Kochi, February 29
Kerala the land of culture, tradition and festivals has remained the centre of attraction among people from across the world since past. This land of beauty has treasured many unsploit features in its natural charm. This time another unique feature of this ‘God’s Own Country’ has attracted many global tourists to explore this kerala treat. It’s the traditional Astrology of Kerala which enamoured several foreign tourist with its uniqueness.
This traditional wisdom of ancient science is the oldest method of delineation of horoscope using cowries (sea shells) which is known for its accuracy. In the recently ended ‘International conference on astrology’ in the city people from many foreign countries gathered in the city to participate in the conference.
The distinctive feature and style of the Kerala astrology is the main feature which makes it a unique and far more interesting branch of astrology. As per the Kerala style of astrology for doing any prediction one don’t require the time or place of birth of a person. Without these vital information the prediction can be made and that too accurately. All these interesting and unique methods have made many tourist fascinated towards this traditional method.
During this International astrology conference the city saw a huge number of astrology lovers and enthusiast from around the globe flocking in the city to attend this conference. In this conference many different astrological features where discussed, including the ancient ‘Prasnam Vekkal’ (suggesting the cause of certain events and its remedy) to ‘Vastu doshas’ (the ill-effects of construction style of buildings).
The conference not only highlighted the Kerala astrology and its varied forms, but also along with that it included Sanskrit verses and yoga classes for people. The workshop was organised by UK based astrologer, Komilla Sutton, who has been into astrology in UK and US since 1995.
In this conference it was clearly seen that apart form Indian tradition, culture and philosophy people are now slowly showing keen interest in Indian astrology too. The conference gave an in-depth study into the Kerala astrology and helped people to know and understand this unique traditional style of astrology.
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has put forward a proposal projecting Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram district as a feasible place for the second shipyard in the state with all world class amenities.
The proposal was submitted to the Union Ministry of Shipping as per the directive of the Union Ministry. The Union government is planning to set up two modern shipyards, one each in the Western and Eastern coasts of India.
The Vizhinjam-Poovar coastal belt has a water front of appropriate length and a depth of 12-22 meters, sufficient for the docking of ships. The new shipyard is sure to usher in a spate of development in this area imparting further impetus to the development of the State.
Guruvayur: The ten day long annual festival starting on the 8th Asterism during the Malayalam month of Kumbham will draw thousands of Lord Guruvayurappan devotees to this famous temple in the coming days.
The annual festival is a massive affair enriched with colorful processions and illumination that transcend the milieu into surreal planes. The interesting fact is that for the Guruvayur festival only moderate fireworks are used and no high decibel pyrotechnics are employed. This temple city decks up in its best with decorative arches and colorful festoons, streets get spruced up and the houses lining up the alleyways don a fresh coat of paint to gear up to the festive mood. Buildings and shops are decorated in the traditional style of plantain trunks and coconut. The Two temple ’gopurams’ and the outer-courtyard are elaborately decorated with lights and breathtaking displays.
Elephant race is probably the most interesting feature of the festival, where the temple elephants run round the temple eleven times and people cheer them and often run with them in frenzy. The winning elephant is offered prizes as well. This ritual is immediately followed by sowing of seeds, where nine different cereals are germinated in a number of pots made of silver. The hoisting of the temple flag signaling the commencement of the celebration is done on the same night of sowing the seeds.
Various cultural programmes such as Chakkyar Koothu are preformed daily at the Koothambalam. On the 9th day Pallivetta or the royal hunt starts with the Lord on elephant hunting a flock of wild boars (devotees donning boar masks), which symbolizes the defeat of the good over the evil. The temple opens only late by 6.00 am on the next day of ‘pallivetta’ as the Lord would be tired after the previous night royal hunt.
The Arattu marks the culmination of the festivities when the priest takes a dip with the silver idol in the sacred temple pond of Rudratheertham to be followed by thousands of people who take a holy dip in it. The temple town never sleeps for the next ten days when music, dance and celebrations would add flair and fervor to mark the beginning of one of the most important red letter days of Kerala festive calendar.
