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Trivandrum

Area: 2192 sq. km
Population: 3,234,707
Altitude: Sea level

Located in the southwestern tip of India, Thiruvananthapuram is bound by the Arabian Sea in the west and Tamil Nadu in the east. Named after Anantha Padmanabha or Lord Vishnu, the city is home to many ancient temples. But the landmark is the Sree Padmanabha Samy Temple around which the city has been built on seven low hills. The wooded highlands of the Western Ghats in the eastern and northeastern borders give Thiruvananthapuram some of the most enchanting picnic spots. A long shoreline which internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwaters stretches and a rich cultural heritage make this district a much south-after tourist destination. Clean and Green, Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala is one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

Accessing Thiruvananthapuram

Air: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport (6 Km from the city)

Rail: There are direct trains from Thiruvananthapuram to all the main towns in Kerala as well as the major cities in India

Road: Long distance buses operate from the Central Bus Station at Thampanoor, opposite the Railway Station

Places of Interest

Padmanabha Swamy Temple : ( Open 0415 – 0515 hrs, 0645 – 0715 hrs,0830 – 1115 hrs, 1145 – 1200 hrs,1700 – 1815 hrs, 1845 – 1930 hrs) Located inside the East Fort, this temple temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a blend of the Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. One among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India, the presiding deity here is Lord Vishnu reclining on Anatha, the serpent. The idol, Plated in gold and made out of a rare composition know as katu-sarkara-yogam, is acclaimed as a marvel. It is also noted for its mural paintings stone carvings. Only hindus are allowed inside the temple. Dress code: Men – Dhoti without any upper clothing; Women – saree or full skirt and blouse, Handbags, mobile phones, cameras etc. not allowed. PH: 2450233

 Meshan Mani: On the eastern side of Padmanabha Swamy Temple, installed in 1833 during the reign of Swathi Thirunal, is the Meshan Mani (clock). It has on its dial, a man's face with two goats on either side. Crafted from mahogany by an artisan called Kulathooran, every time the clock completes an hour, the man opens his mouth and the goats hit his cheeks.

Kuthiramalika (Puthenmalika) Palace Museum: (Open 0830 - 7300 hrs, 7500 - 7730 hrs. Closed on Mondays) the palace was built by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Balarama Varma- the King of Travancore, who was a great poet, musician, social reformer and statesman. This rare specimen of workmanship in the traditional Travancore style of architecture has exquisite wood carvings. The palace museum displays paintings and various priceless collections of the royal family and is located near the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 70 Children: Rs. 3 Foreigners: Rs. 20 Camera permits (outside): Rs. 75 Video: Rs. 500.

Priyadarshini Planetarium: (Show time: 7030 hrs, 7200 hrs, 7500 hrs and 7700 hrs) Opened in 1994 to the public, this is one of the most versatile planetariums in the country. The
main GM- 11 star field projector here can project almost all the constituents of the visible universe. It can also simulate the star- studded night sky over any location on the earth, on any day up to 12,500 years back or 12,500 years into the future. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 15 Children between 3 - 10 yrs: Rs. 10

The Napier Museum: (Open 1000- 1645 hrs. Closed on Mondays, Wednesday forenoons, January 26th, August 15th, Thiruonam and Mahanavami) Built in the 19th century, this Indo-Saracenic structure boasts of a natural air conditioning system and houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artefacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot and ivory carvings. The Javanese shadow play leather figures, used to depict the epics of Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are very interesting.

Sree Chithra Art Gallery: (Open 1000- 1645 hrs. Closed on Mondays & Wednesday forenoons) Located near the Napier Museum, this art gallery opened in 1935 by the then Maharaja
ofTravancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal, displays original paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Svetlova and Nicholas Roerich; exquisite works from the Rajput, Mughal and Tanjore chools of art in India as well as paintings from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali. The collection also includes unique copies of Indian mural paintings from pre-historic times down to the 18th century. Entrance fee (Museum & Art Gallery): Adults: Rs. 10 Children: Rs 4.

Science and Technology Museum Complex: (Open 1000 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Mondays) The museum houses galleries on electricity, electronics, power & motion, echanics,
popular science, mathematics, solar energy as well as automobile, computer and biomedical engineering. Entrance fee: Adults. Rs. 15 Children: Rs. 10

Sree Chithra Enclave: Opened in 1993, this museum depicts the history of the Travancore Royal Family and displays their personal belongings and artefacts. Old newspaper footage and deeds describing events are also exhibited.

Biotechnology Museum: Entrance fee: Adults: Rs.1O Children: Rs. 5

KCS Panicker Gallery: Nominated as one of the nine eminent artists of India, Kerala's renowned painter Panicker, was born in 1911. He was instrumental in setting up the Progressive Painters Association in Madras from 1944 to 1953. An artist who set a new trend, the gallery traces his works over a period.

Natural History Museum: (Open 1000 - 1700 hrs, Wednesday 1300 - 1645 hrs. Closed on Mondays)this modern building houses some excellent galleries like the skeletal, bird,
animal and taxidermy gallery as well as a museum. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 5 Children between 5 - 12 yrs: Rs. 4. Photography not allowed.

The Zoological Park: (Open 0900 - 1815 hrs. Closed on Mondays) One of the first zoos in India, it was established as early as 1859. A reptile house with different species of snakes and a vulture house are also located within the premises. Plastic is banned inside the park. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 10 Children between 5 - 12 yrs: Rs. 5 Camera permits: Rs. 25

The Kanakakkunnu Palace: The palace and its sprawling grounds are today the venue for many cultural meets and programmes.

The Folklore Museum: Set up in 1992, the museum is a treasure trove of quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk art ete. Displayed in the Koyikkal Palace, they focus attention on the cultural background of the State.

CVN Kalari: (Open 0630 - 2030 hrs. Tourists only on Wednesdays) the most famous amongst the many Kalari centres, CVN Kalari has its own Ayurvedic clinic. Located near the Padmanabha Swamy Temple, this place which teaches Kerala's ancient martial art is within walking distance from the Central Railway Station.

Shankhumugham Beach: (8 km from Thiruvananthapuram) this place is a favorite haunt of sunset watchers. An indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35 m long sculpture of a mermaid) and a restaurant shaped like a starfish are some of the attractions here. The Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park here gives children the opportunity to learn the traffic rules.

VJT Hall: Built to commemorate the golden jubilee of the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1896, the VJT Hall was inaugurated by Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma on January 25, 1896; the hall has witnessed many historical events. Perhaps the most preferred venue for public functions in the city, this monument stands tall as a proud remnant of the colonial era.

Valiathura: Located near Shankhumugham, this was once the only port along the South Kerala coast. During monsoons, fishermen carry their catamarans to the edge of the Valiathura
Pier which is 703 ft long, throw them into the sea, then jump in and swim to them.

Agasthyakoodam: (34 km - 7 hour) Part of the Sahyadri range of mountains, Agasthyakoodam at a height of 1890 m above sea level, is the second highest peak in Kerala. Teeming with wildlife, the forests of Agasthyakoodam abound in rare medicinal herbs and plants, and brilliantly hued orchids. A bird watcher's paradise, this legendary mountain is accessible by foot from Kotoor, near Neyyar Dam, as also from Bonakkad. The season from December to April is advocated for trekking, for which a forest pass has to be obtained from the Wildlife Warden, Forest Department, PTP Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram.

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Palayam: This church that is 125 years old which is very popular among the Catholic followers is an important landmark of the city.

Aruvikkara Dam: This picturesque picnic spot is on the banks of the Karamana River. Near the Durga Temple here is a stream full of fish that fearlessly come close to the shore to be fed by the visitors.

Koyikkal Palace, Nedumangad:This ancient palace dates back to the 15th century. Museums of folklore and numismatics are set up here.

The Numismatics Museum:The coins here belong to different parts of the world as well as to different eras. The rare and historically valuable collections of coins give an insight into the trade relations of the State. Among the exhibits is the most valuable Indian coin - the 2500-year-old Karsha and Rasi, and also the world's smallest coins.

Beemapalli: An important place of worship, the Beemapalli Dargah Shareef is dedicated to Bee Umma, a pious Muslim woman who was believed to possess great spiritual powers. The Chandanakudam Festival at Beemapalli, lasting for 10 days, is one of the most colorful events.

Neyyar Dam: (32 km - 7 hour) A popular picnic spot, Neyyar Dam has a watch tower, crocodile farm, lion safari park and deer park. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir.

Akkulam Tourist Village: (Open 7000 - 7800 hrs) A picnic spot with boating facilities, Akkulam is a place children flock to. It has a well-equipped children's park, a paddle pool and a swimming pool for adults as well. Ph: 2443043. Boat rentals: (Open 7000 - 7830 hrs) Safari boat: Rs. 450 for 10 people Adults: Rs. 25; Children between 5 - 12 yrs: Rs. 15 Pedal boat: Rs. 75 for four persons. Row boat Rs. 75 for 4 persons, Rs. 50 for 2 persons. Entrance fee: Children's park (Open 7000 - 7930 hrs): Adults: Rs. 5; Children: Rs. 3 Swimming pool (Open 0600 - 7830 hrs) Adults: Rs. 30 Children: Rs. 20. Swimming suit compulsory

Kovalam: Just a short drive away from the State capital, Kovalam is easily accessible. Internationally acclaimed, this seaside destination comprises three adjacent rescent-shaped beaches. Golden sands, miles of shimmering sea, rocky promontories constantly caressed by the sensuous surf and a brilliant sunshine warming the very souls, make this place truly sensational. A charming village in its yesteryears, Kovalam today has all the trappings of a popular beach destination. Lined with shops, restaurants, ayurvedic centres and an accommodation option to suit all budgets, the place has the unmistakable ambience of a resort.

Lighthouse: The 35 m lighthouse is perched atop the palm- covered Kurumkal Hill jutting out on to the sea. Visitors can climb the spiraling staircase inside to the top of the red and white tower and enjoy a spectacular view of the surroundings.

Samudra Beach: Lying to the north of the Ashok Beach, this beach can be accessed only by taking a detour past Kovalam Junction. It is an awesome sight to watch the wave’s crash on the rocks below as you walk along the stretch of sea wall here.

Kovalam Beach: Fringed by headlands that rise steeply above the shore, Kovalam is almost completely covered by coconut palms. Of the three small bays separated by rocky outcrops, the southernmost, known as the Lighthouse Beach, is the most popular. The lovely old lighthouse that gives the beach its name is the Vizhinjam Lighthouse. Edakallu, a rocky headland separates Eve's or Howah Beach from the Lighthouse Beach. The hill that separates Howah Beach from the third of Kovalam's celebrated beaches houses the Government Guest House and the Halcyon Castle. One of Kovalam's spectacular landmarks, this charming old castle adds to the beauty of the lovely settings.

Poovar: An isolated but spectacular beach, Poovar is situated close to the Neyyar River estuary. A trading port in its early days, it is today an important tourist destination.

Chowara: This fishing hamlet near to Kovalam has many picturesque spots. The Chowara Ayyappa Temple atop a hill overlooks the beach and offers an amazing view of the beach below. Chowara is also home to the ancient Analothbhava Matha Church. The Azhimalathara Beach here is identified as the only place where the sea recedes from the coast and does not eat into the beach during the monsoon.

Thiruvallam: This serene backwater stretch, enroute to Kovalam, is famous for its canoe rides, kayaking and cruises in kettuvalloms. The Boat Club here organises tours to the nearby islands of Pozhikara and Edayar as well as visits to coir manufacturing units.

Vizhinjam Rock Cut Cave Temple: (Open 0900 - 1800 hrs. Closed on Mondays) There are rock-cut sculptures of the 18th century in the cave temple at Vizhinjam. The granite cave here encloses a one-celled shrine with a loose sculpture of Vinandhara Dakshinamurthi. The outer wall of the cave depicts half-complete reliefs of the Hindu God Shiva with Goddess Parvathi.

Parasurama Temple, Thiruvallam: This 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana, is the only one in Kerala dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of the State. This temple is a venue for ancestor worship. As part of the Bali ritual, devotees make offerings to the souls of the departed, after taking a dip in the holy water. Vizhinjam: A fishing village 2 km south of Kovalam, the Vizhinjam harbour is a natural port and one of the busiest fishing harbours in the district.

Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium: (Open0900-1800hrs) Located near Theatre Junction, the aquarium which houses a rich treasure of marine wealth has perfected the Image Pearl production technique, by which a mould of any shape made of shell cement is implanted into the pearl oyster. In 2-3 months a pearl in the shape of the mould will be ready. Entrance fee: Adults. Rs. 20 Children: Rs. 10.

Varkala: The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri. The 2000-year-old Sree Janardhana SwamyTemple where Hindu pilgrims flock to perform the final rites for the deceased and the Nature Cure Centre are the other main attractions here. A century-old tunnel is yet another landmark. The Varkala Kathakali Centre near the North Cliff organises Kathakali and Mohiniattom performances in the evenings. Visitors can watch the make-up process of the artistes and a performance backed by English commentary. Timings: 1700 - 2000 hrs.

Papanasham Beach: A dip in the Papanasham sea is considered holy. A remarkable feature here is the long stretch of red laterite cliffs fringing the beach. The cliff-top is an ideal place to watch the spectacular sunset. A natural spring, said to have curative properties, originates from the cliff.

Janardhana Swamy Temple: (Open 0400 - 1200 hrs, 1700 - 2000 hrs) Believed to be two thousand years old, the current structure dates back to the 12th century. The deity of the temple is Vishnu and Hindu pilgrims come here to perform final rites for the deceased.

Thiruvambady Beach: Calm and serene, this solitary beach s adjacent to the North Cliff. Thiruvambady or the Black Sand Beach is an ideal place for those seeking peace and solitude and can be easily reached by climbing down the cliff or driving down a kilometre.

Sivagiri Mutt: (Open 0530 - 1200 hrs, 1630 - 1800 hrs) 200 acres of sanctified land, this is the final resting place of the most eminent leader, saint and social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru. SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam), the organization he founded for the upliftment of backward classes, is headquartered here. The Mahasamadhi of the revered guru is located on top of a hillock. Further down is the guru's residence, where his humble belongings are kept on display.

Kappil Beach and Backwaters: A confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth visiting. The Priyadarshini Boat Club here offers boating facilities.

Anjengo Fort: Originally built by the Portuguese as a depot to store merchandise, it was converted into a fort by the British. Sandwiched between sea and the backwaters, the fort premises shelters ancient tombstones and a garden. Ponnumthuruthu Island: A delightful getaway surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters, this uninhabited isle is accessible by boat from the makeshift jetty at the nearby Nedunganda Village. A 1 OO-year-old Shiva-Parvathi Temple, rebuilt a decade back, is situated here and the entire island is temple property.

Kollam

Area: 2579 sq.km
Population: 2,584,118 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level    

One of the leading trade capitals of the old world, Kollam is the center of the country’s cashew trading and processing industry. Extolled by Marco Pollo and Ibn Batuta in glowing terms, this was once a famous port of international spice trade. Thirty percent of this historic town is covered by the renowned Ashtamudi Lake, making it the gateway to the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. The eight-hour boat trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest and most enchanting experience on the backwaters of Kerala. The momentous decision to introduce a new Malayalam era was convened at Kollam and hence the Malayalam calendar came to be known as Kollavarsham.


Accessing Kollam     

Air: Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram (71 km)

Rail: Kollam is an important railhead of the Southern Railways. Railway enquiry Ph: 131

Road: KSRTC, Central Bus Station

Ferry services: The ferry station is adjacent to the Central Bus Station (3 km from the railway station)

Places of Interest

Ashtamudi Backwaters: So called because of its 8 arms or channels, Ashtamudi Lake is the gateway to the backwaters. Located in Kollam District, this lake 16 km long and the second largest in Kerala, finds its way into the sea through the Neenda- kara estuary. The Kollam Boat Club provides boat rides on the lake as well as houseboat cruises.

Picnic Village: (Open 7000 - 1800 hrs) Located in the sprawl- 9200-year-old Guest House campus where Lord Munroe once stayed, this tourist village at Ashramam along the backwater front, is the main centre for recreational activities in Kollam. The place has a boat club, a children's traffic park and Yatri Nivas in addition to an adventure park, The Paaramparya Museum in the same premises has on display paintings from different parts of the country including Warli, Kalamkari and Madhubani as well as Kerala mural art

Police Museum: (Open 0900 - 1800 hrs on all days) The only such establishment in the country, it traces the history and development of the police force, On display are police arms of the 18th and 19th centuries and various other exhibits, The star attraction of the museum is the Martyr's Gallery,

Thangasseri: Thangasseri or 'Dutch Quilon' as it was called was once a British enclave, Meaning 'gold village' in local parlance, this was the hub of a fiourishing trade that used gold as currency, This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century, The famed lighthouse of Thangasseri which is 144 ft high, constructed in 1519 by the British, is open to visitors from 1530 -1730 hrs.

Mayyanad: Mayyanad is noted for its shrines and temples, The most important of the nine temples here is the Subramanya Temple at umayanallor. The shrine is said to have been consecrated by the great Hindu philosopher Sree Sankaracharya.

Thirumullavaram Beach: (Open 0500 - 1130 hrs, 1600 - 2030 hrs) this secluded beach is a beautiful picnic centre, about one and a half kilometer into the sea is the Nyarazhcha Para, literally Sunday Rock that can be seen from the shore at low tide and near the beach is a Mahavishnu Temple.

