"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." – Randy Pausch
It was sometime in 2007 that I first came across Randy Pausch’s "The Last Lecture" video in which Randy talked about about "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". It has been an influential talk in my life and I have seen the video a couple of times since then. Recently I bought the "The Last Lecture" book by Randy which is based on this popular video. The book goes through the same topic as the video, but also has interesting additional material including background material on the lecture. This is my review of the book.
Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, US. His expertise was in virtual reality and he went on to create the Alice project. At the age of 46, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Carnegie Mellon had a lecture series called "the last lecture" (now known as journeys) where faculty members share their reflection on their life journeys. In the case of Randy, "the last lecture" was really like his last lecture since he had only months to live due to his terminal cancer.
On September 18, 2007, Randy Pausch gave his "last lecture" titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". The lecture outlined his childhood dreams and how he went about achieving it in his life. It is in essence a short summary of his life and he said he intended the lecture as a message to his children. The video of the lecture became viral and as of writing this article, it had over 15 millions page views!
"The Last Lecture" soon became an internet sensation and Randy went on to do appearances in ABC Network, Oprah Winfrey Show, Time Magazine and also gave a speech at commencement ceremony in Carnegie Mellon. He also wrote a book titled "The Last Lecture" which was sold over 5 million copies world wide.
Randy died from pancreatic cancer on July,2008 at the age of 47. However his book and his lecture will remain a source of inspiration for the future generations.
Book Review : The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
(I) The Last Lecture – A background on the last lecture at Carnegie Mellon.
(II) Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams – Much of the material here are also in the video.
(III) Adventures … And Lesson Learned -This is a collection of his life experiences and what he learned.
(IV) Enabling the Dreams of Others
(V) It is About How to Live Your Life – Randy lists the rules by which he tried to live his life.
(VI) Final Remarks
The first thing you notice is that the book assumes that you have seen the last lecture video. Many chapters refer to the background of the video and if you have seen it, you immediately make a connection.
When you read the book, it feels as if you are going through the entire life of Randy in a few minutes. We learn how he achieves his childhood dreams even when there are some really hard obstacles. According to him, the obstacles are there for a reason, it is to keep the "other" people out!
One of the things he mentions in his book is that when you want something, just ask. I have applied this principle even when I thought asking will lead to 100% rejection. Surprisingly, the actual rejection rate was something like 50% and even in those cases I think if I am persistent enough it would have worked. As Randy says,
"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something"
Most of his advice on life is actually ancient wisdom and clearly these are all principles valid till the end of humanity (importance of hard work, dreaming big, showing gratitude etc.). It is interesting to see them in the context of Randy’s life. If you are looking for any soft of deep philosophical discussions, this is not the book for you.
His view of "failures" is that it is what gives us experience. He even had an award for "glorious failure" in his "building virtual worlds" course. As Randy says,
"Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted"
At just over 200 pages, "The Last Lecture" is a small book. In every page you find a man’s agony in knowing that soon his children won’t have a father to protect & guide them. Randy writes in such a honest and passionate way that you will find it hard to stop once you start reading the book.
My Rating : 8/10. This is a good book. It may have a positive influence on the way you live.
Other Notable Quotes by Randy Pausch
"If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If got three more words, I’d add, all the time."
"When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you."
"It’s not about how to achieve your dreams, it’s about how to lead your life, If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you."
Chalai market in Trivandrum is one of the oldest and the largest markets in Kerala. Located in city center near east fort, this market sells everything needed for a household. Most of the shops deal with both retail and wholesale and you can buy stuff at a good price point. The market is famous for commodities such as vegetables, hardware/tool shops, household items, jewellery, handicrafts, wall photo frames, perfumery, spices and discarded junk! I visit Chalai market once in a while to check out discarded electronic junk or to buy tools for my DIY hardware kit. Chalai is a crowded market and it takes a while to know where you get the stuff you are looking for. This article is a short guide to the layout of the Chalai market.
History of Chalai Market
Chalai Market was officially established towards the end of 18th century by Raja Kesava Das, Dewan of Travancore. The idea was to make Chalai bazar the central point for the supply of commodities to the Travancore kingdom. The Killi and Karamana rivers nearby was used to transport goods to the market. Muslim, Brahmin and Nadar traders came to the market and established a market of diverse culture.
