Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Yercaud - Queen of Salem

Yercaud Lake


This journey was waiting in the queue for a long time. Yearcaud is a hill station located close to Salem in Tamil Nadu. We passed through Salem very often; could have took a detour during any one of those journies. However, life don't work the way we expect it to work! That detour never happened…. Yet!!! 

Salem City

Recently Divya's cousin's - Athira's - husband (Jithesh) was transferred to Salem from Bangalore. He works in a public sector oil company and get transfers once in every three years. In a way its good; as one can see different parts of India and her vibrant culture. Three years is enough to get to know the place and see all her beauties. At the same time, for family its too difficult. One just reached a city; found some home to settle; learn the local language; built friend circle; kids were admitted to a good school; and bhoom!!! Company send you transfer order. Now pack up and go to another place; by the time one become comfortable there company send another transfer order. Life become a series of pack-up, unpack and then pack-up again. By the time this series ends, one may reach close to their retirement age.

Agriculture market, Salem. A view from top

However for us, this created an ideal situation. We could split our journey to Kerala to two and take a break at Salem to visit them. On a Friday night we started the journey; usually there won't be any work meetings scheduled for Friday afternoon, evening or night. In fact many people I know keep Friday afternoons free of meetings. Leaving Bangalore city limits - except at midnight - is always a problem. Hence we left Bangalore in the late night and cruised towards Salem.

From Bangalore, Salem is just 4 hours away. For me the roads are very familiar. In the past whenever it was difficult to get a train ticket, I used to hop on a SETC bus going to Salem. Salem is a major junction in Tamilnadu, from here one can get buses to a lot of places in the state. From Salem, I hopen on to a nonstop bus going to Coimbatore. By the way, if you reach Coimbatore too early, then you may end up waiting a long time to get a bus to Palakkad. If you reach Coimbatore's Ukkadam bus stand close to sunrise, then its easy to catch a bus to Palakkad. When SETC started 3.33 service from Bangalore to Salem; I switched my Salem journey to 3.33. In case you didn’t see the bus, then you may be wondering what is 3.33. It's the time they promise the bus will take to reach Salem from Electronic City (last stop in Bangalore) - three hours and 33 minutes.

After leaving the busy bees behind Athibelle, we swam through a web of lorries. Those huge vehicles moves very slowly and often spread across the lanes. Rules like slow moving vehicles keep left are not applicable here!!! Hosur, Shoolgiri, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Thoppur, Omalur and Salem. In between we stopped only once, at 12:00 sharp to cut the cake for my Birthday. Unfortunately it was a place where there was hardly much light; but whatever was there was enough to cut blueberry cake precisely and to eat that as well !!! As Bhima told Arjuna in MT's 'Randamoozham', hand always know where the mouth is and how to reach there! I read that book long back - a wonderful book by the way; hence my translation may not be exact. I hope you got the idea!!!

It was not difficult to find out Ahira's apartment. There were more food waiting for us and mid-night didn’t bother me from taking a dip on that as well. Anyway, time to sleep.


We woke up very early in the next morning. Well, I might be a little exaggerating about the word 'early'!!! After breakfast, Athira was very eager to show us the city from the top of her apartment complex. So we went up and looked around; it was a nice view. Athira told that, Salem city is surrounded by hills. I looked around and then checked the map. Indeed it is!!! City has Nagaramalai on north, Jarugumalai on southern side, Kanjamalai on the western side, Godumalai at the east and Shevaroy Hills at northeast. South-west was guarded by Kariyaperumal Hills. Our destination - Yearcuad - is in Shevaroy hills.

