Where Monsters Thrived

You might have heard about the name Bhoothathankettu – meaning the fort of monsters, and also having a legend regarding the same. I had already written about this beautiful place, but with a newer visit, and so many changes being occurred at the place, another post became a necessity, just like my recent posts about Paniyeli Poru and Ezhattumugham. The place is just eleven kilometres from its nearest town Kothamangalam, and can be grouped with the journeys to Thattekkad, Urulanthanni, Pooyamkutty and Idamalayar. Twenty two kilometres from Muvattupuzha, twenty six kilometres from Perumbavoor and around forty something kilometres from Aluva, Angamaly, Thodupuzha and the Cochin Airport, this place is one of the more easily accessible places of serenity. Even from Cochin city, the distance is just above fifty kilometres, and so, you can meet these monsters without that much of a trouble. These are the newer pictures taken by me on my Asus Zenfone; hope you like them!

TeNy

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Perumbavoor’s Own Poru

You know how much nature and its beauty means to us these days. It is more than what it used to be, as despite Kerala having so much of greenery, we are having more and more of the concrete jungles every day, making life further difficult. It is where Paniyeli Poru comes to the picture again. It is a place about which I had written earlier, and as a place close to home, it has been easier to visit. The same meant that there was to be another visit to follow, and here it is. I am sharing a few pictures of the latest visit, and I am sure that you are all familiar with the place if you have been following this blog. The closest town is Perumbavoor, followed by Kothamangalam and then Muvattupuzha, it is also costing only a short drive from the Cochin International Airport. Vengoor and Kodanad are nearby villages where you can stop for a cup of tea. You can also combine the deer park at Abhayaranyam, elephant training centre at Kodanad, the birthplace of Sri Adi Shankara at Kalady and the International pilgrim centre at Malayattoor with this journey. Ernakulam district does have a lot more than it seems.

***All the photos shared here were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5, during my journeys. For the best among divergent horror movies, read about The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

TeNy

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

Return to a Model Village

Kumbalangy is known to be India’s first model tourism village, and it has been a place where I spent a lot of my childhood; and a long time later, I made a return to the place. It looks the same as there is the scenic beauty close enough to the city of Cochin, but with better roads and more facilities for tourism than during those earlier days. Here is something that I leave for you readers from my visit, and you can check my earlier post too 🙂

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***All images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5 or Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

Destination: Since Childhood

Munnar is that kind of a place; we have been visiting there since childhood, and it still remains a big destination. There is so much rush there these days, and it never ceases to be a crowd favourite. Here are a few photos from our recent visit to the place! There are new restaurants on the way, and there is so much traffic – we need to be prepared for them too 🙂

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***All photos used here were taken by me on my Asus Zenfone 5.

TeNy

Being There: Vagamon

The first time I went to Vagamon was during my school days, and during that time, I didn’t know that this place was a hill station. I used to think about it as another scenic place because it was very close to my place, and it might the one hill station which I can go for a one day trip from my location. It is also the only hill station to which I have driven the car all by myself. It is not located not that high as compared to the other popular hill stations like Munnar, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Valparai, and the roads don’t have that much of complicated turns. There is also more than one path to reach there even if you are coming from the same direction.

You can combine the journey to Vagamon with Ilaveezhapoonchira which is another destination on a hill on the way, and is a place of amazing scenic beauty. The first time I was at Vagamon, it was not that much of a big tourist destination, but things have become different now. But still, it doesn’t bring many people from outside Kerala for visit. It is located about a hundred kilometres from the city of Cochin, and the nearest big towns Palai and Thodupuzha are about thirty five and forty five kilometres from Vagamon. Sixty five kilometres away, Kottayam is the nearest railway station. The Cochin Airport is close to a hundred kilometres from Vagamon. Here are ten photos which I had taken during the journey to this particular place, on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310. Even though I have only limited captures of the beauty of the place, I am hoping that this serves as inspiration for your future visit 😀

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TeNy

Of Hills and Rivers

I am sure that most of the people who visited Central Kerala might have visited Munnar, the beautiful hill station which often serves as the Lake District type of inspiration for us. I have made a number of visits to the place with the 2012 journey being the last one. The truth is that you never really get tired of visiting Munnar, which is why I have kept visiting the place throughout my life, and another possible visit to come later some time. Among the hill stations which I visited, Munnar will have the big advantage in my mind. Last time we stayed at Ayur County Chancellor Resorts and it was a nice place to stay with a peaceful atmosphere and beauty of nature all around – the options were also many.

