Take Joy in the Celebration of Pongal Festival in Kerala

Pongal Festival Kerala
Pongal Festival Kerala

Pongal festival in Kerala reminds me of my most enjoyable experience of Kerala tour. I, accompanied by two of my friends went to Kerala in January to enjoy Kerala sightseeing. At that time, we were not aware that we would become the participants of the most heard Kerala Pongal festival.

As the festival was related to agriculture, we came across the amazing sights of village folks, soaking in the traditional festivity. It is mainly enjoyed for three days but few parts of South India keep the festivity on even fourth day. Pongal is among the most celebrated festivals of Kerala.

We were very excited to celebrate that traditional festival on our Kerala tour. When we got to know that the next day would be the “Bhogi Pongal”, I kept tossing all the night and got up early. In the morning, I saw a totally different sight. People were busy in cleaning their homes and they also made “Rangoli” from rice flour.

Accompanied by people, I also went to worship rain God Indra. In the evening, our tourist group also enjoyed the bonfire before sunrise. People took out all the useless things, which were being burnt in the bonfire in front of their houses. First day was wonderful and our joy multiplied with Surya Pongal, which was the second day. That day, Sun was being worshipped.

Farmers gathered in an open area and prepared Khichdi according to the auspicious time. The ritual attached to it, when the Khichdi fermented and fell out of the pot then ghee and milk was added. The fermentation marks the prosperity and happiness in the family. The milk in the Khichdi started felling out of the pot, it was considered as it would prosper the farming.

The cooked food was distributed among people as “Prasad”. Mattu Pongal was the next day of the festival. On that day, farm animals were being worshipped which created a different spectacle. Bullock cart races and ox races were also organized which was really rewarding to see. I simply relished the “Khichdi” on banana leaf, which represents its ancient tradition.

That was a really wonderful experience, which I want to enjoy again and again.

Posted on March 19th, 2013 by Caper Travel  |  Comments Off

Kerala Handicrafts Bringing the Talent Ahead

Kerala, the land which has already established itself as Greenland, offers tourists much more than this. With its lush greenery, skilful locals and available resources, Kerala serves as the hub of traditional handicrafts. Tourists have a great choice to select from a variety of handicrafts in Kerala.

Handicrafts of Kerala

Handicrafts of Kerala
Handicrafts of Kerala

The amazing Handicrafts of Kerala are the true showcase of cultural heritage of the state. The traditional Kerala handicrafts encompass religious manifestations where statues of different Gods and Goddesses are exquisitely carved in rosewood or sandalwood. The art forms of Kerala like masks of Kathakali are also portrayed in the traditional handicrafts of Kerala. Models of the popular snake-boats are very popular among tourists.

The handicrafts of Kerala include popular items like:

Coir and Cane Products

Kerala abounds in coir and cane products and therefore, it produces Eco friendly items like coir mattresses, mats and floor furnishings. Coir products manufacturing is an important cottage industry in Kerala, especially in districts of Kollam and Calicut.

Brass and Bell Metal Works

Kerala boasts of its bell metal art. Bell metal is basically an alloy of tin, brass and copper, which can be utilized to cast different mythological occasions like the well-known “Tandava Dance”. In intricate art forms, it has been termed as the ‘Gaja Tandava’ or ‘Gajasamhara’. These articles can be also used for crafting lamps and other household items.

Lacquer Ware

These are made of woodcraft and metal. Wood carvings are famous as these enabled skilled persons to show their talents in artistic works. The trees of sandalwood and rose wood are mainly used for carvings. Myriad shapes are exquisitely carved in these woods after that a lacquer finish is given to the ready products. The finished product is then adorned with several precious metals. Ernakulam district is famous for Lacquer ware work.

Sandalwood Carving

Many gorgeous product are carved from the fragrant Sandalwood. The product array carved in this manner includes boxes, ashtrays, candle stands, tiny models of animals and Kathakali dance postures. Cochin, Ernakulam, Trichur and Thiruvananthapuram are the place where Sandalwood Carving can be found.

