P T Usha, popularly known as the Payyoli Express has not run out of steam even after 32 years since her maiden Olympics sojourn at Moscow in 1980, on July 25. It is praiseworthy indeed that this Indian sprint queen is making a comeback in London Olympics in the role of a coach after clocking many milestones in athletics. While the mega sports events like Olympics remain a distant dream for many Indian sports persons, the achievement of P T Usha deserves special mention. From being a shy girl from Payyoli village in Kerala who made her debut in athletics at the age of 16, Usha has indeed come a long way to become one of the most celebrated names in Indian athletics. Her sheer grit and perseverance has always influenced the budding sports persons in the country.
It will be a proud moment for India when Usha will be making her debut as coach in the London Olympics on August 8th when her protege Tintu Luka will be competing in the 800 m event. Making a nostalgic second comeback at the age of 48, Usha will have a lot to be proud of at this achievement. After an illustrious sports career , Usha continues to be actively involved in sporting activities by setting up a sports school to train the aspiring athletes who do not get enough opportunities to showcase their talents. By handing over her baton to a well groomed line up of proteges like Tintu Luka, Usha has become a role model, striving to keep up the sports credentials of this great nation.
Temple bells play an important role in adding up to the spiritual feel in temples and they have been in use since time immemorial. Adding a new dimension to the legacy of temple bells and to create an awareness on the auspiciousness of bells, Srimath Muttom Thirumala Devaswom at Cherthala in Kerala has installed a massive bell that weighs 1100 kg and is 4.8 ft long and 5 ft high, making it one of the biggest temple bells in the whole of South India. The bell was installed in connection with the renovation of the gajamandapm of the temple and the ongoing 250th anniversary celebrations of the temple.
This giant bell in bronze was crafted by R Rajendran, a traditional artist from Naamakal in Tamil Nadu. It took 4 months time to complete the bell, which costs about 10 lakh. The bell was brought to the temple in a truck to be installed in this temple dedicated to Lord Venkatachalapathy. The echoing sound of the new bell which can be heard till a long distance will surely enhance the divine milieu of this temple, which has over 2000 worshipers. This giant temple bell is sure to become a testimony of the traditional temple architecture styles of India for the future generations. Srimath Muttom Thirumala Devaswom temple in Cherthala is owned by the Gowda Saraswath Brahmins. The Cochin Thirumala temple also has a huge bronze bellwhich is 4 ft in diameter and 6 ft in height holds the rare distinction of being the second largest in Asia!
There are countless ways to beat stress; you can curl up with your favourite book, plan a holiday to a beach resort or hit the bars. However, for something truly interesting and new, check out this fledgling outdoor activity of kayaking in the backwaters of Kochi. Yes, you heard it right the unexplored activity of kayaking in the backwaters of Kochi is finding many new takers including high profile professionals like doctors and techies among others. The delightfully quiet isles of Kothad, Pizhala and Kadamakudi near Ernakulam are all well cut for kayaking.
On popular demand, the organisers, Scuba Cochin, have decided to make their two-and-a-half hour kayaking trips into a weekly event, which is open to 20 people at a time. Though kayaking is a popular holiday activity in the backwaters of Aleppey, it is a new trend in Cochin, which is attracting not just water sports enthusiasts but also families and youth groups. The best thing about kayaking is that it brings you closer to nature, and it is something that can be done at your own pace.
Though kayaking is a popular event in overseas holiday itineraries, it is a relatively new trend in Kerala. By creating interest in Olympic events like sailing, rowing and kayaking, Kerala can go a long way in tapping the youth potential in these watersports, as well. So next time when you get stressed up with your workload, all you need to do is to plan an interesting spell of kayaking to get refreshed.
Kottayam Kumily Road which forms the strategic link between the high ranges of Central Kerala and Tamilnadu completed 150 years recently. Extending over 109 kilometers, KK road is part of the Kollam Theni Highway. Built during the reign of Rani Lakshmi Bhai in 1863, this road was completed in different phases. The first phase extending from Kottayam to Mundakkayam took 4 years to get completed. In the next 4 years, the road was extended to Kumily via Kuttikanam, Peerumedu and Vandiperiyar. The road was built using the latest available technology of those times. Elephant trails were used as markers while building the first stretch of road from Mundakkayam to the Highranges. labourers for crushing the stones were brought from the neighbouring places.
British engineers who used to undertake horse back trails to the jungles for pleasure trips and hunting also found this pathway useful. Thousands of labourers toiled day and night to complete the first phase of the KK road and the rugged terrain and hostile working conditions left many labourers sick. Many fell victims to the deadly disease of Malaria while a few others died in work site accidents while crushing boulders. Hundreds of dead were buried near the cattle market in Pambady as per historical data. The place where the engineers camped in cloth tents later came to be known as Koodarakunnu ( literally meaning tent hill).
