Showing posts with label Kerala. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerala. Show all posts

May 10, 2014

Thrissur Pooram Festival 2014

Last year, I was thinking about attending the Thrissur Pooram Festival. However, my South Korea business trip didn't allow me. 

This year, my guru TBR Uncle and I planned well in advance to attend this festival [9 May 2014] and we went. I started from Pondicherry in Mangalore Mail while uncle started from Chennai in Allepey Express. We met at Thrissur railway station at 7:30am while it was raining. After stepping out of railway station, we both had a tea. Uncle had a Pazham puri (snack made by frying maidha topped Nendram Pazham (a banana variety) too. We looked out for an accommodation. Even a below average room costed Rs.1500. We weren't' satisfied. We hunted for few more rooms. All of them costed exorbitantly. We stopped searching.

We headed towards the Vadakumnaathan temple for (one of) the main attraction of the festival  Koda Maatram (கோடை மாற்றம் /Change of Umbrella). In front of the temple, an array of elephants adorned in gold plated ornaments were lined up. In front of the elephants, an array of musicians - playing native trumpet like instruments and Chenda melam. The sound and the beat was amazing. Many were waving their hands excitedly for the beat. We were standing there for 15-20 minutes.  I must say, I was charged up. We can't get this experience while watching it in television. The people watching this performance were highly charged up and waving their hand in beat.

(Umbrella Changing Ceremony begins)

Later, I and Uncle went to Guruvayor and Tripayar. We came back to Thrissur at 2:00pm and went to Vadakumnaathan Temple. Unseasonal cloudy overcast poured down as expected. Around 4:00pm, people started gather at the south of the temple. At 4:30pm, as the people cheered up, the elephant bearing the main deity of Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple headed out of the temple followed by another 14 elephants. Finally 15 elephants lined up facing the crowd. Few highly decorated umbrellas were changed. Later, all these elephants headed towards the the road end of the ground and faced the temple. 

Now, another 15 elephants headed by the main deity of Thiruvembadi Sri Krishna Temple came out of the Vadakumnaathan temple and faced the elephants of the Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple. By now, it was 5:30pm. People cheered up and were waving the hands in sync with the beat. People roared when the persons standing on the head of the elephant (of the Thiruvembadi Sree Krishna Temple) started changing the umbrella. People once again roared when the persons standing on the head of the elephant (of the Paramekkaavu Bhagavathy Temple) started changing the umbrella. It was awesome watch different colors of umbrella at one sight. Watching them in front of eyes in real is an unparalleled experience. 

A gentleman standing next to me explained certain facts about this festival
1. Vadakamunathan Temple only hosts the show. Only Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and Thiruvembadi Sree Krishna Temple participates in this show.
2. It is show of strength by both the temples. Not a competition but they participate in a competitive spirit.
3. It is the not the number of elephants that count as the display of strength.
4. It is the (Design / Color / Quality of) umbrella's that is changed every two minutes is actually the display of strength.
5. These umbrella's are rich in color, high in aesthetics, high in design, finer in details which make them look fabulous when they are put on the 15 elephants.
6. Each side has around 40-50 sets of umbrella to change every two minutes. 
7. Each umbrella is made out of pure silk, gold and silver decorations giving them a rich look. The gentleman said it would cost about Rs.1 Lakh (I though it would be some Rs.3000 only). 
8. Many NRI's pour money to make these umbrellas and crores and crores of money is poured to organize this festival.

Overall, it is definitely a wonderful experience to witness in person. 

January 16, 2014

Sabarimala Pilgrimage - பள்ளிக்கட்டு சபரிமலைக்கு

Starting from Pondicherry on Sunday 5 Jan 2014 and returning on Sunday 12 Jan 2014, I was on travel with a group of 28 people on the Sabarimala Yatra / Pilgrimage / Trip. This years trip covered approx 2000km (1242miles) trip and 52km  (32miles) trekking. 

Generally, our Sabarimala trip circuit covers the following places in 5 days
1) Pillaiyarpatti
2) Kundrakudi
4) Kutralam
3) Erumeli - Sabarimala
4) Maasaniamman & Palani
5) Srirangam, Vekkaliamman & Samayapuram

However this year, we took a 7 day trip covering the temples mentioned in below table which covers 27 temples apart from Sabarimala. 

