80. Memories Never Die

@UCC, Kerala, India.

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*This might rather be the last post before this blog go into hibernation, except for may be the yearly summary update.

*Not that much of an external journey – be warned. “The Truth shall make you free”, said the motto of my college, which is rather the former college for me now. The distance from being a student to becoming a former student is much shorter than I had expected. The question about truth making one free stays alive, but one would wonder if it comes as part of “Travel Diaries: Of this world and beyond”? The answer would be yes, as I travelled every day from home to college in a car, and every time a Chevrolet Beat is involved, it is more or less a journey, and there is also no less scope for an exploration. Another thing is that UCC, our own Union Christian College looked different almost every day, as if it is a new place each time one takes a look around and captures a few snaps. That makes one new journey on each week day for the last two years, and living an experience each and every morning, and in my case, as early as eight fifteen in the morning only being as late as eight fourty five maximum – extending from three thirty to four fourty five in the evening; often staying there longer than expected. But in simple words, this is no travel, no doubt.

Known to the world as UC College Aluva, Union Christian College’s inception goes back to 1921, as an inter-denominational creation from four of the Kerala Christian denominations, Church of South India, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, and Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church. It is not that far away from the river of Periyar and only about four kilometres from the town of Alwaye. The place which was visited by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925, and being blessed by him planting a mango tree, might be one of the most well-known colleges in the district, if not the state. There is that joy which surrounds a student when he tells the name of his college and only good things are heard about the same. It is indeed prestigious to be a student of the college, as there is that wonderful reputation that creates an invisible aura around it, and studying there for post graduation is one of those things which could be explained through a poem, but I am rather weak and drained and taken further away from the creativity by the void, the nothingness that has taken over after getting the Transfer Certificate from there, and staying at home doing nothing that fills the soul.

The arrival of the results further increases the strength of that void which seems to have been surrounded by a black hole. There is no question about the fact that this void is self-created. It is a result of not doing enough, not only now, but also when I was there, amplifying that feeling of loss which has pervaded through the conscience of my soul and asks myself if I have done enough. I have never really studied, and that is only one of those things. The first class that I gained and indirectly mentioned in my Facebook status message is not really of me putting anything into learning. I haven’t worked hard, for I have never been a hard working person. I used to find it a crime not knowing answers to questions, but ever since Mathematics started boring me from my school days, I stopped searching for answers. I found that I can have no answers and still exist as long as I can work well with languages. I could create and modify the worlds which I have created and maintained, rather than keep a giant planet in my head – was fair enough. Thank You Lord, for pointing me to the right direction, and my determination to do MA English was as much a surprise to myself as getting the admission, and for that there is pure divine intervention. Otherwise, who would wish to admit someone who can’t use what he knows when it matters the most?

I have carried over this idea with me, even in the absence of Mathematics. Maths, my dearest enemy from the depths of hell, you are not the first one who hated me and surely not the last one. When the classes started, Doctor Faustus, Paradise Lost and The Pilgrim’s Progress were set against the replacements for Mathematics, the theories of Rasa and Dhvani, Seven Types of Ambiguity and Biographia Literaria. There is the concept of good and evil, and even in the absence of Mathematics and also Physics, something had to take over the role of bad guys. As time progressed and the course was coming to the end, the number of bad guys just increased, and the last semester was full of such people, as even the viva examiners seemed to align with the bad guys. Existentialism, absurdism and post-colonialism are not the best things to read, and with Film theories, plus what books like In an Antique Land and Midnight’s Children already achieved in the earlier semester, the whole interest comes down like a dead dinosaur from the top of a mountain.

It is also nothing less of a boulevard of lost opportunities, and the fact that you didn’t study is just one of them. Despite performing fine in inter-college quiz competitions, what bothers one the most is what kind of use it is for your knowledge when there are a lot of questions for which you know the answer, but just can’t get to say it; and it disappoints more than those questions which you don’t know the answer and also those questions which are too easy and right from the text books. What is the meaning of knowing and still can’t use the knowledge when needed? The loss of answers when in pressure haunts like Freddy Krueger, and its mightmares are as big as any other opportunities you waste as well as the time you send down the drain. The only saviour is the tea, and I am boosted by it regularly from the college canteen. It is a further disaster when you are the pheonix who rises from the ashes, and yet can’t get rid of those ashes completely, and there is so much of them that it affects your flying, and you would rather think that you stay on the ground.

Still, haven’t you earned enough from being in a college which was the only right place for you to be? Despite everything that you missed due to your own fault, there were two good years of glory even if happiness was not something you carried over? Well, I wouldn’t have felt better if I was anywhere else – this was the first choice for me during the time of centralized allotment, and I got the admission in the first allotment itself. Anywhere else wouldn’t have been more suitable for me, as I would have struggled to keep myself going. The case of UC is rather perfect for someone like me, who doesn’t want to live my life in those text books and studying only what is attained from the class. UC had a charm which is powered by nature as well as the wonderful teachers of the English department. If I would have been anywhere else, I suspect that I could have even known about my existence, but here in the English department, I lived. And about my marks, I have got exactly what I wanted, and for my lack of focus, determination and hope, and supported by that plague of pessimism, I have got enough, and anything more would make me feel that people can read my handwriting.

