In the previous post, we had covered most important coastal parts of Thrissur district. What we did not touch on was the city of Thrissur.
Thrissur or what was earlier known as Trichur is called the cultural capital of Kerala. It has a number of religious institutions and was once a major centre of Hindu religious education. It is also important for some Christian denominations.
The town appears to have been built around a temple complex with huge grounds which serve as grounds for numerous socio-cultural activities. It is also the ground for the annual festival of Pooram. All those decorated elephants that you see in the tourist brochures are from here. The festival relates to Shri Vadakkunathan Temple which is the most important shrine in the city.
It is an imposing temple and nicely maintained.
Peacock feathers are still sold openly in the compound of the temple.
The area around the temple is used for various activities like practicing for group dance.
The people seating here in small clusters are not gossiping. They are playing Chess.
There is a second temple on the backside of the main temple here. It was late and I could not gather the details.
If you have interest in them the compound sports a few species of birds. Here is a Tree-Pie and a Barbet.
The skyline of the town is dominated by the Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours has the tallest church building in India. It belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and dates back to 1814, 200+ years old.
Thrissur also has a Chaldean Syrian Church which belongs to the St Thomas Christians who trace their origins to Thomas the Apostle who came to India in 58 AD.
Thrissur has a couple of Museums. Even the small towns in Kerala sport a small museum. The Keralites appear to chrish their past of which they are justifiably proud. We had to skip the museums for paucity of time , except for the museum at Sakhtan Thampooran Palace. It is a small museum and could have been skipped in favour of the Museum of Art.
The place was actually a fort and some signs of the same are still visible in the noise of the Bus Station on the opposite side of road. The Palace is in solid teakwood and a beauty in simplicity, characterestic of Kerala.The contents of the museum has not much to write home about.
Thrissur town is not located on the seashore but the district has a few beaches. Snehatheeram is one of the newly developed one. Getting to the beaches on the seaboard from the highway is a challenge. At Snehatheeram beach, this restaurant roof is made entirely of the Coconut leaves, a rarity these days.
TheBlueDrive is a coastal journey and we have avoided the temptation to drive some distance towards the hills which are greener and cooler, especially in the Western Ghats. An urge to do some forest birding takes us to Chalkudy which by itself is not far from the coast but the Ethirapally falls that we visit are.
If you have been watching Indian movies, especially the Soth Indian ones, you will have seen Ethirapally falls.
To reach this place one has to do quite a bit of descend and then a steep climb.
The forest area of Vazhachal is quite extensive and has waterfalls at three places. Two are not as spectacular as the one above.
On the way is the Thumboormuzhy River Garden with a hanging bridge.
The hills of the Western Ghats are spectacular and beautiful but are outside the scope of our present travel programme which is cover the entire coast of continental India. May be another time.
Our objective in coming to the hills was to do some birding. We stayed at Chalakudy in the plains and drove into the hills which took time and consequently we did not have the best of the birding time. That is not to say we did not see anything at all.
The Hill Mynah, not a easy bird to come by was there to welcome us.
My old friend Scarlet Minivet was perching high up in the canopy.
The Black Capped Kingfisher, normally found near the sea was not expected at the high altitudes but was found enjoying himself in the cool stream waters.
The Racket-Tailed Drongo had the insects on the newly opened flowers of Silk-Cotton tree to feed on.
The Pond Heron,proabably the commonest bird in India after the House Crow was seen enjoying himself in the flowing waters.
We return to our base at Chalakudy and have a late lunch. At the restaurant on the highway we find some ‘Cutlates’, which we decide against and go in for ‘Meals’.
The digression is not over. We have to get back to serious work now. The next stop is the great historical city of Cochin and the district of Ernakulam of which it is a part.
Text and Photographs by Suryakiran Naik
Additional Photographs; Veena Naik