Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kelady, birth place of Adi Shankaracharya


Kelady is situated on the bank of river Periyar, where the great saint Adi Shankaracharya was born in 788 AD. Kelady can be reached from Angamali railway station and the international airport located nearby.

Even though it was the birth place of the great saint Adi Shankaracharya, it was neglected and almost buried into the annals of history. The importance of the town was reclaimed with the efforts of Swami Narasimha Bharti of Sringeri Mutt along with the help of the state government.

The reconstruction effort began in 1910 AD with the aid of 10 acres of land from the state govt on the right banks of the river periyar also known as Poorna, a temple dedicated to the Sharada Amba was built. Krishna temple too was constructed adjescent to Sharada temple in 1970 AD.

Local tradition believe that the river Poorna was infested with Crocs where the sage was caught by one such reptile. The sage escaped with his divine power taming the croc. The sage cremated his mother as promised by him, when she passed away near this very spot. This was marked by Shankaracharya with a small pillar, which became a holy spot for construction of the current Sharadamba temple.

Devotees from Karnataka will not feel out of place, since the priests at the temple speak fluent kannada, if one starts conversation. They help you to discover the heritage of Adi Shankara too, unfortunately there is no book or video cassette on the temple despite its historic importance.

We had a nice dharshan of the temple, in whose premises photography is prohibited, which is strange though, since it does not carry much of historical relevance or erotic sculptures are visible. The very fact that tourists snapping up would infact promote more devotees to return or visit the temple.

The main idols of Sharadamba and Shankara are built with Panchloha or admixture of five metals. The former is in hexagonal shape. The other goddesses are sculpted in granite and embedded on the fa├žade of the temple. The six idols represent Maheswari ( west ) Kaumari ( south-west ) Vaishnavi ( north-west ) Varahi ( north ) Indrani ( north east ) and Chamundeswari ( east ).

Opp the Sharadamba temple is the newly constructed Ganapati temple with a consort. This is a rare phenomenon since Lord Ganesh is generally potrayed individually in most temples. The consort is supposed to be the bride elect for the Lord. Maybe the marriage ceremonies are held in this place in the current era. The Muktistan of Adishankara is located near to this temple where Adi Shankaracharya consigned his mothers body into flame.

The adjescent Krishna temple houses the idol of the lord which was submerged when the river Periyar changed course. This idol was re-installed when this temple was constructed on the higher bank. The temple is typical built in Kerala architecture with sloped tile work, carved wooden pillars and a shrine in the enclosure is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan.

An imposing Keerthy stamba was erected in memory of the great saint on May 12th, 1978 by his Jayendra Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Preetham Unfortunately the kanchi guru was arrested on 11th Nov 2004 Charged with conspiring to murder the temple manager Shankaraman.

The magnificient tower is nine storeyed and one can ascend with an enterance fee of Rs 2 per head. The 100 odds steps to the top is filled with lifetime episodes of sage adi shankaracharya. This structure is slightly leaning and towers 51 meters in height and 20 meters in diameter. One can easily mistake the tower to be a lighthouse at a glance, in the absence of seashore nearby. Events from the life of the guru is beautifully sculpted in colour from the time of his birth. A imposing 11 feet statue Shankaracharaya is installed on the upper most floor. Unfortunately we cannot see the landscape below from the top floor due to closure of access.

An ashram is established on the shankara jayanthi day 26th January 1936 which also contains a statue of Ramakrishna in white marble. A full fledged Gurukula, library, dispensary etc is run by the trust for the benefit of the local community. A guest house is available for devotees to stay, which can be booked with prior information. There are other govt. guest house and tourist lodges too located in Kelady town. Due to the efforts of Srigeri Mutt, Kelady has become a prosperous town from an obscure village.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tripunithara Palace




Many a times tourist to Kochi would get confusing answers if one asks about Tripunitara Palace. The best way to get around is to enquire about Tripunitara Museum which is away from the township of Tripunitara. This place is situated enroute to the famous temple of Chottinakara ( 6 km before the temple )


This palace is purported to be built on the hillock which is not very prominent in 1865 by the Kochi King Rama Varma ( 1864 – 1888 ) who completed the work begun by uncle Ravi Varma ( 1853 – 1864 ). A brief history of the Kochi kingdom would not be out of place to understand the lineage of the Kochi Kings.