Soon we said good bye to Athira, Jitesh (Athira's husband) and started our journey towards Yercaud. Mostly, we went through rurban (rural + urban) areas and reached the foot hills. From here the ascent starts. Fortunately, this time we never ended up behind any big lorries. I always liked to drive slowly in hill stations without much vehicles either in the front or back. There are around twenty plus hairpins on the way to top. Each hairpin is named after a famous Tamil personality - Sangam era kings, literary icons and freedom fighters. Unfortunately all names are written in Tamil only. Here is the list of hairpin names which I grabbed from another article,

1. Kavichakravarthy Kamban
2. Avvaiyar
3. Thiruvalluvar 
4. Ilango Adigal
5. Kabilar 
6. Paranar 
7. Mahakavi Bharathiar (Subramania Bharati)
8. Ramalinga Adigalar
9. Cheran Senguttuvan 
10. Karikala Cholan
11. Vallal Paari
12. Pandiya Nedunchezhian
13. Dheeran Chinnamalai
14. Cheran Senguttuvan 
15. Velu Nachiyar
16. Veerapandia Kattabomman
17. Thagadoor Adhiyaman 
18. Vanchinathan 
19. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai
20. Tirupur Kumaran 
21. Subramania Siva

After crossing the hairpins one after the other, we finally reached the top. In between we stopped at one place which provided a magnificent view zig-zag road we came so far.
Our plan was to visit all major view points and do some boating in the lake. We thought of going to Lady's seat first and then visit the rest. However, we missed some turns here and there and ended up far from Lady's seat. To make the situation better, we changed the plan and decided to visit Pagoda point first. Well, we didn’t like the place much; may be it was because of the fog which blocked the view. Next stop was at rose garden; that also was very different from what I imagined. However, it offered a place to sit for some time and do nothing. Sometimes that is what we really needed!!! Time moved slowly…

Lady's seat was near by and we covered that distance on foot. The view was good, but place was full of monkey's and eateries. We hardly spend fifteen minutes there and left. Genetic heritage garden and Gent's seat was nearby but there was hardly any excitement left. We skipped both and went straight to hotel. After lunch it was boating time. Lake was crowded but we got a pedal boat quickly. In front of us there was a couple and it looked like they never wanted the boating to end and they took the longest possible route. We just circled the lake; escaping the shock waves from motor boats and went back to the jetty. Boating along with hot tea at jetty was nice but over all the trip so far was less than satisfactory.

Still hours of sunlight left on that day and rest of the plan didn’t look interesting. What to do next? We started going through the blogs of people who visited the place earlier; re-read many and read some new one as well. Not that interesting. However, I came across an article where someone mentioned their experiences about staying at an estate. It was not about Yercaud, but Yercaud is also a hill station and there should be some coffee estates. Does any of them offer safari? I started searching again and found one estate - Tipperary. To try the luck we went there.

Sun was slowly moving towards western horizon and there were some dark clouds. Ignoring those we went to the estate premises and enquired about trips. They told, they can arrange one but we need to pay for the entire vehicle. They charge per vehicle. Ah, no one waiting in the queue for sharing and even if we wait no one was going to join. This problem I encountered very often in the past. In solo trips, in many places, where they charge per vehicle I had to wait till it gets filled up. In Jabalpur, I went along with a very big Bengali extended family. In Kanha, the operator told me to go along with small Bengali family and not to tell the driver that I am not with them. Driver didn’t ask and I didn’t tell either. Later, I always thought why that guy who arranged the gypsy told me like that? Probably the family might have paid for the full jeep and I also for myself (single separately) and he may not want to split the additional profit with driver. I don’t know, just guessing.

Anyway here we told yes and waited for the vehicle to came. Meanwhile they offered us Tipperary's complementary special coffee and told us about its special taste. I didn’t find anything different with that coffee. May be because, I like tea much more than coffee. I like black coffee a bit but not a big fan of coffee as a whole. During this time we strolled through the place, there was an old colonial bungalow. As per Tipperary's website that colonial bungalow was built around 1900 by the family of Charles Dickens. 

