Thursday, January 22, 2009

Alappuzha Part-II

Day 2 - 16th Jan,2009
Started at 6:30. Went straight to Ambalapuzha, 11 kms from Alappuzha. The kalabha utsavam was going on there. There was crowd but we had a good darshan. Took the token forthe famous offering of the temple - Palpayasam. The prasadom will be distributed at 12:30 only. We then proceeded to Mannarsala, the temple for Snake god. Around 10 tourist buses and numerous taxis were already parked outside the temple premises. Though there is heavy rush, you cannot feel the cr since people keep moving. It was pooja time. the offerings are done near the kodimaram ie. outside sanctum sanatorium. The speciality of the temple is that the poojas are done under the guidance of the female head of the family, which runs the temple. She is called Amma. Amma sits inside the temple and does chantings and poojas. One can have a darshan of Amma through a small window. Heard that only brahmins are allowed inside the temple. Since the morning itinery was only temple visits, we both were in the traditional attire (Dhoti and saree). And Satish had removed his shirt as is customary inside the temple. So after the pooja we were let in, with out any questions. We could speak to Amma and she blessed us and gave vibhooti as prasadom. We went to the Mana/Illam, to visit the main temple.
The Haripad Sumbhramanyan is 5 kms near of mannarsala. Went to Subramanyan temple. Thats a huge temple. Most parts of the Ootupura were in ruins.

Had breakfast and our next stop was Chakkulathu kavu. I was overwhelmed to see the crowd on the premises. It was as though there was some festival. Had to wait in the queue for half an hour. The good thing, there is no one to push you when you reach before the deity. They give ample time to have the darshan. Went around the temple. This is famous as Sabarimala for ladies. Another speciality is, temple allows entry for all people irrespective of their religious belief.

On our way back to Ambalapuzha, we stopped at Karumadikuttan to have a view of the Buddha statue. It is a half broken, black statue of Lord Buddha. We drove back to Ambalapuzha to collect the payasam. Had to wait there for an hour or so. Reached Alappuzha by 1:30. Had lunch and took some rest in the room. We had whole of evening at our disposal. We both have a fascination for greenery and wanted to have a look around the famous Kuttanad paddy fields.
Our drive was ready to show us and we started at 4:00p.m in the evening. It was indeed a visual treat to us. We went almost till Changanchery/ The sight from Nedumudi bridge was spectacular.
On the way back stopped at a drive in restaurant to have our evening tea. It was almost 6. We ordered tea and there was no snacks left there. Alappuzha is famous for non-veg and for pure veggies its tough. Thanks to Aryas chain of hotels, we survived our two days stay. In fact there were two of them close by in the area where we stayed.

The waiter said he will serve Kappayum,meenum (Cooked tapioca with fish curry as side). When asked for veg. side, he said, kadala (Brown chickpeas) will make a great combo. Served us a plate of steamed and sauteed tapioca with a bowl of hot and spice black channa curry. It was indeed a winning combo. Raju dropped us at the beach and we bid good-bye to him. Promising that we call him during our next visit to Alappuzha. He was indeed very sweet to enquire if we had a safe journey back home, the next day.

We spent an hour at the beach and returned to the hotel. Next morning, returned by the weekly Trivandrum-Mumbai train at 8:30, reaching Palakkad at 12 p.m.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alappuzha/Allepey Part -I

Alappuzha trip was planned with the purpose of visiting Mannarsala, Ambalapuzha and other near by temples and a boat ride through the back waters. Satish said the priority is for temple visit. So if time permits, can consider boat ride. I had done enough googling and knew all these could fit in our schedule and just nodded to what he said.

As decided, we got into the Chennai-Alleppey express from Palakkad junction at 5:45. It arrived 20 minutes late. Till Ernakulam, the train was packed. After that, it was almost empty. We had arranged for rooms through a friend in a hotel. Took an auto to the hotel. It takes less than 10 minutes from the station. The first thing you notice is that the roads are straight and cuts at perpendiculars. I am seeing that for the frist time in Kerala.

Checked in and refreshed. It was 12:30. Had a chat with hotel manager regarding the sightseeing places etc. He immediately arranged for a cab and it was to arrive at around 1:30PM. Meanwhile we finished our lunch. The cab driver was Raju, an ex-serviceman and gulf returnee, in his early sixties. We told him our priorities. He suggested we go for a boat ride the same day and arranged a motor boat for about 4 hours at Rs.1000/-. Considering the usual rates they charge, this was cheap. He agreed to drop us near boat jetty and also to pick us and take to the Mullackal temple after the boat ride.

We paid the money to the motor boat owner,Jayan, prior to the ride. Abhilash, 20 something guy, was to drive us through the backwaters. He is an expert driver. Took us along the interiors and made us watch the sunset. Surprisingly, there was one house in the interiors of the backwaters which has the vast stretches of paddy land behind and the endless backwaters as the fence on the front side. the poor man ekes out a living by selling mineral water,biscuits and tender coconut. We stopped there. Had tender coconuts. Went around the paddy fields through his backyard. The floor of his house is at the same level of water in the lake. On the arrival of monsoon, his house is surely to be flooded with the first rain. He smilingly replies that they shift to the relief camps opened by government during those periods. He has emotional attachment to the house which is more that 75 years old. The ride through the quiet backwaters was very enjoyable and relaxing. It soothes your mind and body at the same time.
By 7:30 we returned back to the shore. Raju was ready to pick us up. We went to Mullackal temple, the famous temple of Alappuzha. Had nice darshan. Raju, then just took us along the beach front and dropped us back at the hotel.

Date of visit - 15,16,17th Jan,2009