilot us to the hotel past the traffic policeman.

As we walk the main street surrounding the temple we find large wooden logs on one side and large smooth wooden logs on the other. This certainly demands and inquiry. I go for it. The explanation comes forth effortlessly.

You must surely be aware of the English word juggernaut. Its origin is in these pieces of wood. Lord Jagannath is taken out of and into the temple once in a year in a chariot made of wood. Juggernaut is the corruption of Jagannath and refers to this huge wooden contraption in which the Lord travels. Now why two sets of logs?

On the one side are the logs for making the chariot for the current year. They are therefore raw logs, unprocessed.


What we see on the other side are the logs dismantled from the last year’s chariot which is not reused. The wood is used for cooking the ‘prasad’ in the temple.They are not allowed for any other use.

This ancient temple took its final shape in the later part of the 12th century. In the 17th century the Mogul emperor Aurangzeb ordered it to be demolished. It is said that the soldiers who arrived for this task were bribed and sent away and the temple merely ‘closed’, not demolished and reopened after the death of Aurangzeb. This is probably an important aspect of our history which the historians have ignored. It suggests that the foreign invaders to this country could have been kept away by bribing if the local rulers did not have the strength to fight them.

The temple by itself is not very impressive. The design particularly of the ‘Vimana’ part of it looks very original and uncommon but that view can be had only form a distance and the only convenient place for that purpose without being airborne is the lighthouse at the beach.

Here is the temple as seen from the top of the lighthouse.



All the important religious places in this world are also important commercial centres. Religion is at it’s most useful here: to create employment. And that is the only useful purpose of God and religion. Here is a small sample of goods and services.

Going by the environment in and around Puri it is very difficult to say if this place owes its existence to religion or to tourism. The names support the latter-Hotel Sea palace, Hotel Gandhara, H. Samudra, H. New Rock Bay, H. Sukanya, H Swanapuri, Oyo Rooms Sand Bay, Reba Beach Resort, Sonar Tori, H Sagarika-.  I am inclined to believe that this place is about 70% beach resort and 30% temple town. This proportion might change during the ‘Rath Yatra’, the time of the year when the ‘presiding deities’ of the temple are taken out in a procession to and from to another temple where they go for the summer vacation.

The beach as seen from the top of the lighthouse is a beautiful site.

And here is the lighthouse. This lighthouse must be among the most visited lighthouses in India as access to it is very easy and a large number of tourists visit the town throughout the year.


Visiting major temples is India is and probably has always been difficult. The first things and the most ancient issue is of the dress-code. The devotees come dressed for the occasion. The other kind of visitors do not have these requirement in mind. The second issue is of the cameras and mobile phones. Mobile phones are a nuisance. Cameras appears to be banned for commercial reasons. The photographs of the deities are copyrighted and the local shops who sell the pictures need to be supported. This theory does not hold good against the advanced copying techniques and very slim smartphones that could be smuggled in. Anyway, this prevents people like me from visiting the insides of the temples although I am entitled to enter by virtue of my birth as a Hindu and not converted to any other religion.

Among the highlights of the temple ceremonies is the changing of the flag on the top of the temple. This is a daily routine watched by many devotees.

The Jagannath temple has four entrances but only one is used on regular basis for the public and it always has ques in front of it.


And here is another gate:

The temple has engravings almost everywhere on its walls depicting among other things acts of lovemaking, a theme that is found in most of the temple art in Odisha.


The pilgrims come to Puri  from far and wide and by all means of transport. This man has traveled considerable distance on his bicycle to reach the place.


We are seeing the battery-run autorikshaw for the first time. It has been brought here to be blessed by the Lord Jagannath.


When pilgrims visit the temple, they take away the ‘prasad’, sweets cooked in the temple for the near and dear ones. It is sold in these boxes made of leaves of the Tada palm- another use for this widely used plant.


The priests at the Puri temple have developed a new style of carrying mobile phones which is not known to the outside world.


Apart from the prasad, the other important takeaway is the sweet called ‘Khaja’, sold everywhere around the temple. It is made of gram flour and sugar.


Jagannath Puri temple is a rich institution and a major source of the income is the donations made by the devotees. The temple has made elaborate arrangements to collect the donations- on site as well as off-site.

Most of Puri is around the two main temples located a short distance from each other and to the north are the roads connecting Bhubaneshwar, the state capital and Konark famous for its temple and its erotic art. To the south is the road to the eastern part of  Chilka lake. There is a stretch of  land to the south which is on the seashore and is being developed as a tourist area, with new hotels and resorts coming up. We decided to spend some time here away from the crowded city. This is where the Dhaudia river meets the sea. Dhaudia is a small  river meanders through the south west and meets the sea here. The place where a river meets the sea is called ‘Mohana’ in Oriya. This makes for a beautiful site.


The is inter-tidal making its water brackish and suitable for the habitation of several species of fish. The locals mainly use nets in the shallow waters at low ride to catch fish.

And the catch is here:

We leave Puri passing by the Gundicha temple, move northwards for what appears as Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary on the Google map. Before we reach the sanctuary we find a place where vehicles have stopped. It is another temple – Maa Ramachandi Temple.

The stretch between Puri and Konark is called Puri-Konark Marine Drive and here between the land and the sea flow three rivulets meeting the sea after running parallel the road and the seashore.

Our first stop is Baleshwar beach and temple for which we drive 6 kms off the highway to the seashore. We find a pretty little temple but not on the seashore. There is no crowd here. It is not a part of the Puri-Konark tourist circuit.

The environs of the temple support quite a few bird species, the Hoopoe being the most prominent among them.

The beach is quite good, woody and clean.


And quite good for meditation.


Maa Ramchandi temple is located between the road and the Kusabhadra river. It is a part of the Puri-Konark tourist circuit and draws a large number of tourists.


