Kochi: A great corporate get away is an ideal bet to chuck out the work pressures and to keep the team in good spirits. The team at Karma Kerala also took a cue from this popular holiday option when they charted out a great house boat cruise trip in the enchanting backwaters of Kumarakom.
Saturday, 26th April was the D-day and our team of 15 members set out by 9.30 am in a mini bus. The party mood was very much in the air as music and dance lend an air of celebration to the milieu as the vehicle hummed its way past the stunning coastal roads dotted with mangroves and backwaters. After over 2 hrs of drive, we disembarked at the Cheepunkal Jetty near Kumarakom.
We were excited to see our house boat laying in wait for us at the jetty. This full fledged single deck boat had all modern amenities including an air conditioned bedroom with an attached bath with all facilities like WC, shower bath, and high quality fittings like mirrors. The spacious living area in the front has comfortable sofas apart from the wooden sitting spaces that stretch all along the length of the boat in the model of the seating arrangements in a typical Kerala homestead.
The bedroom has beautiful wooden ceiling that gives the classic feel and richness. The glass windows were just right to steal a glance of the enchanting backwaters while traveling. The lighting in the living area of the houseboat is provided with dim bulbs fitted in hurricane lamps to add a retro twist and a romantic flair to the ambience.
The owner of the houseboat took time off his busy schedule to explain the attractions on either side of the backwaters including the fabled Kumarakom bird sanctuary and many hotels and resorts of some of the big names of the industry such as Kumarakom Lake Resort, Coconut lagoon, Raddison Plaza, Taj Garden Retreat , Golden Waters and Abad group among others. The traditional fishermen were easily picking up pearl spot fishes from the mud after driving the fish using ropes and nets; the fresh catch was being used in the house boat in preparing the culinary delights to be served to us.
Soon after the cruise started, we were offered the traditional Kerala breakfast of boiled tapioca, fish curry and fried clams. The boys were more interested in savoring the freshly tapped coconut toddy, which would be sweet like milk. The boat was seamlessly cutting across the water currents to reach the wider and deeper backwaters. The wind swept interiors offered a cool respite from the scorching sun outside, as songs, photo sessions and animated banters gave the interiors a distinct party feel.
The sumptuous lunch underscored by chicken dishes and the signature dish of pearl spot was well complemented by the vegetarian curries to make up a typical Kerala cuisine. After enjoying a breathtaking view of the sunset, we enjoyed a swim in the backwaters with most of us preferring to keep the swim suits on. The supper was rather heavy with chappathi and chicken after which an exciting game of rummy followed. The night was cool and pleasant and we enjoyed a sound sleep to the lullaby of nature.
At the crack of the dawn, we set out on fishing and we could even catch a few! By around 9am it was time for us to bid adieu to this enchanting place and the majestic floating abode, which offered some of the happiest moments in all our lives.
As they say all good things must come to an end; so did our wonderful trip; but, not before offering a relaxing weekend to enable us all to face the Monday Morning madness with enhanced vigor.
Apr 30: A latest archaeological excavation has added more value to the historical significance of kerala, which dates back to over 2000 years. The excavation was conducted as part of the Muzuis Heritage programme. The botanical remains were found near the water logged area of Pattanam.
Bollard, canoe, rope made using plant fibre, pepper, paddy, teak, coconut shell, frankincense and cardamom were found, they are believed to be 2000 years old. M.D.Kajale, Paleobotanist of Deccan College of Archaeology has collected the samples of these organic remains for further examination.
According to a statement released by the Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR), the samples will also be send to research laboratories in India and other countries for confirming the exact period the organic remains belongs to. The research work will get complete by April 30 and the trench is open to public on April 29 and April 30.
P.J.Cherian, director of the project said that the layer of clay that covered the organic remains, prevented it from getting oxidised and allows it to withstand several years. The research led by KCHR is a joint effort of Southern Naval Command, State Department of Archaeology and Archaeological Survey of India. Under water excavation is also part of this research.
The excavation gives a clear indication that the area was inhibited continuously between 8th century BC and 10th century AD. Among the excavated findings are the pot shreds from Sassania and Parhia. Other things that are excavated were burnt bricks, glass beads, relics of wharf and clay utensils. Seven copper coins and a lead coin of the Chera period were also excavated.
Kalpetta: Chembra Peak, one of the highest peaks in Wayanad district is teeming with enthusiastic trekkers from all over Kerala and neighboring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is estimated that more than 150 travelers reach here daily to savour the brilliant natural spectacles and exciting outdoor activities.
