July 27, 2010

The second best Palace of South India - Padmanabhapuram Palace

Padmanabhapuram Palace is the second most famous palace in South India, after Mysore Palace. It is located inside the Padmanabhapuram fortress at the foot of Veli Hills, which is a part of Western Ghats. Padmanabhapuram Palace is located at a distance of around 20 kms from Nagercoil and 50 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The nearest town of Padmanabhapuram is Thakkalai. Even though Padmanabhapuram Palace is located within the Tamil Nadu state border, the palace is administered by Kerala Government's archaeological department. Moreover, Padmanabhapuram palace stands as an example for Kerala architectural style.

Padmanabhapuram Palace was built by the Travancore king named Iravipillai Iravivarma Kulasekhara Perumal in 1601 AD. After the capital of Travancore kingdom was shifted from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram in the late 18th century AD, the Padmanabhapuram palace lost its glory.

Padmanabhapuram palace is one of the beautiful monuments in South India. It is considered as an excellent example for the typical Kerala style of architecture and palace. The most beautiful portion of the palace is the King's council chamber aka Mantrasala. The floor is dark coloured and is made of a mixture of various substances, such as burnt coconut shells and egg. Mantrasala has windows with colored mica, which keeps the room cool and dark.

The Mother's Palace aka Thai Kottaram is a section in the palace which has beautiful wooden carvings. There is a separate hall named 'Natakasala', which was used for dance and music performances. The four storeyed building located in the center of the palace has various rooms including the king's bedroom, worshipping place with a lot of beautiful mural paintings depicting Hindu puranas, and the rooms displaying various weapons. The speciality of the king's bed is that it is made up of several Ayurvedic herbs. There is another bed which is made in such a way that it remains always cool. There is a separate building named Southern Palace which house some antique items for display. There are some rooms in the palace which is used as museum for displaying royal ornaments, vessels, weapons, and idols. There is also a small temple dedicated for the Goddess Saraswati, which is closed nowadays.

Padmanabhapuram Palace is definitely a place which you must visit in South India.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Padmanabhapuram Palace
Site Type: Palace
City Name: Padmanabhapuram
Location: Around 20 kms from Nagercoil/50 kms from Trivandrum; Located in the Kerala border, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Nagercoil
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Thakkalai, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari and Nagercoil
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum and Nagercoil
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum, Nagercoil, and Thakkalai


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July 26, 2010

Trivandrum Zoo and Museum - one of the oldest zoos in India

Zoo and Museum are located in the heart of the Trivandrum city (aka Thiruvananthapuram), the capital city of Indian state of Kerala. Trivandrum Zoo, was started by the Maharaja of Travancore in the year of 1857 AD as an annexture to Trivandrum Museum to attract more visitors. Both Trivandrum Museum as well as the Trivandrum Zoo are one of the oldest museums and zoos in India respectively. Trivandrum Museum is also called as Napier Museum.

The zoo has an area of around 55 acres. It houses around 75 species of animals and birds from around the world, including some of the rare Australian species. Some of the prominent species that can be found in the zoo include Asian Lion, Bengal tiger, Nilgiri Langur, Zebra, Cape Buffalo, and Giraffe.

Happy travelling.


Fast Facts:

Site Name: Trivandrum Zoo and Museum
Site Type: Zoo and Museum
City Name: Trivandrum
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road or train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum



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Kuthira Malika - A 200 year old Palace in Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Thiruvananthapuram aka Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala, a state in India, which is considered as the God's own country due its natural beauty. Apart from the famous Padmanabhaswamy temple located in Trivandrum, there is another tourist place which you should not miss at Trivandrum. That is Kuthira Malika palace located next to the Padmanabhaswamy temple.

Puthen Malika Palace, which is popularly called as Kuthira Malika, was built by the famous king Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma in 1840s AD. The word 'Kuthira Malika' means ' Mansion of Horses' in Malayalam language. (Malayalam is the regional language spoken in Kerala state.) The Puthen Malika Palace was left unoccupied for about 100 years after the demise of the king Swathi Thirunal.

