Malayattoor Church is famous all over the world and thus has been recognised as an international pilgrimage station. Believers from all over the world throng here regardless of seasons. It is believed that St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus, had come to this place to spread the Gospel.
Today’s Malayattoor Church is constructed on a spot where St. Thomas is said to have established a shrine of Virgin Mary centuries back. Located on top of the Malayattoor Hills, this religious spot attracts millions of devotees every year.
The church is built in Greco-Roman architectural style. There are several carvings and paintings, including the Five Joyful Mysteries of Jesus Christ, on the walls of this church. An annual festival, popularly known as Malayattoor Perunnal, is held during the months of March-April.
Marthoma Mandapam, Sannidi, Golden Cross, miraculous water spring, St. Thomas’s footprint on a rock and his life size statue are also worth seeing.
The Poovar Beach is coalesced with calm, quiet ocean waters and green palm trees all around. This village is 38 km away from the Thiruvananthpuram. It is also a fifteen-minute boat ride away from Vizinhjham, the natural harbour situated near this beach village.
This beach is separated by the estuary from the Kovalam Beach. This is one of its kind estuaries where the water of sea, lake and river meet together at the land. It is linked to the sea by the estuary during high tides.
There are many resorts which offer the services on the beach. You can have an experience of a lifetime by spending your quality time here away from the monotony and distressing noises of daily life at work in the city.
Ayurvedic treatments, shopping, food and exotic locales can be quite a treat here. Swimming is not a favoured activity here because of the strong currents.
Punalur Suspension Bridge was built by Albert Henry across the Kallada river in the year 1877. This bridge was made for vehicle movements and was made by suspending huge spans. The Punalur Suspension Bridge took more than six years to complete.
Story goes that people were hesitant to walk on the bridge and hence the engineer and his family passed under the bridge in a country boat while six elephants walked on the bridge to gain the trust of the people.
The bridge was constructed with the aim of preventing wild animals intruding the human settlements of Punalur which was then covered with dense thick forest on one side. A concrete bridge would allow the animals to pass, but a suspension bridge would not.
This is because of the fact that the bridge would start shaking if someone passed on it and this will scare the wild animals away. The bridge is supported by four deep wells, and the iron rods of the bridge are connected to the clips in the well. Each of these wells is about 100 ft deep.
The Vallarpadam Church or the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom is a popular attraction of Ernakulam in Kerala. Mary, the mother of Jesus is lovingly called 'Vallarpadathamma' by her devotees who visit the church from all places and Kerala and other states.
The church was built in the year 1524 by some Portuguese missionaries. However, a heavy flood in 1676 destroyed the church, and it was re-established in the same year by the Portuguese who also erected a picture of Virgin Mary in the church.
The image of Mother Mary was lost in the flood and was retrieved by the then Dewan of the King of Cochin, Paliyath Raman Menon. The image of the Holy Mother is known to have miraculous powers. The church was declared as a special church in the year 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, and it was thereafter declared as a major pilgrim centre by the Union Government.
There is also an ever-burning lamp at the altar of the church. The lamp was gifted by the Dewan to the church. The Mother Mary is believed to have saved her devotees several times from natural disasters. The feast of the church is celebrated on September 24th every year with much enthusiasm among the devotees irrespective of their creed and caste. The church is, however, close to the Bolghatty Palace in Ernakulam.
Ashtamudi Backwaters, Kollam
Ashtamudi Backwaters offer travellers with an excellent opportunity to watch the beauty of nature at close quarters. This docile backwater stretch is formed by Ashtamudi Lake, the greatest and the biggest fresh water lake of the state. A trip through the lake, enjoying the panorama formed by the swaying coconut trees and vast expanses of palm groves, would prove truly delightful.
The chief attraction of Ashtamudi Backwaters is houseboat cruising- an activity no traveller would want to miss. Tourism Promotion Council of Kollam district offers several houseboat packages that include day trips as well as over night cruises. Travellers can choose from these packages depending on their budget and convenience.