Located at 2100 meters above the sea level, it falls within the Meppadi Forest Range and the visitors need to obtain a prior permission from the Forest Range Office at Meppadi for the trek, which does not involve any fees.
A 20-minutes drive along the lush green tea estates would take the visitors to the three-storied forest watch tower, where the motorable road ends. From this spot a long and arduous trek would take you to the peak. At the top there is a heart shaped, crystal clear lake enriched by its natural springs, which is believed to have never gone dry even in peak summer season.. During the past, British planters had set up a golf course, a small rest house and a stable for their horses. Even today, the remains of the road that led to the rest house could be seen.
The peak offers breathtaking views of the snow clad Nilgiri ranges and the verdant teak forests of Nilambur, which in itself is an enchanting experience. The tourism department has ear marked Rs.30 lakh for promoting eco tourism projects in the district. As part of this, new trekking paths and other basic amenities such as nature friendly huts are planned, to cater to the growing number of tourists.
Kochi, April 29
It was unpredicted rains in most places of Kerala and isolated parts of Lakshadweep in the past two days. This sudden rain forced the mercury to dip giving some respite after the scorching heat which made them restless for the past few weeks. These sudden rains came to be a surprise for people which they enjoyed.
According to the met department Kottayam, Minicoy and Punalur recorded the highest rainfall in the state. Meanwhile Konny, Kochi, Kozhikode, Nilampur, Varkala and Alappuzha too experienced decent amount of rainfall. There are predictions of more rains during the next 48 hours in the state.
It was cool breeze everywhere in the city which made people to step out of their homes and enjoy this pleasant atmosphere. The different parks in the city and marine drive witnessed some decent crowd who turned out to enjoy the drizzle. Many love-birds (couples) were also seen enjoying the sudden transformation of weather; romance was in the air which made the day for these young couples.
Kattapana: Scores of visitors including pilgrims and tourists from both Tamil Nadu and Kerala visited the ancient Mangaladevi temple located within the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on the occasion of Chitrapournami day, for which the temple opens only once a year in the month of April .
Elaborate arrangements were made by the forest departments of the two States for the smooth conduct of the festival. Priests from both the states conducted separate pujas at the temple, which remained open till 5Pm. This temple is located along the jungles bordering Tamil Nadu and the festival is carried out jointly as both the States have made claims over it.
The forest path to the temple would be cleared by the forest department to facilitate the pilgrims from Tamil Nadu who reach the temple on foot. Pilgrims from Kerala reach the temple in jeeps through the Kumily-Mangaladevi route.
Kochi: It is expected that with the development of boating facilities, the Kottayil Kovilakom tourism project, will get a major boost. Located at Chennamangalam in Ernakulam District, this palace was the erstwhile seat of Kshatriya chieftains of Villarvattom. Kottayil Kovilakom was a coveted center of learning during the Chola reign and it has a larger than life role in the history of Kochi. It is situated at a distance of 39 km from Ernakulam and is about 14 km from Cherai enroute to Kodungallur. Chennamangalam is world famous for handloom weaving and coir manufacturing.
According to the legend, the fort of Paliyam kotta was built by the Dutch as a gesture of goodwill to the Paliyathachans and within which a palace (kovilakam) exclusively for women was built, which gave it the name Kottayil Kovilakam.
It is also a centre for religious integration as a Shri Krishna Temple, an old Syrian Catholic Church, a mosque and a Jewish Synagogue are located very close to each other, bearing testimony of the enviable cultural harmony of Kerala.
Kottayil Kovilakam is blessed with the choicest of natural bounties. It falls in the confluence of three rivers including the Periyar and the Chalakudy Rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and vast stretches of rolling green plains. The Paliam Palace, the erstwhile royal homes of the Paliath Achans, hereditary Prime Ministers to the erstwhile Maharajas of Kochi testifies the marvel of the traditional Kerala architectural style at its best. The palace is a rich repository of ancient documents and relics.
The remnants of the Vypeenkotta Seminary dating back to the 16th century, built by the Portuguese, the ancient Kunnathali temple and the imposing Malavana Para, standing tall amidst the fast flowing waters are some other attractions nearby.
In the second phase of the Kottayil Kovilakom tourism project, road connectivity will be improved apart from introducing boating facilities.
Kochi: The islanders who depend on the mainland of Kochi for almost all their needs, are in a difficult situation as the repair works of m.v. Tipu Sultan in not yet completed. It was taken off from the service in September to address some urgent repair works, which is being carried out at Kochi shipyard.