Ivory Works

Ivory Works
Ivory Works

Ivory carving is also counted among other popular traditional handicrafts of Kerala. Different items beautifully carved in ivory encompass mythological characters. These are available in form of showpieces. Buffalo horns are the main articles used for ivory carving.

Textiles & Wooden Toys

Kerala offers a distinct collection of textiles that has gained popularity among tourists. These include Kancheepuram silks and others.

Another popular item includes wooden toys. The wooden carving is done to make various toys, which fascinate tourists on their trip to Kerala.

Posted on October 30th, 2012 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Sojourn over the Vast Backwaters with Traditional Kerala Houseboats

It evokes memories and feelings of nostalgia for me while sharing my experience to stay in a Kerala houseboat. Well, this delightful event happened to me on my 2nd wedding anniversary when Andrew, my husband revealed the surprise. That was the first time when we visited Kerala and specially booked a Kerala houseboat tour to celebrate the occasion.

Kerala Houseboat
Kerala Houseboat

We started off at Cochin. The tranquility and serenity of place charmed us. A Kerala houseboat is locally called as ‘Kettuvallam’. These are of different types, out of which, we booked a fully furnished single bedroom luxury houseboat.  On being reached at our houseboat, we were served with a welcome drink. It was coconut juice after drinking which, we felt refreshed.

We explored the houseboat to find out the other sections of this ‘Floating Palace’. Then, we got to know that it was the suitable one for us to enjoy the special occasion. It was provided with sun deck, private balcony and all other modern facilities. The houseboats in Kerala had a separate dining area with comfortable chairs and a well-maintained toilet.

Kerala, the land of lagoons, rivers, lakes, beaches and backwaters is my dream destination and on visiting it, I felt contended. It was unbelievable to see that serving as the popular attractions in Kerala, these houseboats were made by joining Anjili wood panes along with coir ropes and still, these houseboats do not lack anywhere in durability. Use of Eco-friendly material like bamboo poles, bamboo mats, coconut fibre ropes and coir carpets gives these Kerala houseboats a traditional look.

Well, enjoying the luxury in Kerala houseboats, we reached Alappuzha Backwaters. The backwaters mainly covers the four districts of Kerala that include Kollam, Alleppey or Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kochi. Sitting back while the boat cruises through the compressed serene backwater canals, is a different fun, which gives a new height to your Kerala houseboat tour.

We enjoyed our lunch, which was more than enough for two people. It included local dishes like rice, fish fry, sambar, papad, thoran, pickle and vegetable salad. The food was too good that its delectable taste made us relaxing for some time.

In evening, we went on the sundeck, which is an ideal way to revive yourself amidst a tranquil ambiance. We preferred coffee with snacks including Banana Fry, which had a traditional Kerala flavour. After dinner, we went on bed. I was so excited to know the next day travel plan that included a visit to Kumarakom. Kerala houseboat vacation is simply a great experience for every couple.

Kerala Houseboat Cuisine
Kerala Houseboat Cuisine

Next morning, after treating our taste buds with scrumptious Appam with Egg Curry, we started off cruising to Kumarakom backwaters, through the most popular Vembanad Lake. Innumerable lagoons, canals, lakes, estuaries and lakes form the 900 km backwater network of Kerala. That was most probably the best way to experience the magical charm of Kerala backwaters. We had a romantic time overnight in houseboat.

The next morning was our departure. Though we had to spend some extra bucks for a luxury houseboat but the experience was worthy. The moments, we captured in our camera shed off my sadness to depart from such a beautiful land.

 

Posted on June 26th, 2012 by Uma  |  Comments Off

Spending Memorable Vacations in Kerala

I was extremely excited when we decided to visit Kerala for the honeymoon. It is the only destination that had allured me since the time I started experiencing Ayurveda. After watching dream locations in movies and reading about the Ayurveda, Kerala was my dream destination. When I got the opportunity to explore it with my life partner, it was like icing on the cake.

