You know you’re in a good place when the auto-waalas are nice to you. I mean, how often does that happen?
The weather seemed better than I expected. Humid. But manageable. Considering the hostel I booked didn’t have AC-dorms available, this was better.
I’ve become quite a regular Kerala-visitor and find myself more at ease here than any other place, even when I don’t speak the language. Of course, credit goes to the people of this beautiful state who always make an attempt to converse rather than leaving you high and dry to fend for yourself.
Calicut backpakers vintage hostel, where I stayed, wasn’t close to the beach (4 Kms away) but close to the markets. Else, the lazy-beach-bum that I am, would have stayed put at the beach itself. If you’re looking for a clean, cheap and safe place to stay in Calicut, this is it.
Except for a brief outing for breakfast, I remained confined in the hostel’s living area reading a book. I had decided to only head out when I really felt hungry, which happened somewhere after 2. Instead of taking an auto or a bus, I decided to walk more than 3kms to a highly rated restaurant named, Paragon Restaurant. Walking in that humidity I hoped the food better be worth the sweat.
And well, it was.
I just ordered a Biriyani. And, Loved it.
Post lunch, I took an auto to Kozhikode beach. Walking along the beach, measuring its entire length, I even ended up scaling the Rocky pathway till the end. All the while thinking, what if I fall?
The sides of this are lined with boats, big and small, anchored to the rocks on the side. On one side the waves keep crushing the rocks and on the other, these boats keep them in check.
On the Kozhikode beach one notices that the crowd mostly comprises of families chilling out together. I sat down with a chilled bottle of water while the cloudy sky tried its best to not let me and the sun meet. We both waited until the lights dimmed down and walked along the shores, drenching my feet in the water, for some time.
I had looked up a place named ‘Zain Hotel’, famous for its snacks and then headed off to the same. It is a 10-minute walk from the Kozhikode Beach and the vintage look of the hotel welcomes you to indulge in the menu full of snacks.
I don’t know the Malayali-names of these snacks but have eaten all of these at home at some point but with different names. Different names, of course. And yes, they were good. Especially for the nostalgic value attached to these dishes, prepared occasionally at most of Muslim homes.
Back in the hostel, adventure awaited. A tree fell down in the vicinity and the entire areas’ electricity went kaboom! Humidity and this happened. After a stroll down to the spot where it happened in the middle of the night, me, the caretaker and the security guard came back. A few hours of wait and I finally gave in to sleep.
The plan was to head to Kappad beach but before that, I needed to charge up my phone’s battery. All thanks to no-electricity! So, I headed off to nearby cafes in the neighborhood to get it done. Finally, one of the bakery shops helped push up the battery to 30%. Phew!
It’s tough to navigate when Google maps don’t pin point the bus services. With the help of two youngsters who guided me to the route, I finally made it.
This is the beach where Vasco Da Gama landed when he first came to India in the 1800’s. How cool, right? The historical reference adds so much value to the already amazing beach. From the Kozhikode bus stand, you can take a bus till Thiruvangoor for a mere 17INR (for 17kms) and take an auto/walk to the beach.
Bus to Mavoor bus stand (8 INR)
Bus from Mavoor to Trivangoor (17INR)
Trivangoor to Kappadbeach auto (40 INR)
So, I had this drink near Kassad beach. Vingegar+fruits+nuts and sugar solution added to crushed ice! Later came to know that this is called, ‘Churrandi Ice’.
The third day, started late. I had plans to head out to Beypore Beach. But I kept delaying it and only ended up heading out in the evening.
Apart from being another port town, the beach here has a path leading to the ocean. Similar to how Haji Ali dargah (in Mumbai) is located. Only at the end, there’s a view point instead. The whole pathway is lighted up and as the sun sets, it makes for a good view from the beach as well. I reckon it’ll be a good place to have a morning run as well!
The beach, however, isn’t clean unlike the other two beaches I went to. Mostly because of this being a port city, maybe?
I was, however, again lucky to reach just before sunset! 3 days, 3 sunsets and 3 different beaches!
At Beypore beach, had Churandi ice (yes, again!) and a plate of chana (not sure of the name) and then after it started to get dark, headed towards the bus stop.
Another amazing fact about Kerala is that you end up being near to mosques if you’re roaming around beaches. Prayed Maghrib at the nearby mosque and took a bus which dropped me in the town area of Kozhikode.
And when in town, ended up at this small stall of ‘Bhaskarettante kada’ to have a milk sarbath. This was my ‘find of the day!’. Finding something new to eat or even drink, is such a joy. One lives for such experiences when travelling. This Milk Sarbath was one of them. This place is located near Paragon Hotel. And I only ended up noticing the place because of the crowd that had gathered. This is just sugar syrup, Ice and Milk. That’s it. Not sure if they add something else in this. Later on, heard from someone that they add peanut powder in the same. The drink is filling enough and ensured that I skipped dinner.
I then bought some Kozhikode halwa from a street named after it: Sweet meat street! The halwa is a combination of Flour, Palm Sugar and is cooked in coconut oil. Of course, Northies have a different variation when it comes to ‘halwa’. But hey, as long as it’s good, who’s complaining?
Tip: Do ensure the packaging is perfect when you’re bringing it back home. If you leave this unattended, it easily attracts ants. Hashtag True Story.
After a good Beef+Porotta breakfast, I was lazying around and just finishing off the book and planned to do just that. And then decided otherwise and went walking around. Met Mohanlal, Dulqar and Thilakan on the way to the beach as well.
But before the beach, tasted Paragon’s Biriyani one more time! Added mutton liver fry as well 🙂 And of course, one last Churrandi Ice. And this is where I ended up knowing the name of this drink as well.
But the best thing about Calicut isn’t limited to its beaches, food or the graffiti around the city. It’s the people of Calicut. They are the nicest bunch of folks I’ve ever met. Right from the Autowaala (I know!) to my hosts, and everyone I came across. Will miss this!
I’ll definitely be visiting Calicut one more time and the hospitality of strangers would be one big reason to do so.