The Thamarassery Pass or Wayanad Pass is bound to be an unforgettable experience for those who have traveled the route. The pass which offers such breathtaking spectacle can be developed into a world class experience by prudently using the existing facilities and converting it into an environment friendly tourism centre. This could, very well kick start a huge tourism booster to the district.
The wonder pass
The pass presents an amazing universe. The chilly wind, the winding roads and the various view points is just breathtaking. Lovely sights await one along the topsy-turvy route from the first to the ninth bends. Many waterfalls, tiny and large ones, can be spotted in the rainy season. Rare plants, gigantic trees with creeper branches touching the ground, swarms of insects and a drizzle normally completes the experience. The Pass Viewpoint is a tourism center identified by the people. Unlike in other tourism centers there are no boards proclaiming the wonders of the sights there and how they are not to be missed.
Popular environment friendly tourism
The Wayanad Pass can be transformed into an eco destination that teaches one to respect the environment. Tourism projects that protect the environment to the maximum have to be implemented. Forest Protection Councils, so very successful elsewhere, can be formed here. Such projects undertaken with people’s participation will augur well for the region. The need of the hour is not big hotels, restaurants and shopping complex. If rest areas are required, temporary centers can be set up making use of bamboo, thatch and hay.
As the alternative Pass road becomes a reality, the existing Pass can be preserved and retained as a heritage tourism path. The Pass road belongs to the National Highway Authority. Most of the land surrounding it belongs to the Forest Department. Then there is also privately owned land. If technical hazzles in obtaining forest land come in the way, private individuals’ land can be bought or taken on lease and used. Even though the Pass falls under Kozhikode district, this path is the lifeline of Wayanad district. What is needed is a project jointly undertaken by the administrations of Kozhikode and Wayanad districts. People’s representatives should step forward to make this happen.
Things to note
-The Pass, road and surroundings should be made completely plastic-free.
Strict action should be taken against those who dump waste.
Hotels etc should take the responsibility of their waste disposal.
The path should be made tobacco-free. Intoxicants like liquor should be regulated.
Ensure service of tourism police at all times.
Curb speeding on the Pass.
Projects that can be implemented in the Pass
Binocular Center. A binocular center like the one which tremendously attracts tourists in places like Nilgiri can be installed at the Pass Viewpoint. Travelers can relish the sights of the beautiful mountain ranges, the valley and the waterfalls as if from near. Environment friendly ‘view houses’ can be arranged at many places in the Pass instead of concrete watch towers.
Adventurous travelers are sure to find trekking through the Pass route an exciting experience. This project can be implemented under the supervision of Forest Protection Councils. The Forest Department can develop a trekking path along the Pass as traffic is heavy on the Pass. Tourists including foreigners are bound to enjoy a trek by foot that takes in the wild marvels of the forests by the Pass. Local folks can be considered for jobs like trekking guide. It will also net in revenues for the Forest Department.
Walk in the rain
Monsoon tourism has caught on in Wayanad of late. This will bring in foreign tourists even during the rainy season which is generally off season period for hotels and resorts. The joys of trekking the Pass during rain are narrated by children who participated in the ‘Mazhayarivu Yatra’ held every rainy season here by the Harithasena (Green Army).
Small cafeterias selling Malabar dishes can be opened adjacent to the Pass. Along with snacks like Muttamaala, Muthapathiri and Unnakkaya, dishes like biriyani wrapped in leaf can be served there. Fried masala egg is a specialty hit in the thattukadas of the Pass. Small enterprises vending tribal dishes can be started too, benefiting Kudumbasrees and tribal societies.
Sale of indigenous products
The Forest Department has centers in Wayanad selling pure honey collected by the tribal people. When the guests get access to superior honey, it translates to decent income for the tribals too. Similarly small shops selling honey and forest products can be opened by the Forest Protection Councils. Agencies like Kudumbasree can market country eggs, organic vegetables, organic milk, etc. Kerala Veterinary University and MILMA can start centers selling value added milk products.
Ropeway and Winch
The models of Malampuzha ropeway and Palani winch can be tried for the Wayanad Pass. A ropeway line or winch that unravels the magnificence of the Pass in its entirety can be explored. The Public Works Department had considered the underground path originating from the fourth bend of the Pass many years ago. The idea was to culminate the path in the land in Lakkidi owned by the Public Works Department. This land can be used as a center for operating ropeway, cable car and winch if needed.
Open Air Auditorium
Minor cultural events can be conducted with the coming of an open air auditorium in the Pass. Building an art gallery will throw open possibilities of exhibitions. Land has to be identified outside the Pass for parking though. Naming such a stage after Kuthiravattom Pappu who immortalized the Pass in cinema would be a fitting tribute to the late actor.
Lampposts can be installed at many places while still retaining the essence of the Pass. Solar lamps will ensure energy conservation as well.
Tourism Information Center. Presently there is no information centre for the Pass. The Wayanad DTPC’s centre at the ninth bend lies closed. A center should be opened for enquiries regarding tourism centers of Wayanad and Kozhikode districts. Toilet facilities for the tourists can be started adjoining it.