Diving out —>
TeNy

79. Thy Tourist Village

@Kumbalangi, Kerala, India.

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There has been not many places that I have known for this long a time, but Kumbalangi certainly remains one of them. I remember going there with my parents in a boat, as it was more of an island without a bridge rather than just another remote village. There was quite a long time spent looking at the backwaters waiting for the boat. I would wonder if that had given birth to some creativity which I kept for myself. I used to be afraid of the time spent on the boat, and always believed in death by water kept ready by the Grim Reaper himself. But the fact remains that I have traveled there more when there was no bridge, and less when there came that bridge. Thus are the games which fate plays on us. There is no doubt that the place has gotten better, but the fact remains that I myself has no longer the interest nor the need; but I did visit the place a few months ago contradicting my thoughts about not going.

It is located about fourty to fifty kilometres from the Cochin International Airport, and about fifteen kilometres from the Ernakulam South Railway Station. Yes, the place is well connected and there are more than one routes to reach there. There is an older road from the other side of the island, but it is quite a long one which is not recommended due to possible rise in the water levels and the condition of the roads. The first one may be the most commonly used and the most crowded path which goes through Edappally, Palarivattam and Kaloor, going through M.G. Road, and the another one is the same road which takes a small deviation which goes through Ernakulam Jetty and passes near the High Court and these two roads join together later as if they are made for each other. Both routes have lots of city service private buses and Thiru-Kochi buses of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation along with AC and non-AC low-floor buses of Volvo and Ashok Leyland make every fifteen minutes or twenty minutes apart from each other making this the most desirable route if travelling by public transport.

The two were the roads which we used to take when I was a kid, during those journeys to Kumbalangi in the city service private buses which remained the only choice at that time. The second one can be joined by a road which takes right turn from Kalamassery – the Vallarpadam Terminal Road which has the least amount of traffic and has the better roads except for small areas which should have some potholes and unexpected rising of terrain. The next one has a number of busy junctions on the way which goes through Edappally, Vyttila and Marad joining the other road on the new bridge to Thoppumpady, a route having tolls, but not too much to be spent – not that crowded except for those big junctions. Just be aware of the Vyttila junction which might be the busiest interjunction around despite the size of the roads. This road can also be joined from Thrikkakara and Kakkanad if a left turn was taken from Kalamassery towards the HMT junction. It is a clear one road from the airport to Aluva though, as the other possible routes towards the Perumbavoor side are more of the unreliable ones.

You can visit Kumbalangi when you go to Fort Cochin or Mattanchery, taking a deviation from Thoppumpady. The first thing you notice is surely the backwaters and the Chinese fishing nets which are located around – just like a visit to Fort Kochi. Kumbalangi is actually more of a cheaper alternative to Fort Kochi and Mattanchery even as there is not much of a history out there, with Saint Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Dutch Palace or the Jewish Synagogue, and the development also might seem less. But Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village project has been transforming the village and the visit is going to be totally worth the money. The island also has its smaller but beautiful churches, that is for sure – a good number of them on the sides of the main road itself. They are symbols of faith and belief which has disappearing from the world at high speed. I have known most of those churches for quite a long time and did attend mass at more than half of them. There is that beauty in simplicity and serenity out there.

Kumbalangi is the first Model Tourism Village in India, and thus has undergone quite a transformation which has not ceased yet. There is financial assistance from the state government, and the procedure has seen increase in the number of tourists who come to the place, but there is not too much rush till now. It is indeed blessed with natural beauty which has not been seen or explored much. There are smaller roads and not many bigger shops and restaurants are around, but that doesn’t take away anything. It is the ideal destination for everyone who wishes to keep away from the crowd and enjoy peace and calmness with nature supported by whatever joy the backwaters bring. There are many interesting and cheap packages for the same. It will be good if you add the place to the list when you travel to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery, as that should make a good combination. May be you can go through Kumbalangi and reach Fort Cochin through the other side of the island thus going through the centre of the island.

If you do go to Kumbalangi, there is Kallanchery which you can visit. There is also a resort of three acres, surrounded by the awesomeness of backwaters there, called Kallenchery Retreat which is a very beautiful place to spend time – it is Kallenchery Retreat (http://www.kallancheryretreat.com/) and you can check that website for more details. There are not many places like that around. Check this website and you will know about a miraculous church which you won’t want to miss – situated at Kannamaly at the end of the island (http://kannamaly.com/news/kannamali-church/) and the festival there is very famous as people from all parts of Kerala comes there for blessings. I hope none of you will miss that church and it will be even better if you are there for the feast. It also has a history as the first church there goes back to 1745. It is also the native village of our honourable minister of food and agriculture, K.V. Thomas who has also written a book about the place, Ente Kumbalangi. When you visit South India, take your time and have a look at one of the most beautiful backwater villages of South Asia at a cheap rate and a lot of happiness.

