Thursday, 13 August, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Lets salute the Nation on 62nd Independence Day. I wish all Indians a very happy Independence Day.

Tourist spots in Thiruvananthapuram - Part 2

This is the second part of the listing of tourist spots in Thiruvananthapuram. See the first part of the listing here.

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

This temple is situated near the city bus station at the East Fort. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the landmark of the city. It was renovated by the Maharaja of Travancore in 1733. The temple is a fine specimen of South Indian and Dravidian architecture. Non Hindus are not permitted inside this temple.

Kuthiramalika Museum
This museum is located near Sree Padmanabhaswami temple, Eastfort. The building itself is unique in its Kerala architecture. It is closed on Mondays.

Padmanabhapuram Palace
From 16th to late 18th century Padmanabhapuram, 55 kms from Thiruvananthapuram, was the capital of Travancore. Consequent on the State’s demarcation on linguistic basis, the Palace went to Tamil Nadu. But, the Palace is administered by Department of Archaeology, Government of Kerala. 55 Km. away from Trivandrum on the way to Nagercoil, this palace was once the royal residence of the Travancore kings before they shifted the capital from Padmanabhapuram to Trivandrum. An old fort is situated here. The wooden palace contains 17th and 18th century murals. The construction of this palace is typical of the native architectural idioms and fascinating example of art and craftsmanship.

The unique Palace is created in wood. The simplicity and elegance of the structure is beyond easy description. The construction initiated by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal in 1601 AD was completed in 1744 by Maharaja Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma. He dedicated it to Lord Padmnabha (Vishnu) and christened, Padmnabha Perumal Palace. In the passing of time the name became transformed to Padmanabhapuram Palace. The opening timings Tues-Sun 9am -1pm &2-4.30 pm.

For the construction, teak and granite went into. Slopped roofs, carved ceilings, sculptured d├ęcor, exquisite murals and the gleaming floors make the Palace a breathtaker. Take a round of Poomukham (entrance hall) Uppanika Malika (4-storyed king’s quarter), the Manthrasala(council chamber) and the Mattupavu (balcony). The large Oottupura (dining hall), the Navrathri Mandapam (dancing hall for Navarathri days) and Thaikottaram (queen mother’s Palace) include in the round list.

A unique cot made of 64 types of medicinal woods in the king’s private chamber is a privilege to see. The Pooja room made of a jack tree carved, musical bows in mahagony, the large earthen urns, the sculptured horse and rider brass lamp, the ornate Chinese throne, Belgian mirrors and other heritage items occupy 108 rooms of the Palace. The oldest part of the complex is 'Ekandamandapam' dating back to 1550 it was used for rituals for the goddess Durga.

Further points of interest include a dining hall intended for the free feeding of over two thousand Brahmins and a loose ring attached to the column carved from a single piece of jackwood that bears the testimony of the timeless charm of carpentry art. If the visitor is an archaeologist, a historian, a novelist, be sure a big note book is in hand. It is mandatory to have a guide.

Science & Technological Museum
Situated at PMG, is 2kms from the city. A treasure of science and technology. Even a layman get exalted. An outsmarting Planetarium is a great draw. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Mondays.

Napier Museum
The museum is named after erstwhile British Governor of Madras, Napier. The museum structure itself is a marvelous. Tall and slander towers, stained glass windows and special type roofs make the structure different. Large collections of bronzes, historical ornaments, temple chariots and ivory items are on display.
It has a good collection of bronzes, historical ornaments, temple chariots and ivory carvings. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Wednesday mornings and Mondays.

Thiruvananthapuram Zoo
A century and half old zoo, the fifth oldest in India, was set up by Uthram Thirunal, the former ruler and king of Travancore. No rival in India for its design and layout. The beautiful Victorian-style cages, the lake, the curling pathways, the lawns, and the nearby Top Garden are the plus marks. Most of the animals are in open enclosures. Almost all types of wild species nurtured here. This zoo inspired award-winning book by Yann Martel. The book, Life of Pi, earned Man Brooker Prize of 2002. He frequented the zoo to get the stuff for his book. It is situated near the Napier Museum and it is one of the best zoos in south India. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays.

Sree Chithira Art Gallery
Situated in Napier museum grounds. Good collection of paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and Roerich, copies of Rajput, Mughals and Tanjore schools of art and paintings, and that of Ajantha, Ali Bagh Caves exhibited. The collection of paintings from China, Japan, Bali and Tibet include. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Wednesday mornings and Mondays.

