Cultural Capital of Kerala – Thrissur
A great man once said, “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” Not many places in the world do any justice to this statement. But the beautiful city of Thrissur is an exception. When I first saw this city, its beauty was so breathtaking that I just stood staring at it for more than an hour, not even realising what I was doing. So it would be unfair if I didn’t share this once in a lifetime experience of mine with all of you.
The city of Thrissur located in the state of Kerala, is also known as Thirushivaperur. All of you must be wondering what the name means. The city is called so because it is believed to be the “Land of Lord Shiva”. The three temples, Vadakkumnathan Temple, Kottapuram Shiva temple and the Poonkunnam Shiva temple where Lord Shiva is the presiding deity, do justice to the name. The mighty ruler Raja Rama Varma also known as Shakthan Thampuran is the architect of this wonderful city.
Now there are certain places in Thrissur which must be visited. The Kerala State Museum and the Kerala zoo are two such places. The zoo is famous for its collection of snakes such as Cobras, Kraits, Pythons, and Vipers to name a few. Also various species of tigers, lions, bears and birds can be seen here. The zoo includes a Zoological Garden, Botanical Garden, Art museum and Natural History Museum in its compound. The art section of the museum contains a collection of sculptures, idols, traditional jewellery and lamps, Kathakali figures, while the Natural History Museum displays a collection of various animals.
What trip would it be, if one does not visit the legendary Shakthan Thampuran Palace? A blend of traditional Kerala and Dutch architecture style, this palace was named after the founder of the town. There are three tombs here, including the tomb of Shakthan Thampuran. There is a museum inside the palace which has different galleries such as the Bronze gallery, Sculpture gallery, History gallery, Megalithic Gallery, to name a few. Also this museum would be a delight to all the numismatists as it has a collection of various ancient coins. The galleries also depict the treasury, royal bedroom, displays of weapons and stamps. Also there is a medicinal plants garden which has a collection of indigenous and exotic plants.
My favourite place was the Dream World Water Theme Park. It had everything from Go Karting to Crazy Cruise and Dream Splash and every other ride our young minds could ever dream of. Getting me out of this place was probably the most difficult task for my parents.
The Bible Tower situated in Thrissur is the tallest church tower in Asia and was inaugurated for the purpose of World Peace. The best part is that it can be seen from anywhere in the town. I was very shocked to hear that the building has been certified as earthquake proof by the Geology Department of India. Amazing isn’t it?
About 63 kms from Thrissur are the Athirapally waterfalls, a feast for our eyes. The water here falls from a height of 80m and joins the Chalakudy River below. As my innocent brother rightly asked, “How can we come to a cultural place like Thrissur and expect to have fun?” and yet again, this wonderful city proved him wrong.
About 30 kms from there, is the Nattika beach where we had the time of our lives by engaging ourselves in Deep sea fishing, backwater cruise and elephant rides. If one has kids with them, two more places they ought to visit are the Peechi Wild Life Sanctuary and the Silver Storm Water Theme Park. The sanctuary is a home to a variety of species of orchids, mammals, birds, reptiles and snakes.
About 40 kms from Thrissur is the Cheraman Jama Masjid, which is considered as the oldest mosque in India. The unique thing about this mosque is that while other mosques in Kerala face westwards, this mosque faces eastwards. Also there is an ancient oil lamp which burns always and is believed to be more than a thousand years old.
Thrissur is also a home to numerous ancient and popular temples of Kerala like the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, Mammiyur Shiva temple, Thriprayar Rama Temple.
The Thrissur Pooram festival is one of the biggest, eye catching and most awaited festivals of Kerala. It’s an inclusive celebration bringing together Hindus, Muslims and Christians. More than 50 elephants are taken in a procession through the town from neighbouring temples to the Vadakkumnathan temple. The celebrations commence in the early hours of the morning and last till the break of dawn, the next day. Phew, one long festival that must’ve been. The processions are accompanied by the magical effect of the combination of five wind instruments also called as ‘Panchavadyam’. The fireworks at the Pooram are an experience beyond imagination. No wonder this festival attracts thousands of people across the country every year! This is just one of the festivals of this city. The list goes on and on.
The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, Kerala Lalita Kala Akademi, Kerala Sahitya Academy which promote literature, arts and music which attract cultural tourists are all situated in Kerala. Thus, after Independence, Thrissur became the literary capital of Kerala.
Apart from this, Thrissur is also famous for its Onam celebrations which take place in August or September every year. It is also one of the best places in Kerala to shop for silk and gold ornaments.
Thus, with its rich history, heritage and culture, Thrissur is one place which all of you can mark as a ‘must go to’. What, with all the temples, mosques, churches, palaces, dams and beaches, the term “Cultural City” now seems like an understatement doesn’t it?