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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thirivananthapuram

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple:

Thiruvananthapuram's most interesting temple i open to Hindus only, and even they must wear wear a 'dhoti' or 'sari'. Still , it's worth visiting -even if you are just passing through town-to see the temple's seven story carved gopuram  reflected in the nearby sacred tank.Constructed in the Dravidian style by a maharaja  of Travancore in 1733,  the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, who reclines on the sacred  serpent, Anantha, which gives Thiruvanathapuram its name.



Kovalam Beach

Kovalam is just 16 kms away from Trivandrum. This unique internationally renowned wonderful beach will get pride of place amongst the loveliest beaches in the world  has been a favourite haunt of tourists since the 1930s. Today Kovalam has become one of the most popular beach hangouts in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look.

The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promise a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories, makes this beach paradise. This marvellous beach is a tourist's dream come true.

A sheltered natural bay with cool soothing palms and gentle waves. Where when you are tired of aquatics, swimming or sunbathing, you can explore the handicrafts, jewellery and cloth shops spread along the waterfront. Not to speak of the delightful sea-food fare including lobsters available at the beachside restaurants.


Palace Museum:

The recently opened Puthen Maliga Palace Museum, adjacent to the temple ,is housed in several wings of the palace of the maharajahs of Travancore.

It's open from 8.30 am to 12.30pm and from 3 to 5.30 pm; entry is Rs.5.



Museums, Gallery & Zoo:

The zoo and a collection of museums are in a park i the north of the city . The museums are in a park in the north of the city. The museums are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.45pm, but not until 1pm on Wednesday. A single Rs.5 entry ticket covers all the museums and is obtainable from the Natural History of Museum.

Housed in a whimsical, decaying, Keralan style  building dating from 1880, the Napier Museum displays an electric  assortment of bronzes , historical and contemporary ornaments , temple carts , ivory carvings and life size figures of Kathakali dancers in full costume.

The Natural History Museum has a rudimentary  ethnographic collection as well as an interesting replica of a Nayar wooden house built in the Keralan style.

The Sri  Chitra Art Gallery has paintings of the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore schools, together with works from China, Tibet, Japan and Bali. There are also many modern Indian paintings , including works by ravi Varma, Svetoslav and Nicholas Roerich.

The Zoological Gardens are among the best designed in Asia -set among woodland , lakes and well -maintained  lawns - but some of the animal enclosures  (and their inhabitants) are misreble. The zoo is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5.15pm. Entry is rs.4 and there is an additional Rs.5 charge for a camera or Rs.250 for a video camera.

The Science & Technology Museum and Planetarium , about 100m west of the Mascot Hotel, cater mostly to high school  students . The Museum is open from 10am to 5pm daily and entry is Rs.2. The Planetarium has 40 minute shows in English at noon daily (Rs.10).It's closed on Monday.



Padmanabhapuram Palace:

Padmanabhapuram Palace was once the seat of the rulers of Travancore, a princely state for more than 400 years which included a large part of present day Kerala and the Western coast of Tamil Nadu.

Padmanabhapuram is just inside Tamilnadu , 65km south-east of Thiruvananthapuram. To get there , you can either catch a local bus from Thiruvananthapuram or Kovalam beach or take one of the Kanyakumari tours organised by the KTDC. The palace is closed on Monday.



Veli Tourist Village:

Boardered by Veli lagoon and the Arabian Sea, the village includes water sports , waterfront park, floating bridge, children's park, restaurant, garden etc. it is 8km. away from the city. Visiting hours: 10am. to 8.30pm.



Akkulam Boat Club:

A popular picnic spot with boating facility.


Shangumugham Beach:

It's a pleasant place to walk or watch the fishermen securing their catch. A large sculpture of a mermaid graces the roadside, an example of the work of the local artist Canai Kunuram. At dusk, during temple festivals, the beach is the site of the ritual bathing of the temple idols.


Kerala Legislattive assembly:



Churches:

There are many churches in Thiruvananthapuram.



CVN Kalari Sangam:

The CVN Kalari sangam in East Fort, near the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, is a small but remarkable bulding-part training centre, part temple and part hospital.

Ganapathy Temple:

Also in East fort is the Ganapathy Temple, dedicated to Ganesh.



