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Monday, February 12, 2007

Ernakulam-Kalady

9 Feb’07 :
Left for Ernakulam around 7.00 am by road. Took the Highway via Palakkad, Vadakkancherry (famous for nendrankai chips & knives) Pattikad, Trichur (turn here for Guruvayoor & Irinjalakuda), Chalakudy, Koratty, Karukutty, Angamali (turn left here for Kaladi & Perumbavoor), Nedumbasseri (Cochin International Airport is 5 Kms off the highway on your left), Athani, crossed Mangalapuzha & Aluva puzhas ( rivers), into Aluva, Kalamassery (Apollo Tyres factory), Edapalli,(crossing for Vytilla & bye pass Rd to your left and Paravoor to your right) & into Palarivattom & Kaloor cross the Railway flyover & Town Hall into Banerji Rd the entry point for Ernakulam. Checked into Hotel Bharat one of oldest hotels in Ernakulam(see www.bharathotel.com for details) – I prefer this Hotel as it is fully vegetarian & serve sumptuous & and typical mouth watering Kerala style breakfast comprising puttu, kadala kari & appam/stew along with steamed nendram pazham. The rooms are comfortable and you can get harbour facing rooms with a fabulous view. Later that evening attended an award presentation ceremony organized by Stanes Motors in recognition of its superlative performing dealers in Kerala. The venue was the spacious open air lawns near the swimming pool of Renaissance Hotel at Palarivattom. The expert illumination provided a magical atmosphere and all the participants had a wonderful time. With cocktails flowing freely many of the attendees carried on till the wee hours of morning.
Got up early on 11th morning & visited the Ernakulathappan Temple situated close to my Hotel. Had to remove my shirt as per custom for entering the sanctum of Lord Shiva or Ernakulathappan. Quite a few devotees had already gathered at 5.30 am for the early morning arati & darshan to the chanting of “Shambho Mahadeva” (other names for the deity)The inner sanctum was of circular construction with intricate stone sculptures on the outer walls. Tall multi-wick lamps outside & smaller lamps inside provided ethereal illumination. The space in front of the sanctum is restricted with wooden structures overhead and as a result devotees have to remain bowed in obeisance or risk impacting their heads. There is a central square thinnai (raised platform) with wooden pillars in front of the santum which limits the number of worshippers in front of the deity. As you go around the inner prakaram clockwise you collect prasadam consisting of sweetened water, chandanam, flowers and Aval/vellam given on plantain leaf. Then after praying to Vinayaka you exit through the main entrance where Nandi(The Bull) facing Shiva and the Dwaja Sthambam are located, into the outer prakaram which is very spacious. The temple outer walls are of typical Kerala style architecture with myriad oil lamps which are lit every night to create an enchanting environment. A stage has been built for music and dance performances to enliven the atmosphere on festive occasions. There is a large shrine of Lord Ayyappa ( Dharma Sasta) where you chant Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa and then reach the shrine of the Nagas or serpents. There is another temple for Lord Subramanya (adjacent to Ernakulathappan) where the deity stands majestically with Vel in hand and his consorts Valli & Devayani. Beautifully sculpted on the outer sanctum walls you find statues of Nrithya Vinayaka (dancing pose), Dakshinamoorthy, Vishnu, Brahma & Durga . A large stone peacock facing the deity is placed outside on a raised pedestal. Beside this you have shrines of Utsava Murtis, the Nava Grahas and Vinayaka. This architecture is Tamilnadu style & the Archakas are Tamilians.
After this I check out my Hotel room and quickly get on to the Highway and speed towards Angamali. As you approach this town which is known for timber factories and TELK (Telecommunications & Electronics, Kerala) you see new Hotels that have sprung up in recent times – Mundadan’s Inn & Surya (3-star category) and Chettungals Tourist Lodge (no star) and you can choose your dwelling to suit your pocket. You turn right onto Kalady Road & reach the town of Kalady (5 Kms) and turn left towards Malayatoor for about 2 Kms to reach the Janma Bhoomi or birth place of Adi Sankara on the banks of the river Poorna. This is a scenic spot set amidst sylvan surroundings. The morning air is fresh and salubrious as you inhale the same,you find yourself energized and enthused. As you enter you find large open hall and spacious interiors with the shrine of Saradambal to your left & that of Adi Sankara on the right. You also see the Samadhi of Aryambha the mother of Adi Sankara & a shrine of Sakthi Vinayaka where a Ganapathy Homam was being performed as I entered. Around the circular shrine of Saradambal you find installed stone figurines of Maheswari, Kaumari, Varahi, Indrani,Vaishnavi and Chamundi all reincarnations of the goddess. In the shrine of Adi Sankara you find several paintings on the walls depicting the saints story & life and times. Three young boys squatting on the polished floor were chanting the Vedas. There is also a nadu mittam (open to sky) which brings in abundance of natural lighting and an oval lotus tank with innumerable red fish. Outside the Janmabhoomi you have a Temple of Lord Krishna also known as Kaladi Appan since the course of the river Poorna was altered on the strength of Adi Sankaras prayers to bring it to follow his footsteps. Besides this is a Rig Veda Patashala where young boys are taught the Vedas & initiated into priesthood at an early age.
