Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kuruva Dweep - where time stands till

One of our last excursions was to Kuruva Dweep or Kuruva Island. The group of tiny islands is located along a tributary of the Kabini river, about 20 km from Mananthavady.
Uninhabited, the islands are spread over almost 1,000 acres of virgin forest. There is the Kabini river flowing by. It’s a different world, where time stands still. The only sounds you hear are of visitors trying to find their way, legs soaked in water and holding on tightly to each other to maintain the balance.
We saw a wild hog, some rare birds, orchids and of course huge prehistoric bamboo trees. You can only imagine how the island would be after dusk. So, everybody has to get out by 5 pm. There are boast to take you to the island if you cannot wade through water. At the entrance where the buses and vans halt, there are shops selling goodies and food and drink.
A few shots I clicked as some of us, the nervous ones, took a boat to the island, show the petty shops at the entrance, people wading through water on their return, a captivating view of Nature silhouetted against the late afternoon sky and the Kabini, getting over a bamboo bridge single-file, and a view of the island from a boat.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tirunelli, the Kashi of the South

One the last leg of our trip, we visited the famous Tirunelli Temple, located 30 km north west of Mananthavadi. Known as the Kashi of South, the temple is in the midst of the Brahmagiri Hills and is encircled by the Papanasini River.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Thirty granite pieces are said to support the shrine, the floor paved with huge square granite blocks. The 'koothambalam' here has rare paintings on its walls.

Papanasini is believed to be a holy mountain spring that has divine cleansing powers to absolve the soul of all its sins. Hindus perform their forefathers ‘balikarma’ and bathe in the to get relieved from all sins.

The first picture shows the entrance to the Trishleri Temple, on the way to Tirunelli. The second is a shot of the outer temple walls, from the parikrama. The third is a view from above of the temple. The last picture is taken in Tirunelli, it gives a view of the steps leading to the Tirunelli Temple.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The legend of Pazhassi Raja

We visited the place where Veera Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, also known as the Lion of Kerala, the ruler of Kottayam and one of the first martyrs in India in the struggle against the British, lay buried. Pazhassi Raja died while fighting against British occupation.

In the late 18th century in India, the Marathas and Tipu Sultan were fighting the British. Pazhassi Raja helped the British in their fight against Tipu Sultan, but soon the relationship soured. Exactly what the reason was it is not clear, but it may have been due to taxation rules imposed by the British on the locals.
It is said that after Tipu Sultan left, the British ignored Pazhassi Raja and gave the land in Kottayam to his uncle on lease. Feeling snubbed, Pazhassi Raja stopped collecting taxes in Kottayam. Angered, the British extended the lease given to his uncle, but they were helpless. In 1795, Pazhassi Raja stopped collecting tax. He also sheltered the locals from the British. The Raja escaped to Wayanad when the British went after him. Two years later, the Raja, with the help of an army of thousands of Nairs got the British to retreat. The British cancelled the lease with his uncle and all was peaceful. However, in 1799, after the fall of Srirangapatbam, the British decided to move into Wynad, the Raja’s territory. Pazhasi Raja fought a guerilla war from the mountains of Wynad. He finally died in 1805, shot by a British officer.
Pictures show the place where Razhassi Raja lies buried, and bows and arrows used by the local warriors at that time, now kept in a small museum opposite the tomb.