Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trip to Chembaka Devi Temple, Courtalam.

                                      Chembaka (Shenbaga) Devi Temple is situated at Courtalam (Kuttalam) near Shengottai. Legend has it that the prathishta here was made by the great Sage Agastya. The Devi, believed to be a reincarnation of Goddess Durga, is worshipped in the form of “Parashakthi” here. The temple can be accessed from the Main Falls in Courtalam via a 3 km trek. There is also a beautiful waterfall near the Devi temple.
                                       Chembaka Devi Temple is one of the most revered places in the region. Shenbaga flowers can be bought from hawkers on the way as an offering to the Goddess. There are now restrictions to visit the temple during peak seasons. Pilgrims are required to get written permission from the Kutraleeswaram Temple office which opens only at 10 AM. It is indeed a sad trend that Hindus have to take permission and in some cases pay fees to visit their places of worship which were freely accessible to them from thousands of years.
                                      We started our journey from Trivandrum early morning at 4 AM itself. The route taken was Trivandrum – Ayur – Anchal – Punalur – Thenmala – Aryankavu - Shengottai as we had to pick up Biju from Vamanapuram. On the way before reaching Thenmala Dam, we stopped to have a view of the check dam downstream.

Due to the rainfall, there was a reasonable amount of water in the dam.

                                   Breakfast was hot Appam and vegetable curry from Thenmala. We reached Courtalam around 8 – 8.30 AM. Skirting the main falls, we made a bee line towards our destination for the day.
                                     To reach Chempaka Devi Temple, one has to hike around 3 km from the bottom of the falls. It is an upward climb, but there are steps for most of the way so any one can do the climb. 

On the way one can see the top of the main falls.

We trudged along, taking in the beautiful surroundings.

More steps! :)

On the way you may see sadhus meditating.

Finally we reached our destination. We paid obeisance to the Goddess and then we proceeded towards the falls close to the temple. There are sadhus and saints residing in various caves around the place. Mindful of this, we were careful not to make any noise.

View from the top of the falls

We had a refreshing dip in the falls. After resting for some time, we started back for Trivandrum.
Some photos on the way back.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rock cut cave temple, Vizhinjam.

It had been a while since I first heard about a rock - cut cave temple at Vizhinjam. But the bit of information had also surprised me as I hadn't heard of it before. Today it again popped up while I was doing some browsing in the Net and I suddenly decided to visit the place as it was quite close to my home.
About the Cave Temple
The rock cut temple tradition appears to be an intrusive element in Kerala that drifted from Tamilnadu region.These rock - cut caves have two zones of concentration, the northern group occupying the ancient Chera country and southern groups located in the Ay country. Southern group includes the cave located at Vizhinjam, the capital of later Ays.
Vizhinjam is a tiny village lying about 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram town. It is one of the ancient rock - cut temples in Kerala. It is a small shrine with a central cell, having an independent sculpture of seated Dakshinamurthi datable to 8th century AD. On the two sides of the cell are unfinished panel depicting sculptures of  Tripurantaka and Siva as Nataraja and Parvati standing close to him.
Tripurantaka carrying a bow and arrow in two of his four hands is a fine example of the 8th century sculptural art. His left foot rests on Apasmara, the crown of hair elegantly carved as a high headdress and is highly ornate. It is interesting that different forms of Tripurantaka had developed at such an early date. This presentation is a precursor of a similar type in metal of the time of Rajaraja I.
This is a centrally protected monument under the control of Archaeological Survey of India since 1965.

Location - located at Vizhinjam about 17 km from Trivandrum city. At Vizhinjam junction, take the road to the right side and you can immediately see the temple on the right side. 
Route : Trivandrum - Thiruvallam - Vellar - Vizhinjam.