Return to the Nature Village

It had been a long time since I had returned to the place which had the label, Prakrithi Gramam, or Nature Village. It was one of the first few places which I had visited with my friends on a motor-bike, and this time, with someone special, I had to return to the place. More about the same is on my Facebook profile, and I will share a few photos with you all on my third trip to the place overall, and the first trip after they built the bridge. The name of the place is Ezhattumugham, and I have already written about it related to my earlier visit, and it is close to the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery, and the nearest town is Angamaly. If you are visiting the Athirappilly Waterfalls, you need to go here too.

***The photos used in this post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5.

Also read about the latest, humorous realistic movie in the theatres right now, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

TeNy

Kodanad: Of the Past

I am sure that a lot of people who have traveled to Central Kerala will have heard about Kodanad, the village and the popular elephant training centre which has existed for a very long. This long history of the place means that it is better known among the locals than those more popular destinations which have come into existence in the last few years. This has been a regular holiday destination for us as little children. It is located about ten kilometres from Perumbavooor, which is the closest big town for the place. It is a place of natural beauty which can be connected to your journey closer to nature with Paniyeli-Poru, the location which has developed so much more.

With the new bridge ready for operation, Malayattoor, one of the most significant Christian pilgrim centres in Kerala also gets connected to the place better, as the distance is a lot reduced. Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya is also one thirteen kilometres from here. Kodanad is also located at about nineteen kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, and Angamaly railway station is only at twenty one kilometres from there making the closest railway station; the nearest big railway station will be Aluva though, at twenty five kilometres distance. There are interesting churches and temples on the way, and there are frequent bus services, along with one non-AC low-floor bus which starts from Perumbavoor KSRTC bus station for Paniyeli-Poru.

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Well, this particular photo means that some explanation is done with ease 😀

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All the natural beauty that you need right here; take it 😀

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Vallom Church on the way is dedicated to Teresa, the patron of writers.

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You do want to be here with all the greenery around, right? Do agree 😛

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The baby elephant has a look outside as humans wander around.

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Just a view which you have while walking around the place.

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Lets sit here and talk about topics from vampires to tapioca chips 😀

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Here are a few companions which you find at Kodanad 😀

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And yes, these people will also be there to provide some company 😀

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And then, you will have one final look at nature as you leave!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during my earlier visits to this particular place of natural beauty. Btw, have you read the 2015 Movie Summary and Review post yet? 🙂

TeNy

Tale of Five Towns

I have traveled a lot in a particular area more than any other, from the time I can recollect anything about the same. Just because I had nothing else to do, one day, I looked at the Google Maps and checked for those five towns to which I have traveled the most, and made a connection between them. I found out that the connection that I made looked like a mask; and for me, it felt like the mask of Zorro, Robin, the Green Hornet, the Spirit, the Phantom, the Green Lantern and the Lone Ranger – well, in simple words, it looked like a domino mask.

These five towns are part of the Ernakulam district of Kerala, not that far away from the city of Cochin. They are Aluva, Angamaly, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha and Kothamangalam. All of these towns were visited by me for watching movies, and all of them had the presence of Indian Coffee House at some point of time. There are also interesting tourist places close enough to them, mostly related to natural beauty and the same can be said about places of religious and spiritual significance. They are all well-developed, and have some interesting restaurants and bakeries for the food lovers.

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1. Perumbavoor: The town lies in the centre of the other four towns, with less than twenty kilometres to each of them, the closest being Angamaly. Aluva-Munnar as well as the Main Central Road joins here to create one of the most prominent junctions without a National Highway passing through. The closest places of natural beauty are Kodanad which is famous for the elephant rescue/training centre and Paniyeli-Poru which is known for its serene beauty. With no railway connection, Perumbavoor along with Aluva and Angamaly becomes the three big towns near the Cochin International Airport. There is famous temple at Iringole Kavu near Perumbavoor, and other interesting places of worship also exists for all the three major religions.

