Saturday, November 30, 2013

Exhilarating Kerala Waterfalls

In almost all Districts of Kerala Waterfalls are existed and they provide splendid sight for the visitors.It is not the size or height that makes them marvelous but the immaculate beauty of them.  The nearby greenery places are quite fascinating.There are more than 25 waterfalls in Kerala and all of them are scenic picnic spots.All the important Waterfalls in Kerala  are described here district wise.
Waterfalls Of Trivandrum District

MANKAYAM  AND   KALAKKAYAM  WATERFALLS

Mankayam Waterfalls is in Nedumangadu Taluk near Palode Botanical Gardens, and situated in Eco-tourism zone managed by Kerala Forest Department.It has an elevation of 500 meters above sea level and the area is blessed with natural beauty.
Mankayam river, which is a tributary of Chittar river which flows through the Brymore produces two waterfalls, Known either as Idinjar Falls and or
Mankayam falls and Kalakkayam Falls.It is about 55 kms from Trivandrum.
On holidays large number of local visitors also gather to witness this thrilling beauty.
The entire forest  area of  the banks of Mankayam river relieves the stress of visitors by the serene green stretch of forest land which houses interesting species of flora.
Kalakkayam is the biggest waterfalls in this area.
Visitors can go for trekking if they are interested to and half day trekking 'Iruthala moola-Ayanpara' is a choice.One can witness another waterfall 'Ayanpara Waterfall' on the way.Trained guides are available for the tourists.
One day trek 'Mankayam-Varayadin Mottai' trek is another choice which is more adventurous through hills and valleys,grasslands and dense forests.
You may spot the endangered 'Nilgiri Tahr', a species of wild goat.

kOMBAIKANI AND MEENMUTTY WATERFALLS

The famous waterfalls on the upper part of Neyyar Reservoir are 'Kombaikani and Meenmutty waterfalls'
Meenmutty is situated near Kallar in Trivandrum District and 2kms from Meenmutty lies Kombaikani waterfalls.
On the way to these waterfalls one can enjoy the lush green vegetation and the countless species of bird and butterflies.

ARUVI WATERFALLS

Aruvi Waterfalls is situated 60 kms from Trivandrum.It is situated at Peppara forest  range.One has to go to Bonacaud tea estate from where 7kms trekking is needed through forest area to the waterfalls.Guides are available.Trekking to the nearby area is possible.





