Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trivandrum, capital of Kerala

Kerala is filled with Nature, Ayurvedic massages and Beaches. In a conservative land which is filled with strikes at the drop of the hat. One can never be sure when the market bandh is called, and many a times over frivilious reasons. No wonder, however mighty and influential industrialist, he would not stick out his neck to start an industry. Under such a circumstance Kerala’s economy is thriving on NRI income, Booming Real Estate, Retail including Jewellery and partially tourism.

Ayurvedic Massage :

The art of masseur seems to have been passed from generations and now perfected into a College or Vaidyashala. The root of ayurvedic treatment is obviously located @ Kottakal. One can find solace depending on their budget. Some of the treatments may be prohibitively expensive. Well I keep wondering how is the Bangkok massage different from kottakal one. Maybe the fingering technique is different. Lol.

Some of the well to do customers would not like to be seen in their own backyard getting a massage done. I knew a NRI and his family who preferred to get their massage done at Koramangala, Bangalore @ Rs 500/ per head. Even Gokula Ayush @ Ramiah hospital seems to have well developed facility. It is sad that they don’t have their own pharmacy, one has to depend on outside prompting me to send an email to their management.

The costliest treatment seems to be Piddichil in which can cost Rs 350 upwards plus the taila cost, inclusive can range from 800 to 1200 per day. This treatment involves dropping of the oil from a brass ware onto the forehead. Then soaking up the entire hair and body with oil. The logic of blocking up all the pores in the body and than steaming it does open up all the pores. One tends to sweat, and silently melt away the oil from the body. If one has a hot water bath it will drain all the traces of oil. Taking the course further one has to just mix cold and hot water bath to finally seal the effect of opening and closing the skin pores. It sounds practical solution, why not do the same at home some skeptics may question. No way I want to have great holiday to get it done professionally. Keep coming, we love you all says the masseur.

Nature may welcome many a visitors but men around are not very tourist friendly on the ground. In order to visit this picturesque state it is better to have a local guide, friend or an ethical travel agent. In fact I was surprised by the attitude of the local tourism KTDC personnel when I visited them. They were selling package to Munnar and Thekady at 5 k plus per day stating that it was American plan etc. When compared to KSTDC where the rental tariffs vary between Rs 100 for a dormitory Rs 264 for double room , Rs 1200 @ premium destination like Hampi, it is really dis heartening for any traveler to be let down by a Govt. Organisation. Of course for super luxury package of Golden chariot is available for foreigners and first class travelers at Rs 12 K per day. Basically the basket for tourism should vary from backpackers, budget, Middle class and First class travelers. Corporate clients of course get a bargain deal in terms of budget prices in view of their clout. Well the to my surprise when the man behind the counter told me that even foreigners do not much patronize their packages, except a select North Indian group, it was an eye opener.

Nevertheless if one is fond of nature and its beauty one does not mind getting his pocket pinched willfully. The duration of the program can be reduced according to the budget. Some the cuisine in kerala like currymeen,avial,duck fry,chilly beef, etc are delicacies along with puttu curry,iddiappam,malabar parotha etc.


SRI PADMANABHASWAMY TEMPLE ( Trivandrum )


Sri Padmanabha swamy temple renovation was undertaken by Marthanda Varma during his reign ( 1729 -1758 ). The original temple seems to have been built by the Chera rulers. Padmanabha swamy is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. The british govt. maintained the tradition of 21 gun salute during the British Raj times, which was abolished post independence.

The temple gopuram is seven tier and rises above 101 feet. There is small pond in front of the temple, which is usual tradition for most Hindu temples, wherein devotees used to wash their feet.

One cannot just enter this temple like a free bird. The male are subject to total transformation with dhoti, shawl etc. One is compelled to deposit their camera, cellphone, handbag, pant, shirt etc at the temple run security room. Depending on ones belongings one may get poorer by Rs 70. The funny justification given by staff is that many piligrims do not donate and this is a indirect way of ensuring collection for which they are proud. The temple can charge entry ticket and allow non hindus and followers to visit the temple, which may increase the collection rather than fleecing the Hindus in the name of tradition or indirect fund generation. Majority of the temples do not allow non-hindus, which is so tourist unfriendly.

