I read up a lot of articles and books about history of Gowda Saraswath Brahmins to be able to write this and it also helped me get in touch with my own roots. This community places its Gods and Deites above everything else, including trade, family and themselves and they have always been blessed.
Gowda saraswath Brahmins or GSBs came to Kochi around 1360 to escape the atrocities at the hands of Alauddhin Khilji and later to evade Portuguese Inquisition in Goa. They belonged to Salcette of Goa and the area in Kochi where the settled was called Sashtiparambu. The main settlement areas that are still buzzing with GSBs and their activities, include Cherlai, T.D road, Amaravathi. The life here revolves around the temple and the temple activities. This place is called Goshreepuram.
The Cochin Tirumala Devasom is the main temple here and is surrounded by smaller Temples each having a long history. The presiding deity is Sri Venkatachalapathy. Bi annually, Araat or the main temple festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. The temple runs TD School and similar educational institution in this area.
STOP TO SEE:
1. The main Cochin Tirumala Devasom: The front dwara is built in Vimana style of architecture and the Northern Gopur in Indo-Tibetan style. It also houses the largest metal bell inside the temple. The lake mantapam opposite to the temple holds an important place in the Temple activities. More often than not, Cherlai is ready to celebrate some religious function. The Processions, Events and Festivals are worth catching up with.
2. The subordinate temples around the main temples.
3. Hari shenoy`s bunglow: R.S. Hari Shenoy was the adhikari (administrator) of the TD Temple. He founded the TD High School in Mattancherry, the first Anglo-vernacular school in the area. In 1874 he built his bungalow, near the temple, in a style inspired by western architecture .The central room on the first floor, supposedly the master bedroom, has marble flooring made from tiles brought from Italy and dark stones brought from Kutch . this bunglow is all set to be conserved by the tourism department under a project called Museum of Cultural Mosaic.
The restoration in progress.
STOP TO EAT:
1. Fritters/ fried veggies called Bajja by the local as an accompaniment to a cup of steaming hot tea. The rulers of the roost are potato bonda, onion bajja, Goli baja.
2. Patarvado/ Patrado is a laborious delicacy made by slathering colacassia leaves with a freshly ground masala in an alternating fashion , rolled and steamed. The aroma wafts around the corners of Cherlai with hungry patrons waiting.
3. Ginger lime juice at the corner stall near Cherlai Bazar. The secret concoction has many fans and is a must do for the homeward bound.
4. Dosa: Small cafes dot Cherlai roads where amiable mammus (uncles) are spreading out super symmetric dosas and serving them with coconut chutney and lip smacking sambar.
5. A traditional Konkani sweet shop is at Koovapadam, run by an old lady fondly called Millakarni (Mill -Lady). Her stars are Pooranpoli/Ubatti : a sweet made from dal and jaggery, Besan laddu , Chips and Milk Peda.
As you leave these lanes , you can’t help but promise yourself you’ll come back for more. That is why Konkanis say, Yetha (Will come back) as they leave.