Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chettuva Backwater, Thrissur

Our next plan was to visit Chettuva Backwater, which is about 8-9 kms away from Chavakkad Beach.

There were buses, taxis and autorikshaws available to take you to Chettuva. As we were waiting for a taxi, an autorikshaw came and we hopped into it.






A good part of Chettuva River meanders through Chettuva village. It is Azhimugham, where the Chettuva River meets the Arabian Sea.

Chettuva Backwater is a great tourist destination of Kerala. It is located in Chettuva village, in Thrissur Dist. Like many other tourists, we too loved to experience a Houseboat cruise in the backwater in Chettuva, enjoying the dense mangrove thickets on the banks, which enhance their beauty.

We were told that those who can have an overnight stay in one of the House Boats will give an unforgettable experience.

The boatman was very helpful and patiently he took us to whole area and explained everything.




When he saw a fisherman catching the lobsters, he reduced the speed of the boat further so that we could see it properly.

There were many people who had come there just to enjoy the backwater cruise and some foreigners who were also keen to stay in the nearby Raja Islands for an ayurvedic massage.

The other major attractions on the river are Chettuva Bungalow, Raja Islands and Chettuva Harbour.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chavakkad Beach

Chavakkad Beach is a beautiful beach situated 5 kms away from Guruvayur, in Kerala. It is a scenic beach lying on the coast of Arabian Sea, and ideal for spending some time leisurely.

Sitting in the beach at the fringed shadow of the coconut lagoons and the mesmerizing atmosphere, you can enjoy every moment there. It is a pristine beach, and not crowded.

Chavakkad is famous for Haidross Kuttee, a lieutenant of Haider Ali of Mysore.







After our darshan at Guruvayur temple, we had some time with us and decided to take an autorikshaw to Chavakkad Beach. It was simply wonderful.

The other important places nearby are Guruvayur Temple and PunnathoorKotta Elephant Sanctuary.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hogenekal Water Falls, India




A visit to Hogenekal Water Falls is exhilarating and worth for the money and trouble taken to reach there.







The best time to visit this wonderful place - Niagra of India - is from July to September. When you go there don't forget to watch the beautiful sunset.
Distance from Bangalore - about 145 kms.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A visit to Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

My elder sister wanted me to visit her at Thiruvananthapuram before her proposed international trip. I took the chance to visit the tourist spots there, when she was still there so that I could enjoy a free accommodation:)

Her driver took us to many tourist spots, where he was familiar with. Among them, I was lucky to get a chance to visit the famous Kanakakunnu Palace, situated in the heart of the city on the crest of a small hill surrounded by meadows and grooves. Now it is under the custody of Kerala Government. This famous palace was used by the Travancore royal family to entertain their guests in the earlier days.



Entrance to the Palace


This stunning piece of architectural excellence was constructed during the reign of King Sree Moolam Thirunal (1885-1924). Later, during the period of King Chithira Thirunal, one of the most popular rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, modified it and constructed tennis courts in the premises, and used it as a summer retreat. After the Kanakakunnu Palace was taken over by the State Government, much of its lost glory has been restored. I was fortunate to get a chance to see inside the palace, where the royal feelings can still be felt.


Belgium Mirror


There is an open-air auditorium, called Nisagandhi auditorium, in the sprawling ground, where stage shows and cultural shows are conducted. Famous artists of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, and Odissi participate in these dance festivals, showing fascinating glimpses of India's rich cultural heritage. Besides, international food festivals are also held in the Palace grounds, participated by well known hotels. Traditional handicrafts and crafts are exhibited during the festival in the adjacent Sooryakanthi Fair Ground. It is an ideal place for a family to spend an evening in the city.

There are more palaces in Thiruvananthapuram like Puthan Malika Palace, (also called as Kuthiramalika Palace), Koyikkal Palace, Kowdiar Palace, Pattom Palace and Padmanabhapuram Palace. Among these palaces, the must-visit place is the dazzling Padmanabhapuram Palace, about 55 kms away at Thuckalay town on the way to Kanyakumari. This is a wooden palace built by Iravi Varma Kulesekhara Perumal in the 16th century, in the traditional Travancore architectural style. This palace was once the capital of the State of Travancore. The important features of the palace are ancient murals, carved mahogany ceiling, colored mica windows, secret underground passages, inner courtyards, Durbar hall, Museum, Belgian mirror, pictures of Lord Krishna and granite dance halls.


Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, has an International Airport.
Since Thiruvananthapuram has a Central Railway Station and Central Bus stand, which connects the major cities, reaching there is not a problem.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Different Names for Goddess



On my recent weekend holidays, I came to know the different names of Goddess Lakshmi. There are 16 names by which Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Did you know this? If not, read on......




  • Adi Mahalakshmi is worshipped as the Main core of all the Lakshmis

  • Arogya Lakshmi is worshipped for Good Health

  • Jnana Lakshmi is for gaining self-knowledge

  • Keerthi Lakshmi is worshipped to achieve Fame and name

  • Medhalakshmi is for Brilliance

  • Pushti Lakshmi is for good Health and Courage

  • Samrajya Lakshmi for success in profession and career

  • Santhana Lakshmi for progeny

  • Shanthi Lakshmi for getting Peace of mind

  • Shakthi Lakshmi for achieving Power

  • Soundarya Lakshmi for Beauty

  • Soubhagya Lakshmi for All Blessings in life

  • Thushti Lakshmi for Contentment

  • Veera Lakshmi for Courage

  • Vidya Lakshmi for acquiring good Education

  • Vijaya Lakshmi for achievement of Success


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tippu's Palace

Tippu's Palace is one of the historic buildings of Bangalore, situated in the Fort area near the City Market. The construction of this ornate building was started by Hyder Ali, and subsequently it was completed by his son Tippu Sultan in 1789.

This building is built in Islamic style with lots of pillars. The Bangalore Fort was first built by Kempegowda in mud in the year 1537, and later after passing through the Bijapur Sultans, and later was extended by Tippu Sultan.







Adjacent to the Palace is an ancient temple of Kote Venkataramana, as a mute testimony to the Bangalore City's history. This 300-year old temple was built by Maharajah Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar.




There is a small entrance fee of Rs.5/-.


The other buildings in the Fort area are Victoria Hospital and Vani Vilas Hospital for Women and Children. Bangalore Medical College is also nearby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time for a siesta!

Getting ready for an afternoon siesta at the busy Paravur Kavala near
Cochin!!



Saturday, September 13, 2008

Enjoying an Onam in Kerala, after Several Years

This year I had to attend two marriages in Kerala during the first and second weeks of September, which also happened to be Onam season.


The nostalgic memories of my childhood days Onam came rushing into my mind as I helped my niece to make the pookalam.We used to wait for the Atham day to start collecting various flowers to make beautiful pookalams. It was a time of great thrill and excitement. By 4.30 a.m we used to get out of our beds without making any noise and rush to the garden to pluck the flowers.



Each one of us used to return with handful of flowers, sometimes lapful of flowers, to sit in circle and make the best pookalams, fighting each other as to the order of flowers in the pookalam. Once the pookalam is complete, we used to run to our cousins' houses to compare their pookalams with ours, and to make suitable comments. Sometimes we even exchange the flowers with them. When our parents look for us none of us would be available at home, as we were deeply involved in our pookalam art work. This fun used to go on until the Thiruvonam day. When our father used to make Thrikkakarappan with mud and other muddy sculptures for Onam each one of us try our hands in making those muddy sculptures, until we get enough scoldings from our parents.

Onam Breakfast used to be another scene where we wanted to participate in making the Ada, and cutting the nethrapazham, for steaming.

The previous night of Onam, the Uthradam night, we all used to wait for the pulluvan songs. The pulluvan couple used to visit each house in the Uthradam night and sing songs for the head of the family and if requested on other member's name also. On return we will give them Onam presents by way of cash, rice and clothes.




On Thiruvonam day,, after the sumptous meal with all the members of the family, some came from far and near, we all go out to play Oonjal and Kaikkottikkali. Those who can, would go out to enjoy the Vallomkali.






Those were the happiest days of joy and excitement of not only the whole family, but also of the whole society and the whole village.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gowri Ganesha Habba (Festival)

Bangalore is getting ready for the celebration of Gowri Ganesha Habba. September 3rd is not far for the people to rejoice in this celebration. Gowri Festival is celebrated on the previous day of Ganesh Festival.





The prices of flowers, fruits and the beautifully carved idols in various sizes and shades, have already gone up. The shopkeepers both in the big shops as well as in the roadside, are trying to exhibit their best forms of Ganesha idols for the prospective buyers.