Neendakara: A famous fishing harbor, you can see the Ashtamudi Lake joining the sea from the Neendakara Bridge and also the Chinese fishing nets silhouetted against the sky

Munroe Island: Formed by the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake: and Kallada River, this island is named after Colonel Munroe, the ' British Resident of erstwhile Travancore State, He is credited with having integrated several backwater regions by digging canals, The discovery of stone age tools and megaliths stand testimony to the antiquity of this islet which shelters a quaint little village, DTPC canal cruise packages: 0900 hrs and 1400 hrs. Fare: Rs, 300 per head

Rameshwara Temple: This temple which shows a Pandyan influence in its design has inscriptions in Tamil, dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries, The Vyali (dragon) sculptures in this temple give one the impression that the creatures are animate and actually climbing up the stairs with their outstretched paws,

Malanada Duryodhana Temple: This unique temple is dedicated to the infamous Duryodhana - the anti-hero in the epic Mahabharatha. As the legend goes, Duryodhana who went in pursuit of the Pandavas when tired, was given food and shelter by the kuravas - a community of people, To this day, the priest at this temple hails from the kurava community,

Alumkadavu: Located by the north Kollam Backwaters, the village of Alumkadavu is filled with the earthy scent of coir and wood on water. The beginnings of boat building can be traced back to this place where every day except on Sundays, from 0800 to 1700 hrs, you can watch the kettuvalloms being con- structed, One can also visit coir-making units and learn all about how rope is made,

St. Mary's Orthodox Church: (Open0700-1900hrs) this church at Kallada dates back several centuries, A beam of wood, believed to be 700 years old, has a Muslim crescent, a Hindu symbol and the sign of the cross on it

Sasthamkotta: The ancient Sastha Temple which lends its name to the town, is an important pilgrim centre, The monkeys of Sasthamkotta that colonise the towering trees are believed to be the loyal followers of the ruling deity, the Dharma Sastha, Surrounded by hills on three sides is the vast freshwater lake of Sasthamkotta, the largest of its kind in Kerala. Accommodation is available at the PWD Rest House,

Achankovil: One of the main temples of Lord Ayyappa, it is believed that the idol here is consecrated by Lord Parasurama himself. The temple is similar to the famous shrine at Sabarima la The Manalar Falls and the Kumbuvurutty Falls, which also has a Nature Interaction Centre, are along the way to this temple,

Ariankavu: Situated on the Kollam - Shenkottai Road, Ariankavu is famous for the shrine dedicated to Sree Sastha. Mandala Pooja and Trikalyanam celebrated in the month of December are the main festivals here,

Cheriazheekal Temple: (Open 0400 - 1130 hrs, 1700 - 2030 hrs) Known for its twin temples, Cheriazheekal is steeped in legends, The Sri Kashi VishwanatharTemple is also known as the Deccan Kashi Temple, after the legend of the priest who installed the Sivalingam that he found in the Ganges at Cheri- azheekaL But it is also believed that the place housed a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, built some 2,000 years ago, So today it is a temple for both Siva and Vishnu, and Mahasivaratri is celebrated annually for 10 days as grandly as the festivities that surround Sree Krishna Jayanthi.

Jatayupara: A huge rock at Chadayamangalam takes its name from the mythical bird Jatayu in the epic Ramayana, who is believed to have collapsed on the rock after failing in his attempts to thwart Ravana's kidnapping of Sita.

Palaruvi Waterfalls: (Open 0800 - 1800 hrs) Palaruvi which means streom of milk makes its way down the rocks from a height of 300 ft. A much sought-after picnic spot, the scenic beauty of the place is enhanced by hills, valleys and waterfalls. The PWD Inspection Bungalow and the KTDC Motel offer comfortable accommodation. Trekking to the waterfalls and bathing in the river are the two main activities here.

Kulathupuzha: Situated on a forest range on the Thiruvananthapuram - Shenkottai road, Kulathupuzha is known for the Sastha Temple. The Vishu Mohotsovom in April/May is the most important festival. There are frequent buses from Kollam to Kulathupuzha. The Thenmala Railway Station is just 10 km from here.

Kottukal Rock Cut Cave Temple: Situated on the Thiruvananthapuram - Kottayam MC Road, this temple is a fine example of rock cut temple architecture.

Thenmala: Covered by dense forests, rubber and tea plantations, Thenmala were selected by the World Tourism Organization as one of the world's best eco-friendly projects. It has a leisure zone with winding pathways, a sway bridge, a sculpture garden and a boardwalk; a culture zone with an amphitheatre, a musical fountain as well as a Nokshotrovonom (a nursery of trees considered sacred to the 27 constellations, located inside one of the zones. Visitors can take back a sapling of the tree relevant to their birth star); and an adventure zone that includes activities like trekking, bird watching, mountain biking, rock climbing, rappelling and river crossing. In addition there is the Deer Rehabilitation Centre (0600 - 1700 hrs) as well as the Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary. Only temporary visits are permitted to the interior of the reserve. A major attraction is the boating in the Shenduruney Reservoir.

Ochira: The unique feature of this famous pilgrim centre is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Parabrahma Temple dedicated to the Universal Consciousness. Also considered a Shiva Kshetra, colourfully decorated Ochira bulls that symbolize Nandi - Shiva's vehicle, are given as offerings at this temple. Ochirokoli in mid-June and the twelve-day Ponthrondu Vilakku (twelve lamps) festival in November/December are the two main annual festivals. Ochirokoli is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the podonilom (battle field), commemorating the historic battle fought between the Kayamkulam and Chempakasseri soldiers.

Matha Amrithanandamayi Ashram, Vallikavu: The residence and headquarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu where she was born. Called Amma by devotees all over the world, she is recognized as an extraordinary spiritual leader by the United Nations and was honored with the Gandhi-King Award for non-violence in 2002. Amma has various ashrams under her aegis. The main ashram is at Vallikavu and is accessible both by road and boat.

Pathanamthitta

Area: 2731 sq.km
Population: 1,231,577 (2001 census)
Altitude: 500 – 1000 m above Sea level

A hilly territory of pristine beauty, Pathanamthitta is popular as the headquarters of pilgrim worship in Kerala. Three rivers course through its rich terrains comprising natural divisions of the lowlands, the midlands and the highlands. Dotted with temples, rivers, mountains ranges and coconut groves, more than fifty percent of the total area of this region is covered by forests. Hailed as a heritage village, it attracts visitors from India and abroad for its spectacular water fiestas, religious shrines and cultural training centres. Pathanamthitta is also home to the unique Aranmula Kannadi – metal mirrors that are painstakingly handcrafted and the Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam, a heritage village which practices the ancient Indian school of architecture, vaasthu vidya, in its purest form.


Accessing Pathanamthitta

Air: Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram (119 km)

Rail: Nearest railway station: Chengannur (28 km); Thiruvalla (30 km)

Road: Pathanamthitta is well connected by an excellent network of roads to all major towns in Kerala

Places of Interest

Omallur : The Rakthakanta Swamy Temple and the annual cattle fair held in the Malayalam month of Meenam are the main attractions of Omallur. People from both within and outside the State participate in the fair.

Kadamanitta: The Kadamanitta Devi Temple is famous for the ten-day long Patayani performances held in connection with the annual festival in April/May.

Malayalapuzha: The goddess at the BhagavathyTemple ~ere is believed to grant boons to devotees and help them real'se dreams. The temple has beautiful wall paintings and "listie” stone carvings.

Kodumon Chilanthiyambalam: The water of the Chilanthikinar (well) in the premises of this Durga Bhagavathi Temple is believed to cure skin diseases. Kodumon is also: he birth place of Sree Shakthi Bhadra, author of the famous Sanskrit play Ascharya Chudamani.

Sabarimala: One of the most famous pilgrim centres in India, Sabarimala is situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 91 4 m above sea level and is accessible only by foot from Pamba (4 km). The temple is dedicated o Sree Ayyappa. Pilgrim season: November to mid-January. Mondolopooja and Makaravilakku are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The tem pie stays closed for the rest of the year except on the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu (April). Nearest railway station: Thiruvalla (102 km) People of 01/ castes and creeds are permitted into the temple. However, entry is not allowed to women between 70 and 50 years of age.

Distance from Pamba (km) Pathanamthitta - 65 Pandalam - 80 Adoor - 81 Chengannur - 93 Thiruvalla - 102 Punalur - 101 Ochira - 116 Alappuzha (via MC Rd.) - 137 Kottayam via Pathanamthitta - Kozhencherry, Thiruvalla) - 130 Thiruvananthapuram (via Pathanamthitta - Adoor) - 180 Kottayam (via Manimala) - 116 Kodungalloor - 275 Guruvayoor - 288 Palakkad - 330 Kozhikode - 388 Kannur - 486

Perunthenaruvi Falls: The Perunthenaruvi Waterfall on the banks of the Pamba River about 10 km from Erumely, is a natural fall down a rocky path into a ravine about 100 feet deep. Ideal for an outing, this place is a popular picnic spot.

Aranmula: The unique heritage village of Aranmula gets its name from the centuries-old Sree Parthasarathy Temple. Chengannur 10 km away is the nearest railway station. Aranmula is synonymous with its very own metal mirrors Aranmula Kannadi, a unique craft which is not found elsewhere in the world. An alloy of copper and white lead is mixed in a particular ratio to make this non-refractive mirror, which is a closely guarded family secret.

Pamba: This is the main halting point on the way to Sabarimala. It is also known as Thriveni Sangamam - the meeting point of three rivers.

Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple: Dedicated to Sree Krishna, this temple on the banks of the holy River Pamba, attracts large crowds of devotees. It is said that the idol was brought here in a raft made with aru (six) pieces of mula (bamboo) which gave the town its name, Aranmula.

Konni: An agricultural region, Konni is rich in cash crops like rubber, pepper, coffee, ginger etc. It is famous for its Aanakoodu or elephant training centre where you can feed, ride and interact with the elephants. Built in 1941, this elephant sanctuary is one of the oldest in India.

Vaastu Vidya Gurukulam: (Open 0900 - 7600 hrs) A centre started to conserve and preserve the ancient art of traditional building and construction methods, the Gurukulam began functioning in 1993. The Indian science of eco-friendly construction and interior design is taught here and at the institute's art gallery situated across the road, one can watch the artist at work, demonstrating age-old techniques used to create murals on the walls of the temples.

Aranmula Boat Race: This famed water fiesta is held on the last day of the week-long Onam festival (Aug/Sept) to commemorate the consecration of the idol at the Parthasarathy Temple, 700 years ago. One of the most popular boat races in Kerala, special boats called palliyodams assembles near the temple presenting an enchanting spectacle. Each boat is 100 ft long and accommodates 4 helmsmen, 100 oarsmen and 25 singers. ] 6th Sept. '08, 06th Sept. '09

Vijnana Kala Vedi: (Open 7000 - ]600 hrs, except on weekends) Set in a 1 OO-year-old building, the institute established by a French lady Louba Schild, imparts training in traditional arts like Kathakali, classical dances, classical music, as well as Kalaripayattu. Foreign tourists stay here for long periods to get a firsthand knowledge of the culture of Kerala and to study everything from singing to cooking, and community living to languages. Mural art, floor art and woodcarving can also be learnt here.

Thiruvalla: The largest town in Pathanamthitta District, Thiruvalla known as the land of the NRls, has a number of interesting sights in a 20-km radius. It is the headquarters of the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church. The Paliakara Church here has some exquisite mural paintings.

Sree Vallabha Temple, Thiruvalla: (Open 0430 - 30 hrs, ] 700 - 2000 hrs. Kathakali Puja 2200 - 0] 00 hrs) The 400-year- old temple on the banks of the River Manimala has a beautiful 8 ft idol of Sree Vallabha within the sanctum sanctorum. The legendary architect Perunthachan, constructed the unique Garuda Sthambha, a 54 ft flag mast made of a single block of granite. During the 1 O-day annual festival held in February- March, a whopping 12,000 bunches of padatti pazham (a variety of bananas) are made as offerings on the first day. It is also perhaps the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as a ritual offering every night.

St. John's Cathedral, Thiruvalla: This new cathedral that looks like a temple and can accommodate 2,000 people has no pews.

Thekkekudi Cave Temple: (Open 0500 - ] 700 hrs, ] 700 - ] 900 hrs) This 5 ft high Shiva Temple dating back to the 8th century AD is of great archaeological significance. Built in the Pallava style of architecture, the carvings in the temple are believed to be the earliest specimens of stone sculpture in Kerala.

Mannadi: This is where Veluthampi Dalawa, the renowned freedom fighter of Travancore, spent his last days. The ancient Bhagavathy Temple here has some exquisite stone sculptures. The annual temple festival is held in February/March. The Kerala Institute of Folklore and Folk Arts functions here.

Nilackal: The old Siva Temple on the Pamba - Pathanamthitta Road is an important place of worship. The estate of the Farming Corporation and the Ecumenical Centre of the Christians are located here.

Niranam: (Open 7000 - ]800 hrs) The church here is believed to have been originally built by the apostle St. Thomas in AD 52, making it one of the oldest shrines in India. The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was reinforced during 2000. A St. Thomas art gallery is also located here. This is lso the birth place of the poets and social reformers popularly known as the Karnassa Kavikal.

Kaviyoor: Situated on the banks of the Manimala River, Kaviyoor is famous for its temples. The Hanuman Temple stands on a small hillock and is built in the gable style architecture singular to Kerala.

Pandalam: (Open 0530- ] 200 hrs,] 730 - ] 900 hrs) As a holy town, Pandalam is perhaps second only to Sabarimala. Sree Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala had his human sojourn here as the son of the Raja of Pandalam. The Valiya Koikkal Temple near the palace on the banks of the River Achankovil has been modelled on the Sabarimala shrine. Murals, restored and protected by glass, cover the outer walls of the sreekovil. Pilgrims usually stop here to worship before proceeding to Sabarimala. Three days prior to the Makaravilakku festival, the sacred ornaments of Sree Ayyappa are taken in a procession from Pandalam to Sabarimala. Nearest railway station: Chengannur - 4 km.

Parumala: The Ormaperunnal (commemoration day) of Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, the declared saint of Malankara Orthodox Church, is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November. Lakhs of pilgrims flock here to ask favors of the saint at this 2000-year-old church believed to be one of the oldest in India

Gavi: The two-hour jeep ride to this quiet ~haven passes through tropical forests, sprawling grasslands and cardamom plantations. The Bamboo Grove in the middle of Anavachal in Gavi has eco-Lodges and a centre for experiential learning. Trekking, bird watching and boating options are also made available. Forest Development Corporation provides tented accommodation and boating facilities.

Mahadeva Temple, Chengannur: Lord Siva and his wife Parvathy share the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. The Thripootho Arottu Festival is celebrated here with great festivity.

Charalkunnu: This picturesque hill station offers a panoramic view of the nearby valleys. A camp house on the hill provides comfortable lodging.

Maramon: Situated near Kozhencherry, Maramon is the venue of a mammoth religious convention of Christians from all over the world. It is attended by people from all communities. The convention which is usually held in February is addressed by religious thinkers and Christian scholars from across the world. This is perhaps the largest Christian convention in Asia.

Cherukolpuzha: An important religious convention of the Hindus is held at Cherukole on the river bed of the Pamba, usually in February every year.

Kakki Reservoir: Tigers, elephants and monkeys can be sighted in the forest surrounding the reservoir. The magnificent artificial lake provides a lovely boating experience.

Manjanikara Church: Mar Ignatius Elias III, the holy patriot of Anthioc while on a visit to India, died here in 1932. His mortal remains are preserved at this church. Later this place developed into a pilgrim centre. The annual festival (Ormaperunnol) is held in February.

Maniyar: This is a beautiful dam site.

Seethathode: The Kerala State Electricity Board has a power generating station here.

Moozhiyar: This is an enchanting dam site.

Alappuzha

Area: 1414 sq. km
Population: 2,105,349(2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level

Referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ by travelers from across the world, Alappuzha is a district of immense natural beauty. Caressed by the Arabian Sea in the west and a vast network of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers crisis-crossing it, this backwater country shelters some unique animal and bird life. By virtue of its proximity to the sea, the town has always enjoyed an exclusive place in the maritime history of Kerala. Famous for its boat races, beaches, marine products and coir industry, the singularity of this land is the region called Kuttanad – a land of lush paddy fields referred to as the ‘Rice Bowl of Kerala ‘ and one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. This one- time prosperous trading and fishing centre is today a world renowned backwater tourist destination.


Accessing Alappuzha

Air: Nearest international airports Thiruvananthapuram (150 km) Nedumbassery, Kochi (85 km)

Rail: Railway enquiry

Road: KSRTC enquiry

Places of Interest

Kuttanad: Kuttanad, called the 'Rice Bowl of Kerala ‘because of its wealth of paddy crops, is at the very heart of the backwaters. The scenic countryside of Kuttanad with its shimmering waterways also has a rich crop of banana, cassava and yam. This is perhaps the only region in the world where farming is done 1.5 to 2 m below sea level. Inland waterways which flow above land level are an amazing feature of this region.

Alappuzha Beach: This is one of the most popular picnic spots in Alappuzha. The pier here, which extends into the sea, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attractions of the beach. There is also an old Light house which is greatly fascinating to visitors.

The Vijaya Beach Park: (Open 7500 - 2000 hrs) Picnic spot with children's park & boating facilities. Entrance fee: Rs. 2 per person; free entrance for children below 5 years. Boating charge: Rs. 10 for 10 minutes. Other facilities for children: Toy train, bicycles. Video permit: Rs. 25, Camera permits: Rs. 5 respectively.

Champakulam Church: Among the oldest churches in Kerala, the St. Mary's Church is believed to be one of the seven established by St. Thomas in AD 427. The annual feast of this church falls on the 3rd Sunday of October every year. The feast of St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19th. Nearby is a place that makes wooden statues of Christ for export around the world.

Pathiramanal: According to mythology a young Brahmin dived into the Vembanad Lake to perform his evening ablutions and the water made way for land to rise from below, thus creating the enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight).

Alappuzha Canal: The vast network of canals and its promenades lined with eateries, shops selling ethnic artifacts and so on are a major tourist attraction.

Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple: Built in the typical Kerala architectural style, this temple is famous allover India for the Palpayasam, the daily offering of deliciously sweet milk porridge. It is also in this temple that Pallipana is performed by Velans (sorcerers) once in every twelve years. Paintings of the Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) are on display on the inner walls of the Chuttambalam. Ottanthul/al, a satiric art form created by the poet Kunchan Nambiar, was first performed on the premises of this temple.

Sea View Park: The Park offers boating facilities and a swimming pool. Boat rentals for 70 minutes: · Round boat (4 seater): Rs. 10· Pedal boat (2 seater): Rs. 15 • Pedal boat (4 seater): Rs. 25 • Video permit: Rs. 15 • Camera permit: Rs. 100 respectively.

Chakkulathukavu BhagavathyTemple: (Open 0500 - 7300 hrs, 7630 - 2000 hrs) Situated on the border of Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts, the famous rivers
Pamba and Manimala flow on either side of the temple.

Chavara Bhavan: Chavara Bhavan is the ancestral home of the blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara. It is now a holy shrine and spiritual resort where thousands of devotees gather for prayers and receive favors. Here, a 250-year-old historically important beacon of light is preserved intact in its original and primitive form that continues to burn even today.

QST and R Block Kayal: These regions are wonders of the indigenous agricultural engineering know-how of Kerala and remind the visitor of the famous dikes of Holland. Extensive areas of land have been reclaimed from the backwaters and are protected by dikes built all around, a process that started 100 years ago. Here, cultivation and habitation are made possible four to ten feet below sea level. R Block, at nearly 850 acres, is the largest reclaimed area. A leisurely cruise along the canals that surround these kayaIs is a memorable experience.

