Monday, March 29, 2010

Shankumugham - Where the city spends its weekend

Thiruvananthapuram, erstwhile Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala has got lots of Beaches, but ask any Trivandrumite on which is their favourite beach, the majority of answers will be Shankumugham!!

I being a native of this city, longed to be in this beach whenever it is a weekend during my childhood days, eventhough the visits were limited to 2 or 3 times per year, which I enjoyed the most. Once I grew up and was able to travel on my own, the visits became more frequent and even now I visits this place whenever time permits and my children also love to be here. An exclusive coverage of this beautiful beach.

The approach road to Shankumugham is one of the best roads in the city and it has been so right from the past 25 years or so. Many of the youngsters in those years chose this road to test the limits of their motors, which also has witnessed lots of accidents.

A view of this straight line road through the windshield of my motor

I prefer to have a relaxed and smooth ride enjoying the cool sea breeze, than dashing at breath neck speeds through this road. A moment snapped during one of my solo feel good ride through this stretch.

As we approach the beach, we could see loads of open spaces ahead, and feels like this road will lead directly to the sea.

Before we reach the seaside there is a park on one side at a slightly elevated terrain. Once you step on the park the first thing that you will notice is the giant and superb sculpture of a Mermaid ("Malsya kanyaka") crafted by the master of this art - Mr. Kanayi Kunhiraman. 

He has succeeded in giving it an elegant touch. Structure is quite huge too. Just watch the trees behind this.

Another guy has been permanently relaxing, gazing the sky.

This also is the handwork of Kanayi, who has been instrumental in making Veli a beautiful tourist attraction. (Click here to see Veli Tourist Village)
There are loads of open spaces in this park where one can just sit and relax enjoying these sculptures with the company of some big birds on one side. 

Yes it is Thiruvananthapuram International airport.

The beach is also visible from this park. The first thing which we notice is a nice shelter made of rock which has been created hundreds of years ago and is part of history.

There are two of them, one near the edge of this park and other one on the beach.

Eventhough it is a simple shelter, the construction is sure to amaze the enthusiast.

Is there a similarity with Roman style?
While trying to snap the shelter this new addition to Thiruvananthapuram city got in the way of my focus. It is a low floor Volvo AC bus, which is the most elegant way to travel around the city. A visit to Kovalam, Veli or Shangumugham in this bus is surely not to be missed during a City visit. 

There is a big well on top of this park, which is well anymore, but completely filled with plants. Hope some authorities will be kind enough to restore this to its past glory.

We can get a royal view of the royal beach palace from the park.

This palace was used as a rest house by the erstwhile Kings of Travancore. The Kings sure enjoyed the best of the facilities in prime locations.

This building now houses a shuttle court, basket ball court etc and there are regular roller skating classes for children too.

The other side of this palace faces the sea front and currently it houses the Indian Coffee House. A visit to Shankumugam is never complete without paying a visit to this restaurant and enjoying the food along with the sea breeze and watching the sea from the most strategic point.

Enough of the pictures of surroundings, now let us proceed to the beach. Once near the beach the first thing that we will notice is the long walkway on its side.

This has been laid recently and doubles up as a walkway and sitting point for the loads of visitors who throng the beach on weekends.

A view of the never ending beach devoid of any human activity since this picture was taken on a week day.

Only some doves are marching around feeding on the leftover food.

The waves keeps on striking at regular intervals no matter what happens and it is a real pleasure to watch the formations.

Even though it was mid afternoon and the sun was at its scorching best, these folks were completely involved in there work. Afterall without no pain, there are no gains.

The Vizhinjam sea bridge can be seen at a distance in the Southward direction. Just used the max zooming power of my point and shoot device to get a view of the bridge.

A working day means, off day for the life guards, but they do real work hard when the crowd picks up during weekends.

If it was the uncrowded beach which was on display till now, let us watch how this beach will be on a weekend evening.

The vastness ensures that even if it is crowdy there are open spaces left out for each of the visitors to enjoy.

We too found some space after walking some distance through the beach. My son always like to fly a kite whenever he goes to a beach and when it fly up in the sky, even I feel thrilled just because it feels nice to see our handiwork in action. 

Saw this big one slowly marching ahead through the horizon.

The sun was getting ready to set, but before setting it leaves a lasting impression by creating wonderful color around.

A flying machine also got into the frame.

The sun soon started playing hide and seek as it hid behind the clouds.

Luckily the cloud moved away and sun came out in flying colors

My son wanted to have the Sun at his fingertips.

He also tried to take the sun out of the equation.

Soon the sun set and it was time for our kids to have some fun at the kids park just opposite to the beachside.

As always, a rejuvaneted soul and mind is sure to be leaving the place after experiencing this cool and vast beach, which was and still is the favourite hang out of Thiruvananthapuram, and each of the city's dwellers might have a tale or two about their visits here.

Quick Facts

Name of the Beach:

How to reach:
Beach is 10kms away from the railway station or busstand.
It is one the way to trivandrum city from the airport. (2 kms from the airport)

The park with the beautiful sculptures.
The royal palace
The kids park
The vast beach
A Devi Temple.

