Category Archives: Travel

Biennale founders among ‘Power 100’

They first entered the list in 2015

Artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari, founders of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB), have figured on the list of 100 most influential people in the world of art for the third year in a row.

The ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine on the world’s topmost contemporary artists and influential figures. Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list that includes Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who participated in the first edition of the KMB in 2012; Germany’s Wolfgang Tillman; French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe; Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Bernard Arnault, founder of the Foundation Louis Vuitton; and Italian fashion house designer Miuccia Prada.

Two more Indians

Germany’s artist-as-theorist Hito Steyerl heads the 2017 ranking which only has two other Indian entries: the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (39) founded by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and well-known art collector Kiran Nadar (99).

Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishamachari first entered the list in 2015 after the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale that ended in March.

Their individual success as artists was also acknowledged by the magazine, which said “Krishnamachari’s first solo exhibition in four years, Colour Code, took place in July at Gallery G, Bangalore, for ‘one polychromatic week’”.

“Komu has been continuing to promote contemporary Indian art through URU Art Harbour, a cultural hub housed in an old warehouse in Kochi that he opened in November,” it noted. “He recently launched a two-month inaugural exhibition titled ‘Mattancherry ‘– named after the historic quarter in Kochi in which URU Art Harbour is based – bringing together 13 artists and research collectives to reclaim the site from the tourist gaze.”


  • ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine
  • Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list

source : http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / Special Correspondent / Kochi – November 11th, 2017

Now, a heritage walk through royal town

Kochi:

With its ancient kovilakams, small leafy shrines overlooking moss-ridden ponds and a musical heritage to match with, Tripunithura always had an immense potential for heritage tourism.

But it was Fort Kochi and Mattancherry that always found a place in the Ernakulam tourist itinerary and the royal town never got its due.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening

Now, this is set to change with two young professionals, Balagopal C K and Krishnan Varma of Cochin Royal Family, who have chalked out detailed heritage walks around the important sites of Tripunithura for the people to get acquainted with the historicity of the city.

“Despite being multicultural, the focus is only on the Colonial history of Tripunithura with regard to heritage cultural and heritage tourism. Due to this lack of attention and rampant construction and expansion in and around the area, the region is losing its sheen. The heritage walk is an attempt to create awareness about the city and its history to the locals,” said Balagopal, an IT professional and organizer of the heritage walk. He plans to revive the evanescing grandeur of the regal city of Tripunithura.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening. Later, the walk will be held during the Vrischikolsavam at Tripunithura temple which spans over eight days from November 18 to 25.

With Balagopal is his cousin Krishnan, an architect who had documented the heritage of Tripunithura and held an exhibition of the same in 2014, in an endeavour to bring the city back to public eye.

“The walk will also be advantageous for tourists with a taste for historical structures as a couple of buildings which are kept locked throughout the year, like the Palace Girls School made exclusively for the princesses and Ammathampuran Kovilakam which has documented evidence of Sakthan Thampuran himself living there, will be opened for them during the course of the walk,” Krishnan said.

He added that lack of knowledge about such stories behind each structure is leading to the destruction of the centuries old buildings, which later gets replaced by concrete jungles.

“During the 90-minute walk, anecdotes and histories of the Cochin Royal family and the structures that are associated with them will be narrated for giving them an idea about the past of the royal family and the milieu. The script has been approved by the eldest generation of the royal family to ensure authenticity of the same,” Krishnan said.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Afrah Ali / TNN / November 09th, 2017

Portraying Kerala’s history through cartoons

Kochi :

Cartoonist Unnikrishnan’s ‘Kannirukki Kalam’ is a compilation of issues and affairs- both political and social. The artist who exhibited 60 cartoons- in English and Malayalam, at the Durbar Hall recently, says that he decided to showcase his work on Kerala Piravi, tracing the brief history of changes that shaped Kerala over the years.

He has portrayed different areas such as society, lifestyle, relationships, environment, literature, politics, religion, beliefs, over the last six decades.The works have been displayed in 10 states across the country from November 1. “Some of the exhibitions are ongoing. Some like in Kerala has ended in three days time. I wanted the public in other states to get a feel of the formation of our state,” he said.

The artist says the comic strips, though humourous is meant to be thought-provoking. Exhibition of the same cartoons with English subtitles was held concurrent with Kerala Formation day, organised by All India Malayalee Associations in places such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkatha, Ludhiyana, Bhuvaneswar, Goa, Thane and Delhi. Without loosing the essence of the pictures, cartoonist T V G Menon translated the subtitles

In Delhi, poet Sachidanandhan inaugurated the function.”The exhibition is astonishing in the way it contrasted the past and presentlife of Kerala. The sight on cartoons evoked in us that change has this much invaded our life. The event is evoking a rememberance of the transformation in one’s life style,” said Lenin P N, a cartoon enthusiast.

