71. Nature’s Collection

@Wayanad, Kerala, India.


Despite of the rise of http://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/ the journey has to continue and this one had to begin officially with Thamarassery Churam, made popular all over Kerala with the dialogue of Kuthiravattam Pappu in the Malayalam movie Vellanakalude Nadu and also in another movie T. P. Balagopalan M.A – the former being what still keeps the place name very famous along with its natural beauty. Located in the north-east of Kerala and serving the same purpose as the north-east of India in a lesser way, Wayanad is one of the most visited hilly destinations of the state as well as the least populous district in Kerala. The district has been connected to a number of battles involving Hyder Ali, Tipu Sulthan, the British and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja in the period long before independence; in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Now serenity is all that awaits the visitors; free from stress and emotions of this world; a tranquility which would captivate one’s mind in a slow and steady manner, without one knowing when and where it began; at the beginning of that journey or right at the middle. There are surely not many people from the state who haven’t visited the place or at least wanted to be there. It has to be something fit to be called more than just a ‘hot’ destination as far as those destinations of natural beauty are concerned.

While Edakkal Caves and Kuruva Island might be the most visited places in Wayanad, I shall not feed the letters too much with the remoteness of these two locations, as more is known than left untold about these tourist destinations – for what would the letters serve here when it is so much detailed elsewhere and glorified beyond this world of clear and well-defined beauty which is rarely left to the eyes of the beholder? Where in between the truth and the lies would the original beauty stay to bless the eyes? Inside the former, there are pictorial writings believed to date long before the age of Christ, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a superior pre-historic civilization or a big enough settlement in this area. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are considered rare and it is that unique that they are the only known examples from South India. The latter known more as Kuruvadweep, are a number of landforms, or deltas and they are supported by the green forest as they lie on the tributaries of east flowing river Kabani. As it is home to rare kinds of flora and fauna, it is quite a place to find peace for the people who deserve it. The entrance to the island is restricted, but not many people leaves it out of the list.

There they were, and here I am, still not as a person of the other dimension. As I stick to whatever required less fuel, Pookkode Lake had to be the first of all destinations, as long as the frequent stops on the side of the road don’t count. The beautiful lake with boating facilities makes the better for most of the humans, as long as they are fit to be called so. A walk around the lake is a wonderful experience, and after drinking some great tea, it gets even better. The taste of the tea might be stunning, and another thing which serves as a stun gun should be those spiders which hang around from their webs over your heads. Most of those trees around had those big spiders – not the huge ones, but big enough to be called “large” considering the local web-spinners whom we see at our homes. Spider-man might disagree, but he can have a look at the spices and handicraft items for sale, and end up doing nothing but agree. When spiders and men can be hypnotised by the scenic beauty of that world, what can Spider-man do to resist? Where else can he rest without being bothered by those Spider Slayers, of both men and machine qualities, to be shocked not by the Shocker but by something else and to be mesmerized by something other than a strange figure with its head in a glass-thing?

All around the hills of this land are those areas of bio-diversity; and they inspire more than just the nature lovers. The construction from the human side makes its own impact with Banasura sagar Dam, the largest earth dam in India and the second largest in Asia. It is named after Banasura, the son of King Mahabali or Maveli, the famous, benevolent Asura King in mythology whose homecoming is celebrated through Onam as the ‘State Festival’ of Kerala. The dam is located around the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River, as a part of the Indian Banasurasagar Project located at the foot of Banasura Hill, the second tallest mountain in the Wayanad. There is a good distance to walk to the top of the dam from where there are parks and boating facilities supported by the beautiful view of nature’s plenty. The walk might be tiring during noon, but refreshing enough during the other times of the day. There is also jeep service available to the top, but still people should prefer walking, as it gives a better view of the dam. It is also the perfect starting point for trekking into the surrounding scenic mountains and a wonderful point for taking panorama shots. The Banasura Hill Resort, located about twenty kilometres from the dam, rated as Asia’s largest Earthen Resort, might also arouse interest for its unique architecture and usage of environmental resources like mud.

To add to it, I have witnessed tea; not just seen it, but witnessed it as the elixir of the life, not for the first time – may be the thirtheenth for fourteenth time. Most of the tea witnessed, belonged to Harrisons Malayalam Limited, or so it looked like. The view of tea plantations never ceases to be refreshing, no matter how much of these estates one sees on the side of the roads to hill stations. Still, not that much of an influence as the Munnar-Ooty-Coonoor-Nuwara Eliya tea, but it supported the spirituality which started at the Thamarassery Cathedral and reached Pallikunnu Church, a famous pilgrim centre, as I heard. The cathedral was something of a different architecture. It had caught my attention with its variety. There was also the Ananthanatha Swami Temple located about six kilometres from the town of Kalpetta. It also had a Gandhi museum attached to it. This town of Kalpetta would later be our destination to have food, and even after getting out of the restaurant, we could notice monkeys on the top of the buildings, and all the spices and handicrafts kept for sale nearby. We were never far away from the tourist areas. The place which is the district headquarters as well as the only municipal town in the district was the area to take a break, for it would have taken much longer time for the same.

There is no scarcity of waterfalls either, starting with the Sentinel Rock Waterfalls, a frequented picnic spot and a trekking centre. There is also the Kanthanpara Waterfalls, comparitively smaller than the former and may be less visited too – but that would make it more peaceful. Soochippara Waterfalls is another one which attracts the tourists. Thusharagiri Falls would make another story beyond Wayanad, far under those heights. Sulthan Bathery, Mananthavady and Thirunelli will need another sojourn if the journey is not to stay long enough in Wayanad. All those historical, spiritual and intellectual places will have to wait in that case, and the beauty of the more untouched areas of nature will also have to wait. The famous Jain Temple, the tomb of Pazhassi Raja and the ancient temple of Lord Vishnu awaits in a journey which belongs to another time and season. These three along with all those less explored areas would make one wonderful week for sure, but those days rest on the state of mind which would follow the current situation which looks less favourable for another journey in that direction. But as fate makes more decisions than the mind does, who is a person to judge when he is nothing more than a slave who doesn’t realize that he is in chains?

Diving out —>