A trip to Padmanabhapuram, Suchindram & Kanyakumari – Part 2

Part 1 of this post can be found here

 

SUCHINDRAM THANUMAYALAN TEMPLE

We caught a local bus back to Thakkalai from the bus stop just outside the Padmanabhapuram palace. The bus service was not that frequent. Autorickshaws were also available. We boarded a Kanyakumari bound bus from the Thakkalai bus stand. An alternate option is to board buses that go to Nagercoil (as they operate at much higher frequency), get down at Nagercoil, take any bus going towards Kanyakumari and get down at Suchindram which is on the way and about 20 minutes from Nagercoil. Take the road to the right of the main road (just opposite to the Suchindram bus stop), cross a row of shops and you should be able to catch the beautiful sight of the temple gopuram and the temple pond. 

It is said that Indra was cursed by sage Gautama and performed penance here to get relieved of the curse. Suchindram thus refers to the place where Indra was purified (Suchi means purified and Indram refers to Indra). 

The temple has a very tall door with intricate carvings done all over it. The deity is Thanumalayan in the form of a lingam and is the representation of the trinity of Hinduism – Shiva (Sthanu), Vishnu (Maal) and Brahma (Ayan).  The bottom of the linga represents Brahma, the middle – Vishnu and the top –  Shiva. The tall idol of Anjaneya (Hanuman) here made from a single rock is very famous and is supposed to possess great powers. The navagrahas are engraved on the ceiling near the entrance of the temple. The Alangara Mandapam is supposed to have musical pillars. 

Devotees/visitors are not allowed to carry anything inside except wallets. Belongings can be deposited just outside the main door of the temple for safekeeping. Men are not allowed to wear anything on the upper part of the body. 

The only bad experience we had at the temple was with the temple authorities trying to fleece people for anything and everything. They spoke Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu with ease and the only intention of doing that seemed to be to ask people to buy one thing or the other at almost every shrine. They went to the extent of blocking our way and demanding that we individually buy what was on offer before they would let us proceed.  This left a very bad taste.

 

 

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KANYAKUMARI

We walked back to the Suchindram bus stop and boarded one of the very frequent buses to Kanyakumari.  A short walk from the place where we got down took us to the tip of the Indian mainland. Boat rides were available from this place to the Vivekananda rock memorial and Tiruvalluvar statue till 4 PM. 

The main tourist attractions in Kanyakumari are:

1. The sunrise/sunset: A lot of people flock to the beach to view the sunrise/sunset. 

2. The confluence: The Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean are supposed to meet at this place, though no one seemed to know where exactly this place was demarcated. Almost every protrusion into the seas seemed to be the tip and the place where the seas mixed. 

3. Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Swami Vivekananda is supposed to have meditated here when he visited Kanyakumari. You have to take a boat to reach this place.

4. Tiruvalluvar Statue: The statue is very tall and impressive and is located off the mainland. You have to take a boat to reach the statue. 

5. Mahatma Gandhi memorial (constructed in memory of the Father of the Nation)

6. Kumari Amman Temple 

7. St. Xavier’s church 

Vivekananda rock memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue

Vivekananda rock memorial & Thiruvalluvar statue

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Vivekananda Rock Memorial

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St. Xavier’s Church

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Sunset

 

PLANNING THE TRIP

If you are planning to cover Padmanabhapuram Palace, Suchindram Temple and Kanyakumari in one day, the ideal time to start from Trivandrum’s Thampanur bus stand would be at or before 7.30AM. You will reach the palace by 9:30/10AM (the palace opens at 9AM) and will need an hour there at the minimum. The Suchindram temple I think closes at 12:30PM or 1PM and reopens at 4PM. You should leave the palace ideally by 11/11:30 AM. 

You must reach Kanyakumari before 4PM if you intend to visit the Vivekananda memorial and Tiruvalluvar statue as the boat rides to these tourist attractions stop at 4PM.  To catch a bus back to Trivandrum, you will have to either go to the main bus depot which is about 1.5-2 kms away from the beach or go to the nearby Police check post. Locals there will guide you. There was a superfast KSRTC bus back to Trivandrum at about 6:45 or 7PM when we went, which meant that we could see the sunset and be in time to catch the bus back. The best thing to do if you miss a direct bus to Trivandrum would be to catch one to Nagercoil and then catch any one of the buses to Trivandrum from there. 

