Dr. Saroja and Shri RamanujamKerala, God's own country!
It is true because you can see more of God's creations in Kerala than anywhere else. In other lands man has destroyed what God has created. I mean the wealth of nature. The green forests and the coconut trees and other natural scenes of beauty can be enjoyed only in Kerala wherever you travel. Though our trip was a short one and we could not have an extended tour all over Kerala due to our age (even this was quite exhausting) we had a brief but memorable experience.
Guruvayur temple in Palghat
We went to Palghat where a friend Dr.Jaikrishna menon lived . And to proceed he wished to take us in his car. We spent some time with his family and went to the Guruvayur temple in Palghat maintained by Chinmaya mission. It is just beautiful and Guruvayurappan is charming . The murals along the wall of the sannidhi depicted scenes from Dasavathara and there were some other paintings on the wall in the meditation hall. I could not drag myself away from the place. It is very well maintained and visitors to Palghat should not miss it.
We went to a Hanuman temple in Palghat inside the fort of Tippusultan, the Hanumanji there is supposed to be very powerful. It seems two Hindu soldiers of Tippu who were stationed there carved a figure of Hanuman on the rock and later it was made into a proper temple.
We left for Guruvayur in the evening in a taxi, since we would not allow our friend to drive due to a sudden heavy downpour and we had to skip our plan to visit Vadakkanatha temple in Trichur as a result. Next morning we went to the temple of Guruvayurappan . There was a huge crowd with a queue extending far beyond the entrance to the temple due to the day being Good Friday a holiday and when we almost got reconciled to see the Lord from outside Guruvayurappan willed otherwise and our friend took us to the queue of senior citizens which was not too long and we were able to have the darsan within an hour.
The feeling I had on seeing the Lord was something I have never experienced earlier even when the temple was not crowded. We were not even allowed to go very near the sannidhi , may be due to excessive crowd, but the moment I stood in front of the Lord I could feel the vibrations of divine joy coursing through me and this feeling I could experience again only in Trivandrum in the temple Padmanabha and in Thirukurungudi temple , Thirunelveli, though I visited many temples during our tour. These were the three places where I could feel the divine presence.
We could not do the thulabharam as planned due to the place being overcrowded and we left for Ernakulam thinking that perhaps the Lord wants us to come again for tulabhatram.
Cochin and meeting with Indu Kumar
When we reached Ernakulam our Indu kumar of Guruvayur group came to meet us at the station. It was the initiative of Chandrasekhara menon of our group to inform her of our arrival and she communicated with me before our departure and booked our stay in Bharat hotel and also arranged for a taxi to take us around. She and her husband helped us with the luggage and left us in the hotel.
The next day we went to Thirupanithura to the temple Poornathraya sayee, of which Indu has written about, and to the Hill palace, Thirupanithura, which houses several art pieces and jewels etc. It was really fantastic. We climbed the steps of more than 60 I am sure, realizing only when we went half way up that there is a road around for car to travel. Nether our driver knew it nor the man who sold the tickets told us!. We managed to call the car for climbing down though, which was just as well as it started raining. But it was worthwhile though. In the confusion of calling the car etc we forgot to buy the postcards showing the art pieces of the museum.
Then we went to Cochin and visited the Mattancheri palace and saw the mythological murals, depicting the whole of Ramayana there. To climb the stairs for the museum was a task and a fellow tourist, a Frenchman, helped me by offering his arm. Inside I ventured to go down to the Queens bedroom to see the murals there through narrow and steep steps and I had a tough time climbing up that nearly gave my husband a heart attack!.
Afterwards we rode round the port of Cochin and saw the Chinese nets and walked along the spice street in Jewish town but the synagogue was closed due to some festival season. In the evening we went to the Siva temple of Ernakulam which was right opposite our hotel and a Hanuman temple and adjacent to it which contained a beautiful hanumanji and several statues inside. It was really worth seeing.
The next day Indu took us to Chottanikkara temple in her car and the day being auspicious there was a huge crowd and when we gave up the hope of getting in Indu talked to some temple authorities and we were taken inside through a special entrance and were able to have the darsan in few minutes
The rest of the morning was spent in the house of Indu with her husband and daughter. Mr Kumar is very knowledgeable and he and my husband became friends at once. Surya the daughter of Indu was quite charming too and we had delightful time with all of them Their house is itself a museum of art pieces and they also have a lovely garden, a rarity in Chennai. Our visit to their hous is the best part of our trip to Ernakulam.
Indu also saw us off to Trivandrum where we were met by another friend from orkut R.Suresh. We went to the Hotel Aryanivas where Suresh made the bookings earlier.
Next day we took a taxi and went to Padmanabha Swami temple. We had a good darsan of Padmanabha and Narasimha, Rama and Hanuman inside the temple. The face of Padmanabha was not very clearly visible but in spite of that I fell in love with Him the moment I saw Him. He was simply gorgeous!. If there is one place in Kerala I would like to return apart from Guruvayur it is the temple of Padmanabha as I wished that I could stay in front of the Lord forever.
As we could not see the palace, art gallery etc . the day being Monday when they are all closed and we went to Varkala Krishna temple in the afternoon.. The Krishna there is beautiful reminding us of Guruvayurappan
We went to the kudhiramaligai , which got the name due to the wooden image of horses sculpted on the roof of the outer wall of the palace. It was the place where Maharaja SwathithirunaaL used to stay and he built it especially to be near the temple of Padamanabha which is adjacent to the palace. It contains paintings and art pieces whach are very beautiful but the splendour of the place was mainly due to the aura of n music and learning that is reverberated through the chambers. Maharaja SwatithitunaaL used to sit in one of his chambers from where he could see the temple tower of Padmanabha and compose his songs. It was thrilling to visualize the musicians and scholars who used to throng the palace chambers in his days. The whole palace is of wooden structure and an bounds in beautiful carvings on the ceilings and around.
We went to chithra art gallery which houses the paintings of Ravivarma and others and went back and rested for a while and started for Thirunelveli.
We stayed in Hotel Janakiram in Thirunelveli and visited the Vaishnava divya desams around Thirunelveli. We returned to Chennai happy but exhausted after a ten day travel.