VAIKOM VILLAGE TOUR, A CROWD PULLER The village tour and the backwater cruise in and around Vaikom in Kottayam district has been attracting numerous travelers from within and outside the country. An assortment of attractive holiday packages are available at cost effective rates, catering to varied budgets, offering value for money and friendly services. Titled Gramam package, the village backwater cruise charts out a one-day schedule consisting of a leisurely kettuvallam journey that includes authentic naadan cuisine, local sightseeing, getting a feel of the traditional activities like coir weaving, pot making, khadi and other industries. The pleasant village scenes of cool coconut palm groves, narrow rivulets reflecting the sunlight, ducks merrily paddling by, women engaged in fishing and basket weaving, can be enjoyed during the ride. The whiff of the gentle breeze blowing and the overall peace and quiet of the pollution-free rustic setting is sure to soothen the nerves. Vaikom, considered to be the oldest township in the south, is situated at a distance of about 30 km from Kochi, towards the north-western part of the district. Lake Vembanad flows around the town, making it a favourite backwater destination in Kerala. Find more details on eco-tourism at kumbalangi.kerala.com


VALIYAPARAMBA, the ideal cruise destination:- Valiyaparamba is a small island about 30 km from Bekal in Kasaragod that is one of the most scenic backwater stretches in north Kerala. Situated in the Arabian Sea, it is an important fishing centre and one of the main tourist spots of the district. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, Valiyaparamba is a much-favoured backwater destination that offers enchanting boat cruises to its visitors. The island is roughly 16 km2 in size with a population of 10,000. The island's main sources of income are agriculture and fishing. Valiyaparamba is a hinterland separated from the mainland and is an hour’s drive from Bekal beach, one of the most enchanting beaches in the state. The Bekal fort which stands on a headland that runs into the sea offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. The National Waterway passes through the island of Valiyaparamba which has become a favourite destination of tourists availing houseboat cruises. Water transport through regular boat service can also be availed. Accommodation is available at Payyanur and Kanhangad. The nearest railway station is Cheruvathur, on the Kozhikode-Mangalore route, about 5 km from Valiyaparamba. As for road transport, NH 17 passes through Cheruvathur. The nearest airports are in Mangalore in Karnataka, at a distance of about 100 km and Karipur international airport in Kozhikode, about 150 km from Valiyaparamba. FOR A RELAXING VACATION:- Drive through the unspoilt district of Kasaragod, in the northern reaches of god's own country which has been handpicked by the National Geographic Traveler as one among the fifty must-see destinations in the world where you would find the most exotic places of stay. The Malabar region of northern Kerala is well known for its warmth and hospitality. There are theme-based resorts that tempt visitors with a range of gourmet delicacies and hideouts totally cutoff from the hustle and bustle of the city and plenty of village-oriented activities to be entertained with. There are all types of lodging including hotels, resorts, villas and homestays besides treetop huts and houseboats to suit the needs and budget of different categories. Whether you are planning a meeting, vacationing or just travelling to tourist destinations in North Malabar, Bekal and nearby places offer the finest in luxury as well as budget accommodation to guarantee travelers the most memorable stays. Know more about the land of forts by logging onto kasargod.net


TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND PALAKKAD Palakkad, known as the granary of Kerala, is a land of hillocks, valleys, rivers, forests, wildlife, mountain streams, dams, farms and tribal settlements. The land of the palmyrah trees charms its visitors by offering a plethora of tourist attractions covering places of religious/historical/literary/social and environmental importance. The five hundred year-old Jain Temple with granite walls located at Jainmedu on the banks of river Kalpathy is a major tourist attraction. Built by a Jain king and dedicated to a sage, it houses the deities of Jwalamohini and Rishabhanathan. The Shiva Temple at Thiruvalathoor situated in the southern part of the district has a conical roof and whitewashed walls replete with oil lamps. It is said the woodwork and stone sculpture of the temple were completed overnight. The festival of Mahashivarathri is celebrated on a grand note at the premises. Vadakkanthara Temple can be visited on the way to the Jain Temple in Jainmedu. The presiding deity of Bhagawathy is believed to be an incarnation of Kannagi, the heroine of Tamil epic Silappadhikaram. An offering of fireworks is held regularly as a ritual outside the temple precincts. Vishwanathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located on the southern banks of river Kalpathy, about 3 km from Palakkad. This ancient temple built in 1425, is noted for the length of its flagpole which is decorated and made part of the grand celebration during the annual seven-day Chariot festival, still a huge crowd puller. The Gramam village of Palakkad comprises avenues of the typical agraharams or residences of their occupants namely Kerala iyer families, originally Thamizh Brahmins who had migrated from the neighbouring state and set up base here. This community still follows the unique custom of passing down the ancient vedas and sasthras verbally through generations. Tipu’s Fort otherwise known as Palakkad Fort, was built by Tipu’s father Hyder Ali but later on fell into the hands of the British and then the Zamorins in the 18th century. Presently it remains under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India and contains an auditorium, a museum and a children’s park. Nelliampathy is an exotic hill station about 54 km south of Palakkad and perched at a height of 4600 ft above sea level. This small green town is perfect to soak in the magical beauty of dense forests rich in wildlife as well as lush coffee, tea and orange plantations. Attapadi is a mountainous terrain consisting of streams, rivulets and forests. The valley is known for its tribal community comprising mainly irulas and mudugars. Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary nestled in the Anamali hill range, some 47 km away from Palakkad, is an excellent place to get a good sight of elephants, gaurs, chitals, sambhars, deer, Nilgiri langurs, wild dogs, leopards and tigers. There is also a dam here that offers pleasurable boating rides. The Silent Valley National Park is a serene and majestic eco-tourism locale frequented by nature enthusiasts from all over. Located on the Kundali Hills of the Western Ghats , 65 km north east of Palakkad, it lies uninhabited and untouched by the passage of time, continuing to preserve the innumerable rare flora and fauna found within the jungle area. Malampuzha, the popular picnic spot 14 km from Palakkad is famous for its wonderful landscaped garden with carpeted lawns, decorative plants, trees and blossoms of varied shapes and hues. The rose garden with over 100 species of roses to savour, is especially attractive. The snake park, a ropeway and a fantasy park besides the boathouse offering waterride facilities in the reservoir are additional attractions. The Valiya Angadi or Big Bazar shopping centre inside the city offers plenty of shopping options for shoppers viz. metal bells, thookku/peacock/nila vilakkus or lamps, traditional utensils, jewelleries, handicrafts, Tranvancore sarees, Kerala souvenirs and more. Gurumadom of Thunchath Ramaujan Ezhuthachan, considered as Father of Malayalam, is located near Chittur town on the banks of river Sokanashini. This monument houses some relics, manuscripts and other memorabilia that were used by the Guru. The site throngs with parents and infants for the initiation ceremony during Navarathri. For further info and images, look up the site palghat.net


God’s own country is known for its rich mileu of art, culture, tradition and heritage that form part of the varied fairs and festivals which are celebrated by the cross section of communities in the State. Here is a list of the several social and religious festivals: Onam Onam is the most important and popular festival of Kerala. Onam is celebrated with a lot of fervour and gaiety. All malayalees, irrespective of their religion, celebrate Onam in spite of it being a Hindu festival. It falls in the malayalam month of Chingam (Aug-Sept). Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala. According to legend, Onam is celebrated to commemorate the homecoming of Mahabali, the king who ruled over Kerala in the age of plenty and was pushed down to the Patala by Lord Vishnu in the form of a young lad named Vamana. Vishu One of the important festivals of Kerala, Vishu is celebrated in the month of April, usually on the 14th every year. As per the traditional Malayalam calendar, it is the first day of the New Year. The main event of the Vishu celebration is the ‘Kani-kanal’. Coconuts, fruits, cereals and Konna flowers are placed in wide brass bowls to prepare the Kani. The elders in the family give money to the young ones and bless them. According to a local belief, if we owe you Kani, good luck will stay with you till the year end. Christmas Christmas is a major socio-religious festival in Kerala. Christians all over Kerala celebrate Christmas on 25, Dec. During Christmas eve and on the following day, holy mass is conducted in all the churches of Kerala. Singing of Christmas carols, setting up of Christmas tree, exchange of cards, gifts etc form an integral part of Christmas festivities in Kerala. Easter Easter is yet another festival of religious importance among the Christians in Kerala, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day following his crucifixion. During the celebrations, the community visit the church for midnight mass and prayers. Easter generally falls in the month of March-April. Bakrid Bakrid is a major festival among the Muslim community in Kerala commemorating the sacrifice of Ibrahim in obedience to God’s command. Muslims enjoy family reunions with relatives and friends and partake hearty feasts on Bakrid day. Id-ul-Fitr Idul-Fitr or Eid is celebrated after the conclusion of the Ramzan fast when Muslims give up all kinds of food and drink during the day and spend a major part of the night in prayer. Since Kerala houses a substantial population of Muslims, Eid is an important social and religious celebration in the state. Navaratri The Navaratri festival assumes religious significance among the Hindus of Kerala. Navaratri runs over nine days, the last three days being the most important. They are Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadasami respectively. On the night of Durgashtami, a ceremony known as ‘Poojavayppu’ is held. It involves decorating a room superbly, with illuminating lights, flower pots and idols neatly arranged over a multi-tiered platform raised at the centre of the hall. Musical and percussion instruments and other learning tools are also displayed at the venue. Lamps are lit and prayers are offered on all the three days, and all sorts of learning and transactions come to a standstill until the last day of Saraswathy Puja when the formal ritual of learning begins anew.