Ayurveda Massage
Ayurveda Massage

In the very next week of our wedding, we got the chance to explore Kerala and believe me that was like a dream coming true. I was desperately waiting for the day, when we would fly to the beautiful state of south India and it was really a tough job to wait.

Finally, the day approached and we took a flight from New Delhi and reached Kozhikode Airport. From there we hired a private car and reached our destination hotel. As it was middle of the day, so we decided to take the rest for that day.

Next morning, we started our day with Kerala Ayurveda massage to revitalize our body and soul. Use of aroma oils by skilled therapists made it an unforgettable experience. That was simply different from the treatment I had taken in Delhi. One can choose the treatment from a long list of Kerala Ayurveda therapies. Ayurveda massages not only revitalize your body but is the base of natural healing treatment with the help of plant based medicines.

Later on, we moved to explore the sun kissed beaches of Kerala. It is really hard to explore every beach of Kerala in one single trip as this amazing state is full of beaches. So, we finalized only five beaches and that too for different days. Those five names include Kovalam Beach, Alappuzha Beach, Kappad Beach, Varkala Beach and Beypore Beach.

After reaching Kovalam beach, I understood why people love to visit beaches. 17 km coastline and cluster of three beaches can not be explained in words. Breathtaking sea views and endless sight of coconut trees create a fascinating environment. For the next four days we enjoyed a quality time on  rest of the beaches.

Kerala Vacation
Kerala Vacation

Then, it was the time to enjoy some more quality moments and to start the new life in the beautiful houseboats in the backwaters of Kerala. This was the most fascinating time in the complete trip. Made up of natural elements borrowed from mother nature, these house boats are something out of the world. Charismatic ride on those classical Kerala houseboats and interconnected canals gave us a chance to explore the green land in the most beautiful way.

Our  Kerala vacation was over but still we were not in a mood to go back in that hustle bustle of Delhi. The whole tour was amazing. We took the same route and came back with lots of golden memories. The only thing I can say about our  Kerala honeymoon tour was it was truly amazing to know my life partner in the mesmerizing views of Kerala.

Posted on January 18th, 2012 by Uma  |  Comments Off

Kerala Ayurveda–A Way of Holistic Healing!

Ayurveda in Kerala
Ayurveda in Kerala

My interest in Ayurveda developed when I was in college. During that period, I got to know about Ayurveda and I started believing in the miracles of Ayurvedic therapies. Having heard and read a lot about Kerala Ayurveda, I decided to experience the same and left for Kerala, the ‘Green Paradise’.

On being reached one of the Ayurveda center in Alleppey, I came across a collection of remedial programms, massages and yoga procedures. After consulting with the expert professionals, I decided to undergo ‘Panchkarma’ treatment with full body massage to get rid of stress and fatigue caused by hectic daily routine. A woman masseur poured lots of oil and her gentle touch worked wonders and I felt relieving of all the stress and fatigue.

During my Kerala Ayurveda Tour, I got to know different aspects of Ayurveda. Here is a brief:

Concept of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is basically a science of life. This holistic science of life has the power to cure your body in a natural way. Considered as the perfect system of healing, Ayurveda emphasizes on the benefits of taking personal responsibility for one’s own well-being by imparting complete health knowledge.

Ayurveda in Kerala

Kerala is an ideal place to experience Ayurvedic therapies. It is the land where Ayurveda has been practiced for a long time. As a result, now there are many Ayurveda resorts, providing you Ayurvedic treatments through spa, massage and different therapies.

The therapies rejuvenate the body technique and treat the health problems besides facilitating basic fitness. Several of the popular Kerala ayurveda treatment plans include spa treatment plans, panchakarma, oil therapeutic massage yoga and meditation.

