Thursday, January 8, 2009


Kathakali literally meaning "story dance" is the pantomimic dance drama, the dancing and the acting being blended together into an inseparable form. It is a combination of facial expressions and body movements which brings out the thought and emotion of the character.

Kathakali is a highly stylised classical Indian dance-drama noted for its attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in the area of southwestern India now known as the state of Kerala. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

It originated in the country's southern state of Kerala during the 16th century AD, approximately between 1555 and 1605, and has been updated over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
Kathakali originated from a precursor dance-drama form called Ramanattam and owes it share of techniques also to Krishnanattam. The word "attam" means enactment. In short, these two forerunning forms to Kathakali dealt with presentation of the stories of Hindu Gods Rama and Krishna. It was Kottarakara Thampuran (1555-1605) (ruler of the south Kerala province of Kottarakara) who composed several plays on the Ramayana, which led to the evolution of Kathakali. Today, Ramanattam is extinct, but its storyplays continue to be a part of Kathakali.
Recently, as part of attempts to further popularise the art, stories from other cultures and mythologies, such as those of Mary Magdalene from the Bible, Homer's Iliad, and William Shakespeare's King Lear and Julius Caesar besides Goethe's Faust too have been adapted into Kathakali scripts and on to its stage.
The language of the songs used for Kathakali is Manipravalam. Even though most of the songs are set in ragas based on the microtone-heavy Carnatic music, there is a distinct style of plain-note rendition, which is known as the Sopanam style. This typically Kerala style of rendition takes its roots from the temple songs which used to be sung (continues even now at several temples) at the time when Kathakali was born. The orchestra of a Kathakali performance includes two drums known as the chenda and the maddalam, along with cymbals and another percussion instrument, the ela taalam. Normally, two singers provide the vocal accompaniment.
Chenda (Drum)

Traditionally, a Kathakali performance is usually conducted at night and ends in early morning. Nowadays it isn't difficult to see performances as short as three hours or even lesser. There are many daily shows for one hour or so at various tourist locations mainly targetting the foreign tourists.

A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for his demanding role. The training can often last for 8-10 years, and is intensive. In Kathakali, the story is enacted purely by the movements of the hands (called mudras or hand gestures) and by facial expressions (rasas) and bodily movements. The expressions are derived from Natyashastra (the tome that deals with the science of expressions) and are classified into nine as in most Indian classical art forms. Dancers also undergo special practice sessions to learn control of their eye movements.

Kathakali Artist acting a Deer with the help of Mudra

There are 24 basic mudras -- the permutation and combination of which would add up a chunk of the hand gestures in vogue today. Each can again can be classified into 'Samaana-mudras'(one mudra symbolising two entities) or misra-mudras (both the hands are used to show these mudras). The mudras are a form of sign language used to tell the story.
Kathakali dancer Showing lotus flower with mudras
The main facial expressions of a Kathakali artist are the (nine feelings or expressions) which are Sringaram (Romance), Hasyam (ridicule, humour), Bhayanakam (fear), Karunam (Kindly/ pathos), Roudram (anger, wrath), Veeram (valour), Beebhatsam (disgust), Adbhutam (wonder, amazement), Shantam (tranquility, peace).
Sringaram (Romance)

Beebhatsam (disgust)
Shantam (tranquility, peace)

Veeram (valour)

Adbhutam (wonder, amazement)

Karunam (Kindly/ pathos)
One of the most interesting aspects of Kathakali is its elaborate make-up code. Most often, the make-up can be classified into five basic sets namely Pachcha, Kathi, Kari, Thaadi, and Minukku. The differences between these sets lie in the predominant colours that are applied on the face. Pachcha (meaning green) has green as the dominant colour and is used to portray noble male characters. Rakshasik characters having an evil streak are anti-heroes in the play (such as the demon king Ravana) -- and portrayed with streaks of red in a green-painted face. Excessively evil characters such as demons (totally tamasic) have a predominantly red make-up and a red beard. They are called Chuvanna Thaadi (Red Beard). Tamasic characters such as uncivilised hunters and woodsmen are represented with a predominantly black make-up base and a black beard and are called Kari/Karutha Thaadi (meaning black beard). Women and ascetics have lustrous, yellowish faces and this semi-realistic category forms the fifth class. In addition, there are modifications of the five basic sets described above such as Vella Thadi (white beard) used to depict Hanuman (the Monkey-God) and Pazhuppu, which is majorly used for Lord Shiva.

Pacha (Green) - Male Character
Minukku (yellowish faces) - Female Characters

The dancers wear large head dresses, and the contours of the face are extended with moulded lime. The extraordinary costumes and make-up serve to raise the participants above the level of mere mortals, so that they may transport the audience to a world of wonders.

A person to enjoy the Kathakali performance he should be aware about Hindu mythology,the character,The make up,the costume,the mudras and finally the slokas or verses sung by the singers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Flowers !!!!!!!!