Kuthira Malika was kept open for the public only in the middle of 1990s. The palace can be considered as a good example for Kerala architecture. It has a lot of enclosed couryards, pillared verandas, wooden ceilings with intricate works, and sloping roofs. Some of the rooms of the palace are still not accessible to the public. They are locked. However, a portion of the palace has been converted into museum. You can find a lot of royal assets in the palace such as ivory royal thrones, crystal chandeliers, various paintings, traditional furniture, and various musical instruments. There is a crystal royal throne too. You can also find a device which was used to find the current time using sunlight. Most of the idols found here are made of Teak. There is a dancing hall.

This palace was predominantly used by the king Swathi Thirunal whenever he wanted to practice music. This palace has around 300 rooms and you can get a good view of the adjoining Padmanabhaswamy temple from few rooms in this palace. The palace complex also houses a temple of Lord Padmanabhaswamy. However, you and I cannot enter the temple. The temple is only for the royal family of Trivandrum. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Padmanabhaswamy was born.

To get a glimpse of Kerala style Palace, visit Puthen Malika Palace.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Kuthira Malika Palace
Site Type: Palace
City Name: Trivandrum
Highlights:
1) One of the good palaces in South India
2) Birthplace of Lord Padmanabhaswamy

Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road or train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum




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July 25, 2010

Attukal Bhagavthi Temple - Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Thiruvananthapuram aka Trivandrum is the capital city of Indian state of Kerala. There are a lot of tourist places in Trivandrum. The main tourist place is Padmanabhapuram temple. There is also another famous temple located in Trivandrum - Attukal Bhagavati temple. Those who visit Padmanabhapuram consider their travel as complete only if they visit Atttukal Bhagavati temple.

Attukal Bhagavati temple is an ancient temple, which is dedicated to Bhagavati - the mother Goddess. It is believed that Vishnu Maya took the incarnation of Bhagavati. It is also believed that the heroine of Chilappathikaram epic Kannaki travelled from Tamil Nadu to Kerala and also stayed here for a short time. Hence, there is a belief that Attukal Bhagavati is actually a divined form of Kannaki.

It is a big temple. Even though it is supposed to be an ancient temple, you wouldn't get the antique feeling in this temple. The temple is built in the mixture of Tamil Nadu and Kerala style of architecture. We could find two Goddess idols inside the sanctum. The original idol of Bhagavati is covered in ornamental gold embedded with installed stones. The new idol is installed beneath the original idol. The temple is full of small idols and sculptures. The temple also houses the shrines of Ganesha and Nagaraja.

When you go to Thiruvananthapuram, ensure that you visit Attkal Bhagavathy temple also.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Attukal Bhagavathi Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Trivandrum
Highlights:
1) One of the important temples of Trivandrum
2) Possibly a temple of Kannagi

Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road or train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum



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Thiruvananthapuram Padmanabhaswamy Temple - Kerala, India

Thiruvananthapuram aka Trivandrum is the capital city of Kerala - the God's own country - an Indian state. The tradition of Trivandrum can be dated back to 1000 BC. Trivandrum has a lot of important tourist places such as Padmanabhaswamy temple, Palace, Attukal Bhagavati temple and Government Museum. The most important site in Trivandrum is undoubtedly Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple is also called as Sri Padmanabhaswamy Kshetram or Ananta Puri. The city Thiruvananthapuram got its name from the temple of Padmanabhaswamy. Padmanabhaswamy temple is one of the 108 Divya Desam temples (108 most important adobes of Lord Vishnu). Padmanabha is the name of Lord Vishnu who is in the reclining posture. The temple has a massive 100 feet and seven tiered temple tower.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy is the presiding deity of the temple. The idol of Padmanabhaswamy is in the the reclining position over the serpent Ananta aka Adi Sesha. Padmanabha is found along with his two consorts Sri Devi aka Lakshmi and Bhoo Devi (earth). His son, Lord Brahma, is also seen in the sanctum. The idol is made up of 10,008 saligram stones. The idol of Padmanabha in this temple is perhaps the biggest Padmanabha aka Ranganatha idol. The shrine is carved out of single stone and hence called as 'Ottakaal Mandapam'. The devotees could get the darshan of this magnificent image through three doors. The first door gives us the view of Lord's face and Lord Shiva Linga underneath Padmanabha's hand. The second door gives us the view of Lord's middle portion and Lord Brahma. The third door gives us the view of Lord's legs. Divakara Maharishi and Koundika Maharishi are also seen near the feet of Lord Padmanabha.