The main draw here appears to be the boating facilities in the shallow brackish waters of Kusabhadra.

Balukhand-Konark Sanctuary exists only on the map. We approach the gate and the forest guard informs us that there is nothing inside, no animals. There is no point in our going in. Either he is telling the truth or he simply does not want to take the trouble of allowing us in. I have not seen anything written about this sanctuary either. We let it pass and make a halt at a resort on the northern end of the Kusabhadra river, just across the road from the ‘sanctuary’.

The last spot on the Puri-Konark Marine Drive is the Konark beach. From here one turns left for Konark which is a short distance away. Chandrabhaga Temple is the major tourist attraction apart from the beach.  The river Chandrabhaga used to drain into the ocean here but it no longer does. It has dried out. A pond is constructed as if to commemorate the river.


The lighthouse at the corner is the last item we can see before we go to Konark for the overnight stay. It is called Chandrabhaga lighthouse.


We keep Konark for the next post.


Text by Suryakiran Naik suryakiran.naik@gmail.com

Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik




Chilka ( also written as Chilika)  Lake is actually a brackish water lagoon formed on the Bay of Bengal. At 1100 square kilometres it is the world’s second largest water body of this type. Theoretically all the various parts of the lake can be visited from the land side but there are only three major locations from where lodging and boating facilities are available. Two of them are on the west side of the road and one on the eastern side facing the sea. We decide to explore the lake from all three spots- Rambha, Barkul/ Balugaon  & Satapada.


The southernmost of such spots is the facility provided by OTDC at Rambha. We are greeted at the entrance to the town by this religious procession associated with Veerabhadra, a form of Lord Shiva.

The OTDC complex provides large cottages as well as rooms, with fabulous views right on the lakeside.

Exploring the lake is possible only by a boat and there are plenty of them available. We have those operated by the OTDC and also those owned by the private operators. The first place we are taken to is called Breakfast Island. The story is that the British colonials used to visit this rock on weekends for their breakfast and the structure was built for the purpose. It has survived well.

The next stop is at the Bird Island. A smallish island which hosts a large number of migratory birds during the season. We are well into March and cannot expect the migratory birds at this time of the year.

We have to make do with the sighting of the local deity with whose blessings the migratory birds make a safe passage back to their respective places in the north.


The lake hosts a large number of other animal species. The endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin is one. We could see a few but the photographs did not come off well.


There is a small bivalve mollusc resembling the Green Mussel growing on the lake. At first glance, it looked like the young of the Green Mussels but the boatmen clarified that this is the maximum size this species grows up to and they are not edible. I guess this would be the food for some of the birds visiting the lake.

There is another place on the eastern shore of the lake near Rambha which houses a shrine to a Goddess and one has to crawl through a tunnel in the rocks to reach it. We decide against this adventure and return to have a meal with fresh lake fish at the resort.

Our next stop is Barkul. Barkul with it’s neighbouring  Balugam has been a tourist place for quite some time. We had stayed here about 20 years back. Barkul is busy the year round, birds or no birds. It has a naval establishment very close by and there is an island with a famous temple which is accessible economically from this place. The Goddess Kalijai has a huge following in this part of Odisha and visitors keep coming continuously. Add to this the birding season and you have a perfect commercial place. To make things more attractive the OTDC has developed a Water Sports Complex on the lakeside.

We reach Barkul late and decide against a boat ride and stick to the sunset.


After some early morning birding the next day, we proceed towards Puri, passing Balugam on the way.

Whilst at Rambha we had contemplated visiting Satapada from the eastern side, the seacoast side. As we were driving the people at the resort discouraged us from the journey. There are a number of  water crossings on the way and the roads are not good. There might be work going on a bridge. Nobody was certain if we could make by that route. The other option was to go to Puri and then drive southwards to reach Satapada, only place having accommodation on the eastern shores of  the lake. We decide on the Puri option.

The road to Puri is through several villages and an enjoyable ride. We stop at many places as we go to look around.

We stop for a drink of the tadi, the sap of the palm thinking that it is the Borassus palm sap. It happened to be the sap of the Date palm. This is the first time we had an occasion to drink the sap of the date palm and it predictably tastes sweet.

Here is a house at the village Pattajoshipur with masonry walls with elaborate decoration but with roofs of the palm fronds.

This temple on the side of a small lake has sunk on one side and appears tilting to its right.


This arch looks incongruous in the village. Perhaps it belongs to another era when this was a rich town.


This method of lifting water for irrigation is still being practiced not far from the capital city of Odisha.

The drive from Barkul to Puri is more than 143 Kms. Puri to Satapada is 48 Kms and Puri is also a place we need to visit as it is a coastal town, we decide to halt at Puri. For the sake of continuity, allow me to skip Puri for the time being and jump on to Satapada.

This part of the drive is through another set of villages and small towns and through an area which is more densely populated. A few kilometers from Puri we are greeted with a huge flock of Glossy Ibis foraging in the wet fields.


A wild growing tree in the region grows seeds of large size. They are dried for extracting oil. Edible? No. They make soap out of the oil.

Cashew trees are in flower. It appears a bit late for the first flowers. I call up my brother in Goa to check up on the status of the tree on the west coast. I get the information is that the fruit came up on the west coast more than a month ago. Now it is the time for the ‘Hurrak’, a liquor made out of the fruit juice. Here in Odisha it is just flowering.


We come across a traditional method of fishing in shallow waters of paddyfields- very interesting and probably very efficient.

This video shows the action:

( Link is at the end of the post.)


We reach Satapada in good time to check in at OTDC  and take a late morning boat ride to one of the islands towards the sea and there are many of them. The boatman offers to take seven ‘points’. In all tourist places in India they have ‘point’- five, seven, nine, eleven etc. The price differs with the number of ‘points’ done. One of the points offered by this boatman is ‘dolphins’, as if they were a tree.



