Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas day circuit of churches in Trivandrum

This was an impromptu short trip with Pradeep on Christmas.. I was joined on Christmas day by Pradeep from Ernakulam and both of us decided to do a circuit of the churches in Trivandrum. We started from Thumba area and took photos of churches in that area and then got back to the city to take pictures of churches in the city. From the gaiety in the coastal areas to the opulent light show in the city, it was a real treat for the eyes. I really enjoyed photographing the various churches in all their splendor. After the success of this trip, I hope to repeat this trip next year also. Now for some photos taken during the circuit. Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Church near Thumba.

Don't know why but I like this Church very much.

Palayam Church

LMS Church

St. Mary's Church at Kesavadasapuram

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Pilgrimage to Sabarimala via Erumeli route

 Sabarimala is a pilgrim centre of the Hindus located at Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. The diety in Sabarimala is Lord Aiyyappa. The "mandalakaalam" or the festival season for Sabarimala had started during the month of December. There are two ways of doing the pilgrimage.One is to trek the traditional route through the jungle from Erumeli to Pampa and then to Sabarimala. The other is the usual route used by pilgrims nowadays - come to Pampa by vehicle and then trek from Pampa to Sabarimala. 

I went along with a team of 8 Swamis (the male pilgrim is called "Swamy") and 2 Malikappurams (only females aged below 10 and above 50 are allowed in Sabarimala and they are called "Malikappurams"). We started from Manickodu Siva Temple at Venjaramoodu where the priest made the mandatory "irumudikettu" which a pilgrim has to carry on his head till Sannidhanam (sanctum sanctorum) for each one of us. After praying to Lord Vighneswara and breaking the mandatory coconut, we started our pilgrimage from Venjaramoodu at around 9.30 PM on the 17th of Dec 2011. It was a tight fix inside our vehicle which was a Scorpio but no inconvenience or discomfort was felt amidst the chantings of "Swamiye Saranam Aiyyappa".

We reached Erumeli at around 1 AM and after getting the blessings of Vavaru Swamy and Erumeli Sasthavu we started our trek at around 2 AM. It was pitch dark and we were able to see only the path in front of us by the torch light. We also saw two elephants near Mulankoottam before Kalaketti, but by God's grace nothing untoward happened. Trust me when I say that an elephant's trumpeting sends chills down your spine at 3 AM in the morning in the middle of the jungle. 

The major places enroute from Erumeli to Pampa:
Erumeli - Kalaketti - Azhutha - Kallidankunnu - Mukkuzhy - Puthussery - Kariyilathodu - Adivaram - Karimala - Valiyanavattom - Cheriyanavattom - Pampa.

We reached Pampa at around 1.30 PM in the afternoon and after a refreshing bath in the holy river Pampa we started our climb towards Sannidhanam. Although there was a huge amount of rush at Sannidhanam, we were able to get a good "Darshan" of Lord Aiyyappa. After the darshan and abhishekam of ghee we started our downward trek. Our vehicle was waiting for us at Pampa as we had telephoned him in advance. It was a tired but hugely satisfied lot inside the vehicle. Soon people started falling asleep one by one and it was time to take rest for me also.

Vavar Mosque at Erumeli


Erumeli Pettah Thullal

Our ride, Scorpio
Me & Scorpio
Kalaketti Siva Temple
Our team resting at Kalaketti 
 Azhutha river

 Some photos along the path

Resting on the way
Battered and bruised :)
Stream of clear water on the way

On the trail again..

Nearing Pampa
At Pampa

Due to the rush and also due to tiredness, I didn't take any photos after reaching Pampa. Till the next mandalakaalam, "Swamiye Saranam Aiyyappa".