I would like to leave you with these images of Kerala Backwaters. (Check Kerala Tourism’s latest campaign on the most fascinating waterworld on Earth @ http://greatbackwaters.com/)

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Diving out —>
TeNy

78. Missing the Styx

@Malampuzha, Kerala, India.

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I was just in the first standard of my first of the five schools where I have tried my luck when I first visited Malampuzha, and the second journey there was a school trip which happened in the fourth standard, the last year of the same school – the school was Vimala English Medium School, Perumbavoor; and yes Malampuzha has been a hot destination for a long time, which is why we visited the place again as a family trip just three or four years after this. So what has changed about this hot excursion destination from schools? Except for the beginning of the first amusement park in 1996 in the form of Fantasy Park, and the whole thing being made better for the tourists every year, nothing much. Yes, the place has gone better even as there have been more amusement parks all over the state and also more tourist destinations near other dams and reserviors. The place’s uniqueness might seem gone, but there is a certain amount of variety that runs through this place, and there is no doubt that it shall remain different from the others with the element of nostalgia associated with it.

While talking about the journey one can’t cease talking about Indian Coffee House, as it is that place where we always stop, if there is the presence of that restaurant chain at the place we travel through. I would recommend the Poori Masala there, and mostly it is what I have, even as that world is more extensive. The Vegetable Cutlet might also impress a good number of the customers. Tea is always there in my list whatever I have, that is for sure. There is something about the place, and may be it is the trust, the faith that one has on a place which is not that much of a vampire of the stomach as you think about the other places providing food. Angamali and Chalakudi also have the same food chain, on the same side of the road. Once Pattikad is reached, the same destination or food is on the other side of the road, just after the town. They usually open between 7:15 AM and 7:30 AM as I have noticed. It was good to have breakfast there, as there was no time to think once Trichur was behind. The great road supported by the eighty rupees of awesomeness (toll) was over, and slowly the potholes began to take over, and soon there were less roads and more the lack of it, to quite a shocking extent.

The shortest route from Cochin might be through Kaloor-Palarivattam-Edappally-Kalamassery-Aluva-Angamali-Koratty-Chalakudi-Potta-Trichur-Pattikkad-Vadakkanchery-Palakkad-Malampuzha, even as the fastest might be taking the Vallarpadam Terminal Road from Cochin and getting to Kalamassery joining the other vehicles to Aluva on the National Highway 47. The roads would be great in the beginning and all the way to Trichur, but later they were highly destructive to the vehicles, and considering the traffic which was on that road, it was quite shocking to see such a pathetic state of the path. Even the bigger trucks and buses were having a tough time, and the scooters and motor-bikes were taking the zigzag paths. It was to that pandemonium that we entered, and survived. There is no survival of the fittest here, but the survival of the luckiest. One of the trucks travelling on the front almost tried to lose their water tanks on us, but that Final Destination moment was luckily averted and the tanks fell into the potholes and stayed there as if they belonged there and caused further traffic blocks.

The first thing about Malampuzha has undoubtedly the largest reservior in Keala. Located about ten or eleven kilometres from the town of Palakkad, this dam is one of the most visited tourist places in the Central Kerala (even as it would qualify as North too) for the last twenty years or so, as I can remember the rush which was here during my childhood. It might have reduced a bit due to the large number of tourist attractions coming up everywhere, and Fort Cochin, Kumarakom Backwaters have clearly overtaken this place as the favourite as the central area of Kerala is concerned, and not to forget the good number of malls which has come alive. If you look at any tourist package to Kerala, it might be difficult to see this place there, but I would say that it is a must, as long as one can take the roads which lead there. May be the journeys are mostly joined with an Idukki-Cheruthoni dam visit which is linked to Munnar as well as the Mattupetti Dam. But the fact remains that Malampuzha Dam is the real tourist destination which features a dam, as there is the freedom to take as many photos as one wishes to, while in most of the other dams, photography is prohibited, and so why would one think twice about choosing the right tourist place with a dam?

It has the very beautiful hills of the Western Ghats in the background of the reservior which gives a beautiful shot for your camera from one side, while the other side has its own collection of hills as well as the gardens which are separated by the water which flows from the shutters of the dam and linked by two hanging bridges which is surely the first of its kind that I had walked through, followed by the ones in Singapore. Otherwise, one can take the ropeway to see the whole place around, and it is one of the first of its kind in Kerala, creating more interest in the tourists, even as there haven’t been much foreign tourists around when we visited. The dam is built across the Malampuzha River, a tributary of Kerala’s second longest river, Bharathappuzha. Due to the incredible beauty that surrounds the dam, and the climate of this season, this is very much suitable for a visit lasting the full day inside, followed by a journey to Fantasy Park and the Palakkad Fort along with the town the next day. You can use a full day with the dam and the garden as it is quite immense and it is better to take your time and enjoy.

