On an official trip to Palakkad, I accompanied Sreehari on a cloudy day with more of a culinary detour in mind. It was an orange alert in Thrissur District, we set off carefree with the feeling all these alerts can be ignored at your convenience.

As I was more focused on the abdominal longings, we started early planning to have breakfast on the road. As we were closing the gate, neighbour enquired “Oh! So early today?” How can you apply a brake for people’s inquisitive eyes/interrogations?? I just nodded smiling and sneaked into the car.

I think , from Vadakkanchery to Palakkad, if you count the temples, it will be a tedious assignment. The Uthralikkavu temple in the middle of a vast paddy field is an awesome view, of course never thought of venturing inside. We stopped at our usual stop at Vaniyamkulam ‘Jayabharat’, a small eatery for breakfast. On the way, after lot of discussion, we had decided on masala dosa. It’s a tiny neat place run by a family. As we entered, again confused on plain dosa/vada/ghee roast, ordered masala dosa. A place where you get authentic homely dosa, rolled with an additional dollop of love. The tea is so refreshing that I feel reluctant to take the last sip.

He had a meeting at Paalana Hospital, run by priests of CMI congregation of the Catholic Church. It is a NABM approved hospital providing tertiary health care in all super specialty Departments like Neuro surgery, Nephrology, Cardiology, Toxicology etc. Quite a huge campus with manicured lawns, flowering plants and greenery around.

As he joined the meeting, I entertained myself with my daily share of newspapers, books,coffee at the CCD counter, walked around , was astonished to see an imposing 12ft tall statue of Christ, a larger than life image to intimidate the so called believers. As I was getting lost with noted Italian Journalist and writer Italo Calvino’s “Smog”, his meeting was over.

Our next was lunch at “Hariharaputra”, a Brahmin hotel at GB Road. We opted for a special lunch with curd and payasam. It’s a treat with soft white ponni rice, two pappadams, piping hot sambhar, avial (white, unlike the usual yellow), spinach curry, sweet kootu curry, papaya thoran, butter milk for just Rs.10o.00 on a plantain leaf and we indulged with abandon not withstanding my extra flabs. Normal meals, a smaller spread sans avial and kootu curry available for Rs.70.00. Their snacks and tiffin annexe serves all sorts of sweets, butter murukku (real butter in every bite), boost forest( melts in the mouth!)  We bought some syrupy jalebi to take back home.

It was only 1.50pm, we had to wait till 4.30 to break in at Sakthi Vilas, Edathara, Parli, the next dosa corner. So we googled malls in Palakkad, spotted Thappy’s Mall, traced our way with the aid of google maps, only to be disappointed as it is still in work in progress.

We decided to visit the Palakkad Fort, an old fort seized and rebuilt by Mysore ruler Hyder Ali. There’s a cricket  ground, Fort Maidan, facing the Fort with lush green trees providing shelter from the scorching heat for nomads. His visits invariably take him to the ground watching the kids play, his click when the trees were in sparkling orange blossoms.

It was drizzling , the trench around the fort looked serene and beautiful with  cerulean green water. Garden looked trim with pink and maroon coloured croton hedges,  musanda shrubs with vibrant red blooms, cream and pink hibiscus . The gigantic approximately 18×7ft wooden door at the entrance with large iron screws and panels seemed fairytaleish.

The view from the summit point of the fort is lovely. The grand old tree with two big branches almost in a pose of genuflection is a regal sight. There is a photo gallery and taluk office close to. You can also peep into the adjacent sub jail.

It was 3.50 and our timing was perfect. Stopped at Pisharody’s for a coffee. But, coffee not ready, said the bearer! Strange! How can a restaurant afford to flourish without entertaining two simple gastronomes?

The names of the shops fascinated me, “Just buy cycles” (cycle shop), “Total vataka store” (renting chairs, tables etc.), “Kuppayam”(ready-made garments) as that of the names of places, Pathirippala, Lakkidi, Ottapalam

As we got into the car, orange alert came in full swing. It was raining cats and dogs, we could hardly see what is in front. We kept on driving as water logging scared us. Thought we had to drop Sakthi Vilas plan . After 45 minutes of intense battering,  rain shifted to a low key mode, just as we were approaching Sakthi Vilas!

Since the lunch was yet to digest, both of us opted for ghee roast with two types of coconut chutneys and sambhar. Wanted vada which was quite enticing from the glass doored meat safe, but my tummy adamantly said No. Settled for a filter coffee and it was exotic!

It was drizzling all through till we reached home, dead tired with a gluttonous plunge. Now, looking forward to the next tour…

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