The East of Mundakkayam was thickly forested that had no access from outside . The British saw great scope in the plantation and trading of spices like cloves, cardamom and tea in the high ranges with the opening up of the road. A bridge was built at Mundakkayam. Jungle paths and boulders were cleared to pave the way and as per records there were days when over 2000 persons were engaged in road construction. Soon bullock carts started plying from Kottayam to Mundakkayam through this stretch ferrying goods like coconut and paddy. In the ensuing stage, the road was extended from Kuttikanam to Chappath, Elappara and Kattapana, which became the first settlements in high ranges. The products from the main spice trading centres of the last century including Ponkunnam, Ranni, Konni, Manimala and Chirakadavu started reaching Cochin through the waterways via Kottayam.
Ponkunnam was infested with poisonous snakes, wild shrubs and poisonous thorny bushes which posed great challenge for the workers. To motivate the labourers to complete this difficult task, the British officers used to give a gold coin at the end of the day for those who had successfully completed their tasks. Hence the name Ponkunnam. ( Ponnu means gold and kunnu hillock )
Bus services were started before the tarring of the road was completed, which makes it 70 years since bus transportation began in KK road. The first buses were 8 seaters which were propelled by coal and Swaraj, Kailas and Balakumar were some of the transport companies that plied in this route for the first time in KK road to Peerumedu. Later the service was extended till Periyar and in the third stage, the bus route was extended to Kumily. When the road was completed , it was inaugurated by none other than the king His Majesty Sree Chithira Thirunal who travelled through the newly laid KK road.
150 years after , the prominence of this strategic road has only increased and KK Road still continues to be a nerve centre of the spice trade connecting the spice pockets to the trading posts like Cochin and will have a bigger role to play in the emerging Kerala.
The beauty spot and the green lung of the city of Kochi, the Marine Drive is likely to be extended further to Varapuzha, as per the plans of the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) for the development plan of an emerging Kochi.
The government has already approved the second phase of the development of Marine Drive in principle. The GCDA has been entrusted with the task of preparing a project report and conducting an environment study. In this phase GCDA is planning to set up a world trade centre, International convention centre and entertainment zone. The first phase of ring road to Varapuzha will be taken up soon. Some of the other projects that are being included in the Marine Drive development plan of Vision 2030 include an entertainment zone at Marine Drive, International Trade Centre and a Logistic Centre. The GCDA had already conducted two meetings with regard to Vision 2030, which was attended by delegates who are involved with the city’s development both directly and indirectly.
The GCDA is also going ahead with its plan of convening a two-day workshop later in the month, which would be attended by architects, town planners, political leaders and subject matter experts. The exponential growth of Cochin, the commercial capital of Kerala has thrown open a series of challenges in areas like infrastructural development. Kochi might need more such far sighted and innovative projects that can handle the pressure of a burgeoning population and the corresponding developmental activities to make it a well planned city.
Holding a valid driving license. So this will not be a problem
Officer waved me stop
There is no greed in his eyes
So what is it now. All alone, what is he doing here
You cannot go this way. This will create traffic block
You have to take the other way
Sorry Sir, I shall now take the other route. I did not know
It is ok. For today you can take this way
It is for our good. It is for every ones good
Already tired by this hectic work in smoke and burning sun
I wanted to hug him and kiss him
But I did not do
I should have done that
Which might have made him happy as an appreciation
And a change in attitude towards his duty and public
Next time I will do..what I feel like doing..when I feel like doing
Than repenting later
I could not do it..I did not do it..
Late night call…
Friend: ‘What are you doing tomorrow morning?’
Me: “What to do. Nothing, just like that… like every day, free after holy mass by 7 am”.
Friend: “Come let’s go to fish market”.
Me: “WHAT! Sorry buddy…”
Friend: “No, this place is interesting. Carry some money also. Come to Champakkara fish market in Ernakulam by 07:30 I will be there.”
Alright! What else!
After mass, took car and went directly to the market. I have only heard about this. First visit! On the way to Tripunithura, the royal city, it says ‘Champakkara Market Complex’.
He came with his family. Well I came with mine too…or she will ask me… “Why did you buy this fish… you could buy other fish… ”
Parked car at the church compound next to the market… Waterfront church… Hmm!
Piled up plastic boxes, cycles and cane baskets. Can’t move around without hitting others…
I shifted my wallet to front pocket. Money is money.
Strong piercing smell of fish and meat… But the area is clean.
Ice crushing machine…Where are they taking this crushed ice?
Filling ice in the boxes packed with fish, tied on top of cycles and scooters
fishes still alive…struggling to breathe. Poor ones… Just like how we struggle under water.
We went inside.
There are some vegetable shops too. Like everywhere in the surrounding area, vegetables are always expensive here too.
Bought 2 kg tapioca, tomatoes and some vegetables… Rs.70… not bad!
Yummy tapioca and fish curry!
Some sad faces… some happy faces.
Walked along … beside butchers with pork, beef, mutton… still dripping blood.
Boiling and cleaning the intestines. It reminded me about sausages.