After spending close to an hour at the Kaladi monument I got back to Angamali and stopped briefly at the IBP petrol filling station to fill up gas, have breakfast of ghee roast & chai and proceeded back towards Coimbatore. Crossed Cahalakudi from where you can take a right turn visit Athirapalli(36 Kms) & Vazhachal (31 Kms) water falls. Reported to be amongst the most awesome waterfalls in Kerala, I was tempted to steer the car towards this spot but chose to continue towards Cbte. As you approach Trichur you see a board pointing right towards Chimney Dam(25 Kms). Then a nice highway Motel-Vasantham a 3 star category on your left. You get on to the Trichur bye pass past the massive campus of Kerala Agricultural University (Mannuthy) and to Pattikadu which has many roadside nurseries the biggest of them all being the Kairali Agri Farm & Nursey. A visit to one these nurseries is a must as they attractivelydisplay a mind boggling variety of flora.
After Pattikadu you take a right turn to reach Peechi Dam and I actually turned this time. After driving through vast stretches of forest land and plantations I reached Peechi. Peechi dam & its catchment area comprising a large body of water with a down stream garden provided a big relief & relaxation. Tucked away secretly far away from humanity with virtually no visitors at the time I drove in, I experienced great peace and tranquility. An Irrigation Dept. bungalow "Peechi House" located atop a hill has suites which can be reserved with advance notice. The caretaker was gracious enough to show me around. The tariff for a suite ? An incredible Rs.155/- for two. Food is available on order. For reservations contact Tel: 0487-2699 022(John) or write to Asst. Exec. Engineer, Head Works Sub division, Peechi Dam, Pin. 680 653 (Trichur Dt). Rooms are old fashioned and unattractive and there are no air conditioners. On the return stopped over at the Kerala State Forest Rearch Institute Guest House ( also at Peechi). KSFRI has a huge campus covering hundreds of acres of forest land and containing multitude of forest trees. The Caretaker there guided me to The International Trainees Hostel located nearby about 100 yds from the main road. This place was very attractive and had been inaugurated in 2005. Simplicity & modern architecture were the hallmarks. It was provided with all facilities for a comfortable & memorable stay. A/c rooms(Rs.600/-) as well as dormitory rooms (Rs.100/-) with kitchen & dining room and a utility room with washing machine for washing & pressing, a common room with sofas for reading or viewing TV and a games cum gym room- Table Tennis, Carom Board, exercycle & Tread Mill. A wonderful place to get away from the mad city and spend a quiet weekend. For reservations the caretaker, Antony, advised to contact : 0487-2698063(Hostel) or 0487-2699037/061(The Director or Registrar,KSFRI)
Back to Pattikadu & the Highway again. Large Rubber plantations appear on both sides of the road. We drive through a forest range. We cross Kuthiranmalai where a road side Ayyappan is located and travelers traditionally throw coins to appease the deity. Then onto Aryas Hotel at Vadakkanchery for a coffee stop. This is a nice place for breakfast and is the standard stop for morning travellers. As you approach Palakkad you find signs showing directions to Mangalam Dam (15 Kms) & Nelliampathy (35Kms) to your right. We pass Alathur & Chittor intersections. Hotel Araam a KTDC highway Motel beckons you for stay and a glass of beer (18 Kms from Palakkad). We cross vast rice fields of varying hues – green, golden and yellow. You see large groups of ladies manually felling the crop with sickles and white egrets keeping them company in close proximity trying to grab the worms & insects unearthed during the harvesting.
Before you reach Palakkad you see Mannadiars Handicrafts a worthy place to stop for traditional Kerala items. Next you find signboardss for Koduvayoor & Pallasena( Meenkolathi Amman Bhagavathy), Malampuzha Dam, Fantasy Park. Then you cross Manapally Kavu, Palakkad Cosmo Club, and Sitaram Motors a new Maruti Dealer which are the prominent land marks on the bye pass Rd.And back to Coimbatore.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting reading, Ramu.it is good that you have recorded these trips.
    Raji

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  2. Very useful post. Origin of the name of the city of Ernakulam has various variations, with some believing that 'Ernakulam' owes its name to a famous temple of Lord Shiva called the Ernakulathappan Temple. Check out best hotels in Ernakulam also.

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