Think Thrissur and it is caparisoned elephants, colorful parasols, and the beat of a thousand percussion instruments that come to mind. But the Thrissur Pooram is just one element that reflects the district’s vibrant glory. The city has always played an active part, be it in trade relations during the ancient and medieval times, later during the period of colonial rule, to its prosperity under Sakthan Thampuran who was to change Thrissur’s destiny forever under his effective leadership. Thrissur in its current layout, centered around the Shiva temple Vadakkumnathan and the Thekkinkad Maidan or square ground around which the rest of the city took shape under Shakthan Thampuran, has progressed immensely since. Much has happened in the intermittent periods with a lot of action brewing politically. But today, the district continues to thrive as the cultural capital of Kerala and is also increasingly becoming a place that leading entrepreneurs hail from. Thrissur is a tourist’s paradise offering a bouquet of cultural adventures only made better by the warmth of its friendly people.
Reserve an entire day for Vilangan Kunnu so that you can make the most of the experience. This beautiful hillock is called the ‘Oxygen Jar’ of Thrissur and rightly so. The amusement park, spread over five acres, was renovated by the District Tourism Promotion Council as a holiday treat for people, promising fun, and of course, a breath of fresh air, away from the bustle of the city. The big draw here is that there is something for everyone. The park is also differently-abled friendly. An 800m-long walkway allows those using wheelchairs to enjoy the scenic views themselves. You can opt for a cab to the bottom of the hill via the Thrissur-Kunnamkulam road for a scenic ride and then walk up the hillock or hire a jeep. Local buses are also available. Children can choose from more than 13 amazing rides, including a Ferris wheel, a pedal boat pool ride, and that amusement park must-have – dancing cars. Ticket charges are Rs. 30, Rs. 50 and Rs. 100. A never-before experience is a 16D theatre with seats that revolve 180 degrees and a sensory experience of waterfalls, snowfall, and varied scents. It is sure to win full scores for its thrill factor. Brace yourselves at the Horror House, the ‘it’ place for a truly hair-raising visit. What awaits visitors atop the hill are sweeping views of Thrissur city for miles around from four vantage points. With a little planning, you can arrive in time to catch the day’s sunrise or sunset. This is simply an experience that is not to be missed. The hillock is home to 500 mango trees offering plenty of picnic spots for a lazy day. Keep your eyes open for peacocks as the park is a haven for winged beauties. Vilangan Kunnu is a plastic-free zone. Visitors carrying plastic bottles will have to leave them at the entrance where they will be tagged and kept ready for pick-up during exit. Eateries on the premises use only eco-friendly packaging. LED lights powered by solar energy have been installed at the amusement park. Restrooms have wide doors and handrails. Washbasins are set at heights that allow easy accessibility by differently-abled people.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 7 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 50 km away
- Timings: 7 am to 7 pm
- Activities: Amusement rides, Trekking, Picnic, Shopping for trinkets and handicrafts at stalls
SHAKTHAN THAMPURAN PALACE
History buffs this way, please. For a taste of royalty and the politics of yore, Shakthan Thampuran Palace is the place to be. Located in the city center, the palace is a confluence of the Kerala and Dutch styles of architecture and was known as Vadakkechira Kovilakom. It is also known as Perumpadappu palace. It was renovated in 1795 by king Rama Varma Shakthan Thampuran (CE 1790-1805). The reign of Shakthan Thampuran is known as the golden era of Kochi. The king played a prime role in transforming Thrissur into the cultural capital of Kerala. The Shakthan Thampuran Palace is a two-storeyed structure with a courtyard or naalukettu common to the traditional Kerala-style houses. Large rooms, high ceilings, and Italian marble floors ensure that the interiors are pleasant even in the harshest of weather conditions. Shakthan Thampuran died in 1805 and was laid to rest here. Apart from being a study in architecture, the palace is a museum with galleries for bronze articles, numismatics, and epigraphy as converted by the State in 2005. A sarpa kaavu or serpent grove, where serpents are worshipped and are also known for maintaining the ecological balance, is located near the museum. On the Southside of the palace is the Heritage Garden which has many plants and trees. The Archaeological Garden, also on the same premises, has specimens indigenous to the area that dates back to the Stone Age.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 4 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 58 km away
- Timings: 9.30 am – 5 pm
- Activities: Museum
