Train journey to Tiruvalla

I was all excited when Jim called up and invited me for his wedding. 2 reasons.
1. Jim was getting married and
2. it was happening in Kerala, which meant that I had a chance to go to Kerala. I had been planning kerala tour for quite some time, but never happened due to one reason or other. Here was one more chance and I was determined not to let go of it.

A brief about Tiruvalla

Tiruvalla is a small (in terms of area) town close to Kottayam.. This is a rich city in the sense that there are lots of NRI influence here. One can find almost all banks here. Next in number to the banks are the Jewellery shops (famous brands like Alukkas etc). So, that would give an idea of how the place is ?

Tiruvalla also is a place of religious importance.

How to get there

Tiruvalla (Station code : TRVL) has a railway station where all trains have a stoppage. Trains from New Delhi, Mumbai ,Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Howrah etc going towards Trivandrum has to pass through this small station.

From Bangalore there is only one train (6525 – Kanyakumari exp) that gets you directly to Tiruvalla, This train leaves Bangalore at 9.45 PM and reaches Tiruvalla at 12 Noon next day.

Planning well in advance is advised to ensure seat availability ?

Booking.com

Ofcourse there are buses (Govt and Private). From Banglaore, the bus journey would take around 14 hrs. Private (Sharma,Kallada) Volvo buses take as much as 13-14 hrs to reach.

The nearest airport is Cochin (2hrs from Tiruvalla). All major airlines have service to Kochi. A cab from Kochi to Tiruvalla would cost 1500 (INR)

If you don’t want to spend 1500 (or more) on a cab, then the best bet is to take a cab from the Kochi aiport to the nearest railway station , which is Aluva (formerly known as Alwaye). From Aluva, there are trains available at regular intervals. Get an “open ticket” for “reserved coach” and get into the train.

I personally loved the train journey for 2 reasons
• lots of natural scenery all along
• and ofcourse I love “travel by train”
It’s a delight (atleast for me) to watch the train as it takes a sharp turn. Here are few pictures that I managed to shoot from the speeding train

View from the train and of the train

Coming to think of it, I was travelling a long journey by train after almost 5 years. I used to travel 2-3 times a year from Delhi to Chennai (38 hrs). Most of the train journey of late had been limited to 5-7 hrs.

The initial hours (7 hrs) are covered in the night. Coimbatore is the last big station before the train steps into Kerala. Once in Kerala , the train makes close to 30 stops in Kerala before it chugs backinto TamilNadu. I woke up from my slumber (so to say) as the train was pulling out of the Palakkad. The weather was perfect. Cloudy, cool breeze blowing across and greenery all around. I took out my camera and started shooting pictures.

After every 20-30 minutes the train had a stop and it was a “open for all”seating :-) . Not many may like this fact (what say Mukhi? :-)). Luckily, I had ample space around me to move around and click pictures.

One pleasant surprise I had was when the train was crossing this place called “Angamali”, when I caught a glimpse of what looked like a tail of an aircraft. As we got closer, I could see 6-7 aircrafts lined up in the parking bay. Later, I came to know that it was the Cochin airport. As the train was crossing, I could see a flight line up for landing. Pretty neat sight.

The airport at Cochin is worth a mention. The structure of the airport reflects the kerala style. Here are some pictures of it.

It was 12.30 PM by the time I set foot on the platform of Tiruvalla station. The station at Tiruvalla resembles a station that one would see in RKN’s ‘Malgudi Days’ :-). But this is no way behind any big station in terms of the facility. (Am not talking abt internet connectivity here, pls)

Since the major agenda in Tiruvalla was Jim’s wedding, there was nothing planned in terms of “tourist”. However, I did get to see things inside the town and also drive around the town.

Some of the places that I visited

St. Thomas Cathedral :Supposedly a old cathedral dating back to 1926. One can find a mix of Christian and Hindu influence here in the structure of the cathedral.

The long golden pole outside the cathedral is very similar to the “dvajasthambam” or the flag-pole that is seen in the hindu temples. Also, the lamps that hang on the doors resembles the hindu tradition.

Yet another known place in Tiruvalla is the Vallabha swamy temple. This apparently is a well-known one among the hindu devotees. If you are looking for directions to this place, you need to ask for “Tiruvalla Ambalam” to any auto driver. (Ambalam in Malayalam means “Temple”). Needless to say, this temple is built in authentic Kerala style

The large tank outside the temple is believed to have formed naturally. A granite pillar (see Pic on left) carved out of single piece with an image of Garuda on its top stands in front of the temple. It is believed that its bottom touches the water table This is perhaps the only one place in Kerala where Kathakali is performed as a ritual offering everyday. The temple is a huge one. To complete one full circumbulation , it takes close to 10 mins. The rules of Kerala temples apply here. Men have to take off the shirt before entering the sanctum sanctorum.

There are lots of other place around Tiruvalla which are within short distances and that are worth a visit. Maybe next time, when there’s no other agenda, I will make it.

  • Dear Karthik,
    Reading through your post, on the modern “Malgudi” was like a breeze, quite literally, as you took us past Cochin, and metaphorically.

    The temple architecture seems to have clear chinese influence or may be it is the other way round.