Around the structure and reservior of the dam, we can see the beautiful, well-maintained gardens and the boating facilities, all of which can be observed from the top of the dam or the ropeway. The other tourist attractions in the Malampuzha Garden includes a fish-shaped aquarium which I remember clearly from the old times, and the gigantic Yakshi (the female vampire vampire-like image belonging to this part of the world) which I can recollect too. There is also the swimming pool, snake park and the rock garden as I can remember. But the last visit was more about the dam, the reservoir and the beauty of nature which was around. The sculptures, gardens and even a wind mill came as extra additions. Well, you can visit the place for just the natural beauty itself, and there is no reason why one shouldn’t visit here, and as the road problems are concerned, one can take a luxury bus or a bigger car and travel in the early morning – the best choice to avoid the possible horror that the roads can give you. You can come here from the Tamil Nadu side too – as a journey from Coimbatore as it is very close and is the nearest airport while Palakkad Junction is the nearest railway station.

Diving out —>
TeNy

77. Fortified Dazzlers

@Palakkad, Kerala, India.

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This was that trip which was postponed so many times that there was a certain amount of uncertainty working in the atmosphere, but it finally happened in the end. Yes, it is one of the more recent trips compared to those about which I usually write late – but not this time. This also happened after a long month of driving and travelling due to the large number of functions which I had to attend, something which also made sure that I won’t get to make a memorable journey and I might miss a good number of movies, one of them being Arikil Oraal. So, the journey started very early in the morning, making sure that I would be there at my first destination before ten in the morning, so that there would be enough time left even if the wandering process becomes slow due to any reason including a rain which kept on threatening to come down with full power. The journey took a small break at the Indian Coffee House at Koratty which is more of the right place to stop and have some early food before the journey gets tougher, as there was more than a good one hundred kilometres left to travel, and that is something I am usually careful about.

Talking about Indian Coffee House, it is that place where we always stop, if there is the presence of that restaurant chain at the place we travel through. I would recommend the Poori Masala there, and mostly it is what I have, even as that world is more extensive. The Vegetable Cutlet might also impress a good number of the customers. Tea is always there in my list whatever I have, that is for sure. There is something about the place, and may be it is the trust, the faith that one has on a place which is not that much of a vampire of the stomach as you think about the other places providing food. Angamali and Chalakudi also have the same food chain, on the same side of the road. Once Pattikad is reached, the same destination or food is on the other side of the road, just after the town. They usually open between 7:15 AM and 7:30 AM as I have noticed. It was good to have breakfast there, as there was no time to think once Trichur was behind. The great road supported by the eighty rupees of awesomeness (toll) was over, and slowly the potholes began to take over, and soon there were less roads and more the lack of it, to quite a shocking extent.

The roads were destructive to the vehicles, and considering the traffic which was on that road, it was quite shocking to see such a pathetic state of the path. Even the bigger trucks and buses were having a tough time, and the scooters and motor-bikes were taking the zigzag paths. It was to that pandemonium that we entered, and survived. There is no survival of the fittest here, but the survival of the luckiest. The first place to visit was to be a fort, but before that, there was a church, The Holy Trinity English Church which was a beautiful structure on the way to the Palghat Fort. It was not easy to miss that building, even from a distance. It was special where it was located. It looked new, but not yet out of its glory of antiquity. It was a great place of worship. The predominant colours of the outside were black and white, and on the inside, there was the glorious white. The altar had the shades of green, blue and red with lots of wood. Even in the middle of the town, as vehicles struggled to find their way out of traffic jams, there was peace and serenity in there, which was admirable.

The first place to visit is actually the Palakkad Fort, also known as Tipu’s Fort even as it was built by his father Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore in 1766 and it still remains one of the best preserved forts in Kerala, sharing the glory of history with Kannur St. Angelo Fort, Kasargod Bekel Fort and Thalassery Fort, three of the most popular, the largest and the better maintained fortresses of Kerala. The one in Kannur is mentioned here https://theviator.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/kannur/ as part of that earlier journey which happened last year which was surely a longer one as part of a road trip which clearly tested a Chevrolet Beat. I would also personally prefer the Kannur St. Angelo Fort the most, if one is looking for historical awesomeness, with its location and the visuals. But our Palakkad Fort is the one of its kind which is close enough to Central Kerala and one of the best historical monuments in this part of the state, and therefore has its own awesomeness which competes with the same from other forts.

