Kerala is indeed a land of paradoxes! While the State Government is striving hard to promote khadi and the regional attire of ‘mundu’ among Government employees and the general public, the case has not been so in other sectors.
Recently the Police and autorickshaw drivers in the pictersque district of Wayanad got embroiled in what could be called a ‘mundu’ row,. The Drivers’ unions are resisting the move to enforce a dress code for drivers, which will prevent them from wearing the traditional mundu to work. The auto drivers feel that this directive, which will be in force from the 1st of June is nothing short of an infringement on their rights and a tight slap on the face of those of try to promote Kerala culture.
The unions have decided to air their grievance and to protest the decision by making all their members, mainly autorickshaw drivers, wear the traditional Kerala dress. They warn that they may resort to tough measures including taking their vehicles off the roads if the police went on with the implementation of the code.
Police however said the decision was taken in view of the immodest dressing followed by mundu-clad auto drivers, who often walk around with the dhotis tied high up the waist, causing discomfort to lady passengers and families. The police want the auto drivers to stick to the uniform of Khaki pants and they plan to impose a fine on those who break this law.
In most Kerala villages including those in Wayanad, a majority of drivers still wear mundu to work and some of them are so accustomed to this dressing style that it might be a difficult for them to switch to pants. While the mundu controversy continues to simmer discontent among the auto drivers in the higher altitudes of Wayanad, the women commuters have welcomed this move as they feel that very often they are caught in an embarrassing situation on roads and also while travelling in an auto.
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Kerala, which registered an impressive growth of 11 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals and 9.15 per cent in domestic tourist arrivals during the year 2011 despite many odds has always been a favorite tourist destination among local travelers and foreign tourists. As always U. K tourists topped the list, which was closely followed by those from France, Germany, U. S and Australia. The State tourism board is now launching an aggressive promotional campaign to woo more tourists from the Middle East and Arab countries. Some of the programmes planned include road show, media promotion, and hoisting hoardings in both Arabic and English. This is the first time that such a campaign in Gulf countries is being taken up to cash in on the holiday making pattern of the Arabs who prefer holiday destinations in the East rather than American and UK holiday spots.
Kerala has lined up an interesting itinerary that offer something special for everyone . From monsoon packages to ayurveda and house boat cruise, Kerala will offer an eclectic experience. The ‘Dream Season’ package, spanning the entire off-season from May to September, has always been quite popular among the tourists. Apart from rain walks, monsoon spectacles and ayurveda the biggest attraction of this package is the low cost offer where the hotel rates and tourism packages hit the rock.
Another attraction will be the 4th monsoon carnival in Wayanad that will be held from 9-14th July in Wayanad. A joint venture of the district tourism promotion council and Wayanad Tourism Organisation, it is expected to bring in around 500 travel agents from all over the country. The carnival showcases many fun activities and events including a flood water tour, mud football, rain trekking and even a crab catching tour!. The adventure buffs will find the off road adventure rally their cup of tea for sure. The initiatives of the tourism board to forage into the unexplored markets like the Middle East will bring in the much needed impetus to the tourism potential of Kerala in the days ahead.
A monsoon carnival was organised in the Wayanad district in Kerala during the first two weeks of July to promote monsoon tourism and to soak up the mood of the rains. Aptly named “Splash”, this carnival which took place at the Chandragiri Auditorium in Kalpetta included an array of interesting indoor and outdoor events like cultural performances, singing, music, dance, magic, rafting, rock climbing, trekking, crab catching and archery. The gourmets too had a field day as there was a well stocked food court too at the venue. Stalls selling local handicrafts and spices had a steady stream of visitors.
While many tourism related activities took an off season rest, splash created a buzz in this hill district, which attracted over 200 tour operators including overseas operators who participated in this business-to-business meet. Various interesting sporting events and local games were also included in this year’s event to attract maximum participants.
One of the major attractions this year had been the fun activity of mud football. Some of the other rural games on offer included ‘kambukayattam’ (climbing the slippery tree), ‘vadamvali’ (tug of war), and also life skills like paddy transplantation. The water sports lovers too had a great time as there were many exciting activities like rafting, rain run, fishing, angling and rain trail, which brought out the charm of the monsoons at its best. I found this blog post by Sanjay-Sivadas really catchy as it has encompassed the beauty of Wayanad and the romance of the rains through some lively snap shots and descriptions.
Kabini, one of the most popular wildlife destinations of Karnataka was hand picked as the destination for our annual leisure trip not by chance but after a meticulous research and ground work by the seasoned hands of the Karma Kerala travel desk. At the end of it all, we are happy that it paid off by offering us one of the most beautiful holidays ever. Kabini is 3 hours drive from Wayanad and it retains its pristine charm even today. The lush green landscape surrounding a large picturesque lake and fantastic sightings of large herds of elephants, makes it a favorite choice for wild life enthusiasts.