The houseboats are luxuriously equipped with all modern amenities such as fully furnished bed rooms, kitchen, balconies and other entertainment options. Several resorts as well as budget hotels are available around the area and they offer plenty of facilities including spa, ayurvedic massages and sea food dining.
The Athirappilly Waterfall originates from the Chalakudy River, which has its source from the Western Ghats. This spectacular waterfall has been also called the Niagara Falls of India. The Chalakudy River flows through the Vazachula forest division. The falls gurgles are from a height of 24 m and join the river flowing below. The waterfall can be viewed from various places, from the road which wades through the forest, you can have a look at the water gushing down into the deep river.
You can also view the waterfall from the top, for which you have to get an entry ticket and enter through the main entrance. There are also small restaurants, coffee shops for tourists to relax. Road has been constructed through most of the area for smooth traffic, though caution must be taken while travelling through it. For a second view, you can go down towards the fall, where again a road has been constructed. For the most beautiful view, you can go to the bottom of the fall and look at the falls descending down.
Ayyappa Temple, where Lord Ayyappa is worshipped, is the chief attraction of Sabarimala. Sea of humanity throngs every year to be blessed by him. It assures contentment, spiritual fortification, prosperity and fulfillment of devotees' desires and wishes.
It is well known for its pilgrimage starting in the month of November and ending in January. Entire hills reverberate with the chants of Ayyappa as Mandalapooja is celebrated during this period.
Devotees are required to climb 18 sacred steps before they reach the sanctum sanctorum. These steps are believed to represent different human characteristics: the first 5 steps symbolize the human senses, next 8 represent human emotions, the next 3 steps stand for human qualities and the final 2 steps symbolize knowledge and ignorance.
There is a temple dedicated to Malikappuram Devi on the left side of the Ayyappa temple. The temple offers a soul refreshing experience as the visitors get the glimpse of the panoramic view of the Western Ghats from the temple premises.
The Bekal Fort stands tall amidst the two palm-fringed beaches with the eternal note of the unending waves. Legends hold that the Bekal fort was there since the days of the Chirakkal Rajas as it was very common in those days to build a fort for the purpose of defense. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort bear testimony to it.
This idyllic fort also provides many options to those who want to explore. It has been attracting tourists as well as historians for ages. The fort is built up from the sea. The major portion of its exterior is drenched, and the waves hit the citadel.
Bekal Fort, which spreads over 40 acres of land is the largest fort of Kerala. The hallmarks of the fort are the vista of the tunnel in the south, the steps to the tank and the magazine to store military armours and the wide flight of steps to the Observation Tower.
Bharathapuzha, also known by the name of Nila, is the second longest river of Kerala. Over the years, this river has come to represent a culture specific to Northern Kerala. Bharathapuzha is believed to have contributed to the growth of a culture unique to Malabar and appears in the writings of many regional writers.
Ponnani has a tidal mouth where Bharathapuzha meets Tirur river and this place seasonally houses thousands of migratory birds. This is an ideal location, not just for ornithologists but for amateur birdwatchers. Flocks of birds flying past the river during the summer months is a sight no traveller would want to miss.
The 209 km stretch of Bharathapuzha carries not just streams of water but torrents of culture and heritage. Though summer heat dries this river, generous monsoons replenish its streams with water and its banks with greenery. Be it summer, monsoon or winter Bharathapuzha delights a traveller with its grandeur and glory.
Chembra Peak is the loftiest peak not only in Kalpetta but also in the whole of Wayanad district. It stands at an overwhelming height of 2100 m above sea level. This peak is a favourite place for trekkers. You will find temporary camps that are set up on top of the peak so that these adventure lovers can stay there comfortably and enjoy panoramic views of the place.
There is a mountain lake up there. The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) provides log huts, canvases, sleeping bags and all the trekking equipment that you will need for trekking. They will even arrange a guide for you.
It has to be noted that you have to take permission for trekking at Chembra Peak from the Forest Range Officer at Meppadi.