According to keralamahatmyam ( 44th chapter ) King Vishravanas daughter Bala prayed to Parusurama and wished that a land should be created in her name. In keeping with her wish Lord Parusurama created a land out of the sea bed and called it Kochi. ( which later became Cochin ) There is another well known story that the last Perumal who reigned Kerala divided his kingdom among his nephews and sons and got himself converted to Islam and went to Mecca on a piligrimage. Keralopathi states “ The last famous Perumal King Cheraman Perumal ruled kerala for 36 years. He left for Mecca by ship with some muslims who arrived at Cragannore port and converted into Islam. Before leaving for Mecca he divided his kingdom among his nephews and sons “. The lineage of the Kochi kings is traced to Surya-chandra vamsha as per puranas.


During the 12th century Vanneri was the capital of the kings. Than the focus shifted to Crangnnore, present day Kodganallur since the maritime trade with the Arab world flourished. The Zamorins attacked this place and took possession forcing the kings to move towards Kochi and Tripunithara. In 1341 AD a massive flood wiped out Crangannore and the port was relocated in Kochi. It also created an isle of Vypin.

In 1555 the dutch palace at Mattancheri was built by the Portuguese and presented to the King Veera Kerala Varma ( 1537 – 1565 ) and later some extension and renovations were carried out by the Dutch in 1663 AD. The capital was shifted to Trichur for a long time. In the beginning of the 18th century Tripunithara started gaining prominence due to the constant fighting between the Zamorin, British and Portuguese. Around 1755 Thampuram family left Vellarapalli and settled in tripunithara. Thus it became the capital of the Kochi Kings and the palace was built in 1865.

The palace is housed in a terrain of 54 acres presently but in the past it must have encompassed a much larger area. The palace was taken over the by Kerala govt after independence and handed over to ASI in 1980 AD. It was converted into a museum in 1986 AD and thrown open to public. A famous Malayalam movie Manichitrathazhu was shot in this premise.


Currently the palace is under renovation ( 22/10/09 ) when we visited we found that the visit to the museum is banned due to renovation efforts. It is surprising the entire premises consisting of 3 enclosures is closed, which seems to be wrong planning. They could have closed one and left open the other two for public viewing. Further even after plenty of rainfall the landscaping was not undertaken, many of the plants looked dried up, which obviously points to the fact that proper manure or fertilizers are not being used to upkeep the gardens.

The heritage look of the palace is not present and a dull ghostly look is prevalent. There is a graveyard of Pareekshit Thamuran ( 1876- 1964 AD ) housed within the premises. Many of the buildings have not been occupied and it is strange that upkeep too has not taken place despite being under ASI for nearly 30 years. There is a heritage centre wherein the ASI office is located and a mural restoration school and conservation centre is housed in another enclosure. These areas are restricted to the public.

The palace is constructed with Mangalore tiled roof to prevent the effects of heavy rainfall. The central citadel consists of first floor with a beautifully carved wooden staircase leading to upstairs. The palace must be filled with antiques which we could not see, there was one elephant statue in wooden which was covered with plastic sheets and a wooden cot in one of the rooms.



The palace landscaping is built on three stepped enclosures with a road leading upto the palace, which seems to have been modified according to the British style. The steps leading from the enterance upto the palace is quite unique. There is a deer park behind the palace. A beautiful dinosaurs is carved in wood and installed to the left of the palace.

Enclosure near the dear park looks to be horse stable where the horses may have been housed along with a small pond located adjescent to this place. There are other places which are restricted and kept under lock and key. They may be definitely housing the antiques in view of the renovation work.

At the enterance there is another huge pond which may be harvesting the rain water for usage of common public and the staff of the palace. There are number of shade providing trees and a few flowering plants in the premises. Two water fountains in a ruinous state is found. For some time the british seems to have occupied this palace, because the fountain concept is purely a british legacy. The statue adorning the fountain seems to be some English character. There is grave yard of one of the kings within the premises.

