Palakkad with INTACH

Weddings are boring and traveling 6-7 hours just for one is even more boring. But if there is a heritage walk happening just around the corner, then that travel makes a lot of sense – to me at least! Jan 20th, I get a message from a close friend about a heritage walk happening in Palakkad organized by INTACH, but it wasn’t until about 2-3 days before the actual event that I decided to join them.

Me: “Are seats still available Arun?
He: “Yes Dilip, around 3.

Books a tatkal and boards train to Palakkad.

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The journey begins.

 

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The mini brochure explaining the program in detail.

 

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The route map.

 

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How we rolled.

 

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The postcard. The one where we filled our own address was randomly given to someone else to write a small message. The cards were then posted by the organizers. A beautiful idea that made the postcard lover in me very happy. And yes, mine arrived by post 2 days ago! 🙂

Part one  |  Farmer’s Share

This was our first stop for the day and where we had breakfast. Set in a huge campus along the banks of Nila River, Farmer’s Share is a permaculture and craft learning center situated in Mundaya, Shoranur. More about them here.

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Farmer’s Share entrance.

 

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The nameplate.

 

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Potter at work.

 

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Finished products are sold as well as used at Farmer’s Share.

 

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Small mud pots.

 

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A closer look at the beautiful design.

 

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One of my favorites!

 

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More mud pots.

 

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Handloom weaving – another activity at Farmer’s Share.

 

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Thread used for weaving.

 

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Closeup of the colorful yarn.

 

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Friendliest puppy ever – Mouly.

 

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Mouly enjoying a lil petting.

 

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Wall art.

 

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Window and the bookshelf.

 

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Steps.

 

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Textures.

Part two  |  Paatasala

Our second stop for the day was at Paatasala, a trust formed by Sreeja Arangottukara to promote agriculture and theater. She is an organic farmer and a theater activist and juggles her time between managing her profession as an income tax officer and the various activities at Paatasala. She has also won awards from Sahithya Academy and Sangeetha Nataka Academy for her writings.

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House made entirely of mud, where Sreeja and her family lives.

 

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Moo!

 

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Beautiful illustrations on the walls of the house.

 

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Karinkara koythutsavam (harvest festival).

 

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Another beautiful illustration on the wall.

 

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Welcome drink.

 

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Red rice papadams and “chakka pothi” (a jackfruit dish) served in biodegradable leaf plates and the baked clay cup in which the drink was served.

 

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Opening the “chakka pothi”.

 

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The baked clay cup in which the drink was served.

 

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Sreeja explaining her activities.

 

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Backdrop for the stage where Sreeja and her team performed a short play to help people understand the importance of farming and protecting farmlands.

 

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Scenes from the play. More photos below.

 

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Colors.

 

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En route our walk back to the bus.

 

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She.

 

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Tire/tyre works – a roadside puncture shop.

 

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Palm trees.

Part three  |  Vellinezhi

Me: “Which is our next stop?
She: “Navodayam, Veliinezhi.

The name Vellinezhi is very familiar to me as I had spent 3 days at Olappamanna Mana in 2010, but when she said Navodayam, I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant. I continued staring out the window and soon that whole déjà vu feeling started kicking in. Everything felt vaguely familiar, but it wasn’t until after the bus stopped in front of the mana that I realized am back at Olappamanna Mana – a totally unexpected surprise! And another surprise in store was the chakyarkoothu performance soon after lunch. The story (as I understand) is about Lord Ganesha teaching Vaishravanan (Kuberan) a lesson. Attaching a small audio clip (mostly in Malayalam) by the artiste himself explaining few aspects of the art form.

 

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Navodayam – the mana where the chakyakoothu was performed.

 

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Vipin playing the mizhavu to announce the koothu (performance) is about to start.

 

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Children watching the performance.

 

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Kalamandalam Charu Agaru, as the chakyar, enters. Few more photos of the performance below.

 

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After the performance, I walked down to the actual “Olappamanna Mana”. It was a beautiful feeling being there after almost a decade.

 

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Path back to Navodayam.

Part four  |  Mallissery Mana

Our last stop for the day was at Mallisserry Mana, which now houses architect Gokul’s design studio. The main attraction here, apart from the scrumptious dinner, was street magician Musthafa’s performance. No fancy props, no fancy stage, no fancy lights – just a few simple tricks performed to perfection with some humor thrown in that put a smile on everyone’s face.

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Musthafa and his props.

 

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The snake basket.

 

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Trying to lure the snake out of the basket.

 

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Trying to lure the snake out of the basket, now with a flute thrown in.

 

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The box which was supposed to have a snake inside.

 

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The currency trick where he extracts a flag from the note.

 

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The flag that came out of the note.

 

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Mallissery Mana. There were too many people in the photo, so I blurred out everyone in editing. Simple pleasures! 😀

 

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A beautiful little gift from the organizers – a bottle each of pathila pickle, hibiscus jam, and hibiscus-infused honey.

What started around 7 in the morning finally came to an end around 9:15 in the night. The whole program was a great experience. Learned a lot, met some really wonderful people, and made some new friends too. Chakyarkoothu was another great experience as this is the very first time I am seeing one “live”.

I was very happy, content, and all smiles when I boarded my bus back home. Shopping for kondattams at Rava Store and some madhura seva for my sweet tooth; filter coffee and seva from Harihara Puthra; masala dosa and yes, filter coffee again, from Sree Sabari Brahmin’s Hotel; Sindhu Cool Bar; walking around Sultanpet and other bylanes; and of course, this heritage trip with INTACH. How I wish I could be part of all their future programs! If only Palakkad was somewhere near Thiruvananthapuram! 🙂

2 thoughts on “Palakkad with INTACH

  1. Amazing set of pictures! Loved them all…each one tells a story and those stories gets stitched together with the narrations..

    Love the Postcard idea…what a wonderful thing to do! What was the message in your postcard?

    Some that I liked a little more than the others:
    The Journey begins

    Part 1 – Potter at work; the mud pots and their simple designs ; the steps

    Part 2 – The mudhouse at Paatasala, the cow, the wall illustrations, the performance there seems informative and interesting; the baked clay cups and the food served there…

    Small Note: I simply adore these baked clay cups that are available in many parts of India. They are supposed to be “use and throw” but I really feel bad to throw them. Back in Kolkata, I used to bring them home and reuse them in some way or the other. You would have seen a few in my Bangalore home too. In Kolkata, many roadside shops serve tea in these cups (known as “bharer cha”, “bhar” for the mud cups and “cha” for tea). Even in trains that depart from Kolkata, many chai vendors serve tea in “bhars” , often they call this out specifically. Have seen them in Benaras too. And, I am totally biased with respect to these mud cups. If I see any place serving tea in these that is where I will go!

    Part 3 – Surely would like to know more about “3 days at Olappamanna Mana in 2010”;
    Navodayam looks serene and peaceful; Vipin’s pic is nice too, especially the one in action; The Chakyar’s elaborate dress up and the close up picture of him smiling is lovely

    Part 4 – Didn’t you get a picture of the snake? Or you didn’t want to scare it away?

    So, I can see you in many more INTACH heritage trips 🙂

    So rich the culture and heritage of our country is…one lifetime isn’t enough to know it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Neel for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Reg Olappamanna Mana, that post will be up in a few days. There are a few more photos that I need to add to the series.

      And as far as the snake is concerned, I never saw it, but some others did once the session was over. It was a baby viper it seems. And truth be said, I feel sad for that baby. :-/ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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