4 February'07 :
Shobha decided on Saturday 3rd that we leave for Manapally Kavu early Sunday morning considering the bad period we had gone through during January'07 - what with Shobha & her father both down with Chikangunya during the first fortnight & just as they were both well on their way to recovery Doraiappan(Shobha's father) suffered a hip fracture when he fell at home & was admitted to Richmond Hospital for surgery & implant of ball joint.
We left early around 6.00 am & reached Walayar forest 6.30. Walayar is a nice place. For those who wish to spend time trekking in the forest and look out for deer & other flora & fauna Aram Hotels (KTDC) is a convenient place to stay. You could also visit the Walayar Dam which is 2 kms from the highway.
We neared Palghat around 7.00 am. There are good highway hotels on the outkirts of Palakkad - Hotel Sri Chakra(3-Star) at the entry point into Palakkad is a nice one. We took the Palakkad bye pass towards Trichur & within a few a few minutes reached the intersection leading to Manapally Kavu to our right.
After buying the Vazhipadu tickets & purchase of chandu we offered prayers to Bhagawathy. Manapally Kavu is a family deity (Kuladeivam) to thousands ( perhaps lakhs) of people in Kerala. A kavu is basically a small Bhagawathy (Devi) temple which normally exists in almost every village in Kerala. Through donations from devout followers (from all over the country & abroad) Manapally Kavu has now developed into one of the significant temples in Palakkad & perhaps in Kerala. The large lighted brass lamps at the entrance mandapam ( there are five such lamps - four are "amai vilakkus". At the apex of the lamps are figures of lion, peacock, swan & nandi) & the floral decorations on the polished & shiny bronze statue of Bhagawathy adds special beauty. The garbha griha is enclosed in a wooden lattice carrying oil vilakkus all around. Praying for a few moments to the Bhagawathy creates a wonderful feeling, elevates & enlightens you & brings about great peace to your mind.
We are not sure about our family deity so we have decided to adopt Manapally Bhagawathy as our kuladeivam. After partaking of prasadam (flowers,chandanam,kumkumam) we went around to the Pillayar (Ganesha) sannathi. The temple has an open well behind the Pillayar which contains plentiful water - the water table was hardly 10 ft below ground. We exited from the left & walked to the Ayyappa sannathi & offered prayers. Between the two temples to the North is located the large temple tank which also has a bathing ghat.
We proceeded next to pray to Kala Bhairavar & to perform the "muttu odakkal". The priest asked me to hold the coconut above my head & swirl it around 9 times clockwise before handing it back to him. He then proceeded to place the coconut on a stone & with one powerful blow from a heavy chopper split the coconut into 2 equal parts. This is considered a good augury - if the coconut splits equally then we have Bhairavar's assurance that all obstacles coming in the way of our well being will be removed.
The temple also has a Bhagawathy Kalyana Mandapam which is hired out to devotees for conducting weddings and other celebrations.
We left the temple & went into Palakkad town. After crossing Fort Palakkad ( campus of the Archaelogical Society of India) and the Fort Maidan - a large playground (Ranji Trophy matches are sometimes played here) we went to Hariharaputra, a modest Brahmin's restaurant, for hot steaming South Indian decoction coffee. We also packed a few packets of sevai (a vermicelli preparation) & chutney to carry home. We were back in Coimbatore at 9.15 am.