The three day event organised by Orthic Creative Center of artist T Kaladharan, was inaugurated  by Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Managing Director A P M Mohammed Hanish.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Sreejisha Sreedharan & Elizabeth Jacob / Express News Service / November 06th, 2017

48-hour free care for accident victims

Thiruvananthapuram :

The state government has decided to launch a trauma care project to provide immediate treatment for accident victims.

At a high-level meeting convened by chief minister Pinrayi Vijayan , it has been decided to provide free treatment to accident victims for the first 48 hours.

Once the project kicks off, the hospitals would be asked not to demand any kind of payment from the patient or their bystanders. The government has decided to provide necessary funds for providing all kinds of treatment, including emergency surgeries, in all government hospitals.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / November 03rd, 2017

Intensive farming in Kerala a European legacy, says historian

Back to the past: Veritta Paitrukangal, an exhibition on agricultural implements of yore, in Thrissur.

Exhibition on agricultural tools at Sahitya Akademi draws history lovers

Intensive and extensive cultivation was practised in Kerala by European colonialists, the fruit of which were reaped mainly by the middle class, Michael Tharakan, chairman of the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), has said.

He was addressing a three-day national seminar on ‘Social changes in Kerala: The last five centuries’, organised by the Kerala Historical Research Society (KHRS) at the Kerala Sahitya Akademi here. The seminar will conclude on Sunday.

The progress of education in modern Kerala could be traced back to this rise of the middle class, he argued.

Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) Director Joy Elaman delivered the keynote address.

Kerala Sahitya Akademi president Vysakhan inaugurated an exhibition titled ‘Uprooted Heritage’. KHRS president George Alex presided over the function. Joseph John Keethra, general secretary, KHRS, and C.R. Valsan, Chairman, Kerala State Textile Corporation, spoke.

At the technical session, historian M.R. Raghava Warrier said colonialism in Kerala was based on a slavish mentality in material life, knowledge life, and individual life. Colonialism uprooted occupation groups and controlled the resource base of the land, he added.

Samuel Nellimukal presented a paper on education and social progress in the 19th and early 20th century Kerala. T.R. Venugopalan moderated the session.

The seminar is organised in six sessions, and 15 papers will be presented by experts in relevant areas. At the valedictory session, Alexander Jacob, IPS, will deliver a lecture on ‘Keralam: Innele Innu’.

Veritta Paitrukangal (Uprooted Heritage), an exhibition of agricultural tools and implements organised in connection with the seminar fascinated history lovers.

The exhibition explores the possibility of attracting youth to Kerala’s history and culture, and thereby, attempts to open fresh avenues in research and studies. Indirectly, it looks forward to creating awareness among youth and the public about the State in the past five centuries.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States / October 21st, 2017

Kannur airport gets location code from IATA

The location code granted to the new airport is ‘CNN’, which is the short for CaNNanore

 

Kannur :

Kannur international airport, which is expected to be commissioned next year, has got the three-letter location code from the IATA (International Air Transport Association).

According to a communique from IATA, the location code granted to the new airport is ‘CNN’, which is the short for CaNNanore, said P Bala Kiran , managing director of Kannur International Airport (KIAL). He said though the KIAL was keen on getting the code with ‘KN’, the codes were not available and hence CNN.

“The location code is unique to every airport in the world and it is like Aadhar for an individual,” he said.

He also said the new website of KIAL, with the ‘.aero’ domain name will be online soon, and the new URL will be ‘kannurairport.aero’.

According to the KIAL MD, the work is progressing fast and in all probability, it will be operational in mid of 2018. The terminal work will be completed by October and the runway would be over by December-January, he added.

Then, the Aerodrome Licensing Authority of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation must inspect the airport before giving the license. Also, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the airport has to be finalized by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) using the calibration flight, which would take a few months after the completion of the civil works.

As of now, twenty passenger airlines and two cargo airlines have expressed interest to start operations from here. Further, though the airport will operate with 3050 metre runway in the first phase, the land acquisition process is on to extend its length to 4000 metres, said Bala Kiran.

