Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Temple Elephant

In case you are wondering about this picture, its of an elephant who is having  a nice scrub down.
Had been to this temple in Ernakulam this January and was lucky enough to witness a temple festival that was being held that day.
Had been there in the morning and saw this elephant being given a good bath. On enquiry I was told that they were getting him ready for the festival that was to be held in the evening.

I lingered around, had lunch at the Avenue Regent and was back in the temple premises to see the activity. I could see that the elephants were waiting in one corner of the courtyard of the temple as I entered.

Those rows that you see on the side of the temple are for lighting lamps. One can imagine how wonderful it would look at night from far if all the lamps were lit.

You get to see the kodimaram when you enter any temple in south India. The Kodimaram (flag post – also known as the Dwajasthambham)  is the flag pole which is placed between the Rajagopuram and the Sanctum Sanctorum. It is made of wood, covered with brass, and with or without gold coating. This is something that you will find outside the churches too in south India. The festivities start by the Kodiyettam (hoisting of the temple flag) on this Kodimaram.  

I could see how the elephant were getting adorned. The most important part being the Nettipattam. Legend has it that the Nettipattam was designed by Lord Brahma. Iravath, the white elephant of Lord Indra was the first elephant to wear it. The caparison, which is the part of Hindu astrological art, represents the entire pantheon of gods in Hinduism.  

I tried to take a close up of one of the elephants, and felt that he was looking directly at me. 

The elephant lowered its head to have the replica of the deity placed over its head.  It is an unusual stance for an elephant I must say.

One by one the elephants came and stood in their designated place.

The drummers get ready by wearing their special mundu (dhoti) 

This drummer is fine tuning his drum. This particular drum has got a name. Wonder if someone can enlighten me. 

There was a lamp that was lit and kept in front of the elephants.

The tempo and the rhythm of the people playing the chenda (drums) slowly increased along with the accompaniment of the  kombu (one of the wind instruments) 

You can see Peruvanam Kuttan Marar here, the leader of the Chenda group of the Paramekkavu temple (Last Sunday I saw him on the TV playing at the famous Trichur Pooram)

The Elathalam is made of bronze and has its distinct chime as it is thicker when compared to the normal cymbals. It is one of those instruments that provide the beat.

While the tempo built up, the elephants had lots to chew on (literally) They kept feeding themselves on the leaves of this palm. I was fascinated by the way they neatly pulled out the leaves with the curl of their trunks (marked in the picture below) 

The palms were all prearranged and placed at strategic places. 

These two pictures below shows the understanding between the elephant and its master, or rather I must say the trust level of the mahout.

Meanwhile there were arrangements for making offerings of your choice.  The offerings had their own fixed rates.

It was almost dusk and that helped me to get some good photographs of the drummers. The way the light falls on the subject makes the difference to the photographs. 

It was a wonderful experience and I think I should increase the frequency of my visit to Kerala, now that there are direct flights to Kochi. I did my round trip bookings using the coupons from CupoNation which turned out to be very cheap. One can find them here :

Monday, April 8, 2013

The view from the balcony

One of the places that we stayed at in Cochin (Kochi) was The Poovath Hotel. The best thing about the hotel was the view of the beach from the balcony.

The overall ambiance and the locality was excellent I must say. A leisurely walk along the beach side will take you to the Chinese fishing nets which is very popular in Fort Kochi.
When you enjoy the sea view, you cannot miss out on the huge bungalow on the right side 

and the Dutch cemetery (not operational now) on the left side

so there was no disturbance whatsoever from either side (literally)
But the view from the balcony was excellent

The rooms were decently large and the bathroom was huge, but I could not figure out the complicated shower system so had my bath in the tub.

The dining room was situated on the first floor with some lovely old furniture, and yes there you can see the huge common balcony.

In the front of the hotel there was a mango tree. Those mangoes hanging there was a real temptation and we were trying to imagine how tasty it would be if they were pickled.

When we expressed our desire to the staff (about turning those mangoes into pickles) they were good enough to pluck some and give us.

I was always fascinated by spiral staircases, and I found that this place had one.

One of the paintings hanging in the dining room

While clicking those lovely scenes from the balcony I noticed that there was some alien object moving in my frame.

It turned out to be a fancy kite and I located the guy who was flying that kite

The place where the kites were sold was not far off and this is what I got when I zoomed in. Real fancy ones I must say.

The next day I strolled out on the beach and came across  a group of boys enjoying football.

I could see some vallams (boats) trying out some new method of fishing not far from the shore. They used to throw one end of the net (with a float) at one place and then furiously row and make a huge circle releasing the rest of the net on the way. After some time they pulled in the net slowly bringing in a fairly good catch. Minimum effort, minimum manpower but a fairly good catch.

Looks like this photographer was trying to get some valuable tips about photography from the tourist, or could be just exchanging notes.

but I must say that the view from the balcony was really worth clicking once more.

and finally a front view of the poovath