The Lord Padmanabha or Vishnu is in reclining , sitting and standing posture. There are some traditions associated with these postures, and the procession of the Lord is taken out only in sitting posture. The main idol shows the Lord sleeping on the anantha or serpant. There are other deities such as Narasimha, Krishna, Ayyappa, Ganesh and Hanuman. There are 324 sculpted pillars. The entire verandah of the temple has different pillars embedded with postures of apsaras and menakas with full bust. These statues are wet with oil and other stains which are performed during some utsav.

There are number of mural paintings on the temple ceiling pertaining to Epic period of Ramayan and Mahabharat along with vedic times. Some of the paintings are still in good condition.

EAST FORT & Palace

The Eastern fort signifies the direction in which the enterance archway is built by the kings of Travancore. The palace is located within the premises. Outside the Fort an important bus terminus is located for buses plying to different parts of Kerala.

PUTHE MALIGA PALACE :


It was originally the residence of the Kings of Travancore. A number of artifacts, oil paintings, urns, portraits, gift items, household articles, etc are found in this museum palace. Majority of the royalty collections are stored in this museum. The kings later shifted their residence to more contemporary place in Kowdiar Palace.

The palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Tirunal Balarama Varma, the King of Travancore who was also a great poet, musician, social reformer and state man. This palace has wooden carvings in the traditional Travancore style. It is situated on the South East side of Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple

Apart from the architectural wonders, the premises conducts classical musical festivity during Jan and Feb months. The edifice is built in classical kerala style architecture, combining wood, high tiled roofs and red oxide polished floors etc.

NAPIER MUSEUM

The wonderful edifice was constructed combining Kerala, Italian, Moghul and Chinese style of architecture by the british chief architect Robert Chrisholm. The building with high roofing has natural air-condition which is pleasant even during summer months.

There are numerous bronze idols dating back to Chola, Chera, Pallava and Hoysala period. A number of ivory carvings, figures of kathkali dancers, a life size temple chariot, wooden model of palaces, coins and many historical collections are all stored in this museum. Majority are left over courtesy British benevolence.

The museum is named after the Lord Napier, Governor of Madras ( 1866-1872) in whose jurisdiction Travancore was falling. The Museum work began in 1855 and completed in 1880.


CHITRA ART GALLERY


This art gallery contains maximum paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, who was a master artist, who wielded his brush to perfection. There are some paintings of Nicholas Reorich, Picasa and other famous artists of times. Some of the paintings of the kings and british general are 3 D which move as one cuts across the room. The head seems to literally follow.

ZOOLOGICAL PARK


One of the oldest established in 1857 as an annexure to the Napier Museum. The museum was originally set up for entertainment and re-locating trapped animals. Then it became a place for conservation of rare breed of animals and birds. In modern era Zoo has become a form of conservation of rare wild animals.

This zoo contains The Zoo has 75 different species of animals not only from India but from abroad also. It also has several species of animals and birds from Ethiopian and Australian Zoo geographic regions. The Lion tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Indian Rhino, Asiatic Lion, Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopord are prominent among the indigenous endangered fauna. Giraffe, Hippos, Zebra, Cape Buffalo are the guests from African region.

KOVALAM BEACH


The beach must have been a favourite visiting spots of the Maharaja of Travancore. Sea Loving Britishers discovered it as an entertaining place for swimming and spending some lovely moments with their family members in the 1930’s. In the 70’s the hippies swarmed this beach for a free run. They were captivated with the locale and freedom. It became popular as the first nude beach in India, alleged to popular as Topless beach with no invasion of privacy. Now it is banned, but it is still favourite for bikni parade and sun-tanning. The ayurvedic parlours are in plenty in and around the beach. The sand is partially black in nature due to presence of ilemenite and thorazite, which are used in pigmentation. Don t be surprised if you are bitten by mosquitos on the beach, so please carry mosquito lotion or spray to protect oneself in the evenings.

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