Once fully operational, the airport is expected to handle 4.67 million passengers and 60,758 metric tonnes of cargo in a year, with 39,638 aircraft movements, according to KIAL authorities.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by P. Sudhakaran / TNN / July 27th, 2017

A royal procession to Sasthamangalam

Sree Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma starting from the Fort for the Sasthamangalam procession | Photo Credit: Sharat Sunder Rajeev

In the days of the monarchy, a royal procession used to make its way to a Siva temple in Sasthamangalam

‘Radhapura Kunnu Lane’, a nondescript signage near Sasthamangalam junction may have caught your attention as you travel along Vellayambalam-Sasthamangalam road. However, if you are planning to explore the lane hoping to find the ‘Radhapura’ or at least the remains of an old chariot house, you will be disappointed. The lane now leads to a well-laid out residential area with no trace of any built structure to substantiate the name of the lane.

Radhapura Lane was in olden times known as Radhapura Kunnu, a hill that gradually descends to the banks of the Killi River. Senior citizens from Vellayambalam and Sasthamangalam regions still remember vivid images of a state procession that linked the region with a royal past. When the city cherishes the Arattu procession and related rituals, of the area recall the state processions that once came to Sasthamangalam.

Sasthamangalam Ezhunnalathu, a regal procession to Sasthamangalam, culminated at the ancient Sasthamangalam Mahadeva temple, where the sovereigns offered prayers and rested in the ‘palace’, a double-storied structure located near the western gateway of the temple. According to popular history, it was customary of the Travancore rulers to visit Sasthamangalathu Madhom’, the abode of Koopakkara Pottis, and the Siva temple soon after the Tirunal (royal birthday) celebrations. Even though the origin of this practice remains unknown to this day, some historians are of the opinion that the practice could be dated to the eighteenth century, to the turbulent days of Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma.

It is said that the Koopakkara Potti had helped the King on one occasion and in gratitude the King and, later his successors, made it a custom to pay their respect, once in a year, to the Koopakkara family at their residence.

V Narasimhan Thampi presents a vivid portrayal of the procession to Sasthamangalam: “… the Maharaja rides to Sasthamangalam in his golden chariot, drawn by six white horses and behind him follow a train of horse drawn carriages of the royals and the various officials. The Elayarajas, Koil Thampurans, and the Chief Justice can be seen riding in carriages drawn by two horses, whereas the other officers ride in simple carriages. The state procession starts from the Fort at four in the evening and proceeds to Sasthamangalam via Pazhavangadi, Puttenchandai, Palayam, and Vazhuthacaud. At Sasthamangalam, the King worships at the temple and visits the Potti at his residence and returns to the Fort by six O’clock.”

On the way to Sasthamangalam, the procession first halted at Vellayambalam, from where the King went to the temple with a few select attendants and high officials. The royal chariot was stationed at Radhapura Kunnu and the royal party walked down to Pipinmoodu to the temple premises.

The temple, located between Sasthamangalam hill and the nearby elevated Oolampara region, claims antique origins. Old records mention ‘Thiru-chatta-mangalam’ (later Sasthamangalam) and the temple there. Old timers believe that the temple has its origins from a small sacred grove on the banks of the Killi River. A small fragment of the grove can still be seen right in front of the eastern gateway to the temple.

With the end of monarchy, the age-old custom of the Sasthamangalam procession passed into the annals of history, but the temple remains popular among the city dwellers.

(The writer is a conservation architect and history buff)

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> History & Culture / by Sharat Sunder Rajeev  / Thiruvananthapuram – May 05th, 2017

Bungalows on the beach

Summer Ville, the western façade facing sea. | Photo Credit: Sharat Sunder Rajeev

In 1927, V Krishnan Thampi, an erudite Sanskrit scholar and writer, made a statement by constructing his house near the beach

The historic fort area of Thiruvananthapuram was initially concentrated around the fort walls that enclosed Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, the agraharams and the royal abodes within. During the early nineteenth century, the town stretched from the banks of Karamana river to the east, Thiruvallam to the south, Kannammoola towards the north and Shanghumughom in the west. Distribution of settlements strictly followed a sectorial pattern based on caste system.

While families connected to the royal family and the temple resided in the Fort and its immediate precincts, less-privileged communities resided in places away from the religious core.

The coastline was chiefly inhabited by fishermen, whose hamlets were segregated from the Fort area by a vast strip of farmlands and coconut groves and further to the west, by sand dunes. The ancient Devi temple at Shanghumughom and the Arattu ceremony were the major attractions in the otherwise uninhabited Shanghumughom coast.