Palakkad has always been a strategically important place for anybody who had control over the place, which should be why Haider Ali constructred this fort after his arrival. The fort was in the hands of Mysore, Zamorin of Calicut as well as the British. Considering the man behind this well-built structure, it would be been better called Haider’s Fort though. It should have been a good stronghold in the final Anglo-Mysore War which ended with the siege of Srirangapatnam and the death of Tipu. We have surely seen bigger forts in different parts of the world, but this one has a little special life of its own. It has a taluk office and a prison inside it, along with a park on the side, as well as a children park on the side of that park. There is also a small temple, beautiful pond and a large number of huge, old trees which seems to be so alive, both inside and outside the structure. As Archaeological Survey of India preserves the place, and ther is no entrance fee to the fort, there is no doubt about its possible rise in popularity. The fact remains that it is not my first visit here, as I have been at the same place as a kid, it is just that I can’t remember much of it except for, may be a tree.

Well, in the district which slightly edges Idukki to be the largest of Kerala, and at the town which looks small or moderate from one side, but is actually quite big, there is surely no shortage of tourist attractions. One can easily travel to Kalpathi, famous for its Kalpathi Ratholsavam, a big Temple car festival, and also check the Chambai village. Nelliyampathy Hills is another suitable choice. Jainimedu Jain temple is also not that distant from the heart of the town. Dhoni Waterfalls is situated around fifteen kilometers from the town of Palakkad, and no, it is not named after the cricketer who do strange stuff at the cricket pitch. But the place you would wish to visit the most might be Malampuzha, which has a dam, amusement park as well as an incredibly beautiful and well preserved garden with sculptres, paintings, fountains, hanging bridges and all that can add to a beautiful day with nature. It also has a fish-shaped aquarium, a snake park, a ropeway and a lot of other attractions. But that would be another story which follows later. Until then, remember to come back from Palakkad before office time, unless you don’t come back to the Cochin-Trichur side, as it gets really crowded on the roads, and with the potholes all around, there is a chance that you might miss your dinner.

Diving out —>
TeNy

74. Myth with a Dam

@Bhoothathankettu, Kerala, India.

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The story of Bhoothathankettu doesn’t begin nor end with our last trip to the place, a journey which happened about an year ago. It goes back to that childhood when Bhoothathankettu used to be one of the favourite tourist spots which we visited more than once, due to its easy accessiblity. It is just about ten kilometres away from the town of Kothamangalam and fifty kilometres away from the main city of Kochi. There was also the easy access from Perumbavoor, Angamaly and Aluva. It was still distant enough at that time, but closer than the rest. For some reasons, it had occupied the top of our most interesting places and the place which we should visit again and again. It used to be a place close to the heart. In the beginning, it was a small world and the travel restrictions were rightly there. Still, no matter how far we travelled, the significance of the place remained the same. So the place can claim to be the pioneer of the Travel Diaries of this world and beyond, not in an official manner, but as belonging to the mysterious ways the world works to halt a traveller and to make him go for a journey which is least expected by himself and the society.

Therefore, it has a powerful nostalgia associated with it for us. It was more like a satellite, a natural one which surrounded our world. It was our Saturn’s Titan or Jupiter’s Callisto, for that being Earth would be too predictable. We made some good visits there with Kothamangalam as the base, but the visits faded away until three visits were made in the last six years, not bad for a time when exploring new areas was the trend for one half, and watching movies later replaced the same. The first of the three visits was the reclaiming of childhood without knowing it, the second one being the same thing knowing it all, and the third one was the journey for the camera which was still not a planned one, the most spontaneous of them all, as if the forces of nature had a direct involvement in an unstoppable procedure. There is always more than what meets the eye as long as such a place is concerned, and we were the adventurers at times. The place is blemished in its history with only one accident, as on 20th February 2007, eighteen people on a school excursion drowned in Periyar at Thattekkad, not that far away from the location of the dam.

Along with the dam which stands there, there are huge blocks of unshaped stones are placed on both sides of the river Periyar, making it look like a natural dam built by some supernatural force. The name Bhoothathankettu, means “ghost fort”, “demon fort” or “monster fort”, not with a clear translation, as “bhootham” or “bhoothathan” can mean more than one thing, and the difference in traditions would make it almost impossible to make a perfect translation, and only transcreation is possible. The presence of something supernatural has to be attributed to the myths, which doesn’t really make an impact these days. The ghosts have become more and more gentle and friendly. But the name of the place does give a kick to the curiosity of the common man who hear about it for the first time. The rest has to be experienced in person. We feel the supernatural almost every day, but that still won’t tickle our reasoning ability even by an inch. We feel it in thunder, lightning, rain and everything we see each and every moment, but we fail to recognize them. So wretched is our state, as we feel them all, but fails to know that we feel; the touch of the other world hardly affects us, as we are so much attached to the scientific methods that we deny the existence of those souls.

