(Open 0400 -1030 hrs, 1700 -2030 hrs) Believed to have been buill by Lord Parasurama who reclaimed Kerala from the sea, the Vadakkumnathan Temple is one of the oldest in the State. A classic example of the Kerala style of architecture, the temple has many decorative murals and pieces of art. Exquisite murals on the Mahabbarata adorn the walls of the shrine. This is the venue of the world famous Poorarn Festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Pooram are a a spectacular sight. Non-Hindus are not allowed into the temple.
(Near the Zoo, on Town Hall Road Open 1000-1700 hrs on all days except Mondays and national bolidays) The one-time summer palace of the Raja of Kollengode now houses a melange of artefacts. The sati stones, hero and heroine stones, wooden models of the grand old temples of Kerala, huge burial pots, Harappan shards and menhirs are part of the exceptional collection seen here.
(2 kmfrom Tbrissur. Open on all days except Mondays) The Art Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Zoo were built in the same compound in 1885. Covering an area of 13 1/2 acres, the museums and the zoo are located at Chembukkavu.
Zoo: (Open 0900 -1715 hrs on all days except Mondays) The zoo is home to a variety of fauna such as the endangered lion-tailed macaque, tiger, lion, sloth bear, several species of deer and many birds including the pink flamingos. The Snake Park has an impressive reptilian collection of king cobras, kraits, vipers and rat snakes.
The Natural History Museum: (Open 1000 -1700 hrs. No cameras allowed) Along with specimens of various animals, entomological objects and stone sculptures, it showcases the skeleton of the biggest elephant in India. It also has an interesting section displaying the costumes of Kerala. Ph: 2333056
(Open.1000 - 1700 hrs on all days except Mondays) The art museum displays collections of wood carvings, metal sculptures, ancient Jewellery, stone figurines and some Chinese and Japanese artefacts. A sample of kodakkalu (umbrella Slone), or prehistoric dolmen spotted around many places in Thrissur, can also be seen in the zoo. The kodakallu was a secondary burial site.
(On Museum Road) An excellent monument of erstwhile Thrissur's administrative, military and cultural history. It houses the Chitralayam Gallery where mural paintings from all parts of Kerala are on display as also an excellent library and an auditorium.
(On route to the Town Halll) Located in a sprawling bungalow, the academy was established in 1956 to promote Malayalam language and literature. An autonomous body, the Sahitya Academy recognizes superior literary works every year through its prestigious literary awards. The building houses a splendid picture gatlery of Malayalam literateurs. Ph: 2331069
(Chembukkavu) The centre was established to train, preserve and patronise music and dance. The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy sees regular expositions of theatre, dance, drama and folk arts. A huge library holds exhaustive tomes on all these subjects. Ph: 2332134/548
Also in Chembukkavu, the academy is housed in a beautiful building with a neat little art gallery. Artists in Kerala are supported through workshops, artist's camps and exhibitions.
(Opposite the Police Club on High Road. Service Timings: Weekdays 0700 - 0800 hrs, 1615 - 1645 hrs;Sundays 0730 - 0930 hrs) Called the valiya Palli or big church, because of its age, not size, this is the headquarters of the Chaldean Syrian Church (Church of the East) in India, dating back to when Sakthan Tharnpuran settled 64 Syrian Christians in Thrissur around the end of the 18'h century, Parts of the Mass are still held in Syriac and the congregation follows old rites. It has no pictorial representations of Christ inside the chapel, only the cross. The church has a lovely gabled facade and an ornately carved tulipshaped pulpit.
(Near jubilee Medical College. Service Timings: 0600, 0730 & 1730 hrs, Sundays 1000 hrs) Built in 1875, this Roman Catholic Church is called Puthen Palli. With its three-storeyed facade and even higher steeples that tower above the town's skyline, this is claimed to be the biggest and tallest church in Asia. An architectural marvel, the church has triple towers built in the Gothic style, an array of 15 altars and musical church bells imported from Germany. The ceiling is adorned with beautiful mural paintings of the Holy Trinity. Other highlights are the wall paintings, the crypts and the Perpetual Adoration Centre.