There are a lot of legends about the temple. As per the popular legend, Lord Krishna disguised as a mischievous boy to the sage Divakara and swallowed the Saligrama kept for pooja. The sage was chasing the boy, and the boy hid behind a tree. Immediately, the tree fell down and a huge Ananta Padmanabha idol was found. Based on the request by the sage, the idol shrunk to one third of its size, and the Lord mentioned that he had to be seen through three doors.

This huge ancient temple of Padmanabhaswamy also houses the shrines for Narasimha, Rama along with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, the sage Vyasa, Virushasena, Kshetra Pala along with Ganesha, Ayyappa and Ganesha. The temple is huge and architecturally beautiful. The temple is rich in art and sculptures. The corridors (prakara) are very huge. There is a hall (mandapa) with full of beautiful sculptures such as Vishnu, Shiva, Yoga Vishnu, Vishnu carrying Lakshmi, Kali, Ganesha, Muruga, Narada, Nataraja, and Shiva in various postures. It is allowed to climb up the tower, and visit all the seven tiers. The first tier has idols of Padmanabhaswamy, Lakshmi, Bhooma Devi, Brahma, and ten avatars of Lord Vishnu.


Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Trivandrum
Highlights:
1) One of the 108 Divya Desams
2) The biggest idol of Vishnu in the reclining posture
3) One of the most famous temples of Lord Vishnu in Kerala

Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road or train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum




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July 24, 2010

The world will come to an end - Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple, Kerala, India

Varkala is a coastal town, located near Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Indian state of Kerala. Varkala has an ancient temple named Janardhana Swamy temple, which is believed to be 2000 years old. Jarardhan is the name of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Varkala Janardhana Swamy temple is one of the important pilgrim centers of Kerala, and it is also called as 'Dakshin Kasi' (Southern Kasi). The temple is located very near to Papanasam beach, which is believed to have medicinal properties.

The presiding deity of the temple is Sri Janardhana Swamy. The idol is found in the standing posture and has four arms. One of his right arms is raised towards his mouth as if he is performing 'Aachamanam'. (Aachamanam is a kind of purification ritual followed in Hinduism, in which the water is sipped thrice into the mouth.) As per the belief, the deity's right arm has water and it moves one inch towards his mouth every twelve years. When it reaches his mouth, that will be the end of 'Kali Yuga', and this world will come to an end.

There are many legends associated with this temple. Let us see some of them very briefly. Once Lord Brahma wanted to get the blessings of Lord Vishnu and bent down; however, Lord Vishnu had already moved, and it appeared to everybody as if Brahma was saluting the sage Narad. Hence, the devas made fun of Brahma and laughed at him. Brahma cursed them; Narad threw his Valkala (deer's skin) towards the earth. The devas worshipped Lord Vishnu in the place where Narad's Valkala fell, and they got rid of their sin. Varkala is the place where the devas built the temple for Janardhana. After many years, it appears a Pandian king found the idol of Janardhana in the sea and rebuilt this temple.

The temple also has small shrines for Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Ayyappa and Chandikeswara. There are Nagaraja (snake worship) idols found below a tree. Even though this is a Vishnu temple, all other idols belong to Saivism.

When you happen to go to Kerala, enjoy Varkala which has a lot of good beach resorts, and also get blessings of Lord Janardhana.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Janardhana Swamy Temple
City Name: Varkala
Highlights:
1) 2000 years old temple
2) The end of the world is connected with the idol of the temple

Location: 6 kms from Trivandrum, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Trivandrum
Nearest Airport: Trivandrum
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Trivandrum
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Trivandrum
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Trivandrum




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A 8th century temple of Lord Krishna - Ambalappuzha, Kerala, India

Ambalappuzha is a small town located near Alappuzha in Kerala state of India. Ambalappuzha is famous for its ancient and beautiful Krishna temple. Sri Krishna temple was built by the local ruler 'Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran' in 790 CE. This temple is associated with the famous temple of Guruvayurappan. During the raids of Tipu Sultan in the year 1789 CE, the idol from Guruvayurappan temple was brought to Ambalappuzha Krishna temple for safe keeping.