Athirappilly Waterfalls is a mesmerizing sight to the beholder. At 80 ft., it is the largest waterfall in Kerala and is also known as the Niagara of India (in case of trivia interests you). Located in Thrissur’s Chalakudy district, the Chalakudy river flows towards Athirappilly from where it cascades down the enormous height to form the breathtaking view. The river has its origins in the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats, where the Sholayar ranges begin. It flows with increased force as it approaches Athirappilly where it then divides into three falls. Athirappilly has many specialties owing to its nature-endowed richness. Over the years, the falls have become a part of the backdrop for numerous movies. The monsoons are a time when the falls are most visited by tourists. The Vazhachal falls close by is also a favorite spot for picnickers. The dense forest is home to the Indian elephant, Indian leopard, Bengal tiger, and many other species of animals. At an elevation of 50ft, the Athirappilly-Vazhachal riparian forest hosts all the four South Indian species of hornbill including the state bird, the Great Hornbill. It is an ‘Important Bird Area’ according to the International Bird Association while The Wildlife Trust of India calls it India’s best elephant conservation effort. The picturesque drive from Chalakudy to Athirappilly is a sign of what awaits at the falls, as the landscape covers several small villages and winding roads. The falls are especially a sight during the monsoons when visitors are greeted by a gentle mist of water rising from the falls.
- Railway station: Chalakudy railway station, 30 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 40 km away
- Timings: 8 am – 6 pm
- Activities: Daily jungle safari organized by Thrissur District Tourism Promotion Council in association with Athirappilly Destination Management Council, Nature Camp, Children’s Park, Vanasree Eco-shop
Vazhachal Falls is a must-visit destination if one is in Thrissur. A popular tourist attraction just like its neighbor the majestic Athirappilly Falls, Vazhachal also lies in the Athirappilly panchayat. Vazhachal Falls is 5 km from Athirappilly. The Chalakudy river meets Vazhachal from its place of origin in the Anamudi ranges. A permit is required from the Kerala Forest check post which opens at 6 am to enter the area of Vazhachal Falls. If you have purchased a ticket at Athirappilly Falls that should suffice. Vazhachal Falls is located towards the end of the Sholayar ranges, coursing through the midst of the lush green forests on either side. At 390 feet, the sight is captivating, to say the least. The Western Ghats are on display in their magnificent beauty and might as the falls adorn them in a slanting gush of water. The areas surrounding the falls are calmer and so make for ideal picnic spots. Visitors are warned to avoid walking through the water as the rocks are slippery and any accidents can be dangerous, to say the least. Forest guards stand vigil around the area. Bird watchers can never get enough of the winged inhabitants of the region which is also known for its endemic species. The monsoon or cooler months from June to September are ideal to visit the falls as they flow at their highest intensity. It is an experience that onlookers will find humbling and thrilling all at the same time.
- Railway station: Chalakudy railway station, 30 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 40 km away
- Timings: 8 am – 6 pm
- Activities: Trekking, Picnic
By far the most popular destination in Thrissur, Thumboormuzhi has many places of interest for tourists. The Thumboormuzhi Dam, a delightful Butterfly Park, a hanging bridge that offers a scenic view, and a children’s park make it a fun getaway. An hour and a half away from Thrissur city, Thumboormuzhi Dam holds pride of place across the Chalakudy river. The dam provides water to nearby villages for irrigation purposes. The hanging bridge presents a wider view of the dam and the forests surrounding it, apart from the river beneath the bridge which reveals its bed in the hotter months, and the butterfly park on one side. At the end of the hanging bridge is Prakriti Gramam in Ezhattumukham which is a part of Ernakulam. The monsoons are when Thumboormuzhi is more exciting as the river will be in full flow. The area attracts many species of flora and fauna that thrive. Butterflies of several species in vibrant colors and sizes that will leave visitors gaping make the park an unforgettable experience. It is also home to many kinds of plants that lure butterflies. The children’s park is ideal for little visitors to have fun while an embankment allows swimming, there is also a snack bar and DTPC restaurant, washrooms, and a parking area which make Thumboormuzhi the perfect holiday for family fun.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 50 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 25 km away
- Timings: 8 am – 5 pm
- Activities: Walks, Picnic, Exploration, Photography