Old banglow at Tipperary

After a while the vehicle came- it was a 4 X 4 Toyota Hilux. Soon we left the colonial banglow and moved forward. After a while the vehicle left the blacktop and took left; it was a rough road and even Toyota struggled to move forward in the steep angle. After taking some sharp turns there the vehicle was stopped on top of a hillock. From here one can see the entire place very clearly - it was indeed a wonderful view. Probably the best one in the entire journey. After spending some time here we returned and hit the blacktop again. Road was narrow but devoid of any potholes. After a while we took another turn to a muddy road. This time to Tipperary's coffee plantation. In Toyota driver sat in the front and we selected the large open back to stand. This vantage point offered a very good 360 degree view. The experience of chilly wind mixed with smell of coffee plant hitting the face was really a good experience. Toyota jumped up and down in that uneven muddy road; after couple of turns we reached next view point. From here one can see all the way down and numerous groups of small concrete buildings faraway.

Driver (cum guide) told us about the plants and how big entire estate really is. He also showed us some coffee verities and told that, most coffee beans of very high quality are marked for export. This sentence, I heard numerous times in the past. Good quality is always paired with the word export. Does it mean, we in India always get second class? Well you know the answer. India is one of the most price sensitive markets and majority are not willing to spend extra for high quality coffee (high quality of anything for that matter). Anyway, that is topic for another day.

After taking one more look at that arabica coffee plant we jumped back in to the Toyota. By the time we reached next view point, there was hardly much light left. However, it was enough to locate a bison group roaming freely at a distance. Guide told that, bisons were frequently located at that view point as well. In forest, bison is probably one of the most overlooked animals as most people often search for deers, tigers and elephants. If one take a careful look, bisons too look majestic with lot of row power stored in those big muscles. Indian male bisons weigh between one to one and half tonnes; females weigh around 700kg to a tonne.

Night wiped out last traces of the day and we started our return journey to colonial Banglow. Tipperary offers some more activities like trekking(with guide) etc. However, our plan was to levae Yercaud next day morning. Hence we left that place to have some hot snacks in the lake side. From there to hotel. While sleeping, I tried to build a mental picture about the stories our Tipperary guide told us - Norton's banglow, bear caves etc. How the place might have looked like in the beginning of the last century.

Next day(Sunday) early morning we went to Sunrise point. There was hardly any vehicle on the road; fog was thick and visibility was very low. After some time we reached the entrance of a large ground called sunrise point. There was a guy standing at the gate to collect parking fee. I wonder why they collect parking fee, its just and open ground with a circular road! 

Near to the entrance there was a small observation tower; nothing fancy. Further down there was a temple (yet to open for the day), then a view point. We continued walking; there was old transmission antennas and a small building in the middle of that ground. Finally reached a place which don’t have any hinderence to view sunrise; slowly sun was coming up and started showering us with light. Couple of four wheelers were parked here and there. Some bikes were parked at one end. In a remote end a group were playing songs in portable speaker. We continued walking; by this time sun teared down the last remaining traces of night and made the fog disappear. Slowly mercury started rising and we walked towards the exit and left the place.


Kanva Dam and Ramadevarabetta (Karnataka)

I didn’t know that there is a vulture sanctuary near Bangalore. As soon as I knew, plan was put in place to go there. Due to headache, Divya dropped out at the last minute. So finally it was me, Gokul and his mother-in-law. We left Bangalore before dawn and reached the sanctuary just around sunrise. It was too early, sanctuary is yet to open. Well, without wasting much time, we changed our destination to Kanva Dam; located close to Ramanagara city. 

Google maps showed us the shortest distance; unfortunately not the best road. So we ended up going via narrow broken roads through villages. Cows mostly in white, black and white; some where in different shades of brown were roaming freely. Houses were mostly small and located close to the road. Slowly we started seeing a water body on one side; however, dam still eluded us. Finally we entered a much wider road and reached the dam quickly. 

Kanva Dam

This reservoir was formed as a result of damming the Kanva river in 1946. Located in Ramanagara district, Kanva dam occupies close to 800 hectares and aids in irrigation of fields.

