As our world rotates, it’s a constant replay of day and night and night and day; a never ending cycle till eternity. There is something about the beginning of the day that makes it more special, a time so pure, it almost seems holy. It is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence when everything is transfixed, only the light moves. Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted away, and the scenery takes on its shape and colors again as dawn remakes our world into its eternal form. It reminds you that you are lucky to be alive. It is a reminder of new beginnings and new opportunities. It is the beginning of another day, a quiet time in-between, before the squawking of the TV begins or the incessant horning of vehicles as they each compete for that extra inch on the road; the flurry of activities as each member of the family prepares to leave home for another day of work or school.
You wish for peace. Something to fill that void in your soul that craves solitude and serenity. Why not take a vacation? A trip away from the city, somewhere where you can commune with nature and heal that hole in your soul. The Ashtamudi Lake comes to mind. Its peaceful surroundings and placid waters are a balm to the restless soul. There is something about the movement of flowing water that is so cleansing to the mind. This is when silence sometimes becomes the most beautiful sound.
The Ashtamudi Lake is a fresh water lake that is about 16km in length and its backwater channels link numerous towns and villages as it quietly meanders its way to Allapuzha, a city situated about 80km away. The city of Kollam, or Quilon as it was formerly known during the colonial era, is a historical port city and is today known as the worlds center for cashew export. It is located on the right side of the Ashtamudi Lake and backwater cruises can be arranged by the Kollam Boat Club from there. They provide boat ride services as well as houseboat cruises. There are some private boat operators also, but it works out cheaper to use the government’s boat services. There are numerous hotels available too for overnight stays, to suit all pockets. The Raviz Hotel makes the trip to Ashtamudi Lake more meaningful as their staffs cater to all your needs promptly, leaving you feeling pampered and relaxed.
The topography of the lake is described as a palm frond shape or sometimes as the shape of an octopus with eight legs, representing the lakes’ eight channels. Ashtamudi Lake has the deepest wetlands in Kerala as it empties into the sea. Both sides of the lakes banks are covered with emerald colored coconut groves and palm trees, with in-between glimpses of rural habitations and children waving away happily as you pass by on a boat. The only way to enjoy the full beauty of the lake is to go for an overnight houseboat cruise. It affords you captivating sights of the spectacular sunset as well as the early morning dawn over misty twirling waters. This is aside from watching the fishermen paddling by in their boats or tending to their Chinese fishing nets as you glide by numerous islands that dot the landscape. The spectacular view of the swaying palms, different types of water birds and the colorful garments drying on the clothesline add a new dimension to your experience.
The chef of the houseboat provides you with splendid freshly cooked local fare, usually caught from the same lake. Replete with an amazing moonlit dinner, you fall asleep with only the stars as witnesses in the middle of the expansive Ashtamudi Lake.
Dawn over the Ashtamudi Lake is a sight to behold, beyond words, almost a poem. A big empty sky flushed a little above the rim of dark waters. Slowly pink and orange colors paint the skies while purple clouds scud across the horizon. The boat glides on gently in the ghostly mist, barely ruffling the water’s surface. If you are lucky, you might even be treated to the sight of a flock of startled water birds as they take to air in a perfect arc. As time passes, the colors deepen into red, radiating streaks of fire into the early morning, and suddenly the red sun roars over the horizon. You sit mesmerized, maybe even forgetting to capture this unforgettable sight on your lens. It’s just you and the elements of nature finally in harmony with one another. The long grasses start to straighten as dangling drops of early morning dew drop off its tips. The birds break out into an orchestra in the trees and people can be seen moving about.
Another morning is here and your ride is almost over. But the memories that you collect will last a lifetime in your memory.