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THRISSUR

Facts About Trichur

How to get there:

Air: The nearest airport is at Cochin, 78 kms away.
Rail: Trichur is an important railway station on the Southern Railway and is linked to most major towns inside and outside Kerala.
Road: Motorable roads connect Trichur to several important centres. Both KSRTC and private operators run bus services. There are direct buses to Palani, Madurai, Bangalore, Mysore, Erode and Chennai.
Local Transport: For local transport there are autorickshaws, yellow-top and tourist taxis and buses.

Trichur - The Cultural Capital of Kerala

The name of this town, often called the cultural capital of Kerala, derives from 'Tiru- Shiva Perur' or the town with the name of Lord Shiva. Appropriately enough, the town is built around a hillock atop which is its most prominent feature, the Vadakkumnathan Kshetram or temple which has Shiva as its presiding deity. Adi Sankaraacharya is supposed to have spent his last days in this temple.

Trichur's rise as a town of importance is attributed top Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as 'Sakthan Thampuran', who ascended the throne of the State of Cochin in 1790. Large areas of Trichur were captured by the latter half of the 18th century, Tripu Sultan held sway over Trichur until the European domination began under the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English.

Long ago, the vast open area around the temple was a magnificent teak forest called Tekkinkadu. Today the forest has given way to one of the most important examples of Kerala temple architecture which often does away with the imposing gopurams of South Indian temples. This temple features low, tiled roofs, an abundance of woodwork and the famous 'kuttambalam' or theatre hall with sloping roofs of metal plates within which is performed the old dramatic arts from of 'chakiar koothu'. The Vadakkumnathan temple is also well known for its murals depicting the Mahabharatha as -well- as exquisite paintings carvings.

The most spectacular festival is Pooram celebrated at the Vadakkumnathan Temple every year during April-May. Though non- Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, Kerala's grandest temple pageantry, which included colourful processions of caparisoned elephants and a midnight fireworks display, can be witnessed from the crowded streets of Trichur.

The Kerala Kalamandalam, the Kerala Sahitya Academy and the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy are all situated in and around Trichur, as are the Nataka Niketan, the Nritta Kalalayalam and the Rama Varma Research Institute. These centres have lent the town the status of Kerala's cultural capital.

The Vadakkumnathan Temple is open for worship from 0400 to 1030 hrs and 1700 to 2030 hrs. However, non- Hindus are not allowed inside. For a sight of mural paintings from all over Kerala, visit the Town Hall, an imposing building with a picture gallery or 'chitralayam.'

For the animal enthusiasts, Trichur boats a Zoo, 2 km from the town centre. It is open daily (except Mondays) from 0900 to 1500 hrs. Entry fee : Adults : Re 1 Children : Rs: .0.50 Camera : Rs : 2 Remember to get prior permission to shoot with a video or movie camera. Within the 13.5 acres of the compound live a variety of fauna like the lion-tailed macaque, sloth bear, species of birds and deer. The snake park has a reptilian collection of king cobras, kraits, vipers and rat snakes.

Within the zoo compound is the small Art Museum which has a good collection of wood carvings, metal sculptures, Kathakali figures and ancient jewellery. The timings are the same as for the zoo.

At Chembukkavu, on the Town Hall road, is the State Archaelogical Museum (Tel : 20556) which you can enter free daily (closed on Mondays) between 1000 and 1700 hrs. Near the Nehru Park is the Aquarium, open daily from 1500 to 2000 hrs, entry fee : 25 paise.

During Onam (August / September) there is the annual Kandassamkadavu Boat Race.

Trichur is a good base for a pilgrimage trip to Guruvayur, 32 km away. It is among India's most important pilgrimage centres and is also known as the Dwaraka of the South. The Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, which attracts thousands of pilgrims, is said to date prior to the 16th preceptor of the Devas and Vayu, the Lord of the Winds.

The temple is dedicated to Krishna, known here as Guruvayurappan or the Lord of Guruvayur, and the idol is said to have been worshipped by Lord Brahma himself at Dwaraka. It is at this temple that Melpattur Narayan Bhattathiri composed his well-known Sanskrit devotional poem Narayaneeyam.