You shouldn’t have a problem communicating to anybody right from Trivandrum till Kanyakumari if you can speak Tamil. Malayalam is also understood in many areas. Not many people seemed to understand/speak Hindi or English.

A trip to Padmanabhapuram, Suchindram & Kanyakumari – Part 1

 

PADMANABHAPURAM PALACE

Padmanabhapuram was once the capital of the princely state of Travancore, a state that later merged with Cochin and Malabar district to form the present state of Kerala. The Padmanabhapuram palace is a beautiful wooden palace located in this place, constructed by the rulers of Travancore around 1600 AD.

 

How to reach?

The palace is located very close to a place called Thuckalay (Thakkalai), about 60 kms from Trivandrum. I and a friend of mine traveled to the palace from Trivandrum. We boarded a KSRTC bus to Nagercoil at Thampanoor bus stand, very close to Trivandrum Central railway station. I think the bus traveled on NH 47 for most part of the journey. The prominent towns/villages on the way were Neyyatinkara, Parasala (Kerala till here), Kaliyakkavilai (Tamil Nadu starts from here) and Marthandam. We got down at Thuckalay bus stand and took another local bus from there to Padmanabhapuram. The people at the bus stand should be able to help you board the right bus to the palace (ex. route nos. 13D and 13F). The distance from the bus stand to the palace must have been at least 3 kms.

 

Entry tickets

Entry tickets were priced at Rs. 25 each for adults. Still cameras were allowed inside when we went and an additional Rs. 25 per camera was charged.  Video cameras were also allowed and the charge was considerably higher (I think Rs. 1500).

Footwear was to be left outside the palace (there was a separate room for that) and one could only go in barefoot. 

 

The Palace

The word palace usually brings to mind images of a structure like the Mysore Palace. You might be disappointed at first, if you have an image like that in your mind when you go to visit this palace. But it won’t be long before you get absorbed in the details and start feeling royalty in a different sense. For instance, the woodwork on the ceilings and walls is just fabulous! The palace comprises many structures and the prominent ones are described below. 

 

Entrance to the palace

Entrance to the palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poomukham

This is the portico. The king entertained special guests here. The entrance is shaped like a triangle. The ceiling is made of wood and has 90 flowers carved in it, each of them having a pattern different from the other. A brass lamp with a knight on horse-back hanging from the ceiling, a cot used by the king, a Chinese chair presented to the king by Chinese merchants and ‘onavillus’ (paintings in Kerala style presented to the king during the Onam festival by chiefs of different clans) can be found here.

 

Entrance - Poomukham

Entrance - Poomukham

 

Knight Rider Brass Lamp

Brass lamp with knight on horse back

 

 

 

 

Chinese chair and cot

Chinese chair and cot

 

 

Floral patterns on the cieling

Floral patterns on the ceiling

 

 

 

Manthrasala

This is the hall where the king held discussions with his ministers and took important decisions. It has 11 ‘kilivathil’s – tiny windows, the shutters of which are beautifully decorated with mirror work in different hues.

 

Manthrasala

Manthrasala

 

 

 

Oottupura (Dining Hall)

This is the grand dining hall with a seating capacity of about 2000. This is where people were served free meals every day. The structure is two-storeyed with each capable of accommodating 1000 people. On display in the hall on the ground floor are big Chinese jars that were used to store pickles.

 

 

Oottupura - Dining Hall

Oottupura - Dining Hall

 

 

Chinese pickle jars

Chinese pickle jars

 

 

Storage for water in the dining hall (or was it for rasam?)

Storage for water in the dining hall (or was it for rasam?)

 

 

 

 

Thai Kottaram (Darbhakkulagara Kottaram)

This is the oldest structure in the palace complex and was built during the reign of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal (AD 1592 to 1610) in the traditional Nalukettu style.  After entry, we reach an open verandah called “Ekantamandapam” which contains the “Kannithoonu” – a one-piece, exquisitely carved pillar made with wood from jackfruit tree.

