Everybody loves the comic performances of actress Sneha Sreekumar. But most people recognize her as Mandodari, the name of her character in the 'Marimaayam' comedy serial telecast by Mazhavil Manorama.
Sneha, who oozes humour in every look and action, also has an MPhil in performing arts. She often performs Ottan Thullal, along with other traditional art forms. However, she earned name and fame with 'Marimaayam.'
Though she loves visiting places and enjoying the sights, a busy schedule keeps Sneha away from many travels. Incidentally, Sneha's mother, now aged 70, is more keen on travelling than the actress and accompanies her daughter on most journeys.
Neelakurinji in bloom
"It was mother's long-time wish to watch the 'neelakurinji' (strobilanthes kunthiana) blooms in Munnar. We had planned the trip on earlier occasions but that had not materialized and I was anxious whether we would miss the sight this time too. But, luckily, everything turned out fine and I could fulfill my mother’s wish at least this time," says Sneha.
"One would think that neelakurinji is 'neela' – blue in colour – but that is not the case. It is actually purplish-blue," informs the zesty actress.
Neelakurinji blooms on valleys about 1,400 m above sea-level. "It was an amazing sight. But what gave most satisfaction was the expression on my mother's face while she enjoyed the scenery," adds Sneha.
"Mother was so happy with the view. The trip to Munnar in the cold weather was also thrilling," she avers.
Sneha recalls that her father, too, loved trip. "Whenever we had free time, he would ask us all to come along for a trip. He also liked to enjoy new sights. When I was young, father used take us to several places and I can never forget those journeys," she says.
The travel guide
"The favourite among the spots father took me to during childhood are Mookambika Temple and Kudajadri," informs the actress.
"We travel to Mookambika Temple every year. Kudajadri is a peak in the Western Ghats having a height of 1343 m," she adds.
Sneha is well aware of the facts and figures of the area, having conducted numerous visits. "Mookambika Temple is located in the valley of Kudajadri peak. The Adi-Mookambika Temple in Kudajadri village is considered to be the 'moolasthanam' (original abode) of Mookambika Devi," she explains.
The only means of transportation to Kudajadri is the jeep. "It is an adventurous trip along a rough track covered with rocks. But I enjoy the ride and am familiar with each corner of the hill, having been there innumerable times. When you reach the top of the hill and look around at the scenery, all the fatigue of the journey simply vanishes," says Sneha.
"Walking a little further through the woods, pilgrims can reach the Ganesha cave and 'Sarvajnapeedom,' where Adi Sankara is believed to have meditated and realized the presence of the goddess. Sarvajnapeedom is a granite structure about 2 m in height and length. Beyond it, a narrow path down the hill leads to 'Chitramoola,'" Sneha shares her knowledge of the area.
The sights and experiences offered by Mookambika Temple and Kudajadri never fail to thrill Sneha. "Now my friends make me their guide during their Mookambika pilgrimage," says the actress.
Sneha's first trip by flight was to Mexico. Since childhood, she has been practising Ottan Thullal, Kathakali and Mohiniyattam. "The Mexican trip was as part of a workshop held there. I was eagerly looking forward to my very plane travel. Nirmala Teacher, my father's cousin, accompanied me during the trip and we started from Kochi to Mumbai. From there, it was a 12-hour travel to Paris. The flight to Mexico from Paris was scheduled five hours later and involved another 12-hour trip. My very first journey by air that lasted over 24 hours made me worn out and really took away all the joy of the occasion. With that single trip, all my enthusiasm for flying disappeared," recalls the celebrity.
But there was an incident during the flight that taught her some lessons on life. "I am vegetarian and on my next seat was a foreigner. A number of dishes were served during the flight and I started smelling each of them to decide whether it was veg or non-veg. I could not ask the foreigner about it as language was a problem. However, the man realized my predicament and offered me some fruits he had with him. I gladly accepted the fruits as I was very hungry on that long flight. That incident enlightened me that language was no barrier to recognize the pangs of hunger," philosophizes Sneha.
Bit by travel bug
Sneha does not have a bucket list of her destinations. "I set out on a trip at the spur of the moment. As I have shooting on most days, long trips are out of question. But that does not mean travels will be avoided. I visit places without affecting my work," she reveals.
For foreign trips, her favourite destination is the shopping fest at Global Village in Dubai. "The main reason for this is that once, I came to watch a performance by African artistes and loved it. I could learn about not only their arts but also culture. I went to the Global Village this time too and shopped to my fill," she elaborates.
The desert safari is another favourite of the actress. "I was thinking only about the safari before experiencing it. When the vehicle started moving along the sand, my fears intensified. I was afraid whether the vehicle would overturn. I cracked some jokes to reduce my anxiety, but I really enjoyed the adventure," admits Sneha.
The actress has travelled to a long list of destinations. "But there are several other places to visit, that too with my mother. The Himalayas are a dream destination and I am eagerly awaiting that journey," says Sneha.