Dr. Shabana Saleem explores the beautiful weekend spots with her family and shares a wonderful account with us. This Naval wife, is an MBBS, DNB (Family Medicine), a mother of two beautiful girls, an excellent cook and a hobbyist. She is one of the most prominent Guest Writers at our website. Dr. Shabana and her husband give us an account of the must see places in and around Ezhimala.
For those of you, who have got over the shock and assumed disappointment of having been posted and eventually reported to Ezhimala, there are quite a few interesting and off the beat sightseeing places in the area. Remember, one needs an open mind to soak it all in, to see beauty where at first glance none may seem to exist! So here goes…
1. Hanuman Statue: Situated almost equidistant (about 5 kms ) from the Kannur Gate or the Ramanthalli Gate, this imposing statue is the largest standing Hanuman statue in Kerala. The best time to visit is sunrise to sunset and offers a good vantage view. Bonus of this trip is the availability of ayurvedic medicines to reduce/cure diabetes, obesity, stress from a local shop in the vicinity.
2. Stone Artisans Village: A short distance away from Hanuman statue towards Ramanthalli Gate, after the imposing church, a short inconspicuous road takes one to the Artisan’s Village where, almost all the inhabitants are engaged in stone carving. Amazingly talented, their works can be seen strewn about in their courtyards… mortars and pestle, stone grinders and large pestles, temple pillars, garden stones, bird baths, etc. Chat with the simple locals, bargain for anything that catches your fancy as their kids smile shyly at you while the hens keep running around! So this is life away from the trappings of internet and Facebook; pity TV and cell phones have invaded here too.
3. Kavvayi Backwaters: No we are not talking about the Kavvayi Bistro at Ezhimala Officers Institute, but the actual Kavvayi Backwaters. Drive until the railway level crossing after Payyanur railway station and instead of the usual right turn for Payyanur city, or occasional straight route (for Tirkaripur/ Nileswar/ Highway), take the left turn.
Once you cross the fish vendors, drive for another 2.5 km and voila…. one is by the idyllic backwaters with a ferry point at Kavvayi. Tranquil waters, isolated island, chirping birds, cool water breeze (please keep your cell phones on silent, if not switched off mode, lest the latest ring tones spoil the moment).
Take the government operated ferry that departs at 1.30 pm. Remember to taken along your favourite book, comfy sun -glasses, a bottle of water and music with earphones… Ask the boat conductor for a ticket to the last stop (Aiyyatti / Padana / something like that depending on the ferry schedule).
Soak in the beauty of Kerala backwaters that are dotted with lovely quaint huts by the riverbanks, village life, nets for shell fish (Kalamakai, which is a local finger licking delicacy), giving you ample time to reflect on life as you gaze at the reflections on water. Your trip to and fro will consume 2.5 to 3 hours. Time lost or Life gained; choice is yours.
4. Kanjarkolly Waterfalls: When you drive from Ezhimala to Talliparamba, turn left towards Iritty road. At Sri Kandapuram junction, take the left road towards Payyavoor. This highway gives way to towns and villages with rubber plantations and less traffic. As you zip along, feel the wind in your hair and smell the clean fresh air. Soon the uphill road takes you by surprise with the unhindered vistas of rolling green hills. Soon you reach the last motorable point that is a tea shack. Park your bike / car stretch your limbs and be taken by surprise with the nip in the air.
Have black tea with freshly prepared omelets. Vegetarians can pack up some homemade stuff if you wish. Pay Rs. 20/- towards parking fee and trek about a km to the beautiful Kanjarkolly waterfalls which are breathtaking during monsoon to curse inducing during summers as there is no view and no waterfall! The total distance about 60 kms and don’t forget to try out the Kappa (tapioca) beef biriyani at Srikantapuram.
5. Vismaya Water Park: About 25 km away from Ezhimala is the Vismaya Water Park that offers a value for money weekend option. Do take all the rides before you venture into the water park. Enjoy the tidal wave pool and waterfall (timings every half hour, alternately) and don’t miss the laser show. Dancing laser images set to popular Bollywood and South Indian hit film songs in pitch darkness which is surprisingly enjoyable and awakens the child in everyone.