Munnar also has many locations which can be visited during the journey, and as you would have guessed, the traveling part itself is fun and refreshing. Having its name from Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers, Munnar’s tea plantations are sure to provide the best view along with its eternally green world. Yes, you will love to have tea at Munnar. Here are ten photos which I had taken during my last visit to Munnar; all of them were taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310. I hope these photos will remind you to visit Munnar again, or make you interested in arriving in Kerala and get to Munnar!

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TeNy

District 12: The Heights

You should have surely heard about the District 12 of Kerala – Wayanad. As one of the more popular tourist destinations, it came into existence in its present form in 1980 as the twelfth district of Kerala right out of Kannur and Kozhikode districts. The special thing about this district is that there is no place with the name of the district, and the headquarters is at Kalpetta which has developed very well. Wayanad district also has the distinction of being the only district of Kerala to share the borders with both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and it is the district with the least population around here.

Wayanad has been known for its natural beauty, and it has no railway connection anywhere in the district; the nearest airport is at Kozhikode. Kalpetta, Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery are its major towns. When I was a child, I wished to travel here, but the destination wasn’t considered then. But I managed to be there many years later, and I am sharing a few photos from that trip here, even though I still haven’t explored the destination in detail – that is pending, and this post could have a second part. They were all taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-310. The base of operations for the visit was fixed at Kozhikode at that time with Chevrolet Beat taking that long journey from Aluva, and it extended all the way to Kannur, with three northern districts being toured, and the final one left to visit on another day.

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TeNy

An Isle and Two Towers

Among the many things, Kochi has also been known for its islands. I had earlier written about Kumbalangy which is a model tourism village and an island which has become quite popular in the recent years for its serenity and natural beauty. This time, the post is going to be related to another island, which is situated on the Vembanad Lake itself and has its own beautiful areas of backwaters. There is no shortage of natural beauty here either. Vallarpadam is situated between two other islands, Bolghatty and Vypin, and the port of Cochin is partially situated here with major portion going to Willingdon Island which is the largest man-made isle in India. The Bolghatty Palace as well as the Kochi Marina are close, with the Goshree bridges opened about twelve years ago.

Vallarpadam is home to the International Container Transshipment Terminal as well as the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom which is also known as the pilgrimage centre dedicated to Vallarpadathamma. It is one of the most visited Marian pilgrimage centres in Kerala along with the popular pilgrimage centres at Koratty and Kuravilangad. There is a nice view possible from the top of the church towers. With the location being very close to the city with the Goshree bridges, and connected to the other side by the new Container Terminal Road, the popularity of the place has only increased. The journey through the road is smooth without much traffic and a nice scenic view. The travelers on two-wheelers at noon will feel the heat though.

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The journey to Vallarpadam has some nice scenic areas.

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The idea of stopping on the way will be nice.

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You have surely seen this one before, remember?

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The Rosary Park which is associated with the church.

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The church’s last renovation has made it look huge.

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A look from the top of the church tower becomes a necessity.

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One side of the Rosary Park – interesting views all around.

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The Two Towers: From one to the other.

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You stop the car and take the photos – I don’t see why not.

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Then you take more photos as you keep stopping 😀

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 on the way to Vallarpadam from Aluva and at the island. Btw, click here for the movie choice for Christmas 2015 season.

TeNy

Trip to the Dam

When I was a child, there used to be one place where all the school trips went – Malampuzha Dam. It is a case of nostalgia when we hear anything about this destination. The largest reservoir in Kerala which is located near Palakkad town has been the right choice of destination because it is far away, but still good enough for a one day trip. I visited the place for the first time when I was in the fourth standard. It was actually the only school trip that I ever had, and that ended late night with a movie. But with the development of other places as the big tourist destinations, this older scenic setting which has natural beauty as well as the beautiful park is not that much talked about around here. With these ten photos, I hope to make the place part of your list of places to visit, especially if you are planning to arrive in Kerala!

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This dam which is built over the Malampuzha River, a tributary of Kerala’s second longest river Bharathappuzha, bring you a fine experience – something which I felt again after visiting the place a long time after those school days when I finished the college. The gardens are beautiful, the nature is splendid as usual, you will find a snake park, there is amusement park area and there are boating facilities as well as the rope-way option available. Palakkad Junction railway station is the closest rail option and Coimbatore airport is the closest choice to fly. There are other attractions which you can visit from here including Tipu’s Fort which was built by Hyder Ali, but this place itself is worth the whole day! It is about one hundred and fifty five kilometres from the city of Cochin, and you can follow the Aluva-Angamaly-Trichur route; the National Highway! The Cochin International Airport is one hundred and twenty kilometres from there and Calicut International Airport one hundred and ten kilometres. The closest city corporation in Kerala would be Trichur at seventy nine kilometres from the dam.