Thakazhi Museum and Smritimandapam: (Open 0930 - 7630 hrs except on Mondays)This museum-cum-memorial hall is dedicated to the memory of the late Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai (1912-1999), the famous writer who won the jnanpeeth award in 1984, and whose writings include 35 novels and 600 short stories.

Arthunkal Church: The St. Sebastian's Church here is an important Christian pilgrim centre. The annual festival, Arthunkal Perunnal is celebrated in January.

Karumadi Kuttan: Many fascinating legends are associated with this 11th century statue of Lord Buddha, protected by the State Archaeological Department. The locals regard the Kuttan with affection and he is credited with many healing powers.

Edathua Church: (Open 0400 - 2000 hrs, Prayer timings: 0600 and 0700 hrs - Fridays 7600 hrs as well, Sundays 0600, 0800, 7000 and 7600 hrs) Established in 1810, the church is dedicated to St. George.

Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple: Situated near Harippad, this is a serpent shrine under the patronage of a Brahmin family, headed by a priestess. The ancient shrine is an internationally renowned pilgrim centre dedicated to the Serpent God Nagaraja. Sarpa Yakshi and Naga Yakshi are the beloved consorts of Nagaraja. It is believed that Nagaraja, as the installed deity, is endowed with the form of Hari (Lord Vishnu) and the spirit of Lord Shiva. Legend has it that the first priestess of Mannarasala gave birth to a five-headed snake, which is believed to reside in the ancestral house to safeguard the family. At Mannarasala, barren women are believed to be blessed with children and a special turmeric paste available at the shrine is credited with powers to cure even leprosy.

Krishnapuram Palace: Built by Marthanda Varma, this palace at Karthikapally in Kayamkulam is famous for its three- meter high mural depicting the story of Gajendramoksham. Dating back to the 18th century, this exquisite piece of art is one of the largest murals in Kerala. The palace which is a museum now, houses antique sculptures, paintings and bronze artefacts.

Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Mavelikkara: The Kettukazhcha Festival at this temple draws large crowds of devotees. Processions of tall decorated structures on chariots, brightly decorated effigies of horses and bullocks and cultural performances make a spectacular pageant. (Festival - February/March). The one-day annual Bharani festival at the temple is also a popular event. In front of the sanctum sanctorum is the 11-ft- high, 13-tiered stone lamp capable of holding a thousand wicks, said to be the largest and most elaborate lamp in India.

Kottayam

Area: 2203 sq.km
Population: 18, 20,000(2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level

Acclaimed as the land of letters, latex and lakes, Kottayam has the distinction of being the first-ever fully literate municipal town in India. This land also boasts of the first English educational center in South India as well as the first Malayalam printing press which was established by Benjamin Bailey, a Christian missionary, in 1820 AD. Today, it is the forerunner in publishing with about 80 percent of the books published in the State coming from the district. The nerve centre of Kerala newspaper industry, a total of five dailies is published from here. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations characterize this picturesque land which attracts hordes of tourists. The majestic Vembanad Lake and stunning backwaters of Kumarakom are its prime attractions.

Accessing Kottayam

Air: Nearest airport- Kochi (76 km) Thiruvananthapurarn (160 km)

Rail: The railway station is situated 2 km from the central bus station and is connected to the major cities of India.

Road: An excellent network of roads connects the district to all the major towns and cities of India.

Backwater ferry services: There are two ferry stations. The Town Jetty is about 3 km from the railway station and operates services during the monsoon. During summer, boats are operated from the Kodimatha Jetty.

Places of Interest

Kumarakom: Situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, in this small water world, you'll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes that will take you into the heart of the scenic lake. The resorts at the picturesque Kumarakom Tourist Village offer comfortable accommodation and holiday packages that include houseboat cruises, Ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, fishing, angling, swimming etc.

Thazhathangadi: Once the most important place in Kottayam, Thazhathangadi by the River Meenachil and with theVembanad Lake not far off, was strategically vital for trade. Aquiettown today, it still flaunts the sprawling houses built by the merchants of yore. Made largely of wood, these houses are excellent examples of the architecture of the time.

The Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom: Kottayam is a vast network of rivers and canals which empty into the great expanse of water called the Vembanad Lake. Vembanad is the second largest freshwater lake in South Asia and the largest India. An enchanting picnic spot and a much sought-after backwater tourism destination, the lake provides boating, fishlng and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. Stretching for 110 odd km and spanning three districts, the Vembanad Lake is at its widest point at Kumarakom. The serene lake comes alive during Onam with a spectacular regatta - the snake boat races.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: (Open 0600 - 7800 hrs) Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, an ornithologist's paradise, is a favorite haunt of migratory birds. June to August is the breeding season of resident wetland birds like Siberian stork, cormorants, darter, white ibis, egret, darter, heron and teal. Between November and May is the season of migratory birds like pintailed duck, garganey teal, spot billed duck, osprey, marsh harrier, steppe eagle etc. A cruise along the Vembanad Lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary. Pathiramanal, an enchanting island on the lake, can be accessed by boat from here.

Maniyamkunnu: The majestic mountains here that slope down to meet the beautiful valleys below are truly spellbinding.

Tourist Land, Vaikom: This is a quaint picnic spot ideal for a languorous break. Tourists can avail of various recreation options including boat cruises on the Vaikom Lake.

Kallara: Easily accessible from Kumarakom, Kallara, situated to the northwest of Kottayam, is the centre of the screwpine mat- making industry. Criss-crossed by an intricate network of canals and waterways, the Vellasseri paddy fields near Appanchira and the backwaters of Ezhumanthuruth are the major attractions of this region.

Nattakom and Panachikad: Adding to the charm of these quiet villages are their scenic reservoirs. Migratory birds come seeking this verdant landscape every summer. A boat ride from Kodoorar in Panachikad to Kumarakom is a great way to relax and enjoy nature's bounties. Facilities here cater to the recreational needs of tourists, from soothing Ayurvedic massages to boating, fishing and swimming.

Mannanam: Besides being associated with the Blessed Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mannanam is the seat of the first seminary of the Malabar Church (1833), the first Catholic Sanskrit School in Kerala (1846), the first private printing press (CMS Press started by Rev. Benjamin Bailey in 1846), and the first daily newspaper in Malayalam, the Oeepika (1887). A brilliant repertory of church history is preserved at the Chavara Art Museum. An enchanting boat journey through the Pennar Canal to the picturesque backwater districts of Alappuzha and Ernakulam is provided by OTPC and accommodation is available at the Mannanam OTPCTourist Home.

Pala and Kanjirapally: Nourished by the Meenachil and Manimala rivers respectively, these two towns are centres of rubber plantations.

Vennimala: Easily accessible from the Kottayam - Kumili Road, Vennimala has a century-old Rama Temple which stands testimony to the myth that Lord Rama visited this place during his exile. The remains of a palace, a cave etc. are the other attractions. Near Vennimala, is the Aruvikuzhi Waterfalls and Mathrumala Temple?

Anchuvilakku: This stone lamp post, a typical example of Kerala architecture, was built near the Changanacherry boat jetty by the renowned freedom fighter Veluthampi Dalawa. The Changanacherry market, one of the largest in Kerala, was also established by him. The five lamps on this post are lit using kerosene.

Nadukani: A picturesque location at the top of a hill with endless stretches of meadows girded by huge rocks. A bird's- eye view of the low lying places can be enjoyed from here.

Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall: Aruvikkuzhi is a beautiful picnic spot with a waterfall cascading down the mountains from a height of 100 ft.

Erumeli: Nestled in the lush green Western Ghats is this nature-rich village. This is also the entrance point to South India's most prominent pilgrim centre-the Sabarimala Temple. At Kanakapalam nearby, teak plantations dot the landscape.

Alapra: Located near to Erumeli, Alapra is surrounded by the Ponthanpuzha forest. The Alapra Thacharikkal Bhagavathi Temple located amidst the forest is the only place in the district where Patayani is performed. Stunning views, spectacular waterfalls, mysterious caves and muniyaras add to the natural attractions of the landscape.

Kayyoor, Bharananganam: An enchanting landscape formed by a chain of green hills at the Bharananganam panchayat. A shrine dedicated to the Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharatha is found here. As in the famous temple at Sabarimala, only ghee is used to light the lamps here. Women are not permitted inside the temple.

lIaveezhapoonchira: Skirting Kottayam District are the beautiful valleys of Ilaveezhapoonchira, spread over thousands of acres. This delightful picnic spot located in the midst of beautiful hillocks near Kanjar, is also ideal for trekking. During the monsoons when the valley fills up to form a scenic lake, this place unveils yet another beautiful slice of nature. lIaveezhapoonchira means valley where leaves don't fall and is named so because th~ place has no trees. This is also one of the best places in Kerala to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset. It is easily accessible from Palai in Kottayam. DTPC rest house nearby offers comfortable accommodation.  

Marmala Stream: This scenic stream and its breathtaking waterfalls are together referred to as the enchantress of the jungle. Sliding down numerous hillocks from a height of 200 ft, the gushing water has etched out over the years a deep pond in the rocks. Right under the waterfalls is a natural bridge

Kannadipara: As the name suggests, the valley ofthis rocky mountain reflects the morning sun with a mirror-like perfection. This is also the highest point in lIaveezhapoonchira. 3 km from here is the Pazhakakanam Plateau nourished by the Kadapuzha River. Bamboo groves, meadows and wild flowers make this place exotic. An added attraction here is the Kazhukankulimali Waterfalls. On the eastern side of Kannadipara is a natural fort set amidst steep rocks.

Vazhikkadavu: On the outskirts of the district is this hill station of rocky terrains sought-after for its pristine nature. On one side of the main rock are extremely tall and steep rocks and on the other is a valley of fearful depth. Bordering this crude landscape like a silver lace is the Meenachil River. During the months of December/January the landscape comes alive in a riot of colours with orchids and wild flowers.

Muruganmala: On the eastern side of the Kurisumala Hill is Muruganmala housing a rock cut temple dedicated to Murugan (son of Lord Shiva). The road to this place offers some real sightseeing opportunities in a European model house and the beautiful artificial lake, both designed by the renowned architect, the late Laurie Baker.

Thangalppara: The mausoleum of Sheikh Fariduddin found here makes this place a famous Muslim pilgrim centre. Nearby is the scenic hill station of Kurathikallu and the beautiful Kottathavalam.

Kottathavalam: Near Murugan hills at Kurisumala, a flight of steps cut into the rocks takes one to this magnificent cave. Legends say that the royal family from Madurai rested here on their way to Poonjar. The rocks within the cave, carved like chairs and couches and the figures of Madurai Meenakshi, Ayyappa, Murugan, Kannaki and weapons sculpted on them, are all worth exploring.

Poonjar Palace: The palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture which include a palanquin, a thoni - carved out of a single piece of wood - for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, different varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (dancing Lord Shiva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes. Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures which narrate stories from the Puranos (the legends of ancient India). However, the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on stone walls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rock cut lamps are rare in India. Poonjar Koickal Devaswom Board.

Ramapuram: Located 15 km from Pala Town on the way to Koothattukulam, Ramapuram is unique as it houses the temples of Rama as well as his three brothers in a radius of just three kilometres. It is also the birthplace of Ramapurathu Warrier, originator of the Vanchipattu and the place where Lalithambika Antharjanam, the renowned Malayalam novelist lived.

Thirunakkara Mahadevar Temple: (Open 0400 - 7700 hrs, 1700- 2000 hrs) In the heart of Kottayam town is this 500-year- old temple built by the Thekkumkoor Maharajah. This temple built in the Kerala style of architecture has colorful murals on its walls which are worth seeing. The Koothambalam, the special building in the temple premises used for cultural purposes, is one of the best in Kerala. Camera fee: Still Rs. 50, Video Rs. 700,

Ithipuzha: Endless stretches of coconut palms and vast acres of emerald green paddy fields make this quaint village picture- perfect. Located on the Ernakulam -Vaikom Main Road, tourists can traverse the river flowing through here on canoes and take in the scenic splendour.

Vayaskara and Chirattamon: These places are well-known fortheir Ayurvedic rejuvenation centres.

Kurisumala: At this renowned Christian pilgrim centre, hundreds of devotees from far and near converge during the holy week and after, to climb the hill in faith, carrying small wooden crosses.

St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Cheriapalli: (Open 0800 -7800 hrs) Built in 1579 by Thekkumkoor Maharajah, this church displays outstanding architecture which is a blend of Kerala and Portuguese styles. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals made in oriental and western styles on biblical and non-biblical themes. Feast Day : January 15.

St. Mary's Knanaya Church, Valiapalli: (Open 0800- 2000hrs) Built in 1550 AD, this church belongs to the Knanaya Orthodox Syrian Community. The Persian cross, believed to be one of the seven brought here by St. Thomas, and the Pahlavi inscriptions of this church are famous. St. George's Feast falls on April 24.

Juma Masjid, Thazhathangadi: (Open 0700 - 7800 hrs) This ancient mosque on the banks of the Meenachil River is believed to be 1000 years old. It is one of the oldest in India. The mosque has a square inner courtyard, an exquisitely carved wooden gabled roof, a traditional bathing area and lovely latticed windows making it resemble a temple or a king's palace. Only men are allowed here.

Shiva Temple, Thalikkotta: This is the place of worship of the erstwhile Thekkumkoor Royal Family. Annual festival: Ten- day utsavam (April-May), Shivarathri (January-February)

Dharmasastha Temple, Pakkil: This is one of the eight temples established by Parasurama, the legendary founder of Kerala. Annual festival: Sankranti Vanibhyam - a fair of household articles (June/July)

St. Mary's Church, Manarcad: This is one of the most important churches of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christians. The ettunompu (8-day fasting) is the main annual event when devotees from far and wide congregate to participate in the prayers and rituals.

St. George's Church, Puthupalli: This church is believed to have been built by the Thekkumkoor Rajas. The golden cross in this church is well known. The feast of St. George (Gee Varghese) is the annual event.

Kavil Bhagavathy Temple, Changanacherry: Built by one of the Thekkumkoor Maharajas. Festival: Kavil chirappu (December - January)

Mahadevar Temple, Ettumanoor: This temple is famous for its murals, especially the painting of Nataraja in the gopuram and ezharaponnana (the seven and half elephants finished in gold). Festival: Ezharaponnana ezhunallathu (10 days in February/March)

Vavarambalam, Erumeli: This mosque is dedicated to Vavar, a companion of the deity, Sree Ayyappa, of the Sabarimala temple. The mosque is unique because Hindu pilgrims customarily worship here before their trek to Sabarimala. Festival: Petta thullal (January). The CSI Cathedral Church, built over 175 years ago, is a monument from the British Era. The Old Seminary, Marthoma Seminary and Vadavathoor Seminary proclaim Syrian and Roman Christian traditions. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has its headquarters at Devalokam, Kottayam.

St. Thomas Mount: This holy place of Christians is located 1200 ft above sea level and offers a panoramic view of the Vaikom Lake and the surrounding areas.

Shiva Temple, Vaikom: Associated with the legendary Parasurama, this temple is a typical example of the Kerala style of temple architecture. More popular as the Kosi of the South, this temple is famous for its elephant pageants and traditional art performances. Annual festival: Vaikathashtami (November/ December)

St. Mary's Church, Kuravilangad: Built in 355 AD on the high ranges of Kuravilangad Town, this church has an old bell which bears an undeciphered inscription.

St. Joseph's Monastery, Mannanam: This church was built by the blessed Father Chavara Kuriakose Elias. The mortal remains of this saintly priest is preserved here. Thousands of devotees gather here to pay homage to the saint every day.

St. Mary's Forane Church, Athirampuzha: (Open 0930 - 1300 hrs, 1530 - 1800 hrs)The 9th century St Mary's Church was built on land donated by the Brahmin family of Ettanasseri as thanksgiving for a male heir born to the family on praying to Virgin Mary. Leonard D'Cruz, a Portuguese sailor, brought the statue of St. Sebastian in 1687. The crucifix in this church is unique as it shows Jesus Christ without a single wound. The annual feast celebrated in honour of St. Sebastian is a big event with fireworks and illuminations. Votive offerings of gold and silver arrows set this event apart from other festivals.

St. Mary's Church, Kudamaloor: This church, 800 years old, was built by Chempakasseri Maharajah. The ritual offering here is a traditional water bag and rope used to draw water from the well. The KudamaloorTemple is equally famous.

Kaduthuruthi Valiapalli: Built in 500 AD, the church has a huge cross sculpted out of a single stone at the entrance.

Vimalagiri Church: This temple built in the Gothic architectural style has a 172 ft. tower which is one of the tallest church towers in Kerala. The feast is celebrated in December.

St. Mary's Church, Bharananganam: The mortal remains of the Blessed Alphonsa are entombed at this church which is now a famous pilgrim centre. Thousands gather at this holy shrine every year during the feast. Annual festival: Feast of the Blessed Alphonso (July).

St. Thomas Church, Pala: The church dates back to 1002 AD and was renovated once in the 18th century.

Bhagavathy Temple, Manarcad: This centuries-old temple is dedicated to goddess Bhadrakali. Main events: Kalamezhuthupattu, Kumbha bharani, Meena bharani, atham udayam, Mandalam chirappu.

Aruvithira Church: Believed to be one of the seven churches established by St. Thomas, this is also one of the churches in Kerala which collects the largest amount of monetary offerings during the festival days. The annual feast is celebrated on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of April.

St. Thomas Church, Cherpungal: Believed to have been established by the apostle St. Thomas, this church was relocated to the southern banks of the Meenachil River with the
cooperation of poet Kunchan Nambiar and his family. In 1107, the Valiapalli was built on the original site. Oil poured into lamps and kept before the image of Infant Jesus is the votive offering here- a ritual similar to the devotional practices of Hindus.

Pazhayapalli, Changanacherry: This 950-year-old mosque is one of the most famous ones of Central Travancore. The annual festival, Thangal adiyanthiram, is famous and is marked by a grand community feast. Meat and two tonnes of rice, offered by the devotees, is used to prepare biriyani for the community feast on this day. The Chandanakuddam festival at the mosque is one of the largest crowd pulling events in Changanacherry town.

Sree Subramanya Swami Temple, Perunna: Festival: Pallivetta utsavam (November - December)

Puthenpalli, Erattupetta: The famous Chandanakudam is celebrated here in February/December.