What one can see all along in the lake is the fishing nets. The water is low with the right amount of salinity and the bamboo sticks planted in the lake basin allows the nets to be spread in wide areas.

And here is the fabrication work going on :

The boatman has started showing us the seven ‘spots’. Here are two:

Which two?

‘the island is one.’

‘and the other?’

‘the small temple under the tree’.

For the third ‘spot’ we are taken a bit towards the east to show us some water which is supposed to be seawater entering the lake.

For the next ‘spot’, we have to scan the lake for the dolphins. We then move on to another island. This one is formed with the soil dredged from the lake bed. And it is here that we can have our lunch. It is another matter that it is counted as another ‘spot’.

The lunch with fish and fresh crabs is delicious even when served in aluminium foil.

We return to the resort and wait for another glorious sunset on the lake.


On our way back to Puri the next day we visit the famous Alarnath Temple.

In many parts of Odisha a house is painted on the occasion of a marriage ceremony and this fact is duly recorded in paint. Now, this paint and the fact of the wedding ceremony will remain intact until a fresh coat of paint is given which probably will come at the time of the next marriage ceremony.


Next we meet at Jagannath Puri.


Text by Suryakiran Naik   suryakiran.naik@gmail.com

Photographs by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik

Video by Veena Naik

March 2017.





Our original plan to stay at Chirala beach has gone haywire as no accommodation was available that Sunday afternoon. The nearby beach of Vodareru did not welcome us either and we were advised to go and find accommodation at Bapatla. Bapatla is a typical small town which has an engineering college.

As you enter the place various models of manual bicycle/tricycle vehicles attract your attention, a feature that will continue till the end of our tour in West Bengal. Here is a goods carrier which can comfortably double up as passenger carrier. I don’t know how they manage in the rains.

What do we do in Bapatla? The Engineering college is not likely to admit us. There are not many things to be seen here. Right? Wrong. Every place in this world seem to have something to offer as its own.

Here is a hearth, a cooking place which uses the rice husk very effectively. In fact, rice husk (and groundnut husk) can provide a lot of fuel for the rural people. The rice husk is commercially available in bags.

Probably that is the reason the Rikshaw puller we saw above is able to get a good meal at an affordable price at such places. We, coming from Pune found the breakfast ridiculously cheap. And it is GOOD and fresh, and it is not using any fancy plastics- this leaf is good enough. In Andhra they rarely serve Masala Dosa, most of the time it is the plain Dosa with Chuttney.


The serving leaves under the paper, usually yesterday’s newpaper but the application forms for mobile phone connection serves the purpose better.

We had, whilst checking on the places of in this part of the world on the internet come across a place called Suryalanka or Surya Lanka. We thought we will drive down from Bapatla for a few minutes and continue on our way. When we actually land at Suryalanka, we change our mind. The beach is quite good. When we say, a beach is good, please also consider the fact that both of us are born and brought up in Goa.

We make a reservation at the APTDC’s Haritha Beach Resort for the next day and return to Bapatla for the night halt as we have already booked at a hotel there, but not before we see this fried-fish market at the beach.

A variety of fish is available on the beach, ready to eat and at fiercely competitive prices.

The next day we return to Suryalanka. The Haritha beach resort is as close to the beach as possible. If it is any nearer water will enter the rooms at high tides. That is the reason probably they are built on stilts. Just in case.



If you are a keen observer you will, late in the evening, find the lights from two different lighthouses from the middle of the Suryalanka beach- to your right (which is south) is the Vodarevu lighthouse we visited yesterday and to your left (the north) you see the lights of Nizamapatnam lighthouse. This is made possible by the crescent-shaped beach starting from north of Chirala and ending south of Nizamapatnam.

The beach is quite a busy place during the day but later in the evening as people return to Bapatla and other places.

The beach is sandy but the colour of the sand is not white. It is yellowish and a lot of black.

The seawater is pumped from the beach to the private ponds in which prawns and shrimp are grown. Here you can the pipelines going across the beach. At first glance they look like fishing nets which they are not.

The RED GHOST CRAB, a creature so famous in Odisha and West Bengal coast makes its first appearance in this area. It is a fabulous creature, very shy though.


The Crabs that we ate here are a different species. They are the Mud Crabs which were caught in the estuary a mile away from the beach. This is the freshest seafood one can have. Mud Crabs live a couple of days out of water, very sturdy creatures!


And here is how they are cooked at the Suryalanka Beach.


There is a method of cleaning fish- removing the scales which we observed here. The fish are rubbed on a stone. This would require some skill to make sure that you remove only the scales.

The Statue Culture of Andhra Pradesh starts appearing near Bapatla with some force. Between Bapatla and Suryalanka you will find this statue of Mrs. Indira Gandhi modelled on her grand-daughter.

At Suryalanka beach and the Haritha resort you can’t fail to see the Rose-Ringed Parakeets. They are in large numbers.

Our next port of call is Nizamapatnam. As the crow flies Nizamapatnam is hardly 15Kms from Suryalanka. As I mentioned earlier the light from the lighthouse there can be seen from Suryalanka. However, there are two creeks in-between and therefore no road to connect the two places. The shortest road is via Bapatla and is 40 Kms.

We first gothrough Bapatla and then branch off on a country road. Driving through the countryside is a pleasure. We skip the Nizamapatnam town and head for the coast.

The fishing harbour and market are located on the mouth of a creak. It is a sizable and busy fishing harbour.


The harbour has a ice-loading bay whereby the fishing boats can get the ice directly into the hold.  This is a labour saving innovations which many of the fishing ports in India have not adopted. The process is done manually and it is quite tedious. At times the loaders have to rally across several boats to get to the target hold. Unfortunately at the time of our visit it was not operational.