(St. Thomas College Road. Mass Timings: 0615, 0730 hrs and 1730 hrs) This unique church which has an underground prayer chamber is the third biggest church in Thrissur. Established in 1885, it was elevated to a Cathedral in 1891. Ph 0487-2333995
(Open 0500 -1100 hrs, 1700 - 2000 hrs) This 100-year-old temple was established by Sri Narayana Guru, and has friezes depicting scenes of Siva's marriage and the Dasavatharam of Madurai Meenakshi. The main idol is a serpent deity.
(In Ayanthole, near the Collectoraie. Open 0500 - 1100 hrs, 1700 - 2000 hrs) Dedicated to the angel child, Jyothi Maya, believed to have appeared to announce the imminent birth of Lord Krishna to Kamsa. She was attacked by the enraged king and is supposed to have landed at this spot where a temple was built for her.
(7 km from Thrissur) This beautiful hill is a good picnic spot.
(South of Thrissur on SH-22. Open 0500-1100 hrs, 1700 - 2000 hrs) The Aaratupuzha Village is known for the annual Pooram Festival held at its temple in April/May. The uniqueness of this festival is the ceremonial processions where the images of the deities of 41 neighboring temples are carried to this village.
(13 km, en route to Aratupuzha Temple) This Devi Temple was set up by a Narnboodiri to avert disasters that continually befell this place. The idol here is unique and is cleaned only with peacock feathers.
(20 km east of Thrissur) This picnic spot offers plenty of boating facilities.
(20 km east ofThrissur) Established in 1958, this is one of Kerala's oldest wildlife reserves. Formed around the twin reservoirs of Peechi and Vazhani, the sanctuary is a rich repository oFbio-diversity with several endangered herbs, shrubs, rare medicinal plants and innumerable variety of orchids. The sanctuary also teems with about 176 species of birds and harbours all the major mammals found in India. The Forest Department offers several adventure packages including overnight stay in tents, bamboo rafting, bird watching, butterfly safari and trekking.
(15 km from Kochi lnternalionaL Airport)Also known as the Church of Koratty Muthy, this church was established in 1381. As a pilgrimage centre, this shrine is second only to Velankanni. The Koratty Muthy is said to shower her blessings on all who visit her, regardless of caste and creed. The annual feast falls on the Saturday and Sunday following the 10th of October, during which the statue of Koratty Muthy is taken out in a procession from the church. An important offering here is the poovankula (bunch of plantain).
(21 km from Thrissur Open 0300 - 1130 brs, 1700 - 2015 hrs) Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda Railway Station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity. The colourful eleven-day annual festival with a pageant of thirteen caparisoned elephants is held in April/May. The festival in this temple marks the end of the Hindu temple festival season in Kerala.
(29 km west ofThrissur. Open 0300 -1230 hrs, 1630 - 2115hrs) Guruvayoor is one of the most sacred and important pilgrim centres of Kerala. Its main attraction is the Sree Krishna Temple, considered the Dwaraka of the South. This historic temple is shrouded in mystery. According to belief, the temple is the creation of Guru, the preceptor of the Gods, and Vayu, the God of winds. The eastern nada is the main entrance to the shrine. In the ChuttambaLam (outer enclosure) is the tall 33.5 m high gold plated Dwajasthambam (flagpost). There is also a 7 metre high Deepastbambam (pillar of lamps), whose thirteen circular receptacles provide a truly gorgeous spectacle when lit. The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity. Within the temple there are also the images of Ganapathy, Lord Ayyappa and Edatheclathu Kavil Bhagavathy. Renowned for its healing powers, people make an astonishing range of offerings here to the Lord. One of the most popular offerings is the Thulabharam, where a devotee is weighed against bananas, sugar, Jaggery and coconuts equivalent to his weight. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Dress Code: • Men and boys: white dhotis • Women: Sarees or churidars • Young girls: Long skirts. www.guruvayurdevaswom.com
Air: The nearest international airport: Nedumbassery (87 km)
Rail: Railway enquiry Ph: 2554300, 2556820
Road: Guruvayoor is connected by road with several important cities of India. KSRTCenquiry Ph: 2556450
(2 km from Guruvayoor. Open 0900 - 1800 his) The palace grounds of the erstwhile HajasofPunnathoor is today home to 60 temple elephants. All the elephants here are offerings from devotees and the camp is the only one of its kind in the world.