The 'paayasam' (a kind of sweet pudding made of rice and milk) served in this temple is very famous among the devotees and it has an interesting legend behind this. Once, Lord Krishna appeared in the form of a sage and challenged the local king on chess game. It was decided that whoever loses the game had to pay rice to the winner. The amount of grains (rice) would be determined using the chess board in the following manner. Once grain of rice would be placed in the first square, two grains in the second square, four in the third square, and so on. Every square would have double the number of grains of its predecessor. The king lost the game to the Lord and hence he had to pay trillions of tons of rice to the Lord, as the number of grains were geometrically increasing for every square and the chess board had 64 squares. The king didn't have enough grains in his kingdom to pay the Lord. Hence, it was agreed that the kind would server paayasam to the devotees everyday till the debt is paid off.

Ambalappuzha Krishna temple is big and built in a typical Kerala architectural style. However, there are no other shrines or idols found in the temple except for Krishna in the sanctum. The idol does not have entire body, but only the bust.

Visit this temple to taste the sweet paayasam.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Sri Krishna Temple
City Name: Amballapuzha
Highlights:
1) 8th century temple
2) One of the important and oldest temples for Lord Krishna in Kerala

Location: 13 kms from Alappuzha, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kottayam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Alappuzha
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Kottayam/Cochin
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Alappuzha/Amballapuzha



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July 23, 2010

An ancient temple in Venice of the East - Mullakkal Rajeswari Temple, Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Alappuzha aka Alleppey, is a picturesque town located in the Indian state of Kerala, with beautiful canals, back waters, and beaches. It is also called as 'Venice of the East'.

Mullakkal Rajeswari temple, located at the heart of the city, is the most important temple of Alappey. The site was originally the palace of Chembakasseri kingdom and it was later converted as a temple of Rajeswari.

There are many festivals celebrated in a grand manner in Mullakkal Rajeswari temple. Devotees visit the temple in large numbers during a festival called 'Mullakkal Chirappu'. The nine day Navaratri festival and Thaipooyakavadi are also some of the important festivals of the temple.

Generally, all the female deities of Kerala are called as Bhagavati.  Hence, even though Mullakkal temple is dedicated to Rajeswari, the supreme Goddess, there are few people who call this temple as 'Mullakkal Bhagavati temple'. The temple is built in a typical Kerala architectural style. The highlight of the temple is that the top of the main shrine (called as Sreekovil in Kerala) is open, specially made for Vana Durga (basically nature).

There are other shrines in the temple such as Navagraha (nine planets), Krishna with flute, Murugan (Subramanya), Ayyappa and Hanuman. There is a Shiva linga idol located below a holy tree.



Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Mullakkal Rajeswari Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Alappuzha
Location: 45 kms from Kottayam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kottayam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Cochin/Kottayam
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam and Kottayam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Alappuzha






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Kalady - the birthplace of Adi Shankara, Kerala, India

Kalady, the small town of Indian state of Kerala, located on the banks of the river Periyar, is the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, the great reformer of Hinduism. There are two versions about the period of Adi Shankara. Some claim that his period is 2500 years, whereas there are other who argue that he belonged to 8th century AD. Similarly, there are disputes in where he attained samadhi. However, there is no dispute about his birthplace. Adi Shankaracharya was born in a Namboodhiri family in Kalady.

Sharada temple is the important site at Kalady. Sharada is the main Goddess for Sringeri Shankara Mutt. This temple of Sharada is being administered by Sringeri Mutt. The goddess is sitting posture with four hands. Near the shrine of Sharada, there are few idols such as Brahmi, Varahi, etc.

The temple also houses the samadhi of Aryambal, the mother of Adi Shankaracharya. There is a lamp, which is believed to be lit by Adi Shankaracharya, is also found near the samadhi. There are separate shrines of Adi Shankaracharya and Ganesha.

The eight storey memorial of Adi Shankaracharya, which is called as Adi Shankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam, is another tourist attraction of Kalady. There is a temple of Lord Krishna located near Sharada temple, which is believed to be the ancestral deity of Adi Shankaracharya.