It was only in the later half of the nineteenth century that some families and persons constructed their houses beyond Eenchakkal, towards Shanghumughom. Easwara Vilasam, a sprawling courtyard house at Vallakadavu, belonged to Punnakkal Easwara Pillai Vicharippukar, a Kathakali maestro and steward to Uthram Tirunal Marthanda Varma. Rohininal Thampuran, a member of Mavelikkara royal house, had constructed Rohini Vilasam, a multi-storied mansion along the Arattu way, west of Eenchakkal.

In 1927, V Krishnan Thampi, an erudite Sanskrit scholar and writer, set up his abode in Shanghumughom, close to the Shanghumughom Devi temple. The house, constructed in the colonial style, has traces of conventional design in the form of a courtyard. According to his biographer, Thampi was advised to settle on the beach by Dr K Raman Thampi. The sea breeze, according to the doctor, could offer relief to Thampi who suffered from arthritis. ‘Beach Bungalow’, the mansion on Shanghumughom beach, soon became a beehive of activities. Kathakali performers, writers, and scholars from across the State visited the house. “The hall was designed with huge louvered doors on east and west elevations, facilitating easy flow of cool sea breeze in the interiors,” says S Radhakrishnan, grandson of Krishnan Thampi. The southern façade of the house has two huge windows with a view of the nearby temple. “Grandfather, when he designed the house, had planned to erect a huge loft on the first floor, facing south. In olden days, one could clearly see the Arattu procession and the breathtaking sunset from the balcony,” recalls Radhakrishnan.

“I cherish my childhood days at Beach Bungalow,” recalls Uma Thampuran, granddaughter of Thampi. “Every morning we would race to the nearby Devi temple before leaving for school,” she adds. Uma also recalls the evening she and her cousins spent by the sea shore. “The sea shore was just an extension of our yard and often we had distinguished visitors like former president VV Giri and his family, who came to enjoy the sea breeze.”

The credit of developing Shanghumughom beach into a sought-after residential zone goes to Krishnan Thampi. N Balakrishnan Nair writes, ‘V. Krishnan Thampi was instrumental in developing Sangumugham into a respectable residential colony. Following Thampi’s footsteps, his friends and other members of the prominent families started to construct houses in the beach area’. Sanguchakram, Summer Ville and Sea Shell were some other houses located near Beach Bungalow. Dr KL Moudgil, a friend of Thampi, also set up his residence in Shanghumughom.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Hidden Histories – History & Culture / by Sharat Sunder Rajeev / Thiruvananthapuram – April 21st, 2017

Fleeting canvas of vibrant artistry

The finished Kalam of Bhadrakali | Photo Credit: Aswin V N

Kalamezhuthu Pattu artist Manikandan Kallat talks about the art form that is unique to Kerala

Squatting on the floor, Manikandan Kallat draws the outline of the image of goddess Bhadrakali using finely-ground rice flour. He takes a handful of flour and using his thumb and index finger creates fine, curved white lines with ease. This is a routine for the veteran Kalamezhuthu artist who single-handedly finished a 1,800 sq.ft kalam of Bhadrakali with 64 hands in 14-and-a-half hours in May 2016, at the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in Thrissur, in a bid to set a Guinness record for the biggest powder drawing by a single person.

Kalamezhuthu is for Kalamezhuthu Pattu, a ritualistic art form. The present one is at a family temple in Thrissur district. The art form is believed to have its roots in ancient tribal and Dravidian traditions. Kalamezhuthu, which involves drawing elaborate figures of Bhadrakali, Vettakorumakan, Ayyappa, Gandharvas and Serpent gods, is native to the state.

Manikandan, one of the top Kalamezhuthu artists in Kerala, is a Kallat Kurup, one of the communities traditionally practising Kalamezhuthu Pattu. “Communities such as Mannaan, Malayan , Theeyadi Nambiar, Theyampadi Nambiar and Theeyattunni also practise this art form. But there are only a few people who are into this full time today,” he says.

On the day of the ritual, the drawing of the Kalam begins after an initial round of puja and pattu (songs) – narrating the tales of gods or goddesses being drawn in the Kalam. Manikandan finishes the outline (Kalam Kurikkal) in less than an hour. Then his team joins in with colours.

“The five colours, denoting the Pancha Bhoothas, are made of natural ingredients. White powder is rice flour, black is ground charcoal, green is powdered Manchadi or Vaka leaves, yellow is turmeric powder and red is turmeric-quick lime mixture,” explains Manikandan.