Bhagavathy Temple, Ambalakkadavu: The Arattu ritual of the Thirunakkara MahadevarTemple takes place here. Festival: Vishu (April/May)

Pallipurathukavu: Festival: Patham udaya mahotsavam. Famous ritual offering: Nadel Thiyattu performance.

Saraswathi Temple, Panachikkad: (Open 0500 -1030 hrs, 7700 - 7930 hrs) This temple, also known as the Mookambika Temple of the South, holds the Saraswathi (goddess of learning and the arts) pooja every year in October/November. Children are initiated into the world of letters at the Vidhyarambham ceremony held here.

Shiva Temple, Vazhappalli, Changanacherry: Famous for its sculptures.

Surya Temple, Adityapuram: The only temple in Kerala dedicated to Aditya, the sun god. The first and last Sundays of the zodiacs Scorpio (November- December) and Aries (April- May) are considered auspicious.

Kalkulathukavu Temple, Vazhappalli: This temple is famous for its Mudiyeduppu utsavam (festival) celebrated once in 12 years and the rare art forms connected with it. The procession carrying madhu (honey), kulavazha (plantain tree with the fruit), bhairavi purapadu and darika vadha purappadu etc is a grand affair.

Idukki

Area: 5019 sq. km
Population: 1,079,369 (2001 census)
Altitude: 2200 m above sea level

Kerala’s largest district, Idukki is one of the most nature-rich areas of the State. A landlocked region, here, high ranges and wooded valleys are girded by three main rivers- Periyar, Thalayar and Thodupuzhayar- and their tributaries. Powering Kerala with one-third of the State’s electricity, Idukki is also famous for its gigantic arch dam. Powering Kerala with one-third of the State’s electricity, Idukki is also famous for its gigantic arch dam. Predominantly populated by tribes, and astonishing 50 percent of its total area is covered by forests. As a tourist destination, the place offers diverse attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantation tours, mountain treks, elephant rides etc. Idukki’s numerous trekking trails and spectacular landscape dotted with rich flora and fauna make it a dream destination for nature enthusiasts.

Accessing Idukki

Air: Nearest Airport: Madurai (Tamil Nadu): 140 km Kochi: 190 km Thiruvananthapuram: 265 km Kozhikode: 315 km Chennai (Tamil Nadu): 570 km

Rail: Kottayam: 114 km (4 hrs) Madurai: 136 km (31/2 hrs) Changanacherry: 93 km (4 hrs) Theni: 60 km (11/2 hrs)

Road: Kottayam - Kumily 110 km (4 hrs) Munnar - Kumily 110 km (4 hrs) Madurai - Kumily 136 km (3 hrs) Thiruvananthapuram - Kumily 265 km (8 hrs) Thekkady - Kumily 4 km (10 min) Kodaikanal- Kumily 149 km (5 hrs) Idukki - Kumily 65 km (21/2 hrs) Alappuzha - Kumily 160 km (51/2hrs) Ooty - Kumily 390 km (11 hrs) Bus timings from Idukki: Thodupuzha, Ernakulam and Kottayam: Frequent buses Munnar: 1015, 1515 hrs Thekkady/Kumily 0730,0930, 1400, 1550, 1750 hrs Thiruvananthapuram: 1300, 1915 hrs

Places of Interest

Idukki Arch Dam: A technological marvel, this magnificent parabolic structure is the world's second and Asia's first arch dam, constructed across the Kuravan and Kurathi Hills. 550 ft high and 650 ft wide, the dam lies close to the Cheruthoni barrage. To its west is the Kulamavu Dam. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located close by.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary extends over the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki District, spreading over 77 sq. km and is about 450 - 748 m above sea level. The Idukki Reservoir formed by three dams - Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu - extends to 33 sq. km.

Animals: Elephant, bison, sambar deer, wild dog, jungle cat, tiger, wild boar etc.

Snakes: Cobra, viper, krait and a number of non-poisonous snakes.

Birds: Jungle fowl, laughing thrush, black bulbul, peafowl, woodpecker, kingfisher etc.

Annamalai Temple, Karikodu: The 1800-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is built in the Chola style of architecture and remains as it was, even today. It has a window with nine lattices pointing to the Navagrohas or nine planets.

Nainar Masjid, Karikodu: The largest and the oldest mosque in Idukki, stone steps bearing inscriptions of an ancient script are found here.

Karikodu Bhagavathy: (Open 0500 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 2000 hrs) This temple opposite the Annamalai Temple is about 460 years old, The Kumbha Bharani here is the most famous festival in the central ldukki region, drawing thousands of devotees,

Thumpachi Calveri Samuchayam: This is a picnic spot also ideal for meditation, relaxation and watching the sunset

Kulamav: Attractions - Trekking trail, view point Poinov: Trekking trail, evergreen forest Cheruthoni: Idukki Arch Dam, reservoir, hill view park,

Malankara Dam: An artificial lake spread over 11 km; the reservoir is a popular picnic spot.

Kalvary Mount/Kalliyanathandu: This famous Christian pilgrimage site perched atop a hill offers an aerial view of the Idukki Reservoir and its surrounding peaks and forests; it is also an ideal place for mountain climbers and trekkers. Guided trek- king can be availed from here to nearby places. During Lent, the area turns into a pilgrimage centre as Christians go in a procession up the hillock.

Ernakulam

Area: 2408 sq. km
Population: 2,797,779 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level    

Located on the cost of the Arabian Sea with Kottayam and Alappuzha districts in the south, Idukki in the east and Trissur in the north, Ernakulum is a booming business metropolis .A fascinating mixture of the old and the new, the district comprises many interesting cities including Kochi (Cochin), the commercial capital of Kerala. One of the finest natural harbors in the world, Kochi renowned as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, was once a major center for commerce and trade. The British, Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch etc., have all come to its shores in search of exotic and sandalwood. Even today, Ernakulum continues the tradition of welcoming visitors with its customary warmth and hospitality.

Accessing Ernakulam

Air: International Airport at Nedumbassery (32 km from the city)

Rail: Ernakulam is well connected to all major cities in lndia - Ernakulam Junction

Road: The KSRTC Central Bus Station is near the Junction Railway Station

Places of Interest

Marine Drive: A popular hangout, this scenic stretch offers a spectacular view of the backwaters and the Kochi Harbour. Packed with shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets, the Rainbow Bridge is another attraction of Marine Drive.

Veegaland: Chiselled into the hill face to the east of the city is an amusement park with excellent water sports facilities. It is a favorite weekend getaway for both locals and tourists.

The Hill Palace Museum, Thripunithura: (Open 0900 -1230 hrs, 1400 - 1630 hrs. Closed on Mondays) Hill Palace, the official residence of the erstwhile Kochi Royal Family, was built in 1865. The palace complex consists of 49 buildings in the traditional architectural style of Kerala and is surrounded by 52 acres of terraced land with a deer park and facilities for horse riding. A full-fledged ethno-archaeological museum and Kerala's first-ever heritage museum are the main attractions. Displayed inside the thirteen galleries are oil paintings, 19th century paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and plaster of Paris, manuscripts, inscriptions and coins belonging to the royal family. Ancient musical instruments, clay models, bronze and silver items from the 14th, 15th and 16th century are some of the other exhibits here.

Durbar Hall Art Gallery: (Open 1100 - 1800 hrs) Right in the middle of Ernakulam City is the grand Durbar Hall grounds. At one time known as the Parikshit Thampuran Museum, it has now been converted into the Durbar Hall Art Gallery. The museum also houses a collection of coins, bronzes, copies of murals and megalithic relics of Kerala.

Chottanikkara Temple: This temple enshrines the Goddess Bhagavathy in three revered forms - as Saraswati, Bhadrakali and Durga. Devotees flock from all over to this 10th century temple seeking liberation from mental illness as the goddess is believed to cure such ailments.

Kanjiramattom Mosque: The mosque retains the antique beauty of mazhars and dargahs. Honouring the Saint Sheikh Fariduddin, at the Chandanakudam Festival, pilgrims carry pots covered with sandalwood paste in a procession to the mosque.

Museum of Kerala History: (Open 7000 - 7700 hrs. Closed on Mondays) The Foundation houses the Museum of Kerala History, which showcases historical episodes from the neolithic to the modern era through life-size figures. Light and sound shows are regularly organized with commentaries in English and Malayalam. There is also a gallery of paintings and sculptures, displaying over 200 original works by contemporary Indian artists. The Centre for Visual Arts has a collection of the authentic reproduction of selected world masters and larger- than-life mural reproductions of Indian art.

Mannapuram Shiva Temple, Aluva: Famous for the Shivaratri Festival held annually, this temple at first glance, looks unfinished. But a closer look shows that the angles are brilliantly conceived and the pillars are positioned in such a way to give the illusion of being incomplete.

Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple: Inscriptions from the 10th to the 13th century are found in this temple at Thrikkakara, near Ernakulam. This is the only temple dedicated to Vamana - one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu - who in the guise of a Brahmin boy ended the glorious rule of King Mahabali. Thrikkakara is considered to be the capital of Mahabali's Kingdom and the ten-day Onam celebration is flagged off from this temple with a colourful pageant.

Santhanagopala-Krishnaswamy Temple: The original foundation of this temple was laid in 947 AD according to the inscriptions found here.

Kumbalangi Tourist Village: Essentially a fishing hamlet, this tiny village facing the Kochi backwaters in the western part of the city is the first ecotourism village in India. Kalagramam, an artist's village, displays handicrafts and fishing equipment. Mangroves are nurtured here and also fish farming. Bait fishing is extremely popular among tourists here.

Chennamangalam: This is a rare geographical combination of three rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and vast expanses of green plains. The Paliam Palace, abode of the Paliath Achans, prime ministers to the erstwhile Maharajas of Kochi, represents the architectural splendour of Kerala. The palace houses a collection of historic documents and relics. The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom presents the unusual sight of a temple, a church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all situated next to each other. Also interesting is a visit to the remains of the Vypeenkotta Seminary built in the 16th century by the Portuguese.

Kaladi: The birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya, the great Advaita philosopher of the 8th century, Kaladi is 10 km from Aluva. Temples dedicated to Sree Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sree Krishna and Sree Ramakrishna add to the sanctity of the destination. A place called Crocodile Ghat is where Sree Sankara took his vows of renunciation. According to legends, a crocodile caught hold of him and refused to release him until Sankara's mother Aryamba permitted him to accept Sanyas (renunciation).

Kodanad: Situated in the high ranges on the southern bank of the Periyar, Kodanad is one of the largest elephant training centres in South India. Elephants specially trained for safari are provided with saddles for riding. There is also a mini zoo for wild animals here.

Malayatoor: Malayatoor is famous for the Catholic Church on the 609 m high Malayatoor Hill (dedicated to St. Thomas). Thousands of devotees undertake the pilgrimage to the shrine to participate in the annual festival - Malayatoor Perunnal (Marchi April). St. Thomas is believed to have prayed at this shrine.

Ernakulam Shiva Temple: Popularly known as Ernakulathappan, this temple is associated with the birth of the name of the city. The idols of Shiva and Parvathi are claimed to be swayambhoo or self- created.

Bhoothathankettu: A picturesque haven situated in a vast virgin forest, this mythologically popular picnic spot lies close to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekkadu. Two of the main irrigation projects of Ernakulam district - the Periyar Valley Irrigation Project and the Idamalayar Irrigation Project - are also located nearby. Trekking through the enchanting wilderness to Bhoothathankettu promises much excitement to adventure lovers.

Mattancherry Palace/Dutch Palace: (Open /000 - 1700 hrs. Closed on Fridays) Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. On display here are beautiful murals depicting scenes from the epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as some of the Puranic Hindu legends. The palace also houses Dutch maps of old Kochi, royal palanquins, coronation robes of former maharajas of Kochi as well as period furniture. The three dimensional portraits of the Maharajas are also noteworthy.

Cherai Beach: This lovely beach bordering Vypeen Island is ideal for swimming. Dolphins are occasionally seen here. A typical Kerala village with paddy fields and coconut groves nearby is an added attraction.

Bolgatty Island: This Island is famous for its palace of the same name. The Bolgatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and later taken over by the British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, with a small golf course and special honeymoon cottages.

Synagogue: (Open 1000 - 1200 hrs, 1500 -1700 hrs. Closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays) Constructed in 1568, this is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, it was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch.

Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary: (Open 0600 - 1700 hrs) This sanctuary, nestled in evergreen forests, was discovered by the renowned ornithologist of India, Dr. Salim Ali and is named after him. The sanctuary is noted for indigenous birds like the Malabar grey-hornbill, the woodpecker, rose-ringed and blue- winged parakeet etc. Rare birds like the Ceylon frog-moth and the Rose-billed roller are also seen here. Diverse migrant species home in here during season. Wildlife can also be sighted often

Willingdon Island: Named after Lord Willingdon, a former British Viceroy of India, this man-made island is surrounded by beautiful backwaters. The island is the site of the city's best hotels and trading centres, the Port Trust and the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command.

Jew Town: The area around the Synagogue is a centre of spice trade and curio shops.

Thrissur

Area: 3032 sq.km
Population: 2,733,311 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level    

The cultural capital of Kerala, Thrissur is synonymous with the world famous and spectacular Pooram Festival. The abode of several prominent culture centers including the Kerala Kalamandalam, Sahitya Academy and Sangeetha Nataka Academy, Thrissur has an extraordinary rich past as well as a vibrant present. From ancient times, this district with its cultural heritage and archaeological wealth has played as significant role in the political history of South India. Many rulers and dynasties beginning with the Zamorins of Kozhikode, Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Europeans including the Dutch and the British have had a hand in moulding the destiny of this region.  Raja Rama Varma popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran is the architect of the present Thrissur town.

Accessing Thrissur


Air: Nearest international airport: Nedumbassery (58 km)

Rail: Thrissur is an important railhead of the Southern Railways.

Road: The KSRTC Bus Station, near the railway station operates long distance and inter-state services

Places of Interest

Vadakkumnathan Temple: (Open0400-1030hrs, 1700- 2030 hrs) Believed to have been built by Lord Parasurama who reclaimed Kerala from the sea, the Vadakkumnathan Temple is one of the oldest in the State. A classic example of the Kerala style of architecture, the temple has many decorative murals and pieces of art. Exquisite murals on the Mahabharota adorn the walls of the shrine. This is the venue of the world famous Pooram Festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Poorom are a spectacular sight. Non-Hindus are not allowed into the temple.

Archaeological Museum: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs on all days except Mondays and notional holidays) The one-time summer palace of the Raja of Kollengode now houses a melange of artefacts. The sati stones, hero and heroine stones, wooden models of the grand old temples of Kerala, huge burial pots, Harappan shards and menhirs are part of the exceptional collection seen here.

The State Museum and Zoo: (Open on all days except Mondays) The Art Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Zoo were built in the same compound in 1885. Covering an area of 13 1/2 acres, the museums and the zoo are located at Chembukkavu.

Zoo: (Open 0900 - 7775 hrs on all days except Mondays) The zoo is home to a variety of fauna such as the endangered lion-tailed macaque, tiger, lion, sloth bear, several species of deer and many birds including the pink flamingos. The Snake Park has an impressive reptilian collection of king cobras, kraits, vipers and rat snakes.

The Natural History Museum: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs. No cameras allowed) Along with specimens of various animals, entomological objects and stone sculptures, it showcases the skeleton of the biggest elephant in India. It also has an interesting section displaying the costumes of Kerala.

Art Museum: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs on all days except Mondays)The art museum displays collections of wood carvings, metal sculptures, ancient jewellery, stone figurines and some Chinese and Japanese artefacts. A sample of kodakkalu (umbrella stone), or prehistoric dolmen spotted around many places in Thrissur, can also be seen in the zoo. The kodakallu was a secondary burial site.

Town Hall: An excellent monument of erstwhile Thrissur's administrative, military and cultural history. It houses the Chitralayam Gallery where mural paintings from all parts of Kerala are on display as also an excellent library and an auditorium.

Kerala Sahitya Academy: Located in a sprawling bungalow, the academy was established in 1956 to promote Ma\aya\am language and literature. An autonomous body, the Sahitya Academy recognizes superior literary works very year through its prestigious literary awards. The building houses splendid picture gallery of Malayalam litterateurs.

Irinjalakuda Koodal Manikyam Temple: (Open 0300- 7730 hrs, 7700 - 2075 hrs) Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda Railway Station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful eleven- day annual festival with a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants is held in April/May. The festival in this temple marks the end of the Hindu temple festival Season in Kerala.

Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy: The centre was established to train, preserve and patronise music and dance. The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy sees regular expositions of theatre, dance, drama and folk arts. A huge library holds exhaustive tomes on all these subjects.

The Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy: Also in Chemukkavu, the academy is housed in a beautiful building with a neat little art gallery. Artists in Kerala are supported through workshops, artist's camps and exhibitions.

Marthoma Mariyam Chaldean Church: (Service Timings: Weekdays 0700 - 0800 hrs, 7675 - 7645 hrs; Sundays 0730 - 0930 hrs) Called the Valiya PaIIi or big church, because of its age, not size, this is the headquarters of the Chaldean Syrian Church (Church of the East) in India, dating back to when Sakthan Thampuran settled 64 Syrian Christians in Thrissur around the end of the 18th century. Parts of the Mass are still held in Syriac and the congregation follows old rites. It has no pictorial representations of Christ inside the chapel, only the cross. The church has a lovely gabled facade and an ornately carved tulip-shaped pulpit.

Vilangankunnu: This beautiful hill is a good picnic spot.

Karthiyayini Temple: (Open 0500- 7100hrs, 7700-2000 hrs) Dedicated to the angel child, Jyothi Maya, believed to have appeared to announce the imminent birth of Lord Krishna to Kamsa. She was attacked by the enraged king and is supposed to have landed at this spot where a temple was built for her.

Aaratupuzha Temple: (Open 0500 - 7700 hrs, 7700 - 2000 hrs) The Aaratupuzha Village is known for the annual Pooram Festival held at its temple in April/May. The uniqueness of this festival is the ceremonial processions where the images of the deities of 41 neighbouring temples are carried to this village.

Basilica of Our Lady of Dolores: (Service Timings: 0600, 0730 & 1730 hrs; Sundays 1000 hrs) Built in 1875, this Roman Catholic Church is called Puthen Pal/i. With its three-storeyed facade and even higher steeples that tower above the town's skyline, this is claimed to be the biggest and tallest church in Asia. An architectural marvel, the church has triple towers built in the Gothic style, an array of 1 5 altars and musical church bells imported from Germany. The ceiling is adorned with beautiful mural paintings of the HolyTrinity. Other highlights are the wall paintings, the crypts and the Perpetual Adoration Centre.