***The images used in this blog post were taken be me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 camera.

TeNy

River Through Camera II

I had posted a few photos of Periyar’s “Aluva puzha” side which you had witnessed in a better way in the blockbuster Premam with all its beauty from the movie makers. Here are a few more photos to go with it. All these were taken by me on my camera and mobile. These will show the beautiful side of the river which blesses the town of Aluva or Alwaye once again. I hope that these will make you fall in love with the beauty of nature again.

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But there were occasions when the river was not that kind; this one happened in the year 2013. The truth is that we are never prepared for situations like floods.

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TeNy

Queen of the Arabian Sea

Kochi, or Cochin, known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, is the city which has driven me forward throughout my life. Yes, we use both names for the city; Cochin and Kochi are used like we wish to! I have always lived less than fifty kilometres from the city, except when I had those trips which lasted not more than one or two months. I believe that this will also be the city which will drive me towards my desires and destinations in life. My mother’s place is located on the other side of the city and so I have traveled through Kochi a lot during my childhood, and later, the malls and multiplexes increased the number of city visits.

The fishing boats with the old bridge of Cochin on the background.

The fishing boats with the old bridge of Cochin on the background.

We used to love going on a drive through the city later in the night, and have food at some special places there. The traffic would be so less at that time. We enjoyed spending our time at the beaches as well as the Marine Drive during our early college life. During those times, there were multiplexes were only on waiting list as the malls were absent, and we frequented the local theatres and had fun there. We also had those historical tourist destinations of Fort Cochin making the place the one choice of antiquity – it was one design of Cochin for us, and now there is more of that design. We always considered Cochin as a city #madeofgreat.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Cochin is an architectural beauty of great historical, religious and spiritual significance. You can also see the Jewish Synagogue which is considered as the oldest of its kind at this part of the world. The Mattancherry Palace will let you through another journey through the history of Kerala, surrounded by temples. There is also a beautiful Jain Temple. There is also the Dutch Cemetery. Saint Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India is also located at Fort Cochin. The Koonankurishu Church where the famous Coonan Cross Oath against the Portuguese domination took place among the native Christians of Kerala is located around Mattanchery area. You should also add Kumbalangy model tourism village to your journey as you have peace within the extended city!

Santa Cruz Basilica - a structure that you wouldn't want to miss.

Santa Cruz Basilica – a beautiful structure that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Meanwhile, the Kochi International Marina is the only marina in India. Pallipuram Fort built by the Portuguese is the oldest existing European fort in India; it was last owned by the Kingdom of Travancore. There is also the largest archaeological museum in Kerala, the Tripunithura Hill Palace. So many beaches are around from the Fort Cochin beach to the Puthuvype, Cherai and Munambam beaches. You see that there is history and there is the beauty of nature along with the newly arrived modernity – it is the right mixture in the design which you won’t fail to notice. Another nice mixture happens with the religious population which is like not many other cities can boast about.

Kochi has also been a city which has connected us friends coming from different suburbs, towns and villages around the place. Even now, it is where a lot of old friends arrive and we meet up there; the change in the design is with the malls though, with six malls around, and five of them having the multiplex option, Lulu being the largest mall in India. Connecting with the old friends over some food and movie has only managed to get things better. Kochi is well-connected to the towns around, and the bus option is easy, with the Kochi Metro Rail coming up, about to make things even more amazing.

Chinese fishing nets - always part of Cochin and its islands.

The Chinese fishing nets – always part of Cochin and all its islands.

Along with having connectivity through rail, air, water and the National Highway, Kochi’s location right at the centre of Kerala makes it easier for people from all around. The significance of Kochi has only been increasing at a steady rate throughout the the last few years. The Cochin International Airport is the largest and the busiest airport in Kerala it is also the fourth busiest airport in India according to the international passenger traffic recorded. It is also world’s first completely solar energy powered airport. Meanwhile, Cochin Port, has the largest container trans-shipment facility in India.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the home of Kerala Blasters and former home of Kochi Tuskers Kerala is one amazing place to spend some great time during a football match; you will see the love for football like nowhere else. There is one thing about which you can be more certain than many other things, and it is about the beauty of the backwaters of Kochi – it will be an instant hit going right into the soul, even more than those lovely beaches. Kochi also has some amazing food with a lot of variety, and it is up-to you to decide what drives you to connect with the grand design of Kochi. Maybe it can be the Kochi-Muziris Biennale with all the brilliant art on display?