Entrance ticket of Rs 10 per head is charged along with Rs 25 for still camera, which seems strange even when the palace museum is closed. The worst part is that a premium is charged on the books sold by the Dept of Archaeology. Normally such books should not cost beyond Rs 100 to Rs 150, considering that gods own country is expensive, it is priced at Rs 300/- and the staff add their own commission by charging Rs 50 above the MRP. It is better they streamline their act and instruct the staff not to blackmarket the books of heritage to the tourist.

Overall a visit to Tripunithara palace reveal the recent heritage almost just covering 150 years. Once the renovation is complete we might get to see its glory. Obviously photography is not allowed inside the museum. We hope to have a glimpse of the same through their books in the coming years. It gives me an impression that the royalty were a puppet king mostly under sovereignty of the Dutch, Zamorins and the British.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

KALLIL, a buddhist heritage




The clear evidence of the conversion of a Jain Heritage into Bhagwati temple is found at Kallil. The statues of the theerthankaras must have been destroyed by the vandalisers and in it s place a Hindu goddess statue has been installed. The proof of the conversion can be seen on the unfinished image of Buddha or Jain theertankara which belongs to 800 AD as per carbon dating. The location chose by the Bhikshuks was ideal for meditating, which was practiced far away from the dense human settlement. If we go by the terrain, it must have been close to some river or water source. The monks used to walk up to the water source for their daily chores of bathing and fresh up.

According to me the Buddhist figure on the rockface must have belonged to the Ashokan period, when the emperor relinquished violence to spread Dhamma. In view of large scale vandalism of the remains, one cannot conclusively prove whether this place belong to jain or buddhist heritage.

The 100 odd steps leading up to the temple seems to be laid of late, after it was declared a protected monument in 1965. Previously the steps must have been laid on the rock bed circumbulating around the rocky phase and leading upto to the temple. There is new laid out pathway currently with skid proof tiles laid out of cemented tiles. The entire area is now being converted to ensure flow of vehicles and parking slot is being designed to attract piligrims.

Behind the Bhagvathi temple we find the meditating area which is well laid out with ancient steps. The serenity of the atmosphere is quite captivating. There are some ancient statues preserved belonging to the converted segment of Bhagvathi. Animal sacrifices must have been taking place in terms of chicken etc to please the goddess, which seems to have been stopped. There is one cave like crevice which may have housed ancient mankind too, if one has time one can keep exploring the surroundings, but we were running behind schedule.

The priests family have naturally occupied the surrounding areas and thriving. We had to take permission to photograph the Buddha image on the rock face, which they reluctantly gave us, since it was the evidence of conversion.

Crude form of conversion of Jain places of worship will be dealt with elsewhere, which will reveal an indirect method adopted to take over the premises. I am wondering why the Hindus followed this coercive method, particularly when Jainism and Buddhism could almost be considered to part of Hinduism. Is it the brahmanical hatred against the dalits which compelled them to undertake such coercive methods or is it the easy way out to transform the Buddhist or Jainism place into Hindu place of worship. This phenomenon is most found in Kerala region, where even today the conservative practice of removing the shirt before entering the temple premise is followed. Rest of the areas have discarded this practice. Some temples I did not enter as a mark of protest, even though being a hindu, I preferred to prostrate outside the temple premises, maybe it would keep the priests happy.


LOCATION : Enroute to Munnar from Keladi to Kallil can be covered from Ernakulam or Angamally in kerala. It is approximately 4 kms detour from Oddakali which is 15 km away from Perambavoor. There is one more route via Kottapadi and one can exit towards Oddakali and join the main route to Munnar. The approach road to the temple is incomplete, which one has to trek almost a km to reach the destination.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MUNNAR, ABODE OF NILGIRI THAR GOATS


What makes Munnar that extra special to be called the Rich mans paradise or Ooty ? Is it because of clean, landscaped and unpolluted tea gardens, confluence of three rivers or the much hyped tourism. The credit for discovering the Munnar hilly ranges embedded in the western ghats goes to a British adventurer Mr John Daniel Manro and local tribal chief Kannan Thevar. Both of them discovered that the western ghats surrounding Munnar was ideally suited for plantation crops like cardamom, coffee, tea and zinchona. In honour of the tribal chief the plantations were branded as Kannan Devan Tea company and the terrain Kannan devan hills.