It is a very congested place now and it feels so nostalgic to walk around the market. Slowly and steadily the market is changing and the recent garbage disposal crisis is so bad that the market may have to shutdown till the crisis is over. Unfortunately the southern side of the Chalai market is stinking due to all the piled up garbage.
Getting to Chalai Market
Chalai market (also known as Chalai Bazar) is located opposite the East fort central bus stand where all the city buses terminate. The main entrance is located at the junction between Gandhi park and KSRTC bus garage. This entrance takes you to the Chalai Market road which is the main shopping area. This road terminates on the Kanyakumari highway (earlier known NH-47 and now renamed as NH-66) at a distance of about 1.5KM. There are many narrow roads leading out from the Chalai market road and this is where various small shops are located.
If you are going by bus, take any bus to city center and get down at the last stop which is the East fort. You can then just walk across to the market.
If you are going by car, finding a parking spot on the East fort side is not easy. If you are lucky, you may be able to find a parking spot inside the Gandhi park. A better option would be to either park on the Power house road or the Attakulangara Killippalam bypass road. Better still is to park in newly opened Chalai market parking area which is easily reachable through power house road (The parking fee is Rs.10 for 2 hours). This is helpful if you are going on a shopping rampage. But whatever you do, never attempt to take your car through the market road, unless of course you are in for the experience!
Check out the following map to see the parking areas marked with letter P. I have also numbered various lanes so that it is easy to find the stuff you are looking for (see next section).
- P1 – Gandhi park paid parking
- P2 – Parking on the Killippalam bypass (not a designated parking spot)
- P3 – Parking on the Power house road (not a designated parking spot)
- P4 – Chalai market paid parking (this is the best parking option, drive through power house road to reach here.)
Shopping in Chalai Market
Please refer to the above diagram to find the shopping areas listed below. The following is intended as a general guideline since you will find almost all types of shops in all areas!
- L1 – I usually park at the Chalai paid parking and then walk down to the main Chalai market road. This side road which stretches from Power house road to the Chalai market road mainly contains hardware shops and road side shacks selling discarded electronic/electrical junk. You can get glassware, house hold tools, plywood etc. from here.
- L2 – This road leads to the main Chalai market area where groceries are sold. It is huge market selling fruits, vegetables etc. You can bargain here and you will find that some of the weighing machines here are rigged. You can easily verify it by asking the guy to balance it the other way around! Still stuff here is cheaper than anywhere else in the city. This is one of those rare places in Trivandrum where you can still find house sparrows!
- L3 – This street is known as Kothuval street and it connects Killippalam bypass to Power house road cutting the main Chalai road. You will find all sorts of household items here. Items such as essential kitchen tools, paper plates, paper cups, plastic utensils, spices, stationery, perfume shops etc. are available here. This street has more than 100 shops. Most of the shops are on the southern end of this line.
- L4 – Chalai market has extended to the power house road and here you will find mostly household items, tools/hardware, plywood and glass items. Some of the exclusive shops are also here. For example, there is a shop near the NH 66 (NH 47) which repairs all types of car speedometers and another one nearby which deals in thermocol and ice boxes.
- L5 – This is the second major road connecting power house road to Chalai market road. Here you will find all high end hardware shops and can buy tools from Bosch, Dremel etc. You will also find a couple of shops selling wall photo frames. You can also get your photo professionally framed from the shops here.
- L6 – The main stretch of Chalai market road is here. Here you will find jewellery shops, street vendors selling fruits and other small items, small restaurants (my favorite is hotel Azad), hardware shops, household items and many more. For example, I recently purchased a net for covering my water well and also bought a set of plastic boxes for organizing my stuff.
- L7 – There are a number of narrow lanes which connect the Gandhi park road to the Kothuval street. It is easy to get lost in these lanes. You will find textile shops, household shops (a famous one is S Ibrahim & Co. very famous for getting everything you need when you move to your new home! You can also repair all your kitchen gadgets here!) and toy shops.