It would be no exaggeration to call this hallowed institute of art and culture Kerala’s pride. Founded in 1930 by eminent poet Padmabhooshan Vallathol Narayana Menon to renew people’s interest in art and culture, Kerala Kalamandalam has grown into one of the most respected residential training centres for the classical arts. The institution is the result of a meeting between Vallathol and Rabindranath Tagore which inspired the former to begin Kalamandalam with his associate Manakkulam Mukunda Raja. Kalamandalam came to be, on the banks of the river Nila in Thrissur’s Cheruthuruthy town also known as Vallathol Nagar. The artiste-teachers and students of Kalamandalam put in hours of practice, honing and nurturing their craft. Training is held in Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Koodiyattam, Thullal, Nangiar Koothu, the Panchavadyam and percussion instruments like mridangam, chenda, maddalam and mizhavu. With strict adherence to the Gurukulam model of teaching, students live on campus and imbibe knowledge from the teacher. The staff take visitors through the history of the institute and a walk through campus. Visitors can take in the traditional style of architecture used for the institute’s buildings and also interact with the teachers and students. Students are not to be interrupted in between practice as it is considered disrespectful to the art form. Kathakali, Kutiyattam, Mohiniyattam and Thullal troupes from Kalamandalam are held in high regard for their performances in India and abroad. Artiste-teachers and students participate in art recitals and lecture demonstrations that draw aficionados of classical arts from around the world. It is now a deemed university and has enjoyed the support of the cultural affairs departments of both the state and central governments, and the Sangeet Natak Akademy, New Delhi.
- Railway station: Shoranur railway station, 3 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 85 km away
- Timings: 9 am – 1 pm
- Activities: Tour of the institute
Sitting proudly in the city center on nine acres of verdant land is the majestic Vadakkumnathan Temple. It holds a special place in the hearts of those in the abode of Shiva who answer their prayers, a temple with architecture that is a marvel in itself, and a symbol of the culture of a people. The Vadakkumnathan Temple won the Award of Excellence at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The temple underwent a major restoration lasting 10 years under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It was done using the traditional methods of restoration, using only organic matter, as experts painstakingly preserved murals that date back centuries, and woodwork that still leaves visitors astounded at its craftsmanship. The temple is also a venue of heightened devotion during Maha Shivaratri when devotees throng the premises all night. The other major highlight is Thrissur Pooram, an annual festival that immediately recalls to mind caparisoned elephants, the sounds of traditional percussion instruments in Kerala, and bursts of color. It is held in April-May at the Thekkinkaadu Maidanam to coincide with the Malayalam month of Medam. It is the most important pooram festival in Kerala held at the behest of Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Kochi in association with 10 temples (Paramekkavu, Thiruvambadi Kanimangalam, Karamucku, Ayyanthole, Laloor, Panamukkampally, Choorakottukara, Chembukkavu and Neythilakavu). The Elanjithara Melam, considered the largest percussion instrument festival in the world, with at least 250 artists participating, is highly anticipated. It is a sight to behold as spectators keep up the beat with their hands waving in the air. The Panchavadyam, or five instruments’ ensemble, is led by artists who play traditional instruments such as chenda, elathalam, kombu, and the like. This is when the Kudamattom, literally meaning the switching of parasols while sitting astride elephants happens. The Pooram wraps up with the much-awaited fireworks ceremony
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 2 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 49 km away
- Timings: 5 – 11 am and 5 – 6.25 pm
- Activities: Tour of temple
A popular beach among domestic tourists, Snehatheeram Beach or Love Shore
beach along the coast of the Arabian Sea is clean, picturesque and a familyfavourite. Located at about 25 km from Thrissur at Thalikulam, the beach promises
a peaceful environment. It isn’t every day that a beach with a welcoming layout
consisting of a defining archway, a pavement and benches overlooking the sea is
developed. Snehatheeram Beach attracts domestic visitors and it suits them just
fine, becoming a place for a glorious view of the sun and fresh air. It is maintained
by the Department of Tourism, Kerala and was selected by the same as the best
beach tourism destinations in 2010. A children’s park close by, an aquarium and a
restaurant make the beach a perfect weekend getaway