Some famous Ayurvedic resorts in Kerala are:

  • Aquaserene Ayurvedic Resort
  • The Ashtamudi Resort in Kollam
  • Somatheeram Ayurvedic Resort in Kovalam
  • Keraleeyam Heritage Home in Alleppey
  • Ayurvedic Resort in Alleppey
  • Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort in Palakkad

Increasing Demand of Ayurveda

Visitors, not only Indian but foreigners are also eager to experience the bliss of Ayurveda. The Kerala Ayurvedic resorts offer the travelers multiple Ayurveda tour deals in Kerala including eating plan, spa, massage, yoga-meditation and treatment. Ayurveda massage is an importance remedy that may be used to men and women with no age bar.

Kerala Ayurveda Treatment
Kerala Ayurveda Treatment

Benefits of Ayurveda

Ayurvedic treatment uses medicated oils, drugs or powder prepared from natural herbs and plants as a result causing no side-effects.

Ayurvedic treatment also contributes in making the body more responsive to medicines and cures you by balancing the doshas which is a quick way of the healing process.

Yoga exercises help in strengthening the muscles, bones and many important organs like liver & heart, thus improve the blood circulation.

Ayurvedic therapies and meditation aid in calming down the nerves and relieve you of all the stress  of day-to-day life.

Panchakarma and Yoga exercises are also helpful in removing the harmful toxins from you body and thus making you feel relaxed.

Branches of Ayurveda

Following are eight branches of Ayurveda:

  • Kayachikitsa-Internal Medicine
  • Kaumarabhritya Tantra-Pediatrics
  • Bhuta Vidya-Psychology/Psychiatry
  • Shalakya Tantra-Ears, eyes, nose and throat
  • Shalya Tantra-Surgery
  • Agada Tantra-Toxicology
  • Rasayana Tantra-Rejuvenation
  • Vajikarana Tantra-Fertility Therapy

The wonderful massage with perfect healing touch really energized me!

Posted on September 14th, 2011 by Uma  |  Comments Off

Visit Kerala – A Home to Aromatic Delights

Spice Plantations Kerala
Spice Plantations Kerala

Recently, I got an opportunity to experience the pure and untouched nature during my Kerala tour.  We a group of four friends went there. I had heard a lot about Kerala from one of my colleagues, whose native land was Kerala. She used to talk about the spice plantations of Kerala. I always used to relish her food in lunchtime as it was enriched with the aromatic flavour of Kerala, the hub of spices.

The reason why I felt like going there was its picturesque surroundings of gardens. We planned a trip just after the monsoons and reached there in day time. After taking rest, we headed towards the greens of Idukki, which is called as the spice land of India.

Our knowledgeable guide shared his knowledge with us and told us that the climate and soil conditions of the hilly areas of this land make it best suited for tea cultivation. He plucked some green leaves and showed us. We saw that the shiny green leaves had pointed ends with a pleasant aroma. The trees were planted at a distance of 1 to 1.5 meter along the landscape. The guide told us that Cochin is the place which is known for producing spices. The traders dealing in spices also meet at the same place, which is actually the spice market of Kerala.

As we drove through the thick forests on a road that passes through several tunnels, we witnessed nature in a new form which was a great visual treat for us. Soon we reached in a place where we were enveloped in the unmatched aroma of the spice plantations. I was so delighted to find the spice gardens and tea plantations in front of my eyes. At the edge of the Periyar, we found many spices gardens. There were dense forests, dwelling at a height of 800-1000 meters which preserved the exotic flavours.

As we moved ahead towards Munnar and Wayanad, we were amazed to find some fragrances of coffee, black pepper and cardamom. We saw the clusters of black pepper plants. As we drove by, there were stretches of cardamom plantations. I decided to get down from the car to pick up some fresh cardamom. My friends also accompanied me. After collecting some cardamom and black peppers from trees, I run a few step and saw clove vegetation. All my three friends were busy in sorting out the other spices like black pepper, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon.