The plantation were bought by Tata finlay company which was later converted in to Kannan devan hill producers company. The company has the sole right from 1983 onwards. Some of the tea estates are also owned by Harrison Malayalam Ltd. Kannan Devan completely took charge of infrastructure development in Munnar by laying roads, shopping complexes, bridges etc. Migrant labours were deployed from neighbouring state to man the tea gardens and involve in cultivation of crop.

ERAVIKULAM NATIONAL PARK ( RAJMALAI )


This National Park is one of the beautiful scenic drive past Mattupatty Swiss cattle project area, which has been disbanded 8 years ago due Mad Cow disease. The landscape is filled with streams, tea gardens and other plantations. The national park entrance is ticketed with well organized network of buses which takes 25 minutes drive into the ghat road leading to Anamudi hillock which is supposed to highest mountain with a peak height stretching upto 8841 feet.

The bus takes us towards the midpoint, from where one has to trek almost 2 kms to reach the end point. The mountain goats roam freely the terrain. They are known as Niligiri Thar which is known to climb the rocky surface with ease. These goats are declared endangered species in the world, which is supposed to number 2000 and out of which 50% is located in these hillocks. We were able to spot one such goat sitting like a prince viewing the mountain ranges without any worry to hurry back home.

Walking across the mountain range is so well devised in terms of road, that one does not feel the ascent at all. If one enjoys the trekking he will be gasping for more, unfortunately the road beyond the same is prohibited due to entry into forest range. There are lot of goods vehicle plying between the ranges transporting tea leaves harvested, log of woods slaughtered, and with laborers. We were enjoying the trek looking at our co-passengers just trudging for sake of completing the trip. The photo shoot ops are in plenty, but one can obtain most of the time dull pictures due to cloud cover. There may be just a fraction of seconds when the weather clears with bright sunlight, it is intermittent bouts of cloud cover all the time.

During rainy season water falls may be witnessed all around. One water falls is majestic which we get to witness while traveling towards the Rajmalai hillock. The water is pristine state, one can enjoy the drink without any fear of pollution. I just managed to gulp one or two glass equivalent water from the pipe installed for the purpose of drinking. It tasted sweetest and better than mineral water we were consuming all the while. They say best things in life are free, it was understatement for the purest form of water. I hope it acts as a curative for all my health problems.

Once in 12 years the entire range is carpeted with Neelakurinji, which is a rare breed of flowers, which possess medicinal properties too. Rajamalai is the most important destination which should not be missed in Munnar. With special permission from the warden one can trek upto 3 or 4 km inside the park.

There is a small museum with ticket, displaying the various types of birds flocking and animals roaming the hillock. Due to extreme climatic conditions with lashing windy conditions, heavy rainfall and freezing cold very few birds are seen around. Some of the species are Malabar whistling thrush, Indian Kestrel, Black Bulbul, Winged Kite, Emerald Dove, Nilgiri Pilpit & Wooden pigeon. The wild animals roaming inside the forest terrain are wild cats such as tigers and leopards. Asiatic elephants roam around the hilly ranges particularly near the lake bed around echo point and its surroundings. Wild dogs, boars, sambar, deer etc thrive in these forest range. A rare wild leopard with grey coated skin too has been spotted by the park authorities. However in view of the safety zone with wide vision it is safe for us to roam around, with a rare danger of being poached upon by the wild animals. There are guards stationed all round the walking stretch of the National park. If one gets to spot the Niligiri thar goats roaming across the road, one should be lucky. Just check out the heading of this blog, which displays the majestic picture of the lone Niligiri Thar posing as it were for the camera. Langur and Malabar squirrel too dot the trees in the hilly ranges.