Chottanikkara Temple, where Chottanikkara Bhagavathi is worshipped, is one of the most eminent temples of Kerala. Goddess Bhagavathi is believed to quench the spiritual thirst and give solace to the hundreds of worshippers who visit this temple daily. Apart from the religious sentiments, the temple stands as an eternal testimony to the architectural glory of an erstwhile era.
Three different forms of Bhagavathi are worshipped here in the temple. In the morning Bhagavathi is worshipped as Saraswati, at noon as Lakshmi and in the evening as Goddess Durga (draped in white, crimson and blue, respectively).
Of all the festivals observed in the temple, Chottanikara Makam Thozhal (in the month of March) is the most attended one. The deity of Chottanikkara Temple is believed to have powers to heal those who suffer from mental illness and disorders. The golden-hued and huge idol of Bhagavathy ornamented with flowers, garlands and jewels is a sight of absolute splendour.
The temple premises house various shrines dedicated to different deities such as Brahma, Shiva, Subrahmanya, Ganesh and Sastha. The months of October and November, the time of Navaratri celebrations, is an ideal time to visit this temple.
The Elephant Camp is placed at a distance of 3 km from the Guruvayurappan Temple at a place called Punnathur Kotta. This elephant camp is the largest of its kind in India. It used to belong to the kings of Punnathur. The sanctuary covers an area of 10 acres and gives shelter to around 60 elephants.
The elephants of this camp are in fact offerings made by pilgrims to the Guruvayurappan Temple. The famous tuskers Guruvayur Padmanabhan and Guruvayur Kesavan are products of this elephant sanctuary. These famous elephants attract a huge crowd. They serve during festivals and processions of the temples carrying deities.
Moreover, the elephants in the camp also take part in elephant race conducted by the temple authorities. These races, called Anayottam, are held to select the tusker that will be privileged to carry the Guruvayurappan Idol. The elephant race is entertaining to watch, and it pulls in many tourists.
Ganapathiyar Kovil is a temple which was built 900 years ago. In a dilapidated condition today, the temple had beautiful carvings and inscriptions written in Tamil on its high granite pillars. This temple was made by the Chetti community, which still lives in the region around the temple. The Tamil inscriptions are about the Pattunool Shettys of the region. The community was known for weaving creative textiles and fabrics. Their speciality of the textile was known as Kanjirappally Katcha.
This temple is a proof of early Tamil cultural influences in the region, which included art and culture and language. This temple is an evidence of the presence of Hindu culture in the area. The settlers in the area were migrants from other regions like Kumbhokam.
Golden Valley is an ideal location for those who prefer casual strolls and leisure-filled picnics. With rivulets, streams, ice cool water and green trees this valley offers the visitor a tranquil holiday. Golden Valley is one of the attractions a traveller should not miss while visiting Ponmudi.
The wild beauty of nature and long stretches of greenery spellbind the beholders. There is a river flowing through this valley which invites visitors. It is safe to play in the river and children would take an instant liking for this place. For family tours and honeymoons, Golden Valley is the best bet.
Both trekking freaks and strollers will find this place a real paradise. Since there are no shops nearby, it is highly recommended that travellers carry food and water with them. Families and couples will enjoy this spot as it offers calm ambience, meadows for children to play and rejuvenating air.
The Hill View Park is just 1.5 km from Idukki. The park is situated on a knoll and spreads on an area of 8 acres. This beautifully furnished park has a natural lake that enhances its charm. As the name of the park suggests, it presents a mesmerising view of the surrounding places. From this place you can view deer, bisons and wild elephants in their natural habitats.
You can also experience an exciting boat ride on the lake. The park has a herbal garden where you are sure to get bewitched. A children’s playground is also added to keep the tiny tots busy. Hill View Park lies near the Idukki Arch Dam and Cheruthony Dam.
The park is at a 350 ft height above the dam water level. A visit to Idukki is incomplete without a visit to this place. Do not forget to carry binoculars and cameras. You will have memories to cherish.