Monday, August 25, 2008

A Trip to Chendamangala, Kochi

I had to visit my niece and family staying at Chendamangalam, about 42 kms from Ernakulam in Kerala. Chendamangalam is an amazingly beautiful small town, comprising of three rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and green pastures. There are some interesting places to explore in Chendamangalam.

The Paliam Palace, 450 year old, is the architecture marvel of Kerala. It was the home of Paliath Achans, and now houses some rare artifacts, relics and historical documents. They were the hereditary prime ministers to the former Maharajas of the erstwhile state of Kochi. A visit to the hillock at Kottayil Kovilakom is worth because it presents an unusual view of the church, temple, mosque and the synagogue.

Jewis Synagogue

In the hillock, you can see a Hindu temple, a church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all together within a distance of hardly one km of each other. It was amazingto see the co-existence of four religions harmoniously - a unique blend of culture!

It is believed that the Jews arrived here in Chendamangalam after the destruction of the second temple and the final desolation of Jerusalem in (A.D. 69)and founded a colony. They built a Jewish synagogue in 1614 AD.Later, the Jews built another synagogue in Fort Kochi in the year 1341 AD. In the courtyard behind the synagogue in Chendamangalam, one can see the old Jewish graves, including one of a Jewish woman, dated 1264 A.D. Now most of the Jews have gone back to Jerusalem. We were excited to see a Jew family who had come from Jerusalem as tourists, just to show their native place and synagogue to their younger generation.

Periyar Lake

Vypeenkotta, built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, is another attraction here.
Right next to the seminary is an old Catholic Church built in the 11th century.
Sree Venugopala Krishna Swami Temple is another religious place, famous for Hindus, built in 1900 AD.


A journey from Kochi to Chendamangalam is the surrounding beauty created by the lavish greenery, the crystal like clear water of the three rivers that flow nearby and the small hills that adorn the surrounding scenery.


Hindu Temple


Mosque

The beautiful Cherai Beach is also nearby.

Reaching There : Cochin International Airport is just 20 kilometers from this place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oottuthirunal festival at Edathiruthy, Trissur

Recently I had visited a friend in Trissur. It happened to be a day of Festival in their church. The festival was called "Oottuthirunal" of our Lady of Carmel Forane and St.Vincent de Paul, at Edathiruthy in Trissur. My friend asked me to join her if I don't mind when she proceeded to the church. I was in fact only too happyto attend the festival .






It was a grand festival with spectacular firework. Thousands of pilgrims attended this festival,followed by a mass feast.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Evening in Veli Tourist Village



During my recent visit to Thiruvananthapuram, I was keen to visit Veli Tourist Village.






Veli Tourist Home is located amidst the lush green coconut groves and backwaters of Thiruvananthapuram, in the Veli Tourist Village, bordered by the Arabian Sea and the Veli Lagoon. It is a great picnic spot, with a beautiful garden and facilities for water sports.


There is also a waterfront park which has a floating bridge that connects to the Shanghumukham Beach.




The Veli Tourist Village is the place where the lake merges with the Arabian sea. The lagoon here is separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar.

















It is a nice place for tourists with young children to spend an afternoon. There are lots for the kids to do. Children can also enjoy a horse ride.











Thiruvananthapuram Airport is just 3 kms away, and the railway station is just 8 kms away.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Weekend Trip to Mysore

On the early morning of a Saturday we reached Badami House at Bangalore to board the KSTDC tourist bus to Mysore. There were few other buses also ready to proceed to different tourist destinations. Sharp at 7.15 a.m. our Volvo bus, began its journey through the "not-so-crowded" roads (because of the time) towards its destination Mysore, located 140 kms away. Among the tourists, there were many domestic and international tourists as 'first-timers' to experience the well known "City of Palaces" and many repeated visitors like me. The weather was extremely pleasant and hence our journey was enjoyable.

By 9.30 a.m. we stopped for our breakfast at "Hanchina Mane Restaurant" at Somanahalli.
Our next stop was at historic town Srirangapatna. It was the capital of Mysore rulers Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, popularly known as Mysore Tiger.


(Chamundeswari Temple)




(Music Fountain)


See the people trying to capture it in their mobile camera.





