Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Thrissur, the Cultural Capital of Kerala hosts the Thrissur Pooram festival, the most colourful and spectacular temple festival in Kerala
Thrissur previously known as Trichur, is a city in the Indian state of Kerala. The city is situated about 290 k.m. (180 miles) north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram. It is the headquarters of the Thrissur District. Thrissur city is built around a 65-acre (26 ha) hillock called the Thekkinkadu Maidan which seats the Vadakkumnathan temple. By population, Thrissur is the 5th largest city in Kerala, after Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Kollam and the second-largest city corporation in the state of Kerala in India.The nearest international airport is Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery.
Thrissur is known as the 'Cultural Capital of Kerala' because its cultural, spiritual and religious leanings towards history. It houses the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy, Kerala Lalita Kala Akademi and Kerala Sahitya Academy. The city hosts the Thrissur Pooram festival, the most colourful and spectacular temple festival in Kerala. The festival is held at the Thekkinkadu Maidan in April or May. Thrissur has a large number of well-known temples including the Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Vadakkumnathan temple and Paramekkavu temple, as well as two famous churches, the Our Lady of Lourdes Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours. Thrissur is also the venue of Pulikali during Onam celebrations in August or September.
The city derives its historical importance from when Christianity, Islam and Judaism entered in to the Indian subcontinent. Thomas the Apostle set foot here 2,000 years ago. The country’s first mosque, Cheraman Juma Masjid, opened in AD 629. It has opened the gates for Arabs, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch and English.
The city is an incubator for every Malayali entrepreneur, and is a major financial and commercial hub of Kerala. It flexes its economic muscle in India as the headquarters of three major scheduled banks, South Indian Bank Ltd, Catholic Syrian Bank and Dhanalakshmi Bank Ltd and a clutch of Chit funds. The city is also a big centre for shopping in Kerala for silks and gold jewelry. Thrissur ranks first in the number of domestic tourists in Kerala.
Apart from being the cultural nerve centre of Kerala, it is also a major academic hub and is home to several educational institutions including the Kerala Kalamandalam, Kerala Police Academy, Kerala Agricultural University, Kerala University of Medical and Allied Sciences and Kerala Institute of Local Administration
The name Thrissur is derived from 'Thiru-Shiva-Perur' (Malayalam/Tamil ), which literally translates to "The City with the name of the Lord Siva". Thrissur was also known as "Vrishabhadripuram" and then "Kailasam" (Kailasam of the South) in ancient days. Another interpretation is 'Tri-shiva-peroor' or the big land with three Shiva temples, which refers to the three places where Lord Shiva resides - namely Vadakkumnathan Temple , Peruvanam Siva Temple and Avittathur Siva Temple.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Thrissur features a Tropical monsoon climate. Since the region lies in the south western coastal state of Kerala, the climate is tropical, with only minor differences in temperatures between day and night, as well as over the year. Summer lasts from March to May, and is followed by the South-west monsoon from June to September. October and November form the post monsoon or retreating monsoon season. Winter from December through February is slightly cooler, and windy, due to winds from the Western Ghats.
The city is drained in the monsoonal season by heavy showers. The average annual rainfall is 2500 mm. The South-west monsoon generally sets in during the last week of May. After July the rainfall decreases. On an average, there are 124 rainy days in a year. The maximum average temperature of the city in the summer season is 35 degree Celsius while the minimum temperature recorded is 22.5 degrees Celsius. The winter season records a maximum average of 32.3 degree Celsius and a minimum average of 20 degree Celsius.
Thrissur is home to many leading Malayali entrepreneurs, and is a major financial and commercial hub of Kerala. Historians say that King Sakthan Thampuran had invited several Syrian-Christian families and Brahmins to settle in Thrissur city from their business centers in adjoining areas. Soon, Thrissur city became a flourishing centre of internal trade in Kerala. Thrissur is one of the major manufacturing centers of plain gold and rolled gold jewelry in South India; up to 70% of Kerala's jewellery is manufactured in Thrissur, which accounts for 7% of the net gold production in India (according to the World Gold Council, Kerala sells approximately 70 tonnes of gold the total annual sale of gold in Kerala for all purposes is around 70 tonnes while in the Indian market it is around 700 tonnes). Thrissur, the traditional gold jewellery hub for decades have thousands of swanky small, medium and big showrooms in the nook and corner of the city.