Day 1
Pillaiyarppatti Karpaka Vinayakar Thirukovil
Vairavanpatti Sri Valaroleeswarar Thirukovil
Thirukoshtiyur Sri Sowmya Narayana Perumal Thirukovil
Thiruppullani Adi Jagannatha Perumal Thirukovil
Devipatinam Submerged Navagraha Temple built by Lord Rama
Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Thirukovil
Day 2
Navathirupathi 1) Devarpiran Swami Perumal Thirukovil - Rettai Tirupathi South Temple, Tholaivillimangalam
2) Aravind Loschanar Swami Thirukovil - Rettai Tirupathi North Temple, Tholaivillimangalam
3) Sri Mayakoothar Perumal Temple Thirukkulandhai, Perunkulam
4) Kaaisinavendhan Perumal Temple - Thiruppulinkudi
5) Vijayaasana Perumal Temple - Thiru Varagunamangai(Natham)
6) Makara Nedunkuzhai Kannan Temple, Then Thirupperai
7) Vaithamanidhi Perumal Temple - Thirukolur
8) Adhinaatha Perumal Temple - Thirukkurugur(Azhwar Thirunagari)
9) Sri Vaikuntanatha(Kallapiran) Temple - Sri Vaikuntam
Thiruchendur Thiruchendur Murugan Thirukovil
Day 3
Kutralam Thirukutraleeswarar Thirukovil
Tenkasi Kasi Viswanathar Thirukovil
Aryankavu Aryankavu Sastha Thirukovil
Kulathupuzha Kulathupuzha Thirukovil
Erumeli Erumeli Dharmasasta Thirukovil
Day 4
Sabarimala Sabarimala Dharmasastha Ayyappan Thirukovil
Day 5
Ettumanoor Ettumanoor Mahadevar Thirukovil
Day 6
Chottanikkara Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Thirukovil
Kodungallur Kodungallur Bhagavathy Thirukovil
Guruvaayoor Sri Guruvaayoorappan Krishnan Thirukovil
Day 7
Palani Palani Murugan Thirukovil
Samayapuram Samayapuram Mariamman Thirukovil

Sabarimala Trekking has two types of trekking viz 1) Long Trekking 48 kms 2) Short Trekking 4kms in the forward journery to the Sabarimala Temple. However, the return journery is only a short trekking. 

I took the long trekking after 5 years. Last 5 years, I could take it because of business travels. 

Long Trekking can be phased into following legs

1) Erumeli - Kalakatti Ashram
This leg covers 19km for most part on flat surfaces, roads but occasional slopes. I personally consider this leg to be psycologicaly tiring as it almost takes 4 hours of continuous trekking on plain roads amidst rubber plantations.  

Secondly, the roads make it difficult during hot day hours. 

This year I made it very easily thanks to the rains when I started from Erumeli at 5:50p.m. We took occasional breaks at Subramaniya Temple and Thalapaarakottaa before reaching Kalakatti at 10:00p.m.  We halted at Kalakatti, had dinner and slept.

2) Kalakatti Ashram - Kallidam Kundru (Azhudhamala Top)
We started from Kallidam kundru at 4:00am and took a bath at Azhudha River before we started trekking Azhudha mala (mountain) at 5:30a.m. We reached Kallidam Kundru at 6:30a.m. This leg is relatively a easier leg as we 

climbed it before sunrise. Kallidam Kundru is the top of the Azhudhamala. It is believed that at Kallidam Kundru, demon Magizshi is buried, hence, first timers drop here a stone collected from Azhudha.

3) Kallidam Kundru to Puthucherry Thaavalam.
This leg is a very long leg which by itself is covered in two sub legs viz a) Kallidam Kundru to Mukkuzhi b) Mukkuzhi to Puthucherry Thaavalam. Kallidam Kundru to Mukkuzhi is a easier one as we reach in approximaely 1.5 hours. 

We took a break at Mukkuzhi for 30minutes. We headed to Puthucherry Thaavalam. But this is one of the sub leg is a very long leg of approximately 14 kms. We took many breaks before we reached Puthucherry Thaavalam for 

lunch and rest.

4) Puthucherry Thaavalam to Karimala Uchi (Top)
We climbed towards Karimala which is bit difficult one as it took almost 2 hours. In this leg, I was suffering from stomach pain because of severe electrolyte loss due to 4 days travel. When I reached Karimala it was 4:30pm.

5) Karimala Uchi (Top) to Periyanaivattam (Big Elephants Circle) 
 I and few others started to Periyanaivattam at 6:00p.m. I started slowly, but Murali (my fellow traveller) was almost running in the dark. I too started running along with him. If not I had ran with Murali, I wouldn't have reached 

Periyanaivattam at 7:20pm itself. 

6) Periyaanaivattam to Sabarimala Sannidhaanam (Temple)
At Periyaanaivattam, I took a bath at Pampa river and started to Sabarimala at 8:00pm. I travelled via Pampa Ganapathy Temple, Neelimala, Appachimedu, Sabarimala before I took the virtual online queue. I reached Sannidhanam .

p.s: Short trek covers only the leg 6.

