Malappuram City

Malappuram (literally, a land atop hills) is situated 50 km southeast of Kozhikode. Bounded by the Nilgiri hills on the east, the Arabian sea on the west and Thrissur and Palakkad districts on the south, Malappuram is enriched by three great rivers flowing through it – the Chaliyar, the Kadalundi and the Bharathapuzha. They are seen in the many examples of Indo European architecture that still exist here.

Malappuram has a rich and eventful history. It was the military headquarters of the Zamorins of Kozhikode since ancient times. This district was the venue for many of the Mappila revolts (uprisings against the British East India Company in Kerala) between 1792 and 1921.

The hill country has also contributed much to the cultural heritage of Kerala. It was a famous centre for Hindu-Vedic learning and Islamic philosophy.

How To Reach Malappuram


Air :
 Calicut airport is at Karippur in the district. 36 km. away from district headquarters.

Rail : Major railway stations are Thirur, Kuttippuram. Local passenger service on Shornore- Nilambur line.

Road : Manjeri is the main city in the district, Malappuram has a KSRTC station which operates bus services to all parts of the state.

Bus service to Ootty from Nilambur via Gudalore. Bangalore service from Malappuram.

Kollam City

Thangasseri (5 km from Kollam town): 
This seaside village of historic importance has the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built in the 18th century. The Thangasseri Lighthouse is open to visitors from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. There are buses at 15 minute intervals from Kollam town.

Rameshwara Temple:
This temple which shows Pandyan influence in its design has inscriptions in Tamil, dating from the 12th to the 16th century. The Vyala monster sculptures in this temple are carvings which give one the impression that the creatures are animate and are actually climbing upstairs with their outstretched paws.

Kulathupuzha (64 km from Kollam town):
Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram – Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha temple. The Vishu Mahotsavam in April/May is the most important festival. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha. The Thenmala railway station is just 10 km from here.

Mayyanad (10 km south of Kollam town):

Mayyanad is noted for its shrines and temples. The most important of the nine temples here is the Subramanya temple at Umayanallor. This shrine is said to have been consecrated by the great Hindu philosopher Sree Sankaracharya. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Mayyanad.

Sasthamkotta (29 km from Kollam town): 
The vast fresh water lake here is the largest of its kind in Kerala. The ancient Sastha temple which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre. There are frequent bus services from Kollam. Accommodation is available at the PWD Rest House.

Ochira (34 km north of Kollam town):
The unique feature of this famous pilgrim centre is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Parabrahma temple dedicated to universal consciousness. Ochira Kali in mid June and the twelve day Panthrandu Vilakku in November/December are the two main annual festivals. Ochira Kali is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the padanilam (fighting spot). They perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields and splashing water in every direction. There are frequent buses from Kollam and Alappuzha.

Kannur City

With the Lakshadweep sea in the west, the Western Ghats in the east, and the Kozhikode and Wayanad districts in the south, Kannur is bounded by a wealth of natural beauty. The district itself, which shares much of this natural splendour, has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political and industrial heritage of the state. In addition, Kannur also enjoys the credit of having been the cradle of many a colourful folk art and folk music. Some of the popular beaches here are:

Places To See in Kannur

Payyambalam Beach (2 km from Kannur): This beach is a Local Picnic spot.

St. Angelo Fort (3 km from Kannur): This seafront Laterite Fort was constructed in 1505 AD by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francisco De Almeda with the consent of the ruling Kolathiri Raja. After changing hands from the Portuguese to the Dutch and then to the English, the fort became one of the important military centres of the British in Malabar. The fort, which is now under the Archaeological Survey of India, offers fascinating views of the Mappila bay fishing harbour.

Arakkal Kettu (3 km from Kannur): This was the residence of the former Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim Royal Family of Kerala.

Kizhunna Ezhara Beach (11 km from Kannur): This beautiful stretch of sand is one of the most secluded beaches in Kerala.

Meenkunnu Beach (12 km from Kannur) : Uncrowded, the beach is a tourists’ paradise, with golden sand and surf.

Valapattanam (7 km from Kannur) : The small town on the Valapattanam river is well known for its wood based industries and timber trade. The port of Azhikkal and Azhikkal Beach are located nearby. Western India Plywoods Limited, the largest wood based industry in the country and also one of the largest of its kind in South East Asia, is a major industrial concern here.

