After a brief hiatus back to posting :-)
(photo courtesy Google images)
A long pending offering "Thulabaram" for my niece at Guruvayur temple paved way for a 3-day trip with my family. The plan was to goto Guruvayur, near Trissur(Kerala) and have darshan of lord Guruvayurappan (Krishna) and also offer the "thulabharam" for my niece and then venture to Valparai and Top Slip near Pollachi. Well, the stage was set to travel for 3 days and after lots of planning and analysis in the internet decided the route plan, booked tickets in tatkal and blocked rooms for stay.
On friday night we took the Nilgiri express from Chennai Central. The train started in time but then was delayed by around 45 minutes to reach North Coimbatore. Upon reaching the station we headed towards the taxi stand and our driver was waiting for us with the Toyota Innova which we had pre-booked. We all got in and started towards Guruvayur (139kms). We started by around 5am in the morning and headed straight towards Palghat(40kms). Upon reaching the border checkpost we paid the permit (300Rs) and entered into the God's own country. Early morning fresh breeze hitting your face and speeding through countryside has always fascinated me, it was no different this time either. After an hour we reached which is famous for the shops that sell fresh n hot banana chips. We had idly n coffee for breakfast and then proceeded further towards Trissur(60kms).
All these days i was thinking that Trissur is in the plains but to my surprise the route had so many small n medium sized mountains filled with greenery everywhere and lots and lots of paddy fields. Also, there were so many coconut groves as far as the eyes can see. Oh boy! Watta sight it was. The route to Trissur was filled with greenery whichever side you see. two things i have to mention here - one, the people in Kerala have adapted themselves to live amidst the nature without harming it too much. Most of the houses you see would be in the middle of so many trees and bushes. They have not destroyed the greenery to develop the structures. Second, the architecture of houses. Though these are small towns, the houses they have built are all aesthetic, architectural beauties. You can see sequence on awesomely designed houses both contemporary and typical keralite style elevations all along the route.
We reached Trissur and headed towards Guruvayur (39kms) and finally reached there by around 8:30am. We had already booked couple of rooms at Gokulam Resorts on the west mada. Guruvayur town is planned in such a way that the temple is at the centre and surrounded by four madas (North, East, South & West) around it and all the other roads start from these four madas. We were literally going in rounds around the temple in search of our hotel. When we reach East nada someone will guide us to South nada and when we are in south nada another person would drive us to north. for almost 30 minutes we were trying in vain to get to west nada. Our driver was getting restless and finally we managed to call the hotel folks and get a landmark (Chavakadu road junction) and got to our hotel.
The hotel Gokulam Resorts, was clean and cozy. We got ourselves refreshed and then started towards the temple. In guruvayur, only hindus are allowed inside the temple premises. Gents have to wear only Dhothi and only towel (or angavasthiram) to cover the body. Ladies are allowed only with Sarees. This means a strict no no to even salwar suits & Chudis, leave alone the jeans, long skirts and other modern trendy fashion stuffs. In a way it looks so fresh and divine when you see everyone in dhothis and sarees. Since, it was sabari mala season we had expected some crowd in the temple, but what we saw there was beyond our imagination. As we entered the temple there was a ladies queue which serpented for a long distance. With the typical middle class mentality, we thought it was the common darshan and of course we'd be going in special darshan. We went to offer thulabaram for my niece and stood in the line. For people who don't know about thulabaram, it's a practice to offer God various items varying from rice to bananas to ghee to even money or gold on one plate of the balance equivalent to the weight of the person who is offering. While my sister, mom and niece stood in the line, me, my father and my brother in law waited near the window and were looking at other people offering various items equivalent to their weight sitting on one side of the huge balance. When my niece's turn came, she sat in one side happily and on the other side we had offered bananas. Here, we do not have to carry any item, they have everything there and all they do is calculate the weight and keep the items accordingly on the other plate and they collect the money for that. Finally after spending 30 odd minutes we were done with the offering.
By this time we had enquired a bit about special darshans and to our horror we were said there are no special darshan concept its all common. One side we were little disappointed but on second thoughts i felt its justified to have darshan of the lord this way by going one among the thousands without any differentiation. Then, we suggested my sister and mom to stand in the ladies queue and we all went to the other common queue. At around 10:30 am we stood in the line which was running to almost a kilometre outside the temple. We were told that between 11:30 and 12:30 there was some puja and hence the darshan would be stopped during this time. Hence, we were little worried that we should be able to finish the darshan before 11:30. Initially it moved real fast and we thought we'd finish the darshan in an hour. But then by around 11, we were stuck couple of rows before entering the temple premises and the clock started ticking and touched 11:30am. There we were stuck for the next 1 hour outside the temple.
During this wait, i was admiring the temple itself, built with lots of first class burma teak wood in the typical and exemplory kera architectural style. The roof was made of pure copper designed like terracota tiles. The wooden balconies and mural paintings on the walls all gave a real magical touch to the temple. Unfortunately no electronic gadgets, cameras, mobiles allowed and hence couldn't capture it all.
(photo courtesy google images)
Finally by around 12:15 the queue started moving again and we managed to entr the temple premises and made to wait there again for another 15min. By around 12:35 the sanctum santorum opened for public and we started to move in the queue and managed to have a wonderful darshan of Lord Guruvayurappa(Krishna) by around 12:40pm. The God was small(as he shoud be 'coz Krishna here is supposed to be a baby) and was covered with sandalwood paste. When we came out it was 12:45pm. I was thinking for this 10 min darshan we had to stand for almost 3hrs but all worthy enough.
We stright went to Ramakrishna lunch home, just outside the temple finished our lunch and then bought fresh banana chips and few other items and got back to hotel. Originally our plan was to head straight from Guruvayur to Valparai(200kms) en route the Chalakudi-Athirapally falls through one of the dense rain forests in India. Trust me, if there are any top 5 must travel routes in India, this would find place in that list anyday anytime. But, since the darshan at guruvayur was delayed we would not be able to take the route and see Athirapally waterfalls on the way and then reach valparai all before dark. This particular road has this dense rain forest(reserved forest) and hence not safe after dark with all wild animals prowling so casually. The forest rangers close the checkpost after 6pm. Finally, we decided to goto pollachi (121kms) and then visit Aliyar dam and monkey falls on the way to Valparai. Our next pit stop was Pollachi, and the route was realtively on the plains with lots of mountains, couconut groves and paddy fields on both sides. The paddy fields all along the route with the tall mountains covered by clouds in the background was an awesome treat for eyes. No wonder they call this region as the "rice bowl" of kerala.
As we travelled towards Pollachi all but me and driver were sleeping and I was saying to myself - "Valparai, here we come......."
--To be continued--
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