When you go to pilgrimage to Kerala, ensure you visit this important pilgrim center named Kalady to get the blessings of Adi Shankaracharya.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Kalady
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Kalady
Location: Near Aluva, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Aluva
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Cochin/Aluva
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam





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July 22, 2010

Aluva Shiva Temple - Kerala, India

Aluva is a small town located on the banks of the river Periyar, at a distance of around 20 kms from Cochin (Koci), in Kerala state, India.

Aluva has a famous Shiva temple, which is considered as one of the most important pilgrim centers of Kerala state. You need to cross the river through boat to reach the temple. The speciality of the temple is that the idol of the temple Shiv Linga is installed right on the river banks. The temple is very small and the idol is also too small. However, the temple is very popular in Kerala mainly due to the annual festival of Shivaratri that is celebrated in a grand manner on the banks of Periyar river in Aluva.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Aluva Shiva Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Aluva
Location: Near Kochi, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Cochin
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam



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Vaikom Mahadeva Temple

Kerala state of India is called as the God's own country. The state has a lot of beautiful sites, waterfalls, hill stations and wild life sanctuaries. In addition to all these tourist attractions, Kerala also has a lot of important temples. Guruvayurappan, Bhagavati, Iyappa and Shiva are the deities mainly worshiped across Kerala. Guruvayur has a famous temple for Guruvayurappan. Chottanikkara has the most important temple of Bhagavati and Iyappa has his prominent temple at Sabarimala. Similarly, Kerala also has many important temples for Lord Shiva. Among them, the Mahadeva temple at Vaikom can be considered as the most important.

Vaikom is a small town located in the Kottayam district of Kerala. The famous Shiva temple in this town is called as Vaikathappan. The Vaikathappan temple aka Vaikom Mahadeva temple is believed to be there since 'Treta yuga', and hence it is considered as one of the oldest temples of Kerala. The temple along with Ettumanoor Siva Temple and Kaduthuruthy Thaliyil Mahadeva Temple is considered as part of three prominent temples of the region.

Temple Legend:

An Asura named Kharasura did penance for the attainment of Moksha. Lord Shiva pleased with his penance, granted all the boons that he asked and also presented him with three Lingas drawn out of his holy body. He ordered the Asura to worship the Lingas to attain moksha. While returning from the Himalayas, the Asura who was carrying these three Lingas, felt tired. He placed the Lingas in three places and thereafter he couldn't lift them back. The Linga that Khara placed with his right arm is at Vaikom, the one placed with his left arm is at Ettumannoor and the last one placed with his neck is at Kaduthuruthy.

Temple Layout:

The Vaikathappan temple of Voikom is one of the biggest temples of Kerala which is spread over 8 acres of land. The east facing temple has four towers on four sides. The place where it is believed that Shiva and Parvati gave darshan to Vyagrapatha Maharishi is called as Vyagrapatha Sthanam. A big Nandi idol is located near the golden flag staff. The presiding deity Vaikathappan is in the form of Shiv Linga. The idol is too high (around six feet) and made up of black stone. The gigantic image of Linga is adorned with Chandrakala (crescent), three eyes, nose and four hands with Saiva abharanams(ornaments) in pure gold.

The temple also houses other shrines such as Panachikkal Bhagavati, Sthambha Vinayaka and Sarpa (snake god).


Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Vaikathappan Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Vaikom
Location: 33 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Ernakulam/Cochin or from Kottayam
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam as well as in Kottayam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam and Kottayam






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July 21, 2010

Bolgatty Palace - Cochin, Kerala, India

Cochin aka Kochi, which is referred as the commercial capital of Kerala state of India, has many interesting tourist places related to Dutch and Jews. Bolgatty Palace is one such interesting site located in Kochi. Bolgatty Place is located on the picturesque Bolgatty Island in Kochi. This heritage building, constructed in 1744 by Dutch traders, was served as the British residency till 1949.

Now, the palace was converted into a heritage hotel, similar to some palaces in Rajasthan. If you do a boat riding you can watch this palace from outside. If you want to get the heritage feeling internally, you need to stay in this hotel, which is slightly costlier.

Happy travelling.


