Kerala’s Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival: a feast for the eyes

Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival near our hip hotels in Kerala

With arguably one of the most vibrant and colourful extravaganzas in India unfolding in April, now is definitely the time to book ahead for a stay at our hip hotels in Kerala.

The Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival is celebrated every April, with the exact date depending on when the moon rises with the Pooram star during the Malayalam calendar month of Medam. Celebrated in Thrissur, considered to be the cultural capital of Kerala, the festival is a huge draw for visitors, bringing in people not only from all over India but from all over the world.

Thrissur Pooram dates back over 200 years, with its non-stop celebration of colour, music and dance spanning 36 hours. Held on the premises of the Vadakkumnatha Temple, a truly classic example of traditional Keralan architecture, visitors can also enjoy the action from a special viewing platform, which offers better views of all the celebrations going on.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the festival has to be the procession of elephants, each colourfully decorated, passing through the streets towards the temple, with each rider carrying a sequinned parasol used for the kudamattom, a competition of swift and rhythmic changing of the parasols. Other unmissable parts of the festival include the ilanjitharamelam, a 250-strong percussion ensemble generating crowd-pleasing rhythms with traditional instruments of Kerala, such as the chenda, elathalam, komba and kuzhal.

By night, the focus is on the skies rather than the streets for the festival’s entertainment, as at midnight, a magnificent firework display is launched, which can last for up to three hours, filling the skies of the city with a dazzling show of lights.

After all that celebration, a relaxing retreat to unwind and get away from it all may be just what you need. Cruise through the Malabar on an elegant houseboat with The Lotus, refresh your mind, body and soul at the Neeleshwar Hermitage or enjoy a relaxed stay at the Windermere Estate, overlooking acres of tea plantations – the choice is yours.

Image: Malcolm Murdoch, available under Creative Commons

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.