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Redemption ~ Annual festival of Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple

These photographs taken at Kodungallur Temple, Kerala during the annual “Bharani” festival. Thousands of oracles, both men and women from different tribes come there wielding swords, clad in red costumes, singing and going around the temple.

Legend is that Hindu Goddess Kaali after defeating and Killing Darikan (an immensely powerful and arrogant demon) was still angry. To make her feel better,  “Bhoothaganas”- her soldiers sung songs and danced. Now yearly devotees gather and sing to appease the goddess and also seek redemption and unburden their sins.

To invoke goddess Kaali, the ecstatic devotees sing wielding swords. All the Oracles (the mediator between God and devotees) are  in a trance due to deep devotion to the goddess.

This is the most challenging photograph I have taken during the ceremony. There is a huge space constraint as thousands of devotes throng the temple during this festival. The oracles, who are in a trance due to devotion stand in front of the sanctum sanctorum with swords in their hands. I wanted to capture their emotions from close in low angle and managed to sit just in front of them.

Due to the huge crowd, people were nudging each other and I could hardly move. My concentration was on getting the right frame but at that time one of the oracles moved forward with his sword. It was really risky as there are many oracles moving with swords. This particular oracle in the photograph wielded the sword, where I was sitting at least thrice. The challenge here was to get the right shot without being hurt.

Since the space was very restricted, I used my wide angle lense here. My Tamron 10-24  Di II performed pretty well to get the focus along with my Canon 60D. Even though it was a sunny day,  the specific area was less in light because of the huge crowd. Thus I kept the ISO range between 600 and 700 with shutterspeed of 1/400s and with a maximum aperture value with f/3.5

Kodungallur Bhagavthy temple, Kerala, India

Rosemala ~ less explored eco tourism spot in Kerala

This is our second trip to Rosemala. Our first trip was a failure as we ventured out in a car. We were forced to stop in the middle as the car would’t take us any further owing to bad roads. It’s easy to get a Jeep from Aryancavu to Rosemala,the fare is Rs 400 perside. There is also a bus route to Rosemala but for that we will have to travel early morning.

But if you miss this bus the only option is to depend on the jeep. The untarred path to Rosemala is heavenly for both eyes and soul. The only sounds that one could hear in this serene place was the humming of the wild and the roaring of the jeep.

Our truck driver was really helpful as he doubled as a guide, explaining to us each and every part of the forest.

Streams are common on the way to Rosemala. And the water is chilling even at noon.

Small temples are common in the forest, we have also seen several like this at Arippa forest.

The gates were wide open when we reached Rosemala, normally it is closed by night because of wildanimals.

This is the only hotel in rosemala. Meals available there. If you need any special dish it has to be ordered in advance. We had meals with fish curry and fry. Their food was mouthwatering, especially the spicy fish curry.

After reaching rosemala, we headed to the main hill, the view from there was splendid as we could see Rosemala and the other side. View of Kallada reservoir from Rosemala is breathtaking.

There is an old shiva idol temple on top of the hill which is facing rosemala. The renovation is till going on. An idol of Lord Ganesh (ganapathy) can also see on top of the hill.

After a tiring trek to the hill, went back to the hotel and had the delicious lunch.

We are planning to visit Rosemala again as our guide promised to take us to the origin of Palaruvi waterfalls, which is inside deep forest.

Rosemala, Kollam, Kerala, India

Poruvazhy Malanada Temple Festival

Peruviruthy Malanada or Malanada is the one and only Duryodhana Temple in South India. The annual festival at Malanada is known as “Malakkuda” (Mala means hill top the temple and Kuda means umbrella an ornamental one used by Oorali, the priest, during ceremonial occasions.). It is celebrated during the summer, during the second half of March every year

മാൻ‌ചേൽ മിഴിയാളേ ~ Kalyana sougandhikam Kathakali

മാൻ‌ചേൽ മിഴിയാളേ നിന്നാല്‍ വാഞ്ഛിതങ്ങളായീടുന്നോ-
രഞ്ചിതസൌെഗന്ധികങ്ങള്‍ അഞ്ചാതെകൊണ്ടന്നീടാം

Bhima, the son of wind god sets out in search of Kalyanasougandhikam, a rare flower as requested by his wife Panchali.

Kalyanasougandhikam, a chapter from the epic Mahabharata, depicting the travails of Bheema who goes in search of Sougandhika flowers at the behest of his beloved wife Panchali. On the way, he meets his half-brother Hanuman and the story unfolds in the unique dramatic style of Kathakali.

Posting here few moments from Kalyanasougandhikam Kathakali performed at Vyloppilly Sanskriti Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

Kathakali make up is an elaborate process lasting for many hours. It helps in giving a super human look to the actors. The make up of the male character is tedious and is directly applied to the face and it does not obstruct the full expression of face and eyes. All the colours used in the make-up are obtained from natural substances and herbs.

