GR Travels

St Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church

St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Kokkamangalam which holds a midway position among the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, is in the Syro Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Ernakulam Angamaly, in the South Indian state of Kerala. A portrait of St. Thomas is venerated here and was brought from the Carmelite Monastery Mannanam in 1897 by Albhutha Mathai, pursuant to a revelation. This portrait is mounted in a decorated waft of great artistic value.St. Thomas sailed to Kokkamangalam where he preached the gospel for about a year. 1600 people converted to Christianity through him according to the narration in Rampan Pattu, an ancient form of Christian folk song prevalent in Kerala. He formed a Christian community at Kokkamangalam and enshrined a Cross for the faithful. This cross was later cut off by saboteurs, and thrown into the Lake Vembanad, through which it floated up to Pallippuram, where it is enshrined.The Relic of Apostle St. Thomas enshrined here was brought from Ortona in Italy by Pope John Paul II in November 1999. Special Novena prayers are held on Friday evenings to venerate the Relic. Devotees who aspire for jobs in foreign countries seek the intercession of the Apostle here.The seven storied Kerala lamp burning in front of the Relic denotes the integration of seven Christian Communities founded by the Apostle. Pouring coconut oil in this lamp is a sacred practice here. The archives of Kokkamangalam are also an attraction with historians, pilgrims and tourists. The principal feast of Kokkamangalam the Puthunjayar Thirunal is observed on the first Sunday after Easter. Thousands of people irrespective of caste and creed participate in the feast. The celebration begins on Thursday and concludes on Sunday. The colorful procession of the feast is a special attraction.The feast of July 3 Dukrana marking the martyrdom of St. Thomas is also celebrated with great devotion. Offerings of Pachor Nercha are distributed among the devotees.The Thiruseship Prathishta Thirunal celebrated on every 13 November commemorate the enshrining of the Relic attracts people from India and abroad.      Book Now



Chamundeshwari Temple

Chamundi Hill is about 13 kms from Mysore, which is a prominent city in Karnataka State, India. Chamundi Hills is famous not only in India but also abroad. Atop of the hill the famous Sri Chamundeswari Temple. Chamundi or Durga is the fierce form of Shakti. She is the slayer of demons, Chanda and Munda and also Mahishasura, the buffalow headed monster. She is the tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas and the presiding deity of Mysore. For several centuries they have held the Goddess, Chamundeswari, in great reverence. Skanda Purana and other ancient texts mention a sacred place called Trimuta Kshetra surrounded by eight hills. Lying on the western side is the Chamundi Hills, one among the eight hills. In the earlier days, the Hill was identified as Mahabaladri in honour of God Shiva who resides in the Mahabaleswara Temple. This is the oldest temple on the hills. In the later days, the hill came to be known as Chamundi Hills in honour of the Goddess Chamundi, the chief subject of the Devi Mahathme. The Goddess is believed to be an incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. A large number of devotees from all over the country and from abroad visit the temple every year. They believe that the Goddess fulfills their desires and aspirations. Chamundi Hills rises to a height of 3,489 feet MSL and is visible from a distance itself while traveling towards Mysore. There is a good motorable road to the top. Besides from Mysore side, there is also a motorable road from its rear side, the Nanjangud side. Bus facilities are available to visit the hills. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates regular bus services every day for the convenience of pilgrims and others. A temple of great antiquity with over 1,000 years of background, it was a small shrine initially and assuming importance over the centuries it became a big temple as seen today. It assumed significance after the Mysore Maharajas, the Wodeyars, came to power in 1399 A.D., great devotees and worshippers of the Devi, Chamundeswari became their home deity and thus assumed religious prominance. The crowning glory of Mysore, Chamundi Hills is an enchanting place surrounded by natural beauty. In the forest, there are varieties of trees, birds and animals. While going up the hills, a birds eye view of Mysore can be seen and several prominent places be spotted. It offers a spectacular scene when the Palace and its surroundings are illuminated during the Dasara and other occasions. Some of the places that can be spotted from the hills are the Palace, Lalitha Mahal Palace, which houses the ITDC hotel, Dasara Exhibition grounds, Race Course, Kukkarahalli Lake, St. Philomenas Church, and Krishnarajasagar at a far off distance. Besides the Chamundi and the Mahabaleswara temples, there are a few more temples atop the hills. There are also some interesting spots and the monolith statue of Nandi is among them. While proceeding towards the Chamundi Temple, the statue of Mahishasura attracts the visitors. The Chamundi Village is located close to the temple. The temple is of a quadrangular structure. Built in Dravidian style, it consists of the Main Doorway, Entrance, Navaranga Hall, Antharala Mantapa, Sanctum Sanctorum, and Prakara. There is a beautiful seven tier Gopura or pyramidal tower at the entrance and a Vimana (small tower) atop the sanctum sanctorum. Atop the Shikara, the tower at the entrance, are seven golden Kalashas. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III repaired the shrine in 1827 A.D and built the present beautiful tower at the entrance (Gopura). Blessed by the Goddess, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, an ardent devotee of the mother Goddess, presented to the temple a Simha vahana (A lion shaped vehicle) and other animal cars and jewels of value. The cars are used even now for processions on special religious occasions. The tower at the entrance has a small image of Lord Ganesha on the doorway. The doorway is silver plated and has the images of the Goddess in different forms. On either side of the doorway are the images of Dwarapalakas or door keepers. As one enters inside, on the right hand side is a small statue of Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. After a few steps, there is a flagstaff, the footprints of the Goddess and a small statue of Nandi, facing the sanctum sanctorum. On the right side, before approaching the flag staff, there is an image of Anjaneya attached to the wall. On either side of this entrance are two Dikpalakas, Nandini and Kamalini. In the Antharala prior to the sacred sanctum sanctorum are the images of Lord Ganesha on the left side and of Bhyrava on the right side. To the left of Ganesha, there is a beautiful 6 foot statue of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. He is standing with his hands folded in his religious clothes. On either side of him are his three wives, Ramavilasa, Lakshmivilasa and Krishnavilasa. Their names are carved on the pedestals In the sanctum sanctorum is the stone statue of the Goddess, Mahisha Mardhini. Having Ashta Bhujas or eight shoulders, she is in a seated posture. According to the local legend, the image was established by sage Markandeya and hence it is said to be very old. The idol of the Goddess is decorated every day and worshipped by a number of priests. The Mysore Maharajas have donated number of valuable gifts to their family deity. Coconuts, fruits and flowers are offered to the diety. On top of the sanctum sanctorum, a small tower or Vimana is seen. In the Prakara or enclosure, behind the sanctum sanctorum, are small images of a few deities, which are also worshipped.      Book Now