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2. Angamaly: Even though Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, and Malayattoor, where Saint Thomas had prayed remain close to both Angamaly and Perumbavoor, it is this town which has the railway station which serves these two places of spirituality. National Highway 47 connecting Kanyakumari to Salem goes through the town, and it has one of the largest churches in India, and the town has a long history of Christian spirituality. It also has one of the best-looking Kerala State Transport Bus Stations, and one of the earliest modern style multiplexes in the area in the form of Carnival Cinemas. The only double-decker bus service in the district starts from here. This also serves as the border town of Ernakulam district with Thrissur district close to it.

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3. Aluva: Often stylized with the older name of Alwaye, its most well-known part is the Sivarathri Manappuram and the Siva Temple there. Aluva Sivarathri is very famous, and the Advaita Ashram here was founded in 1913 by Sree Narayana Guru. St. Joseph Pontifical Seminary is also one of the oldest in the state. Aluva stays on the National Highway 47 connecting Kanyakumari to Salem, and Aluva-Munnar road is a common route taken by tourists. Aluva is where the city service to Cochin starts, and also the point from where the Kochi Metro begins, thus making it the unofficial finish-line of the city. Surrounded by the river Periyar, Aluva is also home to the Federal Bank Head Office. The Marthanda Varma Bridge is a significant landmark and the railway station is a busy one. Union Christian College (UCC) is the oldest college, and Premam movie shows a lot of the town and the college.

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4. Muvattupuzha: On the Main Central Road, Muvattupuzha lies as a border of Ernakulam district towards the higher grounds. Connected to Perumbavoor with a perfect road and also well connected to Kothamangalam, it also has the districts of Kottayam and Idukki close enough to it, making the place more like an entrance to the the lower lands. It easy to go to both the smaller Areekal falls and the larger Thommankuthu falls from here, passing through Thodupuzha. You can also travel to Ilaveezhapoinjira, Vagamon and other places of natural beauty from here.
Muvattupuzha, despite the absence of a railway station and being further away from the airport, has undergone very good development, including becoming the only town outside the Kochi city limits to have a mall with multiplex.

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5. Kothamangalam: Located closer to Muvattupuzha than any other town and also well connected to Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam is more like a gateway to the natural beauty of Kerala’s hilly areas. With no Latin influence, the town is known for its ancient Syrian Christian churches. It is a major pilgrimage area for the Jacobite Syrian Church, and the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church also has a strong presence there. The Thrikkariyoor Temple nearby dates a long way back. Interesting places of natural beauty like Bhoothathankettu, Thattekkad, Urulanthanni, Pooyamkutty etc are nearby, and this is the path which you follow to Munnar and all the beautiful places related to that destination despite being further away from air travel and railways.

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***I have shared one photo of natural beauty from each of these towns along with the Google Map screenshot. All the photos were taken on my camera or mobile in the last five or six years. The most traveled cities are in the order – Aluva, Perumbavoor, Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha and Angamaly.

TeNy

The Spiritual Variety

As I have been thinking about variety, there are a number of churches which come to mind – those which would seem like small structures, but manages to catch our attention with a certain amount of difference with their looks, as they are combined with beauty and spirituality in the right manner. Here are a few of those smaller, but beautiful structures which I wish to share here – all of them from Kerala, and to be more exact – from the Ernakulam district except for the first one in the special mention.

1. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Muvattupuzha: On the way to Muvattupuzha from Perumbavoor, the dome of this beautiful structure catches our attention from a distance. The photo was taken before the church work for the rebuilding was complete and so it looks even better now. Unlike the other churches around here with a dome, this one has onion domes of different sizes. It reminds me of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and whenever I dream of traveling to Russia with all the churches with similar domes, I look at this cathedral and be happy, telling myself that I shall see more of it 😀

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2. St. Joseph Church, Karayamparambu (Angamaly): I have waited very long for this church to complete its renovation or rather rebuilding. After the process, this surely looks like a structure that you can’t miss while traveling from Cochin to Trichur on the National Highway 47 connecting Salem and Kanyakumari, just after Angamaly, on the way to Chalakudi. It has a very beautiful altar and you have to look under that beautiful dome right after you enter. There is a lot of nice imagery surrounding the dove as the Holy Spirit. A small structure here, but still so Herculean in its beauty.