Organised Tours:

The KTDC operates a variety of tours in the city and further afield. They all depart from the Tourist  Reception Centre opposite the Railway station



Neyyar Dam

Neyyar dam, lying against the southern low hills of the western ghats, 32 kms away from the Thiruvananthapuram city is a popular picnic spot with a lake and a picturesque dam site. Neyyar dam affords a panoramic view of the the mountains and the lake. The lion safari is a star attraction.

The reservoir also offers boating facilities in addition to a crocodile farm. The project offers facilities for boating and mountaineering. A miniature wild life sanctuary, a lake garden and a swimming pool are the major attractions.



Ponmudi

Ponmudi hill resort is cool and quiet. As the hills come awake you can begin a pleasurable exploration of the wooded paths. Trekking is a passion with visitors to Ponmudi. Ponmudi has other surprises too for you.

Orchids, for instance, grow in abundance here. A charming deer park is only 3kms. from Ponmudi. Picnic hampers that the staff at the guest house would be happy to arrange, which you could take down the hill to a picturesque ruined dam site or golden valley which is another pretty scenic spot. Other attractions are Bird watching, Deer park and long, enjoyable walks.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Kollam

Beaches in Kollam

Thirumullavaram beach resort is the famous beach resort in Kollam. It situates 5kms west from Kollam. The sea here is ideal for swimming and bathing. Mahatma Gandhi Beach & Park and Kochupilamoodu, Paravur beach are the other important beaches. Mahatma Gandhi beach lies just 2kms from the town. It is a fascinating place for an evening. Paravur situates 13 kms south of Kollam and is connected with Kollam town by road and rail.


Kollam Town

Kollam Town is the head quarters of Kollam district  and Kollam taluk, has a hoary past. It was an international emporium of trade and even now it is a prosperous commercial centre. It is situated about 71 kms north of Thiruvananthapuram and is linked by rail, road and backwater transport. The town edges with the famous Ashtamudi Lake. It is said that the present town of Kollam was built by the Syrian merchant ,Sapir Iso in the 9th century  A.D.  Kollam is also the head quarters of Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation.



Ashramam Picnic Village

Ashramam picnic village is located in the 48acre Guest House complex. The children's traffic and entertainment park, designed by NATPAC is also located  in this village. It is the largest traffic park in Kerala. The adventure park located in the village along the shores of the Ashtamudi back waters , is a novel experiment in the country. Different types of  boats, including luxury cruise boats, power boats and motor boats are available on hire from the boat jetty near to the adventure  Park. A budget hotel for tourists, Yathrinivas, run by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, is also located in this village. The Govt. Guest House here is 200 years old . It stands alone  Ashtamudi Lake and is a major attraction for its elegance and architectural beauty. Tourists can stay here at economical rates. The village is just 2kms away from the town.


Sasthamcottah

Sasthamcottah is an attractive village situated about 19kms from Kollam town. It is a beauty spot , a health resort and a centre of pilgrimage. The extensive fresh water lake here is said to be the biggest of its kin d in Kerala. Water supply to the Kollam town is met by purifying the water from this lake. Sasthamkottah lake is called the queen of lakes.



Thangassery

Thangassery is a place of historical importance a situated 5kms away from the Kollam town. The churches here are pretty old, having been established in the 18th century. The chief attraction of the place is light house, built in 1902. The 144ft high light house stands as a sentinel, warning seamen of the treacherous reefs of Thangassery.



Thazhava

Thazhava in Oachria block is an important centre of screw-pine mat industry. An image of the Buddha, discovered from the tank known as Pallikkulam near Maruthookulangara is one of the interesting archaeological relics.


Thenmala

Thenmala is the meeting point of Kollam- Shencottah road and Thiruvananthapuram-Shencottah road, surrounded by dense forests, 66kms east of Kollam. There are a large number of rubber and tea plantations in Thenmala. Thenmala dam site is open for tourists.



Jatayu  Para

Jatayu  Para, a huge rock is another attraction in Kollam district. This huge rock is in the Chadayamangalam village on the M.C. Road. The name comes from the epic , Ramayana. It is believed that Jatayu, the giant bird in the epic fell here after falling in its attempt to stop Ravana from taking Sita away. The rock is ideal for trekking by the lovers of adventure.


