It was the Western Ghats and the Nila River that figured prominently in the cultural development of Kerala. As a major tributary of the Bharathapuzha, River Nila originates in the Western Ghats and finally joins the Arabian Sea. And along these ways, there is the undeniable stamp of history and culture. There are many folklores and myths related to the river and the banks of the river have been witness to many a historical event including the Mamankam, which was celebrated once in 12 years during the reign of the Zamorins.
The world is yet to know of Nila’s historical significance though, there is a need to conscientize and it is unfortunate that there hasn’t been much action on this front. A novel initiative called the Cultural Tourism Circuit was under consideration in the District Tourism Promotion Council’s agenda. A detailed route map was drawn up for it too, but nothing took shape.
Here is what the itinerary of a 2-day journey along the banks of Nila looks like;
Day 1: 7 am – Palakkad Jain Temple, 7.30 am – Kalpathi Brahmin Settlement, Mani Aiyar Memorial Museum, Kadambazhipurram Vayillakunnu Temple (via Mundur – Kongadu), 9 am - Mangalamkunnu Elephant House, Adakkaputhur ( hand mirror or Valkanadi making), 10 am – Vellinezhi Kalagramam, Olappamanna Mana, 11 am – Chethallur Narayanamangalam where the madman of Naranam, (a character in Malayalam folklore) is said to have spent his childhood (via Karalmannu – Poovathampadi), 12.30 pm – Kodumundu Naripatta Mana (via Vazhenkada – Melpatambhi), 1.45 pm - Rayiranellur Hill via Koppam, the Veliaankallu which is a memorial in the name of Mezhathol Agnihothri, Kudalore, where writer M.T Vasudevan Nair’s ancestral home is located, Tirur Thunchan Parambu via Kuttipuram – the birthplace of Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan, the father of Malayalam Language, 5 pm – Thirunavaya, a Hindu pilgrim centre on the northern bank of Bharathapuzha. By 7 pm, day 1 ends with stay at Thrithala.
Day 2 begins at 7 am with a visit to the Panniyur Sri Varahamurthy Temple located at Kumbidi. This is where Perunthachan’s chisel and rod is preserved. 8 am – Anakkara Vadakkath Tharavadu, the residence of great poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri, 9 am - Malamakkavu Ayyappa Temple where the "Chengazhi Neer" flower, also known as "Neelathamara “blooms, via Peringattu-kutanad-Mezhathur to Thrithala, (Mezhathol’s famous illam, Pakanar’s Kanjirathara, the tribal colony of Pananars), 10.30 am – Cheruthuruthi Kerala Kalamandalam, 12.45 pm – Kavalapara, 1.30 pm – Manisserri Varikasserri Mana, 2.30 pm – Killikurussi Mangalam (the birthplace of Kunchan Nambiar), 3 pm – Residence of the humorist VKN via Pampady Evar Madom – Thiruviluwamala, 4 pm – Chembai Village, 5 pm – Palakkad Fort, the last point by 7 pm is at the Chitoor Thunchan Madom where Ezhuthachan is believed to have spent his last days. The list is not final; this can be used as a reference outline to bring in more variations or customizations. The cultural History of Palakkad should be digitized and made into an informative CD that can be shown at the start of the trip.
Light and Sound Show
During 1987-91, when Jiji Thompson was the District Collector, there was a light and sound show at the Palakkad Fort. The show theme was the history of the Fort and this was scripted by Kalidas Puthumana. This could be further modified to include the cultural history of Palakkad and re-introduced.
The need for a Single Window System
Like the cultural circuit, there has to be a plan to include other tourism centres. There is a need for a single window system to be in place along with information centres to encourage leisure tourism. These should come under the management of the DTPC or the Collectorate. Awareness about the various tourism centres should be promoted among the public. Also information about entry formalities, passes, and permissions required.
A Policy for Leisure Tourism
We have seen the immense scope of Palakkad as a destination for leisure tourism. This is just a brief picture and there are many other areas that can be explored to bring in more all round development to the state. This has to be taken up by the District constitutional authorities and they will require the cooperation of various other departments for drawing up a comprehensive tourism promotion plan.
As a first step, the places of interest in Palakkad should be added to the tour schedules of schools, colleges, and government or private institutions too.