Chalai Market Photos
Following are some of the recent photos I took from Chalai market.
|This is one of the narrow lanes leading out of the main Chalai market road. Don’t hesitate to explore these roads as they hide some of the best shops in Chalai! This photo is taken from a "cake shop" where you get all the stuff needed to make cakes!|
|This is the main Chalai market road at night.|
|Power house road on the northern side of Chalai market. Further north is the second entrance to Trivandrum railway station.|
|Chalai market road at noon. This is the best time to visit if you can’t handle the morning/evening rush.|
|Road side gadget shop in main Chalai market road. I love ogling at these gadgets.|
|Ali Traders on the Chalai market road. We visited this shop to buy disposable items (paper plate, paper cup etc.). I asked him whether I can take a photo of the shop and he replied – "Why not? are you a blogger?". His name is Ashraf and he loves reading Malayalam blogs.|
|Shops selling discarded electronic items in Chalai. This is the place I always visit when I am in Chalai.|
|Gooseberry in Chalai. You find all kinds of vegetables and fruits in Chalai.|
|Vegetable market in Chalai. The vegetable market is huge and most of the stuff here is fresh.|
Note: If you are looking for information on the Velankanni Church, Please see my Velankanni Church Guide.
Table of Contents
- Getting to Velankanni
- Trains to Velankanni
- Ernakulam Velankanni Express
- 16866 Karaikal Express
- 16865 Ernakulam Express
- Nagapattinam Railway Station
- Velankanni Trip
- Photos (Trichy to Nagapattinam)
- Nagapattinam Velankanni Train
- At Velankanni Church
- Return to Ernakulam
- Velankanni Photos
- Additional Resources
Every couple of years we visit Velankanni church. My wife goes there because of her religious convictions and I go there since it is another opportunity to travel and experience cultural diversity of our country. We usually visit during the "off season"(November) since in "peak season" (August and December), Velankanni is jam packed with the faithful. It ensures that we can get train tickets and can stay in good hotels without paying through the nose.
It was almost 4 years since we visited Velankanni church. I had written a Velankanni church guide based on that trip which has been very popular. It is satisfying to know that a lot of people found the guide very useful in planning their trip. However many things in the article has changed (there is now direct rail connectivity up to Velankanni and the hotel Velankanni we had stayed last time is demolished for constructing something else) and I decided to update the article. At the same time I also decided to write this new article which would be helpful for people visiting Velankanni by train from Kerala.
Getting to Velankanni by Train
As of writing this article, there is only one direct long distance train to Velankanni. This is a weekly train running on Tuesday from Vasco Da Gama in Goa to Velankanni. All the other trains pass through a nearby station Nagapattinam which is 12KM away from Velankanni. Trains usually terminate either at Nagore or at Karaikal. The good news is that usually there is a connecting passenger train from Nagapattinam to Velankanni. Check out the railway map below for the train routes to Velankanni.
Trains to Velankanni or Nagapattinam
Following table contains the train timings at Nagapattinam railway station. Please check Indian Railways Website for latest information as train timings occasionally change.
Trains going towards Karaikkal (Usually arriving trains for Velankanni)
|Train No||Train Name||Days||Destination||Arrival||Departure|
|16175||Chennai Egmore – Karaikal Express||Daily||Karaikal||06:10||06:15|
|76812||Thanjavur – Karaikal Passenger||Daily||Karaikal||08:20||08:25|
|56714||Thiruchirappalli – Karaikal Passenger||Daily||Karaikal||10:00||10:05|
|16866||Ernakulam – Karaikal Tea Garden Express||Daily||Karaikal||10:10||10:15|
|56712||Thiruchirappalli – Karaikal Passenger||Daily||Karaikal||13:30||13:35|
|76818||Velankanni – Karaikkal Passenger||Daily||Karaikal||16:25||16:45|
|56852||Thiruchirappalli – Karaikal Passenger||Daily||Karaikal||20:05||20:10|
|56514||Bangalore – Nagore Fast Passenger||Daily||Nagore||21:05||21:10|
Trains going towards Thiruvarur, Thanjavur etc. (Usually trains leaving Velankanni)
|Train No||Train Name||Days||Destination||Arrival||Departure|
|56513||Nagore – Bangalore Fast Passenger||Daily||Bangalore||04:13||04:15|
|56851||Karaikal – Thiruchirappalli Passenger||Daily||Thiruchirappalli||06:50||06:55|
|56711||Karaikal – Thiruchirappalli Passenger||Daily||Thiruchirappalli||12:55||13:00|
|17316||Velankanni – Vasco Da Gama Express||Tue||Vascodagama||14:50||15:00|
|56713||Karaikal – Thiruchirappalli Passenger||Daily||Thiruchirappalli||15:15||15:20|
|16865||Karaikal – Ernakulam Tea Garden Express||Daily||Ernakulam||16:40||16:45|
|76815||Karaikal – Thanjavur Passenger||Daily||Thanjavur||18:25||18:30|
|16176||Karaikal – Chennai Egmore Express||Daily||Chennai Egmore||21:30||21:35|
Trains going towards Velankanni from Nagapattinam
|Train No||Train Name||Days||Destination||Arrival||Departure|
|76813||Karaikal – Velankanni Passenger||Daily||Velankanni||09:45||09:50|
|76814||Velankanni – Nagapattinam Passenger||Daily||Nagapattinam||10:55|
|76817||Nagapattinam – Velankanni Passenger||Daily||Velankanni||11:15|
|17315||Vasco Da Gama – Velankanni Express||Tue||Velankanni||11:30||11:40|
Ernakulam – Velankanni Tea Garden Express
The only train from Kerala to Velankanni is the old tea garden express which now goes up to Karaikal via Nagapattinam. The good news is that railways provide a connecting passenger train from Nagapattinam to Velankanni. The connecting time is under an hour and the passenger train will wait for the passengers from the Ernakulam train.