In the 'chuttambalam' or outer enclosure is the 33.5 metre high gold-plated flagpost or 'dwajathambam' and the 7 metre high pillar of lamps ('deepasthamba'). When lit, the 13 circular receptacles of the lamp provide a truly spectacular sight.)

The temple is renowned for its healing powers. Several offerings are made to the deity here- from the simple 'archana' offering of flowers to the expensive and elaborate 'udayastamana' pooja or the 'thulabharam' where a devotee is weighed aganist offerings of bananas, sugar, jaggery or coconuts. Not surprisingly, Guruvayur is the site for several weddings and 'annaprasanam', the first feeding ceremony of a child.

The temple opens from 0300 (for the 'nirmalayam' darshan) to 1230 hrs and 1700 to 2100 hrs. As with most other Kerala temples, non- Hindus are not allowed inside.

Near Guruvayur, 4 km away, is Punnathur Kotta, the place where the temple elephants (numbering over 40) are taken care of. Nowhere else can so many elephants be seen at any one time. Visitors are allowed in.

North of Trichur, 20 km away, near the Shoranur Railway Junction, is Cheruthuruthy, home of the renowned Kerala Kalamadalm, founded by the poet Vallathol and today the repository of the tradition of the kathakali dance from. It is in this academy that the best of Kerala's kathakali performers get their rigorous training. The institution also offers training in music, drama and other dance froms including mohiniyattam, koodiyettam and thullal.

For an enchanting getaway, head for the Peechi dam, 23 km from Trichur. An irrigation projects site, it offers boating facilities as the reservoir.

The Kalamandalam troupes tour all over the world with their performances. But you don't have to wait to see one for you can visit the centre free to watch the training sessions from 0430 to 0630 hrs, 0830 to 1200 hrs and 1530 to 1730 hrs daily. It is closed on weekend, March 31, June 15 all public holidays. Vacations are during April and May.

Kathakali and other dance performances that start at 2030 hrs and go no until daybreak are held here every year on January 26, August 15. September 18 and November 8. Entry id free. For further information, contact the Secretary, Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruhty, Trichur - 679 531.

If you've ever wondered what the 'Gulf boom' means, visit Chavakkad, a town in Trichur district which is perhaps Kerala's quintessential 'Gulf town'. You will find fancy, ostentatious houses built with the remittances of Malayalee migrant labour in the Middle East countries. And if you're luck enough to be invited into one, don't be shocked by the Sonys and Panasonics and Echolacs!

If you're lucky, you might even spot a wild tusker or two on the forested banks, which from part of the 125 sq km . Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary. If you're more found of hills, a good picnic spot is Vilangankunnu, 7 km from Trichur.

Situated at the junction where the river meets the sea, 36 km south-west of Trichur, is Kodungalloor or Cranganore, its old Anglicised name. It is almost an island bounded on the west by the Arabian sea and by the river mouths of Chetvai and Azhikode on the north and south and by the backwaters in the east. Kodungalloor can also be reached by boat from Cochin, an exhilarating 5-hour trip.

An important part in ancient times, Kodungalloor was known to the Greeks as Musiris. St. Thomas the Apostle is believed to have landed here in 5 A.D. It was the capital of Cheraman Perumal, King of Kerala. The place where his palace stood is today called Cheramanparambu. Other places worth visiting are the ancient Tiruvanchikulam temple, the Bhagwati temple, the Portuguese fort and the old mosque. This mosque, similar in appearance to a Hindu temple, is believed to be the first mosque in India, dating to around 643 A. D.

The Rama temple at Triprayar, 25 km away, features architecture similar to the Vadakkumnathan temple. At Irinjalakuda, 21 km from Trichur, is a temple Bharatha, probably the only temple in India dedicated to the brother of Lord Rama.

Thrissur Pooram: Among Kerala's more colourful festivals is the annual 'pooram' festival in April/May at Arattupuzha. This is when idols from 41 temples of the neighbouring areas are brought in procession at night to Arattupuzha village.

East of Chalakudy, near the entrance to the Sholayar forest ranges, are the beautiful water falls of Athirampally and Vazhachal, 5 km apart.

 

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