Friday, March 25, 2016

Padmanabhapuram Palace and Kanyakumari - A travelogue - Part 1

On one Tuesday night, I prayed to God “ Please, let there be no rain tomorrow”. Because, it was raining all week. To my surprise, there was no rain on Wednesday.  And I set out for my first ever bike trip.

That day, sun was beating down on our heads. Though travelling solo did fascinate me, I had no prior experience. Hence, I decided to travel with one of my friends, who shared the same passion (maybe more ) for travelling. Traveling abroad has always been my dream. But, I have not even seen my country and my state – Kerala. So, I decided to know my own roots, first.

 Padmanabhapuram Palace and Kanyakumari were a natural choice as I am staying in Thiruvananthapuram. Both of them are not in Kerala. But the palace is of course built by the Kerala Kings and its management is completely under the state archaeology department of Kerala.

 For me, this trip will always be memorable because I, eventually mustered the courage to do something  which I always wanted to do. Above all,  I realised that travelling could retain my sanity.

There were many 'firsts' for me in this trip. I went on a bike trip for the first time...

For the first time I wore a helmet,

For the first time, my phone showed 'roaming' sign,

I crossed the Kerala boarder second time ( I did cross it when I was 15. But then, I did not even know Kanyakumari is in Tamil nadu ).

Finally, I took pictures with my own camera for my blog.

These things would sound frivolous. But it made a huge difference to me.

So, we started off from Thiruvananthapuram and passed through the pot- holed roads of Kerala accompanied by many ogling eyes. There were flux erected on either sides of the roads as the local self government elections are about to begin in Kerala.

I told my travel partner to stick to coconut water and pulp if we get thirsty and hungry until we have our lunch. Thankfully all along the roads, there were vendors selling it. And we could see them even after crossing the border.

Our first 'stop' came at Parassala, the border of Kerala to Tamil nadu. There was a beautiful ' Aambal Poika' – a pond full of water lillies called Thavalayilla Kulam.

Thavalayilla Kulam

I asked about it to ' Padma kumar chettan', a local who was standing nearby.

 He said ' Thavalayilla kulam' means  'pond sans frogs' and started citing the story behind it.

 “ The erstwhile King Marthandavarma used to visit a temple, nearby. Whenever he left  the place, the frogs in the pond would cry pleading him not to go. Their pleading became such a nuisance that someone cursed the frogs- ' let there be no frogs in the pond',” he said with a grave face. But 'Padma Kumar chettan' could not say who cursed the frogs - Is it the King or anybody else. Ponds and rivers are not a rarity in Kerala. But I was happy that I inquired about this particular pond.

Just as we crossed Marthandam ( the border ), the flex of ' Amma' as they fondly called Ms Jayalitha ( chief minister of Tamil nadu) started appearing on either sides of the road. And visible changes could be seen. Firstly, no pot holed roads. Then, giving a sense of relief, there were no ogling eyes but friendly ones. At every junction, music blared out of loud speakers.

The mechanic we met in a workshop was kind enough to repair our bike as he sensed that we are on a long trip. The other client whose work he was doing at that time even did not register any protest. Yes, we entered Tamilnadu.

And we already knew that Tamilians are such a friendly people. Simple and so real.

The Padmanabhapuram palace is at Thacaulay.

When we finally reached there, the ticket counter was closed for the lunch break. We wiled away time by clicking some photographs.

Finally, we entered  one of the biggest ' Wooden Palaces ' of Asia.

to be continued....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Madre De Deus Church, Vettukad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Have a stroll along the tranquil beach of The Madre De Deus Church, Vettukad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It is a famous centre of pilgrimage, under the Latin catholic Arch Diocese of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

I personally feel the best time to visit a church or a temple is the evenings especially, during twilight. Would it be too much if I say, during evenings, when I am in a church or in a temple, I'd feel so close with the universe or God. The feeling is difficult to put it in words but had always proffered me, inner peace. Why I said ' church and temple', because I hardly ever got the opportunities to visit religious places of other religions. If I get an opportunity, I would grab it.

I came here for the first time around four years ago. And I had something to seek from God. When you were focused on getting something, surrounding elements ( good or bad ) hardly come under your gaze. And it was after four years, I really saw the place in its beauty.

This church is on a sea shore. It is very near to Shankumugham beach, one of the famous tourist attractions of Kerala. Unlike it, the sea, here is calm. Years ago, there were hardly any tourists or people wandering on the shores. It used to be deserted. Not even the natives who lived nearby could be seen anywhere.

And it seemed the devotees were there just to pray and to frolic in the waves, they always had Shangumukham beach. I sometimes felt, the sea too understood that it should remain calm and should not interrupt the thoughts of the devotees.

This time, I just glanced around and saw the change happening to the place. The church is under renovation and the sea shore is no longer deserted and is abuzz with activities. Fishermen could be seen silently sitting and knitting their fishing nets.

Country crafts were kept upside down. Under its shade, there were couples sitting immersed in their own world. Some were frolicking in the waves. When I walked a bit, I could see a grand father coming out of his hut with his grand children to sleep under the shade of a trees.

Even under the scorching sun, the vendors could be seen selling sliced mangoes, pine apples with a mix of chilli powder and salt, salted goose berries, roasted nuts, pop corns, ice- creams and what not. And people hardly left the beach even it is 8 pm.

It might not be wrong, if I say this place which is considered purely, a pilgrimage centre is slowly on its way to become a tourist destination. If you want to enjoy a solitary walk on the beach, or sit just looking into the horizon without any bustling activity to interrupt your thoughts, Vettukad is a best option. The nearby Shankumugham is crowded, perhaps it might be the reason why people started opting this place.

photo courtesy : Mithun Vinod

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

About Me

I am a budding travel writer. I love blogging and always blogged about books, personal stuff etc.
But travel writing hardly ever crossed my mind. I always thought that I would never enjoy it. Suddenly, I began to think  " How could I enjoy something which I never did?"

Life can always offer you surprises and maybe, this is one big surprise life has to offer me.
You might not believe if I say that " One fine morning, I just began to like travelling." But it is true.

I was always ambitious and career oriented... dreamt of climbing up the ladder. Ask
me now, what I want to do? Travel, Travel and Travel.

Since, I have not even seen my own state Kerala, I have decided to dedicate major part of my blog to " God's Own Country".

 As I am currently staying in Bangalore, I cannot not take this blog ahead without talking about this place. Besides, I am a foodie. There will be an honest
attempts from my part to write about the yummy Kerala food. In course of time, I would like to travel across the length and breadth of the country, solo.