Category Archives: Travel

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 ‘’.

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: / 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: / 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: / 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: / 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: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – February 22nd, 2017

Protecting their hallowed ground

The renovated Jewish cemetery  K Shijith

Kochi :

On November 23, 2016, Josephai Abraham (Sam) stood inside the 1.5 acre Jewish cemetery on the Kathrakadavu-Pullepady road, Kochi. It was the burial of his mother-in-law Miriam Joshua, aged 89. “When I looked around, I suddenly realised that the cemetery was in bad shape,” he says. Many tombs could not be seen because of the high grass.

There were more problems. “At one corner, neighbours had thrown their garbage, in plastic packets,” says Sam, the president of the Association of Kerala Jews. “Some inhabitants had pushed their water pipes under the wall, so that all the waste water would flow into the property.”

The shield of david and the menorah on the
compound wall. (Above)
An earlier picture of the cemetery

So Sam decided to do something, with the backing of six families of the association. Workers were hired, grass and weeds were chopped off, and, at one side, where there was a marshy pond, several layers of building waste was put in, to smoothen the surface. “Thereafter, interlocking tiles had been put,” says Sam.

“At least now, we can park our cars inside. Otherwise, we had to do so on the narrow road and it created problems for the other motorists.” The walls have been painted white and many tombs, which were broken, have been repaired and repainted.

And, on the wall, at the opposite end to the entrance, a Shield of David have been etched, along with the seven candles of the Menorah.

The Menorah has been a symbol of Judaism, from ancient times, and is now part of the emblem of the state of Israel.
However, it has not been smooth sailing. One neighbour approached Sam and told him he could not do any renovation, as all construction has been frozen. On being asked how, the neighbour said there are expansion plans for the road and the cemetery will be taken over. “I said no such decision has been taken,” says Sam.

Then, in mid-January, Gracy Joseph, Chairperson, Standing Committee for Development of the Cochin Corporation, came to inquire. “I had received complaints from the local residents that some construction was going on,” she says. “But the members of the Jewish community told me that they were only renovating the place.”
Clearly, the cemetery is under threat. “The Cochin Corporation has plans to broaden the road,” says Association secretary Dr Susy Elias.

But Soumini Jain, the Mayor of the Corporation says that the stretch in front of the cemetery has been handed over to the Public Works Department of the State government. “It is they who will do the road expansion works,” she says.

“There are suggestions of building an overbridge in front of the cemetery. But whether the government has the funds for that, I am not sure.”
Meanwhile, according to Jewish religious law, once a person is buried, the grave cannot be disturbed. It can only be removed if a relative gives permission. But the local Jews have no idea where they are, since many have emigrated to Israel. So, the Jews are anxious about whether the authorities will insist that they will have to give up a part of their cemetery. “Many tombs will be disturbed,” says Sam.
Sometime ago, the association got in touch with Israeli ambassador Daniel Carmon. Thereafter, last month, the Bangalore-based Israeli Counsel General Yael Hashavit met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and appraised him of the situation. “The CM said that he was aware of it,” says Mordokkayi Shafeer, the treasurer of the association.
Meanwhile, despite these tensions, the Jews come once a month to light candles and to pray at the graves. “We also come on death anniversaries and during the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) festival,” says Shafeer. “Life has to go on.”

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Shevlin Sebastian / Express News Service / February 20th, 2017

Whipping up a record with a mammoth salad

EGGCELENCE ON DISPLAY:The salad that was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables in the city on Sunday, as part of World Egg Day observance.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
EGGCELENCE ON DISPLAY:The salad that was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables in the city on Sunday, as part of World Egg Day observance.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

One hundred-and-forty students from St. Teresa’s College, ten staff members and 43 professional chefs came together to prepare a mammoth egg salad to mark the World Egg Day celebrations in the city.

A statement issued by the Indian Farmers’ Association said the event was organised as part of the ongoing ‘Harithotsavam’, based on farming and allied activities.

The egg salad was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables. When laid out, it measured 814.5 feet, the organisers said.

They also claimed that the egg salad had created a record for its length.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – October 10th, 2016

Portuguese epic on Gama gets Malayalam version


Kochi :

Keralites are familiar with the arrival of Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama in India in the 15th century and history of trade relations between both countries. But so far they missed out on the Malayalam version of an epic Portuguese poem, Os Lusiadas, depicting the hardships and travails faced by Gama and his crew during their voyage to India.