The Karaikal Express train (earlier Tea Garden express) running from Ernakulam to Karaikal is a daily train. It starts from Ernakulam Junction at 10:05pm and has stops at Ernakulam Town and Idappalli. If on time, it reaches Nagapattinam at 10:10am on the next day. You then need to take a connecting passenger train at 11:15am to Velankanni. You need to take Rs.2 ticket from Nagapattinam station. It takes about half an hour to reach Velankanni and hence you should be reaching there before 12:00pm. Don’t worry even if the Ernakulam train is late, since Velankanni passenger train will wait for around 10 minutes after the express train has reached the station.
The return train from Nagapattinam to Ernakulam starts at 4:40pm. The connecting local passenger starts at 4:00pm from Velankanni and it reaches Nagapattinam at around 4:30pm. The connection is too close to be comfortable, however the railway staff seems to ensure that all get the connection. In fact during our trip, the Velankanni passenger was stopped by the engine driver once he saw that a girl was running to catch the train.
There are 5 types of coaches available in the Ernakulam-Karaikal express – 1A, FC, 2A, 3A and SL. 1A, 2A and 3A are air conditioned coaches. If you go as a family and want privacy, the best option is 1A but it will cost you a whopping Rs.1700 per person! FC is similar but it is not air-conditioned and priced at Rs.800 per person. Both FC and 1A has 2 passenger coupe and 4 passenger cabins. Hence these are useful only if you travel as a team of 2 or 4. The train fares are given below (approximate.)
|Fare||Rs. 1700||Rs. 1000||Rs. 800||Rs. 670||Rs.240|
16866 ERS KARAIKALEXP – Ernakulam Jn. to Karaikal
|1||ERS||Eranakulam Jn||First Station||22.05||0|
|11||PGT||Palakkad ( Palghat Jn)||01.30||01.35||5||152|
16865 ERNAKULAM EXP – Karaikal to Ernakulam Jn.
|19||PGT||Palakkad ( Palghat Jn)||02.20||02.25||5||442|
|29||ERS||Eranakulam Jn||06.15||Last Station||593|
Nagapattinam Railway Station
There are only a few major trains from Nagapattinam (Chennai, Bangalore and Ernakulam) and the Ernakulam one usually arrive on Platform 1 and coach positions are fixed. In fact they have the coach positions marked on the railway station rather than the coach numbers! AC and non-AC retiring rooms are also available at the Nagapattinam station (please refer to the photo below),
Velankanni Trip from Ernakulam
This time our Velankanni trip consisted of our entire family including my parents and my brother. So in total we were a team of 9 including 3 children. We started around 8:30pm from my brother’s home in Kakkanad by taxi and reached well before 9:30pm at Ernakulam Junction railway station. We bought a couple of water bottles from the station (it appears that the train has no pantry service). Karaikal express started on time at 10:05pm and most of the passengers were heading to either Thiruchirappalli or Nagapattinam. We had booked first class (FC) and it offers privacy but no air conditioning. This is the perfect cost effective way to travel as a family if you are not very particular about air conditioning.
I was fast asleep in the morning and suddenly my wife woke me up. A guy in plain clothes was standing beside my birth and demanded ticket. He seemed very agitated and had a thick intimidating moustache. I was still half asleep and took out my ticket and gave it to him. Then I realized he was part of a "squad" trying to find people without tickets. I have rarely seen "squads" in Kerala trains. He even checked the age of the children travelling with us!