One gets the feel that one is breathing the purest form of oxygen without any pollution at these heights on the Western ghats. If only we had more time we would have returned next day morning to enjoy some more trekking but alas we had to reluctantly walk back to the boarding point of the Park bus. We had to cover enroute all the other major points.


BLOSSOMS INTERNATIONAL PARK :

This park is located near the tunnel face of the Pallivasal Hydro Electric Park, which is an nice location which is often avoided by tour operators. This park contains rare varieties of plants and flowers, trees, facility for boating and cycling for kids, along with roller skating etc. The enterance fee of Rs 10 is levied for visitors along with separate ticket for boating, skating and badminton.

POTHAMEDU VIEW : This place is inhabited mainly by estate workers. One can view the Idukki arch dam if the weather conditions are clear. The dam is located almost 60 kms away.

Tea Museum : This museum represents the history of tea plantation in kerala. This museum is established by Tata Tea company who is a major player in the industry. The photographs of old machineries and insight into development of Munnar into a hill station. There is a sundial at the enterance of Munnar. Time can be calculated with help of the sundial fixed on a block of granite. A burial urn is displayed and on show is the ancient rail engine which used to run between Munnar and top station. An enterance fee of Rs 50 is levied to witness the museum.

INDO SWISS PROJECT : There is restricted timing to visit this spot. There are various seasonal flowers such as dahlias, seenias, which are appealing. The farm and its premises are open to the public between 9 to 11 am and 2 to 3.30 pm on purchase of ticket. Earlier a diary farm used to be in vogue, but discontinued due to mad cow disease.

ECHO POINT : The scenic spot with a lake and thick vegetation is pleasant treat to the eyes. Sunset would a rare and beautiful sight if the weather is clear, we just had glimpses of the same, but weather can turn around very fast due to moving clouds. One can hear the echo of a screaming person very clearly, which can be heard on the video shot by me. There is a dam nearby to echo point which is not well maintained. Despite appeal to the tourist, people tend to throw thrash into the lake bed which is saddest part of the entire trip.


GUNDALA ARCH DAM :
This dam is supposed to be Asia’s largest arch dam, which is located 7 km away from Echo Point. The dam is located amidst the jungle with a serene atmosphere. The KSEB has arranged for boating facilities around the dam, which may bring some scare to people who have been affected by Thekkady tragedy recently.

Golf Course :
One golf course is under-construction near the international airport, and this seems to be second one which is 8 km away from Gundala Dam. The british used to play golf on this ground during their vacationeering. The golf club still exists signifying the british legacy.

Top Station : This is the highest point on the kerala-TN border. This is located 10 km away from Gundala Dam. One can see the distant hill ranges and misty peaks from this place. In earlier times Kannan devan tea was transported using a ropeway to Munnar. The old ropeway is now used as factory godown by the company. There is a connecting route from this place to Kodaikkanal which is through dense forest, and 61 kms away. The road is quite treacherous and hazardous with steep curves, and this point is being covered by special 4 wheeled jeeps for adventure lovers. The trip can cost upto Rs 1000/- for a couple for a distance of approx 35 kms.

Naimakkad Waterfalls :
This fall is located near the Rajamala junction. After the rainy season the fall is very active amidst the dense forest. During sunny days a thin stream is visible, sometimes Rainbow too is observed.


MARAYOOR This place is located on the outskirts of the Munnar boundary. It is almost 42 kms drive from Munnar leading to Udumalpet and which in turn takes one to Parambikulam National park passing through TN. This place is blessed with natural sandal wood forest. The sandal wood quality is of the highest grade in terms of aroma. There is a children park which is under the forest department. A sandalwood processing centre too is available here, where one can witness the various process.


MUNIYARA : Besides the Marayoor high school a number of caves can be seen among the rocky terrain. These caves are made of huge rocky planks or slabs. The antecedents of the cave is mired in mystery. Ancient tribals seem to have occupied the place. Some believe sages used to meditate and therefore it is considered holy caves. In Kovilkadvu on the banks of Pambar there is temple in a cave. This temple has been carved out of single monolithic rock. There are some inscriptions embedded on the rock which is quite ancient. It gives an idea that the cave may be originally belonging to the Jaina heritage.