(Open 0400 - 1230 & 1645 -2030 hrs) A visit to the Guruvayoor Temple is considered incomplete without a visit to this SivaTemple noted for its murals.
(32 km north of Thrissur) Cheruthururhy is the seat of the Kerala Kalarnandalam, renowned the world over for its Kathakali Training centre. The music and dance academy was founded by the famous poet, Vallathol Narayana Menon. Training in Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Thullal and other art forms of Kerala is imparted here. Cultural programmes are also arranged.
(35 km fromThrissur) Once a maritime port of international repute because of its strategic location at the conOuence of the Periyar River and the Arabian Sea,it was considered the gateway to ancient India or the Rome of the East because of its status as a centre for trade and Christianity. Kodungalloor was also the entry point to three major religions in India Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The oldest church in India, this was founded by St. Thomas who is believed to have come to Kerala in 52 AD. The main entrance of the church is decorated with 14 life-sized, granite statues depicting various scenes from the life of St. Thomas. Other highlights include Thaliyakulam a pond where St. Thomas baptized the local people, a replica of Little Mount in Chennai where he died, and a historicall11useurn. The Thaliyakulam is said to have miraculous powers of healing and a community baptism is held here once a month. Close by is the Chavakkad each and the 100 ft high Chetwa Lighthouse.
(Open 0900 - 1800 br: Prayer Timings: Every hour) Based on the model of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, this shrine was built to commemorate the landing of St.Thomas in India. A painting depicts the scene of his arrival and within the church is enshrined the relic of his right arm, brought down from Ortona, Italy.
(Open 0530 -1800 hI'S) Located 2km from Kodungalloor Town in Methala, this mosque resembles a Hindu temple in appearance. Built in 629 AD, this is the first mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma aprayers were started. Other places of interest nearby include the ancient Thiruvanchikulam Temple, Cheramanparambu, the Bhagavathi Temple and the portuguese Fort, Ph: 2803170
(Open 0400 - 0830 hrs, 1130-1200 hrs, 1600 -2000 hrs) Located in the centre of Kodungalloor town, the deity of the temple is a majestic 6 feet high wooden image of goddess Kali, The temple is famous its annual Bharani festival.
This temple has a carved entrance gable which has been compared to the wooden sculptures of American artist Louise Nevelson.
The Mahadeva Temple dedicated to Lord Siva is located in the same vicinity as the Cheraman Juma Masjid. The porch is adorned with carvings dedicated to the heroes of the Ramayana.
(Open 0430-1200 brs, 1630-2000hrs) The exquisite woodcarvmgs, sculptures and mural paintings are a feast for the eyes. Nangiar Kootbu, a local theatre for enacting scenes from the Ramayanais offered asa worship service in the temple premises.
The month of Medam (April-May) is considered to be auspicious for the Nalambalarn Darshan comprising the four temples of Rama at Tripayar, Bharata at lrinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikulam (in Ernakulam) and the Shatrughana Temple at Payemmel. The Nalarnbalam Circuit lies within the triangle formed by Guruvayoor, Ernakulam and Kodungalloor and visit to these temples must be completed in a single day.
(Varandarapilly Village, 37 km from Thrissur) Located in the Mukundapuram Taluk of Thrissur District, Chimrnini is only a two-hour drive from Kochi. With its dense forests, a variety of birds and butterflies, and innumerable trekking trails, this is a sanctuary that provides a heady experience for nature enthusiasts. The Forest Department organises trekking and bamboo rafting programmes in and around the sanctuary. But the best of all experiences is the Moonlight Sonata, which involves rafting on full moon nights.
(63 km from Thrissur) At the entrance to the Sholayar ranges, this 80 ft high waterfall is a popular picnic spot. I
(68 kmfrom Thrissur) Just a short drive from Athirapally, this picturesque waterfall is close to dense green forests and is a pall of the Chalakudy River. Athirapally and Vazhachal are the most famous waterfalls of Kerala which attract tourists in plenty.
Also known asPalaceThoppu, the campus covers an area of 6 acres. Here you can see three sbavakudeerams (tombs) including that of Sakthan Thampuran, the greatest ruler of the Cochin Dynasty.