(Hotel Mayura Hoysala)



Dariya Daulath Bagh

We stopped at Srirangapatana to see Dariya Daulath Bagh, the summer palace of Tipu Sultan, built in 1784. With an entry fee we entered the palace. It was built mainly in wood, except the supporting pillars. Then we passed through the ruined Fort, the Gumbaz (Tipu's Mausoleum), and then the spot where Tipu Sultan was found dead, and the 9th century Ranganatha Swamy Temple, on the Bank of River Cauvery.


After a brief stop there, we proceeded towards Mysore, the cultural capital of Karnataka. We visited the colossal St.Philomina's Church, designed by French architects. It is built in Goetic architecture in 1933 and the French made beautiful stained glass windows overlook the apse, showing main events in the life of Christ. The imposing twin towered Church has a height of 175 feet, and it is one of the largest churches in the country and the only one of its kind in this part of the world.



There was Mysore Silk Emporium, and many tourists visited there, we too bought few saris which we felt are definitely cheaper than Bangalore. After our lunch at Mayura Hotel Hoysala we proceeded to see Mysore Palace.

Mysore Palace
Mysore was the glorious capital of the Wodeyar Kings. Maharaja's Palace is the focal point at Mysore, located in the heart of the city. Camera was not allowed inside the palace, and it was to be deposited in the Camera Deposit Counter. To enter inside the magnificent palace, the footwares to be removed. There was a lot to see in the three-storied royal palace, built in Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture, with domes, turrets, arches and collonades, and decorated with Hoysala style carvings. The Durbar Hall is highly impressive.

We couldn't see the illuminated palace, which was done only on Sundays, holidays and during Dasara.


Entry fee Rs.20/-

Chamundi Hill


Our next journey was to Chamundi Hill, on the outskirt of the city, located at a height of 1065 meters above sea level, and about 800 feet above Mysore city standing as the crown of Mysore. On the top of the hill is Chamundeswari Temple. Goddess Chamundeswari is an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi, who killed the demon king Mahishasura. Close to the temple, there is a gigantic statue of the demon king.





There are some more temples in the hill. Standing on the hill, the panoramic view of the city of Mysore is beautiful. On our way down, there is a huge monolithic statue of Nandi bull, vehicle of Lord Shiva. It is one of the seven important Nandi sculptures of the country.




From the city, buses and taxis are available to Chamundi Hills. The auspicious days to visit the temple are Tuesdays, Fridays and during Dasserha.


Our next destination was Brindavan Garden, set on the banks of Krishnarajasagar Dam built across River Cauvery. It is one of the best gardens in South India, and about 20kms away from Mysore. The Garden is well planned and well maintained, and spread over 150 acres of land. The major attraction here is the Illuminated Musical Fountains dancing on the tune of music, which makes you feel like in a fairy land. This is a great tourist attraction. These musical fountains have spectacular harmony of colors, music and water. Every day, the spectacular show starts at 7 p.m. Entry fee Rs.25/-, Camera fee Rs.50/- and Video camera fee Rs.100/-





(Hotel Hanchena Mane)
(Daria Daulath Bagh)

(St.Philomina's Church)
(Mysore Palace)



We had no time to see other interesting attractions of Mysore - Mysore Zoo, Art Gallery, Lalitha Mahal Palace which is now converted into a luxury hotel, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, and Karanji Lake etc. May be able to make it some other time.....!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Visit to Halebid to see another Architectural marvel

We left Belur by 3.30 p.m.for our next destination Halebid, which is just 16 kms away from there. The weather was cool, the landscape was beautiful and the roads were excellent. The small town was the earlier capital of Hoysalas, and then it was called as Dwarasamudra.

Hotel Athithi


Temple Garden




Hoysaleswara Temple
Shiva Parvathi
Another guide was there who took us around. He explained in detail about the history of Halebid Hoysaleswara temple and the amazing architecture of the temple. The images of Hindu Gods were carved beautifully in different moods and in different shapes on the walls. Even after 100 years of hard labour, the work was not complete.

With the wonderful memories of the architectural beauty of the temples, we boarded our tourist bus for our return. On the way, we stopped for dinner at Hotel Athithi. A nice and clean hotel. We reached back in Bangalore by 10.45 p.m, with the satisfaction of worth a trip.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Trip to Belur, South India

After visiting Shravanabelagola, our KSTDC tourist bus headed towards Belur, 90 kms away from there. Belur is well-known for its marvelous temples built during the rule of Hoysala dynasty.