To teach and popularise the art form, Manikandan opened a Kalamezhuthu Pattu school at his house at Kattakampal, near Kunnamkulam, three years ago.“As of now, I only take in students from the Kallat Kurup community. But I do give talks and demonstrations for art researchers and tourists who often visit our place. School and colleges invite me once in a while to give a demo to the students,” he says.

Manikandan and five artists work on the Kalam for three more hours. By 5 p.m. the Kalam is almost ready. The furious, red-eyed Bhadrakali holds a blood-stained sword in one of her hands, the head of demon Dharika in the other and things like the Trishool, a serpent and a shield in her other six hands. The flowing attire, jewels and crown showcase intricate designs. “Although the basic figure of the image and weapons are done in the traditional manner, the artist can innovate with the design of the dress, jewels, crown and the Prabhamandalam (elaborate frame of the Kalam),” says Manikandan.

Later in the evening, rituals resume. The event concludes late at night with Manikandan arriving as the oracle (Velichapaadu), performing a ritualistic dance as the Bhadrakali and finally erasing the Kalam. Although a part of the ritual, it is hard to watch hours of painstaking artistry turned into dust. Talking about it after the performance, Manikandan says, “I don’t think about it when I am performing. But it is sad, especially in the case of big Kalams that takes a long time to complete like the 64-hand Bhadrakali that I did at the Sangeetha Nataka Academy.” Often for special shows, like the one he helped create for an expo of contemporary arts in France in 2000, the Kalam was preserved for some time so that people could see and photograph it.

Although Kalamezhuthu season is for six months, he gets to do more than 100 Kalams in a season. “This used to be restricted to temples, palaces and wealthy households. Now we do it in small households and as a performing art. It is recognised as an art form and we are considered as artists,” he adds.

Manikandan and his group have also performed outside Kerala as well – courtesy of Malayali associations, small temples and other communities in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai.

Learning the art form

The art form itself is time consuming, to learn as well as to practise. It takes years for a student to master the powder drawing and colouring techniques employed in the Kalamezhuthu. Manikandan himself took more than three years to learn the different facets of the art. “I was trained at Guruvayur Kshetra Kalanilayam, a performing art school run by Dewaswom Board. They offered a Kalamezhuthu course from 1986 onwards. But they had to stop it in 1992 as there weren’t enough students,” recalls Manikandan. The studies usually start with Kalam Kurrikal. It gives the student a general idea about the proportion of the Kalam. Only after mastering it are the students taught to colour or prepare the face of the image of the god and goddesses, which is the most difficult part of the art apart from the outline.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> History & Culture / by Aswin V N / Thiruvananthapuram – February 23rd, 2017

The transformation of a historic church

Window to past The Koonan Kurishu Church that was renovated by avoiding conventional building materials.

Church commemorates the January 1653 vow taken by Malankara Nazranis

The Koonan Kurishu Church (Church of the Leaning Cross) in Mattancherry has undergone a transformation worthy of its remarkable place in history.

The church, built in 1751, commemorates the January 1653 vow taken by the Malankara Nazranis or Christians against Portuguese and Roman Catholic Church attempts to dominate their spiritual and ritual affairs.

The 1751 church underwent major renovation in 1974. Now, it has been renovated by retaining the original structure except in places where it had deteriorated badly. The church has been rebuilt, mostly avoiding conventional materials such as cement and steel, and using compressed, stabilised mud blocks.

The renovated church provides a brief glimpse into the past with its earthy shade, domes, vaults and arches that rise up as symbols of early eastern Christianity. The Marthoma Cross (St. Thomas Cross) crowns it and the altar is blessed by a cross formed by light beams, says NRI businessman and philanthropist John Samuel Kuruvilla who oversaw the renovation works.

He said architect Vinu Daniel designed the structure. The masons were provided training in the use of earth blocks, employing the ancient Nubian technology of arch and vault-building without extensive shuttering, said Mr. Kuruvilla.

The Koonankurisu Church, under the Malankara Indian Orthodox Church, will be reconsecrated on February 24 and 25. A religious amity meet will be organised as part of the reconsecration of the church. The all-religion meet will celebrate its lineage steeped in an era when different communities lived in harmony.

The spot where the church is located is where thousands of the Nazranis, restive over the Portuguese efforts to dominate, gathered to pledge their allegiance to their long-standing traditions. But the gathering was so large that hundreds were unable to touch the cross directly. They drew a rope from the cross, and touching it, publicly denounced the Portuguese. The story is that the cross bent under pressure and hence the name ‘Koonan Kurisu’. The event is described as ‘Koonan Kurishu Sathyam’ or the oath before the bent cross.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – February 22nd, 2017