Friday, October 29, 2010

Kozhikode: Historical Town of Prominence

Calicut, the most important city of Malabar region of Kerala, was a leading trading center for spices on the West Coast of India during the medieval period. Ruled by the Zamorin Dynasty, Calicut found a place in World History with the discovery of sea route to India in 1498 by the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama. The landing of Gama at Kapat near Calicut changed the political scenarios of India, which ultimately ended with its colonization by the British. It remained under the Madras Presidency till the formation of Kerala in 1956 after independence.

Location: Calicut or Kozhikode is situated in the south Indian state of Kerala on the southwest coast of the Arabian Sea. The district extends from latitude 11°15' N to 75°49' E. Basking in the idyllic setting of the serene Arabian Sea on the west and mesmeric peaks of the Wayanad hills on the east, this district has all the required ingredients to fascinate a tourist.

Other Name: Calicut
Languages Spoken: Malayalam, English, and Hindi
Long Distance Code +91-495
International Access: Calicut International Airport
Area: 2345
Best Time to Visit: September to May

Kozhikode Attractions

Kozhikode Beach
The coastline along Kozhikode, located on the eastern part of the city, offers you a long stretch of uninterrupted sandy beach. You can see and enjoy the glorious spectacle of the setting sun from this beach. The Lighthouse, the Lions Park (children park) and the Aquarium (which has a good collection of marine life and freshwater fish) are interesting places to visit on this beach.

Kappad in Calicut is the place where Vasco de Gama set foot for the first time when he came to India on May 27, 1498. There is a small stone monument at the beach to commemorate that event. Pazhassirajah Museum is located on the East Hill. It is run by the State Archeological Department. Ancient mural paintings, antique bronzes, old coins, models of temples, and megalithic structures are on display here. Situated next to Pazhassirajah Museum is an art gallery displaying paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Dolphin's Point is a good place to watch dolphins playing in the sea early in the morning. On this beach are also situated Calicut Town Center, Lions Club, and a lighthouse. Two crumbling piers, more than hundred years old, stand out into sea at Kozhikode beach. The beach is easily accessible from the city and provides a good view of the setting sun. The place also has a Marine Life Aquarium open whole day.

The Science Planetarium at Jaffarkhan Colony is the best place to unravel the mysteries of universe and enlightens about the planets and stars. The Science Center has an interesting array of games, puzzles, and scientific gadgetry, which can keep a person busy for the whole day. The planetarium and Science Center are in the same complex. Mananchira, which was the palace tank of King Mana Vikrama, has been now turned into a traditional architectural splendor with carpeted green grass and surrounded by ethnic buildings. The place also has a musical fountain.

There is a dam at Kakkayam, located around 45 km from Calicut. The place offers challenging trekking and rock-climbing through river path and numerous waterfalls. There is another dam at Peruvannamoozhy, 60 km from Calicut. It is a place of beauty, calm, and serenity. The place has a crocodile farm run by the state forest department.

Pazhassiraja Museum
You can have a glimpse of the rich historic past of Kozhikode in the Pazhassiraja Museum, which is located at East Hill, 5 km from the city. The state archaeological department runs this museum. The various galleries within this museum have an extensive collection of artifacts that range from ancient coins, bronze objects, copies of ancient murals, etc., depicting the rich cultural heritage of this region. The exhibits of the megaliths (huge prehistoric monuments) are quite interesting. This museum is open for public viewing from 10 am to 12.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 5 pm everyday except on Mondays and public holidays.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Orchha : The kingdom lost in Obscurity

An inevitable journey to Orchha while visiting Khajuraho to or fro Delhi is a delightful surprise. All the routes for Delhi to Khajuraho or Agra to Khajuraho go via Orchha. Orchha now nothing but a small tiny village, is one of those many villages of India which live in obscurity despite having great potential. Orchha some say means hidden, as the Rajput kings were pushed back from their Bundelkhand residence and they resorted to this place, there for the name , Orchha.

Around 170 kms from the erotic temples of Khajuraho this small village must once have been a flourishing empire. The lost empire has left many of its impressions on this village. Situated on the banks of Betwa River, Orchha was founded by the Rajput Chieftain Rudra Pratap in the 16th century. Between 1531 to 1783 it remained the capital of the locally powerful Rajput Kingdom. The subsequent rulers after Rudra Pratap added many structures here which only enhanced the beauty of the previous ones, before finally shifting their capital to Tikamgarh.