Kochi, February 27
The much awaited annual railway budget for 2008-09 was finally presented on Tuesday by the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. At large the budget remains to be a people friendly budget, pleasing the ‘aam admi’. But still the new budget generated a mixed response here in Kerala with people applauding and also feeling for few more sops.
The budget has given some thing to cheer to every section, but the big gift which this budget offered to Kerala was the rail coach factory at the Kanjikode-Palakkad section. This coach factory will soon give a boost to the industrial sector of the state. Other than this, few new trains were added to upgrade the travel scenario and also to benefit the passengers. In this stride three new trains were added namely Kochu Veli- Dehradun, Kochu Veli-Amritsar and the Bangalore – Kochu-Veli Gharib Rath.
On the other hand the daily commuters shuttling between stations felt happy to get a new passenger train on the Shoranur-Nilambur route. But many daily commuters also expressed that there has not been anything to cheer for them other than the introduction of this new train. But for long distance travellers this budget has brought some respite, with cut in AC 1st class fares by 7% and II and III tier by 4-3%.
Meanwhile this budget failed to act on some key sectors like railway zones and various other railway development projects. Though women passengers were gifted with concessions and girl students will be given free monthly season tickets up to graduation. Railway Minister has also shown keep interest to make the railway more hi-tech and traveler friendly. So many plans are lined up in the pipeline to facelift the railways.
Palakkad: Silent Valley, the last of the few remaining original forests of the Western Ghats! It is a haven for an array of exotic flora fauna and is the last refugee of the lion tailed macaques. Located 40 kms away from Mannarghat town in Palakkad District, this wildlife Sanctuary, sprawling over an area of area of 90 sq. kms is famous for watching birds and butterflies as well. In these last stretches of virgin tropical evergreen forests diverse wild animals such as wild boar, flying squirrel, tigers and elephants are seen. Various types of snake, lizard and amphibian species thrive in this national park
It conveniently falls in the tourist circuit as it is not very far from the famous hill resort of Coonoor apart from many wild life sanctuaries such as Parambikulam sanctuary, the Attappadi forest range, the Choolanur Peacock Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park ( famous for Nilgiri Tahr), Anamalai Wild Life Sanctuary and the JP Smriti Vanam. There are regular bus services from Munnar and Marayur, famous for its sandal wood forests.
Silent Valley, known locally as Sairandhrivanam (the forest in the valley) was threatened by the construction of a Hydel Power Project during the 1970′s. It was saved from being inundated by a proposed dam due to the timely intervention of environmentalists and government officials. The Silent Valley National Park is adjacent to the Attappadi Reserve Forests to the East, the Palghat and Nilambur forest divisions in the West and South and the Nilgiri Forests in the North, thereby forming a crucial elephant corridor. This biodiversity hot spot of Silent Valley was declared as a National Park in 1984 and the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve with the Silent Valley National Park as its core area, was created in 1986.
The rain forest is rich in tropical evergreen trees with teak, rosewood, amla, bamboo and semal. In addition there are tropical hill forests, sholas and temperate forests. The climate in the National Park is warm in summer and cool in winter with th mercury spanning from 35°C Max in June and dips to a moderate 20 °C in December. It receives a total annual rainfall of over 1600mm and the Southwest monsoon lasts from July to September, bringing heavy rainfall to Silent Valley.
There are many rest houses, hotels and small guest houses where the tourists can stay within Silent Valley national Park. Palakkad town offers all the conveniences of a bustling town with cyber cafes and telecommunication facilities for you to stay connected with the world outside even in the tranquil recluse of Silent Valley.
Location: Mannarghat town in Palakkad District
Best Time To Visit: September to March
Accommodation: At Mannarghat there are many small lodes apart from a PWD Rest House and the reservation authority is the Palakkad District Collector.
Transportation: Silent Valley National Park is well connected by air, rail and road. Peelamamedu Airport, at Coimbatore is the nearest airport, at a distance of 155 km from Silent Valley National Park. Olavakkode Railway Station at Palakkad, 75 km away, is the nearest railway station, which is connected to Silent Valley National Park by bus service.
Getting around: There are also regular buses from Palakkad to Mannarghat (45 kms.) Bus service connects Mannarghat to Mukkali located 22 kns away. Silent Valley, located 18 kms away from Mukkali can be accessed by Jeep or Truck.