DTPC The district tourism promotion council office is located on the entry point to Munnar. One can book sight seeing package @ Rs 250 per day, which is a conducted tour. Further guidance regarding accomodation could be had from this office. Dont go by district road maps unless it is detailed map of the district which will reveal the terrain. If one is planning for Perambikulam than it is first of all a long distance, and secondly if it is a taxi one needs to have a permit. We made the mistake of going by the road map, it is helpful in case one is travelling with their own vehicle. The other places which are worth visiting in Munnar are Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary, Amravathi ( TN ) Devikulam Lake ( 3 Km ) Gap Road view point, Kolukkumalai where only Jeep safari is possible, Valara Water falls enroute.

Ideally one should book their accomodation in advance and proceed to Munnar early morning, the sight seeing trips are conducted from 9 am otherwise too when one is spending by hiring a cab it is better to start early and not halt in between except for tea and water falls break. Please check out on the route taken, one can be take for a royal ride with longer routes in case of hired taxi totalling to 70 km, which we were victim of. The shortest route is through Tripunitara and Aluva is longer route from Kochi. Tourism in kerala needs to monitored for its transperancy, there is unionised Taxi fares, Hotel tariffs and Guide charges, so one will be lucky to get a good bargain. Whether you know someone or the other it will not make a difference, but maybe a top govt official can help out in getting cheaper accomodation in PWD guest houses. One has to be prepared to shell out a premium if one is travelling to Munnar, Idduki or Thekaddy.





Palghat Fort Legacy

A group of wise men gathered at Palghat gap plateau some 5000 years ago to decide on the problem of ever increasing graveyards in the settlement. The solution to the problem was arrived in a simple manner to cosign the dead body into flames along with elaborate rituals and thereby reducing the need for burial space in the human settlement. Thus the practice too avoided the close kith and kin being in a mourning stage for a prolonged period. The next logical step was to foster the spirit of inter-dependence among people. This obviously lead to the caste system based on the profession chosen among the forerunners. The distinct segment was hunting, collection of forest produce, priestly class, trading community, fishermen, weaving class, etc.





How the hell did I arrive at such an absurd conclusion ? which may sound blasphemy to some skeptics. The research based on Allen’s summation “ unranked socio political relationship are most likely to have characterized far upstream and maritime ends of the network…………………………exchange with forest dwellers was almost certainly reciprocal. Forest produce were most eagerly sought after by foreign traders, but were available in widely separated patches that had to be exploited by people with intimate knowledge of forest terrain ( which is often laid with perils of wild animals, poisonous snakes etc ) This paved way to formation of inter-dependence of human Endeavour fostering barter system and later backed by coinage means of exchange. This was a loose form of federal structure probably where tight vertical control would have been impossible to sustain.Cera or Keralaputra came under the reign of Chandragupta Maurya ( 340 – 290 BC ) with his expansion policy in 300 BC. When the mauryan emperor abdicated the throne in favour of his son Bindusara in 298 BC, he settled in Shravanbelagola and spread the message of Jainism across south India. Karnataka and kerala was the focus of his attention to spread the gospel of the theerthankaras and his guru. His grandson Ashoka the great ( 304 – 232 BC ) adopted Buddhism after the Kalinga war ( 265 BC). He started spreading gospel of Buddha with Ahimsa. How the emperor Ashoka got indoctrinated into Buddhism is another interesting storyline.


In one of his edicts Ashoka states across the mauryan empire I have planted banyan trees for providing shade to men and animals alike. In a distance of eight kosas I have commissioned wells, rest houses and other infrastructure for travelers, piligrims, traders and for the army too. These infrastructural developments have been undertake by other kings of the time too, but not with an intention of spreading Dhamma. My aim is to ensure that people are contented enough to practice the gospel of Buddha. The traces of the ancient trees are found on the highways of Kerala. The remains of Buddhist artifacts point to presence of their domination till the Shaiva sects overtook their domain.

