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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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

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

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

Urulanthanni: Not the Obvious

No matter where or how you search for information, Urulanthanni is not a place which you can find with ease; not on the internet or not while talking with those people whom you usually meet. It is because Urulanthanni is far away from most of those places where you visit for a relief from the normal city routine. It is also because it is not that much explored by people of modernity. Urulanthanni remains a name which is not usually talked about among the travelers, but it is a place which deserves to be discovered.

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be good!

You see this on the way and you know that this is going to be an awesome experience!

If you have searched for Urulanthanni after reading the first paragraph on google, I am sure that you won’t find much of the written information about it, not even on Wikipedia. It is an area around Kuttampuzha river and a few kilometres away from Kuttampuzha – this much should be easy to find. If you come from Cochin, take the road to Muvattupuzha and then to Kothamangalam. Our starting point was at Aluva, fifty nine kilometres from the destination, not including the distance which we had to walk after the drive.

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can't resist!

While on the way, you stop here, and just have a look; can’t resist on this view!

If you are coming from the Cochin Airport, you can join this route, and it will be fifty five kilometres from there, and fourty two from the place where the routes from Aluva and Airport joins – Perumbavoor from where there is fourty two kilometres to the destination. You will be travelling on the Aluva-Munnar road, and you can choose to have food just before reaching the next big town, or rather the last one worth mentioning – Kothamangalam. There is a vegetarian restaurant Dwaraka, and a non-vegetarian restaurant Paradise on the way which might be the best options to have food.

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn't go for money around here!

There are smaller places of worship around, as God doesn’t go for money around here!

After Kothamangalam, finding big enough restaurants get tougher except for the fact that there might be something around with Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary on the way, and there is the Bhoothathankettu Dam if you take a deviation, but you won’t if you are going to Urulanthanni. The path is indeed beautiful, and nature only gets better as you keep moving. Once you reach Kuttampuzha, the last small town, you have to take a deviation to the right. Otherwise you might end up reaching Pooyamkutty. You can travel through that road to reach and end from where you will have to walk.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera - can't deny its power.

So much green for the eyes, and for the camera – can’t deny its extreme power.

There you enter the charming world of Urulanthanni, which is part of the Idukki Wildlife Division, even as it is part of Ernakulam district. Vodafone might be the only network which has connectivity there though. As you walk deeper into the area, you will find not much other than greenery, and there will be streams of water which you need to cross, and so there is the need to be prepared. some of them might be quite deep and having strong currents, so care is needed there. The rain which actually make it stronger and create newer ones.

Just one of those streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

Just one of those beautiful streams which should be crossed during the journey on foot.

You will also have to walk through the water which is caught between the rocks, and it should be slippery; therefore further care might be needed. You have to walk, run and jump until you reach the waterfalls which is a nice sight with the greenery. If you can manage to climb to the top of any of the rocks there, you can get a nice view of the surroundings. The beauty of the green is so powerful, and seems like eternal there. As it is not a big tourist site yet, the human disturbance on nature is not there and let’s not create something like that there too.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

You can climb one or two of the rocks there and have a detailed look around the area.

Along with the chances of slipping during the rains, you will also have to be careful about the leeches. I did donate some of my blood to a good number of them during my visit, but you needn’t make them grateful by feeding your blood. The best option will be to wear the shoes rather than chappals. You can ask for the help of locals to guide, as the path can be confusing or even dangerous for people not used to such journeys and leeches at full strength can be disgusting. Urulanthanni might not be the obvious tourist destination, but surely a nice place to visit with all the beauty of nature.

The waterfalls and all those green elements - that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

The waterfalls and all those green elements – that surely feels like Tomb Raider!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my camera and mobile phone (Sony Cybershot and Samsung Duos).

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