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3. St. Xavier’s Church, Aluva: This rebuilt church at Alwaye has been my favourite church to attend a Holy Mass for quite a long time. They have the English Mass too, and what catches one’s attention more than anything else are those glass paintings which are around the altar and beyond. The saints are there, and so is the representation of the scriptures. The crucifix image is also different and catching our attention – there is a lot of spiritual feeling with the evening programs as the lights enter through the glasses. It is the major reason why I go for the evening mass too.

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4. St. Thomas Church, Chowara (Aluva): Unlike what people think, Aluva surely has some of the most beautiful churches, scattered around the town and its outskirts, mostly Syro-Malabar and Latin in rite. It has a mixed design, and inside, part of the old altar is preserved. The floor has wood as well as tiles, and the option of AC is also there. The imagery is nice and so are the surroundings. You can see the top of the church building from quite a distance and is located just before the town when coming from Aluva on the route to Sreemoolanagaram/Kanjoor.

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5. St. Thomas Church, Karumalloor (Paravur): With all the lights inside switched on at night and shining in the darkness around, I have found this one a very special structure. You can easily notice the beauty if you have travelled through the route at night. With some very effective lighting, the church has some simpler and yet effective imagery inside. The lighting as well as the borders and colour combinations make the images more beautiful. There are also some nice work on the glasses, even as they are lesser in number. This is on the right side while you travel from Aluva to Paravur.

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Older churches: Special Mention:
St. Thomas Church, Palayur: This church founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle in 52 AD is believed to be the first Church and thus the oldest standing Christian worship place in India. Connected to many ancient trading centres through rivers and lakes, and with the existence of ancient Jewish settlements, this had become a perfect place to find the church, and this structure maintains the ancient Kerala architecture even with a lot of additions being made to it. It has a Saint Thomas Monument and a museum too.

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St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi: Here is the oldest European church in India, and its antiquity is actually easily visible from a distance. Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in the year 1524 and was buried in this church before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The structure has a great historical significance, as it was a witness to the colonial battles for supremacy and a long lasting symbol of India’s colonial past. There are a few things of interest inside the church, but as photography is not allowed inside, I have no pictures.

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***All the images used in this blog post are from my camera (Sony Cybershot DSC W-310).

TeNy

Angamaly’s Spiritual Abode

Angamaly is one of the three closest towns to the Cochin (Nedumbassery) International Airport, and among the three, it is also the easiest to get to – the other two being Aluva (Alwaye) and Perumbavoor. There is the railway station and the ease to go to the airport that has powered this town more along with the presence of the National Highway running through its heart. The connection from Kanyakumari to Salem thus goes through here. The town is also known to have been a big centre of Christianity long before the foreigners arrived in India.

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There is no shortage of religious places in Angamaly. It is also close enough to other four towns, Kalady (the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya), Malayattoor (where Saint Thomas the Apostle had prayed), North Paravur (where the same Apostle had established one of the seven and half churches) and Chalakudi (known for its closeness to the most popular waterfalls in the state, Athirappilly along with Vazhachal and its close relative, Ezhaattumugham). Kodungallur, the place where Christianity began in India, and where the oldest mosque in India is situated, is not that far away either; you can also check out for Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple there.

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My usual visit to this town is to watch movies at Carnival Cinemas as it is the easiest to reach considering all multiplexes, but lets shift the focus to another place which I have been visiting very often – St. George Catholic Basilica, one of the biggest church buildings in India, renovated from the old church which was established in A.D 450. It is a structure that becomes a symbol and reiterates the memory of an ancient civilization that thrived here under the local rulers who have been supporting, there was that mutually beneficial relationship with respect and honour, unlike what we have these days with mutual conversions.

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The Basilica is an extremely beautiful structure, whichever way you look at it. The place is reached by taking a left while travelling from Aluva to Angamaly, just before reaching the town. It is only of walking distance from the National Highway and bus stop. If you come by car, there is a lot of parking space on the front side of the church. Take some time to look around, especially at the dome and the two towers and enjoy the beauty. There is a traditional lamp with a cross in the front and the nicely designed front doors made of wood, or in case it is not a busy time, through one of the side doors which are always open during the day.