Fast Facts

Site Name: Bolgatty Palace
Site Type: Palace, Hotel
City Name: Kochi aka Cochin
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam



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An unusual form of fishing - Chinese Fishing Net, Cochin, Kerala, India

Site Name: Chinese Fishing Net
Site Type: Fishinig spot
Location:  Cochin, Kerala, India
Highlights: An important tourist site in Cochin city

Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Ernakulam/Cochin
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the city
Apart from Dutch Palace and Jew town, there is another interesting site named Chinese fishing nets in Kochi (Cochin) city of Kerala state, India. The Chinese fishing nets aka Cheena vala are fixed land installations for unusual form of fishing - shore operated lift nets. Each structure has a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end.

The system is balanced sufficiently such that the weight of a person walking along the main bean is enough to cause the net to descend into the sea. The fishermen leave the net for some time, say about few minutes, before pulling on ropes. Now, you can find fishes caught in the net.

You can watch these different kind of fishing nets from your boat in Port Kochi.

Happy travelling.


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July 20, 2010

Paradesi Synagogue - Kochi, Kerala, India

Kochi aka Cochin, the commercial capital of Kerala state of India, has Jew population. Kochi has the oldest synagogue (Jew temple) in the Commonwealth of Nations. The synagogue is called as Paradesi Synagogue, Cochin Jewish Synagogue, or the Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is located in the site named Jew Town in Cochin.

The synagogue was built by "white Jews", a mixture of Jews from the Middle East and European exiles, in the year of 1568. As they were foreigners, the synagogue got the name "Paradesi Synagogue" (Paradesi means foreigner in Indian languages).

The Synagogue is elaborately decorated with crystal chandeliers and carved wood with blue and white ceramic tiles. None of these tiles resemble the other. In the mid 18th century, the clock tower was attached to the main building of the synagogue. Apart from the attractive building and architecture, the Synagogue has a lot of important and attractive collections such as rolls of Old Testament, beautifully carved golden and silver crowns, etc.

Paradesi Synagogue is definitely a must visit in Kochi.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Paradesi Synagogue
Site Type: Synagogue, Jew Temple
City Name: Kochi aka Cochin
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam



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A 17th century Portuguese Palace - Dutch Palace, Kochi, Kerala, India

Cochin is considered as the commercial capital of Kerala state in India. Cochin aka Kochi and Ernakulam are twin cities. In fact, it can be better considered as a single town. The three main parts of Kochi/Ernakulam are Fort Cochin, Willington Island and Ernakulam.

Mattanchery Palace, which is popularly called as the Dutch Palace, is located at Palace Road, Mattancherry. It was built by the Portuguese in the middle of the 16th century. This structure was taken over in 1663 by the Dutch, who added some improvements before presenting it to the Kings of Cochin. Hence, the palace is also called as the 'Dutch Palace'.

Dutch palace is famous for some of the best mythological murals in India, particularly in the bed chambers. In one section, the entire story of Ramayana is beautifully depicted on the walls. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which looks like polished black marble but is actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites. The royal ornaments and the King's Seat are also found in this museum.

The palace also houses weapons used by the kings/soldiers and old coins. The roofs are decorated and walls are adorned with murals.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Dutch Palace
Site Type: Palace
Highlight: Built by Portuguese in the 17th century CE
City Name: Kochi (Cochin)
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam





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July 19, 2010

Tripunithura Vishnu Temple - Kerala, India

Tripunithura is a town located at a distance of around 10 kms from Kochi in Kerala state of India. Tripunithura has a Vishnu temple, which is called as 'Poornatreyeesa' (the word 'Poornatreyeesa' means the Lord of Three Vedas).

Vishnu in this temple, is worshipped as 'Santanagopala Murti' - the protector of kids. He is found seated on Ananta serpent, who spreads his majestic hood over the Lord.

Tripunithura temple is a small temple. Apart from Vishnu, the only other idol that can be found in this temple is Lord Ganesha.

As per the legend, Arjun (one of the Pandavas of Mahabharat) sought the help of Lord Vishnu to give rebirth to ten dead children of a Brahmin. Vishnu fulfilled the wish of Arjun. After that, Arjun got this idol of Vishnu.

With the help of Lord Ganesh, Arjun selected this village and installed the idol of Vishnu in this site. He used mustard seeds to get oil for lighting lamp. There is still a lamp in the temple - Keda Vilakku (which burns always), is said to be the first lamp lit by Arjuna.

