Monday, 10 March 2014

Kerala Trip - Part 5

A short drive from where we stayed was a place called Chingenachera Kshetram. It was otherwise known as the big Banyan tree temple. You had to drive half an hour away from the main highway and into narrower and narrower lanes passing small hamlets and finally you come to a large pond. On the bank of the pond to one side, rising like a mountain is a gigantic banyan tree. As you approach closer you can make out that it has three trunks or groupings of roots. Its hard to tell whether it is three trees or one large tree taking support three times. But all of them have shrines at their base and upon closer examination you find many many hundred small model houses and huts strung up on the roots like a strange ornamental festoon around the three shrines. I couldn't make out the idol inside the shrine. It was swathed in a white dhoti and garlanded many times over, plus it was inside a deep recess in the tree trunk. But the model houses outside were of all shapes, sizes and colours. Some were roughly made but others even had neat terracotta tiles painted on the sloping roofs.
Apparently, locals from all surrounding areas come to this tree when they plan to build their own home and pray to the tree for good luck and a good house with no hitches. They make a symbolic model of the house they plan to build and during the prayer string up the house. While the prayers are happening the women of that family cook a meal for the gathering and after offering some food to the idol everyone eats together.
The three trees are said to be meat eating, fish eating and vegetarian and so a community worships at the shrine of their dietary preference.
On our ramblings around the country-side we made a brief visit to the forest office at Nemmara to discuss possible camping options and permissions. Nemmara is a much larger town than Kollengode, but still the government office was in a large wooded compound.
The compound is so large that visitors can park inside and this guy was next to our car. See what I mean, when I said the autos here are so roomy? So much bigger and broader too than the autos in Madras.
Close to Nemmara is the Pothundy dam. It is a much larger dam than the Chuliyar and is supposed to be a local tourist attraction. So off we went to see it.
This place was frequented by tourists and had a look-out point (read ugly circular pavilion probably designed by the PWD) . There was a large fallen tree trunk that made for more interesting seating and along came an ice-cream cart. It was the middle of the day and he had something called Mango Duble. A mis-spelt double, it was bright orange mango ice on a stick with a vanilla ice-cream centre. Needless to say, the Mango Duble (doo-blay) became another foodie hit on our trip.

1 comment:

  1. Your Kerala trip seems to have been really enjoyable with and filled with many interesting discoveries. Not only are the sketches a pleasure to look at, the stories related to the sketches are also fascinating.