Lourdes Cathedral: (Mass Timings: 06 15, 0730 hrs and 1730 hrs)This unique church which has an underground prayer chamber is the third biggest church in Thrissur. Established in 1885, it was elevated to a Cathedral in 1891.

Sree Maheswara Temple: (Open 0500- I 700hrs, 1700-2000 hrs) This 1 OO-year-old temple was established by Sri Narayana Guru, and has friezes depicting scenes of Shiva's marriage and the Dasavatharam of Madurai Meenakshi. The main idol is a serpent deity.

Urakam Amma Thiruvadi Temple: This DeviTemple was set up by a Namboodiri to avert disasters that continually befell this place. The idol here is unique and is cleaned only with peacock feathers.

Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary: Established in 1958, this is one of Kerala's oldest wildlife reserves. Formed around the twin reservoirs of Peechi and Vazhani, the sanctuary is a rich repository of bio-diversity with several endangered herbs, shrubs, rare medicinal plants and innumerable variety of orchids. The sanctuary also teems with about 176 species of birds and harbours all the major mammals found in India. The Forest Department offers several adventure packages including overnight stay in tents, bamboo rafting, bird watching, butterfly safari and trekking. Tariff: Rs. 750 per head, inclusive of food Children: Rs. 500. Minimum of 4 persons required.

Christian Divine Retreat Centres: They are located at Muringoor and Potta near Chalakudi, on the Kochi - Thrissur route.

St. Mary's Forane Church, Koratty: Also known as the Church of Koratty Muthy, this church was established in 1381. As a pilgrimage centre, this shrine is second only to Velankanni. The Koratty Muthy is said to shower her blessings on all who visit her, regardless of caste and creed. The annual feast falls on the Saturday and Sunday following the 10th of October, during which the statue of Koratty Muthy is taken out in a procession from the church. An important offering here is the poovankula (bunch of plantain).

Punnathoor Kotta: (Open 0900 - 1800 hrs) The palace grounds of the erstwhile Rajas of Punnathoor is today home to 60 temple elephants. All the elephants here are offerings from devotees and the camp is the only one of its kind in the world.

Irinjalakuda Koodal Manikyam Temple: (Open 0300- I 130 hrs, 1700 - 20 I 5 hrs) Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda Railway Station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful eleven- day annual festival with a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants is held in April/May. The festival in this temple marks the end of the Hindu temple festival season in Kerala.

Mammiyoor Temple: (Open 0400- 1230hrs, 1645 -2030 hrs) A visit to the GuruvayoorTemple is considered incomplete without a visit to this Shiva Temple noted for its murals.

Guruvayoor: (Open 0300 - 1230 hrs, 1630- 2115 hrs) Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna Temple, considered the Dwaraka of the South. This historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Gods, and Vayu, the God of winds. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. In the Chuttambalam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flag-post). There is also a 7 metre high Deepasthambam (pillar of lamps), whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity. Within the temple there are also the images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edathedathu Kavil Bhagavathy. Renowned for its healing powers, people make an astonishing range of offerings here to the Lord. One of the most popular offerings is the Thulabharam, where a devotee is weighed against bananas, sugar, jaggery and coconuts equivalent to his weight. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Dress Code: Men and boys: Only shirts and white dhotis Women: Sarees or churidars Young girls: Long skirts.
www.guruvayurdevaswom.com

Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy: Cheruthuruthy is the seat of the Kerala Kalamandalam, renowned the world over for its Kathakali training centre. The music and dance academy was founded by the famous poet, Vallathol Narayana Menon. Training in Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Thullal and other art forms of Kerala is imparted here. Cultural programmes are also arranged.

Sree Rama Temple, Tripayar: (Open 0430 - 1200 tits, 1630 . 2000 hrs) The exquisite woodcarvings, sculptures and mural paintings are a feast for the eyes. Nangiar Koothu, a local theatre for enacting scenes from the Ramayana is offered as a worship service in the temple premises.

Peechi Dam: This picnic spot offers plenty of boating facilities.

Ariyannoor Temple, Kandanisserry: This temple has a carved entrance gable which has been compared to the wooden sculptures of American artist Louise Nevelson.

Marthoma Pontifical Shrine, Azhikode: (Open 0900- 1800hrs. Prayer Timings: Every hour) Based on the model of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, this shrine was built to commemorate the landing of St. Thomas in India. A painting depicts the scene of his arrival and within the church is enshrined the relic of his right arm, brought down from Ortona, Italy.

Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple, Kodungalloor: (Open 0400- 0830hrs, 1130- 1200hrs, 1600-2000hrs) Located in the centre of Kodungalloor town, the deity of the temple is a majestic 6 feet high wooden image of goddess Kali. The temple is famous for its annual Bharani festival.

Palayur Church: The oldest church in India, this was founded by St. Thomas who is believed to have come to Kerala in 52 AD. The main entrance of the church is decorated with 14 life-sized, granite statues depicting various scenes from the life of St. Thomas. Other highlights include Thaliyakulam - a pond where St. Thomas baptized the local people, a replica of Little Mount in Chennai where he died, and a historical museum. The Thaliyakulam is said to have miraculous powers of healing and a community baptism is held here once a month. Close by is the Chavakkad Beach and the 100 ft high Chetwa Light house .

Shiva Temple, Thiruvanchikulam: The Mahadeva Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located in the same vicinity as the Cheraman Juma Masjid. The porch is adorned with carvings dedicated to the heroes of the Ramayana.

Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kodungalloor: (Open 0530 - 1800 hrs) Located 2 km from KodungaiioorTown in Methala, this mosque resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. Built in 629 AD, this is the first mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma prayers were started. Other places of interest nearby include the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple Cheramanparambu, the Bhagavathi Temple and the Portuguese

Kodungalloor: Once a maritime port of international repute because of its strategic location at the confluence of the Periyar River and the Arabian Sea, it was considered the gateway to ancient India or the Rome of the East because of its status as a centre for trade and Christianity. Kodungalloor was also the entry point to three major religions in India - Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Athirapally: At the entrance to the Sholayar ranges, this 80 ft high waterfall is a popular picnic spot.

Vazhachal: Just a short drive from Athirapally, this picturesque waterfall is close to dense green forests and is a part of the Chalakudy River. Athirapally and Vazhachal are the most famous waterfalls of Kerala which attract tourists in plenty.

Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary: Located in the Mukundapuram Taluk ofThrissur District, Chimmini is only a two-hour drive from Kochi. With its dense forests, a variety of birds and butterflies, and innumerable trekking trails, this is a sanctuary that provides a heady experience for nature enthusiasts. The Forest Department organises trekking and bamboo rafting programmes in and around the sanctuary. But the best of all experiences is the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon nights.

Sakthan Thampuran Palace: Also known as Palace Thoppu, the campus covers an area of 6 acres. Here you can see three shavakudeerams (tombs) including that of Sakthan Thampuran, the greatest ruler of the Cochin Dynasty.

Palakkad        

Area: 4480 sq.km
Population: 2,382,235 (2001 census)
Altitude: Above sea level

Celebrated as the granary of Kerala, Palakkad is a vast expanse of verdant plains interspersed with hills, rivers, mountain streams and forests. The gateway to Kerala from the north, a 40 kilometer break in the mountains known as the Palakkad Gap gives access to this land situated at the foot of the Western Ghats. The pass acts as a corridor between Kerala and neighboring Tamil Nadu and played a major role in the trade contacts between east and west coast of peninsular India. Deriving its name from the Malayalam words Pala (Alsteria scholaris) and Kadu (forest), this place was once a beautiful stretch of forest covered with the sweet-scented flowers of the Pala tree. A potpourri of Tamil and Kerala culture, some of the finest Carnatic musicians hail from this region which continues to be a largely agrarian society.

Accessing Palakkad

Air: Nearest airport: Coimbatore (55 km)

Rail: Palakkad Junction Railway Station (5 km from the city) is a major railhead of the Southern Railways.

Road: Palakkad is connected by an excellent network of roads to all the major cities in India. KSRTC bus stand

Places of Interest

Tipu's Fort/Palakkad Fort: (Open 0800 - 7800 hrs) The old granite fort situated in the very heart of Palakkad Town is one of the best preserved in Kerala. It was built by Hyder Ali of Mysore in 1766. The fort was taken over and modified by the British in 1790. Well preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, there is an open-air auditorium and a small museum inside the fort. The landscaped environs of the fort now host a children's park and a temple known as kota ambo/am (fort temple).

Ramassery:This nondescript village is famed for its special idlis that are quite different from the common South Indian variety. Round and flat, almost shaped like a dosa, the idlis are extremely soft and delicious. The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and is a well-kept family secret.

Malampuzha Garden: This famous picnic spot which comprises a dam and beautifully landscaped gardens is situated on the lower hills of the Western Ghats. The garden: (Open 1000 - 1800 hrs) Lush green lawns Well laid-out flower beds Cool pools, fountains and pathways Rock garden Rose garden with over a hundred varieties An aerial ropeway across the garden. Dams and gardens are illuminated on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays from 1900 - 2000 hrs. On other days they are illuminated on request for a fee. The reservoir: Boating and fishing facilities are available here. Pedal boats, row boats, water scooters and motor boats can be hired from 1000 - 1800 hrs A well maintained swimming pool (Tuesday holiday) A fresh water aquarium (Open 1100 - 2000 hrs, 1300- 2100 hrs on holidays) A snake park (Open 0800 - 1800 hrs) A children's park The passenger rope way: (Open 1000 - 1230 hrs, 1400 - 1830 hrs) This is the first of its kind in South India. Toy train Adults: Rs. 5 Children between 3 - 12 yrs: Rs. 3. 

Fantasy Park: (Open 1000 - 1830 hrs on weekdays and 0930- 1900 hrs on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays). Entrance fee: Adults: Rs. 200 Children between 3 - 9 yrs: Rs. 150.

Pothundy: Situated on the way to Nelliampathy, the Pothundy Reservoir Complex is a charming location for picnics and half-day trips.

Thiruvalathoor: The ancient temple here has some fine woodwork and stone sculptures. Legend has it that the outer wall of the temple was built by an army of gods who worked at it the whole night but left it unfinished by dawn as they didn't want to be seen by humans. Despite efforts later on, the work could not be completed and it is believed that humans cannot complete this work. The 4000 stone lamps fixed on the wall, lit up at night is a beautiful sight. Another attraction is the mizhavu - an instrument that is commonly used while performing the art forms of Chakiyarkoothu and Koodiyattom, said to be the biggest among such existing ones.

Dhoni: It takes a three-hour trek from the base of the Dhoni Hills to reach this reserve forest area with its small, beautiful waterfall. Permitting authority: Forest Range Officer, Olavakkode

Kottayi: This tiny village is the native place of the late Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, the doyen of Carnatic music. Renowned singers perform at ganamelas or music concerts at his memorial in Kottayi Village.

Thunchan Gurumadom: This is where the 16th century Malayalam poet Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan lived for some time. It is here that Ezhuthachan translated the two Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, into Malayalam. People call this place the Gurumadom and on Vijayadasami Day, hundreds of children are brought here for a ritualistic initiation to learning.

Kollengode: Kollengode or the abode of blacksmiths enshrines the pristine beauty of rural Palakkad. The Kollengode Palace, the Vishnu Temple and the Memorial of the great poet P. Kunhiraman Nair are worth visiting. Seethakundu and Govindamalai Hills nearby are ideal for trekking.

Lakkidi: Killikkurissimangalam at Lakkidi is the birthplace of Kunchan Nambiar, the 18th century satirist and exponent of the Thullal (classical art form). The poet's house has been preserved as a monument by the state government.

Kunjan Smarakam: Regarded as the creator of Ottan Thullal, Kunjan Nambiar is said to have created this art form on being ridiculed for falling asleep during a Chakiyarkoothu performance. He created history with his brand new dance form - a solo dance and a classical satirical art form, which always has an absorbent storyline relevant to contemporary issues. The poet's house in Kilikurissimangalam, has been renovated and preserved as a memorial.

Meenkara: This picnic spot is the site of a dam across the River Gayathri which flows into the Bharathapuzha.

Shornur: One of the most important junctions of the Southern Railway, this small and bustling town has many metal industries.

Ottappalam: This temple town is known for its numerous places of worship and their colorful festivals. It is also home to the famous Varikkasseri Mana, where Malayalam films are shot almost round the year.

Chinakkathoor Vela: The colorful Chinakkathoor Poorom is held annually at the Sree Chinakkathoor BhagavathyTemple in Palappuram near Ottapalam. The highlights of the festival include a grand procession of 33 tuskers in the evening and Panchavadyam recitals - the traditional temple orchestra - in addition to various art forms. Tho!ppavakkoothu, a ritualistic shadow puppet show, is presented at the temple premises every evening for 17 days preceding the festival. Another beautiful sight is the procession of sixteen elaborately decorated horse effigies brought ceremoniously to the temple by devotees.

Thiruvilwamala: River Nila which flows through the region got its name Bharathapuzha from a sacred place here called Bharatha Khandam. The main attraction here is the Sree Rama Temple and the legendary Punarjani Caves. The belief is that if you are able to go through the caves successfully you will be reborn as a human being - considered to be the highest degree of salvation in Hinduism. The Iver Mutt believed to have been set up by the Pandavas here on the banks of the river is very popular for performing rituals for the dead.

Siruvani: The reservoir at Siruvani was built for Tamil Nadu by the Kerala Government. Siruvani is also home to certain tribals like the Mudugars and Irulars. Permitting authority: Divisional Forest Officer, Mannarkkad,

Mangalam Dam: A popular picnic spot, the dam is built across the Cherukunnath River, a tributary of the Mangalam River.

Pattambi: Situated by the Nila, this small town was once the seat of Sanskrit learning. It hosts the Pattambi Nercha, a festival held in memory of a Muslim saint of Malabar featuring a grand procession of nearly 100 caparisoned elephants, colourful floats, music concerts like Panchavadyam and Thayambaka and other folk art forms.

Thrithala:This place is noted for its monuments and historic ruins. The Siva Temple and the ruins of a mud fort near Thrithala on the Chalissery Road are notable cultural monuments. The Kattilmadam Temple, a small granite Buddhist monument on the Pattambi-Guruvayoor Road, is of great archaeological importance. It is believed to date back to the 9th/10th century AD. The Paakkanaar Memorial, honouring the Pariah Saint, stands nearThrithala-Koottanad Road. This is also the native place of renowned writer and social reformer, VT Bhattathiripad.

The Ongallur Taliyil Siva Temple: Situated near Pattambi, this temple has some of the most intricate laterite sculptures in Kerala.

Vellinezhi:This small hamlet is famous for having produced the maximum number of Kathakali artistes in the entire State. Almost every family in this village, which is the abode of about 50 Kathakali artistes, has at least one artist to its credit.

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary: Sprawled across 285 sq. km, the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rare wild animals. Boating/cruising facilities are available at the Parambikulam Reservoir. The Rest Houses of the State Forest Department atThunakkadavu, Ilikkal and Anappady offer accommodation. A tree house in the reserve forest area in Thunakkadavu has to be booked in advance. Permitting authority: Divisional Forest Officer, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu

Nelliyampathy: This fascinating hill station is at a height of467 to 1572 m above sea level. At least 10 hairpin bends have to be negotiated on the Ghat Road that passes through the breathtaking evergreen forests of the Sahya Ranges. Seethakundu at Nelliyampathy offers a panoramic view of about one-third of Palakkad. This hill country is the delight of trekkers. The District Tourism Promotion Council of Palakkad provides good accommodation facility.

Olappamanna Mana: The ancestral home of feudal lords belonging to the priestly Namboodiri Brahmins of Cherplassery, who have made significant contributions in the fields of Kathakali, percussion, classical music, literature, vedic education and Sanskrit learning. This heritage house is patronized by Pattikkamthoti Ravunni Menon who developed the modern Kathakali - Kalluvazhi Chitta. Reputed patrons of the arts, the progenies of the clan preserve their heritage including the 300- year-old mana.

Kachamkurichi Temple: Famous for its murals, this temple is located near the Nelliyampathy Hills.

Chittur Gurumadom: Located on the banks of the River Sokanasini (the destroyer of sorrows), this is a memorial to Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the author of A dhyatma Ramayana, who spent his last days here. A srichakra, some of the idols worshipped by him, a stylus, wooden slippers and a few old manuscripts are exhibited here.

Thenari: It is believed that the waters of this natural spring, which flows by the old Sree Rama Temple here, is as sacred as the waters of the Ganges.

Varahamoorthi Kshetram: This incomplete temple situated in the village of Panniyoor is said to have been begun by Perunthachan. Considered a masterly carpenter by all, he was asked to build a temple that would architecturally equal those in heaven. Lord Indra, worried that the temple would match heavenly standards, disrupted Perunthachan's efforts daily, ensuring that the temple never got completed.

Mayiladumpara: This grove at Nedungathpara takes its name from the large number of peacocks (mayil) found here that can be sighted often at dawn and dusk.

Vadakkanthara Temple: (Open 0500 - 7730 hrs, 7630- 7930 hrs) The Vadakkanthara Bhagavathy is a reincarnation of Kannagi, the heroine of the Tamil epic Silappadhikaram. Fireworks at 6 pm sharp in the temple compound are a tradition here and people have been known to set their clocks by the sound. The main festival Valiya Vela is held here once in three years along with 15 other temples.

Manapullikaavu: (Open 0600 - 7030 hrs, 7700 - 7900 hrs) One of the two major temples in Palakkad besides the Vadakkanthara Shrine, the idol here is swayambu (self-created). The main idol in the sanctum sanctorum is a later installation. Vela Pratishta Festival in May is the main celebration here.

Attappady: A beautiful synthesis of mountains, rivers and forests, Attappady is of great interest to anthropologists as this is the habitat of many tribes like the Irulas and Mudugars. The Malleeswaram Peak is worshipped as a gigantic Shivalinga by the tribal’s who also celebrate the Sihvarathri Festival with great gusto. A PWD Rest House and a few private hotels offer accommodation at Agali.

Thiruvegappura Sankaranarayana Temple: This temple dates back to the 14th century while its koothambalam (temple theatre) was probably added on in the 15th or 16th century.

Jainamedu Jain Temple: (Open0700-1030hrs, 7700- 7900 hrs) Situated on the western suburbs of Palakkad Town, not far from the railway station, this historic 32 ft long, 20 ft wide granite temple displays images of the Jain Thirthankaras and Yakshinis. The region around the temple, known as Jainamedu, is one of the few places in Kerala where the vestiges of Jainism have survived. Palakkad was once home to a community of 400 Jain families, but only a few families remain today. It is at a Jain house here that poet Kumaranasan wrote his monumental poem Veenapoovu or the fallen flower.

