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Last Updated Wednesday September 20 2017 11:43 PM IST

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam

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495810433, Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam. Photo: Getty Images

Onam heralds the start of tourism season in Kerala.  The land is verdant after the rains and the weather is pleasant making it an ideal time to head to this coastal heaven. And there is a festive air all around, both traditional and those held as a part of the tourism week celebrations. The festive mood of Onam lasts for ten days and will leave you with memories and pictures to last another year. 

Athachamayam at Tripunithura

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam The floats and performers at the Athachamayam. Photo: Onmanorama

Athachamayam in Tripunithura is a cultural extravaganza, which kick-starts the 10-day Onam celebrations.  As with a lot of other things, no two historians agree about the origins of Athachamayam. A group says that Athachamayam commemorates the victory of the Maharaja of Cochin against the Zamorin of Kozhikode. Another group is of the view that it was the show of power before the soldiers went off for 'Maamankam,' staged at Thirunavaya on the banks of Bharathapuzha, renowned for the bloody battles. Yet another populist view is that in the good old days, the Maharaja of Cochin considered the festivities to be an ideal opportunity to greet his subjects at close quarters.

  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    The formal inauguration of the Athachamayam festivities. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    A mythical scene on one of the floats. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Social issues are a favourite theme for the float. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    A float depicting a rural scene. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    A float which was taken out as part of the celebrations. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    An adaptation of a mythical scene . Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Who does not like magic? Another float which was seen at the Athachamayam. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    A float depicting a mythical scene. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    The floats at the Athachamayam depict various scenes from holy books. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    People watch the procession heralding the start of Athachamayam festivities . Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Living gods: People dressed up at Gods and Goddesses wait before the festivities begin . Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Theyyam artist walks the road as a part of the parade. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Students take part in the parade which is a part of the festivities. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    Pulikali is an essential part of Onam celebrations. A person dressed up as a tiger waits next to the other floats before the festivities begin. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura
  • Athachamayam at Tripunithura

    A child dressed up as Maveli waits with his friends. Photo: Josekutty Panackal

    Athachamayam at Tripunithura

The King would also undertake this ritualistic march all the way up to the Vamanamoorthy temple, situated in Thrikkakara, about 12 km away from Tripunithura. He then offered special prayers at the temple and before returning to Hill Palace. 

If you love to get lost in the crowds, this is your ideal chance. The cultural competitions and various entertainment activities held as a part of the festival are bound to entertain you.  Click here to read why you should go

Unique and colorful rituals associated with Onam

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam The Onapottan walks through the roads in Kannur. Photo: Onmanorama

Festivals reflect the cultural nuances of a community. Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, envelops certain interesting rituals. In addition to Athachamayam, the vallamkali or the snake boat races are an integral part of the festival. The rituals like pulikali, kummattikali, onapottan and maramadi make the Onam days enchanting. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is over, but there are other small boat races in the backwaters of Alappuzha. Head to Thrissur for kummattikali and pulikali. Kummattikali, a masked dance form is held on the fourth day after Onam. The Onapottan is local to Kannur and he has a unique story. 

Here's a look at where you can see all these celebrations at close quarters. 

The rituals that are being revived

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam Representational picture: Photo: Onmanorama

Long ago, Onam celebrations used to span a couple of months, starting with the Pilleronam, 28 days before the actual Onam day. The kids used to be the decision makers for Pilleronam. Efforts are on to revive this old tradition in schools in Kerala. 

28 days after Thiruvonam, head to Cherpu in Thrissur district for the Pothottonam celebrations. 

Where do the flowers bloom?

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam Flowers. Photo: Getty Images

Flower carpets are an integral part of Onam celebrations. And not all of the flowers come from within the state. This is the best time to take short trips to these places in neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from where the flowers come. And if you are in Thrissur, do make a trip to the Vadakkkumnatha Temple where a huge flower carpet will be laid. 


Where to go?

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam Let's go tripping. Photo: Getty Images

Schools and colleges remain closed for ten days and most of the state-run offices too have a long holiday making Onam one of the best times for travel. Here are some long drives beyond Kerala you can take with your family this vacation season. 

The Idukki and Cheruthoni dams will be open to visitors from August 24 to September 15, making Idukki a top destination this month. 

Onam takes on many hues in the cultural capital of Thrissur. This is the place to be to see the biggest flower carpet, the mask dance of Kummatti and the tiger dance called Pulikali. Click here to see the other places of interest in Thrissur. 

What to eat?

Your one-stop guide to traveling in Kerala during Onam Sadya on a banana leaf. Photo: Getty Images

Onam dishes are special and taste much better if you can get a family to host you. Hotels across the state will also be serving the delicacies in plantain leaf.  Click here to see how these amazing dishes are made. And click here to see how you eat it

Also read: Travel | Beyond Kerala | Going bananas over banana chips! 

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