Thrissur is also the headquarters of three major scheduled banks, South Indian Bank Ltd, Catholic Syrian Bank and Dhanalakshmi Bank Ltd. According to Reserve Bank of India, Thrissur in the 1930s boasted of head offices of 58 banks and was recognised by RBI as 'Banking town. Prior to 1975, leading Thrissur headquarted scheduled banks like Catholic Syrian Bank Limited, South Indian Bank, Dhanalakshmi Bank and erstwhile Kodungalloor-based Lord Krishna Bank conducted chit fund for subscribers. According to All Kerala Kuri Foreman's Association, Kerala have around 5,000 chit companies, with Thrissur district accounting for the maximum of 3,000. These chit companies provide employment to about 35,000 persons directly and an equal number indirectly.
Lulu Convention Centre, largest convention centre in Kerala and the second largest in India is situated in Thrissur. The 5,000-seat convention centre was built by EMKE Group of Industries. Thrissur, is also emerging as the largest hub for Ayurvedic drug manufacturing industry in the country. Out of the 850 odd ayurvedic drug-manufacturing units in Kerala, about 150 units, including some of the major ayurvedic drug manufacturers in the state are located in and around the Thrissur. Of these, some of the companies like the Oushadhi, Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Sitaram, Kandamkulathi, SNA Oushadhasala, EPM etc. are among the leading ayurvedic drug manufacturers in the state. Oushadhi, Kerala government's Ayurvedic drug manufacturing company is also located in Thrissur.
Infopark Thrissur, a new 42-acre (17 ha) campus in Koratty inaugurated in October 2009, links Thrissur to the information technology highway that has given it a miss until recently. Infopark will form a part of the planned hub and spoke model of development with Infopark in Kochi acting as the hub. Tourism has also contributed heavily to the economy of Thrissur. Domestic tourists generally use Thrissur as a hub to explore the highly promoted tourism industry of the state of Kerala. Thrissur with its temples, old churches and its culture, is ranked first in the number of domestic tourists visiting Kerala.
Thrissur functioned as a municipality since 1921 under the Cochin Municipal Regulations. The municipality had 12.64 sqkm area. Prior to the constitution of the municipality, there was a Sanitary Board functioning in 1910 under a Sergeant and the Town Council after 1911.
In 1932, the new corporation building was constructed and in 1972, new areas from other Panchayats were added to the municipality. In 1992, the Government of Kerala and Thrissur municipality approved the new master plan for the new corporation. In October 1, 2000, the Municipal town was upgraded to the level of a Municipal Corporation with the Panchayats of Ayyanthole, Koorkkenchery, Nadathara, Vilvattom (part), Ollur and Ollukkara. The Corporation comprises three legislative assemblies (Thrissur, Ollur and Cherpu).
The city is administered by the Thrissur Municipal Corporation, headed by a mayor. Thrissur Municipal Corporation is the second-largest city corporation in the state of Kerala in India. The city is the only local body and city in Kerala which directly controls power, water supply and solid waste management system in the Thrissur city. For administrative purposes, the city is divided into 52 wards, from which the members of the corporation council are elected for five years. The Corporation has its headquarters in Thrissur. The corporation is also responsible for waste disposal and sewage management.
The first Master Plan for Thrissur city was sanctioned by the Government in October 1972 with a plan period of 20 years in accordance with the Town Planning Act. It was expected that the town would accommodate a population of 175,000 in 1991. The sanctioned Development Plan (1972) for Thrissur envisaged a growth pattern integrating rural areas and the urban center of Thrissur so as to provide the rural areas with employment opportunities and social amenities. The Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) and Thrissur Development Authority (TDA) are the agencies that prepare the plan.
Thrissur city is the headquarters of Thrissur District Police. It is headed by a Superintendent of Police, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He have the administrative jurisdiction over the entire Police District of Thrissur. It comprises the traffic police, Narcotics Cell, Armed Reserve Camps, District Crime Records Bureau, Senior citizen's Cell, and a Women's Cell. Thrissur is also the headquarters of Inspector General of Police, Thrissur Range, which looks after the law and order of Thrissur District, Palakkad District and Malappuram district. All the Superintendent of Police of these three districts come under his jurisdiction. Thrissur city also houses the Central Prison, Viyyur.