A quote I found interesting during the Kochi Biennale :)

A quote which I found interesting during the Kochi Biennale visit 🙂

What about your favourite city? Is it also made of great things, driving you through its design and having a certain connection to your soul? http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 camera.

TeNy

A Fort of Monsters

A long time ago, there lived a kid who believed in monsters. He believed in monsters long before he had detailed information about them. He knew that they were real. He used to go under the bed and search for them so that there would be someone for him to play with. But he never really found the monster. They were real, but still they were not there. He waited for them to arrive, but they never came. Still, he knew that they had to come, and that much he had hoped.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

The monsters exist, just like the certainty of the beauty of nature.

There was such a destination for the myths. I still believe in monsters, and this place called Bhoothathankettu or the Fort of Monsters had a good role to play during my early monster belief season. The advantage of this Malayalam word is that it can be used in more than one way; we can also call them demons. I am sure that they won’t mind whatever we call them because horror is beyond names. Bhoothathankettu has a dam and is a popular tourist destination which was lesser visited at those times.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again.

Bhoothathankettu has been the place to visit again and again – worth it.

But it existed when I was a kid and it was only eleven kilometres from my Kothamangalam where my ancestral home is situated. So, it was always going to be a popular destination for me. It was different at that time, with less tourists, and naming it a tourist destination wasn’t going to be accurate during those days. The places for tourists were at other places, and this was just a dam and a park. But now, things have changed and a lot more facilities became available around the dam.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw, but can't be so sure.

This might be the first dam which I ever saw in my life, but can’t be so sure.

Located about fourty seven kilometres from the nearest railway station at Aluva and around fourty two kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, you can pass through the town of Kothamangalam to reach this place. There are tree houses and boating facilities for the tourists, and more have been added in the recent years. It has been some time since we last visited the place, and an update was to happen when I decided to travel less. May be another day with relatives will see me traveling again here, later.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey.

Nature makes the call, but we are rarely ready for the journey to the greens.

From there, you can also travel to the Idamalayar Dam which provides more of the scenic views there. Then you can go for the other option, which is the Thattekad Bird Sanctuary which is also not that far away from there; it is also close enough to Kothamangalam, reached by taking a turn while going to Bhoothathankettu. It was the first bird sanctuary in Kerala, and is named after the famous ornithologist Salim Ali. You can also travel to Kuttampuzha, Urulanthanni and Pooyamkutty if you keep that route.

The tree-house - this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The tree-house once again – this one never losses the charm, that is for sure.

The distance from the city of Cochin will be around sixty three kilometres. There is quite some distance which can be traveled through the forests, with all the greenery around. There is a park on the side, and the dam itself provides a nice view of the nature which has blessed the surroundings. It will be an ideal tourist spot if you decide to travel to this side – you can find many other places, but this one will have its special charm with the myths, the dam and the improving scope.

You take a walk around to make it feel better, and nature heals.

You take a walk around here to make it feel better, and nature can heal.

There is something about this place which I have visited so many times, with friends and also with relatives. But time has passed since the last journey and I hope to be back there again. May be that will happen on another day when I will have the desire to travel again. There will be a lot more awaiting me by that time with the popularity of the place increasing. I hope that the kid finds the right monsters there on that special day, because the human monsters have been too evil for his liking.

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place, isn't it?

Can the monsters be around here? This is a nice place for them, isn’t it?

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

TeNy

Seven Faces of Beauty

There are not many places which I have visited with friends in the first half of the 2000s. But I am sure that there was one such a place, and this destination was so lesser known at that time that if we had talked about this possible location for spending some time during the weekend, people would ask why – there was Ezhattumugham. Most of the people during that time wouldn’t have known the location, but things have changed now. This place has become more popular these days, even though it is not yet a destination which brings a lot of crowd.

Enter the world of rocks; do you feel like Super Mario around here?

Enter the world of rocks; do you feel like Super Mario around here?

After visiting the place in 2004, I had another journey there in 2012 and was surprised at the changes which had happened there. In 2004, it was like a place rarely explored, and nowadays, there is a good number of visitors there. Earlier, the cars were rare to find, and most of the visitors were the youth who came on motor-bikes. But in the last few years, the fame did spread and families did start visiting the place and the facilities also did increase making it an official tourist destination.

The tree-house idea keeps making things better, all the time.

The grand tree-house idea keeps making things better, all the time.

