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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aranmula - A Quaint Kerala Village

12 May 2010: Our next stop was at the Aranmula located at a distance of around 7 Kms from Chengannur. First we visited the Parthasarathy temple, located atop a hill, whose architecture is similar to the Chengannur Temple. It is situated on a sprawling campus with many trees and several sub shrines. We witnessed the Thulabharam (weighing a person on the temple scales against items like rice, bananas, sugar etc which are then given as offerring to the deity) of a 6 months baby and pics are enclosed.
Next we visited the Vastu Vidya Gurukulam where we had a morning appointment with the consultant design engineer. Vasthu sasthra is the branch of Veda which deals with traditional Indian way of environmental friendly construction adopting universal principles of creation. This is a combination of science engineering and spirituality. Vastu vidya came from, Sanskrit word Vas & Vidya. Vas means dwell and Vidya is knowledge is stated to spring from Sthapadya Veda the sub Veda of Atharvaveda. Traditional Kerala temple is an excellent example of Vasthu designing. This institution, under Department of Culture, offers consultancy services for Vastu Vidya and Mural painting (Traditional Kerala Temple painting). Enclosing herewith pics of the main office building of the Gurukulam.
Aranmula is situated on the banks of the river Pamba. We went to the local PWD Guest House, a quaint old building with nice rooms recently renovated. There is a full grown jackfruit tree with plenty of green prickly fruits hanging down. From there we had breathtaking view of the river(see pics below). Incidentally these are nice rooms where one can stay at a very nominal tariff @Rs.500/day :Vallam Kali means boat race in Malayalam which is the language of the State of Kerala. It is mainly conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in Autumn. Vallam Kali include races of many kinds of traditional boats (paddled longboat) of Kerala. The race of Chundan Vallam (snake boat) is the major event. Hence Vallam Kali is also known in English as Snake Boat Race and now in recent years has become a major tourist attraction. Typical snake boats are 100 to 120 feet long, and hold around 100 rowers. Each of the villages in the region has its own snake boat, which they take great pride in. The battling snake boats of Kerala have over 400 years of history associated with them.(Sorry no pics!)
Aranmula is also famous for its traditional metallic mirrors known as Aranmula Kannadi. It is made of copper tin alloy and the ratio is a closely guarded secret.This is a unique art & handed down from generation to generation. Presently only five families are involved in this art in Aranmula and these families hold a patent. We visited one such family and studied the process of manufacture of this unique and beautiful mirror. See pics below:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chengannur Mahadeva Kshetram

12 May 2010:
We made a day’s visit to Chengannur & Aranmula , two small but important towns in Kerala State. Our first stop was at Chengannur. It is 117 km north of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram on the banks of the Pamba River. The nearest towns are Pandalam on the south, Thiruvalla on the north, Mavelikkara on the west and Aranmula and Pathanamthitta on the east. It is also the nearest railway station to go to Sabarimalai.(Sabarimalai is the abode of Lord Ayyappa where lakhs of devotees flock every year for darsan after trekking barefoot for miles through jungles and rocky hills)
Chengannur is famous for its Shiva temple -“Chengannur Mahadeva Kshetram”, where thousands have darshan of Aaratu festival of Goddess Parvati or Devi.(The goddess is taken and immersed in the temple tank in a grand ceremony) As per Temple legends this is assumed to be one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. It is a sprawling temple complex with a circular Sanctum. Lord Shiva and Parvathi Devi are the main investitures of this temple. The vimanam of the main shrine is a conical copper plated structure similar to pagodas in Thailand. Devi’s main Idol is made with an alloy of five metals (Pancha-loham). The temple was constructed centuries back in accordance with an architectural design evolved by the famous Perunthachan.
Here are some photographs of the temple complex: