Saturday, 29 November 2014

Kerala - Pilgrimages

Major pilgrimages of Kerala

Bharananganam is a panchayat in Kottayam district of Kerala, covering an area of 27.04 square km.The population is around 17,000. This place has become a major pilgrimage tourist destination ever since the canonization of Sr. Alphonsa of this place, by the Pope at Vatican. The womens college at Palai is named after St. Alphonsa. This college is famous for its achievements in sports apart from academic excellence. It has produced a few Olympians too. The other pilgrimage places around Bharananganam are the churches at the native place of St. Alphonsa at Kudamaloor and Muttuchira which are visited by thousands of pilgrims.

Guruvayoor the abode of Lord Sree Guruvayurappan, is located 29 kms north west to the cultural capital of Gods own country, Kerala. This narrow coastline strip of land on the south western edge of Indian subcontinent is believed to be one of the 10 pilgrimage paradises in the world.  The geographical and bio diversity of Kerala with the coastline beaches and stretches of backwaters lined with the swaying coconut palms on one side and evergreen forests of the western ghats with very rich wildlife on the other side makes this pilgrim destination a real paradise to the alien traveler.

Kalady - The birthplace of Adi Shankara, the great, at Kalady in modern Kerala is a major place of pilgrimage in south India.Even today, there are many shrines in this small township to his sacred memory, maintained for one thousand two hundred years by his descendants. The very name Kalady, means “feet” in Malayalam and legend links the origin of the name to Adi Shankara.
The village was previously called Sasalam. Sri Sankaracharya was born here in 788 A.D, as the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba, a Keralite Namboodri Brahmin couple. His early life was marked by several miraculous exploits that singled him out for a divine role. Legend holds that one day, the widowed mother of little Sankara, fainted after walking three kilometres to the Periyar River for her daily bath. Feeling helpless, little Sankara prayed to Lord Krishna - his family deity. The tears of the child moved the Lord Krishna, who blessed him thus: “From now, the river will flow where your little feet marks the ground.”Immediately the Periyar River is believed to have taken course to the place marked by the little boy’s feet. Thus the place came to be known as Kalady.

Fort Kochi Once a fishing village of no significance in the Kingdom of Kochi in the pre-colonial Kerala, the territory that would be later known as Fort Kochi was granted to the Portuguese in 1503 by the Rajah of Kochi, who also gave them permission to build a fort near the waterfront to protect their commercial interests. The first part of the name Fort Kochi comes from this fort, Fort Emmanuel, which was later destroyed by the Dutch. Behind the fort, the Portuguese built their settlement and a wooden church, which was rebuilt in 1516 as a permanent structure and which today is known as the St Francis Church.  A mix of old Portuguese, Dutch and British houses from these colonial periods line the streets of the pilgrim centre of Fort Kochi.

           St Francis Church, built in 1503 by the Portuguese as a Catholic church and where Vasco da Gama was once buried, is now used by the Church of South India and is one of the national monuments of India. The Catholic church, Santa Cruz Basilica, also built by the Portuguese in the 1500s, was later destroyed by the British and rebuilt near the end of 19th century.  The pilgrim destination, Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations],  located in Kochi, Kerala, in South India. It was built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin   Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is "foreigners", applied to the synagogue because it was historically used by     "White Jews", a mixture of Jews from Cranganore, the Middle East, and European exiles. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town, and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings. It was built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on the land gifted to the Malabari Yehuden community by the Raja of Kochi, Rama Varma. 
The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.The pilgrim destination, Santa Cruz Basilica is a church in Kochi, Kerala built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558.Later the British demolished the structure and Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by the Pope John Paul II in 1984. This magnificent church is a must see pilgrimage destination for tourists who come to Kochi.Santa Cruz Basilica, a Roman Catholic Cathedral is one of the finest and impressive churches in Kerala. It is a place of devotion and pilgrimage in Fort Kochi, as well as a center of historic significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the gothic style. Located close to St. Francis Church it is the capital church of the diocese of Cochin.The pilgrim destination of St. Marys Cathedral, Ernakulam, is a Cathedral at Kochi in Kerala, India. Originally founded in 1112 AD, the Cathedral is dedicated to "Our Lady of Ports". The Cathedral was built in the early twentieth century under the direction of Mar Louis Pazheparambil; a rebuilt Cathedral was elevated to the status of a Basilica by Pope Paul VI on 20 March 1974.The church is also a prominent Marian Pilgrim Centre in India.

Sabarimala ,in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, as a place of pilgrimage, is a nation-wide acclaimed destination.Sri Dharmasastha Temple is the most famous among all the Sastha Temples of India. It is believed that Sage Parasurama who uplifted Kerala from the sea by throwing his axe, installed the idol of Lord Ayyappa atSabarimala for worship The pilgrimage begins in the month of November and ends in January. The temple attracts pilgrims not only from the southern states of India, but also from other parts of the country and abroad. 

The unique feature of the Temple is that it is open to people of all castes and faiths and innumerable non-hindus conduct pilgrimages to Sabarimala. The secular aspect of the temple is best exemplified by the existence of the "Vavar Nada" in honour of a Muslim saint at the close proximity to the main temple at Sabarimala. The pilgrims enter the gateway of “Pathinettampadi” only after worship at this place. The pilgrims on their sojourn to Sabarimala also worship at Erumeli Sree Dharma Sastha Temple and conduct "Petta Thullal". They also worship in the mosque at Erumeli as a part of their pilgrimage.