It was an exciting and fun-filled experience that made us forget everything for some time. I simply lost myself in the captivating beauty of the gardens and plantations. After coming back, when I shared my tour experience of Kerala with my family members, I felt nostalgic.

Posted on August 3rd, 2011 by Uma  |  Comments Off

Experience the Best of Nature Glamour during Kerala Tour

Kerala-Backwater-Tour
Kerala Backwater Tour

The name of Kerala always conjures my mind with an image of the sun-kissed beaches, the misty hill stations, the enchanting backwaters and the forestlands rich in flora and fauna. Because of its celestial beauty National Geographic Traveler Magazine ranked Kerala a ‘Ten Paradise of the World’ and ‘Fifty Places of a Lifetime’.

This recognition is enough, which lures scores of tourists to this place from across the globe. And I am one of them who visited this land of scenic beauty with my two friends last month. We took customized Kerala Travel Guide from a travel agent at budgeted rates. This 4 day and 4 nights tour package was efficiently designed that provided us a chance to explore and experience the myriad facets of Kerala Tourism.

The first day of our Kerala Tour is dedicated for beaches. We spent almost whole day at Kovalam beach. This is a cluster of three crescent shaped beaches whose charm is renowned throughout the world. We enjoyed the scenic composition of sea, sun and sand at our best. The pristine, serene and scenic ambience of this place enthralls us most. This beach is also ideal for water sports activities like Kayaking, Swimming, Surfing and Skiing.

Next day of our tour was dedicated for backwater cruise. The Kerala Backwaters are a labyrinthine network of 900 km of waterways interconnected with canals, rivers, lakes and inlets. It is the uniqueness of Kerala Tourism, which gave us chance to experience the natures jubilant scattered in the form of land, sea and sky. ‘Kettuvalams’ popularly known as Kerala houseboats are the ideal way to enjoy Kerala Backwater Cruise.

With Kerala backwater Cruise, we experienced nature’s breathtaking beauty with the soothing sound of water rippling alongside the houseboat. During our cruise, we experienced kaleidoscopic view of countryside, swaying palm trees, emerald rice fields and several historical monuments on the bank. We were totally engrossed by nature’s jubilant beauty. The ecstasy we felt cannot be expressed in words.

After spending memorable night stay in a leisurely flowing houseboat, we reached Periyar in the morning. It is among the famous of all Kerala Wildlife Sanctuaries known for its exotic collections of flora and fauna. This national park is located on the bank of Periyar Lake and sprawled over an area of 777 Sq.km. The exotic collection of flora and fauna species make this place a heart throbbing destination. Whole day we spent in this wildlife reserve sighting many animals, bird species and floral species. Some of the most sighted wild animals are wild elephants, Sloth Bears, wild boars and Stripe-necked Mongoose.

After enjoying nature’s beauty, we went to dance theater to experience the rich culture fiesta of this state. Here we saw Kathakali the most renowned dance drama of all Kerala dances. It is a classical dance-drama known for its unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. The word Kathakali literally means Story-Play. The themes of the Kathakali are religious in nature whose stories are taken from religious scriptures.

Next and the last stop over of our itinerary were at a restaurant whose delicious dishes are known across the globe. Here we ate typical Kerala Cuisine whose taste still titillates my taste buds. After satisfying our appetite, we went to airport and good-bye this land of God’s own Country.

Posted on December 30th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Kathakali Dance: A Colorful Representation of Rich Culture

Kerala Kathakali Dance
Kerala Kathakali Dance

The profound facial make-up, colorful costumes and various designed ornaments of Kathakali Dance scares me when I was child. As days passes I grow up and learned that colors are reflection of human temperament which play significant role while traditional folk dance presentations. I learned several new facts about this folk dance of Kerala which transformed my childhood fear into an appealing aspect. For the first time I experienced the live performance of Kerala Kathakali Dance during my Kerala Tour last week. I was in Kerala for my official conference and after attending it I rushed to see this cultural event at Margi Art Theater in Thiruvananthapuram.