6. Vismaya Snake Park: Couple of kms short of the Vismaya Waterpark is the Vismaya Snake Park. Teeming with the slithery crawly snakes and other reptiles, it gives a new meaning to ‘over-population’ as the overcrowded snake and crocodile pits make you wonder, shouldn’t some of them be shifted elsewhere. Kids will enjoy and women will constantly nag them to not lean too far over the pits.
7. Pythalmallai: About 65 kms away from Ezhimala is the surprisingly pleasant and cold hill station of Pythalmalai. Take left from Bamboo Fresh in Talliparamba, after the second petrol bunk on right hand side of road, take the first major left. Continue on this good wide road with very less traffic and breath taking villas. ‘Gods own country’ direction boards as well as Misty Valley Resort direction boards lead one to this hill station which is often covered with fog and mist. Do call up in advance and speak to Mr. Ratnakaran (who is the caretaker and manager) on 9961095457 to keep some sumptuous Kerala lunch ready for you.
The resort terrace offers awesome views, apart from its own cattle for milk and poultry for eggs/chicken preparations as well as their fresh water stream fed swimming pool. Play cards, dumb charades, Scrabble, Uno and try to visit during monsoon for the best time.
8. Kannur – St Angelo Fort and Arakkal Museum: About 40 km from Ezhimala is this very neat and clean St Angelo Fort. It’s Interesting history, knowledgeable tourism policeman cum guide, good sea views with fishing boats/trawlers going about their own business, make this a enough for once trip lest you be told “ How come you haven’t visited Kannur Fort and Museum yet?” Do combine this visit along with some serious bargaining and shopping of furnishings/towels/curtains etc at Cotton City or Handsel go down. Lunch or dinner options at Hotel Royal Omars, Blue Nile or Kairali Resort.
9. Bekal House Boats and Bekal fort: Since it is barely 30 km away from Ezhimala, go on a planned day trip to this very beautiful Bekal Fort near Kasargod town and after that take the house boat cruise at the Government owned Bekal Boat Resort. Various options are on offer, Hourly Cruises/ day time cruise/forenoon cruise/afternoon cruise/sunset cruise/dinner cruise/overnight cruise etc. You need to book in advance by contacting Mr. Jagannath at 0944769747 0r 0467 2282633. The boats are very similar to the ones at Alleppey but with very dissimilar rates (it’s much cheaper here). Do not forget to walk the to and fro length of the wooden bridge – it’s beautiful! It is a good idea to have a meal, I recommend biriyani or fish n chips, or coffee at Nalanda Resort next door.
10. Pullingome Bridge Picnic Spot: Take the route from Ezhimala to Payyanur towards the CRPF Training Centre at Peringome. Continue further on to Cherupuzha to Pullingome. Ask the locals for the new bridge which connects Kerala with Karnataka. Whilst the Kerala side road and bridge are ready, the Karnataka side has yet to be completed due to some court cases. So it can be aptly called as the bridge to nowhere!
Park your bike/car on the bridge and go down the track to right below the bridge, where you can find crystal clear, cold and swift waters and very cool breeze. Dangle your feet and wait for the fish to nibble on your dead skin (who needs spas which cost a bomb) , spread the picnic mat, lay back , gaze at the sky, throw pebbles in the river, have a picnic, read a book; when was the last time you dozed beneath an open sky!
Do keep an eye on your kids and watch your step as the river bed and river depth can be deceptive. Chat with the forest police Officials on the Karnataka side…they are friendly and look forward to new faces, and we think at Ezhimala we are cut off! It’s a good idea to be in a group rather than alone or just as a couple.
Whilst these are a few known and not so well known places to go around Ezhimala, there are still a few left waiting to be explored and discovered like Aralam Wildlife sanctuary, Ranipuram, etc… But those are for another time. So happy exploring!
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