There is also another legend about this temple. As per that, Vishnu of this temple got marreid to a Namboothiri girl named Nangema.


Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Tripunithura Vishnu Temple
City Name: Tripunithura
Location: 12 kms from Cochin, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam


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July 18, 2010

Chottanikkara Bhagavati Temple - Kerala, India

Kerala state of India - the God's own country - has a lot of popular temples such as Guruvayurappan temple and Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. Apart from Ayyappa and Guruvayurappan, Bhagavati is one of the deities worshiped mainly across Kerala. You could find Bhagavati in all important temples of Kerala.  Bhagavati temple, located in Chottannikara, near Ernakulam city, is one of the most famous Bhagavati temples in Kerala state.

The presiding deity  is called  as Bhagavati or as Rajarajeswari. The idol is made up of laterite (reddish sand) and the shape is irregular. She has four arms. Bhagavati, in this temple, is worshiped in three different forms - as Saraswati in the morning - Bhadrakali in the noon and Durga in the evening.

Adjacent to Bhagavati idol, there is an idol of Vishnu. Both the idols together are referred as Lakshmi Narayana.The highlight of the temples is that the idol here is not fixed to the ground; instead it is mounted on loose sand.

The temple also houses a shrine for Shasta along with his consorts Poorna and Pushkala. The shrines of Shiva and Bhadrakali are also found in this temple.

People having psychological problems visit this temple, as there is a belief that Bhagavati in this temple can cure mental diseases.

As per the legend, there was a dacoit named Kannappan brought a cow and wanted to slaughter that. However, the cow escaped from him and he couldn't chase and catch the cow. When he returned home, he found his daughter playing with the cow and he didn't want to kill the cow now. After some days, his daughter passed away and this greatly grieved him. One day, Bhagavati appeared in his dream and revealed that it was she who come to him in the form of a cow. To his surprise, he saw two images in the cowshed the following day. They were the images of Vishnu and Bhagavati. He constructed this temple which eventually grew into a shrine of the magnitude seen today.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Bhagavati Temple
Site Type: Temple
City Name: Chottanikkara
Location: 15 kms from Ernakulam, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Ernakulam/Cochin
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam



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July 17, 2010

Ernakulathappan Temple - Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Ernakulathappan temple is the most famous temple in Ernakulam city, which is the commercial capital of Kerala state, India. Ernakulam and Cochin (aka Kochi) are called as twin cities, and they are almost considered as a single city.

As per the legend, Arujun of Mahabharat  performs penance to get weapons from Lord Shiva. Shiva disguised as a hunter and fought with Arjun. After realizing that it was Lord Shiva, Arjun made a Shiv linga out of mud and performed pooja. He also got the weapon named 'Pasupathastra' from Shiva. After a long time, a small boy named Devalan, a victim of curse, got this Shiva Linga and took it with him. He installed this Linga in Ernakulam and got rid of his curse. At per his request, Shiva and Parvati appeared here. This is the story of Shiva (Ernakulathappan) of this temple.

This ancient temple of Ernakulathappan is built in a typical Kerala temple architectural style. The main shrine has Ernakulathappan in the form of Shiv Linga. Apart from Shiv Linga, the temple also houses the other deities such as Parvati, Ganesha and Nagaraja.

Happy Travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Ernakulathappan Temple
City Name: Ernakulam
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam


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July 16, 2010

Murugan Temple - Ernakulam, Kerala, India

Ernakulam is the commercial capital city of Kerala state, India. Ernakulam and the nearby Cochin (aka Kochi) are called as twin cities.

Ernakulam has a famous Shiva temple called as Ernakulathappan temple. Apart from that, there is a another big temple for Lord Murugan (Subramanya, the son of Lord Shiva).  It is very rare to find a temple for Lord Subramanya in Kerala state. This temple was built and maintained by Tamil community living in Ernakulam city.