I admire the sincerity with which he was doing his duty. He was agitated because he had a hard time moving all the ticketless and general ticket holders in the first class compartment! Our ticket was checked 3 times (2 times by TTEs and one time by the squad) before we reached Nagapattinam.
We reached Thiruchirappalli Jn. by around 8:00am. The usual halt time is 10 minutes, but since engine position is reversed here, it might stop here for a while. We bought our breakfast from a vegetarian hotel (Vasantha Bhavan I think). If you miss buying your breakfast, your next option is Thanjavur station. The journey from Thiruchirappalli to Nagapattinam takes you through a lot of greenery including large paddy fields.
Photos – Trichy to Nagapattinam by Train
Nagapattinam – Velankanni by Train
The train was late by an hour and we reached Nagapattinam around 11:10ams. The Velankanni passenger train was waiting on the third platform (the scheduled departure time is 11:15am) and I ran towards the ticket counter to take the Rs.2 tickets. When I looked back others were casually walking to the ticket counter. This is one of the moments when "ignorance is bliss". The Velankanni train waited for almost 15 minutes and the driver ensured that all the pilgrims are on the train.
The train was almost full, but since we were early we got a nice place to sit. Be ready to face an army of beggars on the train including the children trying to sell Velankanni souvenirs. The relatively new Nagapattinam – Velankanni railway lines are damaged (probably due to flooding) and is undergoing repair and strengthening. The train was going slow and it took over half an hour to cover under 12KM.
The area you go through are the worst affected during the Tsunami in December 2004. The land areas here are at a very low height from sea level making it quite prone for flooding.
At Velankanni Church
We reached Velankanni station around 12pm. Autos were waiting for passengers to the church and two types of autos were available. The large one can easily accommodate up to 10 passengers and plenty of luggage! We took the auto to Clinton Park Inn hotel (See my Velankanni Church guide for Velankanni hotel options) which was barely 400m from the railway station. The large auto has a fixed rate of Rs.100. We also took his (Antony) mobile number since we had plans to go by the same auto to Nagapattinam while returning (I wasn’t comfortable about the 10 minute train transfer!).
Clinton Park Inn is the best luxury hotel available in Velankanni and it was not there when I went to Velankanni in 2008. We had opted for non-AC rooms which had a tariff of around Rs.2600 including free buffet breakfast. The food here is expensive, but is pretty good. Best of all, this hotel was within walking distance from the Velankanni church.
We spent the rest of the day in and around Velankanni church. A lot pilgrims get their head shaven (tonsure) in order to fulfil their vows for the safe life of their children. People also get the head of their infants shaven. There is an official tonsure centre operated by Velankanni church near the road which leads to the beach. We went there since the youngest in our group was going to get her head shaven. The fee for tonsure is Rs.10 and after paying it at the counter, they will give a ticket and a half blade for shaving. You can give it to any of the guys sitting inside and they will do the tonsure. Tipping is discouraged, but some do it.
One of the interesting aspects of living in India is surviving innovative ways people find to cheat others. I am usually very guarded in my dealings with strangers, but still get cheated a lot even after having a life experience of 36 years. We were conned by a skilled fraud outside the Tonsure hall.
There was a guy standing in front of the tonsure hall who gave a bucket to us when we came out. He said we should use the bucket and then clean the child’s head. He is so experienced in his dealings that we thought it was a kind gesture. When we returned from the beach, he was waiting for us and after collecting the bucket, gave us two packets of candles for offering at the church. He charged Rs.200 for it!!! He did it so well that I realized the cheating only after 10 minutes of the incident!
Velankanni church authorities are doing everything they can to minimize fraud. So always depend on church facilities. Here is a tip when you visit Velankanni. If you suddenly see someone helping you, you might end up paying dearly for it . Another problem I faced was the auto guys (in 2008, they were much better). Some charged Rs.20 for 500m distance while some other nasty folks charged Rs.40 for the same distance. So always fix the fare before getting in.
The Velankanni beachside was jam packed and there are plenty of shops around this place. We walked back to the holy path and the lady’s tank and then we returned to hotel in time for dinner.
The next day we went for the Malayalam mass at the Basilica which is scheduled at 9AM every day. A substantial number of pilgrims in Velankanni are from Kerala. We then went to the Museum of offerings which displays a sample of various offerings made at the church by pilgrims. There was a lot of gold cradles, gold rings and other items displayed. The amazing diversity of India is on display here. There is also a book stall inside, but I had a hard time finding any Velankanni related literature in English.
