Idukki, the hilly district of Kerala gets the name from Malayalam word ‘Idukku’, which means a narrow gorge. The charming district is the most nature rich areas of Kerala and teems with picturesque peaks and verdant valleys. Its 1500 sq. kms. Reserved forest area is a haven for enchanting wildlife and exotic flora. The district is watered by three main rivers – periyar,Thalayar and Thodupuzhayar and is referred as the “power house” of kerala, as about 60% of the states power needs are fulfilled by the hydro-electric power station at Moolamattom. Idukki is also well known for its tea industry and pepper.
Wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, spice plantation tours, trekking and elephant rides are some of the attractions of this beautiful district. It is also home to large number of tribal population known for their unique customs and beliefs.
Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000 year old Vishnu temple and the ashramam. ‘Sivagiri Mutt’is a little distance from the beach. At the serene Varkala beach is a quiet sea resort rich in mineral water springs. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins, Hence the name ‘Papanasam beach’. A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple, stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach a short distance away.
Vadakkumnathan temple is the one of the archaic Siva temple in Kerala. And it is the largest temples in the state. This temple is a classical example of the Kerala style of architecture and has many decorative murals and works of art. The temple contains the sacred shrines of Parama Shiva, Parvathy, Sankaranarayana, Ganapathy, Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. The central shrines and Koothambalam exhibit exquisite vignettes carved in wood. Legend goes that this temple was founded by Parasurama. This is the venue of the world famous Pooram festival celebrated annually in April-May. The fireworks at the Pooram is a spectacular sight. Non-Hindus are not allowed entry into the temple.
Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India is situated 87 kms away fromTrivandrum. It is a place of the confluence of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, where one can enjoy the unique experience of watching the sunset and moon rise simultaneously on a full moon evening. Swamy Vivekananda, the great Indian philosopher went into contemplation here on a rock off the shore. In this rock the Vivekananda Rock Memorial stands today. Kanyakumari Temple, dedicated to Parasakthi, the virgin Goddess, is located overlooking the sea. The place is symbol of unity and sanctity (non hindus are not allowed into the inner sanctum).
At Madhur, 8 Kms. north east of Kasaragod, is the famous Madhur Srimad Anantheswara Vinayaka temple. The imposing structure of the temple, with its turrets and gables and the copper plate roofing, rises majestically against the beautiful landscape of hills, paddy fields and gardens with the river Madhuvahini flowing leisurely in front of it.
The Madhur temple is a Siva temple with Srimad Anantheswara as its presiding deity. The Sivalingam of the temple is said to have been found by a harijan woman, Madharu.
A special festival associated with the Madhur temple is the Moodappa seva.The large figure of Maha Ganapathi is covered with appam. It requires enormous quantities of rice and lakhs of rupees for its conduct. The festival is conducted only periodically in view of the huge expenditure involved.It was celebrated in April 1962 after a lapse of about 160 years, and very recently in April 1992.
The ceiling of the Namaskara Mantapam of the Madhur Temple has been decorated with beautiful figures of puranic heroes in wood carving. A closer examination of the wood carvings would disclose the various episodes of the Ramayana, beginning with the Putrakameshtiyagam and ending with Seetha Swayamvaram. The Mantapam in the interior of the temple building as well as the outside façade of the second and third storeys of the main building are also profuse with attractive and exquisite wood carvings.