The warehouses/ Cold Storage are is quite extensive giving an idea about the importance of this harbour.


The fishing harbour are seems to have expanded in the near past at the cost of the Mangrove forest surrounding it. One can easily see the encroachment on the Mangrove habitat.  If this continues on a large scale there will be the harbour and no fish.

The entire fishing port area is dominated by the trade in dry fish. Fish of the low value not commanding good price at the retail market is dried. The deciding factor is the transport cost and the cost of ice.  You can’t spend money on transport and face a situation wherein there are no buyers at the end.

The dried fish has two end users. The major one in terms of quantity are the manufacturers of fishmeal used extensively as protein-rich poultry feed. This is the low quality , high volume and high weight catch. It makes sense to dry it. It is sold in bulk.

And then there is the edible dry fish which commands good price depending on where you sell it. The Ribbonfish and the Bombay Duck can make you rich if you get the right market.


And if you have the time, inclination and knowledge, you can make ‘premium’ dry fish. It needs the efforts to clean, remove the innards and then dry. This lasts longer and as I said is a premium product.


The cheap  bagged dry fish mostly meant for the factories with ready money will continue to dominate the market until some value addition is cleverly done.

Nizamapatnam has a lighthouse. I am not sure if it serves any useful purpose other than providing employment to a few people. This applies not only to this lighthouse but to all of them in these times of GPS etc. This one is very close to the harbour and not a problem in reaching.

We are done with Nizamapatnam, named after the Nizam of Hyderabad the erstwhile ruler.

Dont you want to visit the town?

No, Thank you. We are tired and have to drive quite a bit before we stop for the day.

We come back to the main road and see these ladies selling something off their aluminium pots.

It is Toddy ( will convert into an alcoholic beverage if fermented). It is a healthy drink rich in nutrients before fermentation. We taste some.

It is the sap of this palm tree. We use the sign language to confirm the source.


We continue, leaving behind a fish-rich place.

Text by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik.


From Armagaon we drive to Nellore for the night halt. Geographically we should have first touched Krishnapatanam first as it is to the south of Nellore.For logistical reasons, we come to Guntur first, check in a hotel, arrange for servicing of the car next morning and take some rest.

Nellore  is a commercial town and except for a couple of old temples there is nothing of interest to be visited. We decide to take some rest.

The car is delivered back after servicing in the early afternoon next day and we drive to Krishnapatnam. The port appears to be used mainly for imported coal meant for use in the thermal power stations. The long conveyor belts bear this out.

There are a number of power stations in the area and the landscape is almost completely dominated by them.



The lighthouse is unremarkable but has a pretty garden in the compound. It has a Relay Station as well.

The beach is quite good but do not seem to have many visitors. Firstly, it a bit far from Guntur the nearest town, then one has to cross the port area to reach it.

The main purpose of the beach appears to be for immersion of idols. Or have these idols come from another place, thrown ashore by the sea?


We return to Nellore for the night halt and start early morning next day for Kavali which we decide to make our next stop. There is not much to be explored here except the Lighthouse at Ramayapatnam.

The highway up north is a beauty. You drive through the rich green landscape for miles and miles:



You cant miss the Hanumans- Anjaneya, on the way. there are a number of them- in all shapes, sizes and colours. I think there is a competition in Andhra Pradesh to build these statues- bigger, taller and colourful.



Thinly veiled Christian evangelism is in competition:


Ramayapatnam is a small village. You cross the Buckingham Canal and enter it. This is the second time Iam referring to this canal and I will have to defer the expalanation a bit to the next post. In the meatime you can have a look at it as we enter the village:


This fishing village has a lovely beach.

The Lighthouse is the highlight of the village.

As we move around the village and the beach we across these fishermen mending their nests in the village square:


There is a small temple as well just opposite the Christian ‘ Meditation Park’. It has a number of megaphones mounted on it, in all direction. A brilliant recipe for a communal riots. If the village folks manage without it, they are great.


And then my attention is attracted by a solitary man sitting in a corner and working quietly on something. As I approach closer I realize that it is something close to my heart- Shellfish. They find a species of it here which I am seeing forthe first time:

It is difficult to separate the edible portion without breaking the shell. They break the shell and recover the edible flesh. very tedious and very time-consuming. I guess they cook it after separating ( as is done with some types on the Karnataka coast) or the flesh is dried for storage. The language barrier is huge and I am not able to communicate with the person and he does not appear to be very happy doing what he is. It is like forced labour to him.

This area also happens to the groundnut growing area. You will find the groundnut shells being used as fuel for cooking- in large quantities:

We drive through the villages for quite some time and see a rich agricultural region. Watermelons are one of the fruits grown in large quantities here. We stop at a farm to buy some fresh fruit.

We retire to Kavali for the night halt but not before a flat tyre in a remote village. A couple of young guys were very helpful in getting us out of the trouble and make sure that we reached Kavali in time for dinner.

The next day early morning we start from Kavali for Vodarevu Lighthouse and with the intention of  staying at Chirala, probably the best and the most famous beach in Andhra Pradesh after Vizag.

We start very early without breakfast and with the intention that we will have breakfast at one of those small roadside eateries who serve fresh home-made south Indian items. That was not to be.

We are a Tanguturu Toll Plaza and find a ‘Food Plaza’ on top of the Toll Plaza. This is novelty for us:


We park and take a lift up. The view is good and the food is not bad either.

We proceed towards Chirala bypassing the large town of Ongole on the way. The distance we cover today is about 130 Kms which is not we intended initially but there was nothing much to be seen on the way. Ongole could have been made a stop but that being not on the seashore we decided in favour of Chirala.

Before we reach Chirala we stop at a small village for some coconut water and witness this phenomena.

A small Pick Up parked by the roadside attracts my attention as some people have gathered around it. As I go closer I realize that fish is being sold from the Pick-Up.