Approximately around 10:15pm. I was rather very slow from Pampa to Sabarimala taking breaks for every 10minutes. I have almost taken 75minutes for this 4km leg. But day long trekking didn't leave much energy to trek fast. However, I didn't had to stand any queue till Sannidhanam steps, thanks to virtual online queue booking receipt. I had a excellent dharshan of Lord Ayyappan in Pushpa alankara at Sannidhanam at 10:37pm. That dharshan is an everlasting memory.

Overall, this trip is a much more than satisfactory to me. I was able to make the complete trekking barefoot. First, I didn't believe that I will be able to make it barefoot  completely because I am used to wearning shoes in office daily (which I should not wear for 41 days before taking on the trekking). Secondly, last 5 years I have been in different locations such as New Delhi, Bangalore. Hence, I had to make short trekking trips. The success of this trip proves yet again that விரதம் இருந்தால் வெற்றி கிடைக்கும் (if you toil you will achieve success). 

Apart from that, visiting 28 temples in 7 days was a mind calming experience for me. I am not sure, if I had earlier enjoyed the scenic beauty of the long trek if not occasionally. This time, I personally took time to observe the surroundings, listen to the  cacophony of birds, tall trees, broad stout roots of the trees, dense wild forests etc. Apart, from religious point of view, I also see this trip to be a indicator of physical stamina and fitness condition. 

Wishing that God is graceful on me in calling me and giving me the strength every year to take this trip to visit him.

October 03, 2013

Wayanad - Kannur - Muzhappilangad Drive-in Beach

A small collage of photos on my recent trip to Wayanad and Kannur, Kerala.

 (On way to Wayanad from Panoor)
 Soochipara Falls

 Banasura Lake

 St.Angelo Fort, Kannur

 Payambalam Beach

Muzhappilangad Drive-in beach

ண்டொன்று சொல்லேல்.
Meaning: Say what you see - Don't exaggerate 

September 13, 2012

Nelliyampathy (நெல்லியம்பதி)

In continuation with my previous blog I continue here - it was my plan to visit Nelliyampathy, a hill settlement - 75km south of Palakkad, after the marriage. I boarded into a hourly bus to Nelliyampathy from the KSRTC bus stand, Palakkad. First 50 kms till Nemara is surrounded by calm paddy fields. Cloudy day it was and refreshing to enjoy the freshness and aroma of the paddy fields. After reaching Nemara, the mountain roads started. Green dense teak forests were welcoming with flowery bushes, scented seasonal blossoms of the trees, tea and cardamom plantations. Sitting near the window of the bus, catching  the sight of numerous waterfalls by the sides of road and listening its crumbing sounds is different from the bus trips  to my office (bus trips to and from C2B Janakpuri is of course unparalleled for me :-)). It was getting colder. That said, Nelliyampathy, spread over undulating terrain at an attitude of a little above 1500m, is set amid some magnificent scenery, and the journey to get there, winding up a succession of spurs above the Pothundi Dam and reservoir, ranks among the most spectacular in the state. It was approximately a 3 hour bus journey when I reached Nelliyampathy.

I and Mr Manu, driver of the jeep ferry, reached the view point. Listening to the perky sounds of Myna, we walked half a kilometer. It was THE view! I can say. The magnificent panoramic view of mosaics of paddy fields in the Palakkad and other towns was breathtaking. (Most views that I have seen from mountains such as Palani, Ajmer Fort, Thirupathi, Mysore were dominated by the buildings, thanks to urbanization).

Just a word of caution: We were just a few foot away from the unmarked exposed ridges encircling the plateau may be lethal in poor visibility. Thought Nelliyampathy is a popular escape yet the forest is neat. Hope it is not exploited in future. 

Manu and I continued to walk towards the Pothundi mountain. God!! it is a beautiful view of the waterfalls amid dense forests (which you will find in the below photograph). It is an excellent place to listen and rejoice with the music of the water fall (while I write this the "Songs of the River" (Album: Music of Rivers) by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia comes to my mind). In front of the waterfalls I could spend 20 minutes because I had to catch the last return bus of the day. As we returned to the ferry it was drizzling - a romantic end to this trip (wish she was with me). Various grey and black shades of mountains and Pothundi Dam made a resplendent foreground to silvery sunset. That was another beautiful Kerala Trip.

Note: I hardly had 2 hours to spend there. But if we reach Nelliyampathy by 8am it is a wonderful place to spend entire day and it has lots of others places around to visit for a complete day. But it lacks decent accommodations.

P.S: First time I missed my lover (obsessive when I am with her), my camera Canon S5 IS. I got to repair her soon.

Nelliyampathy - Recommended.

Few photos here, thanks to my mobile phone.


On a walk to catch the glimpse of the waterfalls
Bird's eye view of the Palakkad town

One more snap of the Bird's eye view of the Palakkad Town
Rajesh Mottai :-)

On way to Nelliyampathy from Palakkad


Meaning - Analysis, research and then act