Thursday, December 31, 2009

Trip to Kerala - Part III

This is the 3rd and final part of my trip to Kerala in Dec 2008 & Jan2009

Day 3: We left to fort Kochi after our breakfast by road over a bridge overlooking the harbor. There were many cargo ships anchored. Fort kochi is a small community in itself with old world charm. Fort Kochi is one of the 3 islands which make Cochin along with Ernakulam and Mattancherry. The Europeans have left a major impact on the culture and traditional heritage of Cochin. One can see a unique blend of European, Dutch and Portugal lifestyle in fort of Cochin.

We headed straight to the southern naval command Maritime Museum, located at INS Dronacharya Kochi. It focuses on the maritime heritage of the Indian Navy. It showcases the evolution of Indian navy, its achievement and landmarks, artifacts, life size statues, paintings which highlight kerala’s trade links with Arabs, arrival of vasco-da-gama, the arrival of dutch, evolution of the port of Cochin etc. From here we walked over to a curvy non- commercial beach which had rocky shores. We enjoyed the Arabian sea waters hitting our feet.

From there to Vasco da gama square to see the Chinese fishing nets (called Cheena Vala) . A very simple place with no frills It has dabba shops, road side fresh seafood stalls selling fresh fish prawn just out of the cheena vala. This place must definitely be a haven for sea food lovers. Tender coconut shops were selling each coconut at 15rs that too in the land of coconuts.

From there we went to St. Francis church, The history of the church is that Vasco Da Gama on his 3rd visit to India died here. He was buried in the church. Nearly 14 years laters his remains were taken to Portugal. There were many antique and unique ware shops around the streets of the church. I did not pick anything.
Our next stop was at the Dutch Palace built originally by the Portuguese. Later on it was modified by the Dutch and it was gifted to the Raja of Kochi. This place has got many Kerala Mural paintings from the Indian epics and photos depicting the lineage of Rajas and the history of Kochi.

From there we went to the Jewish Synagogue but it was closed, so got down and roamed around the Jew town selling many curios.
After winding Fort Kochi went to the hotel to have our lunch and now we left Ernakulam to reach Kalady the birth place of Adi Sankaracharya on the banks or River Poorna. A very peaceful place. We also visited the Krishna temple adjoining the mutt and also the bathing ghats at River Poorna
And now drove straight to Guruvayoor. Reached there by 8pm, Booked a room close to the hotel.

After freshening ourselves we went straight to the temple for darshan. There was no queue. It was also the seeveli time and all the lamps (numbering more than 1000) were lit around the temple’s wooden framed structure designed specially into small squares with each square having a diya.The temple elephants are taken around the inner praharam of the temple with the God’s photo on one of the elephants and other elephants following the main elephant to the beats of the drums. This is called seeveli. The whole atmosphere of the light and sound transported us into a totally unexplainable divine world . After the darshan we walked back to our hotel room which was hardly 100 metres away. We walked in and out of all the shops and bought a mundu pavadai for shreya

Day 4: Bala and his friend (the family which accompanied us on the tour) got up early at 3.00 a,m to have the nirmalya darisanam. They were back by 6.00p.m. By 7.00p.m All of us were ready with the kids we now went to have the darshan again. There was less queque. We had a very good darshan and walked out of the temple with great satisfaction. Now from here we left to mammiyoor, a siva temple close by. It is mandatory for every devotee to visit this temple after worshipping guruvayoor. After a good darshan here, We came back and rested at our room and then walked out to do some shopping on the nearby shops. I bought few knick knacks, kerala mural paintings depicting ramar pattabhishekam(the coronation of Rama) and pallikonda ranganathar( reclining Vishnu) and Kerala appalams(when these are fried they look like puris).

After lunch we went to see the Elephant breeding spot belonging to the temple and the Goshala. The goshala was very clean and it also had a small tank where the local boys were having a good swim. We rested on the steps watching the boys.
Now it was time for us to leave Guruvayoor. We now headed straight to the Kerala Forest Institute’s Guest house at Peechi which was 29 kms away. We could not get any rooms in a decent hotel at palakkad/Thrissur owing to year end. So we were booked in this guest house.( Courtesy: G Chittappa who is a retired Director of Forest Research Institute, Coimbatore). We had a very good dinner at the guest house and retired to our rooms.

Day 5: The morning dawned for us at a beautiful place called Peechi located 23km from Thrissur. This place is full of lush green forests on hills and plains. It is home to numerous flora and fauna like many varieties of orchids, medicinal plants, tigers,elephants, Bison etc.This place is well known for Peechi Dam. It is a beautiful picnic spot. We visited the dam which was just 2kms from our guest house and left to Athirapally falls.One of the important waterfalls on the wooded forests of Western ghats. The water falls from the chalakudy river from a great height. I could only see it from the side since I never dared to walk down the steep for a better view. We settled ourselves comfortably amidst the small rocks on the chalakudy river and enjoyed the flow of water on our legs. It felt heavenly to see the forests around and inhaling the fresh unpolluted air with sounds of nature although there were many tourists around . After soaking in the lap of nature we trekked up the steps and drove a short distance up hill to see the vazhachal. This again is a picturesque spot amidst the forest laden sholayur ranges of the western ghats.

It was already 3.00p.m, so we drove down hill to reach (the uphill road from Vazhachal was a toll road leading to the other side of westernghats to enter Tamilnadu) Peechi. We had evening tiffins at a udupi restaurant on the highway. Got back to our rooms after a very delicious dinner at the guest house.

Day 6: This day dawned leisurely on a tiring timebound week. So got up at 8 and had tea on our balcony overlooking the terraced rubber, pepper plantations and a stream flowing below. We left our rooms after a while and went around the Guesthouse(built by lawrie Baker) and walked out of the campus to a bylane leading to the terraced plantations. It was a carefree walk on a bridge to the place. We plucked some pepperpods and a villager who showed shreya and sharun how latex was taken from the rubber plant. From the plantations we could see our room balcony. We freezed some stills and filmed some . After a small walk back, had our breakfast and started packing our things to leave for Thrissur. We winded our stay at Kerala with a good lunch and left for the Thrissur railway station.

Boarded the Sabari express at 2 in the afternoon at Thrissur, travelled past palakkad and coimbatore to reach Hyderabad.

The tour of the mind body and soul came to an end. We recharged back to Hyderabad to face our routine in the new year 2009(the year gone by) with great enthusiasm.

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