Dome: A Special Thing

Whether it is of Taj Mahal, Victoria Memorial or Humayun’s Tomb, I have always loved the domes. Most of the pictures which I took at these places were of those domes. Whenever I passed in front of a building with a dome, I had to take a clear look at it, because I have always considered them the most beautiful element as part of a building – other than those Gothic elements. Simply speaking, we would consider the dome was the half of a sphere. But such an architecture always gives an even more special feeling.

I wish to visit many buildings in the world with the domes, including the Pantheon, Santa Maria del Fiore, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Saint Gereon’s Basilica, Dome of the Rock, The Marble Church, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and along with them all, Hagia Sofia, and the large number of buildings which was inspired by this Eastern Roman or Byzantine structure. The list is rather endless. Also among the buildings in India, I want to have a few names which are to be in a must visit list.

There are a few churches which I have noticed around here with those domes. None of them are that big in scope; these are the simpler ones. I believe that the largest dome I have seen until now is of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. But the cutest dome which I have seen should be of the church on the way to Angamaly from Aluva – Saint Martin de Porres Church. It has been there for a long time, I can remember it back to those times when I first traveled on the NH 47. I first noticed it due to the dome, and it is good to have such a simple spiritual building on the side of a road which is a lot traveled.

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Saint Joseph’s Church on the side of the NH 47 at Karayamparambu should be one of those churches which can catch anybody’s attention. Situated on the way from Angamaly to Chalakudi, closer to the former, it can be seen if you are travelling from Kochi or from the Cochin Airport to Trichur or Northern Kerala. There are figures of the Apostles around the statue of Jesus Christ right in front of the dome. Inside the dome, light gets through the cupola on the sides of the wings of the Holy Spirit in the form of dove, which is a nice arrangement. It is surrounded by photos of the saints.

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Saint George Basilica at Angamaly stays as the symbol of a rich history of the town. It is one of the largest churches in South India, and has a nice cupola on the top too. There are images of the Apostles on the glasses of the dome, and if you look from the inside, you can see that the light also comes through the glasses with the pictues of Apostles painted on the glasses. You can also see the smaller domes at the front. The use of painted glasses can be seen throughout this church, and the light makes some wonderful reflections!

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Saint Joseph’s Cathedral can be seen at Muvattupuzha just before reaching the town while coming from Perumbavoor/Angamaly or returning. You can see the domes from some distance. The Malankara Catholic Cathedral has a total of five domes of which three are visible from a distance – the number five should be representing Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists. This big onion domes are rather rare in the case of churches here – it is good because I won’t have to travel to Russia or parts of Eastern Europe to see them.

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Saint Thomas Church at Karumalloor on the way from Aluva to Paravoor, has a newer style of domes. It was rebuilt in the last few years, and even though it is not special in its architecture, the domes and the altar are worth having a look at. Having three domes in the front and the rest extending like a hall, there is some modern variety here, for there are domes, but none which reminds one of the antiquity. We do keep looking for some variety everywhere, don’t we? Well, here is one.

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***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot Camera.

TeNy

Spirituality: Special Ones

***About a few special churches from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, from the City of Kochi to Kanyakumari. The photos were taken on my Sony Cybershot.

St. John’s Cathedral, Tiruvalla, Kerala
Have you travelled around Tiruvalla at some time? Then you might not have missed this one because it is such a beauty on the side of the road. We came across the church while going for Niranam Church, and this happened to be a big find because nobody really told us about this one – may be people at that side might find it too usual a thing and don’t want to make it a big deal, but this is not the kind of church you will see anywhere else. It is a special structure which you need to visit.

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Kappal Matha Church, Uvari, Tamil Nadu
The simple structure might resemble many things including a ship and an airplane, but surely not a church if you look from a distance. The scene of a ship carrying the plane might rather seem strange, but it is another special place to be – I found this one while searching for places around Kanyakumari, and added it to the list of destinations to visit while traveling to the southern most point of the Indian peninsula, and the journey towards this place is also an interesting one. There won’t be many visitors around here.

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St. Mary’s Church, Kuravilangad, Kerala
A very famous Marian pilgrimage destination and with a history which goes back to a time when Christianity hadn’t spread through Europe, and was not yet the grand official religion of the Roman Empire as proclaimed by Emperor Theodosius; this one actually goes even before Constantine the Great had declared the religion legal for the first time. It is also believed that the first Marian Apparition was here, and the church remains a much visited pilgrim centre and a beautiful structure.