Keralites can now access the translation of the epic poem in their mother tongue thanks to C J Davees, a lecturer in Thrissur. “The Malayalam version, Epic of Lusiadas’, launched in Kochi few days ago, will also shed light on African and Indian life in the 15th century. During the voyage, Gama had touched Africa and had taken a person from Malindi as his guide.

“The poem explains all these minute details,” said Jerald D’souza, secretary of Indo-Portuguese Cultural Centre, Cochin. The epic written by Luis Vaz de Cameons in Portuguese narrates the difficulties faced by Gama and his team during the 10 month voyage.

The poem, written in Homeric style has 10 chapters. The seventh and eighth chapters speaks about his arrival in Kozhikode. The poem was first published in 1572.

“Camoens had visited India after the arrival of Gama in Kappad. He interacted with people and sought help of Alvaro Velho, who wrote a diary during his voyage with Gama to India. In the poem Gama has been presented as a hero. We can witness the influence of Greek mythology in the poem, which is like Odyssey and Iliad of Homer,” Gerald said.

The original poem was written in 8,869 lines in Ottava Rima that has rhyming stanzas of 10 syllables in each line.

“The rhyme scheme used in the poem was ABABABCC,” Davees said.

“I translated the poem in prose form as I knew there may not be readers for the poem. I took five years to translate the poem word by word. The translated book is around 400 pages long,” he said.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kochi / T C Sreemol  / TNN / August 12th, 2016

‘Sanchari’ online community – Chasing history


Tiruvananthapuram :

With over 2,00,000 members, Sanchari is an online community that encourages people to share travelogues, provide tips and find enjoyable-yet-pocket friendly touring destinations.


This weekend, the community’s Kochi faction is organising a boat tour centred around the 3,000-year-old port town of Muziris, which, prior to being destroyed in the 14th century by a flood, was India’s lifeline to over 30 countries. “This day-long tour will appeal to both history buffs and tourists. We’ve curated a list of 10 iconic places to visit (think Paravur Synagogue and Gothuruth), after consulting with popular blogger, Manoj Ravindran aka Niraksharan, who authored India’s first augmented reality travelogue (in Malayalam) titled Muzirisiloode,” explains Unni PG, one of the organisers.


Journey back

Hop on board to explore the relics of a bygone era—some still in ruins, while others are in the process of being restored by the Kerala Government. Spot the remains of the strategically significant 493-year-old Kottapuram Fort, where the Dutch, British, Portuguese and even Tipu Sultan waged war. Or walk through the ancient secular village of Kottayil Kovilakam where a Syrian church, mosque, temple and Jewish synagogue existed in close proximity. “It’s not just monuments and museums, we will also visit the home-turned-cultural centre of famed social reformer Sahodaran Ayyappan,” concludes Ravindran, who’s currently working on the English translation of his Muziris travelogue. I700 onwards. Sunday, from Paravur Synagogue, at 9 am.

Details: 9633801068.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Anoop Menon / August 05th, 2016

The Malabar River Festival is back!

The excitement in the air is almost palpable. Fuelled by large doses of adrenalin and adventure quintessential to extreme sports, spectators are gearing up for the popular Malabar River Festival in Kerala.

In its fourth edition, the festival will be held this month at Kondencherry, near Kozhikode.

Scheduled to take place from July 28 to 31, the competition, organised on behalf of Kerala Adventure Tourism Promotion Society by the Kerala Kayak Academy and Bengaluru-based Madras Fun Tools, will see athletes vie for the total cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh in categories that include BoaterCross, Downriver time-trial and Slalom.

The number of events this year has seen a slight dip. There may be around 60 events compared to the 110 held last year, said Manik Taneja, CEO of Madras Fun Tools.

Also missing from the event will be a big team of Olympians with the mega-sporting event scheduled to be held in August.

However, the event will see the participation of more female participants (10) compared to the usual average of five, mostly from India, UK and Italy, Mr. Taneja said.

For further details about the Malabar River Festival,

The fourth edition of the event will be held at Kondencherry, near Kozhikode, from July 28 to 31

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Staff Reporter / Bengaluru – July 26th, 2016