Jewish Synagogue - Kerala
Kerala's rich historical and cultural past makes the state a unique place to visit. Every step you take in the state instills in you a further sense of admiration for the abundant historical and cultural wealth of the state. The monuments of the Kerala include temples, churches, mosques, forts, palaces, houses and mansions. All these monument together help in reconstructing the bygone era.
Some Monuments of Kerala
Chottanikkara Temple - Dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy, the Chottanikkara temple is believed to be an ideal destination for all those who are suffering from any kind of mental illness. The goddess here is worshipped in three forms - as Saraswati in the morning, as Bhadrakali at noon and as Durga in the evening. At each time, the goddess is draped in a different colour of attire. The image of goddess is not fixed in the ground, rather it stands on a mound of sand. The temple is located on the outskirts of Kochi.
Guruvayoor Temple - This is one of the most important religious monuments in Kerala and is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The image of the Lord here is believed to be around 5000 years old and the legend behind it invokes a mixed sense of mystery and devotion. The Guruvayur Temple of Kerala is known to have played host to the maximum number of marriages and rice feeding ceremonies. The highlight of the temple are the dhawjastambha, deepastambha and the Sree Kovil (where the main deity is placed). Images of Ganapathy, Ayyappa and Bhagavaty are also worshipped in this temple.
Sabarimala Temple- Unlike the Guruvayur Temple where only Hindus are allowed, the Sabarimala Temple gives access to devotees of all religion. Also, it is open for darshan for only specific period of time in the year. However, strict rules have to be followed in order to visit this temple which is located amidst wilderness atop a 950 m hill. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu (in form of Mohini).
Vadakkumnathan Temple - This Shiva temple boasts of being built by none other than the creator of Kerala state itself, Parsurama. Another feather in the cap of this temple is that it is one of the largest temples in the state, spreading across in an area of 10 acres. The renovation work on the original structure was done by Shakhthan Thampuran, a faithful devotee of Lord Shiva. There are images of Ayyappa and Lord Rama along with Shiva here. Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have spent his last days in this temple. A unique feature of this temple is that the Mahalingam of Shiva is never visible since it is covered in huge mound of ghee which is as high as 11 feet. A portion of mound is considered around 1000 years old, still there is no stench emitting from it. This is despite Kerala's warm climate. Visit the temple which is located in the downtown Thrissur. The festival of Thrissur Pooram is also an attraction here.
Cheraman Juma Masjid - The Masjid is located in the Kodungallor and claims to be the oldest one in the country and second oldest one in the world. It was built in 628 AD, in Al Hijra 7, which means that the construction was done just seven years after Prophet Mohammed migrated to Medina. The architectural style of the mosque is typical Hindu style. This is so because at that point of time, there was no other architectural style in prevalence. The name of the mosque derives from the name of the king who converted to Islam after marrying the sister of Jeddah King. Before he died, he gave his brother in law the possession of a number of letters he had written to the kings of Kerala seeking their help to spread Islam in the state. The Jeddah king arrived in Kerala and with the assistance of the king of Kodungallor built this mosque. A recently conducted naval exercise revealed a startling discovery. The prayer room inside the mosque was the highest place in Kodungallor!
St. Sebastian Church - This church is located 22 km north of Alappuzha and is highly revered by the Christian population of the state. It was established by the Portuguese missionaries and is quiet well known for its 11 day festival of St Sebastian in the second week of January. Quiet a few peculiar practices mark this festival, for example, the devotees crawl on the knees from the church to the beach (Urulu nercha) to show their respect for the saint. Also the offering made include gold and silver replicas of human limbs, bows and arrows. Moreover, the pilgrims of Sabarimala consider a holy dip in the tank of the church extremely auspicious. A perfect example of religious unanimity.
The Churches at Muttuchira - The churches at Muttuchira in Kottayam district are a group of three churches located in the same compound but built during different times. They are symbolic of the evolution of the church architecture in Kerala. The oldest one depicts the Neo Boroque style of architecture.
Aranmula Temple- Located at a distance of 16 km from Tiruvalla, the Arnamula Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple is believed to be built during the Mahabharata era. The annual snake boat race conducted here is not just a competition, rather it is a an attempt to recapture the cultural glory of the past.
Jewish Synagogue - The Jewish Synagogue is the oldest one in the entire common wealth nation. The structure was built in the year 1568 and later rebuilt by the Dutch. The synagogue has in its possession the scrolls of the Old Testament and the copper plates, which recorded the grants of privilege, given by the Kochi rulers. Moreover, there are several exquisitely wrought gold and silver crowns presented to the synagogue by the various patrons. Another attraction of the synagogue are the blue Chinese tile that make for an engrossing sight. The synagogue is open everyday barring Saturdays and Jewish holidays from 10 am to 12 noon and 3 pm to 5 pm
Forts & Palaces
Bolghatty Palace - This palace, which has now been converted into a KTDC hotel, was constructed by the Dutch in 1744 and served as the Governor's residence. The hotel stands comfortably on an Island by the same name and is a two storeyed structure with historical portraits adorning the walls. A ferry ride to the Boghatty Island is extremely enjoyable experience.
Alwaye palace - Standing on the banks of river Periyar, the Alwaye palace has now been converted into a Guest House. The circular verandah provides spectacular view of the surroundings along with the Periyar river.
Bekal Fort - Amongst the best preserved forts in Kerala, the Bekal Fort claims to be 300 year old. The fort was supposedly constructed in 1650s by Sivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. Later on, the fort also passed into the hands of Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Britishers. The fort was primarily built as a defensive structure and therefore has no palace inside. There is an old mosque near the fort which is believed to have been constructed by the Mysore forces.