In the world of Twilight vampires and all the good-looking monsters who keep on attaining more and more transformations towards the side of beauty, the interest might keep rising higher and higher. But what kind of interest would that be, when the creatures of darkness are no longer of their quality, and sometimes not even grey? Ultimately, that really shouldn’t count, whatever they say. As the curiosity doesn’t kill most of the cats these days, there is not that much worry associated with it. The lack of fear and the glorification as well as the beautification of the supernatural has done more bad than good in a world of confused people. The twists of fate happen just too often, and there is none when you need them. One has to wonder what is in them, but there is no right answer, as it is not something which should have happened, even as there might have been some predictions already. There are moments when one wishes for death, but this is not one of them, for this is just pleasure-seeking even in the most dreaded monsters of the world.

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary and the Idamalayar Dam are also quite close to Bhoothathankettu. The bird sanctuary is actually quite close, and just a turn is necessary on the way back to Kothamangalam. It has a rich collection of birdlife and is a common tourist attraction even as it pales in comparison to Bhoothathankettu which has a high number of visitors on the holidays, both from inside and outside the state. A day trip to all three places; Thattekkad, Bhoothathankettu and Idamalayar is also a usual thing. Bhoothathankettu surely is good enough to be one of the most visited places in Ernakulam district as well as in Kerala – it is just not publicized enough. This has been more due to the lack of infrastructure as well as the absence of advertisements. But the situation has been getting better. Sometimes, its peace and tranquility is all that you need to make one visit. The fort of the demons is not the place you associated these qualities with. But who can deny such a thing when one has experienced this peace? Even if the demons had come back to haunt us, there is still enough in this little world to keep one interested.

It is a very scenic place right from the beginning, from the first step you take into the beauty of that place. You can walk on the side of the dam, not just on the dam. The walk with water flowing on the side, will refresh one faster than ever – free from the troubles of city life, work or student life. There is plain nature at its best, without too much interference from the humans. If it is not the weekend, this might be the perfect place to escape to. There are times when one fails to find the right place to escape into nature. But this might just work for most of the people. The sights of the hills and the greenery far away might even inspire one to explore more. There is also a park to support the whole thing, and it has been there as long back as I can remember it. There might have surely been changes made, and add-ons giving support, but the base thing has been there for a very long time. There should be enough entertainment for the children, and a good view of the dam is also possible from a point there. On the other side, there is the boating facility, and also the “erumadam” or the treehouses which are common at the tourist areas of Kerala. There is a good view from the top of it, and the beauty of the area is to be viewed from that point. It gets even better with the rain. Therefore, I wish you the moment.

Diving out —>

TeNy

71. Nature’s Collection

@Wayanad, Kerala, India.

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Despite of the rise of http://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/ the journey has to continue and this one had to begin officially with Thamarassery Churam, made popular all over Kerala with the dialogue of Kuthiravattam Pappu in the Malayalam movie Vellanakalude Nadu and also in another movie T. P. Balagopalan M.A – the former being what still keeps the place name very famous along with its natural beauty. Located in the north-east of Kerala and serving the same purpose as the north-east of India in a lesser way, Wayanad is one of the most visited hilly destinations of the state as well as the least populous district in Kerala. The district has been connected to a number of battles involving Hyder Ali, Tipu Sulthan, the British and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja in the period long before independence; in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Now serenity is all that awaits the visitors; free from stress and emotions of this world; a tranquility which would captivate one’s mind in a slow and steady manner, without one knowing when and where it began; at the beginning of that journey or right at the middle. There are surely not many people from the state who haven’t visited the place or at least wanted to be there. It has to be something fit to be called more than just a ‘hot’ destination as far as those destinations of natural beauty are concerned.

While Edakkal Caves and Kuruva Island might be the most visited places in Wayanad, I shall not feed the letters too much with the remoteness of these two locations, as more is known than left untold about these tourist destinations – for what would the letters serve here when it is so much detailed elsewhere and glorified beyond this world of clear and well-defined beauty which is rarely left to the eyes of the beholder? Where in between the truth and the lies would the original beauty stay to bless the eyes? Inside the former, there are pictorial writings believed to date long before the age of Christ, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a superior pre-historic civilization or a big enough settlement in this area. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are considered rare and it is that unique that they are the only known examples from South India. The latter known more as Kuruvadweep, are a number of landforms, or deltas and they are supported by the green forest as they lie on the tributaries of east flowing river Kabani. As it is home to rare kinds of flora and fauna, it is quite a place to find peace for the people who deserve it. The entrance to the island is restricted, but not many people leaves it out of the list.

