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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Into the Soul of Nature

Less than twenty kilometres from the town of Thodupuzha lies Thommankuthu, the eco-tourism centre which has a number of waterfalls, including one very scenic fall which is a nice place for a photo-shoot. You have to walk some distance to reach this one, and the walking process, even though through uneven terrain, won’t be that difficult because the scenery is wonderful around. On your left, there will be elevation and on the right, there is the way down through rocks and water flowing through.

So, when Thommankuthu calls you, will you be there? :D

So, when Thommankuthu finally calls you aloud, will you be there? 😀

If you have watched the song “Kattum Mazhayum” from the 2012 movie Chattakkari featuring Shamna Kasim and Hemanth Menon, you will know that it was shot here; it is a beautiful song with the environment also well utilized – you can look for it on Youtube some time to enjoy the music as well as to see the place nicely shot. Getting to the waterfalls is rather easy. With Cochin Airport as the closest airport, the nearest railway stations should be Ernakulam, Kottayam, Aluva and Angamaly with Aluva being the best choice. I last traveled to the place about an year ago, and the roads were very good at that time.

A bridge on which you will drive your car. It is part of nature :D

A bridge on which you will drive your car. It is just a small part of nature 😀

About reaching Thommankuthu, coming from the North, you can go through Chalakudy, Angamaly and Perumbavoor to reach Muvattupuzha and then Thodupuzha; Perumbavoor route is to be taken when arriving from the Cochin Airport too. From the South, you can come through Palai getting to Thodupuzha from there or through Koothattukulam and Muvattpuzha. You can travel through Pattimattom or Kolenchery when coming from the city of Cochin. The accomodation is best at a town of your choice from those mentioned before. You can stop for food at any of the towns mentioned as there are some nice restaurants around.

The presence of a tree-house makes things special all the time.

The presence of a tree-house makes things special all the time; not just here.

But in the case of tea, if you need it, you can have some great tea from one of those shops around before entering the eco-tourism destination. You can have some tea and start the journey by taking some photos from the side of those shops as there is something like a nice viewpoint there. A visit in the morning will be better as there will be less rush. Thommankuthu is still a destination which has less crowd than those places with lesser potential manage to have. The evenings will have more people around.

Walking on the rocks, towards that final destination.

Walking on the rocks, towards that final destination which gets closer.

The journey from the last big town Thodupuzha to Thommankuthu will begin to get scenic very early if you look out through the windows of the vehicle. On the way, there will be places where you might wish to stop and take pictures. There is one particular bridge which you might really want to have a look at. There will be a lot of greenery around and this will surely make sure that your immortal desire for wandering away from modernity can get the early thumbs up.

Trees like this one brings a nice feeling of being close to nature's soul.

Trees like this one brings a nice feeling of being close to nature’s soul.

After you pass the gates, it the long, but interesting walk. The trees and the atmosphere makes sure that you won’t get tired that easily. The restrooms are there in the beginning, and there are also benches at some areas, even though you can sit on a rock or a giant root of a huge tree. It is after you go past the danger area that you should greet your temptation to get to the rocks and the water. You will still need to look for the slippery areas though. There is the necessity to look for the sign boards to make sure.

We go through places like this one, and we wonder why not be here forever?

We go through places like this one, and we wonder why not be here forever?

There will be tree-houses on the top of some trees which will provide nice viewpoints. Some trees will also inspire you to take some photos. After a certain point is reached, you will need a local guide to go further. The journey after that will be more difficult. In the case of a family trip or when you are beginning to get tired, stopping here will be appropriate. If you are in an adventurous mood and there is the need to see more waterfalls, caves and viewpoints, you can go ahead.

And then the waterfalls which proves to be nice background for everything!

And then the waterfalls which proves to be nice background for everything!

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and Samsung Galaxy Duos. I wonder if Amal Neerad will shoot a movie like Iyobinte Pushtakam here, capturing all its glory! 🙂

TeNy

Tale of Five Towns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TeNy

The Spiritual Variety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TeNy

A Special Destination

There is one special destination which I have already mentioned on my travel blog – Travel Diaries: Of this world and beyond (http://theviator.wordpress.com), but has traveled to the same location in more detail again. I had also shared only one photo at that time, and so I would take this occasion to talk about that place again, this time related to our second journey. All the photos shared in this blog post are from the two big journeys to the place, taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

Such water-bodies are common on the way to our place.

Such water-bodies are common on the way to our place; take some time to look.

The destination is Ilaveezhapoonjira, the beautiful place with a name which people from outside Kerala will struggle to pronounce. It is a tourist destination which hasn’t been that explored and therefore stays beyond the boundaries of modernity. There will be not much crowd in this area, which mostly only has the youth among the visitors, as there is a good amount of journey on foot or by the juggling jeep to the top.

We are going among the hills this time.

We are going among the hills this time, away from the modern barbarians.

We had started our journey quite early on that day, and it is a perfect road until Thodupuzha from where the Vagamon route was also quite good. But from that moment you take the turn to the road going for this place, you are introduced to the smaller road which goes up, having enough potholes and curves to make you mad, especially if another vehicle comes from the other side. In the case of an early morning visit, there is not going to be anything coming down from Ilaveezhapoonjira though.

When the dark clouds arrive, trees are ready with silhouette.

When the dark clouds arrive and show their strength, trees are ready with silhouettes.

Once you reach the first part of the top, there is a small tea stall kind of setup which was not open when we went there. But it surely deserves a mention as this is “the tea cerebrations” blog. May be it will be there again on another day when we go there. There is also something which looks like a resort, but is seemingly abandoned; looks good enough to nicely blend with nature. The wind is usually strong there, making the tall grass bow down, as the sphere of air takes control here.

The fog takes over and makes a big impact at times.

The fog takes over and makes a big impact at times, improving the view even more.

There is also that fog that comes through and makes a big impact, as the vision is minimal when it makes its presence felt. On that day, there was rain too, but by the time we reached the top, it had a more clear version of the site, even as not that good enough to make a great impression on our ordinary cameras. Yes, you will get some awesome photos if you take someone with a big camera, or you can persuade a rich guy to buy an awesome camera and take him with you. By the time we returned, it had felt so good with the wonderful climate.

When you reach the top-most point, you find this.

When you reach the top-most point, you find this place and then you take out the camera.

Ilaveezhapoonjira is one of our favourite destinations, followed only by Thommankuthu and Bhoothathankettu, both being far behind in popularity in our circle. As it is not stormed by the visitors and never does it lack in being a thing of dazzling beauty, we would choose Ilaveezhapoonjira any day for just another random trip away from the modern barbarian world which tries to devour us like spiders of the movie Enemy (http://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/enemy/).

What you see when you have a look down from there.

What you see when you have a look down from there. I needed a better camera here.

This place might not find a place in your list of tourist attractions as it is not a popular desination suggested for people from outside Kerala. The rest should be aware of this place, especially those from the Central Travancore area as well as Ernakulam and Trichur districts. It is located around twenty kilometres from the town of Thodupuzha and about double the distance from Muvattupuzha – a distance of around twenty more will take you to Perumbavoor. Do add this to your list.

TeNy