The domain of Vijaynagar empire obviously included the Kerala territory for their rich revenue base in trading. Spices, Sandalwood, Teak and ayurvedic formulations formed the mainstay of trading with the Arabian and European region. Palaghat Gap seems to have been identified as the main stay for a trading centre. The traces of the empire was in the form of building temple. A prominent temple was obviously constructed in the premises of the present Palghat fort along with a bazaar established for trading in front of the temple. This temple was in existence probably till 1766, when Hyder Ali invaded the territory and unleashed a reign of terror. He demolished the temple and modified into a Fortress. The signs of the temple is clearly evident from statues of Ganesha embedded into the wall of the fortress and the gateways and their pillars used for construction of inner citadel. Tipu carried out his own agenda based from this fortress till he occupied the throne at Srirangapatna. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1790 the fortress was temporarily occupied by the Zamorins of Calicut who seemed to have further fortified.



PALGHAT Fort :



The antecedents of the Palghat fort have not being revealed to the world for sake of maintaining the communal harmony is quite understandable. However the fact and traces of the hindu temple and Kalyana mantap now being converted into a museum courtesy ASI is evidence enough for keen observers. Some historians point towards a jain temple too being present in the temple complex which may have crumbled. A proper carbon dating of the pillars would reveal this fact too. The British have modified the Kalyan mantap into a cosy residential house for one of their generals. The pillars of the mantap have been used to construct the residential quarters, which have subsequently modified into a museum by ASI after it took charge of the Fort in 1925 AD. The main building houses a prison for petty crimes.

The fort is built across an area of around 50 acres with a Rhombus plan covering all angles. There are 8 strategic watch towers, surrounded by a moat filled with water. The land around the fort is beautifully landscaped with greenish turf and plants. There is private garden too which is ticketed. It is well endowed with variety of flora.

One hanuman temple is located near the citadel of the fort with an ugly contraption of corrugated sheet protecting the premises against rain and shine. Probably protecting the heritage of vanquished Vijaynagar emperors. The developments may be treated by historians as encroachment but the fact remains that an ancient temple edifice has been modified by the rulers of the time, to suit their strategic interests. The political pressure to maintain status quo has prevented eviction of the temple priest and their family, probably protecting their livelihood more than heritage.


The fort itself is a beautiful bastion constructed with granite stones which could probably withstand the cannon firing from the enemies. The crocodile infested moats have been designed to protect the fort being besieged from all sides. The inner fortress may have been designed to hold around 1000 soldiers, and the outer area would have housed around 20,000 soldiers living in tents and temporary structures for ready movement of troops.

A palace for the kings seems to have been converted into the present day jail. The harems of the queens seems to have crumbled due to lack of maintenance. If one can stretch their imagination there must have been plenty of spicy foods cooked in the premises and abundance of romantic interludes from the time of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan, Zamorin and the British.

In all probability the French architects were involved in renovation of the Palghat fort like the Forts in Bellary and Sandur. The positioning of the cannon grooves is well executed and planned by the architects taking the safety factor into consideration. There is a well close to the outer edge of the fort wall for drinking water catering to needs of the soldiers.

Overall the Fort symbolizes the defense strategies of medieval times, combined with ancient trade routes formed by Palghat Gap which was the entry point from Eastern to Western coast. The Tamilakam region obviously gave birth to a separate culture which influenced the kerala coast to a large extent. The destruction of the most important trading centre Kodaganallur during 1341 floods paved way for diversion to Kochi harbour, along with Kozhikode port. The visit to Palghat fort does not tax once pocket because there is no enterance fee levied by ASI, which is heartening. One can spend upto 2 hours comfortably closely observing various facets of the Fort, the inner ramparts and outer garden area along the boundary of the moat.



LOCATION :
Palghat fort is located bang in the centre of the city. It can be reached by air through Coimbatore, Calicut and Angamalli airport. By train one can reach Palghat from Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore and Trivandrum which is covering all the four corridors.