The Indian coffee house offers neat food and the seaview ambience is exquisite.

Best time of the day to visit.
Mornings/ evenings. Day time is too hot.

Nearby tourist locations
Veli - stunning natural ambience and great craft by Kanayi Kunhiraman
Kovalam - Paradise on earth
Trivandrum Zoo

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Calming Influence - The Thiruvachira Temple

Kerala's temples has got a unique style of craft and natural ambience. Most of them are in a sprawling campus with ample space inside and the rock carvings and other craft has a niche of its own and depicts some of the epic stories which conveys a message. But of late the income levels ofthe temples have gone up and those managing the temple spends these amounts for modernization drive which mostly involves restoration, for the sake of longevity. But what results is that we stands a chance to lose the real sculptural marvel and that exquisite art as most of the modernization drive focuses on creating concrete colourful sculptures which does not look original at all and lacks life. (Yes sculptures do have life).

Ofcourse there are exceptions and these exceptions are mostly found in not so popular temples and to be frank it feels really good to spend some time in such places which gives a kind of calming influence on the visitors, which isindeed the need of the hour rather than noisy and crowded atmosphere. Even diversity in color can bring about a feeling of cluttered thoughts.

One of the temples which can boast of retaining its traditional ambience is the Thiruvachira Sreekrishna Swamy Temple. It is not a very popular temple, but retains its originality. 

This situated in the Calicut - Beypore route and is one place which presents me an oppurtunity to relax in a very pure and quiet ambience.

A view of the temple from outside the temple walls.

Photography inside is prohibited and I don't wan't to break those rules.

There is a big banyan tree just outside the main entrance, which sure is big and the sound it creates by the fluttering of its leaves surely has got a tune of sorts, if one is patient enough to keep his eyes closed and listen to them.

This tree also doubles up as a shade from the shining sun. Processions as part of traditional festivals normally starts from here and I happened to be here during one such procession and it was a treat to watch. The place which is normally calm was bustling with lot of activities then.

There is a big pond belonging to this temple and this vast area ensures that ample wind blows across to the banyan tree.

The gate of the pond is in line with the temples gate and we can get a view of the temple from the side of the pond.
(Img courtesy: prab)

The calmness of the place is quite evident in the picture too, but the effect on one's mind while spending some time near this huge pond is something to be experienced.

The pond has got well laid out steps on side where we can sit.

The top of the walls are newly painted, but the rest of the structure is the old stuff which might have been constructed hundreds of years ago as this place is quite near to the King Samoothiri's place.

If sitting alone, near the pond has a calming influence on you, the presence of a group of members is a different feel together.
Iimg courtesy: prab)

As can be seen from the ponds photo, it is fully covered with Lotus plants.

A zoomed view of the plants in good numbers, gives a feeling that there is no water underneath.

The leaves of the lotus plant never ceases to amaze me and not surprisingly it is one of the most photographed object by me. Just watch those water droplets move around those big leaves whenever there is a slight breeze. 

The trees on the other side of the pond are also a treat to watch.

If the plant life represents calmness and requires an external force to trigger a movement, the life underneath the pond is something really proactive. There are loads of fishes underneath, thanks to this being a temple pond, no one is allowed to catch fish here.

These beautiful little ripples were created by the fishes underneath

The plant life, the water and everything here has a touch of grace, but you will be taken by surprise by the look of the fishes underneath. Just put some rice and they all will come above to grab the food. It looks scary at first, but they are pretty harmless and livens up the atmosphere with lot of noise by splashing the water.

(Img courtesy: prab)

A pic upclose one of them. The white object in the pic is a slice the food which we tried to give. Just watch the eyes of the fish.

(Img courtesy: prab)

If the activity down the water is intriguing, just looking up will result in some activity up in the air too. There are a lot of beautiful eagles, the one with white face and brown body, flying majestically with minimal action of their wings.
This particular scene surprised me when a crow was seen chasing an eagle.

There battle continued for sometime and finally the eagle flew way up where the crow cannot reach. Wonder what triggered the controvery between them.

On the whole, this place is good for nature lovers to just spend some quality time in a calm and serene environment.

Quick Facts

Name of the Temple: 
Thiruvachira Sreekrishna Temple

How to Get there: 
On way from Calicut Town to Beypore, underneath the railway overbridge at Meenchanda (5 km from calicut railway station)

Things to see:
A good old temple and a beautiful pond. There is a walkway around the pond. Just enjoy a walk round the pond breathing lots of fresh air.

Best Time of the day to visit: 
Early morning. Enjoy those Sun rays coming through the trees in the other side of the pond.

Other Attractions near by (Click on the links to have a virtual tour)
1. The Calicut Beach - Crowded by colorful
2. Beypore - Pulimutt - The beautiful sea bridge, ship building/breaking unit  and a harbour
3. Kappad Beach - Truly Historic
4. NC Gardens and Beach Resort - Parappanangadi


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