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A little bit of Aranmula- Stories from my rural expeditions

Updated: May 30, 2019

Holy river Pumpa

I recently got a chance to accompany a cousin of mine to visit a friend at a little Village in the South of Kerala, India called Aranmula. And being bitten by the travel bug, how could I ever let go of this “Golden” opportunity!? This particular trip was a unique experience for me as we decided to go bus hopping and refrained from pre-booking our transport.

My journey began from my home in Bangalore to Madikeri, Coorg where my cousin joined me. We enquired with the locals at each bus stop we stopped about how to get to the place and only took the ordinary buses and auto rickshaws. Traveling at night in a local bus at Kerala is bliss; with their large open windows, you get a massive view of the dazzling skies above.

After 29 hours, 7 buses, 3 auto rickshaws and 1 metro train, we finally arrived at our destination Aranmula. But you can find your own way to reach this place. Nearest railway station: Chengannur, about 11 km away Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 117 km away

A land with unique heritage

Aranmula is a small temple town located on the banks of the holy river Pampa in Pathanamthitta District. The name Aranmula is a combination of two words, “Aru” which means “six” and “Mula” means “Bamboo” in the Malayalam language. It is said that the idol of Lord Krishna was brought to this place on a raft made of six bamboo poles. Aranmula has been enlisted as the global heritage village by the United Nations. Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple

Aranmula Parthasarathy temple is one of the most famous temples of Kerala. The main deity is Lord Krishna also known as Parthasarathy or the charioteer of Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war. The temple architecture is similar to most of the temples in Kerala. The temple has two entrances; the front entrance is accessed through a flight of 18 steps while the back entrance leads to the holy river Pampa through a flight of 57 steps. The paintings on the temple walls are said to be from the 18th century. The outer walls of the sanctum consist of an array of lamps which are lit on special occasions (wonder how elegant that might look). To enter the temple both men and women are expected to follow certain dress codes. The men are expected to enter the temple shirtless exposing their upper body while the women are expected to be in ethnic attire.

Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple -Source: Google

Aranmula Vallam Kali/ Snake boat race

The ancient and most popular Aranmula snake boat race is held on the holy river Pampa annually during the festival of Onam (August- September).  Around 51 snake boats also known as Palliyodams take part in the race and thousands of people of all age groups gather for the celebration (I really hope to not miss it the next year).

Snake boat race- Source: Google

Aranmula Vallasadya/ Feast to boatmen

Aranmula Vallasadya is a unique mass feast which is held at the Parthasarathy temple for 62 days where the boatmen are specially invited and offered a feast. The sadhya/meal consists of over 70 dishes. The boatmen perform special songs for the feast praising the Lord Parthasarathy. Later, the songs become more playful and include demands of various dishes they would like to be served.

Vallasadhya -Source: Google

Aranmula Kannadi/ Aranmula Mirrors

Aranmula mirror is a kind of handmade metal mirror known for its secretive construction method and uniqueness. It was invented around the 16th century by the native craftsmen of Aranmula. The construction method of these mirrors is kept as a family secret and is passed down from generations. These mirrors are considered auspicious and believed to bring home good luck and prosperity. These can also be a great gifting option.

Aranmula metal mirrors- Source: Google

I also got to visit the National Jackfruit fest which showcased a wide variety of Jackfruits and its preparations, a whole lot of hand-crafted artifacts and vegetable carvings, various breeds of cattle and science projects.

National jackfruit fest

In conclusion, it was definitely a soul filling experience with a lot of information and beautiful landscapes.  A big thanks to my cousin Nithin for being an awesome travel partner. We ought to travel more!

Hope you enjoyed reading! Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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