Fish is sold on the roadside on Sunday morning. What is the big deal?

The big deal is that the fishes are alive,in water in the load body of the Pick-Up.


And to keep them alive an Oxygen cylinders are carried in  the vehicle to keep the water oxygenated.

The fish variety is from freshwater ponds and seems to be in great demand here on this Sunday morning. It is expensive but people are willing to pay for the live fish dressed in front of them.

The cleaning involves ‘skinning’, removing the skin off a living fish. Look at this video:



After this new experience we reach Chirala after midday to find that there is no accommodation available anywhere. The hotels and resorts are full for the week-end. What is the option? try Vodarevu beach six kilometers away.

Vodarevu is an extension of Chirala, the only difference is that Vodarevu is a fishing harbour and Chirala is an upmarket beach destination. Vodarevu does not have many places to stay at but the beach appears to be quite nice although a bit smelly because of the fishing activities.


One resort agrees to provide us a room but the same is not ready. Some people who checked in on Saturday are likely to vacate. When? the manager is uncertain.

Which is the nearest other place where we can rest? The unanimous advice is -Bapatla.

We turn towards Bapatla but after having a look at the Lighthouse at Vodarevu.

The Indian Roller has been keeping us company from the time we touched eastern coast of India. He shows up every day from the telephone or electrical wires.Here we find him close by on a mound of paddy straw.

We move on to Bapatla.


Text & Video by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik


89.TAMILNADU (4). Tuticorin, Vembar,Periyakulam,Ervadi & Kilakarai

We had stopped at Thiruchendur in the last post. We now drive towards Thoothukodi or what is better known as the port town of Tuticorin.
The coastal road from Thiruchendur to Tuticorin is about 38 Kms. and the area is sparsely populated. Perhaps because of the uncertainty caused by the cyclonic weather. It also appears to be low lying and unsuitable for agriculture as there is ingress of seawater. This makes it suitable for the salt pans and perhaps for some fisheries. One can see a number of salt pans on the road. Salt manufacturers here include Gandhi and Irwin of Gandhi-Irwin Pact fame. Google for more details.

Tuticorin is a port of considerable importance as it is the only major port between Kochi on the west coast and Chennai on the east. It also has some beaches. We landed at the harbour beach to watch the landing of a Naval Hovercraft.


The port has spawned a number of industries including a power plant with imposing view on the horizon.

The area around Tuticorin has two light houses within the vicinity of each other. They can be seen together and photographed in one frame. I guess this is not a very common occurrence anywhere.


Our day in Tuticorin was a Sunday and without much activity except the visit to another beach. The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Snow is an imposing and good-looking monument in the town.

We resume travel the next day morning towards Ramanathapuram.
The first stop is a brief one caused by a large herd of goats crossing the road. The area we are driving through is arid and sandy with hardly any agricultural activity. Goat rearing is viable in the presence of a widespread growth of salt-tolerant species of Acasia shrubs.


The next stop is to see how this same species of Acasia is burnt down to make coal.

The next stop is at a Tamil shrine, probably pre-Aryan. In the absence of any inscriptions that I can read, I can only make a guess. There was no one to explain what it is and even if I found someone, there would be the problem of finding a language understood by both.

We move on and stop again at this small village on the roadside to witness this practice of using highways to process grain. Here the farmers are using the road which happens to have a cleaner and smoother surface than any in the villages. This practice prevails in many parts of India. At many places the harvest is laid on the road for the passing vehicles to do the process of chaffing. The grain is a coarse millet.

Our next stop is a planned one. It is called Vembar. It is planned because it has a lighthouse. We turn right on the state highway at Surangudi and approach the seaside. The road is a beauty. If you are in the area, please drive along it. Vembar has a beach, a Lighthouse and a nice little Church on the seaside. There could be more in the town which we do not visit.
It is not the visitor’s time at the Lighthouse. Thank you.

Here is the church.

And here is the newly built fish auction place.

After a brief stopover, we return back to the road and after a nice little drive return to the seashore again. This time in search of an island called Nallatanni which appears on the google map. The place is called Periyakulam.


Periyakulam  fish market

We make inquiries if we can hire a boat and make a landing on Nallatanni.
‘Yes, you can’.
‘Is it inhabited?’
‘No. It is barren’
‘Can you help us with a boat?’
‘Sure, but you will have to get the permit’
‘Permit? From whom?’
‘Forest Department’
‘From where?’
‘No, Thank you’.
The above is a transcript of a conversation which involved a few languages and a large number of gestures in sign language.
I know to get that permission will take several months and I will have to fill up forms in Tamil.
I fail to understand what the Forest Department is doing on this island. There is no way one can argue with Government. The grey hair in the picture below are mine.


From the looks of it, the island should be a beautiful place. I will not be far off the mark if  I say that this is used as a private picnic spots by the politicians and bureaucracy. That explains the need for the permit. As we go around the beachfront and among the fisher folks, we find that this is a Christian community. The names of the boats make it clear.

And then something strikes me with great force. There are no fishing nets around as one would expect. There are the boats of course, the people are obviously fishermen but then where are the nets?
The island brought us here. Something else is keeping us here. Serendipity is the English word invented for this.
Closer scrutiny of the fishermen’s activities reveal a different method of fishing and one extremely Eco-friendly and viable in the long term. It eliminates waste and catching of very young fish.
This perhaps is not the only place where this method of fishing is practiced. We have done more than half of India’s coast by now but I did not notice is elsewhere. I am sure it is being practiced elsewhere. I sincerely hope so.
What these fishermen do is as follows.
They take long fishing lines and attach hooks of large size (size 14). Baits of large pieces of neatly cut fish are attached to the hooks.

This is a laborious and time-consuming process.
The results are spectacular. All fish caught is of large size. There is no wastage and wanton killing of young fish. The catch brought to shore was uniformly of large fishes-nothing less than 250-400 gms apiece.