There they were, and here I am, still not as a person of the other dimension. As I stick to whatever required less fuel, Pookkode Lake had to be the first of all destinations, as long as the frequent stops on the side of the road don’t count. The beautiful lake with boating facilities makes the better for most of the humans, as long as they are fit to be called so. A walk around the lake is a wonderful experience, and after drinking some great tea, it gets even better. The taste of the tea might be stunning, and another thing which serves as a stun gun should be those spiders which hang around from their webs over your heads. Most of those trees around had those big spiders – not the huge ones, but big enough to be called “large” considering the local web-spinners whom we see at our homes. Spider-man might disagree, but he can have a look at the spices and handicraft items for sale, and end up doing nothing but agree. When spiders and men can be hypnotised by the scenic beauty of that world, what can Spider-man do to resist? Where else can he rest without being bothered by those Spider Slayers, of both men and machine qualities, to be shocked not by the Shocker but by something else and to be mesmerized by something other than a strange figure with its head in a glass-thing?

All around the hills of this land are those areas of bio-diversity; and they inspire more than just the nature lovers. The construction from the human side makes its own impact with Banasura sagar Dam, the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. It is named after Banasura, the son of King Mahabali or Maveli, the famous, benevolent Asura King in mythology whose homecoming is celebrated through Onam as the ‘State Festival’ of Kerala. The dam is located around the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River, as a part of the Indian Banasurasagar Project located at the foot of Banasura Hill, the second tallest mountain in the Wayanad. There is a good distance to walk to the top of the dam from where there are parks and boating facilities supported by the beautiful view of nature’s plenty. The walk might be tiring during noon, but refreshing enough during the other times of the day. There is also jeep service available to the top, but still people should prefer walking, as it gives a better view of the dam. It is also the perfect starting point for trekking into the surrounding scenic mountains and a wonderful point for taking panorama shots. The Banasura Hill Resort, located about twenty kilometres from the dam, rated as Asia’s largest Earthen Resort, might also arouse interest for its unique architecture and usage of environmental resources like mud.

To add to it, I have witnessed tea; not just seen it, but witnessed it as the elixir of the life, not for the first time – may be the thirtheenth for fourteenth time. Most of the tea witnessed, belonged to Harrisons Malayalam Limited, or so it looked like. The view of tea plantations never ceases to be refreshing, no matter how much of these estates one sees on the side of the roads to hill stations. Still, not that much of an influence as the Munnar-Ooty-Coonoor-Nuwara Eliya tea, but it supported the spirituality which started at the Thamarassery Cathedral and reached Pallikunnu Church, a famous pilgrim centre, as I heard. The cathedral was something of a different architecture. It had caught my attention with its variety. There was also the Ananthanatha Swami Temple located about six kilometres from the town of Kalpetta. It also had a Gandhi museum attached to it. This town of Kalpetta would later be our destination to have food, and even after getting out of the restaurant, we could notice monkeys on the top of the buildings, and all the spices and handicrafts kept for sale nearby. We were never far away from the tourist areas. The place which is the district headquarters as well as the only municipal town in the district was the area to take a break, for it would have taken much longer time for the same.

There is no scarcity of waterfalls either, starting with the Sentinel Rock Waterfalls, a frequented picnic spot and a trekking centre. There is also the Kanthanpara Waterfalls, comparitively smaller than the former and may be less visited too – but that would make it more peaceful. Soochippara Waterfalls is another one which attracts the tourists. Thusharagiri Falls would make another story beyond Wayanad, far under those heights. Sulthan Bathery, Mananthavady and Thirunelli will need another sojourn if the journey is not to stay long enough in Wayanad. All those historical, spiritual and intellectual places will have to wait in that case, and the beauty of the more untouched areas of nature will also have to wait. The famous Jain Temple, the tomb of Pazhassi Raja and the ancient temple of Lord Vishnu awaits in a journey which belongs to another time and season. These three along with all those less explored areas would make one wonderful week for sure, but those days rest on the state of mind which would follow the current situation which looks less favourable for another journey in that direction. But as fate makes more decisions than the mind does, who is a person to judge when he is nothing more than a slave who doesn’t realize that he is in chains?

Diving out —>

TeNy

69. The Sleeping Beauty

@Thommankuthu, Kerala, India.

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This is something which would keep away from the original fairy tales of Charles Perrault or the Grimm Brothers despite of the title. As the author of this blog is not dead and the possibility of editing is always there, having such a fairy tale title would hurt no soul permanently. The elements of ‘sleep’ and ‘beauty’ would still reign supreme, for those are the things which makes the title not ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Snow White’, ‘Rapunzel’ or ‘Cinderella’. Thommankuthu Falls lie asleep with all its beauty at a location around eighteen kilometres from Thodupuzha; sixty three kilometres from Aluva; seventy two kilometres from Cochin. Our path was the one which touched Muvattupuzha and Thodupuzha; for a stop at the Indian Coffee House belonging to the former, was totally necessary, something which was becoming more of a great tradition which is going to pass on to the future generations through the legends, supported by fairy tales and vampire stories with the exception of the strange, pale Twilight’s twin sisters who are set to follow the footsteps of their elder sister who made a complete nonsense out of the vampire belief.