Main gate was closed, however there was an opening in the side and we went inside via that. Major outlet of dam was close to the main gate itself. After crest gates there was a long earthen bud which blocked the water and formed that reservoir. Other side of the bund was a steep slope, lined with lengthy coconut trees. I sat at one place; Gokul and his mother-in-law continued walking; Gokul was pointing at something and explaining about it to mom. I looked in that direction, didn’t notice anything special. Well, I sat down in the green grass and looked at the water for sometime and then walked through the earthen bund and joined them. Atmosphere was cool and reservoir was calm and clean. We walked till a rusted iron structure which was slightly pointed to the dam. From top of that structure, it looked like a kind of valve through which water was gushing out to the other side. Hardly five people were there in the vicinity of the dam. 

Landscape around the old dam was quite beautiful and natural. After being the part of nature for close to eight decades, dam fit well in to the naturally scheme of things! As sun moved up, we started walking back. Sanctuary might have been opened by this time. 

Temple and Vulture Sanctuary

This sanctuary was established in 2012 to protect vultures, who are one of the essential part in the animal chain. For many vultures are not that glamorous animals and focus is probably less on protecting them. The drop in vulture numbers are alarming. It is estimated that, 97% of the long billed and 99% of the Egyptian vultures have disappeared.  Environmentalists and bird watchers campaigned to have the area declared as a sanctuary. In 2012, around 346.41 hectares was earmarked as a protected area for the vultures. Although I didn’t find any, as per the records this sanctuary is home to long-billed, Egyptian, white-backed vultures.
While we were about to take a turn to sanctuary, one police personal requested for a lift. We stopped and picked him up. On the way, he told a lot of things about that place etc. Close to sanctuary he got down from the vehicle and showed us where to see the vulture. I hardly see anything in the direction he pointed. Probably Gokul has sharper eyes as he was agreeing to everything. Did he really see the culture or the place? Police guy looked at me and tried again, this time I saw the point in the rocks which matched his description but not any vultures.
Anyway we said good bye to him and went inside the sanctuary and parked the vehicle. There was a good number of people there. A lot of them were actually came to visit the Sita-Rama temple on the top. "It is believed that Sri Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana lived here for a certain period during their exile life. Hayagriva hand sculpted the idols of Sri Rama, Seetha, and Lakshmana which reside in this temple. There is a Kalyani (pond) which is said to be formed by Sri Rama's arrow when Seetha couldn't find water for bathing. There is a Saptharshi hillock on the side of this hillock which was formed by Seetha's curse to Saptharshi (Seven sages) because they were peeping at the pond when she was bathing". The famous Gabbar Singh's hideout (from Sholey movie) is said to be visible from this viewpoint.
Even Gokul's mom was very much interested in the temple and praying there. However, it was not easy to reach there, there were a lot of steps to climb. Please note that easy is a relative word here; probably this will be very easy for someone else. However, stuck in the home due to COVID for a long time and laziness - not much Physical activity other than eating!! took its toll.

Slowly we started climbing, Gokul's mother-in-law was the most fit among us. She hardly required any break. However, we both took three to four breaks. After a while we reached a small temple on the way and soon the two located close to the top of the hill. In fact its this temple which attract a lot of crowd not the sanctuary. In a relatively flat place there were two temples; one was a small Shiva temple and  the other one, Rama-Seetha temple, was relatively big.

Inside Rama-Seetha temple there was a lot of crowd and some bajan was going on there. We went inside and came back; just outside the main door there was prasadam. This time we met the police personal, to whom we gave lift earlier. We talked about the place and temple; in fact the conversation was between Gokul and him as he was the who can converse in Kannada better. 

Later Gokul's mom went to Shiva temple and requested the priest to do some poojas. That will take some time. From here one can see majestic hillock on the backside of the temple. Our destination standing on top of that. We three started walking and finally reached the point from where we need to climb vertically. A number of steps were cut in to the rock and an old rusted iron railing offered people something to hold on. 