Memories went back to hotelier days when I used to gulp chicken sausages and bacon for breakfast.
Big fishes are sold as whole. But after buying, you can get it cut into pieces.
If two or three families go together, we can get those for cheap price as we share a big fish.
In one corner, they cut and clean fish.
Fish …fish… everywhere fish..
Crabs, even legs tried together, trying to crawl out to escape from the vessel. But another one pulls it back… should be a Malayalee crab.
Little portions of fish varieties and varieties of small fishes everywhere on the floor! Area is still neat.
People walking in between the portions to find the needed ones and for the best offers…
Maddening sounds of bargaining.
Rs. 20 – Rs.100 as per variety.
Where is my friend?
Walking around with the camera, I missed them. ( See the pics that I took here)
People looking me with suspicious eyes… newspaper? (Do I look like?)
No… Just like that.
Plenty of aunties sitting along the path selling fishes
my eyes stuck on piles and piles of prawns. Yummy
might be expensive.
Me: “etraya chechy?” (How much)
Chechy: “kilo nooru” (Rs.100 per kg)
What! My eyes bulge. Outside it is Rs.250 per kg starting…as big as pointing finger.
These ones are still jumping. Alive! Fresh!
Took a kilo of fresh prawns… Very happy, but did not show outside.
Inside it is still busy. Men filling their boxes in cycle and scooters with fish to be sold along houses
aunties filling their baskets for the same purposes… But showing eyes at men to bring the price down…hmm…
Scenic on the other side of the river… it should be the island; rowing boats still reach the jetty with loads of fishes.They start coming at 6 am. Fishes are cheaper that time. Good time for them as now no trolling by big boats or ships.
Bought varieties of fish!
Dividing the booty … just Rs.250 per family… Happy for a week! Will take some home for parents in the weekend, they will be happy too. These are less available at those places.
“Yeeeeewww…” She is screaming… two prawns… or one prawn? Jumped out!!
It took two hours to clean one kg prawns.
Very careful… fried prawns. I packed my lunch box
I have prawns today for lunch!!
Wish I’d get one piece… office buddies salivating!!
The UNESCO has listed a total of 39 heritage spots all along the Western Ghats, of which Kerala takes credit to as many as 20 UNESCO heritage destinations, making Kerala an important eco sensitive destination. The decision to include the Western Ghats among the world heritage sites was taken in the World heritage meeting that was held on Jul 1st in St Petersburg.
Some of the destinations featured in this important heritage list include the forests that are spread along Chinnar, Thekkady, Chinnar, Eravikulam, Silent Valley, Attapadi, Pulmedu, Manavan chola, Pushpagiri and Kaalikavu. The report underscores the preservation of these eco sensitive spots.
Not many of us know that the Western Ghats that extends over 1600 Km is more ancient and bio diverse than the Himalayas. It is home to 5000 types of rare plants and over 140 mammals, 16 of which are seen only in this part in the whole world including the lion tailed macaques and the Nilgiri Tahr. Of the 179 types of reptiles seen here, 138 varieties are exclusive to the Western Ghats. There is a diverse avian population too in this region, many of which are facing the danger of extinction. Pollution, commercial activities , mining and deforestation are some of the reasons for the degradation of these fragile eco zones.
The heritage enlistment of the Western Ghats, will help in preventing the mining activities , which are now rampant in many places within the Western Ghats in Goa and Karnataka. It is our duty to protect these ancient natural wonders as we have only borrowed it from our forefathers to hand it over the future generations. Let us do our bit for the safe keep of these pristine spots , which are god given gifts for Kerala, the God’s own country’, which will go a long way in boosting the tourism potential too.
Edakkal caves, one of the prime tourist attractions in Wayanad, Kerala has unveiled some interesting findings that every Malayalee will cherish. In a study of the computer-enhanced photograph of Edakal-5 undertaken by M. V. Bhaskar, Project Coordinator, Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) Photographic Survey, it has become clear that he language of the inscriptions in Edakal-5 is Malayalam. There are inscriptions of words like pazhama, which literally means ‘that which is ancient or old.’ In the earlier discoveries, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and the early Vatteluttu script were found in some caves.
This landmark discovery of Malayalam inscriptions on Edakal-5 conclusively proves that the common people of Kerala were expressing themselves in Malayalam from as early as 4th century C.E. While Tamil was used more by the elite class as the literary idiom in which great works like Silappadikaram were composed, Malayalam was used as the common man’s language. It is interesting to note that Malayalam was used as the medium of communication for all purposes from as early as the Kollam Era (the early 9th century C.E.), which sheds light on the history and evolution of the language of Kerala.
However, it is disheartening to note that most of the tourists are ignorant about the legacy of these priceless inscriptions. Visitors often take pleasure in vandalizing these ancient inscriptions, which can annihilate these imprints forever. We in Karma Kerala had the opportunity to visit these historical caves during our corporate weekend trip to Wayand and we were spell bound by the finesse and the artistic brilliance of these etchings made thousands of years back!