Even though it is located in the border areas of Ernakulam and Trichur districts, the place is only about fifty kilometres from the city of Cochin, and a journey from the Cochin International Airport will take only about thirteen kilometres. The nearest city is Trichur which is less than fifty kilometres away. You can take a turn at Angamaly or at Karukutty while coming from Cochin as you go through Aluva by the National Highway 47. A turn at Chalakudy might be the best road even though longer.

You have the right and privilege to get transported to this world.

You have the right and privilege to get transported to this world.

The Chalakudy route is mostly preferred for the people who come from the North while the South has their own shortcuts. There was also a hanging bridge coming up to join banks of the river. The popularity of Ezhattumugham also has its roots in the Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT) which is located about four kilometres from there. It is from the students of the reputed engineering college that I first came to know about Ezhattumugham and my first visit was also with one of them.

There is more beauty to nature than you will ever find in the known world.

There is more beauty to nature than you will ever find in the known world.

Ezhattumugham is a place of serene beauty. There will be only less visitors during the morning times, and a walk through the place is nothing less than refreshing. With developments taking place as the potential has been realized, there are tree-houses and park facility for children along with small shops to have some nice tea on the entrance, with restroom facility also available on one side. You can walk quite some distance around there, looking at and capturing the beauty of nature.

You walk through this disconnected path, towards eternity.

You walk through this disconnected path, towards eternity.

You are free to walk on the rocks and water through nature as you witness trees fed by the water which surrounds them, and all those shapes which these rocks will take. As you walk on these rocks to reach the centre and the other sides of the river, you will feel the need to sit there and enjoy the beauty. You can also walk on the dam-like area to reach the other side. I haven’t seen where the new bridge actually begins and end; maybe it brings a better view of the beauty of the place.

It is the green side which pauses your journey each and every time.

It is the green side which pauses your journey each and every time.

Athirapally-Vazhachal waterfalls is also only about twenty four kilometres from here, and so you can combine both these destinations together to make it one nice package. The best places for food will still be Indian Coffee House which is present throughout the route from Cochin after Aluva. You can divide the day into two and cover both of them as long as you don’t slow down and start right when the places open for tourists. Ezhattumugham won’t be that safe during the rainy season though, and you have to be careful during the journey all the time if you are not used to this.

This tree welcomes you to Ezhattumugham as the official messenger of nature :D

This tree welcomes you to Ezhattumugham as the official messenger of nature 😀

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC W-310.

+Wishing you all, a Happy Deepavali/Diwali 🙂

TeNy

A Blessed Birthday

Today is November 1st, the day after the Halloween night. I usually try to come up with a Halloween night post, but as horror always exists in my life a lot better than anything else, I thought that I should come up with the Kerala Piravi post instead. Today is the birthday of the state of Kerala or the Kerala Piravi Dinam. It is believed that Parashurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu created Kerala as he threw his axe into the sea, and water gave way to bring the land which is now this state, A part of his creation also forms a very small part of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Most of the Keralites do know all these, but I will share this for the first time on my blog. A reminder will only help to keep the memory filled.

Parasurama, who is credited with bringing Kerala out of the sea :)

Lord Parashurama, who is credited with bringing the land of Kerala out of the sea

I have read a good amount history, but all that I have studied has not got much about Kerala; still, I will bring something here. Kerala history also forms only a smaller part of our history books except for the times of the Renaissance, if I remember correctly from my school days. Three big kingdoms of Kerala on May 27th 1498 when Vasco Da Gama landed at Kappad included Travancore in the South with its capital at Padmanabhapuram which later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin at the centre with its capital at Kochi and the Kingdom of Calicut based on Kozhikode.

Once the most powerful among the Malayalam speaking kingdoms in the South, Calicut made good progress into Valluvanad and through Cochin, forcing the ruler to shift the capital to Thiruvanchikkulam and then to Kochi itself. Calicut was controlling most part of Cochin soon and later they were making tributaries out of the smaller kingdoms. After coming under Vijayanagara Empire, the ruler of Calicut under the title of Zamorin or Samoothiri could rise again only to face the Portuguese threat, changing the alliances and friends teaming up with the Dutch against the men from Portugal and their earlier nemesis Cochin.

The Mysorean invasion of Kerala led by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan began the end for Calicut with the ruler setting himself on fire as he faced certain defeat. Calicut would never really recover, and the kingdom would be part of Madras Presidency under British after the fall of Tipu. Once extending between Ponnani and Kochi, Cochin was restricted to a smaller state forcing it into alliance with Portuguese. The destruction of the city by the Zamorin of Calicut and Mysorean invasion would affect the kingdom, but would still rise to its best situation under Sakthan Thampuran, the most renowned king of the state.