Thrissur has played a significant part in the political history of South India. Even as early as 1919 a committee of the Indian National Congress (INC) was functioning in Thrissur. During the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1921, several people from the Thrissur city took active part and courted arrest. Thrissur Assembly constituency is part of Thrissur (Lok Sabha constituency). The current MP is PC Chacko. Therambil Ramakrishnan is the representative of Thrissur constituency in the Kerala State Assembly.
Thrissur is connected to the Golden Quadrilateral National Highway System via the four-laned National Highway 47. The highway traverse through the entire length and breadth of the city from different points and gain access to nearby cities such as Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode and Salem. NH 47 provides two main exit points at Mannuthy and Thalore to the Thrissur city. The city is largely dependent on private buses, Taxis and auto rickshaws (called autos) for public transport. State-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs inter-state, inter-district and city services. Thrissur has three bus stations, the Shaktan Thampuran Private Bus Stand, Thrissur in Sakthan Thampuran Nagar (S.T.Nagar); the Vadakke Stand (Northern Bus Stand) and the Thrissur KSRTC Bus Station near the Thrissur Railway Station. State Highway (SH 69) Thrissur-Kuttippuram Road and SH 75 Thrissur - Kanjani - Vadanappally Road are the two state highways which connect city with its suburbs and municipalities.
The main rail transport system in Thrissur is operated by the Southern Railway Zone of Indian Railways, and comes under Trivandrum Railway Division. There are four railway stations in Thrissur city. Thrissur Railway Station, one of the busiest stations in Kerala provides trains to three directions and lies on the busy Shoranur-Cochin Harbour section. It has a satellite station, Poonkunnam Railway Station and two minor stations, Ollur Railway Station and Mulankunnathukavu Railway Station. Thrissur Railway Station also connects to the temple town of Guruvayur by Thrissur-Guruvayur Section. In addition, Southern Railways are planning a suburban railway system connecting Thrissur to Kochi and Palakkad using Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit services (MEMU), with the first services are expected to begin in early 2011 for which works are underway.
Thrissur city does not have a airport but it is served by Cochin International Airport (Nedumbassery), which is about 55 k.m. away. Direct domestic flights are available to major Indian cities like Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. International flights to Middle East cities like Bahrain, Muscat, Sharja, Jeddah, Riyadh, Doha and to Southeast Asian cities Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are available here. It has a dedicated Heli-taxi service and Chartered flights. Calicut International Airport at Karipur, is 80 k.m. from the city and Coimbatore Airport, which is 114 k.m. from the city also can be used by travellers. Thrissur has a helipad at Lulu Convention Centre as per international aviation standards which is used by VIPs.
Culture and literature
Thrissur, often hailed as the Cultural Capital of Kerala, is built around a hillock crowned by the famous Vadakkunnathan temple, believed to have been founded by the legendary saint Parasurama. This Shiva temple is a classic example of the Kerala style of architecture and houses several sacred shrines and with beautiful murals delineating graphically, various episodes from the Mahabharata. The shrines and the Koothambalam display exquisite vignettes carved in wood. The sprawling Thekkinkadu maidan, encircling the Vadakumnathan temple, is the main venue of the Thrissur Pooram. Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple is situated in Thrissur and is one of the largest Sree Krishna temples in Kerala. Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple which is one of the largest Bagavathi temples in Kerala is one of the two rival groups participating in Thrissur Pooram festival.
Asia's highest church, the Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours (Puthan Pally), Our Lady of Lourdes's Metropolitan Cathedral of Syrian Catholics is noted for its imposing interior. Its main attraction is an underground shrine which is a masterpiece of architectural design. The Sacred Heart Latin Church of Latin Catholics and the Mart Mariam Big Church, Indian headquarters of Assyrian Church of the East, are also situated at Thrissur. The district also houses the headquarters of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church in Thozhiyoor. The ancient port of Muziris or Kodungaloor is the cradle of Christianity and Islam in India. This is where St. Thomas arrived in India. Later he established the first church in India at Palayur. Kodungaloor houses the first Muslim mosque of the country built by Cheraman Perumaal, a Hindu king who accepted Islam. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya spent his last days here.
The major cultural attraction is the Thrissur Pooram festival, celebrated during April and May. The Elephant - Umbrella Display competition is spectacular, as richly caparisoned elephants carrying ceremonial umbrellas take the deity around the main temple. The passionate drum concerts and the spectacular firework displays are all part of the Pooram celebration. Another attraction of this city is the "Puli Kali" ("Puli" means 'tiger' and "Kali" means 'play') on the fourth day of Onam celebrations (Nalaam Onam). It is a procession of different clubs from all over the city. Participants with tiger-striped body paint captivate the onlookers with their energetic dances. The festival attracts thousands to the city. Thrissur is widely acclaimed as the land of elephant lovers.
Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy, Thrissur and Kerala Lalithakala Akademi are headquartered at Thrissur. Kerala Sahitya Akademi was established to promote the growth of Malayalam language and literature. Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi promotes dance, music, drama and folk arts of Kerala. Kerala Lalitakala Akademi was established to promote fine arts and artistic heritage. For the last few years, the city has been hosting the Thrissur International Film Festival. Around 100 films from 35 countries are shown. It is the second largest film festival in Kerala; the largest is in Thiruvananthapuram.
Thrissur can easily be called the cradle of Indian Communism. Famous thinkers such as Joseph Mundassery, C. Achuthamenon and many others were from this city. Current Books and House of Knowledge were two prominent bookstores in the 1950s to 80s of Thrissur history. A land of famous writers, artists, musicians and journalists as well, Thrissur boasts of having benefited from the best of men and women. All belonging to Thrissur, Ouseppachan, Johnson, Mohan Sitara, Alphonse are well-known film musicians and Bharathan, Kamal, Lohithadas, Lal Jose, Sathyan Anthikkad, Bharath Premji are noted film directors. .
Thrissur is also the birth place of Kerala's Indian Coffee House movement. The first ICH of the state was opened in Thrissur in 1959 with Advocate T.K. Krishnan and Nadakkal Parameswaran Pillai as founders. The laid-back business culture of Thrissur is well known amongst the rest of Kerala. Known for their quick-witted repartee and accents, the Thrissurians still maintain a daily working schedule of 10 am - 7 pm. Thekkinkadu Maidan is full of card players and evening political debates take place here every day.
Thrissur has traditionally been a centre of learning. With the decline of Buddhism and Jainism due to the growing supremacy of Brahminism during the revival of Hinduism, Thrissur became an important centre of Sanskrit learning. Thrissur has many educational institutions, known all across Kerala for the quality of education they impart. Thrissur has a reputation for being student friendly. With the Kerala Agricultural University, four medical colleges, Government Medical College, Thrissur, Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Kerala University of Medical and Allied Sciences, Government Engineering College, Thrissur & many other engineering colleges, an ayurveda college, a veterinary college, business schools, law college, fine arts college, well-known arts and science colleges, good residential schools, Thrissur is a considered as a scholar's city.
Thrissur has emerged as the prime centre in South India for students seeking entry into the professional courses. As many as 17,000 students, mostly from parts of Kerala and some from outside, are undergoing coaching at the P.C. Thomas Centre and the presence of such a huge number of migrant students has almost reshaped the economic structure of Thrissur and brought good times to traders, hotels and transport and entertainment industries. Thomas single-handedly runs and has been running for years the largest coaching center for the engineering and medical entrance exams in Kerala
Thrissur serves as a centre for healthcare in the Central Kerala. This portion covers Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and northern part of Ernakulam. Most of the people in these districts come to Thrissur city for their medical care. With three medical colleges, Government Medical College, Thrissur, Amala Institute of Medical Sciences and Jubilee Mission Medical College and Research Institute, and another dozen of hi-tech hospitals, it has a lot to offer to the healthcare system of Central Kerala.
Thrissur has many century old tradition in Ayurvedic treatment. From the Ashtavaidya tradition, Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, SNA Oushadhasala, Vaidyamadhaom Vaidyasala etc. are located in Thrissur, and Amala Ayurvedic Hospital & Research Centre. All these firms have been instrumental in spreading the fame of Kerala Ayurveda, especially in the treatment side as thousands of overseas patients visit the Ayurvedic treatment facilities in and around Thrissur, every year. Vaidyaratnam runs a medical college and chikitsalayam, with global standards. So Sitaram and SNA Oushadhasala. Sitaram have a 100 bedded eight storied super specialty hospital in the Thrissur, envisaged as the first of its kind Ayurveda super specialty hospital in the country. SNA Oushadhasala is also planning a 100-bedded modern Ayurvedic hospital with modern cottages near the present SNA Nursing Home. Besides, SNA is also planning to set up a modernized exclusive Ayurvedic manuscript library.