The richness of this classical dance is its magnificent mixture of colour, expression, music and drama that are unparalleled in any other art form.It is believed that Kathakali evolved from Ramanattam, a set of plays written by Kottarakkara Thampuran (erstwhile ruler of a province in Kerala) based on Ramayana.

എന്‍കണവാ കണ്ടാലും നീ…
എങ്കലൊരു കുസുമം…
നിന്‍ കരുണയുണ്ടെന്നാകില്‍ നിര്‍ണ്ണയമിനിയും മമ…
സംഗതി വരും ലഭിപ്പാന്‍ സരസ സൌഗന്ധികങ്ങള്‍…

Chamayavilakku ~ an offering to god where men dressed up as women

The Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku Festival is an annual Hindu festival in Kerala, India in which thousands of men dress as women to get the blessing of Devi to get fulfill their desires. The festival takes place at the Kottankulangara Devi Temple at Chavara near Kollam, which is sacred to the goddess Bhagavathy. Every year this festival is celebrated on the 10th and 11th day of the
Malayalam Month Meenam.The deity of the Temple which is believed as ‘Swayam Bhoo'(Self Origin). This famous temple having no roof made for the sanctum sanctorum. On the festival day, boys and girls dress themselves as girls and ladies to hold the traditional temple lamp. The traditional temple lamp is made fitted on a long wooden rod and is having provision for five oil wick lamps.The cross-dressing is part of traditional ritual festivities and at night devotees hold the lamps and walk in procession to the temple to the accompaniment of a traditional orchestra. The two day festival attracts thousands of devotees throughout the State. Believers from other States are also participating in this not so common ritual.

Kottankulangara, Chavara, Kerala, india

Talakad ~ temples buried under sand

Talakad (Talkad, Talakadu) knows as Dalavanapura and Gajaranya in sanskrit, was the capital of the Gangas, who ruled present Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Bangalore and Kolar districts from the fourth to tenth centuary A.D. The Gangas were succeeded by the imperial Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara and the Mysore Wodeyars.

It’s unbelievable that the historic site, Talakad once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand. The old city Talakad is completely buried beneath the hills of sand stretching for nearly a mile in length, only the tops of two pagodas being visible. The sand hills used to advance upon the town at the rate of 9 or 10 feet a year, principally during the south-west monsoon and as they pressed it close on three sides.

Stone pillars and majestic carvings in the mandapa of Vydyanatheshwara temple.

The inhabitants of Talakad were constantly forced to abandon their houses and retreat further
inland. The town, however, is increasing in population, owing to the rich wet cultivation in the neighbourhood. More than thirty temples, it is stated, are beneath the sand, but the Kírti Narayana temlpe has been successfully excavated. The most imposing temple left uncovered by the sand is that of Vydyanatheshwara temple.

An interior  view of Vydyanatheshwara temple.

Ornate doorjamb and Dwarapalakas in relief in Vydyanatheshwara temple.

Dwarapalaka (door keeper) at the mantapa at Vaidyeshvara temple

The Kaveri river which flows in Talakad in four direction. The devotees of lord Shiva come here every year on a special day. Among the temples of Talakad, the Pathaleshwara, Maraleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples, the five Lingams believed to represent the five faces of Shiva, form the Pancha pathi and have become famous.In honour of these five Shiva temples, a fair is held once every 12 years called Panchalinga Darshana.

The circular shaped local bamboo boats (coracle) at the banks of the river Kaveri in Talakad. These boats are used by the local villagers to cross the river.

In Talakad the eastward flowing Kaveri river changes course and seems  magnificently vast as here the sand on its banks spreads over a wide area. Now Talakad is a scenic and spiritual pilgrimage center.

Talakadu, Karnataka, India

Abode of digambaras ~ infront of Bahubali

It was amazing to stand infront of the 57-feet tall magnificient monolithic statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali at Shravanbelagola. Gommateswara statue is considered as world’s largest monolithic stone statue. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees gather here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next ceremony will take place in 2018.

Shravanabelagola town is a prominent center for Jain Art, Architecture, religion and culture for over 2,300 years. The largest number of Digamber jain Basadis in India is found at Shravanabelagola. This apart, largest number of rock inscriptions, concentrated at a single center is found here.|

“Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. Acharya Bhadrabahu and his pupil Chandragupta Maurya are believed to have meditated there.”

The giant monolith of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola.The 57-foot (17m) statue carved from a single piece of rock built in around 983 A.D and is one of the largest free standing statues in the world. This magnificient monolithic statue of Gommateshwara Bhagawan Bahubali was consecrated by Chavundaraya, the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief in the Talakad Ganga Kingdom.

One of the tallest free standing pillar at Shravanabelagola. Karnataka

The great emperor of Mouryan Dynasty Chandragupta Mourya has spent his last days in Shravanabelagola after becoming a follower of Jainism. His grandson Emperor Ashoka has built a basadi for him on Chadragiri hill in 3rd Century BC. There are more than 800 well preserved inscriptions dated between 6th and 19th century in Shravanabelagola.

Shravanabelagola, Channarayapatna , Hassan District, Karnataka, India