Festival of the month: Thrissur Puram

Beautifully decorated temple elephants draw huge crowds
Image courtesy: Nisham Abdulmanaf

The 36 hours of Thrissur Puram glide by in a blink! One is consumed by the commotion on this day: devotees take to the streets, quickly filling the venue, Swaraj Maidan and the streets that lead to it, caparisoned pachyderms amble slowly to line up for the main function and dummers, pipers and the rest of the temple troupe provide a constant background score to the chaos! All in all, the town is an energetic mass of sights and sounds!

The key contributors to this vivacious mayhem are the three temples around the Swaraj Maidan. The deities of Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples (these represent Parvati) are brought with elaborate processions to a small hillock in the centre, where the Shiva temple, Vadakkunnadhan, stands. Colourful parasols decorate elephant tops and parade through to make two rows. The parasols are then exchanged between the elephant troupes: the ceremony is known as Kudamattom. The festivity carries on with many other ceremonies, but what you must stick around for is the nightlong show of pyrotechnics.

For those who want to photograph/witness the festival at close quarters, should get in touch with the Thrissur Puram Co-ordination Committee on 0487 2322334 or paramekkavu_tcr@bsnl.in. There are separate enclosures made for visitors.

When: 21st April

How to get there: Cochin in the closed airport to Thrissur. From here, you can take a bus or cab to cover the distance of 86 km in 2-3 hours.  Private and government bus operators have plenty of overnight options from major south Indian cities (see www.redbus.in). Thrissur is also a relatively large railhead and is well connected by trains.

Stay:  Here are a few options to stay for Thrissur. Book ahead as accommodations run out often:

Hotel Pooram International – 0487 2225555; www.hotelpooram.com. The hotel overlooks the Swaraj grounds. Ask for a room with a view.

Lulu Garden – 0487 301111; www.luluicc.in. The hotel is slightly far from the venue but a convenient option nevertheless.

With a penchant for travelling ‘ungoogled’, Supriya has willingly got lost a number of times in the most obscure places of India for the last 8 years. She lives on a healthy diet of anecdotes and tea with auto drivers, co-passengers and locals! Supriya currently runs a Bangalore based travel-photography outfit called Photography Onthemove and writes regular features for India and International travel publications. More on www.supriyasehgal.com