The sanctum enshrines Subramanya along with his consorts Valli and Devasena . The temple also has the idols of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeswara. There is a separate shrine for Navagraha.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Murugan Temple
City Name: Ernakulam
Location: Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Ernakulam
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Cochin/Ernakulam
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Cochin/Ernakulam





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July 15, 2010

Malampuzha Hill Station - Kerala, India

Malampuzha, located at a distance of around 10 kms from Palakkad city of Kerala, India, is one of the most attractive tourist destinations of Kerala.This small township is located at the foothills of Western Ghats. Malampuzha has a large number of natural as well as artificial amusement options.

Malampuzha might be a small hill station; however, it has a lot of attractions - really innumerable. Let me list down whatever I can...


Malampuzha Garden aka Vrindavan of Kerala has green lawns, glittering pools and fountains, and a lot of flower beds. There is reservoir (dam) near the garden which offers boating options. To add more attraction to Malampuza as a tourist spot, you can also find a fresh water aquarium, a snake park and a children's park with a toy train. You can get a glimpse of Malampuzha Garden by travelling through the Road Train. A small garden named 'Japanese Garden' gives more charm to this great tourist destination. The hanging bridge across the Malampuzha river (yes, the place got the name 'Malampuzha from this river) and the passenger ropeway are the best attractions in Malampuzha.

There is a telescopic tower available in Malampuzha similar to any other hill station in India. The thread garden is a unique attraction of Malampuzha. This is an astounding work of art created by years of hard work by many workers, using only embroidery colour threads without the aid of needles or any special devices. The Thread Garden has a good collection of beautiful life-like models of plants and flowers. The Rock garden, which is made of unwanted and broken pieces of bangles, tiles, used plastic cans, tins and other sort of waste materials, is another unique site to visit in Malampuza.

There is also an amusement park named 'Fantasy Park' in Malampuzha, which offers various kinds of joy rides like any other amusements parks in India.

The beautiful and unique sculpture of Yakshi is one of the highlights and landmarks of this small, but beautiful tourist attraction named Malampuzha.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts

Site Name: Malampuzha
Highlight: Multiple tourist attractions in a single site
City Name: Malampuzha
Location: 10 kms from Palakkad, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Palakkad
Nearest Airport: Cochin
How to reach: Easily reachable by road
Hotel: There are few good hotels available in Malampuzha
Restaurants: Only few options are available





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July 14, 2010

Punnathur Kotta Elephant Sanctuary - Guruvayur, Kerala, India

I asked my American friend who visited Kerala along with me - "Have you seen elephants".

He replied - "Yes, in forest!"

"Not about forest! Have you seen elephants inside a town/city?"

"How is that possible?" - he asked me.

"Some of the ancient temples in South India have elephants" - I replied.

"Really! then, how big the temples would be" - he exclaimed. He added - "Is there any temple which has more than one elephant?"

"Yes, there are such temples. In fact, there is a temple in Kerala state which has around 50 elephants".
When you think of Guruvayur town in Kerala state, you will definitely think about Guruvayurappan temple. When you think about Guruvayurappan temple, you cannot resist thinking about the beautiful image of Lord Guruvayurappan as well as elephants. Guruvayurappan temple is one of the temples in India having a large number of elephants. It is very common among the big South Indian temples to have elephants. However, the number of elephants in each temple would be generally one, and rarely 2-3. However, the Guruvayurappan temple has around 50 temples, which were offered by devotees.

As the temple complex was obviously not too big to keep all the elephants, the temple administration of Guruvayurappan temple runs an elephant sanctuary. The name of the elephants sanctuary is "Punnathur Kotta". It is located at a distance of around 3 kms from Guruvayurappan temple. The sanctuary house more than 50 elephants. This site was an ancient site used by Kerala kings. The sanctuary also has a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Punnathur Kotta elephant sanctuary is a unique sanctuary where you can find only elephants and not other animals. You can enjoy watching elephants bathing, working, tilting their heads and trunks, and making all sorts of activities. It is fun to watch even a single elephant and its activity. Here, you get an opportunity to watch more than 50 elephants. This will be definitely a fun filled picnic for you.

Happy travelling.



Fast Facts

Site Name: Punnathur Kotta
Highlight: An elephant sanctuary run by a temple
City Name: Guruvayur
Location: 29 kms from Thrissur, Kerala state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Guruvayur
Nearest Airport: Cochin (around 90 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available in Guruvayur
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in Guruvayur




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