Etymologically Kathakali stems from the Malayalam words ‘Katha’ (story) and ‘Kali’ (play). Themes of this story dance based on Indian epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The story is narrated through proper mudras or hand gestures with a verse of the story sung in the background. This dance is a combination of five elements of fine art which includes expressions (Natyam) emphasis on facial expressions, Dance (Nritham) emphasis on rhythm and movement of hands, legs and body, Enactment (Nrithyam) emphasis on ‘mudras’ hand gestures, (Geetha) song/vocal accompaniment and (Vadyam) instrument accompaniment.

Apart from this there are several kinds of costume such as Sathwika (the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minukku (females) and Thatti. Each character of this dance is recognized by their characteristic makeup and costume.

The Kathakali show that I watched based on the theme of Ramayana in which characters of Lord Rama and King Ravana presented by artists. They portrayed the good and evil characters so efficiently that one can understand it without even music and narrations. The story of how good wins over evil is presented through facial gestures, various dance steps and hand movements which stolen my heart most during the show. The story was superbly presented and prefect coordination with ballads efficiently conveyed the messages to the audience. Throughout the show I was captivated by the facial gestures, rhythmic flow of body, various dance steps and artistic finger movements which convey several meanings.

After watching the Kathakali performance I realized that it much more than dance because its performance effectively combines the 5 major fine arts namely, literature (Sahityam), music (Sangeetham), Painting (Chitram), acting (Natyam) and dance (Nrithyam).This dance performance touched my soul and made me speechless. With various fascinating thoughts of this rich cultural presentation I returned to my hotel.

Posted on September 9th, 2010 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off

Exploring Uncharted Land in Kerala

 Kerala House Boat

Kerala House Boat

Come January, and I arrived at Mangalore airport (Karnataka). This trip of mine was especially organized to explore lively Kerala backwaters, heavenly greenery, interesting wildlife and multi-coloured festivities. I hired a taxi to Kasargod (50 km) and headed to the northern Kerala. As I had observed in Kerala travel guide, the local people were busy with the celebration of Kerala Gramam. After a quick shower, I headed for the fair, where I came across traditional houses, bright & colourful attires, traditional cuisine, superb handicrafts and many such items.

The best part with my stay at Kasargod was backwater cruise. Being a history buff, I also visited sites like Bekal Fort, Madiyan Kulom temple, Ananthapura Lake Temple, Chandragiri Fort etc and captured them in my camera for a lifetime. While enjoying my backwater cruise, I also had a closer look at the dense greens of Kasargod, which provide a home to about 24 species of the rarest of mammals, 200 species of birds and about 100 species of butterflies. While leaving Kasargod, I visited the market area with my guide and bought a few coir products, handlooms and tobacco products for my friends.

My next halt was Cochin, but en route I spent a relaxing day at Wayanad –the land of Spicy Hills. Though I paid a short visit to the famous Edakkal Caves and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and clicked a few bisons, elephants and deer playing near the lake, but rest of the day was at leisure. My hotel was at close proximity to the tea / coffee & spice plantations, there fore the air was filled with refreshing fragrance.

The next morning, I reached Cochin – the Queen of the Arabian Sea by train. Located between the Western Ghats and Arabian Sea, the city is blessed with spotless natural beauty and serves as an important trade centre too. I was booked in a luxurious houseboat (traditional Kettuvallom). Apart from exploring the best of aquatic life and living of villagers along side the serene waters, I also relished various traditional dance forms, music and the sweet dish ‘Payasam’. I spent a couple of hours at an ancient Ayurveda & Yoga resort to rejuvenate my senses. During my entire tour, I found the coastline of Kerala dotted with canopies of coconuts, gorgeous greens, balmy beaches and the breathtakingly beautiful backwaters.

Posted on December 10th, 2009 by Jagjit  |  Comments Off