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ONAM FESTIVAL

Onam is the most important festival in Kerala which lasts for two weeks. People  put a floral arrangement using fresh flowers in front of their houses  in circular shape known as 'Pookkalam' in the early morning from 'Atham' star day onwards for ten days up to 'Thiruvonam' star day according to the  traditional practice.On Atham star day itself a colourful procession will be   held at 'Thrupunithura' near Cochin where the temple of Lord 'Vamana' exists declaring the launch of Onam Celebrations. This is also a centuries old custom.From that day onwards for  preparations  to make the event a grand success everybody will be busy with shopping etc.By that date itself  people would have  already made renovations to their dwelling place by throwing out garbage, cleaning around, and  applying  new paint to their houses  if necessary and so on.They will purchase rice and other provisions in bulk  abundance,new clothes for all family members etc.The main Onam day is known as 'Thiruvonam' and on that day almost in all homes of Kerala people will prepare   so many types of dishes and sweets.During four main days of Onam lunch will be a 'feast' with so many varieties of dishes and 'payasam' (a kind of porridge' using jaggery,rice,milk etc).
Poor people would have saved some money for this occasion.Now a days Government pays bonus to the employees prior to Onam and in the private sector also the workers are paid annual bonus in this month just before Onam days.So everybody will be able to celebrate and enjoy Onam Festival according to their wish.Government employees may get five days holidays and in the private sector also four days holidays are mostly  given.
Onam is the Official Tourism week  in Kerala.Government Sponsored Onam Celebrations are conducted  in a large scale in the Capital City of Thiruvananthapuram every year.Small scale celebrations are also held at District headquarters like  Ernakulam(Near Cochin),Kozhikode etc  and other tourist spots.
In Trivandrum every year the programmes will be very spectacular and gorgeous. Programmes are   held  mainly at Kanakakkunnu Palace Auditoriums,Nishagandhi open auditorium in that premises,Sooryakanthi auditorium,Museum auditorium,Jawahar Balabhavan Compound,Public Office compound,Institution of Engineers hall,Poojappura ground,Central Stadium,Vailopalli Samskrithi Bhavan,Theertha pada Mandapam,V.J.T.Hall,Public Library auditorium etc.
There will be display of Classical art forms like Kathakali,Koodiyattam,Ottanthullal,Bharatanatyam,Mohiniyattam,Kuchupudi,Kathak,etc and Folk art forms of all types like 'Theyyam.Padayani,Arjuna Nritham,Garudan Parava,Thidambu Nritham,Chakyar Koothu,Nangyar koothu,Chavittu nadakam etc.Classical Carnatic concerts and film songs musical program 'Ganamela' are held everyday.Kathaprasangam(story telling using orchestra),Professional Dramas,folklore dances like Charadu pinnikali and musical program of folklore songs 'Nadan Pattu' and many more.
On the last day there will be a splendid, attractive and marvellous parade(procession) from Vellayambalam to Eastfort which will be a feast for the spectator's eyes in which a number of decorated 'floats' representing different public and private organisations also participates.
Government sponsored programs are held at Shanghummugham beach,Varkala,Chirayinkeezhu,Aakkulam,Ponmudy,Veli Tourist Village, Kovalam,Madavurpara,Karakulam Kala Gramam etc also which  are all in and around Thiruvananthapuram.
 The world famous 'Aranmula Uthrittathi Snake Boat race on the  river 'Pampa' at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta District takes place on 'Uthrittathi' star day three days after 'Thiruvonam' day.
During the Onam month several Snake boat races are held in many parts of Kerala. 'Pulikali' at Thrissur will be an event which  attracts large number of people from far and near.(People wearing tiger's mask and painted  body like tigers will dance.Thousands of tigers will participate for this event.
 The legend of Onam is as follows.Celestial beings 'Devas' opposes 'Asuras' always.Gods always favoured Devas  because Asuras performed unnecessary calamities and crimes quite often.But there were great wise men among 'Asuras' and such a great personality was  'Emperor Mahabali'  who ruled Kerala several thousand years ago.He ruled the country in such a brilliant manner and tactics that there was welfare,prosperity,content and happiness in the country at its top.All were equal before the law,weight and measures were accurate,there were no thieves,nobody dared to speak  lies.Maharajah  loved his subjects and in turn they loved him.But because of the request of the jealous Devas,  Lord Mahavishnu took incarnation as a dwarf monk in the name as 'Vamana'and approachd  in disguise to the Maharajah and asked for three foot of land.King's 'Guru' and advisor 'Shukracharya'  warned the King about the cheat but  King was ready to accept his fate from the 'God' and so he allowed the monk to measure his land.The monk grew up to the heavens and measured all the worlds with two steps.For putting the third step Mahabali bowed to him and showed his head.He was sent to 'Pathalam', the lowest of the three worlds.He was but given a boon that he could visit Kerala every year during 'Onam' along with Lord Vishnu.People puts  'Pookkalam' in front of their house in the lawn   to greet Mahavisnu and Mahabali.The people want to show the Emperor that they live in prosperity and happiness still now so that he would also feel happy.
Another legend is that 'Thiruvonam' is the Birthday of Lord Vishnu.
Some people say that it is just a harvest festival.
In all Mahavishnu temples special pooja and other rituals are performed during Onam days as a tradition including 'Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple' of  Thiruvananthapuram.
Onam is celebrated in Kerala from pre historic times itself.In a poem written in the second century A.D. there is description about Onam festival.
Onam has become a festival irrespective of any religion at present .It is a nostalgia and everybody wants to celebrate it whole heartedly  and enjoy themselves.
The myths of 'Onam' and the story of Emperor Mahabali reminds us that we should be  perfect and good in our deeds to others.Our sincere efforts and help for the welfare of others will be paid off.We may have to face jealousy opponents.They may expel us from our position but we will win ultimately.
We will be  remembered for our good deeds and even our opponents will praise us in the long run.