(Gopuram of the Temple)


We reached Belur by 12.30 p.m. and had our lunch at Hotel Mayura Velapuri, a unit of KSTDC, Belur. Then we got back to our bus and after 5 minutes we were at the entrance of the famous Chennakeshava temple. Chennakesava means "handsome Kesava".

Our tourist guide requested us to be together and follow him. He took us inside the temple through the gopuram and reached the main temple. He then explained to us about the history and the architecture of the magnificent temple. For a moment, we stood there mesmerizing the beauty of the temple architecture. It was so much more beautiful than I had read in many travelogues.







(Chenna Keshava Temple)


The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and daily worship still goes on there. This beautiful magnificent temple was commissioned by Hoyasala king Vishnuvardhana during the 12th century, and stands on a star-shaped platform. The facade of the building is intricately carved with sculptures and friezes. Each theme has a story behind it. Some of the striking depictions are Shiva dancing on a demon, dancing Kali, seated Ganesha, and Durga killing the buffalo demon (Mahishasura Mardhini) and many more. The walls of the temple are adorned with friezes of elephants, lions and horses, and sculptures of dancing girls. Inside of the temple is even more richly carved on its panels and pillars. There is a flow to the subject matter, like a story on the stones unveiling before you.The architecture is extremely complex and well maintained in proportion. Any one who has some interest in stone architecture, can enjoy the unusual and amazing beauty of this monument for hours and days together, just by looking at them to understand the imagination of the sculptors what they are trying to say.





(KSTDC Hotel)


By 3.30 p.m. we left there to our next destination Halebid, just 16 kms away, to see another historical monument of Hoysalas.






Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Visit to Shravanabelagola

Last month, we decided to visit Shravanabelagola, a famous Jain pilgrim centre, in Karnataka, South India. It is situated 160 kms away from Bangalore. Early morning our tourist bus left Bangalore city and reached the first destination Shravanabelagola, a small town at Hassan District, after about 3 hours of travel. Sravanabelagola is famous for the huge statue of Bahubali, standingatop the Chandragiri hills. One can spot this spot from a distance because of this magnificent statue. It is believed that Bahubali, also called as Gomatheswara, quarreled over their inheritance with his elder brother and nearly killed him. Later on, he repented for his action and meditated to achieve moksha (salvation) here.


(View from the top of the Hill)



(Temple on the top)



(Bahubali)

The town is located in between two lofty hills, named Vindyagiri and Chandragiri. The landscape around this place is greener and fertile looking. From the top of the hill one can see a huge pond in the centre, which is called 'belagola' and hence this town got the name.





This structure dated 978 to 993 A.D, with a height of 57 feet, carved out of one single stone, is one of the largest monolithic statues in the world, standing as a symbol of renunciation, calm and peaceful. To get a closerlook of this statue one has to climb about 700 steps, cut out in the rocks, to reach atop the hill. After a few hundred steps we reach the dharamshalas or resting places. For those who cannot climb can hire a palanquin to be carried up and down, for a reasonable charge.


Since it is a temple footwears are not allowed, and one has to leave the footwears before climbing the hills. The stepsare provided with handrails on both sides to make climbing easier. Apart from this temple, about 15 other Jain temples are also there. The main temple was built by the great emperor Chandragupta Maurya, when he came here with his guru in search of peace, towards the end of his life.







There is the Brahmadevaru temple atop the hill. Besides there are the Chowwisa Thirthankara Basadi, Chennana Basadi, Odegal Basadi, Tyagada Brahmadevaru Kambha, Akhanda Bagilu and Gullakayajji. The most important monument is the image of Sri Gomateshwara. Totally, there are more than 500 inscriptions.



Every twelve years, the small town Sravanabelagola comes alive for the grand festival called Mahamastakabhisheka,which attracts huge number of devotees from all over the world, which lasts for several days. During that time the statue is bathed by pots or kalashas of holy water, ghee, milk, coconut water and haldi. The priests climb a specially erected ladder structure to bathe the statue. The last ceremony was held in February 2006, and the next one will be in the year 2018.Flower petals, sandalwood powder and turmeric powder is offered by devotees. The most awaited part of the festival comes at the end when the statue is showered with flowers.

Reaching there: There are frequent bus services between Bangalore and Hassan. Good hotels are available in Hassan.