Saturday, 14 June 2014

Destination Thrissur

Three distinct memories will never  leave me after my visit to Thrissur. The first one is the unusually rare architecture of a circular inner sanctum sanctorum Sri kovil. Second is the frescos that adorned the walls of these temple and thirdly the oil lamps used in various locations and for different purposes within the temple complex.

Vadakkumnathan Temple is a religious complex dedicated mainly to Lord Shiva but housing several other deities . The circular Sri kovil  with painted substructure, has a conical brass plated super structure over it. The sanctum sanctorum is further divided into three chamber with Ghee adorned lingam facing west and  Parvati facing east denoting the ardhanarishvara concept. Also housed within the main Sri kovil is Ganapathy facing the complex kitchen. What was interesting the circumambulation around this shrine was in anti clockwise direction  and was only 3/4 th of the circle. Was is a temporary ritual as restoration was on? I cannot be sure.  There was no way to get the answers as the language was a barrier.

I had not experienced kerala mural painting before this holiday. It only emphasized the fact that i need to make  a serious attempt at understanding art and being aware of different styles. These frescos don't come under either the realism or the abstract. But the drama these 2d depiction of gods goddesses , mythology recreate is unmatchable.

As with all temples, photography is not allowed. These murals have to be enjoyed live rather than through photographs.

Oil lamps are integral part of kerala temple complex. Use of oil lamps in contrast to electrical lights lends an air of serenity and mysticism. Deepastambham (pillar of lamps) adorn the entrance and the 'chuttu vilakkus' in their niches along the circumambulatory wall cast a dull gleam by day but revives to a brilliant glow when lit at night. Traditionally natives of kerala use different types of lamps like  Dasavatharam Vilakku, Lakshmi Vilakku, Thattu Vilakku, Nila Vilakku, kavara vilakku, Kuthu Vilakku, Atta Vilakku, Thooku Vilakku.  I can only imagine how the wall of lights will look with hundreds of twinkling stars. I am sure it will be sight to remember.

Date : March 2014
Place : Thrissur, Kerala

Tip :  Pick up a print guide if available.
First : Kerala mural!
The travel connection : Introduction to Local Art !

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Destination Thattekad

Leap of faith! An unforgettable moment on my short visit to Thattekad was when the nimble Malabar gaint squirrel  sprang from one tree to another at a height of more than 20 feet. What was even more amazing was that my guide let me know the possibility of this moment much before it happened.The flight from the tip of a slender branch to another was among many moments that got me closer to nature and accentuated the importance of understanding the behavior of  its inhabitants  both the animal kind and the man kind. Now my experience says understanding animals is far more easier than understanding some of our fellow men. Am i wrong?

Thattekad had been on my wish list for sometime as it is considered  one of the richest bird habitat in India. The fact that two of favorite activities were offered at one place , made it even better. What was the second activity. Let me get back to it later For the less informed Salim Ali bird sanctuary is situated between branches of Periyar river and the best time to visit is during winters as the foliage is minimum and hence spotting birds is easier.

The place we called home for a day was The Horn bill camp. The tented accommodation overlooked the sanctuary across the river. The tranquil setting was broken only with song of birds and the sight of terns swooping across. The bird list at flat forest is endless but most  photographed celebrity out there are the frog mouths. Difficult to spot and with beaks shaped like that of a frog, they are a must on everyone's list. My guide left them undisturbed till the end of our walk to make it a finale but  Somebody said life is so uncertain , why have the dessert last? So here i introduce ladies and gentlemen -The Sri lankan frog mouth

Frog mouth is followed by Malabar Horn bill, Banded bay Cuckoo, Blyth's Starling, Indian Pitta and
Female Plum headed parakeet. These guys and gals were good to me and allowed me to take some potraits of them but there were several more who played hide and seek  allowing me to enjoy them only through binocs.

 The experience at Thattekad was enhanced by the fact that they offer kayaking and birdwatching together along the Periyar. Yes , kayaking is second activity i was talking about earlier. Nothing beats the swish swash of the paddle with you gliding across the water inches away from it and are greeted by feathered folks. This can only be topped with setting sun across river and i don't think it can get more romantic than that! Here's to many more settings like this one!

Date : March 2014
Place : Thattekad, Kerala

Tip :  Take the guided walk.
First : Kayaking Birdwatching and the Sun set!
The travel connection : Mother Nature, Nana Nature Maw maw Nature !

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