Parassinikadavu (16 km from Kannur town) Sri Muthappan Temple stands on the banks of the Valapattanam river. This pilgrim centre is famous for the Muthappan Theyyam performed every morning and evening. The DTPC provides pleasure boating on the river near the temple. Accommodation is available nearby.

The Snake Park is the only one of its kind in the State and perhaps the whole of India. There are three snake pits, fifteen glass cases for snakes and two large glass houses for King Cobras in the park. Snake demonstrations conducted every hour draw large crowds of visitors. (Open 0900 – 1730 hrs everyday)

Dharmadam Island (100 metres away from the mainland at Dharmadam) : The small 5 acre island covered with coconut palms and dense bushes is a beautiful sight from the beach. Permission is required to enter this privately owned island.

Muzhapilangad Beach (15 km from Kannur and 8 km from Thalasseri) : Black rocks protect this long, clean beach from the currents of the deep, making its shallow waters a swimmer’s paradise. Perhaps this is Kerala’s only drive-in beach where you can drive down the entire length of 4 km.

Gundert Bungalow (20 km from Kannur, near Thalasseri town, on the National Highway at Illikunnu) : Dr. Herman Gundert, the revered German missionary, scholar and lexicographer lived in this bungalow for 20 years from 1839. It was here that one of the first Malayalam dictionaries and the first Malayalam Newspaper – Paschimodayam – took shape.

Trichambaram Temple (20 km from Kannur, near Taliparamba town on the National Highway) : A sacred place of the Vaishnava cult, the deity of the temple is Sree Krishna. The sculptures on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum are in a class by themselves. The annual temple festival, usually held in March, is a colourful event.

Idukki City

Idukki Arch Dam :
This is the world’s second and Asia’s first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi hills. 550 ft. high and 650 ft. wide, the Dam lies close to the Cheruthoni barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located closeby.

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary :
This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district, spreading over 77 sq. km and is about 450 – 748 m above sea level. The Idukki Reservoir formed by three Dams – Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu extends to 33 sq km.

Animals :
Elephant, bison, sambar deer, wild dog, jungle cat, tiger, wild boar etc.

Snakes:
Cobra, viper, krait and a number of non poisonous snakes.

Birds:
Jungle fowl, myna, laughing thrush, black bulbul, peafowl, woodpecker, kingfisher etc.

How To Reach Idukki

Air : The nearest airport Cochin, 132 km away.

Rail : No rail line in the district. Nearest Railway station at Kottayam, 133 km away.

Road : Kochi-Madura, N H 49 goes through Idukki district. Thodupuzha, the major town in the district, is well connected with other parts of the district and the state.

KSRTC operates bus services from Thodupuzha station to several cities including district headquarters. Bus services on high range roads are scant.

Cochin City

A leisurely walk through the city is the best way to discover historic Fort Kochi. An obscure fishing village that became the first European township in India, Kochi has an eventful and colourful history. Its reputation as a seafaring commercial town was such that Nicolas Conti, an Italian traveller of the Middle Ages remarked: If China is where you make your money, then Kochi surely is the place to spend it. The town was shaped by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British. The result of these cultural influences are seen in the many examples of Indo European architecture that still exist here.

Chinese Fishing Nets/Vasco da Gama Square : 
These huge cantilevered fishing nets are the legacy of one of the first visitors to the Malabar Coast. Erected here between 1350 and 1450 AD by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, these nets are set up on teak wood and bamboo poles. The best place to watch the nets being lowered into the sea and catch being brought in is the Vasco da Gama Square, a narrow promenade that runs along the beach. The Square is an ideal place to idle, with stalls serving fresh delicious seafood, tender coconut etc.

Pierce Leslie Bungalow: 
This charming mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. A representative of the Fort Kochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features are wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.

Old Harbour House:
This elegant old bungalow built in 1808 is in the possession of Carrit Moran & Co., renowned tea brokers, who now use it as their residence. The house was once a boat club.

Koder House:
This magnificent building constructed by Samuel S. Koder of The Cochin Electric Company in 1808 is a supreme example of the transition from colonial to Indo-European architecture. Features like verandah seats at the entrance, floor tiles set in a chess board pattern, red coloured brick like facade, carved wood furniture and a wooden bridge connecting to a separate structure across the street are all unique to this bungalow.