The Marine Aquarium
Situated at Vizhinjam, it is 18kms from the city. Though shabby, it has a treasure of marine wealth. Squirrel fish, clown fish of Nemo fame finding, moon wrasse, lion fish, butterfly fish, giant turtles, trigger fish, aggressive surgeon fish, deadly piranhas and sharks. The Aquarium has perfected image pearl production technique. A mould made of shell cement is implanted into the pearl oyster. Within 2/3 months, the moul-shape pearl is ready. The pearl images of Virgin Mary, Christ, Hindu Gods and Goddesses and other images put on display.

Folklore and Numismatics Museum
It is located at Nedumangad, 20 km away from Thiruvananthapuram city. The museum is housed in the 17th century Koyikkal Palace which is Kerala’s traditional Nalukettu (four-sided structure with inner courtyard). This Palace was originally belonged to Venad royal family.( Tues-Sun 10am -5pm)

The museum has several exclusives. It has two wings – one for Folklore and the other for Numismatics. The Folklore wing exhibits antique musical instruments and representative household utensils reflecting art, culture and lifestyle of ancient Kerala. A chilambu (anklet), a chandravalayam (a rarest percussion instrument) and maravuni (dress material made of tree barks) are rare items unnoticed anywhere else. The three ornamental palanquins for carrying the royal ladies and the musical instruments and elaborate jewellery used in temples are some of the other attractions.

The Numismatics wing displays the largest coin collections in India. It includes coins of different ages from across the world, apart from various dynasties and specifics to Kerala. Amaida, a venetian coin that is believed to have been presented to Jesus Christ, a specimen of 2500-year old Karsha and world’s most tiny coin, rasi, are also in the proud possession of the Numismatic wing of the museum.


Wednesday, 12 August, 2009

Tourist spots in Thiruvananthapuram - Part 1

Shanghumugham Beach
This beach is located near to the city and is known for its white sanded beach. The visitors can see from here the sea swallowing the sun slowly and compensating the loss of light by stars ascent one after one from nowhere.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Enjackal -> Shanghumugham

Veli Tourist Village
This beautiful picnic spot is situated by the sea side, 9 Km. away from the city. The landscape, gardens and wading pools here are very attractive. There are facilities for boating and water sports in the lake. The boat club at Veli has pedal boats, row boats and motor boats for hire.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Enjackal/Chackai -> Veli

Kovalam Beach
The Kovalam beach, situated 16 Km. south of Trivandrum city, is one of the best beaches in India. On account of its natural location, it affords facilities for safe sea bath. A rocky promountary jutting into the sea render the beach safe for sea bathing even in the roughest weather.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Manacaud -> Thiruvallom -> Kovalam Jn -> Kovalam

Vizhinjan is located 17 km south of Thiruvananthapuram city and 2 km south of Kovalam. Vizhinjam’s land mark is a cave temple and a fishing harbour. There is a single celled shrine inside with a loose sculpture of Vinandhara Dhakshinamoorthi. A semi-complete carvings of the images of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi are there outside the cave. The fishing harbour is a natural port and the busiest harbor in the district. A Marine Aquarium here is rich with a variety of underwater fauna, though the building it housed is lacking elementary maintenance.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Manacaud -> Thiruvallom -> Kovalam Jn -> Vizhinjam

Chowara Beach
The long stretched white sand beach is ideal to unload the strains and swallow sea-breeze. It is 5-6 kms south of Kovalam.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Manacaud -> Thiruvallom -> Kovalam Jn -> Vizhinjam -> Mukkola -> Chowara

Azhimala Beach
It is a very quiet beach, near to Chowara Beach. There is a temple in the name of Azhimala. The temple is very near to the beach.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Manacaud -> Thiruvallom -> Kovalam Jn -> Vizhinjam -> Mukkola -> Azhimala

Poovar is located 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, and 8 km from Kovalam. This beautiful place is close to the Poovar river, backwaters and the sea.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Karamana -> Balaramapuram -> Neyyatinkara -> Kanjiramkulam -> Poovar

Azhimalathura Beach
Little away (to the South) from Chowara. A jumbo stretched beach. The only beach in Kerala where the sea is hesitant to swallow the coast. A perfect seducement to weave dreams. Leads to Poovar.