From Ooty Rose garden
Flowers from Ooty Botanical Garden

Daliya@ Munnar

Flowers from Munnar forest

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Munnar - The hill Station

Munnar hills - The most sought after tourist destination in South India. Large expanse of tea plantations, forests, wild life, valleys and mountains give Munnar a favoured tourist status. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Unending expanse of tea plantations - pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests - aroma of spice scented cool air - yes! Munnar has all these and more. It's the place you would love to visit - it's the place you would wish never to leave.

The name is often used to refer to the whole tourist area of Idukki District of which the town forms a part. Munnar panchayat of Devikulam block is the largest in the district with an area of 557 km². The name of Munnar is believed to be derived from the Malayalam words Munu (three) and aaru (river), referring to the town's strategic location at the confluence of the Muthirappuzha, Chandavurai and Kundaly rivers. The area is surrounded by vast jungles and remains wet and cold during most of the year.

The history of plantation in Munnar started in the 1870s. J.D. Munro, a European, identified the agriculture potential of the land on a hunting expedition. In 1877 he leased 580 Sq Kilometres of land from the Poonjar Raja who was in control of the land. Munro formed a co-operative called ‘North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society’ and members of the society started farming in different parts of Munnar. The crops included coffee, sisal and cardamom. Tea plantation was started by A.H. Sharp, another European at the A.H. Sharp Parvathy estate (Present Silent Valley Estate). In 1895 Finlay, a European company entered the scene and acquired about 33 tea estates in Munnar. In 1897 the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company was formed to manage Finlay’s estates. In 1964 the Tata Group, The Indian corporate giant entered into a collaborative venture with the Finlay leading to the formation of the Tata-Finlay group. In April 2005 tea plantations under the Tata group were transferred to a new company called Kannan Devan Hills Produce Co, Pvt Ltd. Today the company manages 16 estates spread over in about 8600 hectares of land.

The region in and around Munnar varies in height from 1,600 meters (5,249 ft) to 1,800 meters (5,906 ft) above mean sea level. Munnar enjoys a salubrious climate. The weather ranges between −5 °C (23 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) in winter and 15 °C (59 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) in summer. The tourist season is from August to May. However, even the monsoons are lovely with many streams and rivulets in the area.
For many Years Munnar, despite its enchanting natural beauty, was a sleepy plantation town. The major economic factor was its tea plantations. Its tourism potential had been realised only by the Sterling Group and Mahindra Holidays who had set up Time Share Resorts there. Then the efforts by Kerala Tourism department to project kerala as one of the most preferred tourist location and their campaigning programmes to project Kerala as God's Own country resulted in a virtual explosion of tourism activities in Munnar. Soon Many Resorts, big and small, started up all around the town and Munnar overnight became a bustling tourist destination. Many of the developments were done by unprincipled investors who had no concern for the environment and whose only objective was to make a fast buck. Most of the lands used for Resorts and other activities are occupied illegally.

Most of the land around Munnar had been earlier leased out to planters and the only activity permitted was plantation of cardamom. Ownership continued with the Government and even cutting of trees was prohibited. However, the resort developers resorted to large scale deforestation in order to build resorts.

There are some beautiful Hilltop resorts which gives awsome experience of living inside forest with tree houses and hill-top views.


Altitude : 1600 Mts to 1800 Mts above sea level

Temperature : Min. 0 c - Max. 25 c

Clothing : Warm Clothes and Rain Gear

Tourist Season : August to March

Friday, January 2, 2009

More Pics of Munnar !!!!!!

More Pictures From Thekaddy!!!!!!

Periyar lake @ Thekaddy

Birds @ periyar.. Photo taken during the boating

Thekaddy – Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

The pride of Kerela and a testimony to nature's splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake - an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Thekkady is located about 117 km from Kottayam and 20 km from Kothamangalam. It is close to the Tamil Nadu border. The nearest airport is at Madurai 140 km away and 4 hours away. Cochin the next nearest airport is 208 km and six hours away.

Periyar Lake, Periyar Wild Life Sanctury and a Bird Sanctury are the major tourist attractions. Boating in the lake is a pleasureful experience. KTDC is providing lodging facilities here. The Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. The splendid artificial lake formed by the Mullaperiyar Dam across the Periyar River adds to the charm of the park. The greatest attraction of Periyar are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake. Thekkady has immense possibilities for Adventure Tourism.

Outside the park private tour operators arrange Jeep safaris though the forest. Also there are Elephant rides offered. Kathakali and Kalari shows for the tourists are also arranged.

Part of the old Travancore State, the sanctuary and Periyar Lake are located close to the Tamil Nadu border. Kottayam is six hours away. However the nearest airport is at Madurai 140 km away and 4 hours away. Cochin the next nearest airport is 208 km and six hours away.
Maximum temperature : 29 degrees Celsius.
Minimum temperature 18 degrees Celsius.
Annual rainfall 2,600 mm

Proper attire: Woolens in winter. Carry water with you for treks etc.