Vagamon The Vagamon Hills is located at a height of 1,100 meters above the sea level. It lies in the district Idukki, about 151 km south-east of Kochi, 60 kilometers from Kottayam and 100 kms from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. With its inexplicable beauty Vagamon offers various activities right from pilgrimage to natural treks as well as luxurious resorts for a memorable holiday.

The Vagamon hill slopes are not very steep and facilitate exploratory sports such as rock climbing, trekking, paragliding and many other thrilling activities. Visitors can watch bizarre looking birds and numerous insects, huge elephants and untamed buffaloes.
The pilgrimage destination of Vagamon is surrounded by a string of hills named Kurisumala, Thangal and Murugan hills. These hills are special as they are dedicated to all faiths - Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.Vagamon as a pilgrimage centre, offers activities allied to spiritualism.Meditating peacefully amidst the blissful serenity and nature casts a heavenly spell on the tourists.You can chant the name of God while climbing the Kurisumala Hill to visit the Kurisumala Ashram. Thus Vagamon is a site of great religious and spiritual activities.

Niranom - One of the oldest Christian churches in Kerala, the church at Niranom pilgrimage centre, is believed to be built by Apostle St. Thomas in A.D. 52 .It is located 9 km from Thiruvalla. Niranom is also the birthplace of poets and social reformers popularly known as "Kannassa Kavikal".

The Christian pilgrimage destination of Niranom is located in Pathanamthitta district.Situated near the Western Ghats and hedged in by the hills, Pathanamthitta is a treat to the eye with its vast, unending stretches of forests, rivers and rural landscapes. Blessed and enriched by nature the district is famous for its scenic beauty, fairs and festivals and religious places.Pathanamthitta engrossed in the hilly terrain of Kerala can rightly be called the headquarters of pilgrimage tourism in the state. Sabarimala, an important Hindu pilgrimage centre, attracts crores of pilgrims from the deterrent parts of India and the state.

Malayattoor Situated about 47 km from Kochi, the pilgrimage destination of Malayattoor is famous for the Catholic Church, located on top of the Malayattoor hill, at a height of 609 mts. Dedicated to St. Thomas the apostle of Jesus Christ, thousands of pilgrims gather at the pilgrimage place for the annual festival of Malayatoor Perunnal,held during the months of March /April.

Sailing in an Arab merchant vessel, St. Thomas is believed to have landed at Kodungalloor port in Kerala, in AD 52 and that he took the initiative of establishing a Christian community at Malayattoor. In his journey through the length and breadth of the land, he is said to have founded the churches in Kodungalloor, Quilon, Niranam, Nilakkal, Kokkamangalam, Kottakavu and Paalayoor.

Blessed by natural bounties Malayattoor, as a place of pilgrimage, offers ideal environs for those seeking spiritual happiness. Nowadays, the hill shrine at Malayattoor has emerged as the largest pilgrim centre in the name of St. Thomas in India. Here, the big and auspicious occasion is the feast of St. Thomas, which is observed on the first Sunday after Easter, when thousands throng the shrine for his blessings.

Varkala Varkala is an alluring pilgrimage tourist destination with its clean and quiet sandy beaches, red laterite cliffs, soothing mineral springs and its various places of worship.Located 40 km from Trivandrum, Kerala, Sivagiri Mutt inVarkala is the final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru. The Papanasham beach here is the place where Narada is believed to have thrown his valkalam. The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy temple here is famous for the Arattu, the annual festival celebrated in March-April. 

Varkala also has a seaside resort and spa. However it is primarily known as an important Hindu centre ofpilgrimage.The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri.High cliffs with mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline.The beach at this place is long, sandy, serene and secluded. 

Parappanangadi Parappanangadi has been a seat of history and religion all along.Vallikkunnu is a village in Malappuram district in the state of Kerala, coming under Thirurangadi thaluk.The northern boundary is kadalundi panchayath and southern side with Parappanangadi panchayath.

This pilgrimage destination of Vallikunnu Panchayath came into existence in 1962.Vallikunnu got its name after the river "Valliyar", which flowed encompassing the hilly area. This gramam got place in many old literatures of Kerala. Ullur S Parameswara Iyer mentioned in his great work "Kerala Sahithya Charithram", that the "Valli Gramam" referred in "Basha Naishadam Chambu" of Mazhmangalam is Vallikunnu Desam. This Desam was under the administration of the Royal Family of Parappanad. The Monarchy of Parappanad kingdom led to the development of this village. The Head Quarters of Parappanad Kovilakam was in Neduva village of Parappanangadi panchayath. We can see the remains of Parappanad palace, Oottupura, and Kolappura in Neduva village. For administration purpose this place had been divided into five "Tharakoottangal" by the rulers. This tharakoottangal was centered on Siva temples. These Tharakoottams are: 1. Vallikunnu(Thekkil SivaTemple) 2. Mannur( Mannur Siva Temple) 3. Chelembra (Elannummal Siva Temple) 4. Thenhipalam(Pappannur Siva Temple) 5. Vennayoor(Vennayoor Siva Temple)
According to some historians, ancestors of Velu Thampi Dalava belong to Vallikunnu, and later they migrated to Tiruvithamkur. The old port named Thindis belongs to vallikunnu. Now the place is known as Kadalundi Nagaram. It is to be believed that the birth place of A.R. Raja Raja Varma, the famous Malayalam Pandit was in Vallikunnu.
There are many more......

No comments:

Post a Comment