Return to Ernakulam
After lunch and check out from Clinton Park, we called up Mr. Antony and was on our way to Nagapattinam by auto. The auto ride was interesting and we reached Nagapattinam around 3:30PM. The Velankanni connecting train had arrived on time at 4:30pm. The Ernakulam express arrived a bit late at 5pm.
When the train stopped at Thiruvarur station, an RPF officer came into the first class. He sat in one of our coupes. I politely told him that we have reservation there (We were sitting in the other cabin with parents). His assistant replied that he will be getting down at Thanjavur! Thankfully when TTE came, he relocated him to another vacant coupe.
Throughout our journey, ticketless or general ticket holders ended up hiding in First class. The TTE and the "special squad" had the unenviable task of moving them away almost every hour. If not for the hard work of the TTE and the squads, the travel in reserved coaches would be a nightmare.
In Kerala, TTEs suffer a lot due to unruly unreserved passengers and season ticket holders. Season ticket and general ticket holders squeeze into reserved compartment, making the life of long distance travellers a living hell. The irony is that season ticket holders pay very low fare!
The scheduled arrival time at Trichy was 8pm and we reached there almost half an hour early! There is an engine change at the station and we got out to buy dinner. There are a couple of good vegetarian hotels in Trichy station and a popular one was Vasanta Bhavan. There was a big commotion here as people tried to get the token for food parcel. The guy at the entrance was shouting that there is no need for the panic as the train will halt at least for 30 minutes. But nobody listened to him! The pushing and jostling at the counter is a good way to test your ability to survive in a fight. We bought Chappathy set and masala dosa for dinner.
We reached Ernakulam Jn. around 7:30pm and it seems my wife is already planning our next trip!
Velankanni Railway Station: You can see the church far away on the left side as two small pillars. The Velankanni railway station is constructed mirroring the architecture of the Velankanni church!
|Lady’s Tank Church: This church is located about 500m from the Basilica at the end of the holy path on the western side. According to believers, this is where Mother Mary appeared to a milk boy and topped up his milk pot. There was a pond here and the water source is now used to make the holy water.|
|Cloth Cradles Near Lady’s Tank: Couples tie these "cloth cradles" as a offering to Virgin Mary asking for the gift of a child.|
|Naduthittu Church: This church is located on the main road on the northern side of the Basilica. According to the legend, this is where Mother Mary appeared to a crippled boy and healed his legs.|
|The Adoration and Reconciliation Chapel : The place for prayer. There is also a counselling centre adjacent to this.|
|Velankanni Shrine Basilica : This is the sea facing side of Velankanni Shrine Basilica.|
|Velankanni Morning Star Church : This new church is coming up near the main road. This photo was taken from Clinton Park Inn. This is a huge church measuring 400ft. in length, 140ft in width and 40 ft. in height! When completed it will have a seating capacity of 15,000. Anyone donating Rs. 25,000 or more will have their name written on the walls of the church|
I visit my brother who is staying in Cochin frequently and it gives me an opportunity in exploring interesting places around Cochin. Recently I was in Cochin on the way to Velankanni and we had a full day to spend. My brother suggested a trip to Mattancherry Jew Town and then a biriyani lunch at Kayees Hotel.
I had never heard about Kayees restaurant (or Kayikkante Biriyani). However after a quick internet search, I realized it is a highly hyped hotel famous for its signature biriyani (see additional resources below). The actual name of the hotel is Kayees Rahmathulla hotel and the signature biriyani they serve is known as Kayikkante biriyani.
V.K. Kayee, popularly known as Kayikka (Brother Kayee) started his career as a cook and waiter in British army in 1940s. Later he started working as a waiter in Bombay hotel, Cochin. In the year 1948 he started a tea stall in Mattancherry. He converted it into a proper restaurant by the name Kayees Rahmathulla hotel in 1951. Since Kayikka’s death in 1999, it is run by kayee’s son Mustafa and grandson Shabeer. Currently Rahmathulla Kayees hotel operate in two locations – the original hotel in Mattancherry and a new hotel near Durbar Hall Ground, Ernakulam.
|Rahmathulla Hotel, Mattancherry||Kayees Hotel, Durbar Hall Road, Ernakulam|
|Address: New Road, Fort Kochi, 682002
|Address: Kayees, near Durbar Hall Ground, 682016
Kayees Rahmathulla hotel also has a catering service (Kayees) which seems to be very popular. For example, people like P.K. Kunjalikkutty, Philip Mathew, Mammen Mathew (Malayala Manora) etc. have written appreciation letters on the excellent catering service provided.