A delegation of people’s representatives from Lakshadweep has conveyed their anxiety to the concerned authorities that the transportation to Lakshadweep would be seriously hampered during the upcoming monsoon if the ship was not delivered without further delay.
The ship, m .v Tipu Sultan, which plies between Kochi and Lakshadweep, is one of the only two ships that ferry the passengers from the island to the mainland and vice versa. This 658-seat ship operates with the other ship in operation m.v. Bharat Seema. The ships undertake five voyages a month covering five to six islands each time. The shortage of ships might set off an unprecedented rush of passengers with the onset of the monsoon season, the island administration has decided to extend the school reopening by a fortnight.
The shipyard authorities assured that the ship would roll out of its repair yard by May 15, which should bring back the smiles on the islanders.
Kochi, April 24
Kerala the heavenly abode has fascinated all with its varied attraction from its past. This spiritual land showcases an array of rich traditions and customs in its variety of temple festivals. These temple festivities have kept this cultural state always buzzing with festivity and celebrations. One can’t even think of a temple festival without the inclusion of elephants, these jumbos have always been a part of all the celebration in Kerala. But its also fair to say that these elephants have also claimed many lives and loss of property in many occasions in recent past.
In one of such gruesome event three people lost their lives when an elephant ran amok during the annual temple festival of Irinjalakkuda Koodalmanikyam temple in Thrissur district of Kerala. This horrifying incident occurred on the fifth day of the festivity while the tusker Tiruvalla Unnikrishnan was taken out after the ‘siveli’. The reason for the elephant turning violent has not been yet confirmed but rumours are that, someone tried to grab the trunk of the jumbo which made the tusker turn violent.
It was nothing new for the keralites as such scenes have become frequent sights for people of Kerala during these festivals. Prior to this tragic incident many a times such incidents have occurred in which people were killed by the tuskers. In order to provide some relief to the victims family the temple devaswom announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the dependants of the deceased.
Guruvayur: The famous Guruvayur Sreekrishna Temple Lord Krishna at Guruvayur, located in Trichur district of Kerala, witnessed a rather unusual offering by a devotee- a thulabharam offering with paracetamol tablets. It took 72 kg of tablets to match the body weight of the devotee.
‘Thulabharam’ is one of the important rituals of this temple where people make offerings to God for favours received. On a weighing balance, the devotee is weighed against the offerings that he has promised from gold to fruits according to his financial capability. However, in rare cases, bizarre items like tablets or coconut husks are also offered by devotees.
Satyan of Kadamparambil House in Kuttur made the tablet offering to fulfill the promise made by his father. Normally the thulabharam articles like sugar, banana or rice are used up in the temple or auctioned off publicly. Now as the offering has come in the shape of tablets, the temple officials are planning to use it at the Devaswom hospital.
Thrissur: The cultural capital of Thrissur is all set become 100% e -literate soon, with the akshaya project gaining momentum through the various centres operating all across the state. People from all walks of life and social strata are included in its fold. The second phase of the project would include MS office package and Intel learn programme for school students.
In the year 2007, Annamanada Grama Panchayat became the first e-literate panchayat and Kunnamkulam the first e-literate municipality. Another feather was added to the Cap of Thrissur when Chettichal was named the first e-literate village devoid of any alcoholics in the whole of Asia. The e-literacy drive is targeted to cover almost all sections of the society from policemen to jail inmates, fishermen and head load workers.
Tribals living in remote hamlets such as Anappantham, Kadikadavu and Erappanpara among others will be covered in this literacy drive. The best part is that people have endorsed this programme by ensuring mass participation to help this district bag the coveted title of the first e-literate district in Kerala.
This people friendly programme has cut across all barriers including physical impairments and handicaps, to make it one of the most popular drives in the history of Thrissur. A 102 year old woman, Ponnara became the oldest e-literate person while enthusiastic students like Vinod, who cannot speak nor hear has become e-literate through sign language, with the assistance of his wife.
It shows the sheer determination of the participants and the mass appeal of this programme which has percolated right into the grass root levels of the society. Akshaya e centres have been started in tea estates and deep interiors to cater to tea estate workers of Malakappara in Athirappilly panchayat and tribal families living there.
Akshaya project is fast grabbing international attention as well. Recently a 25-member strong Srilankan delegation visited the Akshaya centre here to know more about this project. Kerala is all set to become a 100% e-literate State- another milestone for this progressive State.