St. Francis Church:
Built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars, this is India’s oldest European church. This was initially built of timber and later reconstructed in stone masonry. It was restored in 1779 by the Protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican church by the British in 1795 and is at present governed by the Church of South India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The tombstone still remains.

Calicut City

Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins and a prominent trade and commerce centre, Kozhikode was the most important region of Malabar in the days gone by. Today, lush green country sides, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers, hills, a unique culture and a warm, friendly ambience make Kozhikode a popular destination.

General Info. : 

Area: 2,206 sq. km.
Population: 2,613,683
Altitude: Sea level

How To Reach Calicut

Air : Calicut airport 29 Km from Calicut (Kozhikode) city.

Rail : Kozhikode Railway station. All Kerala-bound trains on Konkan line stops in Kozhikode. Services to Chennai, Coimbathore also. Vadakara, Koilandi are other stops in the district.

Road : Three National Highways connect Kozhikode with destinations elsewhere in the country. N H 17 on Western coast connects the city with Mumbai, Mangalore and Goa. N H 213 (Kozhikode-Palakkad) gives a fast track to Tamilnadu. N H 212( Kozhikode- Kollegal, Mysore) winds its way through Wayanad district before entering the stipulated Mysore- Bangalore Express Highway in Mysore. KSRTC operates round- the-clock services to Southern Kerala, Wayanad district, Mysore and Bangalore. A few services to Kannur, Kasargode, Mangalore, Coimbathore and Ootty.

Private buses are on all the village routes in the district, besides operating to Palakkad, Kannur, Thrissur, Malappuram districts. However, they ply during the daytime only. City buses run within Kozhikode city.

Alleppey City

The town was founded by Raja Keshawadasan, Divan of Travanacore in 1762. With the arabian sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Referred to as the venice of the east by travellers from across the world, this backwater country is also home to diverse animal and bird life.

By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, Alappuzha (Alleppey) has grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, & also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry.

Places To See in Alleppey

Kuttanad : 
Kuttanad, called the rice bowl of Kerala because of her wealth of paddy crops, is at the very heart of the backwaters. The scenic countryside of Kuttanad with its shimmering waterways also has a rich crop of banana, cassava and yam. This is perhaps the only region in the world where farming is done 1.5 to 2 m below sea level. Inland waterways which flow above land level are an amazing feature of this region.

Alappuzha beach :
This is one of the most popular picnic spots in Alappuzha. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya beach park add to the attractions of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse which is greatly fascinating to visitors. The Vijaya beach park: Picnic spot with children’s park & boating facilities (Open 1500 – 2000 hrs). Entrance fee Rs. 2 per person; Free entrance for children below 5 years. Boating charge: Rs. 10 for 10 minutes. Other facilities for children: Toy train, bicycles, Video permit Rs. 25, Camera permit: Rs. 5 respectively.

Sea View Park :
The park offers boating facilities and a swimming pool. Boat rentals for 10 minutes: Roundboat (4 seater): Rs. 10 Pedalboat (2 seater): Rs. 15 Pedalboat (4 seater): Rs. 25. Video permit Rs. 15, Camera permit Rs. 100 respectively.

Pathiramanal (11/2 hours by motor boat/30 min. by speedboat from Alappuzha):
According to mythology a young brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight). This little island on the backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat.

Champakulam Church : 
One of the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary’s Church is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas. The annual feast at this church falls on the 3rd Sunday of October every year. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th.

Chavara Bhavan (6 km from Alappuzha. Accessible only by boat):
Chavara Bhavan is the ancestral home of the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara. It is now a holy shrine and spiritual resort where thousands of devotees gather for prayer, receive favours and feel amply gratified. Here, a 250 year old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form.

Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple (15 km south of Alappuzha): 
Built in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous all over India for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge. It is also in this temple that Pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) once every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are on display on the inner walls of the Chuttambalam. Ottanthullal, a satiric art form originated by the poet Kunchan Nambiar, was first performed on the premises of this temple.