It was not too difficult but very risky one to climb. Gokul persuaded mom not to go. She looked at the railing and steps ahead for some time - thinking what to say. Well, continued persuasion was very effective; finally she agreed to go back and wait for me in the temple. For me the view from top of that hill was too tempting to miss. So I continued further and reached the top. Wow, it was indeed a good view. I looked for a good position and sat there for next 30 minutes. 

Way to the top

View from the top

Top of the hill was very flat. Two girls and one guy were creating different videos for Instagram reels or for some other apps. They started recording before I came and continued even after I left!!! First time, got the realization that its not easy to create reels. People really spend a lot of time to create those. At one end, there was a group playing Hindi songs from a portable speaker. At a distance, two guys were trying various position to get the better photo. Hardly any one was there at the furthest end. After walking around, I came back to my previous position and sat there. From the top, views are always good!! Suddenly Gokul called and told that, they are exploring some other temple somewhere down and will be back soon. Well, some more time to spend on the top. Finally it was time to go back, so used the steps chiseled in stone and came down and walked towards the temple. 
Gokul and mom reached there some time before me and they completed some poojas. When I reached there. preist was giving some prasadam to her. Its time to climb down the steps and visit the final destination in this short trip - Cocoon Market. 

Government Cocoon Market, Ramanagara

Spread over two acres, this market is believed to be one of the largest cocoon market in the continent. As per their website, around 40 to 50 tons of cocoon are sold here in everyday. 
There were 4-6 police personals deployed near the gate. I walked towards them and requested permission to go inside. They initially looked confused and were not sure whether to say yes or no. After a miunute they asked for an identity card. I gave my driving license and waited. One guy took it and read the details couple of times. Looked like they are still not sure whether to say yes or no. Finally they asked us to go to the first floor and meet the person in charge. We climbed the steps and reached first floow. One office room at the left side was open. Light was turned on in that room and at the person in charge was sitting at his desk. 
I requested for permission to see inside of that market. He looked at me (Gokul was standing at the door step and mom was outside of that room) and asked – what is your purpose to go inside? It’s a valid question, I was neither a seller nor a buyer. I told him that we are coming from Bangalore and never saw cocoon in the past, so just want to take a look around quickly. 
Its from here things became wired. He repeated the same question, as if he never heard my answer. Bewildered, I repeated my answer. He could have said, yes or no and would have been the end of it. By this time, Gokul slowly came inside and he was standing almost mid way between me and the door. Officer continued his conversation; its possible that we may carry some diseases and it might affect the cocoon in his warehouses or thousands of people who deal with that everyday. Well, I just wondered what additional germs we might carry compared to thousands of people in and around that place! Also this happened during the third quarter of 2022; by that time people started wearing masks. Even the officer who spoke with us was not wearing one. 

Well that supposed to be the end of the visit. Most often (if not always) one can’t win over a government official by arguing on something. Being right is doesn’t help in these arguments!!! He kept on saying something and again asked what is your purpose to visit the market. This time, I didn’t repeat the answer; turned and walked towards the door. Gokul was standing at the same place and looking at this drama. While walking back, he started asking Kokul to tell me about the dangerous in visiting inside. I didn't wait for his sentence to finish; came down; collected my ID card; looked inside the market from the gate and left. May not be close, atleast I saw what a cocoon is.
I never understood why the beaurocrats behave the way they do. In many cases they were quick to reject any request and make people wait; just because they can do so. Almost half a year later, similar incident happened at Mulli checkpost in Kerala-Tamilnadu border. Tamilnadu forest guards forced us to drive all the way back to Coonnor and take Coimbatore - Palakkad road to reach Mannarkkad. That time, I could see Kerala checkpost couple of hundred meters away; but no they were adamant and didn’t let us pass!! More on that in Mulli article.


Gokul and his mother-in-law exploring the dam

Taking a break

At the top

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Someshwara temple, Bangalore

Mandapa in front of the temple. Photo from Wikipedia

Its not everyday that one discover an old famous temple (yet unknown to me) in Bangalore city. This is what happened on that weekend. As my mother was in Bangalore at that time, I was looking for a temple to visit during weekend. Then suddenly Someshwara temple came the in search results.