There is a small waterfall in Aruvipuram and the name of this place is derived from this waterfall. Aruvipuram village is famous for Sree Narayana cult and a Shiva temple established and consecrated by social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Karamana -> Balaramapuram -> Neyyatinkara -> Perumbhazhuthoor -> Aruvippuram

Neyyar Dam & Wildlife Sanctuary
Neyyar Dam is one of its kind in Thiruvananthapuram and is built for or irrigation purposes. A tall Waterfall, Lion Safari Park, Crocodile Rehabilitation and Research Centre , Deer park, a vast reservoir with Western Ghats hills and forests as background and a decently maintained park are the attractions at Neyyar Dam. Facilities for boating are provided in the reservoir.
Thiruvananthapuram -> Vazhuthacaud -> Pangode -> Thirumala -> Malayinkezhu -> Katakada -> Neyyar Dam

Kallar is located 45 km from Thiruvananathapuram city, en-route to Ponmudi. Kallar’s importance is stemmed from Kallar river and its picturesque banks and par excellent surroundings. Natures’ bounty is showered liberally on Kallar. Kallar River was formerly known as Vamanapuram River. Kallar literally means stone-river. This change in nomenclature is right. The river beds and banks are massed with boulders, rocks and pebbles in varied shapes and colours – all are the products of landslides during the monsoon.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Kallar

Meenmutty Waterfalls
Meenmutty Waterfalls are situated on the upper reaches of the Neyyar Reservoir in Thiruvananthapuram District. Located near Kallar, on the way to Ponmudi from Thiruvananthapuram, the waterfalls along with its serene surroundings offers a unique and invigorating experience. A trek of two kms from Kallar, through dense forests, would take one to Meenmutti waterfalls. Situated near the Meenmutty waterfalls is another splendid waterfall - The Kombaikani Waterfalls.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Kallar -> Meenmutty

Kombaikani Waterfalls
Kombaikani Meenmutti Waterfalls are two magnificent waterfalls on the upper reaches of the Neyyar Reservoir. A trek of 2 kms through dense forests, would take one to Meenmutti waterfalls and a further 2 kms, to the Kombaikani waterfalls. The waterfalls and forecasts around them are worth experiencing.

Ponmudi is a beautiful hill station situated 61km away from Trivandrum at an elevation of 2000 feet above sea level, and can be reached only by road. Ponmudi has a cool healthy climate and the forest trails are good for trekking.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Kallar -> Ponmudi

Chathancode/ Bonacuad
Chathancode is a tribal hamlet lying on the foothills of Agasthyamalai and falls within the boundaries of Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary of Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Division. It is at a distance of about 50 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Bonacadu -> Chathancode

This is a prominent peak in the Sahyadri ranges and is conspicuous for its height and isolation when seen from a distance. For about 2000 feet in the line of the range, it rises up in the form of a sharp pointed cone. This peak can be approached on foot from Bonacadu (61 Km. from Trivandrum) and from Neyyar dam (32 Km.)

Kappil is known for Kappil Beach. Here backwaters hug the sea. This beautiful sand beach is scenic but isolated, as it is still undiscovered. No overcrowd of tourists, no vendors’ trap, no shoppers’ price-hike.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
12 km from Vithura. The sanctuary is located in an area of 53 sq km. Ideal for trekking. For trekking permission from Chief Wildlife Warden at Thiruvananthapuram is required. The landscape and the picturesque beauty of the wildlife’s kingdom is a trekking paradise,dotted with cardamom planatations and endless slopes of green tea bushes. It would make a refreshing overnight break.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Peppara

Peppara Dam
It is 50kms north east of Thiruvananthapuram, which is on the way to Ponmudi.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Nedumangadu -> Vithura -> Peppara

Aruvikkara Dam
Aruvikkara is located 16 km away from Thiruvananthapuram city on the banks of Karamana River. There is a dam, Aruvikkara Dam, here. Plus a Durga temple and stream near the Dam. There is plenty of fish in the stream which come to the shore with no fear seeking food from the visitors who liberally feed them.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Peroorkada -> Aruvikkara

Akkulam Lake & Children's Park
This lake is situated 3 Km away from Ulloor junction. Boating facilities are provided in the lake. The children's park here is one of the biggest in Kerala. The Park has all the luring components to make the children merry-go-round.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Keshavadasapuram -> Ulloor -> Akkulam

Varkala is a small town located 32 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, is a seashore retreat and Hindu pilgrimage centre. Varkala’s 12th century Jananardhana temple is the centre-stage of the pilgrimage. Varkala’s allure is specific on 2 km red cliff face stretching from the South cliff to the Thiruvambady beach at the north end and the Shivagiri Mutt, the pilgrim centre.
Thiruvananthapuram –> Enjackal/Chackai -> Kazhakutam -> Attingal -> Varkala

Till 1962 Pallithura was unknown to outside world. In 1962 Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) took shape in Pallithura. The unofficial name of Pallithura is Thumba. TERLS is the cradle of Indian Space Program.