    Like you I also enjoy train journeys, especially long ones, except for that “open for all” seating aspect. The snap with train curving an the coconut trees leaning towards the train is a great peace of train photography, which has its own cult somewhere.

    Rajeev

  • Quick and Crisp. After reading Kerela on ghumakkar , Palakkad and some other names start to look familiar. :)

    Never been there, sometime probbaly.

    And I am a great fan of rail journey. It used to take us 40 hours to reach our home in Darbhanga from Delhi (now it takes about 24 hours) with a train change, eating at Samastipur Vaishnav restaurants (there was this concept of thali where you can eat as much) and all that.

    Probably not many would be able to claim that they had a bath in ‘waiting room’ while on the way, that is while the train takes a stop, you go out , take a bath and come back to your seat :)

  • Karthik

    Nice to know that there are people who love train journeys to this date.
    @Rajeev: the cathedral has a Portugese influence, esp those colored glasses on the high ceilings.

  • Ok, what looked like a pagoda to me, is basically an edifice with portugese influence.
    Karthik, you would be surprised to know that there are railfan groups with a daily traffic of 50-100 posts. In case you are, try IRFCA.ORG for anything related with Indian trains.

  • JATINDER SETHI

    I think I am becoming addicted to this site because so much new to read though I get all the travel magazines from OUTLOOK. My wife and I have been dreaming to go to Kerla, but find it it little too long. Mind you, like you ,we are Rail travel bugs, We used to travel in Frontier Mail from Mumbai to Delhi in IST class(before we got AC cars) with a large block of ice in a tub in our compartment ,of 4 people- 2 young sons and us because it used to be hot travelling in summer durind vacation. But the smell of coke , typical engine staring and whistle blowing had a mesmarizing effect.Great thing about train travel with a full compartment to yourself was the time when we used to sit down on floor(along with the Ice block) and open our large tiffen carrier with Pranthas and dry Alus with pickle and the earthen SURAHI of water–filled from the platform, while the engine was filled with water. Oh we miss those monster rail engines blowind smoke out—-its like missing travel overseas in oldLloyd Tristeno?PO ships. Must go to gods own country and via KONKA rail.INSHA ALLAH.Good to travel with you.Sorry for the nostalgia.

  • Sudhir

    Karthik- Reading through your post, took me back many years. Nicely written. Well, one thing is certain. My next long journey will be on rails.

  • vivek

    This will make everybody to travel in train. To book your tickets in http://www.indiantrains.org/

    The better way to search Indian trains looks great and it open fast, no pop-up, user friendly. Every information in a single page. This concept is good and some of the features like calendar, train running day has not come in a single website in this reviews. the most important features i have seen in this site that if the user does not know the station code then also he can see all the trains and it is only website which have a drop menu box for the important station from where you can choose the station name and also it has a date calendar from you can choose the date and it show the running day of the train so that you can know which day of the week this train is running. the other most important feature I have seen in this website that it show the train which does not have the reservation coach for the benefit of the user and they are showing the passenger train also which is also not available in any website. This site will enable the users to search train route and compare fares of most of the trains in India.

  • Rajeev Tivari

    That sounds great. Have you tried erail.in – a highly intuitive and comprehensive site.
    I think everyone seeking easy information on schedules, availability, routes, route maps, fares, running status, PNR status should give this one a try.

  • manish khamesra

    Nicely written post Karthik. It seems you have captured everone’s imagination of train journies. I loved the detailed and nostalgic description by Joginderji and for sure Nandan’s is really different, taking bath at waiting room, while on the journey.

    I too felt the chinese influence on tiruvalla temple. Interesting to note that in this temple one can enjoy live performances of Kathakali :) I hope you had seen it as its very enjoyable.

    Photographs of train taking curve reminded me of my travel with college friends. I think with my kid I too will like to catch the train taking train and yes, if people are courteous and there are no cases of theft, I don’t mind train becoming free for all. In-fact I enjoy these aspects and I know in Kerala, it would be courteous & honest people. So I am sure I will enjoy it a lot.

    Train was stopping so much, so that you can have an eyeful of surrounding greenery :)

    Great !

  • gbpanjwani

    What a article “great help” in planning my break in kerala thanks to contributor .
    Ghanshaym

  • Santhosh

    How do I contact you ? I would like to get one of the pictures that you had taken for a brochure.
    Please reply to santhosh.thannikatATgmail.com

  • Abraham

    Hi,
    Tiruvalla is my native. As you understood, our town is famous for having highest NRI density in India as well as for having a handful of ancient religious centres. Good that you saw the No.1 among them- Sri vallabha temple. Try to catch up the following also during next time.

    – Kannasa temple- place of Kannasa poets who lived in 14th century AD
    – Kaavil street- Old market place of the town which became extinct by end of 19th century. It had trade relations with even foreign places. This is also the seat of ancient christians of Tiruvalla
    – Niranam church- founded by St.Thomas in A.D.54. Second christian church ever built in India. This is 5km outside the town.
    – Paliakkara church- built in 1814. Famous for its fantastic murals.

    You can see the complete list in http://www.wikipedia.org/tiruvalla
    – Paliakkara church

  • Indeed short and crisp. Even though I wrote, 8 years back, that may be I would make it someday, I have still not made it to this place.

    Did you get an opportunity to go again ?