Courtalam Waterfalls

Though the famous waterfall at Courtalam is situated in Tamil Nadu, it shares the boundary of Kollam also. Season to visit the place is from June to January.

The District Tourism Promotion Council offers tourists information and assistance. The office of the council is situated at Ashramam Government Guest House complex. There are tourist information centre at the Railway station, Kollam and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation central bus station, Kollam.



Around Kollam

Krishnapuram Palace Museum

The Krishnapuram Palace is fully restored in March 1999, is a fine example of Keralan Architecture. The palace is well worth a visit . The palace is open 10am to 5pm  every day except Monday.



Alumkadavu

Just near the Krishnapuram palace , Alumkadavu has long been a boat building centre. The traditional kettuvalams are still constructed here- no longer for rice transportation, but as luxury houseboats for tourists.


Mannarsala

15 kms north of Krishnapuram Palace, and 32 km before Alappuzha, Mannarsala , on National Highway 47, is the site of the Nagaraja  (serpent king) Temple, and the most  significant site for snake worship in Kerala. According to the Mahabharatha, snakes fled from the fire started by Arjuna in the Khandava forest (believed to be an area near Alappuzha). They prayed for protection and the area around Mannarsala cooled down providing them a refuge.

Local legend relates that subsequently a Namboodiri woman developed sacred groves for the  snakes and dedicated the land to the snake dieties , Nagaraja and Sarpayakshi. Today the tradition continues and the oldest female member (known as valiama) of the illam (women's section of the Namboodiri house hold), has the role of priestess and conducts rituals at the temple. On accepting the role she relinquishes her earthly marital status  and assumes a spiritual one- that of wife of the serpent king deity. She lives alone in premises  within the temple complex.

The temple is in typical Keralan architectural style, with the larger central shrine surrounded by many smaller ones . Infinite number of cobra  idols encompass the complex, it's said that many of their earthly cousins are there as well. The two main idols are those of the serpent king and queen.

The annual festival is in the month of Thulam (October/ November) . At this time the main idols are taken in procession by the priestess and offerings of milk, turmeric and rice are made.

As with Keralan temples generally, this is a peaceful place, apart from vedis (Explosive devotional sounds). Visitors who respect the rituals and the serenity of the temple are welcome. Men must remove their shirts, women must wear saris  or similar clothing.

Pathanamthitta

Some of the major attractions of Pathanamthitta are as under:

Sabarimala
It is one of the pilgrimage centres of Pathanamthitta situated on the rugged hills of the Western Ghats dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.

Anandapalli Maramadi
This is an ox race carnival festival commonly held during the harvest season in the small village of Pathanamthitta.

Chandanakudam Festival
This festival of Pathanamthitta is famous for the devotees of Muslim community which is held during the month of February.

Charalkunnu
The picturesque hill station attracted the tourists for providing the panoramic view of the low-lying areas where camp house is the most preferential activity of the tourists.

Cherukolpuzha
This festival is held during the month of February at Cherukole on the riverbed of Pampa.

Kakki
This tourist destination of Pathanamthitta is famous for its reservoir surrounded by the forests that provides an opportunity to see other animals like tigers, elephants, deer and monkey.
Konni (Agricultural Region) : 11 kms from Pathanamthitta, an agricultural region, Konni is rich in cash crops like rubber, pepper, coffee, ginger etc. IT is also used as a centre for training elephants.

Mannadi (folk Art Centre) : This is where Veluthampi Dalawa, the renowned freedom fighter of Travancore, spent his last days. The ancient Bhagavathy Temple here contains some interesting stone sculptures. Mannadi is also the venue of the Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts.

Muloor Smarakam (Memorial) : The memorial to Muloor, a renowned reformer and poet, is located at Elavumthitta.

Omallur (Cattle fair) : The Rakthakanta Swamy Temple and the annual cattle fair held in the Malayalam month of 'Meenam' are the main attractions of Omallur. People from all around Kerala and also many other states participate in the fair.

Charalkunnu Hill station : The picturesque hill station offers a panoramic view of the nearby valleys. A camp house on the hill provides comfortable lodging.

