82. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY – 10. Alleppey to Kollam


We leave Alleppey and move southwards to Kollam. We don’t intend staying in Kollam town but still would like to be as close as possible to Ashtamudi lake and the inland waterways.  We need to do a couple of other places along this long road and it might take another halt before Ashtamudi. When in Kerala one has to be prepared for a lot of things including a lot of confusion.

 

The road from Alappuzha ( Alleppey)  down south is narrow as most Kerala roads are. The traffic is horrible. The bus drivers appear to be trained to reduce the population of the state. I have somehow survived to write this post.

On the way we see this Shiva temple where the Lord has been provided with State of Art lightning for making Him visible at night.

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The temple is modest but has a sizable along the highway.

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The first major attraction we go to see on this stretch of the coastal highway is the Krishnapuram Palace at Kayamkulam. This 18th century palace built by the Travancore Kings and is a miniature replica of Padmanabhapuram Palace and now doubled up as a Museum.

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Krishnapuram Palace

The palace is well-maintained but the same cannot be said about the exhibits of the Museum. The most famous of the exhibits is Kerala’s largest (154 Sq. ft.) mural painting ‘ Gajendra Moksham’

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Gajendra Moksham, Mural painting.

 

 

 

 The Kayamkulam Double-edged Sword is also on display here.

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Kayamkulam Double-edged Sword.

 If you are a philatelist with interest in ‘Indian States’, you would know what Travancore Anchal is.  Here is something very important representing the famous postal administration.

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The simple beauty created by the Kerala’s woodworkers is here to see on a large-scale as in other palaces and temples.

5 Here is the place from where the King would descend to the pond for his bath. I find the gap a bit to narrow for a king to enter through unless he liked crawling.

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We make a stopover at Ochiara as we find a fairly decent hotel on the highway from where we could visit of couple of other places and stop for the day. As a matter of caution TheBlueDrive after sunset.

After some rest, we start again late in the afternoon for Azheekal Beach which is close to the very complex Kollam-Kottapuram waterway.

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I meet here someone who could have been a long-time friend. No, we are not mutually intelligible but that is fine. Language is not a pre-requisite for conversation; in fact, it is a hindrance. Not understanding each others language prevents quarrels and fights.

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They are constructing a bridge between Azheekal and Valiyazheekal which will help my friend.

Until the bridge is completed he has to take this boat across to his home at Valiyazheekal and pay Rs.10/- each time.

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Azheekkal is an extremely busy fishing harbour. We stop at the bridge to take some pictures of the incoming boats at the end of the day.

And then reach the Para Brahma Temple at Ochiara at the end of the day to pray for our continued existence in spite of the driving techniques of Kerala bus drivers.

The next day is again spent in the maze of Kerala roads. We are looking for Kovilathal Lighthouse and are not able to get there. We decide to go to the Ashtamudi Lake at a place called Roomi’s Nest and explore the lake from there. This helped. Roomi’s Nest is owned and managed by a Gulf-returned entrepreneur by the name of Nizar Roomi. About this place and the Ashtamudi lake a little later, in the nest post. As of now, Nizar volunteers to take us to Kovilathal Lighthouse. We have spent quite some time to locate this place. For Nizar, it is not a problem. Nizar takes the driver’s seat- a first for TheBlueDrive. Kovilthal is an interesting place. The Lighthouse is right on the beach.

The views from the Kovilathal lighthouse are brilliant.

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Roomy has been a professional photographer and want to try some on us from the top of the Lighthouse, despite the low light.

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The compound of the Lighthouse has a colourful display of Whale-bones that they found nearby.

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The sands of Kerala in this area  contain some Rare Earth elements which are strategically important minerals which can separated from the sands on the beach. And the beauty of it is that the sand left behind is very white as against the black sand before the separation process.

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We also have a look at Kannakathu Devi temple before we retire for the day. This temple has a complex history which Nizar explained to me. On a certain festive day even males are required to dress like  woman to enter the temple.

Devotees who are desirous of having offspring offer replicas of cradles here to the goddess to help in the process. This is not the only place of this type in India. In this Blog we have already described another temple in Gujarat offering the same services.

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Here, allow me to jump a bit ( about 12 Kms) and go to Kollam for a brief visit to a Lighthouse and a fort and then return and do a detailed tour of Ashtamudi lake.

The Lighthouse at Kollam is a major attraction. For one, it is close to the the sea and it allows visitors, and it has a lift. What else do you want?

The views from this Lighthouse are really good. It attracts a large number of visitors largely because it has a lift.

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The city of Kollam can be fully viewed from here.

In this area, called Tangasseri , just before you reach the Lighthouse there is another important monument. In the year 1518 AD, 20 years after our friend VDG landed in India, the Portuguese built a fort here. This is known as St. Thomas Fort. It is is in bad shape but is being worked upon.Hope it comes back to life and survive.

In the next post we will take an interesting tour of Ashtamudi Lake.

 

Text by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Suryakiran Naik , Veena naik and one by Nizar Roomi.

 

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