Periyakulam experience will always remain in my memory. I am sure it is sustainable and economical otherwise the folks have no reason to adopt it. It can succeed only when all of them in the community adopt it.


After we are done with this place we take another beautiful road up north-east and join the highway to drive to Ervadi.
Ervadi is known for its ‘Dargah’. Dargah is an institution which is generally reserved for Muslim , more particularly Sufi, saints. Dargah and Tombs need to be distinguished. Dargah has a spiritual-religious connotation. Ervadi is a place which is out and out political. It has nothing to do with saints but the place is still called a ‘Dargah’
Al Qutbul Hamid wal Gausul Majid Badhusha Sultan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed is said to the ruler of Madina in Saudi Arabia and the 18th direct descendant of Prophet Mohammed. He left Arabia somewhere in the 12th century and came to Erwadi. Erwadi was then ruled by the kings or princes from the nearby place called Ramanathapuram. The Sultan demanded that the ruler of the place embrace Islam which the king declined to do. Following the Islamic tradition, the Sultan waged a war and killed the King and established his own kingdom. The descendants of the king in course of time come back and kill the descendant of Sultan, making him a Martyr and Shaheed. This Middle-eastern concept of ‘martyr’ and ‘shahid’ being foreign to the rulers of Ramanathapuram, there are no such entities and monuments at their place. The complexities of history are not something that can be handled in this humble travel blog. Some pictures, however, would not be out of place.

This place is said to cure mentally deranged people. Highly unlikely. It should be creating a lot of people in that class. Until 2001 they used to chain people of unsound mind here ( I guess they were ‘believers’) who died after a fire broke out, most probably caused by a person of ‘sound mind’.

We now drive on to another Islamic place with a very different character and history. If you can look at this place and compare it with the last one we saw, you will find that the unnecessary violence of the former was not at all necessary.
It is not surprising that Islam had reached the eastern coast of India during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad. This is thanks largely to the commercial contacts between the people of Arabia and India during the pre-Islamic days. The merchants brought Islam to southern parts of India about 500 years before the conquerors came with it in the northern parts of the sub-continent.
Kilakarai or Keelakarai. Does it ring a bell? The claim to hosting the first mosque in India is successfully defended by the Cheraman Juma Palli at Kodungalur in Kerala. We had a brief look at it in an earlier post on this Blog. The generally accepted date of establishment of this Mosque in Kerala is 629 AD. However, it is quite possible and probable that an year before this, in 628 AD a mosque was functional at Kilakarai in Tamilnadu. The Palaiya Juma Palli built in the Dravidian architectural style and almost resembling the south Indian temples in their interiors, still exists in this small seaside town. There are doubts about its continued functioning as a mosque since then but the structure has stood here continuously over the centuries. The Kodungalur mosque was built in the Kerala style of architecture. The Kilakarai mosque was built in the Tamilian temple architecture style. To-day nothing short of the Arabic style would do. Islam has reached its intolerant best.
Arabian merchants, mostly of Yemeni origins have been trading with Indian coast throughout recorded history. They appear to have had a settlement at Kilakarai or whatever name the place was known by at that time, in the Pandian kingdom. They adopted Islam as everyone did those days in Arabia (which includes Yemen). It was logical that they brought it to India and established a mosque here. This was a good 5 centuries before the ‘Dargah’ we saw earlier.
Here are some pictures I took of the place.

The history of the mosque is shrouded in mystery but the generally accepted story is that Bazan ibn Sasan the governor of Yemen ordered its construction. Plausible theory given the fact the place had long standing trade relationship with Yemen and that there was a settler Arab trading population here. The graves of some of the Arabs associated with the Mosque are in the forecourt as seen in the above pictures. The interiors with the Dravidian influence are seen herebelow:

Kilakarai also has a small fishing harbour and a Lighthouse.

We move on towards Ramanathapuram but intend to skip the place. We want to cross the Pamban bridge and get into Rameshwaram for the night halt.
We again take a smaller and narrower road towards our destination keeping close to the seashore and avoiding the better roads away from the coast.
In the process, we come to see some interesting places in the countryside. First we see a cluster of villages very prosperous and a lot of water around. We see the village ponds with a lot of greenery, signifying a lot of water resources.

And then we come to places, closer to Ramanathapuram and the highway which look green but have a significant problem of lack of potable water. We could see a number of women with plastic containers walking long distances to fetch water.

This has been a long post and covering a longer distance than the normal. Allow me to stop it here and resume with Pamban in the next.

Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik.


We are nearing the end of our travel in the God’s Own Country. The tail-end is remaining to be covered but nothing comes easy in GOC, even the tail-end and the tail-end stretches a bit into the neighbouring Tamil Nadu as well.

After the stay at the Ashtamudi lake, we head for Thiruvanantpuram or the good old Trivandrum after a brief visit to Kollam. As usual we take the coastal route and make a stopover at Anjengo.

Angenjo or Anchuthengu was connected to Kollam by the British by a canal. Smart guys. Kollam means ‘pepper’ which is what they wanted and that is what the Company was formed for. To distract others, they renamed the place Quilon. That is history for you guys. At some places the canal still exists. I love Kerala for its thick cover of complex and colourful history.

In 1694, the Queen of Attingal who was ruling this region which is 35 Kms north of Trivandrum made the mistake of her life. She granted the British East India Company the rights to establish a Trading Post (whatever that means) and a Fort. This is probably a great achievement for the Brits as it allowed them a foothold in a region which was more of a Dutch and Portuguese ‘Area of Influence’, then.

The fort is intact, 323 years on, in  Excellent condition and used for drying the neighbours’ laundry.


 Here are some pictures from inside the fort.

From the outside it is being prepared for encroachment which will happen shortly.