Cochin also had its alliance with its former rival and the bigger Kingdom of Travancore in the South against Calicut. Covering most of central and southern Kerala along with the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, the rise of Travancore meant unity. The Battle of Colachel in 1741 had Travancore defeating the Dutch, becoming the first kingdom to win a battle against a European power. Led by the Flemish commander, Eustachius De Lannoy who surrendered in the battle, Travancore went on further North to conquer more. With the successful defence against a stronger army of Tipu in the Battle of the Nedumkotta and providing asylum to those who escaped the Mysorean onslaught, Travancore would rise to become the second most prosperous state in India with its kings of the people and a high level of religious tolerance.

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

The Dutch forces surrender to Marthanda Varma, King of Travancore

Travancore and Cochin would later join forces again to come up with the Travancore Rebellion against the British East India Company. The later history of Kerala goes back to three provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore; as the first one was under the Madras Presidency directly controlled by the Empire, the second and the third being kingdoms allied to the British. After independence, the first state to be formed was that of Travancore-Cochin, which was created on 1st of July 1949 by combining two kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin. Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai, the Prime Minister of Travancore, then became the Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin with the ruler of Travancore as the governor.

This arrangment existed for a few years until the situation had to change with Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress launching a campaign for joining Tamil-speaking regions of Travancore-Cochin with Madras State. Later, according to the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the current state of Kerala was formed as the Travancore-Cochin state combined with the Malabar district of Madras State and the Kasaragod taluk of South Canara district while Kanyakumari district was added to the Madras state. This is the fifty nineth birthday of the state which is known as the God’s Own Country, as that day of its current existence began on November 1st, 1956.

Happy birthday, Kerala 😀 There will always be only one true home and there is no other place like home 🙂

***The images used in this blog post are from the Wikipedia pages of Kerala and the Battle of Colachel.

TeNy

Favourite Shots II

It was only now that I felt the need for sharing a second set of the favourite shots taken on my camera by me. I would start with the Chinese fishing nets at Fort Cochin which have been one of the most significant tourist attractions of the place which haven’t been historical, religious or spiritual in nature. There are so many of them, and as they are photogenic, they form one of the many symbols of the place. If you walk around the Fort Cochin beach, you can have some nice shots of the same. Here you can see a modern reflection on the other side.

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Among the favourite photos, the backwaters of Kerala needs to be there; that didn’t happen in the first set of photos, but it does here. Kumarakom has left a few more memories, as on one day, we decided to choose the smaller boats to go on a journey through the backwaters of Kerala. It is an interesting journey as we see the bigger houseboats keep moving around – there is beauty all around and we notice them closer. After the process, there is also the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to have a look at.

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Bhoothathankettu Dam and its nearby forests have been the tourist destination which I have known for a very long time, right from my childhood. The place has expanded a lot with more facilities these days as the number of tourists has increased. The myth of the demons and monsters had only re-inforced my love for the place during that horror novel filled childhood. It is less than thirty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport and quite close to the town of Kothamangalam.

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We have visited Ezhattumugham since the first time we had any idea about its existence. The place has changed a lot since my first visit there, and still it retains some of the peace and tranquility of the earlier times. It is one of the closest tourist attraction to the Cochin International Airport and is good enough to combine with your trip with Athirappilly Waterfalls. The photo is from the times of the rain when there was water everywhere. It is more of a joy to watch then.

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Located less than twenty kilometres from Thodupuzha, Thommankuthu is another beautiful destination which I have visited multiple times. It is one of the better known eco-tourism centres of the area, and the walk on the sides of the stream leads to the waterfalls which is a very beautiful sight. It provides a nice and interesting place to spend some time in peace, away from the busy world. All the path to this place itself makes sure that there is an interesting journey in store.

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There was one small island which caught my attention during a houseboat journey through Aleppey, and there were so many houseboats around making it an interesting view of busy waterways. The backwaters remain a thing of beauty, and the time spent in exploring the same is never wasted. There is always something more to be caught in the camera, and it is the advantage of being here.

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I managed to take this photo at Kannur, from the Saint Angelo Fort. It remains a special favourite, and taken during a time when I was reading Old Man and the Sea, it feels good to have this shot coming up good. The fort itself is a wonderful place to spend some time and also witness the historical landmark which is well maintained. There is also the presence of enough greenery around to add to the charm.

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TeNy

Rock of the Eagle

Throughout my life, I have had special love for some birds; no, not the love birds, sparrows or doves – the birds of prey have been my favourites. Among them all, I was always interested in seeing an eagle flying in the sky. The standards and banners used by the Roman Empire and the later Byzantine Empire had my attention. I have loved the image of the double-headed eagle, and had the feeling that it was special. Then there were the ancient Eagle Warriors of Tenochtitlan, who were the elite infantry units of the Aztec Empire, seen in the game, Age of Empires II: The Conquerers.