Meenvallam Waterfalls: Originating from Thuppanadu River, these falls drop step by step from a height of 5 to 45 meters.

Kumarapuram Temple: (Open 0600- 1030hrs, 7700- 7900 hrs) Accessed via the Kumarapuram agraharam on the banks of the Bharathapuzha, this temple used to be a major centre of Vedic learning. The presiding deity at the temple is Lord Prasanna Venkatachalapathy. The rituals performed here are similar to those at the famous Tirupathi Temple and it is believed that the two deities, Lord Balaji in Andhra and the Lord Venkatachalapathy here have equal powers.

Silent Valley National Park: The 89.52 sq. km national park is believed to be the sole surviving bit of evergreen forest in the Sahya Ranges. The peculiarity of the Silent Valley Forest is that it is devoid even of the chirping of cicadas. Vehicular transport is possible only up to Mukkali, nearly 24 km from the park. The rest of the way has to be covered by foot. up to the source of Kunthipuzha which flows through the valley before merging into the Bharathapuzha River. Permitting authority: Asst. Wildlife Warden, Silent Valley National Park, Mukkali

Kalari Kovilakom: Built by the senior most lady of the Royal Family of Kollengode 124 years ago, this three-tiered palace is today a reputed centre for Ayurveda. For those serious about understanding the holistic benefits of Ayurveda, Kalari Kovilakam would be an excellent choice.

Kalpathy Agrahara and Vishwanatha Swamy Temple: (Open 0500 - 7100 his, 7700 - 7930 hrs) The Shiva Temple built as a replica of the Kasi Temple at Benares, dating back to 1425 AD, has an imposing kodimaram or flagpole. It is from this flagstaff that the temple banner flies during the Kalpathy Ratholsavam, a chariot festival held in November in which all the temples in the area participate. Apart from the temple, one reason to visit the place is to experience life in an old Palakkad agraharam or Brahmin settlement.

Malappuram

Area: 3550 sq. km
Population: 3,096,000 (2001 census)
Altitude: Lowlands: Sea level

Highlands: 477-2430 m above sea level

Enriched by three great rivers flowing through it – the Chaliyar, Kadalundi and Bharathapuzha, Malappuram has a rich and eventful history. The military head quarters of the Zamorins of Kozhikode since ancient times, this district was the venue for many of the Mappila revolts (uprising against the British East India Company in the Kerala) between 1792 and 1921. Malappuram literally a land atop hills has contributed much to the cultural heritage of Kerala. A famous centre of Hindu-Vedic learning and Islamic philosophy, the temples and mosques of this region are well known for their spectacular festivals. Along with historic monuments and diverse natural attractions, a range of cultural and ritual art forms add to its value as a destination.

Accessing Malappuram

Air: Nearest airport is Karipur, Kozhikode (36 km)

Rail: Nearest main railway station is Kozhikode

Road: Malappuram is well connected to all the major towns in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by an excellent road network.

Places of Interest

Ponnani: The only port in the district, this is an important fishing centre. During the months of February/April, thousands of migratory birds arrive here.

Biyyan Kayal: Located close to Ponnani is Biyyan Kayal, a placid, green-fringed waterway with plenty of water sport facilities.

Padinjarekkara Beach: At the end of the Tipu Sulthan Road near Ponnani, the beach offers a breathtaking view of the confluence of the Bharathapuzha, the Tirur Puzha and the Arabian Sea. Tourists can enjoy a ride on water scooters or speed boats and also munch on tidbits at the floating coffee shop. The beach is famous for bird watching, as migratory birds are often spotted here.

Jama-at Mosque: This 600-year-old mosque is an important pilgrim centre of the Muslims of Kerala and has given Ponnani the name of Mecca of the East. Designed by a Hindu carpenter for a Sufi saint from Yemen, the carpenter who died an untimely death on falling from the roof during construction, was buried inside the mosque with all due respects. The four-day annual festival at the mosque (nercho) is celebrated in April. Adjoining the mosque is the mausoleum of the Malappuram Shoheeds (martyrs) whose brave exploits have been immortalized in the Mappila Ballads.

Thirunavaya: Situated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha, this place was once the venue for Momongom, a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala, held once in every 12 years. It is here that the Chaver soldiers prayed for 41 days before embarking on their suicide mission to kill the Zamorin. This extravagant festival was conducted for the last time in 1766. Today, Thirunavaya is the venue for the annual Sorvodoyo Mela.

Navamukunda Temple, Thirunavaya: (Open 0500 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 1900 hrs) the 6000-year-old Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is a famous pilgrim centre. Known as the Kasi of the South, during karkidakovavu, people flock to the banks of the Bharathapuzha here, to perform the pithrukriyo for the departed souls. The site of Melpotthur /110m, the home of the great poet Melppatthur Narayana Bhattathiri and author of Noroyoneeyom, is about 2 miles from here. Thali Temple, Perinthalmanna: The temple is located about 3 km west of Perinthalmanna on the way to Malappuram.

Poonthanam IlIam, Kizhattoor, Perinthalmanna: This is the house of Poonthanam Namboothiri, an exponent of the Krishna cult of the Bhakthi movement, known for his work, Janappana (song of knowledge). The Sreekrishna Temple where he used to pray is situated nearby.

Thirumandhamkunnu Temple, Angadipuram: (Open 0400 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 1900 hrs) Dedicated to Goddess Durga, this is an important pilgrim centre in Malappuram. The temple's mural paintings depict the legend about its origin while the epic, Ramayana, is portrayed through sculptures carved on the ceiling. The annual Poorom Festival celebrated in March/April attracts large numbers of devotees. A unique custom here is the arrival of Vellothiri in the Pooram ground to give audience to the Malayankutty, the headman of the Pana tribal community. Kaiampattu is an important offering here. Mangolyo Poojo, Rigvedo Lokshorchono and Chondottom are other important poojos.

Pazhayangadi Mosque, Kondotti:The three-day long Voiiyo Nercho Feast at this SOO-year-old Muslim pilgrim centre, celebrated in February /March, is a local cultural event. This mosque with its lovely white dome is unique as it embodies facets of the Mughal architecture.

Garuda Temple, Triprangode: (Open 0500 - 1000 hrs, 1700 - 1800 hrs, Sundays 0500 - 1030 hrs, 1630 - 1800 hrs) Located on Chamravattom Road, this is the only temple in India dedicated to Vishnu's carrier, Garuda. Pilgrims en route to Sabarimala often stop at this temple. It also houses a rare shrine where Lord Vishnu is worshipped in his koormo (tortoise) avatar.

Sree Kadampuzha Bhagavathy Temple: Dedicated to Kirathaparvathi, this temple has no idol. Poojos are performed at a hole (about 6 cm in diameter) into which the Goddess is said to have disappeared after showing Her presence to Adi Sankaracharya. Poomoodo/ or offering of flowers of thecchi (lxoro indica) is an important feature here. Muttudokkol is another offering made by breaking coconuts.

Nilambur: Situated on the banks of the Chaliyar River, this town is noted for tribal settlements, vast rain forests, waterfalls and extensive plantations of teakwood, rosewood, mahogany and bamboo. This is also the original home of the Cholainaickans, the oldest aboriginal tribe of Kerala. The widely forested land is well known for Canoli's Plot, the world's oldest teak plantation and bamboo woods.

Kottakkunnu: Located near the District Collectorate in Malappuram, one can see traces of an old fort at the crest of the Cantonment Hill. The fort was the first to be built by the Zamorins of Kozhikode. Nearby are the Vettakkorumakan Temple and the Shiva Temple with the famous murals of Malabar.

Teak Museum, Nilambur: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs) Situated at Canoli Plot. This is the only teak museum in the world. It houses around 55 types of bamboos and arboretum and the biggest teak in the world. A butterfly park is also attached to the museum. Entrance fee: Rs. 10 per head.

Kumbham Handicrafts Village: The Kumbharan community members in the village were traditionally artisans who made a living out of selling pottery items, but nearly lost their traditional skills due to the influx of cheap industrial substitutes. The villagers revived their traditional craft through the Kumbham Handicraft project.

Nilambur Kovilakam: The erstwhile residences of local rulers, these structures are famous for their beautiful frescoes and artworks in wood. On the grounds of this now mostly dismantled ancestral home of the Nilambur Royal Family is the Vettakkorumakan Temple.

Kottakkal : Founded in 1902 by Vaidyaratnam P S Warrier, Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala has branches all over the State as well as in Delhi and Chennai. One of the best Ayurvedic centres in the State, the Arya Vaidyasala runs an Ayurvedic research centre, a nursing home and a hospital. The chief physician can be consulted only by appointment made at least 10 days in advance.

Vettakkorumakan Temple, Nilambur: Believed to be the shrine of the son that Lord Shiva had in his kirata avatar (that of a tribal), this is a popular deity among the local community. The six-day music festival called the Nilambur Pattu Utsavam held here features singing of hymns by the members of the royal family along with the tribal’s of Nilambur.

Venkattathevar Temple, Kottakkal: (Open 0500- 7030 hrs, 7600 - 7930 hrs) about 64 mural paintings adorn the walls of the sanctum sanctorum of this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Dividing the murals are paintings of birds, known as pakshi mala (garland of birds) and poovu mala (garland of flowers). Sculptures on the wall recount the story of Arjuna praying for the Pashupati Astra. Main festival is the Venkattathevar Utsavam in April.

Adyanpara: Located in the Kurumbalangode Village of NilamburTaluk, Adyanpara is famous for its waterfalls and the splendor of its lush jungles.

Nedumkayam Rainforest: This is one of the most beautiful and dense forests in Kerala with a splendid variety of flora and fauna. An integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, this area is ideal for trekking.

Vallikunnu Beach: A beach resort set in the middle of a coconut grove is the main attraction here. The Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary is just a short distance away.

Vakkad Beach: A pristine area, a boat cruise down the river starting from Aanamala and gliding through the backwaters to the estuary in Ponnani where the river flows into the sea through Vakkad Beach is a unique experience by itself.

Mamburam: The shrine and mausoleum of the Thangals (the religious leaders of the Malabar Muslims) in A R Nagar Village is a major pilgrimage centre.

Kodikuthimala:The perennial springs and the green mountains form an alluring landscape. A view tower and other facilities have been developed at this spot.

Keraladeeshapuram Temple, Tanur: (0500- 7030hrs, 1700 - 1900 hrs) About 3 km south from Tanur Town is the Keraladeeshapuram Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and believed to be one of the oldest temples in Kerala, dating back to over 3000 years.

Alathiyur Hanuman Temple: One of the famous Hanuman Temples in Kerala, this one is also dedicated to Sree Rama and Baratha. Special Pooja: Neyvedyam - Aval.

Tanur: The small coastal fishing town ofTanur was one of the earliest settlements of the Portuguese. It is believed that St. Francis Xavier visited the place in 1546.

Kootai: Locally known as Kanoli Canal, the block panchayat offers boating facilities that include shikaras which resemble a gondola, platform boats and speed boats that travel up to Azhimugham 19 km away. The trip down the canal is a rare experience.

Thirurangadi: This is the place which witnessed the Malabar Mutiny of 1921.

Thunchan Memorial, Tirur: This is the birthplace of Thunchath Ezhuthachan, the father of the Malayalam language. On Vijayadasami Day, many come here for vidyarambham, the ceremony in which children are initiated into learning. The iron stylus with which Ezhuthachan wrote his texts on palm leaves and the ancient kanjira tree under which he composed his poems are treasured exhibits here

Tirur Puzha: Flowing through Malappuram District, this beautiful river reaches the sea through the Vakkad Beach. A boat cruise down the river starting from Ettrikadavu through the backwaters is a delightful experience. In addition to the stunning natural beauty, you will see flocks of migratory birds and also unfold the simple ways of life by the banks of the river.

Poonkudil Mana: Situated 3 km away from Anakkayam Town on the Manjeri - Perinthalmanna road is this ancient mental health care centre.

Sastha Temple, Chamravattom: (Open 0500- 1100hrs, 1700 - 1900 hrs) The Bharathapuzha flows behind this beautiful temple that lies past vast stretches of paddy fields. Believed to have been built by the legendary sculptor Perunthachan, the idol stands on the same level as the river, much below the sanctum sanctorum. Pilgrims heading for Sabarimala stop here en route.

Trikandiyur Shiva Temple, Tirur: The idol at this ancient temple is said to have been installed by Parasurama, the legendary creator of Kerala. The temple is located near the town Of Tirur and attracts devotees from far and wide.

Thootha River: Flowing through Perinthalmanna in Malappuram, a cruise through this river passing through Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram Districts is a fascinating experience. For river rafting, it is necessary to have close to 15 people as the trips are carried out in groups.

Kozhikode

Area: 2206 sq. km
Population: 2,613,683 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level

A mighty seaport where Arab, Chinese and East African traders once converged, Kozhikode was previously the most important region of the Malabar Coast. Vasco da Gama landed on its shores in 1498, catapulting the region to global fame. Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins and a prominent trade and commerce centre, the winds of the change have swept over this charming coastal land from time to time. The whiff of history continues to permeate the lanes, bazaars and business hubs of this great port of yesteryears. Lush green countryside, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers and hills make Kozhikode a popular destination. Also adding to the legacy of this region is a unique culture and warm friendly people.

Accessing Kozhikode

Air: Nearest airport: Karipur (23 km from Kozhikode Town): Daily flights to Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and the Middle East. The Chennai flight also touches Coimbatore and Madurai.

Rail: Links to all the major cities and tourist centres

Road: Well-connected to all the major cities and tourist centres in India.

Places of Interest

Beach Road: Kozhikode Beach, a favorite haunt of sunset viewers is also a good place for trying out seafood delicacies like kallumekaya (mussels) available at the numerous stalls lining the promenade. At dawn, a walk along Dolphin's Point will reward you with a sight of playful dolphins. Adding to its natural beauty is the old world charm retained by the old lighthouse and the two crumbling piers that run into the sea, each more than a hundred years old. Entertainment facilities such as the Lions Park for children and the marine aquarium are added attractions. The aquarium is open on all days from 0800 to 2000 hrs.

SM Street: Sweet Meat Street or Mithai Theruvu is the busiest street in Kozhikode and derives its name from the times when the street was lined with sweet meat stalls. Today the street bustles with shops that sell anything and everything including the famed sweets and banana chips.

Mananchira Square: (Open 1500 - 2000 hrs on all days) Located in the heart of the city, this square is wrapped around the Mananchira Tank which is fed by a natural spring. Built by Mana Vikrama, the last Zamorin King, it has been preserved almost in its original form and continues to supply water. The sprawling estate adjoining the tank is now partly converted into a park. The musical fountain inside the maidan and the meticulously landscaped lawns surrounded by traditional buildings in the Kerala style are fascinating. The Public Library is situated here.

Valayanadu Devi Kshetram: (Open 0500 - 1200 hrs, 1730- 2000 hrs) Dating back to the 14th century, this temple was built by the ruling Zamorin, who unable to conquer the kingdom of Valluvakkonathire started worshipping the Goddess Oevi intensely and on subsequently attaining victory consecrated a temple for the Devi in Valluvanadu. The biggest festival of this temple is held in the Malayalam month of Makaram and lasts for eight days.

Varakkal Devi Temple: (Open 0500- 1200hrs, 1730-2000 hrs) this is considered to be the 1 08th and the last Devi Temple built by Sree Parasurama, the legendary founder of Kerala. It is believed that Parasurama ploughed this area in order to make the goddess appear before him. The main festival here is the Vavu Bali when thousands congregate to perform the ancestral rites. On this day, the sea is found to be surprisingly calm as if facilitating the religious observances.

Parsi Anju Amman Baug: This Fire Temple on S M Street dates back to the period when the Parsis, lured by trade opportunities, settled in Kozhikode about 200 years ago.

Valiya Angadi: Meaning Big Bazaar, this place situated between the beach and the town gives you a taste of the age-old fish trade of Kozhikode. Wholesale trading of fresh, salted and preserved fish is conducted here as it has been for centuries.

Kalipoika: One can leisurely cruise the dappled waters of Kalipoika in both pedal and row boats. Boating time: 0800 - 1900 hrs.

Kallai: The banks of River Kallai with its numerous saw mills was once the second largest timber trading centre in Asia. A well-preserved old iron bridge built by the British offers a panoramic view of the river meeting the Arabian Sea. Sunsets here are especially beautiful.

Planetarium: (Open 1030 - 1830 hrs) The 250-seater Kozhikode Planetarium offers extensive insight into the mysteries of the universe, the planets and the galaxies. Entertaining as well as informative, a sophisticated Zeiss projector simulates the night sky. Daily shows at 1200, 1400, 1600 & 1800 hrs. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs 5, Children: Rs 30

Tali Temple: (Open 0430 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 2030 hrs) Built in the 14th century for the Zamorin within his palace complex, this temple was the venue of Revathy Pattathanam, the annual cultural and intellectual event. The Tali Temple is a fine example of the total integration that can exist between wood and laterite, which is a remarkable feature of the Kerala style of architecture. The intricate bass-relief on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum and elaborate brass carvings on the wooden roof are quite fascinating

Krishna Menon Museum: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs. Closed on Monday and Wednesday mornings) this museum has an exclusive wing dedicated to the late V.K.Krishna Menon, renowned statesman. His personal belongings and souvenirs are displayed here.

Kappad: This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. Locally known as Kappakadavu, a monument on the beach commemorates this historic event. An interesting feature of the landscape is the sprawling rocky headland that protrudes into the sea on which rests an 800-year-old temple.

Kirtads: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs)The Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of scheduled castes and tribes was started in 1972. The ethnological museum here houses a large collection of artefacts, tools and devices used by the ancient tribal communities of Kerala. A good library with books on anthropology and sociology is an added attraction.

Vellari Mala: Scintillating waterfalls and velvet green landscapes make this an ideal spot for trekking.

Mannur Temple: Modelled like the Shiva Temple at Tiruvannur, this exquisitely carved Gajaprathishta-styled laterite structure is more than two centuries old. It is believed that Sree Parashurama starts his Shiva Linga prathishta at Tiruvannur and completes it here every noon. The afternoon pujas here are therefore considered very special. The annual Shivaratri festival is celebrated in a big way.