The path to Thommankuthu itself had the force of attraction; there was just raw scenery; small waterbodies and bridges which blend into nature as if they are all the same, belonging to Gaia, the children of one force; credit to whatever Uranus and Pontus provided, or even those which are adopted. This is one closer to the absence of that need to perfect terrakinesis. It was a suitable scene for a near perfect photo right before entering through that gate. There was also the presence of tea shops to attract the people of the tea, but it was not till the end of the program, that there was the fall due to the temptation of that immortal drink. Still, considering the fact that there is the need to keep breaking the narrative as tea is more important than most of the other things in the world, here skips the flow, just to say that the tea was awesome. That procedure of drinking the elixir of life should have happened before the journey for sure – but it was the last thing we did, which meant that all the weariness of the journey would be declared void, and the tiring feeling existed only during the journey through the Thommankuthu Eco-tourism Project, as it was named. As I can’t help but reiterate in a different way, the tea which followed the journy had paradiso or parts of it.

Yeats had his vision, and its time one should have his own; but the fact remains that the extensive study had to go beyond the curriculum, for which each journey could contribute; this time of nature, next time spiritual and some other time historical. But the presence of one of them in another is not to be avoided, as mixtures are common and solutions are even more readily available. The same is the case of Thommankuthu which is more of mixture and is slowly moving towards being a solution. Here is the ecotourism destination that is Thommankuthu which has its own undisturbed beauty of nature right from the beginning, or even through the path leading there, being the best and the right alternative to standard commercial tourism of heavy modernity. But the disruption of the virigin nature and its territories is not something which is not entirely absent. The use of plastic, even if banned, would always be present in these areas. There would be pollution and disturbance to the flora and fauna, but for now, it is not at that much of a high rate which would be alarming at the first sight.

The narrator, obviously myself, was at unfamiliar territory, through a path which was beautiful was awesome until it narrowed down right after that board which titled “Danger” preventing people from jumping into the incredibly beautiful stream of water and rocks. It was a great journey through an area of fresh air until those smaller paths at some height was at sight, and it was ‘almost the road’ which was not taken till then. I was less like the foreign teams at India and more like the Indian cricket team abroad; not really being done with the spin, but with the swing provided by the breeze. To be frank, this was written at a time when India was playing England at home, being the fake cricketing giants and the team of home specialists, as three of the fabulous four, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman has retired and the ‘home only’ players were doing awesome enough to make sure that their team lose – and the worst of them might have still failed to score. One still has to guess they will continue to do the same; as theres always fame and fortune which guides them – let them gain the much needed enlightenment in that way for its just the matter of how long it might take for them to reach the ultimate stage of pure tube light: just saying things in a more scientific way so that the people of modernity can follow.

However one looks at the matter, it is quite strange that the blind fans would support a payback with turning pitches which their team itself can’t handle; for it proves that one still lives hidden behind those narrow domestic walls instead of going abroad and getting the job done. When there is no grass, little assistance for pace, bounce, or lateral air movement, just cracks which make it look like some area of drought, it is also an insult to the nature which has blessed man with so much plenty and beauty. A loss because of doing such a pathetic thing is pure justice and it is clearly self-inflicted. When people yell for victories of this sort, there is the emphasis on those pathetic walls, even more emphasis than what was provided by caste, creed, community, religion and language – walls are everywhere, but does humanity or even the life force create a wall? Is there a fortress which keep the ideals safe? What would be the role of customs and traditions in this world which runs on profit and victory? The global teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, AC Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid and the plenty of beauty which is football might bring some of these bigger walls down and create smaller fences which might be a better thing – so might the awesomeness of Roger Federer and the machine that is Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are surely into it too. They are present as the global spirit, not as heroes of selfishness.

Getting the narrative back into track from the narrow-minded one-man, one or two nation show that is cricket to the global football and tennis, and now to where this had started, the falls were many; not just the Thommankuthu Falls, but also everything which existed far above it on the way up through the green areas of natural beauty. Here one moves to the Universal Brotherhood of Nature which is a far more advanced thought than whatever is provided by modernity. The true legends are there, hidden in a philosophy of whatever is green; and this is what preceded the legends of antiquity and the ridiculous pseudo-legends of modernity to which this land gives not much value. What is to be seen in the modern world which boasts of a multi-cultural nonsense is that lack of tolerance, and those bullies are forever, until the Doomesday – the wheel has turned too much and it is the time for it to stop and spin backwards. There is a limit to what you should provide, Prometheus; kindly don’t be Victor Frankenstein, for there are promises to keep; if not, there are tragedies awating all of us: blame fate as much as you like, but you are the pilot of your defying Embraer, the driver of your own Cadillac, Ulysses of your majestic Galley, the master and commander of your soul for now.

Diving out —>

TeNy