It is only 80km away from Mysore and comprises the south-eastern part of Nagarhole National Park, now named as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Spread over an area of 247 square miles, it is considered one of the best wildlife parks of India, famous for elephants , tigers, wild buffaloes and spotted deer among others. The landscape around is breathtaking and is made of gentle slopes and shallow valleys dotted with grass lands, swamps and deciduous trees.
In case you are looking for a quiet holiday away from the hustle and the bustle of the cities, plan a trip to Kabini, where time stands still. Apart from the occasional rumblings of the cars and jeeps ferrying the tourists, Kabini is secretive and silent. Enjoy a tryst with nature, tuck in a banter session with your friends around the bonfire, set out on a paddle boat or break free from the mundane. No matter whatever you choose to do in Kabini, the bottomline reads that you will go back recharged and refreshed, ready to take life head on!
When the newly elected UDF Govt in Kerala led by Oommen Chandy with 13 new ministers took the oath last day it saw the emergence of Jayalakshmi, the youngest minister in the cabinet and the first tribal minister in Kerala. Though it was only her fourth visit to Kerala’s capital city,it turned out to be a historical moment for the 29-year-old Jayalakshmi hailing from a remote hamlet in Wayanad.
Born in the valiant Kurichiya tribe, the frontline warriors of Pazhassi Raja, Jayalakshmi is an expert archer. Living in the traditional joint family of The ‘Palott Tharavadu’ where 5 families live together even now, Jayalakshmi is a graduate in English Literature and has always been interested in politics unlike her two younger sisters who are married and have opted to be house wives.
A committed Panchayat ward member of the remote Thavinjal Village in Wayanad , she always tried to be at the beck and call of the needy and to alleviate the woes of common man. Her passion for social work grabbed the attention of none other than Rahul Gandhi, who had been to Wayanad scouting for new and young faces for the Youth Congress. When the elections came, as expected her name featured in the list submitted by Rahul.
A former district secretary of KSU, the students wing of the Congress, Jayalakshmi has also served in various responsible positions like member of state level representatives’ committee of Mahila Congress.
Eldest of three daughters of Ammini and Palott Kunhaman who is a a mail overseer at the Subdivisional Post Office, near Mananthavadi, Jayalakshmi was defying the conventions when she decided to enter politics. In her tribe, girls are habitually married off at a very early age and when she postponed her marriage, it created a few anxious moments for her closely knit family.
Hailing from one of the most backward districts and tribes of Kerala, the yeoman service of Jayalakshim in the days ahead will make a quality change in the live styles of the people of Wayanad in particular. She will indeed be a role model for scores of women from other backward areas to come out into the power corridors and to do something worthwhile for their community.
In Kerala, the church is all set to to play host to tourists by foraying into the home stay sector to cater to the burgeoning accommodation needs of the tourists. The Church of South India, a prominent non-Catholic Christian segment made the first step in this direction by starting a home stay in the Wayanad.
The CSI converted a parsonage at Meppadi in Wayanad into home stay for two families and is also planning to put to use the other church properties in Munnar and Idukki for tourism. The church is bringing in the much needed spiritual element too into the tourist circuits by offering counselling for the tourists.
The church underscores the need to promote value based tourism and will try to keep a check on unhealthy trends like sex tourism according to North Kerala CSI Bishop K P Kuruvila. The church run home stays will not only promote interaction between different people and cultures around the world but also provide comfortable home stay facilities for tourists at affordable rates.
Kerala hotels often run on full capacities during the peak holiday season and many a time, travelers are forced to make last minute changes in their itineraries for want of space. More home stays and cost effective accommodation options will help to alleviate the accommodation problems to a large extent!
Does the title sounds a bit intriguing? But what you read is right; we needed a green thumped German from the other part of the world to do something noteworthy to preserve the ecosystem of the tropical haven of wayanad in Kerala ;while we preferred to stay aside and watch the plunder of nature! Shameful indeed:(
Though Wayand, the lush green, picturesque spot in the midst of the Western Ghats is in the news for all wrong reasons like encroachments by land mafias, unauthorized constructions and illegal logging activities, it is sad that most of us prefer to turn a blind eye towards all these illegal incidents. This is where the unconditional love of a foreigner for Wayanad and its diverse flora and fauna becomes all the more noteworthy!