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 23 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 63 km away
- Timings: No specific timings
- Activities: Sunrise, Sunset watching
VAIDYARATNAM AYURVEDA MUSEUM
Delve into the rich heritage of Ayurveda in Kerala with a trip through time. The
was founded and has been maintained by
Ashtavaidyan Thaikkattu Mooss Vaidyaratnam Group of Companies. It is dedicated
to E. T. Neelakandhan Mooss, founder of Ayurvedic pharmaceutical company,
Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala. The members of the Thaikkattu Mooss family are
renowned for their proficiency in the eight branches of Ayurveda and so are called
Ashtavaidyas. The journey of Ayurveda through the Vedic, Sahitha, Sangraha, and
Medieval periods are traced in this traditional two-storeyed mansion where the
oushadhasala was first developed in 1941. The museum houses a digital theatre
called Natyagruham, a library of ancient literature, scriptures and manuscripts,
a 3D section, displays of ancient surgical practices of Ayurveda, a collection of
specimens of medicinal plants, and outside the museum are sculptures of the
many gurus in the field.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 9.6 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 42 km away
- Timings: 10 am to 6 pm except for Mondays
- Activities: Tour of the museum
BACKWATER & MANGROVES, CHETTUVA
Mangroves, Chinese fishing nets, and a fort, that’s the Chettuva backwaters for those dreaming of a memorable holiday. Lying adjacent to the Arabian sea, the backwaters are 21 km from Thrissur. At the national highway to Engandiyur is a narrow road that leads to the Vettakkorumakan boat jetty. A houseboat tour takes about five hours, where visitors get a view of life on the backwaters. Don’t be surprised if the landscape looks familiar. Chettuva has hosted many movie crew from the regional film industry as the tranquil settings provide the ideal visual magic they need. It is home to Kerala’s biggest mangrove forest, lying in the middle of the backwaters. Cannoli canal and Enamavu lake have had a major role in the thriving of the mangroves. The lake has Thriprayar, Chettuva, Manalur, and Kandassankadavu surrounding it. The Canoli canal joins Chettuva and Enamavu lakes. Chettuva attracts many species of migratory birds. Toddy tapping and mussel harvesting are some of the main activities here. Visitors can see the villagers deftly going about their livelihoods such as fishing, harvesting mussels, and extracting their flesh from the shells. Tourists are also taken close to the mangroves so that they can have a good look at the partially submerged trees and the climate within such an environment. A stop at the toddy shop is also a part of the ride. With a side of steamed tapioca, seafood such as mussels and mackerel cooked to perfection in aromatic spices dominate the meals served on the boat for a truly local experience.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 24 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 71 km away
- Timings: Anywhere from 5.45 am to 3 pm onwards for short trips; from 9 am for a full day
- Activities: Backwater ride
KUTTAVANCHI, CHIMMINI DAM
Chimmini Dam is breathtakingly beautiful. The locale of this dam constructed in Echipara village near Varandarappilly town makes you want to sit by the lake and take in the view. Neighbors with Peechi and Mangalam dams, Chimmini dam sits on the Nelliyampathy slopes of the Western Ghats, offering an enchanting view along the lake for those who visit. But if you are up to an adventure, Chimmini Dam awaits with open arms. Its Kuttavanchi Safari or coracle rides, also known as Turtle Rides, are a hit with visitors who dare to be taken to the middle of the Kurumali river and back. One bowl-shaped boat can accommodate four adults. Lifejackets are available for a 20-minute ride for four priced at Rs. 400. The rides are conducted by the Kerala Forest Ecotourism department. Regular boat rides are also available for those who are not as adventurous. Located in Mukundapuram taluk, Chimmini Dam, the largest in Thrissur, was commissioned in 1996. Constructed across the Kurumali river, the dam is a beautiful sight as the water cascades into the lake. Temperatures drop to 15 degrees in the winter. There are plenty of picnic spots along the dam apart from a cafeteria. Large wooden bench and tire swings hang from the trees. The wildlife sanctuary is the other big draw, with bamboo rafting, trekking and camping offered to visitors. The sanctuary was established in 1984, sharing boundaries with the Peechi-Vazhani sanctuary. It is home to elephants, sambar deer, gaur, sloth bears, and Malabar squirrels.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 30 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 54 km away
- Timings: 8 am to 5 pm
- Activities: Kuttavanchi / Coracle ride
CHEPPARA ROCK GARDEN