There is a Lighthouse, bang opposite the Fort. In fact if you remove the road, it is inside the fort.


The Trilingual nameplate at the entrance of the Lighthouse proves  the complete and comprehensive failure of the government policy of Tri-lingualism and a triumphant victory of Bureaucratic India. I demand an investigation into the amount of money spent in making this nameplate. I have not seen any of this type anywhere at any of the Lighthouses on the western coast of India. The Devanagari rendering of the name is hilarious.

This place is known in Malayalam as Anchuthengu, meaning five (coconut)palms. Very odd. There are coconut palms everywhere and I believe they were there always, before and after the White Man came. What is the significance of ‘five’?


Anyway. I don’t want to talk too much about the Brits because I use their language.

I think not many tourists come to this place. They are tired by their revelries on the ‘backwaters’ to the north and the Kovalam beach and Trivandrum temples to the south. This little place is conveniently forgotten. It deserves a better deal.

We move on in the scorching sun and reach a place a few kilometers away which has a huge fishing jetty and market. It is called Muthalapozi Harbour.I would have loved to watch the fish auction here. From the size of the place it is clear that it is BIG. We are late and have to be satisfied with the stray boats coming in. ( More about this in the previous post No. 84)


Even the stray boats late in the day bring here a lot of fish.

We move on from here and check-in at a hotel in Trivandrum around the temple complex where vegetarianism is ordained. One has to eat only veggies as a matter of tradition. Fine, let us live it for a day. This is not to say that we stayed in the temple complex. We stayed in a hotel booked on the net.

The Temple complex of Trivandrum has a huge security arrangement after the discovery that the complex contains a hoard of gold and jewelry which will take several years to evaluate. It is said that it is the richest religious establishment in the world. May the Goad bless the Special Audit Authority. I wish them a lot of luck.


The rear side of the complex with it’s lake is beautiful. I dont know hat is hidden under the lake or if there are any tunnels which are not known to the Supreme Court of India.

If Lord Padmanabha’s estate is willing to negotiate, I might consider believing in God.

The reason we are not dwelling longer on this place is the Dress Code of the temple. I am not willing to compromise for the sake of seeing some stone idols. I cannot attribute any special value to them. I would have certainly considered it if they allow me to have a look at the gems and jewelry discovered in the faults. Anyway that is not to happen.

We move on to the better places like the seashore. It is crowded but still has some fresh air left. And the Shanmugham beach  has some refreshing sculptures.

We did visit a beautiful a museum in the temple complex. By now I have forgotten about it as they don’t allow photography.

There are a couple of other museums in the city. Cant take pictures inside.Thank you.


People who come to Trivandrum also visit Kovalam. It is the unwritten law. I did it when I came here first about say twenty years ago. I did not like the place called Kovalam. I will always wonder why people go there.


Having said that, let me make an exception of the Lighthouse. It looks good from the beach. My wife is planning to buy it.

From Kovalam, where we stay the night, to the end of the Kerala territory is not very far.

We have only the beautiful Vizhinjam to deal with. Lovely place. A lot of fish and a lot of religion.

We go straight to the beach and the fishing harbour to find that there is more of religion here than fish.

Jesus is trying to save the world from the high ground across the harbor.


What he looks upon or rather frowns on is the mosques built by the followers of his closest competitor.


Not one, but two large ones.


In this whole drama people tend to lose site of the real historical site. Not me. I insist on seeing the old Portuguese Church. The original one. Our Lady of Good Voyage. It is a beauty and it is simple. It has a lot of images inside. Good number of paintings on the walls.


Among the paintings is the one which is relevant to the name of the Church. Excellent marketing considering the fact that the people here are fishermen but the replica of the boat down below is not correct. It should be a fishing boat.


Among the paintings is one depicting the wrong method of crucifixion. These Jews were not trained well in their job of the painter was not briefed properly.


Now, I am tired and I am hungry. I need to have some fish and if that is not readily available I could do some squids if they are available.


We decide to leave this lovely place and move into Tamil Nadu for our lunch.


Kerala, the Goad’s Own Country shall always remain a fond memory.

Text by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Suryakiran & Veena Naik







The above two topics are not related although both of them deal with fish. They are clubbed together for the sake of convenience.

The Chinese Fishing Nets are unique to Kerala and are not found in any other seaboard state of India. Even in Kerala they are confined to Ernakulam-Alleppey-Kollam belt. There are two theories about how they landed here. One is that they were introduced by the Chinese fleet of Zeng He who visited Kerala in early 14th century. The other theory which is more plausible is that they were brought in by the ‘Casado’ Portuguese settlers who came from Macao. If this later theory is correct, the nets have a comparatively more recent history. In any case, they are a part of the south Malabar landscape for at least 300 years.

They are called CHEENA VALA, localy.



Why did they become popular as against the traditional fishing methods? The nets take less effort to operate compared to the more traditional method of hauling the net through the sand on the shore. It also requires lesser number of people to operate. On the flip side, it is not a very efficient method of fishing. The yield is quite low. The operation of these nets requires tidal waters. They catch fish only at the high tide when the seawater enters the creeks and the ’backwaters’. That explains their geography. You cannot operate them in the open seashores where most of the commercial fishing takes place.

We first encountered the nets at Vypin island. I guess they are found another fifty kilometres or so up north  in the Kodangallur area.

It is perhaps on the Vypin island in Erankulam district that they are economically important even now.

The fishing nets are a sort of factory. It needs a platform, staff, storage space etc. depending on the level of activity.

It is generally thought that these objects are made of wood. Not true. Although considerable amount of wood is used the main cross members of the beam are made of steel and bear most of the stress. In mechanical terms the nests are easy to lower into the sea and raise above after the catch with minimum efforts made possible by use of levers. They don’t require any other electro-mechanical inputs. Maintenance of the components appears to be the major source of expenditure in the operation.

