Parakovil, meaning temple (kovil) on top of Rock ("Para"), is the only one of its kind in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. The official name of this temple is Thrichakrapuram Sreekrishna Swamy Temple.
I grew up in a place very close to this temple and almost all my childhood chores were clearly known to this temple as I regularly went their with the usual submissions for clearing up the problems. Recently I got a chance to visit this temple again. This visit was after many years, since I relocated to the opposite side of the city.
Coming from the heart of the city, one has to come to Vellayambalam Junction close to the Napier Mueseum. We have to travel around 4kms from Vellayambalam to reach this temple. From Vellayambalam we have to take the Sasthamangalam route. The Vellayamabalam - Sasthamangalam route has changed a lot. The four laning work is now complete and this stretch now looks quite glorified with lot of high rise buildings adorning its sides.
Not long ago, there were many proud dwellings with typical Kerala style architecture, created during the regime of Maharajas, many of which still stay in my minds coz as I child when I used to go past these roads in my bicycle I dreamt of having a home here because of its proximity to my school in Vellayamabalam.
The Sasthamangalam junction was in the middle of a recent controversy, when a Minister and some social workers resisted the move by local people and the road development board to cut of a majestic tree stationed right near the junction. The slogans - "without road their will be no development" and "without trees there will not be human existence" were echoed around with the development slogan getting the upperhand and within a day the poor tree was no more.
After Sasthamangalam, there is a steep descent and Maruthankuzhi arrives just after the bridge across the Karamana Lake. From Maruthankuzhi we have to take the right side road and within no time we will feel as if we are climbing a hill.
I used to challenge myself everyday while returning from school to completely cover the steep ascent on this hill without getting down from the bicycle and was really thrilled whenever I managed to do it.
The two turns on this route is reminiscent of the hair pin bends in ghats.
The next junction is the Vettamukku junction, from where we have to go straight in the Thirumala route. Hardly after half a kilometer in this route, look out for the Sreekrishna temple board on the left and take U turn to left to this temple through a narrow road.
The road will come to a dead end beneath this huge rock.
The temple is right on top of this rock. The way to top is through a series of steps which has to be tread slowly and carefully without exhausting one too much.
After the first set of pretty high number of steps a flat landing arrives from where there is the next set of steps. It is at this landing another way to the temple joins. This way starts from the Elippode - Vettamukku route and contains many rocks enroute. As a child I used to climb up this rocky way to reach the temple. I walked down the rocky path just to reliven those memories.
Surprisingly after a little walk down, there were houses on both sides of this track and the track too was not too rocky and there were occasional steps too.
From the landing, another set of steps start.
Once on top, the first thing that we will notice is the altitude we have gained. One look towards the eastern side and we feel as if we are in the middle of a dense forest.
Once we turn slowly towards the northern side, the high rises start to appear amidst the plethora of coconut trees. Most of these high rises sprang up in the last decade or so. Time is not far away when we will be able to see only a few trees amidst the abundant of concrete structures. Praying to God to delay this inevitable as making Trivandrum look like those concrete filled metros will be last thing I want to see.
A construction with a pointed top was visible. Zoomed up close and got an image of the antique building. That was the Kowdiar fort, the dwelling place of erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore Kingdom.
The tomb of the Mar Ivanios College at Nalanchira, is also clearly visible. This place is a good 15 km away from where I am standing.
The race for the tallest among all the structures is won by the yester year's favourite - Doordarshan, thanks to it towering tower almost touching the skies.
As we walk around, we could find another hillock nearby with some houses also making its appearance. This hillock is one of the famous residential areas of Thiruvananthapuram city which was completely filled with dense vegetation until 1975, when housing board took over and constructed many new houses.
This residential area is called PTP Nagar. The place which is so close to my heart since I spent my childhood here.
There were grounds to play, hills to climb, boulders, water filled rocks, but the water tank right on the hill top was the most mesmerizing one. Climbing up the water tank and getting a panaromic view of the whole of Thiruvananthapuram was one of the most favourite activity. Those days I dreamt of being a cricket star, practised hard before local club games, came to this very temple to offer prayers for scoring maximum runs and getting many wickets for the impending match, and comes again to this temple to share my sorrow for not being able to score any runs(since I was the last to bat) or for not getting any wickets (as I was never given the bowling too). But growing up in this housing colony on top of the hillock was one of the best things that happened in my life, since I could have all the village like fun running around through the dense forests, eating raw fruits (oh those mangoes were yummy) eventhough we lived in the city.
Not only that I cherished my moments on top of this rock behind the temple, enjoying the cool breeze and recollecting all the events happening to me either good or bad. I consider myself lucky to have such a great place very close to my home in those days.
The outer area of the temple is now covered and some modernisation drive also seems to have done.
I got inside the temple, prayed for sometime, all the time thinking about my childhood days here. After prayer got ouside the temple and a walk around. Got to see another high rock which is having more height than this one.
There is big piece of rock delicately balanced on top of this big rock. We cannot see that in the above pic, since a tree is covering the view. We feel as if that rock can be easily pulled down. But once we pull it we can feel how strongly it is held to its base. There was a rocky path to climb on top of that rock too. I had climbed once, but it was very scary, hence did not try again. Got to give it a try again in the near future.
Me along with my little ones perched on top of one of those big rocks, clarifying the doubts of my kids who were enquiring about the names of each building which could be sighted from this location.
Needless to mention, kids were also happy to be here and never asked to quickly leave the place, which they often does if they don't find anything interesting. After some more time bid good bye to this temple and to the childhood memories, climbed down the steps of one of the calmest temple in Thiruvananthapuram city situated in one of the coolest sights.
As we reached the bottom, the kids who were playing there saw my camera and asked whether I could click and picture of them and show it to them. The enthusiasm of the kids made me click not one but many pictures. After each snap it was a pleasure watching them make up for the next shot. I enjoyed playing with them too. Watch the proud posing of these lovely kids.
A short but sweet visit, it made me travel down the memory lane. Most importantly I was happy to see this temple in the same shape and having the same ambience as it had some 15 years ago !!