A massive expanse of rock allures visitors with the view from the top becoming a source of curiosity for those who make their way up. To help them in the ascent to the top is a metal railing built along the rockface. The railing is a great blessing as it makes the climb less intimidating. People of all ages can be seen walking up the rockface using the handrail. Stone benches have been built for a short rest after reaching the top. Green lush views of treetops amidst dense forest are what await. A cave on the top called Muniyara is where hermits sought out to meditate in the past. A large water body can be seen too. Rock climbing and rappelling are sought out by adventure tourists here. The remains of megalith structures such as dolmens have long amused visitors here. Covering an expanse of 500m, the rockface is along the Thrissur-Athani-Poomala-Cheppara route. The rockface provides a breathtaking view of the sunset. Not frequented by travelers, Cheppara is a little-known destination about 20 km from Thrissur. High winds prevail in the area owing to its altitude which makes it a thrilling outing by itself. A parking facility is available and there is a small make-shift store near the rockface where one can have a snack or buy water.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 18 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 62 km away
- Timings: Not specified
- Activities: Rock climbing, Rappelling
Meant to be an irrigation project, Peechi Dam is now a popular tourist destination in the Thrissur district. One of the oldest dams in Kerala, it was commissioned by E. Ikkanda Warrier who was the last prime minister of the then independent state of Kochi from 1948-1949. The dam stands at a height of 26ft across the river Manali, covering an area of 3,200 acres. The dam faced much opposition from people during the time of its commissioning. The task was then assigned to an engineer from Andhra Pradesh. It was inaugurated by Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, Kerala’s first governor, in 1957. It also meets the drinking water needs of the district. The dam is a favourite picnic spot for many visitors owing to its pristine surroundings and defined layout. A paved walkway along the top of the dam with lamps on either side offers visitors an impressive view of miles around. Manicured gardens frame the sides of the dam with park benches and more walkways. Peechi is also home to one of the many butterfly gardens set up by the Kerala Forest Research Institute. One can visit the Kerala Forest Research Institute on the way to the dam. A watchtower built by the British stands on the opposite side of the dam. Close by is the Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary where elephants come to quench their thirst. The sanctuary was established in 1958 and is home to bison, leopard, deer and tiger. The dam also provides a wide view of the sanctuary. For the best experience, Peechi dam should be visited in the morning when the dawn is breaking.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 22 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 90 km away
- Timings: 8 am to 6 pm
- Activities: Tour of dam, Picnic, Photography
Kalashamala, once a dense green hilltop in Kunnamkulam, today hosts an ecotourism center. Also known as Narimada Kunnu or Kallazhy Kunnu, it is set to be a go-to destination in the coming years. One of the five biodiversity heritage sites in Kerala as designated by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB), Kalashamala also has a sacred grove. A large archway greets visitors to the revamped ecotourism center in Kalashamala. Some of the major new attractions now include a large children’s park at the entrance. A rainwater harvesting pond has been installed. A thriving herbal garden has been set up with signs against each plant so that visitors can identify them. Small, sheltered spaces have been constructed across the area for visitors to stop for a rest. Kalashamala has been featured as a location in some Malayalam feature films for its undulating landscape. Onward from the entrance is a slightly longer walk to Narimada, a cave large enough for an adult human being to stand in. It is a place of curiosity for visitors as it dates back to the Stone Age. One can find ‘kuda kallu’ and ‘thoppi kallu’ around the area, also known as umbrella stones and capstones respectively. A temple on the hill amidst a grove is another crowd-puller. The deities worshipped at the temple grove are Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The grove is spread over 3.5 acres and is home to an endangered tree species known as Kulavetti or Vadhamkolli. It is included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The monsoons are the best time to visit as the surroundings turn into a verdant carpet for miles together. Together with the new facilities, Kalashamala has something for everyone to look forward to.
- Railway station: Thrissur railway station, 25 km away
- Flight: Cochin International Airport, 74 km away
- Timings: Not specified
- Activities: Trekking