Still part of the coats of arms of many cities and a few nations, eagle has always been the bird which inspired to rise and claim what we needed. It is the symbol of courage, will-power and strength, with its agility and superior vision, are used in connection with the greater gods, Zeus for Greeks, Jupiter for Romans and Odin for the Norse. There is the idea of flying high and free like the eagle. Then there was also this poem which I learned by-heart at school, but then I realized that I needn’t – a problem of leaving for CBSE from the state syllabus 😀

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
— The Eagle by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

So, let the dark clouds leave and get to the destination I am talking about.

So, let the dark clouds leave and we get to the destination I am talking about.

That brings us to the Rock of the Eagle or Eagle’s Rock, called Parunthumpara. With “eagle” associated with the name, I was always willing to have a look there. Located around six kilometres from the nearest town Peermade, it is a beautiful and interesting viewpoint which can be accessed while traveling through the Kottayam Kumily road. If you are traveling from the Northern side of Kerala, you can follow the route which goes through Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha, Thodupuzha, Vagamon and then get to this road. It is not exactly on the way, and you will have to turn right before reaching Peermade.

This is the kind of path which you follow. Also note my car for no reason :P

This is the kind of path which you follow. Also note my car for no reason 😛

It is a good place to visit if you are traveling to Kumily, Thekkady or Kattappana through the road mentioned. The view that the place provides is amazingly good, and there is lot of area around to park the vehicle. There are some small tea shops there and you will find some bigger ones on the way, with more options of tea packets and chocolates. The road is mostly good except for a small area which has a certain absence of road and it will test the ground clearance of your vehicle in the case of the smaller cars.

You drive through the roads on the top and wander through the grasslands.

You drive through the roads on the top and wander through the grasslands.

The advantage of going through this smaller, but good road is the bliss which is available while seeing so much of greenery and the wind providing inspiration. With all the beauty around, it is good enough to challenge any other location around. There is a little plastic problem which has to be dealt with though. Otherwise, it is well-maintained. It is still not fully developed, and so may be we can see some interesting changes some day. The place has a lot of beauty and space, and so this one can stand of its own one day with the rock having somewhat the shape of the head of an eagle.

Here is the vision which you should have very often to make life feel better.

Here is the vision which you should have very often to make life feel better.

Meanwhile, Peermade is the place to stop and have some food, and if you are not hungry yet, you can stop at Vandiperiyar later. There are many tea plantations around where you can stop and have the selfie with tea. One of the interesting places around includes the Pattumala Church which is a nice structure which can be noticed from the main road itself as it is located at some good height. The building catches our attention and so does the flowers around the tea plantations which surround the church. You can add these with Parunthumpara during your journey to Thekkady.

And this is the Pattumala Church which I have been talking about.

And this is the Pattumala Church which I have been talking about.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5.

TeNy

Four Cups of Tea

The best incidents in the vampire world have always managed to begin with tea. The reason for this is that no vampire ever wakes up without smelling tea from the sleep or having that perfect tea dream which makes it the only non bloody thing that can be perfectly shared between vampires and humans. It has also eternally kept the werewolves and zombies away because they have never been the people of the tea, and it has been a title reserved for the vampires under the immortal clause 99A-2Z.

Yes, vampires do keep the people away, it has been the twenty seventh super power which they are known to possess. It has been officially recognized in thirteen realms of magic. But it has only did people good because the great vampire team has been mostly angry and none of them has ever fallen in love. They were always beyond that, of a higher existence. Still, there is that girl walking outside. She has been walking around with that phone for quite a long time. Who might be calling her? Vampire Bat finds her to be extremely cute…

Vampire Owl: You are going very far away from the topic.

Vampire Bat: What? Oh, yes. What was I talking about? Yes, the meeting which had the awesome tea.

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So, the Vampire Bat hasn’t been always into meetings due to the same reason. He doesn’t meet other bloggers, even though he has met a few this year as they were brought together by fate. Still, the Vampire Bat decided to get the Yellow Vampire Mobile and travel on it to the meeting point which was many pot-holes and a lot of congested traffic away from his place. But the Vampire Bat knew that the time has come for him to come out of the shadows to enter the list of friends belonging to the living.

Vampire Hamster: Excuse me, Sir Vampire Bat. Do you travel on a mobile phone? Is that the Asus Zenfone 5?

