It’s one of my most briefest yet satisfying outings of late. Undoubtedly nicknamed “GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”, our immediate neighboring state, though minuscule in area, has plenty to be proud of its little yet very rich legacy well entwined into next generation..
May it be lush greenery, meticulously conserved forests, habitats, Lifeline water resources preservation, roads, potable drinking water, eco-friendly plastic-free awareness & rich tradition. All these make Kerala very very unique. One of my oldest dreams of visiting Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple got fulfilled on auspicious Diwali day whereby I could also witness series of 1 hour Carnatic Music vocal performances by accomplished artistes – while standing in que for Darshan before retiring into the room for the day. What immediately followed later is sheer delight experiencing the nature
The Punnathur Kotta in Guruvayoor, Kerala Devaswom maintains a unique elephant sanctuary, the only one of its kind in the World. It has 60 elephants now. These jumbos are the offerings of the devotees to the Lord. A large number of pilgrims and tourists visit this fascinating spot every day. In this vast compound, there are road facilities for pilgrims and tourists to go around. Punnathurkotta was once the palace of a local ruler, but the palace grounds are now used to house the elephants belonging to the Guruvayoor temple, and has been renamed Anakkotta (meaning “Elephant Fort”). There were 86 elephants housed there, but currently there are about 66 elephants. The elephants are ritual offerings made by the devotees of Lord Guruvayurappa (Lord Sri Krishna)The present elephant sanctuary is in Punnathur Kotta about 3 kms north of Guruvayur temple. Punnathur Kotta is the ancient palace of the Punnathur Rajas, now in the possession of the Devaswom. There is also an ancient temple where Lord Siva and Bhagavathy are worshipped. It is a 16 acre compound which Devaswom purchased in 1975, which was under receiver rule of Trichur sub court. Till that time elephants were kept in this Kovilakam compound (present Sreevalsam) to the south of the temple.All the elephants were shifted to the Punnathur Kotta in a grant procession lead by Gajarajan Kesavan, all the elephants from the Kovilakam marched to Punnathur Kotta on 1975 June 25.
Many elephants of Guruvayur have become the part of history. The sweet memories of Gajarajan Kesavan – literally the king of all Elephants- still enthrall the hearts of the elephant lovers worldwide. The mammoth physique, his intelligence and devotion to the Lord were very famous.This facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as participate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. The oldest elephant is around 82 years of age and is called ‘Ramachandran’. The rituals ofGajapooja (Worshipping Elephants) and Anayoottu (Feeding Elephants) are observed here, as an offering to Lord Ganesha. The legendary elephant “Guruvayur Keshavan” was housed here. The compound also has a naalu kettu, a traditional rectangular home with a central courtyard, which belonged to the Punnathur Raja. It is poorly maintained and presently houses a training school for Papans (Mahout). This complex also contains a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhagavathy.The visiting hours are 8.00AM to 6.00PM. The entry fees are Rs. 10/- per adult & Rs. 5/- for Children. An extra Rs. 25/- is charged for to use a camera and Rs. 1000/- inside the complex.
Athirapally And Vazhachal
The two picturesque and majestic waterfalls, Athirapally and Vazhachal are located just five km apart, on the edge of the Sholayar forest ranges. The Athirapally falls join the Chalakudy river after plummeting down a gigantic 80 ft. The cool spray that covers a large area near the falls makes Athirapally a scenic location. The picturesque Vazhachal waterfall is close to dense green forests and is a part of the Chalakudy river. Athirappilly Falls is situated in Athirappilly panchayath, Chalakudy Taluk in of Thrissur district, Kerala on the southwest coast of India. Located on the west-flowing Chalakudy River near the Vazhachal Forest Division and the Sholayar ranges, this 24-metre (80 ft) waterfall and the nearby Vazhachal Falls are popular tourist destinations. There is another waterfall on the way from Athirappilly to Vazhachal Falls, in close proximity to the road and is locally called “Charpa Falls”. Athirappilly Falls is the largest waterfall in Kerala and is nicknamed “The Niagara of India”.Controversy about a state-proposed hydroelectric dam on the Chalakudy River above the waterfalls began in the 1990s and has continued through 2011
The 145 kilometres (90 mi) long Chalakudy River, originates in the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats and flows through the Vazhachal Forest toward the Arabian Sea. The river initially runs smoothly but becomes more turbulent as it nears Athirappilly. At Athirappilly Falls, the water surges around big rocks and cascades down in three separate plumes. Below the falls, the river remains turbulent for about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) until it reaches Kannamkuzhi. Then it calms and flows smoothly until reaching the dam at Thumburmuzhi.
Wildlife –A near threatened Great hornbill
Forest wildlife in the area includes the Asiatic lephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, and lion-tailed macaque. The unique 180 metres (590 ft) elevation riparian forest in the Athirappilly – Vazhachal area is the only location where all four South Indian species of hornbills — the great hornbill (the state bird of Kerala), Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, and the Indian grey hornbill are found living together. If the proposed 163-MW Athirappilly hydroelectric project is built, these unique birds may vanish from these forests because it will submerge the hornbills’ habitat.