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Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam, Kerala
This is a major pilgrim centre about which you might know enough already. Nowadays, it is even easier to visit with the better road links, and this church with is locally known to be dedicated to Vallarapadath Amma (Local name for Mother Mary), this was one of the first few churches to be dedicated as basilicas in this part of the world, and as you climb to the top of those towers of the renovated church, the view is just spectacular. This one also has a long history which goes back through Kochi’s past.

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St. George Church, Edathua, Kerala
The Edathua Church is a very well known pilgrimage centre with devotees flocking from all around Kerala as this structure remains a place of peace on the banks of the river Pamba. The feast at Edathua is very famous, and people pray for the saint’s intercession all the time to save them from ailments. Whenever I watch the Malayalam movie – the beautiful romantic satire of visual and musical beauty, which was Amen, this is the church which comes to my mind (movie is to be remade in Bollywood with Ranbir Kapoor playing the lead role).

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Our Lady of Ransom Church, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
There are many things to catch one’s attention at Kanyakumari, and the list is like an endless one with more and more places added to it. But what caught my attention after the Thiruvalluvar Statue and Vivekananda Rock Memorial was this church which catches the attention from a distance with its tall tower, and also has a special look with the blue sky and the clouds around. This one was actually not part of the places to visit, but just appeared out of nowhere and caught our attention.

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St. Mary’s Church, Thiruvithamcode, Tamil Nadu
This small structure is part of the seven and half churches which are believed to have been established by Saint Thomas the Apostle. We had read about the same, and so had gone searching for this one which was not really easy to find. This is also believed to be the first church in Tamil Nadu (formerly part of the Kingdom of Travancore), established in 63 AD. Located between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari, this church is a place of serenity, and remains the only church established by the Apostle in Tamil Nadu.

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TeNy

A Man of our Times

There have been so many movies in Malayalam with the feel-good factor provided throughout them intending to target the family audience. But among them, one flick stands apart due to being not only a feel-good movie, but also a satirical comedy which ends up being more thought-provoking than most of the other movies which have been brought to the audience of Kerala. I know that this might not that have been one of those Malayalam movies which did manage to have a place outside Kerala like AmenDrishyam, Memories and a number of others, and so lets speak something about this movie which I can watch so many times.

As one of the movies which I watched on the first day itself standing in the queue for about one and half hours, Ranjith’s Pranchiyettan and the Saint was a movie which was worth every single moment of the wait. The Malayalam movie industry wasn’t going through good times then, and a number of mindless superstar movies were threatening to take over. But then, there was this movie all prepared to stand strong between all the superstar nonsense which were making its way to the audience, along with another good movie Elsamma Enna Aankutty.

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Some of those blind superstar fans didn’t like this movie, but this was far above their intellect. There is no stunt or overreaching romance here, as this movie tells the story of a man who is just like anybody else and also thinks like a regular person. He is a simple rich man who is troubled with one thought only; that is – what others think about him and how he can be a better person in the eyes of the others, as even with so much money that he has earned through business, he remains with very less education and even after getting so old, remains unmarried.

He has had a certain number of failures, with the school as well as his first love, and he also has that title of being a rice merchant even as he is in gold business now. What he is in urgent need of, is to have a popular face in the society. He demands that people see him as more than just an uneducated man who took over the rice business of his father and grandfather. He is ready to do anything for the same, and has got a number of advisors who keep helping him in achieving his aim of being the big name in the town, hoping that they would also be rewarded for the same.

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For the same, he attempts to run for the post of president of a club and losses, as he completely losses his focus due to a silly talk from his rival who is married to his former romantic interest. He tries sponsoring the felicitation for an Oscar award-winner, but that also fails. Then he tries to be honoured with a Padmashree, but a corrupt politician who gives him the offer for the recognition cheats him and steals his money. He is also unable to express his love towards the girl whom he admires, and believes that he is too old and has lost too much.

As our protagonist has a conversation about all this and his latest attempt to adopt a boy to Saint Francis of Assisi at the local church (fictional conversations come quite naturally to him), the saint shows the man three visuals which makes him realize that what one thinks is a loss might not be a bad thing, and that good things come to those who wait. He acknowledges that we see as success might not always be that, and a certain amount of failure doesn’t decide future lives. Whatever impression we make in the eyes of the society doesn’t define us as an individual.

Pranchiyettan and the Saint is a movie to watch for each and everyone who think that being rich and famous is everything, and also to those who are depressed that they have been a failure throughout their lives. The movie is highly inspirational and with creating the fictional conversation between the protagonist and Saint Francis of Assisi, there is the divinity and a certain amount of innovation which works in favour of the movie, and nicely brings the climax to the next level. The movie is also a lot fun! Everybody needs to watch this one! [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranchiyettan_%26_the_Saint]

***The images used in this blog post are taken from http://www.impawards.com/

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