There is a tunnel that connects the Thaikottaram to another structure about a kilometer away and was used as an escape route in times of danger to the royal family.

 

 

Kannithoonu

Kannithoonu

 

 

Kannithoonu

Kannithoonu

 

 

 

 

Woodwork in the cieling

Woodwork in the cieling

 

 

Uppirikka Malika

This is the biggest building in the palace complex and is four storeyed. Its name literally means a multi-storeyed building. Built by King Marthandavarma in AD 1744, it was dedicated to Lord Sree Padmanabha. The ground floor houses the royal treasury and the first floor has the royal bedroom. The bedroom has a medicinal cot made from 67 (?) medicinal plants that is believed to have been given as a present to the king by the Dutch – East India Company. Entry to second and third floors was prohibited when I went. The second floor is supposed to have the king’s rest room and the third floor is supposed to house many mural paintings.

 

 

Medicinal Cot

Medicinal Cot

 

 

 

 

Medicinal Cot

Medicinal Cot

 

 

Armory and Watch Tower

The room used as armory has no windows or ventilation facilities and has two entrances. The northern end of the complex houses the watch tower from where any movement in the nearby surroundings can be detected.

 

 

Watch Tower

Watch Tower

 

 

 

Ambari Mukhappu

This is a balcony that was used by the kings to view chariot races during festivals and to hear people’s complaints on designated days. Ambari refers to the seat put on an elephant’s back and the building that houses this balcony has been constructed in the shape of an ambari.

 

 

Ambari Mukhapu

Ambari Mukhappu

 

 

Indra Vilasom

Foreign tourists and visiting dignitaries were given accommodation in this building whose structure shows the influence of foreign styles of architecture.

 

Navarathri  Mandapam

This was built in the year 1744 AD by King Marthandavarma and is 66ft X 27 ft. Cultural programs were conducted here during the navaratri festival. The dance floor here is known as ‘kannadithara’ or mirror floor as it has been polished to mirror like perfection. This is the building in the entire palace complex that has been made of stone.

Navarathri Mandapam - 1

Navarathri Mandapam - 2

Devi Temple

Navarathri Mandapam

Navarathri Mandapam

 

 

Archaeological Museum

The palace also houses an archaeological museum that has stone and bronze sculptures, paintings, coins, weapons and armory. 

 

 

Archaeology Museum
Archaeology Museum
Sample wood work

Sample wood work

 

 

 

Carvings done on a wooden beam

Carvings done on a wooden beam

 

 

 

Sample paintings

Sample paintings

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2 of this post can be found here

Slow, melodious, soulful songs – 1

Destination Infinity tagged me to list my favorite songs (slow, melodious and soulful). I guess the tag was mainly for listing my favorite Carnatic music songs but I thought of taking it up first for songs from Hindi movies.  Here are the ones that readily came to my mind when I closed my eyes and thought for about 10 minutes. I am sure there are many more that I like a lot but am not able to recall readily.

  • Seeli hawa chu gayi (Movie: Libaas)
  • Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj (Movie: Baiju Bawra)
  • Chandan sa badan (Movie: Saraswati Chandra)
  • Sawan aaye ya na aaye (Movie: Dil Diya Dard Liya)
  • Bheeni bheeni bhor (Movie: Rishtey Bante Hain)
  • Raina beeti jaaye (Movie: Amar Prem)
  • Naina neer bahaye (Movie: Water)
  • Piya ho (Movie: Water)
  • Ishwar Allah (Movie: 1947 Earth)
  • Hothon se chu lo tum (Movie: Prem Geet)
  • Tumko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya (Movie: Saath Saath)
  • Kahan se aaye badra (Movie: Chashme Baddoor)
  • E ajnabi tu bhi kabhi (Movie: Dil Se)
  • Dil dhoondta hai phir wahi (Movie: Mausam)
  • Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein (Movie: Kabhi Kabhi)
  • Megha chaaye aadhi raat (Movie: Sharmili)
  • Man mohana (Movie: Jodhaa Akbar)
  • Jhuti mooti mitwa (Movie: Rudali)
  • Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya (Movie: Swarna Sundari)

 

Will take up the Carnatic tag soon.