Located close to Halasuru metro station in Old Madras Road (OMR), this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and one of the oldest temple in the city. It is believed that, this temple dates back to Chola period. Significant additions were later made during the Vijayanagara period; when Kampagowda was the ruler of then Bangalore.


Halasuru (better known as Ulsoor) is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bangalore. It is believed that, there was an early settlement around Someshwara temple. In mid 16th century, Halasuru was one of the 12 hoblis (group of villages) granted by Achutaraya (then ruler of Vijayanagar empire) to the local ruler Kempagowda. Water for for farming and sustaining a community was available from Ulsoor lake (attributed to Kempagowda). Later in 1807, Company established a cantonment in Ulsoor.


We went there on a Saturday morning. After parking the bike in the front; we walked towards the temple. First structure we encounter was a majestic pillar in front of gopuram. After looking at the pillar for sometime we walked towards the gopuram. It’s an imposing structure. Lower half of the gopuram was constructed using stone and the multi- storied upper half was constructed using brick and mortar. Crossing the gopuram took us to a large ground, were small shrines are present on both sides. After visiting these shrines we walked towards the mahamandapa.


Mahamandatpa is located in front of main shrine and have 48 decorated pillars. These pillars have more than five hundred relief sculptures carved into it. Most pillars have seated lions at its base; however, the carvings in the middle and top differs. Frequently used relief sculptures are that of Shiva (in the forms of Nataraja, Virabhadra, Mrityunjaya, Umasahita etc), Parvati, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Ganesha etc. There were also carvings of animals, ascetic, gods, goddesses, hybrid animals etc.


On the door way, there is an illustration of King Ravana shaking Mt. Kailasha; goddess Mahishasuramardini; dwarapalakas etc. In one pillar, symbol of Vijayanagar kings - double headed eagle - is depicted. This image later became the symbol of Wodeyar kings of Mysore and eventually become part of Karnataka State emblem.


Closed circular pathway comes after open mandapa; here we saw the idols of a lot of deities. We took a left turn to the path way; after walking the entire circumference reached the front again. This time we went inside and saw sanctum (rectangular/square in shape) and the idol of Shiva inside. There were hardly 10-15 people inside. After spending some time there we came outside.


On the right side of main temple, there is a separate shrine for Kamakshi Devi (a form of goddess Parvati).


Outer walls of main temple on the right side depict wedding ceremony of Parvati and Shiva (Girija kalyana story). Brahma officiating the marriage as priest; father of the bride (also king of mountains Himavan) pour sacred water to the arm of Shiva; which then falls in to the joint hands of the couple and then flows down to the mouth of Nandi.


A Navagraha (nine planets) temple is located on the north side. There are 12 pillars to this temple and each pillar depict a saint (rishi).

Row of sculptures on the southern wall shows nava nathas (nine saints) on various animals. Its not that, only gods and rishis are depicted here. We also have dancer's gestures, porters, wrestlers, snake charmers, huntsman etc.


The story of the temple may not be complete without telling the story of Venkata Sundara Sani. She was a devadasi attached to Someshawara Temple. She wrote the book on dance titled, 'Rasikajana Manollasini Sarasangraha Bharata' in Sanskrit written using Kannada script in 1908. This temple was also a meltipng pot of various cultures, traditions and various regions of south India. Performers here used the works from Telugu composers Tyagaraja, Shyama Shastry etc; also from Kannada composers Purandaradasa, Vyasatirtha etc. In Sani's book there are references to Bharatanatya which means the rich tradition of Tamil culture as well.


Recent excavations showed the presence of a Kalyani (temple pond) associated with the temple. It is estimated that Kalyani may be more than 1200 years old.


We went through the shirnes one by one and finally reached the room where some yajna was going on. After watching the ritual for some time, we came out and crossed the gopuram once again.