Elephant-Camp-Guruvayur

Elephant sanctuary is only a couple of kilometers from the temple town of Guruvayoor in Thrissur district. Elephants are associated with Hindu temples and have roles in certain rituals. Sanctuary premises as well as the animals are owned by Guruvayoor temple. Temple management takes care of all aspects of their care. Guruvayoor temple, one of the prominent temples in India, receives so many kinds of donations from devotees. They are all for the deity Lord Guruvayoorappan (Sri Krishna). Yet there is a gift offering that stands out from all the rest. Initially, elephants were kept in Kovilakom compound (Sreevalsam of today) in close proximity to the temple itself. As their numbers grew, they were relocated to their current locale which used to be the palace grounds of the local ruler. The local rulers, Punnathur Rajas built a palace which was called Punnathur Kotta (Punnatur Fort). After the demise of the last ruler Goda Varma Valia Raja, the property went to receivership. Soon after purchasing it in 1975, Guruvayoor temple committee relocated their elephants to here.Made in traditional Kerala architectural style (Nalu Kettu), this palace has a heritage of about 400 years. Located prominently in the middle of the sanctuary, it is currently used as a Mahout training centre.      Book Now



Mammiyoor Temple

Guruvayoor in Chavakkad Taluk in Thrissur District of Kerala wherein Sree Mammiyur Devaswom situates was a part of Ponnani Taluk under the erstwhile Malabar District of Madras. The history of Kerala tells the stories of the invasion of Hyderali and Tippu sultan and the destruction of a good number of temples in Kerala including the Guruvayoor and Mammiyur Temples. Consequent on the defeat of Tippu sultan in 1792 AD, the Zamorin Raja of Kozhikode could regain his supremacy over the region including the Temples in Guruvayoor. Sree Mammiyur Temple was brought under the trusteeship and control of the Eralpad Raja, the second sthani Raja in Zamorins family. When the Madras HRE Board came into existence asper Madras HRE Act II of 1927, the Temple came under the supervisory control of the Madras HRE Board and transitionally under the Madras HR & CE Act 1951 and further under the HR & CE Dept, Kozhikode since the formation of Kerala in 1956. But during the course of time and due to various social legislations and lack of proper administration, the Temple got into a poor state of affairs and therefore a committee consisting of the prominent local devotees was constituted in the year 1960 61 for the development activities in Temple. They under took various development programmes and completed the renovation work and finally conducted a Naveekaranakalasam in 1996.       Book Now



Sabarimala-temple-Image

This Hindu temple, along with the mural paintings found here, has been declared as a national monument by the Indian government, under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. According to popular legend, this is the first temple built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Maha Vishnu. Tekkinkadu ground, encircling the Vadakkumnathan temple, is the main venue of the Thrissur Pooram. Non Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple. In the year 2012, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had recommended 14 sites, including the Vadakkumnathan temple and palaces from Kerala to be included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Vadakkumnathan temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Kerala, located in the heart of Thrissur city. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the Vadakkumnathan temple was built by Parashurama. The temple showcases the classic architectural style of Kerala. The interior of the temple is beautifully decorated with murals depicting the episodes from Mahabharata. The story of the origin of the Vadakkumnathan temple is that, Parasurama exterminated the Kshatriyas twenty one times. In order to remove the sin, he performed a yagna, at the end of which he gave away all his land to Brahmans as dakshina. He wanted to retire to some new land to do tapas and so he requested God Varuna to throw up a new piece of land from the sea. According to another version, some sages approached him at the end of the yagna to give them some secluded land. Parasurama then made a request to Varuna for their sake. Varuna gave him a winnow and asked him to hurl it into the sea. As he did, a large territory of land was thrown up by the sea. This territory that rose out of the sea was Kerala. Since the dawn of time, the ancient land of Kerala has been a haven for seekers of the eternal truth. Like the rest of India, it is steeped in tradition and is home to a million shrines, big and small. A most important pilgrim site of Hinduism in this miniscule South Indian state is Sabarimala.      Book Now


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