An island is a little world within itself.
We had our share in the enchanting stretch of land extending from Valiyazhikkal in the south to Thrikkunnappuzha in the north sandwiched between the Kayamkulam kayal and the Arabian Sea. As children, we used to go to this place crossing the deep and wide expanse of the lake in small country boats just to be there on that magical island for few hours.
The island is vulnerably exposed to the Southwest monsoon winds bringing winds bringing with it high and rough waves from the roaring sea. Once the rains began out in June, the area was out of bounds for us children.
The backwaters would swell up eating into the boundaries of the island from the eastern side and the tidal waves lash out from the west eroding the already tiny landmass. Fishermen roll away their nets and the coir-curling wheels come to a grinding halt.
Curious to know whether things have changed with times we planned a trip to the fishing villages of Kallikkad, Arattupuzha and Thrikkunnappuzha during this monsoon. The jankar boat service at Kochidejetty near Kayamkulam, which used to ferry people, bikes and cars, had stopped with a brand new bridge constructed after the 2005 Tsunami with Central funding.
Things have visibly changed since the days of our childhood escapades. The great downturn of the coir industry, diminishing fish catch due to the thermal station at Cheppad, the newly established connectivity of the locals thanks to the road approach from the mainland, all making an imprint on the social fabric. The thatched houses of yore had given way to garishly painted Gulf-money houses.
Our visits to the Valiyazhikkal Pozhi (estuary) in the south, where the backwaters of Kayamkulam kayal met the mighty sea, and Thrikkunnappuzha in the north, where the wide lake narrows down to a small canal, offered unique spectacles.
All along the seaside road, ravages of the Tsunami were distressingly evident. Rehabilitation work was still in progress. Treacherous potholes on the way forced us to slow down and take a closer look at the village life on our right and the beauty of the lashing waves on the left. And then the rains came like 'slanting wire ropes fastened to the earth' and the sea turned fiercely beautiful, spitting thick white foams on the beach.
Cultural significance of the area is remarkable. St Sebastian's Church (Veluthachan Palli) at Pallikkadavu was built by the Portuguese padres.
Mata Amritanandamayi's native village Parayakadavu is a stone's throw away and Pallana, where the Redeemer boat carrying the great Malayalam poet Kumaran Asan met its watery grave, is nearby.
Krishnapuram Palace with the famous mural of Gajendramoksham is just a few kilometres away and we took time out to see this double-storey palace that incorporates some of the best features of Kerala's architectural individuality.
Revisiting a place which holds happy memories is a dream of many an adult, but doing it with your family and reliving the days with one's children is altogether another experience!
How To Reach
Visitors from Ernakulam coming by the NH 47 can take a right turn immediately after the Thottappally spillway bridge. After about 14 kms, from Thrikkunnapuzha, proceed through the coastal road to Arattupuzha, Kallikkad, Perumbally and Valiyazhikkal.
From Thiruvananthapuram, one can travel to Kayamkulam and immediately after the transport bus station, take a left turn, proceed to Pullukulangara, Kochidejetty through the newly constructed bridge reach Perumbally. The only place available for stay is a resort at Thrikkunnapuzha. But there are facilities at Kayamkulam and Thottappally.
The writer is a travel enthusiast.