The Fort of Orchha is what Orchha is all about. Though almost in ruins, still one can imagine the grandeur of the structure that it must once have been. The most notable king of Orchha was Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo. He built many palace and temples in the fort.

The most important monument inside the fort is the Jehangir Mahal, built to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. The beautiful palace is built in tiers and is crowned by equally beautiful Chhatris on the top. The view from above is just stupendous. Built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo, this is the most exquisite palace of the fort.

The Raj Mahal gives a clear picture, of the royalty with which the kings lived. The Raj Mahal still holds some beautiful murals on the walls and the palace gives a spectacular view of the Jehangir Mahal and the Chaturbhuj temple.

This palace turned temple with its soaring spires and palatial architecture is one of the most unusual in India. The Ram Raja Temple, they say was built by accident. An idol of Lord Ram as brought from Ayodhya and installed in this palace initially till the temple was being built. But later on it became impossible to remove the idol and thus this to be palace was made into a sacred place. The actual temple where the idol was to be worshiped still stands as the Chaturbhuj Temple. Lotus emblems and other symbols of religious significance provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. Last but not the least is the Lakshmi Narayan Temple. The interiors are exquisitely beautiful as that of his exteriors. It contains some of the most beautiful murals and paintings of Orchha.

Apart from the famous landmarks the whole area is dotted with big and small shrines and cenotaphs which only add to the beauty of this small place.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


An Enchanting Plantation Town Thekkady, located in central Kerala, is a popular hill station and a wildlife centre. This town, which is an important plantation centre, conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice scented plantations.

In the Periyar Forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves of India and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold immense opportunities for treks and mountain walks. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary offers a fairly good chance of seeing the great Indian tiger in its natural habitat.

Location: The drive to Thekkady itself is enchanting as the road winds through tranquil countryside, rich plantations & thick jungles. The sanctuary, 60 km from Idukki, 190 km from Cochin and 114 km away from Kottayam is open throughout the year, but the best season is from September to March.

Other Name Periyar
Languages Spoken: Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and English.
Long Distance Code: +91-486
Importance: Houses one of the best sanctuaries in India, Periyar.
Best Time To Visit: September To March

Thekkady Attractions:

The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Lying close to the plantations, in the rich jungles of Periyar in Thekkady is one of the worlds most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread across 777 sq. km, of which 360 sq. km is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. Noted for its geo-morphological diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, the Reserve attracts visitors from all over the world. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park.

This is the only sanctuary in India where you can have the unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar remains the large herds of wild elephants that come down to the lake's edge.


The river Periyar flowing through the centre of this town nourishes its vast tea, coffee and pepper plantations. A major trade centre, Vandiperiyar is also home to a number of tea factories. The Government Agriculture Farm and Flower Gardens have a delightful array of rose plants, orchids and anthodium.
(18 km from Thekkady)


This sleepy little village with its spectacular view of the plains and cascading waterfalls during the monsoons is a feast to the eyes. The village slopes down to the famous coconut groves of Kumbam in neighboring Tamil Nadu.
(15 km from Kumily)


This plantation town, closely associated with Thekkady, is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar Sanctuary. It is an important shopping centre and spice trade centre, the main bus station and most of the medium range accommodation in the Periyar region is in Kumily.
(4 km from Thekkady)

Mangala Devi Temple

This ancient temple is hidden in the dense woods at the top of a peak 1337 m above sea level. The temple is built in the traditional Kerala Style of Architecture. Visitors are allowed here only on the Chithra Pournami festival day. The peak commands a panoramic view of the other side of the ghats and the vast plains of Tamil Nadu. Permission to visit the area can be obtained from the Wildlife Warden at Thekkady.
(15 km from Thekkady)


(43 km from Thekkady,)
The winding journey to this hill town, along the Periyar river, offers a stunning view of the rolling hills draped in lush greenery. Velvet lawns, rare flora and fauna add to the beauty of Pullumedu, which can be accessed from a jeep.The famous Sree Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and the Makara Joythi illuminations at the shrine are visible from here. Since it is part of the restricted forest zone, special permission to visit Pullumedu has to be obtained from the Wildlife Preservation Officer, Thekkady or The Range Officer, Vallakkadavu.