   

Thursday, July 11, 2013

NALAMBALA DARSHANAM (FOUR TEMPLE PILGRIMAGE)

During the last month of Malayalam Calendar, 'Karkadakam'  which falls from mid July to mid August, the Hindus of Kerala State in India and pilgrims from other states of India  performs a pilgrimage to the most famous  temples dedicated to Sree Rama,Bharatha,Lakshmana and Shatrughna in Kerala on   a single day.There are altogether four sets of temples dedicated to these'Ramayana Heroes' in Kerala, but out of these the most visited temples in a single day are 'Thripayar Sree Rama Temple,Koodalmanikyam Bharatha Temple,Thirumoozhikkulam Lakshmana Temple and Payammal Shatrughna Temple.This pilgrimage is known as 'Nalambala Darsanam'.
The month of Karkadakam is known as 'Ramayana Masam'(The month of Ramayana) during which in most of Hindu homes the elder member of the family recites the holy poetry text 'Ramayana' (translated version written by
'Thunchathu Ezhuthachan) part by part every day  so that the whole book will be finished by the end of the month.When the book is read aloud by the elder member of the family, all others will listen to it devotionally.This is an old tradition and might have started by people in fear because Karkadakam was a month of famine and epidemics  very long ago.People used to spend that month  spiritually  reciting Ramayana and praying Lord Rama who is believed to eradicate all evil forces and bring in prosperity.Visiting these temples during that month on a single particular day is considered auspicious.
When there was no proper transportation facilities this was indeed a difficult task to finish in a single day  because they used to cover the distance by walking.At present people use vehicles and this is not at all a difficult pilgrimage.
People follows the traditional system by which they have to visit Sree Rama Temple first, then they have to go to Koodalmanikyam temple,and afterwards to visit Lakshmana temple before 'Ucha Pooja'(The special pooja at Noon).The pilgrims has to visit the last temple of 'Shatrughna' situated at Payammal for the 'Deparadhana' which is the  'Aarati Pooja' (Special pooja around 6.30 P.M).The number of devotees performing 'Nalambala Darsanam' during Karkadakam month are increasing every year.

THRIPAYAR SREE RAMA TEMPLE

The most famous Sree Rama temple in Kerala is 'Thripayar Sree Rama Temple'. There is a river flowing adjacent to the temple which is known as 'Theevra'.It is also known as 'Thripadayar' since it flows near the holy feet of the Lord.The temple name derived from the name 'Thripadayar'.
It is believed that Lord Shiva's presence is also in this temple as 'Dakshina Moorthy' and he is a Universal teacher who bless devotees to acquire knowledge.He cures chronic diseases too.There is special Pooja held for Lord Sastha in this temple.'Hanuman Swamy's presence is also here.There is a shrine of 'Gosala Krishnan' also.
The deity of this temple  controls  the world famous 'Arattupuzha Pooram' which started earlier than  'Thrissur Pooram'.There is no annual festival in this temple but festivals like 'Ekadasi' are celebrated in a grand manner.

IRINJALAKKUDA KOODALMANIKYAM TEMPLE

Koodalmanikyam temple which is situated at 'Irinjalakuda' of Trichur District in Kerala State is rare in this category and a very famous  temple in India dedicated to 'Bharata', younger brother of Sree Rama.Sree Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the deities of these four brothers are revered as 'Lord Vishnu' itself.
The deity of Koodalmanikyam temple comprehends the powers of all Gods is a belief.Once a Brahmin pilgrim from 'Thaliparmba' in Kerala who had tantric knowledge  sought to have a temple in his village with a deity having powers of all Gods.He visited many temples and enclosed a small portion of the powers of the  deity in each temple in a conch with his tantric knowledge.When he came to Koodalmanikyam temple his Conch fell on the ground and broke.All the God's powers which he enclosed in his conch from different temples entered in to the deity of Koodalmanikyam temple.Thus the deity of this temple  became 'Sangameswaran'.
Lotus flowers are mainly used in this temple and there is restriction for certain kinds of flowers for usage here.Devotees offer lotus garland for the Lord.Camphor and agarbathy (incense stick) are not used in this temple.Basil plant does not grow in the temple yard.In the temple pond no other creatures other than fish will not survive and are not found.
Koodalmanikyam temple deity also cures diseases of devotees.'Vazhuthana Nivedyam(A dish made from Brinjal) cures chronic stomach ailments.For curing chronic lung diseases and breathing difficulties devotees give food for the fishes in the temple pond.There are some other poojas and offerings to get cure diseases.