Kayees Rahmathulla Hotel, Mattancherry
Kayikka’s Biriyani in the media, display board in Mattancherry hotel
Getting to Kayees Rahmathullah Hotel
We only knew that the hotel was located somewhere near Mattancherry and we asked a group of guys near Willingdon island about "Kayees hotel". They replied that probably we are looking for the famous "Kayikkante Biriyani" and gave precise instructions to its location! After talking to a couple of guys along the way, I realized that everyone knows about the hotel.
Kayees Rahmathulla hotel is located in Mattancherry. It is located on the northern side under 1KM from Fort Kochi ferry station and about 1KM from Mattancherry palace and Jew town. Click on the map to see the route to the hotel from Marine drive. Another option is to take a boat to Fort Kochi.
Review : Kayikkante Biriyani
We had reached the hotel around 1PM and it was very crowded. The guy at the hotel instructed us to sit on the veranda and wait for our turn. The waiting area is full of newspaper and magazine clippings about "Kayikkante Biriyani". There is a huge fan list on the notice board including celebrities such as Mammootty, M.F. Hussain, Kunchakko Boban etc. There was heavy rush, yet they managed the rush somehow. We had to wait for around 20 minutes since we went as a group of 7 people.
We wanted to taste mutton biriyani, but it was not available and was a major disappointment. The next best thing in the menu was Chicken biriyani and we ordered it. It was promptly served with dates chutney, onion salad and pappad.
The biriyani rice was crisp and delicious and the chicken was tender, gravy was spicy. However the biriyani didn’t have the special ingredients they usually show in the TV programs (cashew etc.). The portions was average and hence may not sufficient if you are going there with a big appetite. We asked for refill of the pappad and they promptly refilled pappad and onion salad. The service was good considering the rush.
Usually after a heavy meal of biriyani, you feel drowsy and you feel guilty for a heavy meal. However we felt very light and relaxed after our indulgence. I guess this is the effect of using only natural ingredients. Other than this, I didn’t find anything special with the biriyani.
I am pretty sure that if I went as a press/TV/celebrity guy, I would have been tasting a much better biriyani. For the usual customers, it is average biriyani at affordable price. If you visit Mattancherry, I recommend trying out the biriyani for lunch.
I think the secret behind the success of Kayees is the consistency of quality and taste maintained over years.
Recipe for Kayikkante Biriyani
The recipe for the Kayikkante mutton biriyaani is mentioned in the following videos and the Yathra article. The following recipe is a translation of the dhum mutton biriyaani recipe I found in the hotel (see picture below).
Mutton Biriyani – Ingredients
|Curd||1/2 cup||Mint Leaves||2|
|Coriander Leaves||4||Garam Masala||1 tablespoon|
|Cumin||1 tablespoon||Turmeric||1/4 tablespoon|
|Vanaspati vegetable cooking oil||1 cup||Ghee||4 tablespoon|
|Clove||6 pieces||Cardamom||6 pieces|
|Star Anise||3 pieces||Pineapple (sliced)||150g|
Preparing the Biriyani
Crush onion, garlic, pearl onion and ginger. Mix it with coriander leaves, mint leaves, tomato, turmeric, garam masala, lemon juice, 1/2 cup vanaspati cooking oil, ghee and salt. Saute the mix. Then add mutton and 1/2 cup curd and cook the mix.
Slice onions and fry in Vanaspati till they turn brown. Fry raisins and cashew nuts separately. Also half cook the rice with cumin, cinnamon, clove, cardamom and star anise. Add this rice on top of the cooked mutton.
Then add the coriander leaves, mint leaves, pineapple small slices, cashew nuts, raisins and fried onion slices on the top. Seal the lid on the top of the cooking vessel with maida dough(all purpose flour dough) and cook. The delicious Kayikkante dhum biriyaani is ready!
The following recipe for Kayikkante mutton biriyani in Malayalam is posted on the walls of the hotel,
Kayikkante Biriyani is probably the most over hyped food in Kerala. Following are some of the online articles on the biriyani and the hotel,
Almost all Malayalam TV channels had covered this place. Following are some of the TV programs on the hotel (via Youtube),