Perumthenaruvi : Perumthenaruvi is a famous waterfall on the banks of the River Pamba. Here, the water flows down a rocky bed into a ravine 60 to 100 feet deep. The place is a favourite picnic spot for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Vijana Kala Vedi Cultural Centre : Louba Schild, a French scholar under the Indo-French Cultural Exchange Programme, who started this centre with UNESCO support, founded this famous cultural centre.The centre offers residential training courses, in Kerala's traditional arts & crafts like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu, Music, wood carving etc

Kakki Reservoir : Tigers, elephants and monkeys can be sighted in the forest surrounding the reservoir.

River Pamba : This is the main halting point on the way to Sabarimala, the famous pilgrim centre. It is also known as 'Thriveni Sangamam', the meeting point of three rivers.

Other Destinations and Excursion

Some other famous tourist destinations of Pathanamthitta are Kalloppara, Kaviyoor, Malayalappuzha, Manjinikkara, Neendakara, Niranam, Omallur, Thenmala etc. The tour to Pathanamthitta offers the excursions from Pathanamthitta like Kadammanitta Patayani Which 8 Km., Kadammanitta is located at a distance of 8 Kms, Krishnapuram Palace is located at a distance of 47Km., Kodumon Chilanthiyambalam is located at a distance of 15Km., Chilanthiyambalam is 15 Kms. from Pathanamthitta, and Konni is 11Km. etc.
 Rivers :

Three important rivers flow through this district. They are Pampa, Achankovil and Manimala rivers.

Alappuzha

Boatraces

Alappuzha district is proud of being the cradle of boat races. All the important boat races, namely the Nehru Trophy boat Race at Punnamada, the Payippad near Haripad, the Thiruvandoor, Neerettupuram, Karuvatta and Thaikkoottam boat races are held at different parts of the district during August-September . Thousands of people from all parts of the world come and witness these races.



Krishnapuram Palace

Located at a distance of 47 km from Alappuzha on the way to Kollam, this palace was built in the 18th century during the reign of Marthanda Varma. This palace is noted for its typical Kerala architecture, with gabled roof, dormer windows and narrow corridors. Here you will find the famous mural kept in the western end of the ground floor, called ‘Gajendra Moksham’ which is the largest mural in Kerala. There is also a museum of antique sculptures, paintings and bronze articles in the palace.

kuttanad

 The region is known as the 'Rice Bowl of Kerala'. It is perhaps the only region in the world where farming is done below sea level. The boat trip to Changanacherry passes through this beautiful and fertile region.

Mullakkal Rajeswari Temple

It is dedicated to the Goddess Rajarajeswari. The nine day 'Navarathri' festival is celebrated twice a year and is of special significance to the people of Alappuzha. Another important festival of the temple is 'Thaipooyakavadi'.
Pathiramanal

This is a small captivating island in the Vembanad Lake. Situated between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, this island is the favourite spot for hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world.
Ambalapuzha Temple

Constructed in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous all over India, and is renowned for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of sweet milk porridge. This temple witnesses the performance of Pallipana by Velans (sorcerers) once every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are displayed on the inner walls of the temple. The ‘ Ottanthullal’, a satiric art form based on social themes was the brain child of the poet Kunchan Nambiar who performed it for the first time in the premises of this temple.
Arthunkal Church

This christian Pilgrim centre near Sherthalai is 22 km. north of alappuzha. The St. Andrews Church here was built by Portuguese missionaries. The annual feast of St. Sebastian is held here in the month of January.
Champakulam Church

The St. Mary's Church is one of the oldest church in Kerala. It is said to be one of the seven churches established by St.Thomas. Tha annual feast is held on the 3rd Sunday of October. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th.
Chavara Bhavan

The ancestral home of the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, lies 6 km. from Alappuzha. Thousands of devotees gather at this shrine. It can be reached only by boat from Alappuzha.
Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara

The shrine is known for the Kettukazhcha festival, which attracts a large number of devotees. The festival is held in Feb./Mar. and colourful procession is taken out.
Edathua Church

This church, dedicated to St. George is of special significance as it is believed that prayers and offerings here help in healing all kinds of mental disorders and other ailments. The annual feast is held from 5th - 7th May and attracts devotees from all parts of south India. The Church is just 24 kms. from Alappuzha.
Karumadikuttan

The small village near Ambalapuzha is known for the black granite idol of Lord Buddha known as Karumadikuttan. The idol dates back to 9th or 10th century.
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