The Gurukula Botanical sanctuary in the deep jungles of Wayanad was set up forty years back by a German, Wolfgang Theuerkauf, who was enamored by the bewitching beauty of this place. A haven for butterfly and bird watchers this botanical garden in Periya is a commendable contribution of a foreigner who made Wayanad his home. Way back in 1981, he bought a piece of land and set up this garden with the sole objective of protecting an propagating the native plants and the trees of the area. It is a rich genome of one of the best collections of native trees and plants. Of the 55 acre park, 10 acres is earmarked as nursery while the rest is restored forest land, fields and grazing areas.
Gurukula is home to over 2000 species of plants seen only in of western Ghats, many animals , birds and snakes. The Gurukula employs organic farming and alternate energy mechanisms. Apart from his personal funds, this farm is driven by the generous donations from various organizations. Many children and adults live and work in this sanctuary under the ‘school in the Forest Scheme’. In the year 2006, he won the Whitley Award, the biggest environment honour in Britain for the most effective conservation efforts across the world.
“ Today nature has become a commodity to be used and exploited, which has brought the fragile ecosystem on the verge of extinction” says Theuerkauf. Our very survival is dependent on nature conservation and biodiversity, as you can understand even from Kerala’s changing climate” he adds.
Is it not ironical that where we failed to act, a thoughtful foreigner stepped in to do his wee bit for Kerala and came out successful? So, next time, when you think of cutting down the native hibiscus plant to make room for an imported pine tree, remember that this mindless act might lead to the extinction of the native plants and trees, which creates the exceptionally vibrant and colorful landscape of Kerala and its spectacular beauty .
At a casual glance, this tree house might pass off as a chic abode built over a tree to exclusively cater to adventure tourism. However on a closer look, you will be surprised to note that it is an outdoor study room built for the students of Ananda Narayana Memorial Aided Upper Primary School at Krishnagiri in Wayanad. Built using locally available materials like bamboo and hay, this cosy hut has a floor area of 100-sq.-ft and is perched over 50 ft. above the ground. The school kids have given endearing names for their pet project. Some call it ‘Dream Nest’ while others prefer to call it by a more reverie name like the ‘ Palace in the sky . A brain child of the innovative students of this nondescript school, the idea evolved after an enlightening study tour last year to the Kuruva islands, where they were bowled over by the timeless charm of huge trees.
The resources were pooled in from various sources like the Pupils-Parents-Teacher’s Association (PPTA) and the Self Help Group (SHG) of the students of the school apart from others to make this dream come true. After investing a capital of around Rs. 40,000 and two months of labour, the tree house was born, much to the delight of the villagers as a whole. The tree hut is being used as an open classroom for group activities. The tree house features many useful tourist information like the places of tourist interests in the district and maps and drawings of students, which are neatly arranged. Students take rest on comfortable cotton quilts during recess and learn new things from nature almost always.
Now the school is planning to let it out to tourists and an attached bathroom is also being constructed for this purpose. We all can take a cue from this innovative venture and return to nature to enjoy life at its fullest. Striking a subtle balance with nature and its living beings is what holds the key to success in any civilised society. Cocooning ourselves in the ivory towers of fame and money will not bring any lasting solution to the vexed problems dogging the modern world.
Thrissur: This simple Christian wedding, which took place the other day in Valappad in Thrissur District is startlingly different from any ordinary church wedding. The Christian priest was solemnizing the wedding of his own father when sixty-four-year-old groom, Antony, a widower, got married to Brajitha (50) at the St Sebastian Church.
This was indeed a marriage with a difference where the groom was accompanied by his grandsons to the church and the wedding solemnized by his priest son, Antree, serving as the principal of the Selesian Don Bosco Technical Institute in Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad district who told that he was only doing his duty as a priest.
The wedding was supervised by his son Fr. Andry Kannanpuzha, who has two siblings living abroad. Antony’s first wife for 29 years, Rita passed away in 2001 after which he was leading a secluded life. After a lot of cajoling and pressure from his family, Antony made up his mind to walk down the aisle with Brijitha, for whom it was the first marriage.
This wedding has once gain proved that marriages are indeed made in heaven.
Kannur: A 10 billion project is on the anvil to improve the basic infrastructure in Kerala .The state Government is trying to mobilise funds for this ambitious project, which would change the fortunes of Kerala as a popular tourist destination.
The tourism minister opined that if the terms and conditions of ADB loan are acceptable, the state may think of availing the loan just like many other Indian States.
The minister also inaugurated a beach beautification programme at Kappad, the fabled venue where the legendary Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama, is believed to have set foot in India, around 5 centuries back. A fund of Rs.55 million would be allocated for the Kappad beautification project.
In addition, the hilly district of Wayanad would be declared as a responsible tourism destination in Kerala, which would help the tribal people in the district to sell the forest produce to the tourists and to make a decent living.