THIRUMOOZHIKULAM LAKSHMANA TEMPLE


This temple is situated in the northern side of Ernakukulam District between 'Aluva'  and 'Mala'  at 'Moozhikulam.
This temple is one among the ancient   historic 108 Mahavishnu temples in India.
'Dakshinamoorthy' is also consecrated in this temple facing to the south.There are presence of Ganapathy,Seetha,Hanuman,Sastha,Bhagawathy etc in this temple.The main offerings include 'Ottayappam' for Ganapathy,Astabhishekam,Palpayasam(Milk porridge),Neerajanam,Karukamala,Vennanivedyam(offering butter).
Offering Silk,Silver,Turmeric powder and Palpayasam to 'Urmila Devi' and praying to her is performed for 'Mangalya Bhagyam'(obtain a suitable match and getting married).





PAYAMMAL SHATRUGHNA TEMPLE

From Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam temple the place 'Arippalam' is situated 6km away.From there travelling one km to west will reach 'Payammal temple'.Shatrughna is believed as the incarnation of 'Sudarshana Chakra' of Lord Vishnu.In the Ramayana story he was not depicted as a big hero but one who assisted brother Bharata.Shatrughna but was an able warrior who saved the Kingdom from the attack of Lavanasura.

The important offering of this temple is 'Sudarsana Puspanjali'.This is conducted by devotees to end difficulties caused by enemies and to get prosperity.Another offering is to provide 'Sudarsana Chakra' to the temple.This will also please the Lord and the devotee will be blessed to have good family relationship and prosperity.
                              **************************
The legend is that these four idols were in possession of  Lord Sree Krishna and was worshiped  by him at Dwaraka.When Dwaraka was immersed in the sea, these idols did not sink but floated on the water and reached  the coast of Kerala.A person from Ponnani Taluk, by name 'Vakkayil Kaimal' had a vision in his dream about the floating idols in the sea.He brought them to the shore with the help of fishermen.He consecrated the idols to these four places after consulting astrologers.








Tuesday, April 23, 2013

CHERAMAN JUMA MASJID, KODUNGALLUR

Cheraman Juma Masjid, situated at Kodungallur , 37 km away from Thrissur of Kerala State is believed to be the first Juma Masjid in India which was built in 629 A.D.It is the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu'ah prayers.
                            This mosque faces east is a speciality.The mosque is also  open to people of all religions and so many devotees of other religions visit this mosque throughout the year.There is a brass oil lamp in this Masjid which  is kept lighted for more than 1000 years.For this continuously burning lamp oil is brought as an offering by devotees of all communities.For initiation of  children's learning people from all communities bring their children here as a belief, that it would be beneficial  for the betterment of the children's  education.
This mosque was built by 'Malik Bin Deenar  and Malik Bin Habeeb' in 629 A.D.
Malik Bin Deenar was one of the 13  followers of Prophet Mohammad  and he reached the old port of Musuris( present Kodungallur) in 629 A.D.The ruler of that region Cheraman Perumal who was a Hindu, embraced Islam and went to Mecca for pilgrimage.On his return to Kerala he fell  ill and died at Salalah in Sultanate of Oman.On his deathbed he wrote a letter to be given to his relatives in Kerala in which he instructed to allow Malik Bin Deenar and others to construct mosques and  to preach Islam in his Kingdom.Thus a mosque was constructed at Kodungallur which was named as 'Cheraman Juma Masjid'.Many parts of the old Masjid is still kept intact and it contains the old brass  lamps, rosewood carvings etc.There are tombs of 'Malik Bin Deenar' and his sister in this mosque.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

SHEIKH MASJID, KARUNAGAPALLY

Sheikh Masjid at Karunagapally is designed like the Taj Mahal
and hence known as 'Taj Mahal of Kerala'.

