Showing posts from March, 2015

Tripunithura Hill Palace

I was introduced to the Tripunithura Hill Palace through the 1993 Malayalam blockbuster 'Manichitrathazhu' that was shot in the palace premises. This was in late 2008. I believe that for many the introduction to the palace was through the movie. My feet contacted the mud at the Hill Palace only in May 2009 during a cousin's wedding in Ernakulam. I happened to revisit the palace accidentally in February 2014 during an industrial visit to Kottayam and Cochin. Visiting the Hill Palace after nearly five years brought back vivid memories from the movie and my first visit here.

In the little town of Tripunithura, an extended suburb of Ernakulam, is located the erstwhile residence of the Maharaja of Cochin. The palace is named so because of its location on a tiny hillock at a slight incline from the main road. The uphill climb to the palace is almost like climbing a staircase in a park. As one negotiates the wide steps that lead straight to the entrance of the palace, one is greet…

Myth vs Science: The Curse of Talakkad

A pleasant breeze welcomes you along with a prolonged silence, an unnerving silence that one can hear the click and clack sounds of one’s footsteps. The little temple town of Talakkad, situated on the left banks of the river Kaveri, located nearly 60 kms from Mysore, is famed for its constantly in motion sand dunes. In desolate towns like Talakkad, the mysteries unravel as one goes around exploring the place. Yet, it seems like there is an imposition on how much one should know. The temple town is mostly known for a legendary curse which turned the thriving town into a sandy shore line. Hence, it is a treat for anyone who has a passion for history, heritage or architecture.
History and rationality clash with mythology here in the town which is also known as Dalavanapura and Gajaranya. Local myths speak of Lord Shiva residing on a tree that was later worshipped by locals and saints. The tree is said to have then reincarnated as an elephant, giving the town its name: Gajaranya (The Eleph…

Shweta Varahaswamy Temple

As I entered the Mysore Palace through the Varaha Gate, I wondered why the gate was named so. A short scan in and around the palace premises led me to spotting the yellow gopuram of the Shweta Varahaswamy Temple. Located at the southern entrance of the Mysore Palace, the gate gets its name from the temple. It is one of the temples located inside the Palace that the Wodeyar kings of Mysore have patronised over the years. There are very few temples dedicated to Varaha, the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu in India and Mysore's Varahaswamy Temple is among them.

Every incarnation of the Dasavatharam has a significance of its own: the Varaha avataram is associated with pellucid knowledge which is attuned to knowledge. In a Tamil poem written by Andal, she fondly sings of Varaha as: 'the shameless boar with sweat pouring out from its dusty body'. The tale of Varaha observes that Hiranyaksha hid the Earth in the Rasatala regions, one of the seven lower regions of the universe, whe…

Regional Railway Museum, Mysore

In Mysore lies a modestly planned railway museum located opposite the Central Food Technical Research Institute on the busy Krishnaraja Sagara Road. The cheap tickets that enable access to the museum are sold from the window of a former vacuum braked railway compartment, offering a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. Presenting an interesting slice of history that spans across 160 years, the railway museum should be a must visit if you wish to familiarise yourself with one of the finest modes for national integration: Indian Railways. 

Set up under the supervision of the Indian Railways, the museum was inaugurated by Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, the last descendant of Mysore's Wodeyar dynasty in June 1979. With an indoor and outdoor section, the museum has ancient steam locomotives, condemned metre gauge diesel engines, carriages, wagons, telecommunication equipment and several other paraphernalia that have in some way or the other influenced railway operations. The coll…