Beypore: (Closed on public holidays) Located at the mouth of the Chaliyar River, Beypore was one of the prominent ports and maritime trading centres of ancient Kerala. Old-time Beypore was much sought-after by merchants from Western Asia for its ship-building industry. The boat building yard here, famous for the construction of the Uru (Arabian trading vessel), boasts a tradition of almost 1500 years. You can pick up toy boats and exquisite models of boats inside bottles from the many shops on the approach road, as well as from the Kairali Emporium.

Kappad: This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. Locally known as Kappakadavu, a monument on the beach commemorates this historic event. An interesting feature of the landscape is the sprawling rocky headland that protrudes into the sea on which rests an 800-year-old temple.

Tasara Creative Centre: (Open 0900 - 7800 hrs) This unique weaving centre produces works of art in hand loom mostly based on paintings. People can stay here for extended periods to get trained in the intricacies of painting, designing and weaving.

Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallery: (Open 0900 - 1630 hrs; Break 1300 - 1400 hrs. Closed on Mondays and other public holidays) On display here are copies of ancient murals, antique bronzes, old coins, excavated earthenware, models of temples, megalithic monuments like dolmenoid cysts, umbrella stones etc. Adjacent to the museum is the art gallery which
exhibits an excellent collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Varma and Raja Raja Varma.

Elathur: Located where the Korapuzha River meets the Arabian Sea, this place lies to the north of Kappad. You can hire a country boat for a ride on the river and check out the shellfish or kallumekaya found abundantly on the rocks jutting out to the sea.

Pisharikavu: (Open 0500- 1100hrs, 1600-200hrs) This temple on the edge of Koilandi Town is famed for its murals which are among the oldest temple frescoes in Kerala. The annual festival in the month of Medam (April - May) is a grand affair that attracts hordes of visitors.

Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary:The sanctuary is spread over a cluster of islands in a scenic area surrounded by hillocks where the Kadalundi River flows into the Arabian Sea.

Kakkayam: This picturesque dam site, teeming with exotic wildlife, offers excellent trekking and rock climbing opportunities, The best time to visit is between November and April.

Vadakara: The birth place ofThacholi Othenan - the legendary hero of the Vadakkan Pattukal (ballads of North Malabar), Vadakara boasts a great martial tradition and was a flourishing trade and commerce centre in ancient times. Thacholi Manikkoth, the kalari where Thacholi Othenan practised his martial feats and spent long days in deep meditation before every poythu (duel), is a place worth visiting.

CVN Kalari Sangam: (Open0600-0900hrs, 7700-7900hrs) This centre in Nadakkavu having produced many remarkable Kalari fighters enjoys a legendary position in the field of Kerala's ancient martial art. CVN Kalari Sangam also arranges special demonstrations on request.

Thusharagiri Waterfall: Famous for its trekking tracks, Thusharagiri is located near Vythiri in Wayanad. Waterfalls and streams abound in this hilly region. Trekkers have to start early morning from the second waterfall and climb uphill through the pristine, dense evergreen forests populated with exotic birds and wildlife to reach Vythiri by evening, the place also abounds in rubber, arecanut, pepper, ginger and spice plantations.

Peruvannamuzhi: The Peruvannamuzhi dam site, set amid hills is a beautiful picnic spot. The reservoir here provides facilities for speed and row boat cruises during which one can see the Smarakathottam - a garden built in memory of the freedom fighters of the region. Uninhabited islands, the bird sanctuary and a crocodile farm add to the charm of the place.

Wayanad Ghats: The route to Wayanad through the lush green ghats has nine hairpin bends, each turn taking one to a higher altitude offering a better view of the picturesque plains below. This route discovered by a tribal was developed by the British.

Kuttiyadi: This picturesque village is the site of a major power project - The Kuttiyadi Hydro Electric Power Project.

Iringal: This is the birthplace of Kunjali Marakkar, who commanded the Zamorin's fleet and held the Portuguese vessels at bay for a long period. The birthplace of this valiant admiral of the Zamorin, on the southern banks of the Moorad River, is today preserved by the Department of Archaeology.

Jain Temple: The two temples in this compound at Trikkovil Lane have exquisitely painted interiors and elaborately carved porticos.

Mishkal Masjid, Kuttichira: One of the oldest mosques in the city, this four-storeyed structure supported by wooden pillars proudly proclaims the architectural splendour of the yesteryears. Dating back 700 years, it has 47 doors that are opened to receive visitors. In 1510, the Portuguese burnt down some parts of it. but the charred portions still remain. The mosque is named after the rich trader who built it.

Kuttichira: The stone inscriptions found in the Muchunti Mosque at Kuttichira reveal an interesting aspect in the history of the Zamorins of Kozhikode and their patronage of Islam in Kerala. The architecture of this and other old mosques in Kozhikode bear great resemblance to the typical Hindu temple complex with pillars, ventilators and huge tanks, as well as decorative features like stylized floral carvings and geometric designs.

CSI Church: (Open 1000 - 7300 hrs) This cathedral with a mix of European and Kerala style architecture was built in 1815 by Basel missionaries. It has the distinction of being adorned with the only pipe organ among all dioceses in Kerala - a gift from St. Ayden's Church in Cheltenham, England.

Pisharikavu:This temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy. Elephant pageants during the festival season (March/April) are a special attraction.

Lokanarkavu Temple: (Open 0400-0900hrs, 7700- 7900 hrs) this temple, associated with the heroes and heroines of the Vadakkan Pattukal combines an arresting simplicity and a legendary aura. The magnificent murals and intricate carvings here are a delight to art lovers.

Ponmeri: The Sree Krishna Temple at Karatt and the Shiva Temple at Ponmeri have flamboyant paintings depicting Palazhimathanam (the story of the churning of the ocean of milk) from the Puranas.

Buddha Vihar: This temple houses a good collection of writings on the Buddha.

Muchunthi Palli: Built in the traditional Kerala architectural style, this mosque enshrines a 13th century Vattezhuthu (inscription on stone slab). The inscription proclaims the donation of the property to the mosque by a Zamorin.

Jama Palli: Built in the 14th century, it has the largest floor area amongst mosques in Kerala and can accommodate about 1000 worshippers at a time. It is located mid-way between Mishkal Mosque and Muchunthi Palli.

Pattalapalli: It is located close to Palayam Bazaar and hence the name which means soldier's mosque. The nearby Mohiudeen Palli is perhaps the only mosque in the country with a closed circuitTV on each floor, enabling the Imam on the ground floor to address the entire congregation.

Mother of God Church: This church built in the Roman architectural style dates back to 1513 AD and is the only one of its kind in Kerala. A 200-year-old portrait of St. Mary adorns the wall of the 18th century Gothic cathedral built by Christian missionaries. Locally known as Valiyapalli, it is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic congregation in Malabar. Designed by Italian architects, this ancient shrine is a tribute to Italian know- how and the skill of Indian craftsmen.

St. Mary's Church: The Church was founded in 1860 for the civil members of the collectorate and the English military. In the cemetery adjacent to the church, there is a tomb dated 1717.

Wayanad

Area: 2132 sq. km
Population: 671,195 (2001 census)
Altitude: 700-2100 m above sea level

A bio-diverse region spread across 2,132 square kilometers on the lofty Western Ghats, Wayanad is one of the few districts in Kerala that has been able to retain its pristine nature. Hidden away in the hills of this land are some of the oldest tribes, as the yet untouched by civilization. And the very first prehistoric engraving in Kerala discovered in the foothills of Edakkal and around Ambukuthimala bears testimony to a pre-historic culture dating back to the Mesolithic Age. Strikingly scenic, it is known for its sub-tropical savannahs, picturesque hill station, sprawling spice plantations, luxuriant forests and rich cultural traditions. A holistic confluence of wilderness, history and culture, Wayanad is located on the southern tip of the magnificent Deccan plateau.

Accessing Wayanad

Air: Nearest airport: Kozhikode

Rail: Nearest railway station: Kozhikode. Major towns in the district and distance from the nearest railway station: Kalpetta: 72 km from Kozhikode Mananthavady: 80 km from Thalassery & 106 km from Kozhikode Sulthan Bathery: 97 km from Kozhikode Vythiri: 60 km from Kozhikode.

Road: Well connected by roads from Kozhikode, Kannur, Ooty (175 km from Kalpetta) and Mysore (140 km from Kalpetta).

Places of Interest

Mananthavady

Kuruvadweep: This 950 acre, uninhabited island on the eastward bound Kabani River is an ideal picnic spot. The wooded stretch of land is home to rare species of birds, orchids and herbs. Permitting authority: Divisional Forest Officer, South Wayanad, Kalpetta

Valliyurkavu Bhagavathy Temple: This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The two-week long festival in February/March is attended by hundreds of tribals.

Boys' Town: Herbal garden, nature care centre, sericulture unit, permaculture centre etc., established by the Wayanad Social Service Society and the Gene Park - an Indo-Danish project for promoting herbal gardening, are situated here.

Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary: (Open 0600 - 0800 hrs and 7500-7730hrs) this sanctuary in Karnataka State bordering Wayanad extends over an area of 643.39 sq. km. The park houses diverse species of plant and animal life.

Thirunelly Temple: Surrounded by the Kambamala, Karimala and the Varadiga Peaks, the Thirunelly Temple embodies classical, traditional Kerala architecture. A famous pilgrim centre, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu - the god who maintains life, attracts hordes of devotees especially for performing ancestral rites. The shrine is shielded with 30 granite columns and the ground is paved with huge square pieces of granite. Snuggled among mountains and forests, this riverside temple is close to the mountain spring Papanashini. A ritual dip in its crystal clear waters is believed to wash away one's worldly sins.

Pakshipathalam: This natural rock cave at the northern end of the Brahmagiri Hills is home to a wide variety of rare birds, animals and distinctive species of plants. However, the place can be accessed only by a 7 km trek from Thirunelly through deep jungle that will take about three hours. Special permission has to be obtained from the Forest Department to visit or camp at Pakshipathalam which literally means birds in the nether region. DTPC arranges package tours, complete with guides and camping equipments.

Trissileri Temple: (Open 0600 - 7300 hrs, 7700 - 2000 hrs) This architecturally pleasing Shiva temple is so inextricably linked to the Thirunelly Temple that the performance of rites at the latter remain incomplete until it is followed by offerings at Trissileri. This shrine has recently been renovated and Mahashivarathri is celebrated here with much fanfare during March.

Korome Mosque: Constructed in the traditional Kerala style, this 300-year-old mosque is noted for its extensive wood carvings. Originally built by the Nair community, the mosque is seen as an excellent example of communal harmony. In fact, the annual Uroos Festival conducted here draws participants from all communities.

Pazhassi Tomb: The memorial of Veer a Pazhassi Raja, the Lion of Kerala, who organized guerilla warfare against the British East India Company, is situated at Mananthavady. The Pulpally Cave is where Pazhassi took refuge until he was captured by the British. A small structure houses a collection of memorabilia belonging to Pazhassi.

Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary: (Open 0600 - 0800 hrs, 7500 - 7730 hrs) this sanctuary has a wide variety of animals, but visitors are restricted to the outer tourist zone. Permitting authority- Asst. Wildlife Warden, Tholpetty.

Banasura Sagar Dam, Padinjarethara: Considered to be the largest earth dam in India, as well as the second largest in Asia, this is a mini hydro project. A sprawling sanctuary and park with ever flowering trees are major tourist attractions. Boating facilities in the dam and trekking trails leading from here draw outdoor enthusiasts.

Meenmutty Waterfall: An interesting 2 km jungle trek will lead to the largest and most spectacular waterfall in Wayanad. A unique feature of Meenmutty is that the water drops from nearly 1000 ft over three stages, presenting a triple-decker effect.

Sentinel Rock Waterfall: Locally known as soochipara (needle rock), the pool at the foot of the falls is ideal for a quick dip. The more restrained can have equally good fun just taking in the scenery. One of the most attractive falls in the district, the water hits the sharp spikes of granite at the base and hence the name.

Kanthanpara Waterfall: Smaller than Sentinel Rock, the nearby Kanthanpara Falls and its surroundings make for an ideal picnic spot.

Thrikkaipetta Village:This village has become noted for the bamboo processing training and design centre called Uravu set up in 1996. Today, the centre is a beehive of activity, maintaining a bamboo nursery, designing and developing new uses of bamboo and giving training in bamboo craft involving a variety of products. This NGO wing of the State Bamboo Mission functions as a non-profit trust working to help tribal’s by utilizing the abundant bamboo found in Wayanad.

Sulthan Bathery

Bathery Jain Temple: One of the most important among the many Jain temples here, the Bathery Temple is believed to have been built during the 13th century. Its design is strongly influenced by the architectural style of the then reigning Vijayanagar Dynasty. Another unique feature is the rather checkered history of the temple which first served as a shrine, next as a centre of commercial trade and finally, as the ammunition store or battery of Tipu Sulthan's army. The town derives its name from that use.

Chethalayam Falls:This is one of Wayanad's lesser known falls. Though it tends to dry up during summer, it is a lovely place to visit and trekking enthusiasts will have an enjoyable time climbing up the rocks to the waterfall.

Edakkal Caves: Accessible only by a kilometer’s trek from Edakkal, the wall art found in these caves that have been inhabited at various stages in history has caught the attention of archaeologists worldwide. You can see three distinct sets of petro glyphs, the earliest dating back to over 3000 years. You will also come across the only cave restaurant in the country here. Morning hours are the best time to visit the caves.

Ambalavayal Heritage Museum: One of the best heritage museums in Kerala, it houses artefacts and belongings of the various tribes of the land.

Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary: Established in 1973, the sanctuary is contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka on the northeast and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu on the southeast. Rich in bio-diversity, the sanctuary is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The management lays emphasis on scientific conservation with due consideration for the general lifestyle of the tribals and others who live in and around the forest region. Permitting authority: Wildlife Warden, Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Sulthan Bathery.

Vythiri

Lakkidi: The gateway to Wayanad, Lakkidi is situated 700 m above mean sea level, at the crest of the Thamarasseri Ghat Pass. Lofty peaks, gurgling streams and luxuriant forests add magic to the journey up the winding roads to this hill station.

Begur Wildlife Sanctuary: This sanctuary has a wide variety of animals.

Karalad Lake: An unusually quiet retreat, facilities for angling and boating as well as a recreational park are provided here. The trek to this lake can also be quite exciting.

Pookot Lake: This perennial freshwater lake in Vythiri nestling among wooded hills is a popular picnic spot. Adjacent to the lake is a spice shop, a souvenir showroom and an aquarium. And for the kids, there is a children's park at the recreation centre here.

Kannur

Area: 2997 sq.km
Population: 2,251,727 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level    

The cradle of many a colourful folk art form like Theyyam, Kannur is said to be the ancient port of Naura, from whose shores king Solomon’s ships collected timber to build the great temple of Jerusalem. Known even to the Greeks, Romans and the Arab’s Kannur’s trade links goes back a long way. Acclaimed by celebrated traveler Marco Polo as the great emporium of the spice trace, this nature – rich land has been a key contributor to the cultural, religious, political and industrial heritage of the State. Bounded by the Western Ghats in the east and the Lakshadweep Sea in the west, Kannur showcases its remarkable history in the ancient forts, old shrines and august cultural and educational institutions that dot its scenic landscape.

Accessing Kannur

Air: Nearest airport: Kozhikode (93 km)

Rail: Kannur is an important railhead of the Southern Railways.

Road: An excellent road transport system connects Kannur to all the major towns of South India

Places of Interest

Chirakkal: There is a splendid folklore museum here. In an effort to preserve the rich heritage of the 130-year-old abode of Chirakkal family, the Chirakkal Kovilakam was converted into a museum. The Kolathiri Rajas once lived here.

Arakkal Kettu Museum: (Closed on Mondays) this was the residence of the former Arakkal Ali Rajas, the only Muslim Royal Family of Kerala. Protected by the Archaeological and Tourism Department. This palace complex today is a museum housing a splendid display of numerous artefacts and heirlooms belonging to the Rajas.

Payyambalam Beach: This beach is famous for its flat laterite cliffs that jut into the sea. The well-laid gardens and the massive landscaped sculpture of Mother and Child make it extremely captivating. The nearby Baby Beach accessed through the Burnassery Cantonment is delightfully quiet.

Valapattanam: The small town on the Valapattanam River is well known for its wood-based industries and timber trade. The port of Azhikkal and Azhikkal Beach are located nearby. Western India Plywoods Limited, the largest wood-based industry in the country and also one of the largest of its kind in south-east Asia, is a major industrial concern here. DTPC Kannur offers motor boat and houseboat cruises on the river. Fare: Rs. 800 for one hour. Timings: 0800 - 1630 hrs. Houseboat cruises are also available from Valapattanam Jetty in Payyambalam. Overnight stay options with special Ayurveda treatment package on board can be had for Rs. 6000.

Kizhunna Beach: This beautiful stretch of sand is one of the most secluded beaches in Kerala.

Meenkunnu Beach: Uncrowned, the beach is a tourists' paradise, with golden sand and surf.

Peralassery Subramania Temple: (Open 0400 - 7600 hrs. Prayer Timings: 7700 hrs and 7630 hrs) This temple is believed to be where Rama and Lakshmana halted on their way to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita.

Raja Rajeswara Temple: Situated near Thaliparamba Town on the National Highway, this temple is dedicated to Lord Raja Rajeswara (Lord Shiva worshipped as the presiding power). An unusual custom is that women are allowed inside only after 8 pm as it is said that Lord Shiva is with His wife Parvathi then and will therefore, grant women their wishes.

St. Angelo Fort: (Open 0800 - 7800 hrs) This seafront laterite fort was constructed in 1505 AD by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francisco De Almeda, with the consent of the ruling Kolathiri Raja. Ammunition dumps, stables, underground jails, secret tunnels to the sea and an old dilapidated chapel can all be still seen within its precincts. After changing hands from the Portuguese to the Dutch and then to the English, the fort became one of the important military centres of the British in Malabar. St. Angelo Fort offers a fascinating view of the Mappila Bay fishing harbour.

Payyanur Subramania Temple: (Open 0400 - 7200 hrs, 7700 - 2 700 hrs) This lovely temple is famous for the pavitra mothiram, a type of ring available here. Made only against order with gold and the holy darbha grass, it is worn after being sanctified at the temple by Brahmins while performing rituals.

Madayi Para: The Madayi Kavu Temple, the Vadukunnu Temple and the 12th century mosque built by Malik Bin Dinar with white marble imported from Arabia, are the major attractions here. There is also a dilapidated fort at Madayi which is supposed to have been built by Tipu Sulthan of Mysore. The view from the fort is fascinating.

