A Showroom at Pathanamthitta
Every year for centuries, thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the sacred slopes of the Sabari Hills to the abode of Ayyappa in Pathanamthitta. But beyond its religious reputation, Pathanamthitta also has something that very few people know. It is the only place on earth where metal-mirrors are still painstakingly handcrafted and where a heritage village practises the 'vaastu shastra' (ancient Indian occult way of home designing) in its purest form. It is the place that affords Asia's largest Christian gathering, upon a river bed, that dry up every February to stage the venue. Pathanamthitta is surely a place which needs to be discovered, explored and known. One cannot just believe what is so special about this trivial town of Kerala. For one, it is home to the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as an offering to God. Then there is a pillar made of a single block of granite, dating back to 57 BC...a church that looks like a temple..the 'Mannara Kinnam', a rust resistant hour glass made of a special alloy. Surely the list is endless, but you can make a trip to Pathanamthitta to tick, atleast, beside a few points.
Often promoted as the "Headquarters of Pilgrimage Tourism", this eastern district of Kerala is well known for its high religious interests, sprawled all over the domain. One can visit numerous temples with handsome appearance to attract architecture enthusiasts, but still serene enough to augment one's spiritual thirst. Visit the magnificent 4000-year old Sri Vallabha Temple on the banks of Manimala in Thiruvalla, the most important pilgrim centers of the Vaishnavites and probably the only temple in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as a ritual offering everyday. Besides one can also see the mind-blowing 'Garuda Stambha', a unique 54-ft flag mast that ensconces another 50-ft underground! Made up of a single block of granite by the legendary architect Perunthachan, the 'Stambh' is crowned by an idol of 'Garuda', the vector of Lord Vishnu. Inside the sanctum, tourists can see the elegant 8-ft idol of Sree Vallabha along with one of Lord Sudarshana Moorthy. Plan your visit during the 10-day 'utsavam' (celebration) in the month of 'Kumbham' (February-March) to see the grand elephant parade and the 'padatti pazham' (a variety of yellow bananas) ceremony - when a whopping offering of 12,000 bunches is made on the first day! The temple is open from 5-11 am in the morning and 5-8 pm in the evening.
Experience a closeness to divinity at the St. John's Cathedral. Desiogned by Laurie Baker in place of the original church, this excellent creation is an impeccable blend of modern architecture and traditional ethos of Kerala. See the copper covered roof and the huge brass lamps that embellish the outer walls. As you enter - under the impressive stone lamps - the church, no doubt, you will be overwhelmed by a bizarre feeling of space, light and colour. Interestingly, the church has no pews to rest upon, maybe because sitting on Mother Earth brings a closer congregation to God. Mass tiings is 6:30 pm and additional masses are held at 4 pm on Fridays and 9 am on Sundays. Plan your vacation tour to Maramon, near Kozencherry in Kerala in the month of February and you can be a part of the largest Christian convention in the world. Held on the pristine sandy beds of river Pamba, this grand ceremony throws up an air of devotion and faith in the Supreme Self for consecutive seven days. Remember to visit St. Mary's church at Niranam, believed to be one of the oldest churches of Kerala. It has its own importance in a way that it relates to the Orthodox Syrian Church chains, which is believed to be one of the seven churches established by St.Thomas himself. You can walk inside to see archaic urns (some are even said to be 500-year old), ancient chandeliers and old brass lamps dangling from older roofs of the alcove. Walk a few yards to witness the place where the great Malayalam poet Kannassa Panicker lived and created many awe-inspiring works of art. One can visit the church between 10 am-6 pm everyday.
Metal Mirror - Aranmula - Pathanamthitta
It is often said that if you want to get a true essence of the rural side of Kerala, you must visit Aranmula. Though untouched by the hands of modernity, the tranquil ambiance of Aranmula has enough to entice any visitor. At the heart of the heritage village is its soul, the centuries old Sree Parthasarathy Temple dating back to the aegis of Mahabharata. You will be amazed to see the great platform on which the temple stands, a testament to the power of the river Pamba in the monsoons. Of the four entrances, the one on the eastern side has 18 steps wide enough for an elephant to climb! Walk a few metres to reach the magical pad of metal mirrors ('Aranmula Kannadi') - the other thing Aranmula is famous for - opposite the PWD resthouse. Legend has it that a divine approach inspired a widow of this village to discover a mysterious blend of bronze which could be waxed bright into crystal clear mirror. Another popular belief enjoins that the art was discovered by chance while making a crown. The skill of non-refractive mirror making is believed to be handed down from father to sons for generations. One will be fascinated to see how these fortuneless craftsmen create magic with their dexterous fingers. There are always beautiful mirrors for show and sale, but you can also place orders for mirrors of a size and shape you prefer, but remember that orders take atleast a week or two to complete depending on their dimensions.
Thiruvalla, the largest town in Pathanamthitta district - at the conflunce of roads from Kottayam, Alleppey and Trivandrum - is the best reference point for unveiling Pathanamthitta's secrets. Situated on the banks of Manimala, the town is situated at 95 km SE of Kochi and 125 km NW of Thiruvananthapuram. If travelling from Trivandrum by road, it is better to take the MC road, with pendant halts at Kilimannur, Adoor and Chengannur. Tourists can visit anytime between April and August, but prefer to make your trip during February-March, when most of the temples in the region celebrate their annual festivals. For more tourist related information, one can contact the District Tourism Promotional Council at the Collectorate compound in Pathanamthitta.
Top 5 Reasons To Visit The Pilgrim Centre of Pathanamthitta
The Land of Religion
Give Yourself A New Look, Get A Mirror For
Where The Sands Give Space To Religion
The Yellow Colour of Amazement
Taste The Sweetness of Life
South & Beaches