When the Pallithura was acquired for TERLS the entire population of the area was rehabilitated in a nearby area. The population consisted mostly of fish-folk Christians of Roman Catholic faith. All basic facilities including education and a church were created in the new settlement. The authorities took care to ensure living, conveyance, marketing and entertainment facilities with no room for complaints of any sort.

Navaikulam is an ancient centre of Vedic scriptures.

There is a great old library here in the name Vivekodayam Grandhasala (library), affiliated to Kerala State Library Council (KSLC). It has acquired ‘A’ grade, the highest grade granted by KSLC. The library has in possession a big collection of books winged to almost all subjects.

Puthanthope is a coastal village located 19 km northwest of Thiruvanathapuram city. Coconut palms and cashew trees filled village is just 2 km from Vikram Sarabhai Space Center of Indian Space Research Organization. Two man made hills at north and south during the Portuguese regime stand as a mute witness to history.
St Ignatius Church located in a spacious compound is a hall mark of Puthenthope.

See the part 2 of this post here.


Sunday, 2 August, 2009

Anappara, Kallar - A trip on two wheels

Vrooom Vrooom … the bike started, into first gear, reached 15kmph, shifting to second gear, reached 25kmph, shifting to third gear, reached 40kmph, shifting to fourth gear, reached 55kmph, shifted to overdrive, cruising over 70kmph… this is how it feels when we are on a weekend tour. Hey guys, check out the stories from the trip happened this week. Its friendship day, what a way to celebrate the friendship day other than a good trip !

We planned to go to Anappara, its near to Kallar on the way to Ponmudi. It is 36 kms from Thriruvananthapuram. The idea came from Ravi, Jammu’s friend. We (Vijay, Jamnas, Lalu, Nipin) met at Museum. We started the journey at 12:55 PM. We met Jammu and Ravi at Peroorkada. We were on three bikes. Vijay and myself on Hunk, Ravi and Jammu on Apache, Lalu and Nipin on Passion. As the journey progressed the mighty rain hit us. We took a five minutes break and proceeded.

We took a halt at Vithura. We bought lunch from Vithura. We headed to Anappara. The road is full of curves with plenty of trees on the road side, perfect for a weekend trip. Vijay took some snaps of our bike trip. Vijay is my pillion rider. Here you can see some of his photographic excellence. Thanks to Vijay he took some amazing photos.

After travelling for some 35kms we took a left turn and headed to Annapara, the road is very narrow and silent. We reached Anappara at 2:50 PM. We locked the bikes and took some snaps there. We started to get into the forest. Since it’s the journey inside the forest we need to take care of the leeches. On the way inside the forest we saw a lot of beautiful plants and flowers.

The way inside the forest is not much clear, since its very often that tourists visit this place. The path is narrow and slippery. Here you will not find a guide and there is no entry pass as well. After a 15 minute walk inside the forest we reached the destination.

After reaching the destination we found that almost everyone was caught with leech. There are a few tips to take away the leech. The leech is so stick to the skin that if we remove it by applying pressure you might lose blood. The best thing is to burn the leech with a lighter. We need to be extremely careful while using the lighter. Even though it’s the best approach, I recommend you to be very careful while handling fire.

It’s time to enjoy sometime inside the forest. We can hear the sound of the water flowing in the river. Had lunch at river bank. The water flowing in the Kallar river is a pleasure to watch. The river is full of round shaped stones and the water in the river is crystal clear. After enjoying the river for some time, we get into the river. We played in the water for some time.

We stayed there till 5:45 PM. It’s the pack up time. We had to get out of the forest before it gets dark. We get out from the forest, again we checked for the leeches, the same procedure follows. Here is a group photo before leaving from Anappara, thanks to Jammu’s mobile cam.

After some time we were ready for the return trip. Jammu and Ravi rushed as they want to attend a party. We were travelling smoothly through the curves. Then one biker overtook me on his bullet, and seemed like he was rushing. It turned my head on. I increased the acceleration and the bike started gaining speed, 50, 55, 60 … and a corner ahead, oops a gear change, braking and the speed came down to 45kmph. I can see the bullet boy rushing, handling corners with ease. I guess he is pretty much familiar with the road. For every 200 – 300 meter there is a curve, so it was hard to maintain the speed. Sometimes I reached very near to him, then I was lost. My speedometer was reading 70kmph and he was far ahead. After battling for some time I over took him, HURRAY I won :). That was not the end, he overtook me in another 5 minutes, and we travelled complimenting each other making way for the other.

It was a lovely trip. Always looking forward to a nice trip.

How to reach Anappara ?
Thiruvananthapuram -> Peroorkada -> Nedumangad -> Vithura -> Anappara. Anappara is situated 36kms from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. It is near to Kallar and is on the way to Ponmudi.

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