Arthunkal (22 km north of Alappuzha) : 
The St. Sebastian’s Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. Annual festival: Arthunkal Perunnal – the feast of the patron saint (January)

Edathua Church (24 km from Alappuzha, on the Alappuzha – Thiruvalla Road):
Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George. It is believed that prayers and offerings at this church help to heal all mental disorders and other ailments. During the annual feast (5th, 6th and 7th of May) pilgrims from all parts of South India, irrespective of caste and creed, visit the church and seek the blessings of the saint.

Krishnapuram Palace (47 km from Alappuzha): 
Built by Marthanda Varma, this palace at Karthikapally in Kayamkulam is famous for its mural depicting the story of Gajendramoksham. Dating back to the 18th century, this exquisite piece of art is one of the largest murals in Kerala. The palace museum houses antique sculptures, paintings and bronzes.

Karumadikuttan (3km east of Ambalapuzha):
Many fascinating legends are associated with this 11th century statue of Lord Buddha.

Kerala Backwaters

Alleppey Backwaters

With the Arabian sea on the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and fresh water rivers crisscrossing it, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty.

Referred to as the Venice of the East by travelers from across the world, this backwater country is also home ot diverse animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed a unique place in the maritime history of Kerala.

Today, Alappauzha has grown in importance as a backwater tourist centre, attracting several thousands of foreign tourists each year. Alappuzha is also famous for its boat races, houseboat holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. A singular characteristic of this land is the region called Kuttanad.

Kuttanad: 
Kuttanad, known as the rice bowl of Kerala because of her wealth of paddy crops, is the very heart of the backwater. The scenic countryside here is a rich crop of bananas, yams and cassava.

This one of the places in the world where farming is done below sea level. Inland waterways which flow above land level is an amazing feature of this unique land.

Pathiramanal
(1 ½ hours by motor boat/30 min. by speed boat from alappuzha): According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vemabanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight).

This little island on the backwater is a favorite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different part of the world. The island lies between Thaneermukkom and Kumarakom, and is accessible only by boat. Read Full Post…

Umaid Bhawan – Jodhpur

Maharaja Umaid Singhji who built this palace was fascinated with western lifestyles so he marshalled the services of a well-known Edwardian architect, Henry Vaughan Lanchester, a creditable equal of Edward Lutyens to construct a three hundred and forty seven roomed Umaid Palace.

This was to become India last of the great palaces and the biggest private residence in the world. Spectacular Central Rotunda, the cupola rises to a hundred and five feet high; the Throne Room with its exquisite Ramayana murals; an elegant wood-panelled library, and even a private museum; an indoor swimming pool, a Billiards Room, tennis courts and unique marble squash courts makes Umaid Bhawan Palace is unabashedly the most magnificent.

The palace was also built with superficial intentions of providing employment to famine stricken farmers. The Palace now is a five star deluxe palace hotel. The museum of the palace is highly recommended for its display of weapons, an array of stuffed leopards, a huge banner presented by Queen Victoria and an incredible collection of clocks.

This is known as Umaid Bhawan Palace because of the particular type of sandstone used, to build it – which is not weathered. Portions of the Umaid palace have been converted into a hotel and a museum.

Located in the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is known for its impressive fortified bastions, specially those of Mehrangarh Fort, which has been a witness for many battles and is associated closely with the history of the region.

Being a part of the desert triangle, and venue of Marwar Festival it is also covered by the famous “Palace on Wheels”, a super luxurious (emperor style) rail-cum-road package tour.

The city again is of high tourist attraction and has all basic amenities for both domestic and foreign tourists. Hotels from Super Deluxe ranging to low budge can be checked in. It is well connected by rail, road and air to the city as it again witnesses high flow of tourist traffic in winters.

Taj Mahal – Agra

The story of Taj Mahal reflects the intensity of love. The fairy tale began when walking through the bazaar of Agra prince qhurram saw a girl. The girl was exceptionally beautiful. It was a love at first sight for both of them. After five years, on an auspicious day they were married and from that moment began the great epic of love.

Shah Jahan, “The King Of The World”

Prince qhurram was the fifth son of emperor Jahangir. He was the man of extraordinary brilliance, a great diplomat, a warrior and a lover of art. Once Jahangir wrote, “In art, in reason, in battle there is no comparison between him and my other children”. In the honor of his numerous victories Jahangir entitled him as “Shah Jahan”, “The King of the World”. After Jahangir’s death all his sons quarreled for the thrown, after fighting for years Shah Jahan killed all his brothers under suspicious circumstances and became the emperor, besides him stood his queen, comrade and confidante.