3000 devotees can offer Namaz at a time in this beautiful Masjid.





Sheikh Masjid is conveniently located on the western side
of NH 47  near Karunagapally Junction.

The area of this Masjid is 8000 sq.feet.The dome is hemispherical.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

KARIKKAKOM DEVI TEMPLE,THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Karikkakom Chamundi Devi Temple is a renowned ancient temple of Thiruvananthapuram City which attracts millions of devotees every year.
Chamundi Devi, which is another form of Mother Goddess or Kali is worshipped here.
The rare fact about this temple is that Chamundi Devi is worshipped here in three different forms- Chmundi, Raktha Chamundi, and Bala Chamundi.
Chamundi Devi itself is considered as a fierce form of Kali, but the same Chamundi Devi is adorned here in three different forms in three different Sanctums situated adjacently. An Idol of the Devi is existing in the extreme left main Sanctum which will be open from 5.00 A.M to 11.15A.M and in the evening 4.30 P.M to 8.00 P.M.The Sanctum of Raktha Chamundi and Bala Chamundi does not have idols but only mural painting but the powerful Devi presence is existing there and will be opened only for 'Pooja Offerings' as per daily routine and for Pooja Offerings of devotees as per their request.Devotees can pay special charges to open those Sanctums and perform  their Offerings.
The Karikkakom temple has historical importance since this temple was utilized  during Maharaja reign to prove the truth of certain crimes.The accused culprits were brought to the temple and they were allowed to proclaim their innocence in front of 'Raktha Chamundeswari's Sanctum'.It was believed that if the accused argue a false statement saying that he was innocent he would be severely punished by the Devi.So nobody dare to say a lie in front of the deity.
The Chamundi  Devi form which is existing  open always during temple hours is considered as in a calm state where as 'Raktha Chamundi' is considered as fierce, but helps devotees to fulfil their wishes and Bala Chamundi Devi is in Childhood form.If Offerings are given to Raktha Chamundi Devi and prayed,  she will remove our obstacles,problems caused by enemies,cures chronic ailments etc.Bala Chamundi by giving offerings will help devotees without children to have a child of their own,cures ailments of children etc.Couples without a child worship Bala Chamundi Devi and present articles like 'Cradles,toys' etc also to get blessing for a child.
All the Sanctums of this temple are facing towards east is another peculiarity.
There are Sanctums of 'Maha Ganapathy and Bala Ganapathy' in this temple.
Other sub deities are 'Lord Sastha,Yakshi Amma, Aayiravally,Nagar' etc.
Outside the compound wall exists 'Nagar Kavu' where serpent Gods are worshipped.Devotees visit there to get relief from 'Sarpa Dosha' and the childless couples pray for getting a child.
There are other two temples nearby connected to this temple known as 'Anna Poorneswari temple and 'Tharavadu temple'.
At Karikkakom temple important offerings are 'Kadum Payasam(Sweetened rice),Aravana(another form of sweetened rice with ghee),and Thrimadhuram(a mixture of ghee,sugar and banana).Pooja such as 'Sathru Samhara Pooja,Sathru Samhara Puspanjali, presenting red coloured silk to Devi, presenting ornaments in gold and silver, giving garlands of jasmine etc, are offered by devotees..For prosperity devotees offer 'Sarvalankara Pooja' which is very auspicious.
The annual festival is in the month of Meenam(March-April) for seven days and this year's ANNUAL FESTIVAL IS IN FULL SWING NOW.The festival was started on Monday 18 March 2013, and finishes on Sunday, 24th March 2013.
There will be 'Ponkala Offering' (preparing sweet rice in earthen pots in open places near the temple premises which extends to 2-3 km around the temple)
by several thousand women devotees on 24 th Sunday 2013.The idol of Devi is carried out in a golden chariot around the temple on 22  March 2013 and thousands of devotees gather to witness it.




For devotees coming from National Highway can turn from world market junction and go via Vazhavila,For others Palayam-Pettah-Chakka Bypass route can be taken.EastFort-Eenchakkal-Bypass road can also be selected to reach the temple.From Trivandrum city the temple is just 7 km away.

