Walking through the narrow roads in God’s own country, one realizes the true majesty of this state in India. Patched with the parrot green carpet of the paddy fields and the thick stripes of coconut trees, Kerala is truly God’s own country. Among the 14 districts of the state, Pathanamthitta is a hub for many educational institutions and religious places.
My journey is to a place called Mallapally, which is a small town in Pathanamthitta district. I am sure that almost half of the people who are reading this will not be able to pronounce the name in the proper way. With all the feelings of a person visiting his hometown after a span of four years, I stood by the door of the Kanyakumari bound Mumbai-Kanyakumari Express. The route involves the train going through Tamilnadu and then to Kerala.
When the train left the hustle of Coimbatore station after midnight, I was on my berth, trying to sleep and recall the sweet memories of my childhood in my hometown. My intuitions woke me up when the train crossed the Kerala-Tamilnadu border. Ignoring the cold, I rushed towards the door to catch a glimpse. The train came to a halt at Palakkad even before the red-streak broke across the horizons.
The station was sleepy but filled with happiness of those getting off and ready to be greeted by their loved ones. Palakkad could be said as the greenest part of God’s own country where the culture is a mixture of both Kerala and Tamilnadu. The Brahmins of Palakkad share similar rituals with their Tamil counterparts. After a halt of approximately half an hour, the train left on its way to KanyaKumari.
Following Palakkad,was Ottapalam, known for the communist revolutions which have left a deep mark in the history of Kerala. The former Indian President Mr.K.R.Narayanan belongs to Ottapalam. This place also hosts the world famous Kerala Kalamandalam which nourishes upcoming artists into professional ones mostly in the Kathakali dance form and also in other divine art forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam and other instrumental arts. Legendary writers who have changed the face of Malayalam literature like Vayalar Narayana Menon, who is considered as a revolutionary poet. Following the footsteps of Vayalar as he is called, is M.T.Vasudevan Nair whose novels every Malayalee relishes reading and gets a taste of the variety of the state.
Shornur came next followed by Vadakkancheri which are major players in the paddy cultivation of the state.
Eager to get back to familiar situations, my soul was stirred by my emotions and I was forced to stand by the door in spite of the chilling wind brushing through my hair and leaving a thin film of dampness over my eye glasses. As the train sped past the coconut farms which were barely visible in the dark I, felt the essence of my beloved state in the blowing wind. Lost in thoughts, I somehow realized that our train was crawling into Trichur railway station which nowadays is again given an age old name of Thrissivaperoor. The name is attributed to a famous Hindu temple of Lord Shiva. This place hosts the colorful week-long festival called the Thrissur- Pooram. Looking around for a coffee vendor I wandered on the railway station.
Somewhere near, came the familiar voice of the renowned Late M.S.Subbulakshmi. The voice which I grew up hearing and was somehow lost in the run of my life, was flowing straight into my soul. I got the coffee from a vendor, and at the price of Rs 4/Cup he had a business of around 12 Rs from me. I had to bring myself out from the hypnotic voice of the legend as our driver was in no mood to listen to the divine voice. After leaving Trichur, I thought of leaving the door side and getting back to the coziness of my blanket.
This thought of mine did not materialize as it was already Alwaye. Every Malayalee knows the taste of the colorful halwa made in ghee. Anyways I was not planning to have that ball of sugar in the morning. Famous for the Shivarathri festival, Alwaye ( Aaluva in local terms ) could be said as the next popular place after Trichur where people love to stay.
Even as the day brightened, the train took halts in between which we felt was without any specific reason. Halting here and there and bearing the cold wind of a winter morning, we reached Eranakulam. The Venice of the East, as it was called ages ago, it is now the technology hub of Kerala. I decided to make Eranakulam my venue for breakfast.
Back in Mumbai, my day used to begin with a cup of coffee and a sandwich if time permitted. The spicy aroma of the steaming Idli-Sambhar made me forget everything and even that I hadn’t even brushed my teeth. Pardon me for the cleanliness factor. I was coming home after so many years, and I could not resist.
The place where I was supposed to get off was still at a distance of 4- 5 hours. I was extremely sleepy and I decided to take a nap. While I was busy with my dreams, the train whistled past many places of historic importance. Starting with Thripunithura which till date is famous for the rivalry between the local rulers ages ago. Next in the route is Piravam which is known solely for the Hindustan NewsPrint factory. To describe about the importance of all the places that followed, this place will be very limited. To specify some, Ettumanoor is again a religious town where thousands flow in every morning to watch the early morning Pooja called the Nirmalya Darshanam of the deity Ettumanoorappan. My dreams came to a halt when the train stopped at Kottayam. Kottayam is the place which connects one part of Kerala to another. The tourist paradise Vembanad Lake is in this district. Kumaragom which is on the banks of the lake has a bird sanctuary and adorned with the beauty of Pathiramanal which is an island in the lake.
After Kottayam, comes Changanacherry which is also in the same district. Changanacherry hosts many educational institutions and for those who have a fair idea of the place, this note would be incomplete if I do not mention about Mannathu Padmanabhan who is the founder of Nair Service Society which gave the community an identity of its own. Changanacherry has the head office of N.S.S situated in the heart of the town. The station is pretty small when compared to other stations en route but for me it had the same importance as it was the last station before where I was supposed to get off.
Leaving the door, I got busy with packing my bags and prepared to get down at Thiruvalla, my destination. When the train rushed into the station, I couldn’t control my emotions and drops of tears rolled easily down my eyes. Getting down from the train, I felt that I have achieved something very special in my life. I have no words to explain how I was feeling at that moment. Having experienced this green patch in India, I now know why it is aptly called God’S Own Country.