1. Someshwara Temple - Ulsoor - INTACH

2. A temple and its dancer who published a book

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, Bangalore

Trident - Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple

Located close to Bull temple (near Kempegowda circle) in Bangalore, this temple is an example of India's rock cut temple architecture model. This was probably an existing temple, and/or renovated/built by Kempegowda in 16th century. It is believed that, both sage Gautama and Baradwaja performed penance here. Idols of both sages are currently present in the cave path surrounding the shrine. 

Probably because it’s a cave temple, entrace is not facing any cardinal directions like east, west, north or south but south-west.

In front of the temple, there are two structures known as Suryapana and Chandrapana. These looks like a disc placed on top of a stone pillar. Flagstaff and Nandi's statue are located in between these two. Two more stone pillars - one a trident and another a damaru (two headed drum) are located in the compound. 

Outer mandapa has pillars in Vijayanagar style. It is believed that, a steady stream of water always flows through the cave. Gavi means cave, water represents Ganga, hence the name Gavi Gangadhareshwara.

In addition to the main shrine of Shivam, there are smaller shines for Parvati and Durga. In the long path surrounding all these shrines, there are idols of Saptamatrikas, Sridevi, Boodevi etc. An idol of Agni (god of fire) is also present. 

The temple is designed in a such a way that, on makarashankranti day of every year beam of sun rays pass through the windows, Nandi's horns and touch shiva linga. On this day every year, thousands come to view this spectacle. 

There is a wonderful article here which explains a lot more about this phenomenon -> The mysteries of Bangalore's famous 'Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple' - Live Mint

Suryapana and Chandrapana

We reached the temple just after nine in the morning on a weekend. Since there was hardly much people at that time; parking was easy and we walked rest of the way. The place looked quite like a village; it didn't give any indication that such an old temple is located there. 

Ignoring the light rains, we went inside. The experience was a bit different as it was a cave temple and there was only was to go out and come in. After a while, more people came inside and priest closed the sanctum for poojas. We waited till the opening of sanctum, as one is not supposed to leave any temple while sanctum's door is closed for pooja. During this time, people started chanting mantras loud and in sync which gave special experience to all those inside.


Tunchan parambu (Tirur)

Thunchan Parambu (aka Thunchan Memorial Trust& Research Centre) is located in Tirur town (in Malappuram district of Kerala). This place is just 2km away from Tirur railway station. Tunchan  Parambu is believed to be the birthplace of Thunchath Ezhuthachan; who is a member of pracheena kavitrayam (ancient triumvirate) and father of modern Malayalam language. He had a very distinctive poetic style, which later became famous as kilippattu (parrot song) style. 

Adhyatma Ramayanam (written in parrot song style) is his principle work. This work is a translation of the Adhyatma Ramayana; a text attributed to Ramananda, who was a leading fugure in Bhakti movement. While writing this book Ezhuthachan used Grantha based Malayalam script instead of then dominant Vatteluttu writing. Recitation of 'Adhyathmaramayanam Kilippattu' is very important across Hindu families in Kerala. Month of Karkitakam (Malayalam calendar) is celebrated as the Ramayana month and the book is recited at least once from beginning to end across Hindu houses and temples in Kerala.

On the holy day of Vijayadasami, children were brought here to write their first ever letters. This place is believed to a holy place to start writing. Annually a week long literary festival is also organized here. 

Very less parking space is available at the location. Entry is free; however one need to pay for taking photos (even using mobile). Once we enter the area; on the right there is a mandapam. Further down, you can see another mandapam housing a huge parrot, stylus and a replica of palm-leaves in metal. Behind that, there is one more mandapam. If you walk to the right, you may see a small pond; followed by a compound where a Kanjira (Strychnine) tree and temple is located. 


1, Other members of old triumvirate are - Kunchan Nambiar and Cherusseri Namboothiri
2. Members of Ādhunika kavitrayam (modern triumvirate) are N.Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon and Ulloor S.Parameswara Iyer.


Parrot and Stylus


Kanjira (Strychnine) tree