Friday, March 8, 2013

MADAVOORPARA

When one gets bored with the rush and hustle city life and wishes to go to a pleasant serene beautiful place to spend an evening, Madavoorpara would be a best preference. 
Madavoorpara is conveniently located 17km from Thiruvanathapuram City and recently attracting many tourists.There is an 1800 feet high rock and the view from top of it is thrilling.The cool breeze and view of the distant sea, changing colours of the evening sky,the surrounding greenery  are all exhilarating.
There is a 1300 years old rock cut cave temple atop the rock which is the major attraction of Madavoorpara.This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and large number of devotees visit this temple every day.
Shivratri is celebrated in a grand manner in this cave temple and for this event also many people from far and near visit this place.
The temple is protected by State Archaeology Department.
A perennial stream forms a pond which has a compound wall and is known as 'Ganga Theertham'.
For attracting tourists, a long and beautiful bamboo bridge is built here which fascinates all visitors.Bamboo huts are also made for visitors to relax.There is also a children's park on top of the rock.
Though surrounded by rubber plantations and it is a lonely area, this is a safe place for families to visit.
The charm and exquisite beauty of this place is quite wonderful.
To reach Madavoorpara there are two main route from Trivandrum City.
The first one is Chempazhanthi-Potherncode route from Sreekaryam.One will reach Kattayikonam after 7 km.Madavoorpara temple sign board can be seen towards right.






The second route is Powdikonam-Pothencode route from Sreekaryam.Travel 8km to reach Santhipuram and take left turn.Go 2km to reach the site.The advantage of this route is that you  don't have to climb up the rock.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thenmala And Palaruvi


THENMALA

Thenmala is a beautiful tourist spot situated in Kollam District of Kerala State.It is 72 km from Thiruvananthapuram, the Capital city of Kerala.Thenmala is the first Eco-Tourism Destination in India.It is a small village at the foothills of Western Ghats and most parts are forest area.The famous 'Shenduruney Wild Life Sanctuary is the most important Eco-tourism 
resource of Thenmala Eco tourism.The wild life sanctuary spreads over 100 sq. kms and have large varieties of flora and fauna.
The project area is divided in to three zones namely 'Cultural Zone,Leisure Zone and Adventure Zone'.The  tourists can find out various activities of their interest in these  zones.There are well placed sign boards, direction pointers and the presence of well trained staff  also to help the tourists.
'Thenmala Dam' made across 'Kallada River'  mainly  for irrigation purpose is a major attraction.Boating in the reservoir, river side trekking and mountaineering attracts large number of visitors.A visit to  the Deer rehabilitation centre where one can see closely  spotted deer,Sambhar deer and barking deer in groups  will be a nice experience.There are tree top huts, battery powered vehicle rides  through the forests,rope bridge, children's eco-park etc  which all delights the tourists.'Thenmala' literally means 'Honey hills' and it is true in every respect.Thenmala Eco-tourism is open round the year.Nearest railway station is 'Kollam' which is 66 km away and nearest International Airport is at "Thiruvananthapuram' which is 72 km away.












PALARUVI

Palaruvi is a perennial waterfall which is very beautiful situated close to Kerala's border with Tamil Nadu and is only 16 km from 'Thenmala'.The tourists to Thenmala Eco-Tourism visits Palaruvi also.The word 'Palaruvi' means ' Stream of milk' and it suits very much to this picturesque waterfalls.
The water which flows down the rocks  bursts down as if a stream of milk is an exotic sight.The roar of the waterfall resounds peaceful virgin forest.The waterfall is having 300 feet height.The journey to the Palaruvi waterfall through the dense forest will also be an exhilarating experience for the tourists.
Palaruvi is situated 75 km from Kollam on Kollam-Shencottah road.
From Trivandrum by road to Palaruvi  via Palode-73 kms.

There are three important Hill Shrines which are  famous 'Lord Ayyappa Temples' in the nearby areas of Thenmala and Palaruvi.They are situated at 'Aryankavu', 'Kulathupuzha'  and 'Achancoil'.
Aryankavu is the nearest which is only 4 km from Palaruvi.The other two temples are also not very far.Large number of devotees visits  these temples every year.