Krishnapuram Palace - Situated at a distance of 47 km from Alappuzha, the Krishnapuram palace was constructed by Marthanda Varma in the 18th century. The palace today serves as an archaeological museum displaying the largest mural panels of Kerala. Other items on display include antique bronze sculptures, paintings, ceremonial utensils, oil lamps, fine miniature figures and small stone columns carved with serpent deities. A recently erected Buddha mandapam houses a statue of Buddha.
Mattanchery Palace - This is also a Dutch Palace (though it was originally built by the Portuguese) located in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. The palace today houses rare regalia of the Raja of Kochi including coronation robes and palanquins. Another attraction of the palace are the mural depicting scenes from Ramayana and Krishna leela. The palace is open everyday for public except Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm.
Hill Palace Museum - Built in the year 1865, this was the official residence of the royal family of Kochi. Today, the palace is a Heritage Museum and displays all sorts of royal relics including the royal furniture and the 'simhasana' (the throne or the king's chair). Other articles on display include 19th century paintings, murals, sculptures in stone and plaster of Paris, manuscripts, inscriptions and coins. Moreover, there are also antique pieces of pottery and ceramic vases from China and Japan, rock cut caves from the early iron age, wooden temple models and models of objects from Mohanjodaro and Harappa. The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Mondays.
Arakkal Palace & Kannur Fort - Arakkal Palace, located 3 km from Kannur, holds the distinction of being the only royal residence of Muslims in Kerala. The Kannur Fort, also known by the name of St Angelo's Fort was constructed in 1505 by a Portuguese called Don Francisco De Almeida. Later, the Dutch conquered the fort and sold it to the king Ali Raja of Arakkal kingdom. The palace and the fort are close by and are under the care of ASI. It is also believed that the fort has a secret underground tunnel through the sea that leads to the Thalessery palace which is 21 km away.
Koyikkal Palace - This palace was built sometime around 15th century and housed the Perakom Thavazhi (the maternal lineage), particularly Umayamma Rani of the Venad royal family who ruled the land between 1677 AD and 1684 AD. Today, the two storeyed structure of the palace houses a Folklore Museum as well as the Numisamtics Museum. Items on display in the Folklore Museum include quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk arts etc along with old manuscripts and dress material made of the bark of trees (Maravuri). The Numismatic Museum exhibits coins from different parts of the world as well as different eras. The palace is located at a convenient distance of 18 km from Thiruvanantpuram.
Houses, Bungalows & Memorials
Vasco House - This 16th century structure was supposedly the residence of the Portuguese sailor, Vasco da gama. It is located inside the Fort Kochi in Ernakulam. Highlight of the house include European glass paned windows and Balcony cum Verandas.
Thakur House - Originally the residence of the managers of National Bank of India during the British era, the Thakur House today is possessed by a respectable tea company. The house is a standing reminder of the architecture of the colonial era. The house was earlier known as Kunal or Hill Bungalow.
Pierce Leslie Bungalow - This 19th century bungalow initially belonged to Pierce Leslie & Co., the famous coffee merchants. The structure is a classic example of a combination of an architecture that is a mix of Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. The highlights of the house are wood panel roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and spacious rooms. Water front verandas are also interesting to roam around.
Koder House - Named after its constructor, Samuel. S. Koder of the Cochin Electric Company, the Koder House was built in the year 1808 AD. The House is located in the Ernakulam district and is a wonderful example of the change of architectural style - from colonial to Indo-European architecture. The chess board pattern of floor, the red brick facade and the wooden bridge that joins the house to other structures across the street are some of the quiet interesting aspects of the house
Bishop's House - Constructed in the early 16th century, the Bishop's House served as the residence of the Portuguese Governor. It is perched over a small hillock and is marked by typical Gothic arches. Additionally, the circular garden path that leads upto the main entrance is another attraction. It was earlier known by the name of Dome Jos Gomes Ferreira who was the 27th Bishop of the Diocese of Cochin.
Bastion's Bungalow - This one is the official residence of the sub collector of Ernakulam. It was built in the middle of the 17th century and depicts the Indo European style of architecture. The name of the Bungalow is drawn from the site where it stands - the Stromberg Bastion of the old Dutch fort. This bungalow is believed to have secret tunnel, however, till date none of them has been discovered.
Gundert Bungalow - Gundert Bungalow was the residence of Dr. Hermann Gundert, a scholar who successfully compiled the first Malayalam dictionary, from 1839-59. Also, it was in this bungalow that Malayalam's oldest newspaper 'Paschimodayam' (also published by Gundert), developed. The bungalow is a typical colonial mansion with deep eaves, wide verandah and huge doors. Today, a technical training institute is being run in the Gundert Bungalow.
Mannadi - This is a memorial of the erstwhile diwan of the Travancore state, Veluthampi Dalawa, who gave up his life fighting for the freedom of his land against the mighty Britishers. The memorial, today reminds the visitors of the great courage shown by the diwan in face of extreme pressure.
Chittur Garumadam - This is yet another memorial that remembers a highly revered poet saint, Thunchath Ezhuthachan. He authored the well known 'Adhyatma Ramayana'. Thunchath Ezhuthachan is also credited for translating Mahabharata into Malayalam. The Garumadam displays items like a 'srichakra', some of the idols worshipped by him, wooden slippers used by him and a few old manuscripts are exhibited here. The day of Vijaydashmi sees hundreds of children being brought to the Gramudom for a ritualistic initiation of learning. The Gramodam is located on the banks of Solkanasini river (destroyer of sorrows) in the Pallakad district of Kerala.