Alappuzha: Coir and coir products have always been major revenue earners of Kerala, touted as the land of coconuts. Alappuzha is the major hub of coir production in Kerala with almost 80 per cent of the coir factories in the State located in this district. The newly launched Alappuzha Coir Cluster Development project, with a plan outlay of over Rs. 56 crores, is expected to bring relief to the limping coir industry, plagued by many problems including shortage of raw materials, lack of modernization to bridge the gap between the production and supply demands, inadequate R & D facilities for the development and diversification of its by-products like coir pith and so on.
Coir Cluster Development project forms part of the ambitious plan of the Coir Board to raise coir export turnover to Rs.1,000 crores by 2008. It is expected to enhance the optimization of coconut husk and setting up of industries to use up coir pith to make blocks and manure among others.
Most of the export units of coir production centres are centered in and around Cherthala and Ambalappuzha taluks of Alappuzha district. The cluster help in the setting up of husk collection banks for the pooling in of coconut husks otherwise discarded or wasted, establishment of units for fibre extraction, coir yarn production and coir mats and matting units, including power loom units. It would ensure an additional 20000 employment opportunities for women.
High level delegations from many foreign countries regularly visit the Coir Board’s Central Coir Research Institute and coir industries to learn more about the innovative technologies being employed in these units.
A high level delegation from China visited Coir Board on Monday and also visited coir producing centres in Alappuzha and Trikunnapuzha and discussed various matters of the development of coir industry in China. Better technological utilization and higher exports of Coir is sure to bring in a sea change in the economy of Kerala in general and the coastal hamlets of Alappuzha in particular.
Kochi, February 25
Sunday came as bliss for all the food lovers with the food festival undertaken by Malabar Cultural Association. This delicious food treat attracted gourmets and food lovers to the EMS Memorial Town Hall where this tempting festival was held. The food festival showcased number of Malabar delicacies, from snacks to main cuisines all in one place.
It helped people to know more about Malabar food and its speciality, all these cuisines were prepared without adding any artificial preservatives or chemicals which itself is one of the uniqueness of Malabar food. The foods on display were all prepared maintain their original taste and are easy to make within few minutes without any hassles. People enjoyed the different varieties of cuisines presented at the fest, all with a different taste and aroma.
Malabar food is can not be over without the inclusion of biriyani, the festival too had some delicious varieties of Malabar style biriyanis. Other than that the food fest also included several traditional style cuisines and deserts. Well if you have not heard about Kaiveesal and Mutta mala, then you should better try it. Kaiveesal is some what like a jilibe which is prepared of egg and maida, it’s a type of snack which one can have any time. While Mutta mala is prepared of the egg yolk and is a fat free dish.
The grand display of such tempting food items made visitors amazed, not only with the unique style of preparation, but also with the way they were presented as if they were served to have. This food fest was organised to make people aware of the Malabar food and its different food varieties. Even there are plans to organise a special training sessions to get behind the art of making this colourful and scrumptious Malabar dishes.
Kochi: The buzzing sound of the winged monsters of mosquitoes and their painful bite has indeed become the way of the life for many Kochiites, who are forced to shell out a substantial amount on mosquito repellent every month. Mosquito menace is all set to be the synonym of Kochi in the coming days. Anyone landing in this otherwise picturesque place cannot escape the Mosquito menace, which drains not just the blood of the hapless populace but also bleeds the exchequer, which is siphoning off lakhs of rupees to fight the menace. Mosquitoes are causative agents of many dreaded diseases like Chikungunia and dengue fever. The mosquito menace reaches its peak from December to February as this is the breeding season of the mosquitoes. As there is no heavy rain during these months, the mosquitoes find the stagnant waters an ideal spot to breed.
Kochi, of yesteryears was blessed with a natural flushing mechanism when salt water from the swollen back waters used to flush the city drains off the mosquito larvae during the rainy season. However with increased urbanization, the waterways are blocked with non degradable wastes and plastics, hampering the free flow of water. Unscientific construction of roads and buildings, often encroaching the wetlands and waterfront is yet another reason for the stagnation of canals with dirty water. The local administration and the public are equally responsible for this current bleak situation. Better hygiene and well laid out roads are the only permanent solutions to fight the problem.