Skilled workers are required to lower and raise the nets.

In terms of the fish caught, they appear to be insignificant in the overall fisheries scene of the state. Insignificant in terms of quantity of fish caught and its value. The major fishing method is of course the motorized trawling.

Apart from the estuarine  areas around Cochin, the southern backwaters also have the presence of these fishing nets. On  the Ashatmudi lake, they seem to be operated at night and use electrical lights to attract the fish. You can see the lamp on the top of this net.


Whether economically important or not the nets add a lot of beauty to scene. No visitor to Kochi will return without the photographs of the nets.

At many places I think the nets are used as a piece of decoration, as here at Kumarkonam.


At  Kochi a particular section of the town is called Fishing Nets area. I need to caution people about an activity caried out here.

A few people sell a lot of fish and crabs here. The selling point is that the fish is fresh off the Chinese Nets and you can have it coked instantly by the service provider on the pavement. They never say in so many words that the fish is off the nets. It is implied and we take it for granted, most of us. We establish a connection between the two.

This story has two parts, the source of the fish and the availability of cooking facility instantly. The first one patently untrue and the second part is absolutley true.


Look at the wide variety of fish sold which includes Pomphrets.

Many of these are deep-sea fishes and cannot be caught here in the creek.

This is all about the Chinese Fishing Nets that I could observe.

Whilst at it, allow me to share a couple of other traditional fishing methods of Kerala.

The pictures below show a large net being used on the seashore at the receding tide. This method needs huge manpower and is a collective efforts by the fishermen community. The pictures below were taken at Kovalam in southern Kerala. This is not unique to Kerala. It is practiced in Maharashtra, Goa and presumably in Karnataka although I have not seen it. This provides the freshest possible commercial catch and is sold at a premium.

We have covered this in an earlier post in this blog. It is called Rampon or Rampan in Maharashtra and Goa. I need to find out what they call it in Malayalam.

There is another fishing expedition we could observe at Varkala in southern Kerala. Very interesting and Varkala being a cliff, we could observe it clearly but not at a close range.

Two boats venture into the sea. One is large, the other small. the larger one is carrying the net.


They spread the net in a circle.

A third boat provides some assistance or perhaps some supervision.


They are now closing in, bringing the entire net to the larger boat. In a short while the net is dragged on to the boat.

The whole operation took about 90 to 100 minutes. The boats return to the shore with the catch.


PART II- Distribution.

OK, the fish has been caught and it has to reach the plates of the customers. Let us see how they do it.

Practically everyone in Goad’s own Country eats fish. To feed this vast population with fresh fish is a challenge that has spawned various ingenious delivery methods.

The traditional roadside shop exists as it does everywhere else. They could be small makeshift kiosks or more elaborate structures which allow storage of unsold stocks.


They also exist at the wholesale market places like the one below.


Fish is sold at many places with the sellers seating on the ground with a basket or two arranged in front. This is particularly true when women are selling.


More commonly it is a raised platform where the sale is completed standing up.


Carts with bicycle wheels are also used in smaller places.


In Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka selling of fish is women’s monopoly. In Kerala I guess the men do not trust the women with the money. I did not see many woman selling fish.

In most cases the sale is by weight but in many cases the age-old method of selling on the basis of a ‘portion’ prevails.


The ‘portion’ system’ works well for odd items like the squid above or the Blue crabs below.


At times  the larger items are sold on ‘piece’ basis , like these  rays below.


This ‘numbers’ method is also useful for certain kind of shellfish like mussels. You can buy a 50 or a 100 of the delicacies below.


Do they sell cleaned (dressed) or as it is found in the sea? The popular method in Kerala appears to be as it comes from the sea. The person cooking appears to be the deciding  on the method of cleaning.

Delivery on bicycles is still going on but looks like a dying institution but still exists all the same. The pictures below are in the heart of Kochi town. .

The motorbikes are a more viable proposition and they have been adapted very well for this activity. Look at this bike.


It has the provision to fix the box with the fish and the ice. The melting ice water has to be drained. Provided for. The smelly water is drained on the road to burn the nostrils of the vegetarians passing by.



You will find this scene in many small towns and villages in Kerala.


Frozen Fish does not appear to find favour with the Malayalis with most of the folks looking for fresh fish but use of ice appear to have gained acceptance. My friend Ibrahim at Ponnani does not use ice at all.


On the Ashtamudi lake and other ‘Backwater’ areas fish is sold door to (wet)door by the small boats or canoes.

For movement of medium quantities, autorikshaws particularly the larger ones (6 seaters) are used, as are the ‘tempos’, the small trucks.


Use of saloon cars is not prohibited.

There is an interesting phenomena we could witness not very far from Trivandrum. We entered a large fishing harbour called Muthalapozhi. It was empty but for a couple of stray latecomer. The fishing auctions were completed very early in the morning and the fish had gone to the smaller markets. Here we see a boat with fish. This is not a fishing boat. It is a ‘transport’. It brings the fish from the Trawlers when it is fresh and sells it here.

A  Trawler is at sea typically for 2 to 3 weeks and use ice for storing the catch. The quality of the fish after the three weeks is not the same as fresh fish. Many people do not buy fish from these trawlers. As a via media, these enterprising people buy fish from the trawlers, presumably mid sea and bring it to the shore-fresh.

The above information is from a buyer I met on the jetty and was willing to pay a higher price to this fish as compared to the one sold in the market.

If you really enjoy yourselves at a ‘market’, I recommend you a visit to a fish auction on the seashore when the small boats bring the catch ashore. And what better place for it than Kerala?


Small lots are laid down on the beach one by one in quick succession and the bidding takes a minute or so for each lot.

Believe me, women are at their ferocious  best when they are bidding against each other.

Text and Pictures : Suryakiran Naik