Thrissur was my introduction to Kerala some thirty odd years back. As a young bride. Thus, for the next so many years, all visits there were basically confined to the four walls of an in-law’s house.

And so it was that, this year, I finally got to see a bit of the town, loitering around on my own.

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One could probably say that Thrissur kind of revolves around the Vadakkunnathan Temple, as there is a ring road around it. A major festival is held at this temple every year.

Thrissur or Thrushivaperur is so named because it is home to three Siva temples. We stayed near the Vadakkunnathan Temple. The black stone piece (villakku) in the centre of the picture is for lamps. It was interesting to note that it had a tortoise as base.

Apparently, only Hindus are allowed into this temple. I’m somewhat ok with that as I’d not like to see a horde of tourists thronging the place just for the heck of it.

However, this temple has many items of archeological worth which, tragically, evidence neglect. There are murals and more which would benefit from the right kind of care and attention.

The temple has large grounds and somehow brings to mind a Buddhist ambience. I’d have dearly loved to have spent more time there, preferably with someone who had many relevant local myths and legends to relate.

Thrissur was my first introduction to life as a Hindu. Although I’d grown up in a Hindu family of sorts, my father had a very unique outlook on all things, including religion and, thus, meeting the in-laws was my first formal foray into that world. I confess it was more than a bit bewildering.

In later years I acquired a friend who came from one of Thrissur’s Christian  communities. Her Thrissur world seemed a far cry from all I’d experienced.

It was serendipitous to be in Thrissur in time for Christmas and the roads were serene on Xmas morning as we took a post breakfast walk around.

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This is, reportedly, the third tallest church in Asia, famous for its Gothic architecture.

We passed Our Lady of Dolours and went into the compound. The history of Kerala’s Christians is ancient and, thus, churches appears to have evolved in harmony with local architectural frills. The tall thin pillar you see in the above picture, for example, is similar to what is to be found in a local Hindu temple.

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A Christian Vilakku

Unlike what I’d experienced in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, the Muslim population was more muted here.

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Nonetheless, a biriyani still rules, even in Thrissur. My most memorable biryani is one we had at the Shornur Railway station on my first journey to meet the In-Laws.

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In Kerala, a Biryani is usually served with a helping of lime pickle and an onion and green chili raita.

Most places, unless specifically advertised as Vegetarian, serve a biryani. And most biryanis are like the one in the picture above: rice conceals a generous and fiery meat dish. I had this at a place my husband said he used to haunt in his youth but apparently it’s now run by new management.

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`Chukkuvellam,’, the pink water in the picture, is water boiled with herbs which is how people in Kerala usually drink water.

Besides the ubiquitous biryani, the Kerala parotta with a dish of meat fry is also characteristic of the region. This was a place we found out about on line – a small eatery.

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Such a meal is usually only served on festive occasions in families. However, all over India, some eateries serve a “thali”, a representative meal with many dishes. Unfortunately, an abomination, called Dal, has begun to feature on a Kerala thai, though it is in no way representative.

Kerala has a lot of vegetarian dishes that are unique and yummy but, at a restaurant, you’re apt to get regulation fare: sambhar, rasam, avial, another coconut based vegetable dish, some thair, a pappadam, some pickle and a  sweet dish. In Thrissur, as in other parts of Kerala, the rice helping can be overwhelming, especially since it is the fat rice much preferred in that region.  Prasada  was ok in terms of ambience and decor but, for Rs. 100, the food was nothing to write home about.

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A lunch at this eatery, run by a women’s coop, with a famous documentary film maker and cartoonist, was far more enjoyable.

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The place is always full. Families, friends… The food was consistently good and the service always with a smile. What I loved best was observing that the waiters all sat at the same tables to have their food close to closing time.

Bharat Hotel was handy for a tasty sampler of a local vegetarian lunch. The jug to the right contains sambharam while the smaller one has rasam. These jugs are to be found in most Kerala eateries. This meal, at Rs. 80, was delicious as are most eats at this restaurant.

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It is rare to find a local diner serving ‘meals’ at dinner. One makes do with a repeat of breakfast items.

Pathans was right in front of our hotel and was also a favourite with locals, always full and served good fare, though Bharath will remain my favourite.

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As luck would have it, it was only on our last evening that we discovered a booze shop that did not have a serpentine queue. Besides the joy of not having to have a beer as sundowner, we also got to see some splendid roadside eateries and other fascinating sights.

These hawker carts emitted such delicious aromas that I cursed myself for possessing weak digestion. Youngsters sat around stuffing their face with these fluffy pancakes and what seemed to be quail eggs among other exotic fare.

 

 

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My first real time sight of coffins!

My addiction to filter coffee had me visiting the Indian Coffee House twice a day.

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The Indian Coffee House has outlets all over India but the concept was born in Kerala. It’s a cooperative and you can experience the consequent joy and dedication when you observe the waiters.

Alas, coffee in the Indian Coffee House is not served in the typical South Indian style!

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Filter coffee, South Indian Style, is served thus. The coffee is poured back and forth between the lower container and the glass to build up froth and mix in the sugar.

Filter coffee is not served in local homes where tea brewed from tea dust is a staple.

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Kerala has a lot of Gents Beauty Parlours and this obsession with male looks extends to clothing. Manshire seems to be a Mall dedicated to menswear.

There are much too many cars on the narrow roads for comfort but, thankfully, not as many young men speeding around on fancy bikes as in Kochi.

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It was heartening to find these mannequins given the proliferation of the typical shop mannequins which are scarily zombie like.

Given we were based near the temple, we could still spot many people in local attire but the truth is that people in Kerala increasingly sport North Indian dresses (the women) or Western attire (the men).

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Such quaint buildings form part of the charm of a walk around Thrissur.

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This little corner shop sells items which will soon only grace an antique shop.

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Thrissur is, for the moment, a gateway to a fast disappearing world of yore.

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5 thoughts on “Xmas and more in Temple Town Thrissur

    1. Thank you ever so much! It was a kind of home base for my in-laws but I too have not had the chance to explore it much. You should, though, since it’s your mother’s home town. And do blog about it then, for I shall look forwards to reading about it.

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