Though the corporation regularly undertakes fogging and spraying, it has not brought in any effective results. These days, flushing of drains with salt water and biolarvicides is progressing in various canals and water bodies in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The civic body is going ahead with the plan of appointing full time entomologists in Kochi to help in the research on mosquito control. Minister for Law M. Vijayakumar inaugurated the vector control drive in the heavily polluted Parvathy Puthanar canal in the capital on Sunday by operating a spraying machine mounted on a boat. The minister stressed the need for public participation in vector control activities.
Kochi has to make steady strides in mosquito control to retain the past glory, which fetched her, the coveted title of the “Queen of Arabian Sea”. It is high time that the responsible citizens of this enchanting city to take up the cudgel for an everlasting respite from these blood suckers!
Well if you are a Keralite or are frequently in touch with Kerala, or your relative or friends live in Kerala then you may have heard many a times the word Hartal (Strike) from them. This term has been a prime element of Kerala, and sooner or later has some how been in news at least once in every two months. With so much of such hartals Kerala is also gaining a new name, the land of hartals.
The situation has become so grim that the lives of the normal man have been put to unrest every time such strikes get going. The so called government which is said to be the law body elected by people, who are liable to help out and guide general public from all situations, themselves are the heroes who gives air to these hartals for one or the other reason. The story does not end here, even during these unofficial strikes public property are damaged and general public faces stiff challenge.
It seems the hartal saga will remain with this state always and this time it’s the small and big traders in Kerala who have planned to not to open their shops on Saturday 23rd February, to protest against the entry of retail giants. This protest has been called on by the Kerala Vyapari Vyvasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) and the Kerala State Vyapari Vyvasayi Samithi (KSVVS). They are demanding the ruling government to pass a law to stop the entry of these retail giants in the state.
It is learnt that as per the present rule any of the retail giant can open up their retail trade here without any barriers. This will affect the state retail sector and will make them to bear huge loses. Even the price of commodities has jumped a lot due to the entry of such retail giants. In recent years the scenario of retail industry in the state has changed a lot hampering the business of the local retailers.
To voice against this growing problem the shops through out Kerala will remain closed on 23rd February. Where else can one witness the frequent spectacle of silent cities? Hope now you may know the answer.
Harsh Fact: Kerala has to bear a loss of 650 crores on a single hartal day.
KOCHI: Vetiver or ‘Ramacham’ in local parlance is closely related to the ethnic lives of Keralites. It was used as a water purifier and fan in royal households since time immemorial. Traditional kerala homesteads used to put vetiver plants in drinking water wells and ponds to purify water and to make it cool. However Vetiver was pushed to nothingness by the onslaught of modern technologies.
Now efforts are being taken to popularise the grass technology in agriculture and soil conservation. Governer of Kerala, Mr. R L Bhatia opined that this medicinal plant with low maintenance cost was ideal for improving water quality and retaining moisture content of the soil by preventing water run off. He was speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of a national workshop on vetiver system organized by the India Vetiver Network. Many foreign delegates are participating in the three-day workshop.
Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (KDHP), one of the country’s large tea producers, has long adopted this amazing technology in their tea estates. While replanting the tea gardens, they put up vetiver hedges in place of the customary stone embankments to conserve soil and moisture. It is estimated to reduce the expenditure of soil and water conservation work to over 30 per cent and could be a super money saver on waste water treatment and soil conservation. The root system of vetiver is stronger than many trees and is said to have the ability to absorb even poisonous heavy metal traces in water.
The R& D wing of KDHP, under the leadership of P. Haridas, Deputy General Manager, has been conducting trials on vetiver for the last one and a half decades. “We learnt from these farmers that they have been successfully growing vetiver against soil erosion for centuries. It reduced rainfall runoff by as much as 70%, recharged groundwater and improved ephemeral stream flow.” Surprisingly villages that use vetiver have much higher water levels in their wells due to better ground water replenation Recent studies prompted the World Bank to launch The Vetiver Network (TVN), which has been disseminating vetiver technology to the world with a missionary zeal. Kerala is all set to go back to its roots by reviving the long lost vetiver technology.