Whenever people talk about places to travel and ask me about places to see in Kerala. I just say one thing, if you are interested in seeing temples (around Mangalore & nearby) than I can be of help to you or better ask someone else.
Most of the temples actually fall in Karnataka. Ideally my native place should have been in Karnataka but my native place ended up in Kerala because of state boundaries. I used to get mixed up a lot when traveling not knowing if I was in Kerala or Karnataka.
I have too heard about the beautiful looking backwaters, but sadly the only time I see them is in videos or in TV and often wondered why I have not been there?
Since childhood the only places that I have been to in my native place apart from paying a visit to the relative’s house (which means eating a lot of chicken) was temples. I have been to the beaches twice, the first time it being closer to the relative’s house, can’t really recall the waters, but it was a virgin beach with no one but us, a bunch of kids. The second time was a recent one which has a sad reason attached to it. Let me tell you about the Kerala that I know.
The place where Dad built a house is actually a secluded one (we have no neighbors nearby) and a road had to be built out of the mountains to reach there by car. The open space in front of the house is a big one, where I as a kid played cricket with my cousins.
Standing on the end of the open space, one could see the farms below, the water tank and on the other side the plantations and the old house at a distance which was the place in which Dad grew up.
There were three dogs guarding the house. An Alsatian, Pomeranian (which was a first to be seen in a village) and an Indian breed. The Alsatian was the favorite one and named Julie after the hit movie Julie. The funny part is that even today I don’t know the gender of the dog. All the three of them passed away years back and I believe there are two new dogs who have replaced them.
The cowshed was one of the favorite spots where we as kids used to sit outside on the entrance and listen to ghost stories told by my cousin and sister in the night. We used to get scared while going down to the old house in the dark as the only light source would be that of a torch.
I remember a very funny incident regarding the farm where I, my cousin and sister found ourselves cornered by two frogs on both ends of the only path in between the farms which was covered with water. I still remember the noise it made and the bubble that used to appear and disappear under its face. Man, we were out of our wits!!
I have an uncle who actually used to act as a guide to the group of kids every year when we came and would show us the place around. It was nothing less than a trek around the mountains and had actually came across a big ghost tree, where it was said that ghosts used to live and that it was forbidden to point fingers towards it. I also came across some perfect small holes made in mountains which my uncle said were evidence that the Pandavas had stayed there.
We would also go on a hunt for cashew nuts which used to grow in abundance. Bring the plucked ones home and roasted it. It used to be quite a feast.
The Kerala that I know is filled up with stories about ghosts, black magic and gods. Heard many stories about them from Mom which fascinates me even today. In fact, there are many stories about my Mom’s place. The house where she lived was said to be more than 100 years old. It was only recently that it was tore down and a larger house replaced it. The unusual part is that when my cousin took a snap of the house as a remembrance it came all black minus the house.
I have even witnessed the Bhuta Kola. For those who don’t know it’s the calling of the spirits who is worshipped with the Gods. During the Bhuta, the person impersonating the spirit would get possessed, drink blood from a live chicken and answers your queries.
I even had the privilege of witnessing the Kathakali dance form at the Katil temple where we had reached late night and the entry to the temple was found closed.
The roads of Kerala are something that I enjoy a lot. If you are traveling in the state run buses, don’t forget to remember God for a safe journey. I always felt like I was driving in a formula one course where the turns and slopes were steeper. Often one will find that yours is the only car that is plying on the roads when traveling in the interiors. I hope they stay like that forever.
The temple that got my attention was the Madhur temple, not much as the temple but the roads which could have easily scared anyone. The slopes were so steep that one mistake and the vehicle would find itself at the bottom. The better known temples are Dharamastala, Subramaniuam and Katil. I don’t know remember the names of other temples.
There were days when I enjoyed being a Bombayite, but the place has undergone a major change with everyone carrying a cell phone and Mangalore getting hip. Telling that I am from Bombay does not evoke the same response as it was years back.
The strangest thing I find is seeing my childhood pics, my family photos at a relative’s house which I never visited more than once. One of the relative’s houses I visited left me dazed with cupboards full of awards and trophies. I had never seen a sight like that. The relative was an accomplished footballer and cricketer. On my second visit, the person was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and I felt anger inside me when I heard his son-in-law talked about giving those trophies and awards as junk and only retaining the big ones once he passed away. Some people just don’t know how to appreciate individual efforts!!
I do find myself in a language barrier as I grew up speaking Hindi, have no clue how that happened. No wonder my command over the native language is not very polished. I don’t know Kannada & Malayalam (though I do understand few) which more or less helps to travel around places in Kerala & Karnataka too.
Kerala reminds me of memories which I have cherished most as a child. Those were some days!!
P.S. I was suppose to publish this post long back but better late than never.