Parassinikadavu:The DTPC provides pleasure boating and houseboat cruises at the Parassini River. Accommodation is available nearby. The snake park here is the only one of its kind in the State. Snake demonstrations conducted every hour draw large crowds (Open 0830 - 7730 hrs everyday).

Odathil Palli Mosque:This 500-year-old mosque in the heart of Thalassery was built by an Arab merchant in a typical Kerala Hindu temple style. The mosque which has neither domes nor minarets is not open to non-Muslims

Parassinikadavu Temple: (Open 0500- 0800hrs, 7600-2000 hrs) The Sri Muthappan Temple of Parassinikadavu stands on the banks of the Valapattanam River and is one of the most important shrines here. This pilgrim centre is famous for the Muthappan Theyyam performed every morning and evening. Visitors can go around the temple and even enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple which gives an unusual offering of dried fish and toddy to the deity. A Kathakali Club at the temple arranges shows on request after 11 in the night, which lasts for two and a half hrs.

Suryanarayana Temple, Kadiroor: (Open 0530 - 7730 hrs, 7730 - 2030 hrs) Dating back to the 13th century, the idol here is believed to have been consecrated by Lord Rama while on his way to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita.

Sree Ramaswamy Temple, Thiruvangad: Dedicated to Sree Rama, this is one of the most important temples in Malabar. The exquisite carvings in the temple are said to have been done nearly 400 years ago.

Thalassery: A remarkable town by the sea, it is famous for many reasons. The British sport Cricket was first played here, the first cakes in India introduced by the British were baked here at the Mambally's Royal Biscuit Factory and Indian circus has its origins in this town as well.

Thalassery Fort: (Open 7000 - 7700 hrs) The fort constructed in 1708 by the British was their military centre. It is now a historical monument. The Holy Rosary Church where Edward Brunnen is buried can be seen from here. Overbury's Folly, a colonial bungalow now turned into a restaurant is located on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. The SAI Gymnastic Centre, an old Muslim mosque, the Jagannatha Temple and Thiruvangad Sree Rama SwamyTemple are other attractions nearby.

Gundert Bungalow: Dr. Hermann Gundert, the revered German missionary, scholar and lexicographer lived in this bungalow for 20 years from 1839. It was here that the first Malayalam dictionary and the first Malayalam newspaper - Paschimodayam - took shape. The bungalow is at present occupied by a technical training institute.

Malayala Kalagramam, New Mahe: This renowned centre for arts and culture at New Mahe conducts courses in painting, sculpture, music, dance and pottery. The centre also has an art gallery, exhibition hall, library, a 300-seat auditorium, a sculpture garden, cottages for staff and students, separate guesthouses for visitors and a canteen. Visitors are allowed to watch the classes with prior permission from the Director

Dharmadom Island: The small 5-acre island covered with coconut palms and dense bushes is a beautiful sight from the beach. Permission is required to enter this privately owned island. You can wade to the island at low tide. An overnight stay (minimum 10 people) on the island, which includes food, can be arranged through the Tourism Department.

Muzhappilangad Beach: Black rocks protect this long, clean beach from the currents of the deep, making its shallow waters a swimmer's paradise. Perhaps this is Kerala's only drive- in beach where you can drive down the entire length of 4 km. Adventure Club: Maintained by the youth development wing, the adventure office here offers a variety of water sport options as well as paragliding, parasailing, micro-lite flights etc.

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary: Elephants, sloth bears, sambars, mouse deer etc. can be found in the 55 sq. km sanctuary. Other attractions: Nature trails, soft trekking, bamboo rafting, coracle boating, stay at tree houses in Pariputhodu and Bhoothamkallu, bathing in the stream at Meenmutty.

Mahe: Formerly a part of Kerala, it is today a union territory. The picturesque little town with a French flavour, originally called Mayazhi, was renamed Mahe after the Frenchman who captured it. The St. Teresa's Church is famed allover Malabar for the efficacy of prayers said here. People of all religions converge here from all over Kerala and even from as far as Singapore, Sri Lanka and England during the fete (October 5 - 22), considered an especially auspicious time.

Pythal Mala: This enchanting hill station, situated 4500 ft above sea level near the Kerala - Karnataka border, is rich in flora and fauna. It is a 6 km trek to the top of the hills.

Cherukunnu: Famous for its Annapoorneswari Temple, the week-long annual festival falls in April. There is a Kathakali- Panchavadya school called Asthikalalaya near the temple.

Pazhassi Dam: An ideal retreat for tourists, the dam site is famous for its scenic beauty. The DTPC provides pleasure boating facilities at the reservoir. Accommodation is available at the Project Inspection Bungalow.

Cinnamon Valley, Anjarakandy: Spread over nearly 200 acres, the cinnamon valley on the banks of the Anjarakandy River, is considered the largest cinnamon plantation in Asia. The white pepper grown here is very popular in Britain and other western countries.

Kunhimangalam: This place in Payyanur is famous for its unique bronze lamps and sculptures.

Kottiyoor: (Open 0500 - 7000 hrs, 7600 - 2000 hrs. Prayer Timings: 0800 hrs, 7200 his, 7930 hrs) Described as the Varanasi of the South, the twin Shiva Temples at Kottiyoor called Akkara Kottiyoor and Ikkara Kottiyoor lies on the banks of the Bavali River. Thousands of devotees attend the annual 27-day festival during May - June.

Thodeekulam Shiva Temple: (Open 0500 - 7930 hrs) Located 2 km from Kannavam on the Thalassery-Mananthavady Road, this temple is famous for its mural paintings. It is believed to have been constructed 2,000 years ago and was closely connected with the Pazhassi Raja family of Kottayam (ThalasseryTaluk).lt was in this temple that Pazhassi Raja hid from the British.

Ezhimala: A hillock, which is 286 m high, rises above the beautiful beach here. Carved stone pillars and an ancient burial chamber can be seen at the foot of the hills. The hills are well-known for rare medicinal herbs. A Naval Academy, one of the largest of its kind in Asia is located here. Permission is required for entry.

Kozhikode

Area: 2206 sq. km
Population: 2,613,683 (2001 census)
Altitude: Sea level

A mighty seaport where Arab, Chinese and East African traders once converged, Kozhikode was previously the most important region of the Malabar Coast. Vasco da Gama landed on its shores in 1498, catapulting the region to global fame. Once the capital of the powerful Zamorins and a prominent trade and commerce centre, the winds of the change have swept over this charming coastal land from time to time. The whiff of history continues to permeate the lanes, bazaars and business hubs of this great port of yesteryears. Lush green countryside, serene beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, rivers and hills make Kozhikode a popular destination. Also adding to the legacy of this region is a unique culture and warm friendly people.

Accessing Kozhikode

Air: Nearest airport: Karipur (23 km from Kozhikode Town): Daily flights to Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and the Middle East. The Chennai flight also touches Coimbatore and Madurai.

Rail: Links to all the major cities and tourist centres

Road: Well-connected to all the major cities and tourist centres in India.

Places of Interest

Beach Road: Kozhikode Beach, a favorite haunt of sunset viewers is also a good place for trying out seafood delicacies like kallumekaya (mussels) available at the numerous stalls lining the promenade. At dawn, a walk along Dolphin's Point will reward you with a sight of playful dolphins. Adding to its natural beauty is the old world charm retained by the old lighthouse and the two crumbling piers that run into the sea, each more than a hundred years old. Entertainment facilities such as the Lions Park for children and the marine aquarium are added attractions. The aquarium is open on all days from 0800 to 2000 hrs.

SM Street: Sweet Meat Street or Mithai Theruvu is the busiest street in Kozhikode and derives its name from the times when the street was lined with sweet meat stalls. Today the street bustles with shops that sell anything and everything including the famed sweets and banana chips.

Mananchira Square: (Open 1500 - 2000 hrs on all days) Located in the heart of the city, this square is wrapped around the Mananchira Tank which is fed by a natural spring. Built by Mana Vikrama, the last Zamorin King, it has been preserved almost in its original form and continues to supply water. The sprawling estate adjoining the tank is now partly converted into a park. The musical fountain inside the maidan and the meticulously landscaped lawns surrounded by traditional buildings in the Kerala style are fascinating. The Public Library is situated here.

Valayanadu Devi Kshetram: (Open 0500 - 1200 hrs, 1730- 2000 hrs) Dating back to the 14th century, this temple was built by the ruling Zamorin, who unable to conquer the kingdom of Valluvakkonathire started worshipping the Goddess Oevi intensely and on subsequently attaining victory consecrated a temple for the Devi in Valluvanadu. The biggest festival of this temple is held in the Malayalam month of Makaram and lasts for eight days.

Varakkal Devi Temple: (Open 0500- 1200hrs, 1730-2000 hrs) this is considered to be the 1 08th and the last Devi Temple built by Sree Parasurama, the legendary founder of Kerala. It is believed that Parasurama ploughed this area in order to make the goddess appear before him. The main festival here is the Vavu Bali when thousands congregate to perform the ancestral rites. On this day, the sea is found to be surprisingly calm as if facilitating the religious observances.

Parsi Anju Amman Baug: This Fire Temple on S M Street dates back to the period when the Parsis, lured by trade opportunities, settled in Kozhikode about 200 years ago.

Valiya Angadi: Meaning Big Bazaar, this place situated between the beach and the town gives you a taste of the age-old fish trade of Kozhikode. Wholesale trading of fresh, salted and preserved fish is conducted here as it has been for centuries.

Kalipoika: One can leisurely cruise the dappled waters of Kalipoika in both pedal and row boats. Boating time: 0800 - 1900 hrs.

Kallai: The banks of River Kallai with its numerous saw mills was once the second largest timber trading centre in Asia. A well-preserved old iron bridge built by the British offers a panoramic view of the river meeting the Arabian Sea. Sunsets here are especially beautiful.

Planetarium: (Open 1030 - 1830 hrs) The 250-seater Kozhikode Planetarium offers extensive insight into the mysteries of the universe, the planets and the galaxies. Entertaining as well as informative, a sophisticated Zeiss projector simulates the night sky. Daily shows at 1200, 1400, 1600 & 1800 hrs. Entrance fee: Adults: Rs 5, Children: Rs 30

Tali Temple: (Open 0430 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 2030 hrs) Built in the 14th century for the Zamorin within his palace complex, this temple was the venue of Revathy Pattathanam, the annual cultural and intellectual event. The Tali Temple is a fine example of the total integration that can exist between wood and laterite, which is a remarkable feature of the Kerala style of architecture. The intricate bass-relief on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum and elaborate brass carvings on the wooden roof are quite fascinating

Krishna Menon Museum: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs. Closed on Monday and Wednesday mornings) this museum has an exclusive wing dedicated to the late V.K.Krishna Menon, renowned statesman. His personal belongings and souvenirs are displayed here.

Kappad: This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. Locally known as Kappakadavu, a monument on the beach commemorates this historic event. An interesting feature of the landscape is the sprawling rocky headland that protrudes into the sea on which rests an 800-year-old temple.

Kirtads: (Open 1000 - 7700 hrs)The Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of scheduled castes and tribes was started in 1972. The ethnological museum here houses a large collection of artefacts, tools and devices used by the ancient tribal communities of Kerala. A good library with books on anthropology and sociology is an added attraction.

Vellari Mala: Scintillating waterfalls and velvet green landscapes make this an ideal spot for trekking.

Mannur Temple: Modelled like the Shiva Temple at Tiruvannur, this exquisitely carved Gajaprathishta-styled laterite structure is more than two centuries old. It is believed that Sree Parashurama starts his Shiva Linga prathishta at Tiruvannur and completes it here every noon. The afternoon pujas here are therefore considered very special. The annual Shivaratri festival is celebrated in a big way.

Beypore: (Closed on public holidays) Located at the mouth of the Chaliyar River, Beypore was one of the prominent ports and maritime trading centres of ancient Kerala. Old-time Beypore was much sought-after by merchants from Western Asia for its ship-building industry. The boat building yard here, famous for the construction of the Uru (Arabian trading vessel), boasts a tradition of almost 1500 years. You can pick up toy boats and exquisite models of boats inside bottles from the many shops on the approach road, as well as from the Kairali Emporium.

Kappad: This is the historic beach where Vasco da Gama landed on the 27th of May 1498, with 170 men in three vessels. Locally known as Kappakadavu, a monument on the beach commemorates this historic event. An interesting feature of the landscape is the sprawling rocky headland that protrudes into the sea on which rests an 800-year-old temple.

Tasara Creative Centre: (Open 0900 - 7800 hrs) This unique weaving centre produces works of art in hand loom mostly based on paintings. People can stay here for extended periods to get trained in the intricacies of painting, designing and weaving.

Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallery: (Open 0900 - 1630 hrs; Break 1300 - 1400 hrs. Closed on Mondays and other public holidays) On display here are copies of ancient murals, antique bronzes, old coins, excavated earthenware, models of temples, megalithic monuments like dolmenoid cysts, umbrella stones etc. Adjacent to the museum is the art gallery which
exhibits an excellent collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Varma and Raja Raja Varma.

Elathur: Located where the Korapuzha River meets the Arabian Sea, this place lies to the north of Kappad. You can hire a country boat for a ride on the river and check out the shellfish or kallumekaya found abundantly on the rocks jutting out to the sea.

Pisharikavu: (Open 0500- 1100hrs, 1600-200hrs) This temple on the edge of Koilandi Town is famed for its murals which are among the oldest temple frescoes in Kerala. The annual festival in the month of Medam (April - May) is a grand affair that attracts hordes of visitors.

Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary:The sanctuary is spread over a cluster of islands in a scenic area surrounded by hillocks where the Kadalundi River flows into the Arabian Sea.

Kakkayam: This picturesque dam site, teeming with exotic wildlife, offers excellent trekking and rock climbing opportunities, The best time to visit is between November and April.

Vadakara: The birth place ofThacholi Othenan - the legendary hero of the Vadakkan Pattukal (ballads of North Malabar), Vadakara boasts a great martial tradition and was a flourishing trade and commerce centre in ancient times. Thacholi Manikkoth, the kalari where Thacholi Othenan practised his martial feats and spent long days in deep meditation before every poythu (duel), is a place worth visiting.

CVN Kalari Sangam: (Open0600-0900hrs, 7700-7900hrs) This centre in Nadakkavu having produced many remarkable Kalari fighters enjoys a legendary position in the field of Kerala's ancient martial art. CVN Kalari Sangam also arranges special demonstrations on request.

Thusharagiri Waterfall: Famous for its trekking tracks, Thusharagiri is located near Vythiri in Wayanad. Waterfalls and streams abound in this hilly region. Trekkers have to start early morning from the second waterfall and climb uphill through the pristine, dense evergreen forests populated with exotic birds and wildlife to reach Vythiri by evening, the place also abounds in rubber, arecanut, pepper, ginger and spice plantations.

Peruvannamuzhi: The Peruvannamuzhi dam site, set amid hills is a beautiful picnic spot. The reservoir here provides facilities for speed and row boat cruises during which one can see the Smarakathottam - a garden built in memory of the freedom fighters of the region. Uninhabited islands, the bird sanctuary and a crocodile farm add to the charm of the place.

Wayanad Ghats: The route to Wayanad through the lush green ghats has nine hairpin bends, each turn taking one to a higher altitude offering a better view of the picturesque plains below. This route discovered by a tribal was developed by the British.

Kuttiyadi: This picturesque village is the site of a major power project - The Kuttiyadi Hydro Electric Power Project.

Iringal: This is the birthplace of Kunjali Marakkar, who commanded the Zamorin's fleet and held the Portuguese vessels at bay for a long period. The birthplace of this valiant admiral of the Zamorin, on the southern banks of the Moorad River, is today preserved by the Department of Archaeology.

Jain Temple: The two temples in this compound at Trikkovil Lane have exquisitely painted interiors and elaborately carved porticos.

Mishkal Masjid, Kuttichira: One of the oldest mosques in the city, this four-storeyed structure supported by wooden pillars proudly proclaims the architectural splendour of the yesteryears. Dating back 700 years, it has 47 doors that are opened to receive visitors. In 1510, the Portuguese burnt down some parts of it. but the charred portions still remain. The mosque is named after the rich trader who built it.

Kuttichira: The stone inscriptions found in the Muchunti Mosque at Kuttichira reveal an interesting aspect in the history of the Zamorins of Kozhikode and their patronage of Islam in Kerala. The architecture of this and other old mosques in Kozhikode bear great resemblance to the typical Hindu temple complex with pillars, ventilators and huge tanks, as well as decorative features like stylized floral carvings and geometric designs.

CSI Church: (Open 1000 - 7300 hrs) This cathedral with a mix of European and Kerala style architecture was built in 1815 by Basel missionaries. It has the distinction of being adorned with the only pipe organ among all dioceses in Kerala - a gift from St. Ayden's Church in Cheltenham, England.

Pisharikavu:This temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy. Elephant pageants during the festival season (March/April) are a special attraction.

Lokanarkavu Temple: (Open 0400-0900hrs, 7700- 7900 hrs) this temple, associated with the heroes and heroines of the Vadakkan Pattukal combines an arresting simplicity and a legendary aura. The magnificent murals and intricate carvings here are a delight to art lovers.

Ponmeri: The Sree Krishna Temple at Karatt and the Shiva Temple at Ponmeri have flamboyant paintings depicting Palazhimathanam (the story of the churning of the ocean of milk) from the Puranas.

Buddha Vihar: This temple houses a good collection of writings on the Buddha.

Muchunthi Palli: Built in the traditional Kerala architectural style, this mosque enshrines a 13th century Vattezhuthu (inscription on stone slab). The inscription proclaims the donation of the property to the mosque by a Zamorin.

Jama Palli: Built in the 14th century, it has the largest floor area amongst mosques in Kerala and can accommodate about 1000 worshippers at a time. It is located mid-way between Mishkal Mosque and Muchunthi Palli.

Pattalapalli: It is located close to Palayam Bazaar and hence the name which means soldier's mosque. The nearby Mohiudeen Palli is perhaps the only mosque in the country with a closed circuitTV on each floor, enabling the Imam on the ground floor to address the entire congregation.

Mother of God Church: This church built in the Roman architectural style dates back to 1513 AD and is the only one of its kind in Kerala. A 200-year-old portrait of St. Mary adorns the wall of the 18th century Gothic cathedral built by Christian missionaries. Locally known as Valiyapalli, it is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic congregation in Malabar. Designed by Italian architects, this ancient shrine is a tribute to Italian know- how and the skill of Indian craftsmen.

St. Mary's Church: The Church was founded in 1860 for the civil members of the collectorate and the English military. In the cemetery adjacent to the church, there is a tomb dated 1717.