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Along with realizing that there is a lot of space in the church building and spending some time looking at the big chandelier, your eyes will surely get caught on the glass paintings on both sides which reflects on the floor when the sunlight flashes through – one of the reasons why it is the best to visit the church when sun is working nicely at full power. It is like another world coming to life inside the building (like history comes alive in Night at the Museum, spirituality awakens in here), with the beauty of the glasses creating a kaleidoscopic image on the church floor, making the colours combine.

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The images include the creation of world, the fall of mankind, the tale of Cain and Abel, Abraham’s big sacrifice, the arc of Noah, the dream of Jacob, Joseph being sold by his brothers, the burning bush, the receiving of Ten Commandments, Daniel saved from the lion, David’s victory over Goliath, birth of Jesus Christ, baptism by Saint John, return of the prodigal son, transfiguration of Christ, the calming of the sea, the crucifixion of our Lord, The risen Son of God, the Coming of Holy Spirit and many other things that come between them, along with the other things of spiritual significance, like the Lamb of God.

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The thirteen stations of the Cross come between them, hung on the wall. There are small pillars around, and once you reach the front, you have to look at the beautiful altar which is nicely organized and arranged. It is different, and you can see that from the photo itself. The old church which was made the Perpetual Adoration Centre is also open at all times for worship on the side, and it is also a nicely decorated structure inside. If you visit Kerala, especially the Central area of the state, do have a look at this beautiful church. I am wondering how awesome it would be to get married in this church 😀

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*All photos used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and Nokia N95. The last photo is from the inside of Perpetutal Adoration Centre. Here is a link to the church website: http://www.angamalybasilica.com/

TeNy

Antiquity, Beauty and Beliefs

Here are ten of my favourite Catholic churches in Kerala. Yes, I have traveled to a lot of them, and have taken photos of most of them. I have been pretty much interested in the spiritual affairs for some time now; some of these also got the value of antiquity and the rest has the strength of beauty, powered by legends and beliefs.

10. Basilica of Our Lady of Snows, Pallippuram: Saved from Tipu Sultan’s attack during the Mysorean Invasion of Travancore, this one managed not only to be spared from destruction but thrive, and is a smaller but beautiful structure located close to the oldest existing European fort in India.

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9. St. Joseph’s Church, Aluva: Part of the St. Joseph Pontifical Institute Of Theology Philosophy, which is one of the biggest of its kind in the area, this is one structure that you might wish to see for all its beauty in architecture as well as nature.

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8. Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam: Built after the tradition of Vallarpadath Amma who is believed to have saved her devotees multiple times from the forces of nature, this structure also has a tower which you can enter and see the area from a big height.

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7. Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Cochin: Originally built by Portuguese, and later rebuilt after being demolished by the British, this church is a beautiful building of Gothic and colonial architecture, becoming a symbol of Fort Cochin itself.

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6. St. Andrew’s Basilica, Arthunkal: Known for St. Sebastian’s feast, this church is also known for being a big pilgrimage centre. Its tradition traces its origins back to a mythical tale that links the Arthunkal Veluthachan of the church with the Sabarimala Ayyappan.

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5. St. George Church, Kothamangalam: The Catholic Church at Kothamangalam is often less noticed compared to the other churches there, but the beauty and the architectural style are something that will surely catch your attention.

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4. St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad: Believed to have witnessed the Marian apparition, and having a long history before the Europe even got close to being Christian, this church is another wonderful structure.

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3. St. Thomas Church, Malayattoor: At a pilgrim centre which has more churches, this newly built version of the older church is a mesmerizing beauty, and you just need to have a look at its altar to believe in Keats’ version of beauty.

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2. St. George Basilica, Angamaly: Often considered the largest church in India, or sometimes corrected as the biggest in South India, this one has some of the most beautiful painted glasses around, and the light reflected through the same is a thing of extreme beauty.

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1. Our Lady Of Dolours Basilica, Trichur: The tallest church in India and one of the tallest in Asia, this Gothic structure also has a big tower which can be entered to see the whole town, as this is also the tallest building in the town.

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All photos were taken on my camera and my previous mobile (Sony Cybershot DSC-W310/Samsung Star Duos). Which one is your favourite? 😉
TeNy