Mumtaz Mahal “The chosen one of the palace” 

Shah Jahan titled her “Mumtaz Mahal”, “The chosen one of the palace”. A rare found combination of beauty and brain. She was her husband’s best friend and confidante. She would counsel him in the diplomatic matters. She too was a great lover of art.

The End of the Fairy Tale 

In 1631 Shah Jahan set up to berahanpur with his troops to subdue a rebellion, accompanied by Mumtaz Mahal Unfortunately during childbirth she suffered some complications and died. According to legend before dieing she extracted a promise from Shah Jahan that he would build a mausoleum as a tribute to their love.

The story of Taj Mahal begins Shah Jahan was obsessed to fulfill his wife’s last wish. He invited the architects and artisans all over the world and planned for the building with absolute perfection. Taj Mahal was structured in Persian style combined with carvings of artisans called from Afghanistan and the garden designers from Kashmir. It took 22years to complete the Taj Mahal, a memento of love with the perfection of art. The carvings of Taj Mahal were decorated with very precious gemstones.

The story of Taj Mahal is unique in itself. It is an evidence that how the emotions and feelings are important to human life. The story of Taj Mahal is an example of devotion and faith. The story of Taj Mahal is a love story not found in papers but stands in the structural form. The story of Taj Mahal is rare.

Qutub Minar – Delhi

The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer. No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world.

Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.

The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughlak are quite evident in the minar. The relief work and even the materials used for construction differ. The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to nine feet at the apex. The tower is ornamented by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets.

Even in ruin, the Quwwat Ui Islam Mosque in the Qutab complex is one of the most magnificent in the world. Its construction was started by Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1193 and the mosque was completed in 1197. additions were made to the building by Iltutmush in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315.

The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard, of which the inner is surrouded by an exquisite collonade, the pillars of which are made of richly decorated shafts. Most of these shafts are from the 27 Hindu temples which were plundered to construct the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque has typical Hindu ornamentation.

Close to the mosque is one of Delhi’s most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar. Dating back to the 4th century AD, the pillar bears an inscription which stated that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu, and in the memory of the Gupta king Chandragupta II (375-413).

How the pillar moved to its present location remains a mystery. The pillar also highlights ancient India’s achievements in metallurgy. The pillar is made of 98 per cent wrought iron and has stood. 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing.

Konark Temples

The crowning glory of Oriya temple architecture, the 13th century Sun temple also known as ‘the Black Pagoda’, comes with a baggage of centuries – old myths and legends. Legends say that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built this temple.

The Sun Temple

Built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty, in the 13th century AD, the temple is a pageant of human grandeur, in its perception, and in the execution of even the finest details. It resembles a colossal chariot, with 24 wheels, pulled by seven straining horses, and has a three-tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire. The Sun – God’s chariot, also represents the seven days of the week, and the 24 hours of the day, in its concept. The temple is a brilliant chronicle in stone, with impressive sculptures. Every aspect of life is represented here, and the erotic imagery, depicts the sublimation of human love manifested in countless forms. Scenes from court, civic life and war are also done with great precision.

Unlike the other temples of the Bhubaneswar-Konark-Puri region, the Konark temple had two smaller outer halls, completely separate from the main structure. The assembly-hall and the tower were built on an imposing platform, which were carved into meticulously crafted twelve pairs of decorated wheels, each 10 feet in diameter. The entrance is reached by a broad flight of steps, flanked on either side by prancing horses, the whole representing the chariot, in which the Sun-God rides across the heavens. The court of the temple, was decorated with large free-standing sculptures of great strength and beauty. Now protected under the World Heritage List, the temple’s interior was filled – up in 1903 A.D., by the then British Lt. Governor of Bengal, to save it from deterioration.

Festivals

The Chandrabhaga Mela or Magha Saptami mela in the month of February, is a grand religious festival. Thousands of pilgrims converge on the pool, on this day to take a holy dip in its curative waters, and then shuffle off to the beach where, in accordance with an age-old custom mentioned in the puranas, they watch the sun rise over the sea. The event is followed by the puja of the Navagraha.

Those interested in attending the Konark Dance Festival, held in the Open air Auditorium north of the Sun Temple, should visit during the first week of December.