Vampire Bat: What? No! Its like the Batmobile. Kindly stop talking if you really want to hear the full story.

Vampire Owl: Typical question from a vampire apprentice who doesn’t come to the blood sucking tutorials. You please continue, Mr. Vampire Bat.

The Vampire Bat had the meeting with the Man Who Lives, as the world of the undead met the world of the living at the land which is known to mankind as Cochin. Then we made to KR Bakes where we decided to not choose the Puffs with the dead and had Vegetable Puffs in the name of the immortal WordPress blogs. There, we also had four cups of tea and discussed very interesting things like life before death, movies of the soul, Kerala and the Middle East, how to have a job and not to, how the bats and owls are doing in the world of chaos etc.

As the Vampire Bat was once hit on the head with a selfie stick, he made the decision not to bring a selfie here. It was actually an accident, but that too counts. He never really encouraged the selfies even though he did pose on a few occasions just because they were taken and his absence would mean that his immortality had expired. The Vampire Bat has asked Uncle Dracula to declare this stick as a dangerous weapon along with the silver stakes, but that is pending approval from the vampire elders and the Elite Vampire Club.

Vampire Bat: So, my dear vampire team, please say this together with me.

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Vampires [together]: We would like to thank the Man Who Lives, and also all his tranquility for bringing the meeting of the Living and the Undead at one place where there was awesome tea and Vegetable Puffs.

Vampire Bat: Please note this down in the New Vampire Book of Eternity, on page number thirteen.

Vampire Hamster: As you say, Sir Vampire Bat. I am going to work on that.

***This is the story of my first unofficial blogger meet with any blogger I have known before 😀 There were no photos taken, and so please adjust with the photos from the Official Facebook of the movie, Hotel Transylvania 😛

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

ICH: Our True Lifeline

Whenever we have travelled around Kerala in a car or on a two-wheeler, there was always the need for a place to have tea at regular intervals, and there was surely the need to have food. We couldn’t have food from here and there, because nobody can say for sure how good it is, especially by the quality. You might see the best looking restaurants, but there no guarantee about the quality, especially when wandering through those areas were there are no friends to recommend the best places.

The oldest memory that I ever had of a restaurant which still exists, goes back to the Indian Coffee House, even though that branch at Perumbavoor no longer exists, with another branch opening about eight kilometres from there instead. At that time, I used to say that I wanted to visit an Indian Coffee House, and any of those branches would do, because they were all the same, and there was quality. I had already visited every branch in Ernakulam district long before I was a teenager.

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Indian Coffee House is spread all over Kerala, as it has the largest number of branches in the state. It has evolved into being the best choice of the Malayalis all around. It is fully owned by the employees of the restaurant chain as a co-operative society, with a committee elected for management. The biggest encouragement for starting this chain of restaurant goes to the popular communist leader of Kerala, A.K. Gopalan who was a leading social activist in the state. You can see his portrait at every branch of ICH.

With its fifty year anniversary celebrated in 2008, this group of restaurants having its headquarters at Thrissur has its most number of branches there itself, along with the same number at the capital city of Trivandrum. Considering the branches from Thrissur to Trivandrum, they have the same price everywhere. The northern version of Indian Coffee House from Palakkad to Kasargode is kind of different, even with the structure remaining the same. You can notice the difference on the logo itself.

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Even though the Indian Coffee House from Central Kerala to the South which covers eight of the fourteen districts has been more of the thing of concern for me, I have found the quality very good in both cases, as I have tried both. The Thrissur based ICH does have the Poori Masala factor available at all times, which was replaced by Idli, and that too only in the morning for the Northern based ICH. The choices were less in the latter case. For the former though, most of the things shown on the menu are available throughout the day.

Lets get back to the Thrissur based ICH completely which deals with the Travancore-Cochin area, and you can actually check the rates from their website itself. After it opened a branch at Aluva, it had become our regular place to have some tea. I was highly disappointed when the branch at Muvattupuzha was closed, and it is quite an addition to the earlier shock given by the closing of their restaurant at Perumbavoor. Well, now Perumbavoor surely needs one, but not at that earlier location which is too crowded.

I would say that the best branch opened is at the Angamaly Bus Station, which is a very nice choice of location, as the town now got three of them. I have the opinion that each and every bus station, railway station, theatre and mall should have one Indian Coffee House near enough. Also imagine having one near those pilgrim centres. They have the best people serving food in their trademark clothing, and having the fine quality food. With the low costs and tasting nice and exactly the same in each branch, ICH always scores.

***The images used in this blog post were taken during some of my visits to ICH.

With love for the ICH tea
TeNy