The beautiful isle where giant shade trees grow in abundance, in the middle of a pristine lake, is truly marvellous. One can relax at the stone mandaps here, enjoying the soothing breeze or shake a leg with friends at the open dance bar. The isle is just one of the impressive features at the ABC Gel, Puthupaddy, which draws visitors to live some tranquil moments in the company of beautiful nature.
The unique forest-agricultural park is sprawled over 9 acres of land which was handed over to Kozhikode native Cyriac Maria Kalapura as family inheritance. However, this land, which is in the valley of the mountain ranges in Wayanad, gets flooded during the monsoon and hence is not fit for agriculture. Cyriac didn't have the heart to sell off this beautiful piece of land either. It was because of this dilemma that Cyriac came up with the amazing tourism initiative called the ABC Gel.
The charming isle
One has to take the pocket road near the Puthupaddy telephone exchange at the Wayanad road to reach the ABC Gel. The path beyond the Chembrampatta Government Higher Secondary School, which leads to the banks of the isle, is lined with rambutan trees.
It is an array of the royal date palm trees which welcome you to the enchanting little isle of happiness and peace. The mandaps or gazebos where you can spend some precious moments, unwinding and relaxing, are the highlighting features here. Besides, there are rustic bamboo huts and elaborate seating arrangements made with hard rocks. Doves, mynah, humming bird and many other rare avian species splash at the stone bird baths built at the isle.
The mysterious charm of the mist can be enjoyed here even during the noon. To create the unique misty atmosphere of the Wayanad valleys, droplets are arranged in the middle of the lake. The water from these droplets would go up and within seconds create a cool atmosphere around the isle, almost similar to the beautiful morning mists, even during the noon time. The beautiful rainbow created as part of it is just an enchanting addition. The stone mandaps, with pillars crafted in single stone, were built by the expert artisans from Kanyakumari.
The lake is almost 5 ft deep and boating facilities, too, are arranged here. Peddling boats in which two people can ride at a time and rowing boats are also available. Rare species of cranes and some migrating birds make appearances at the pristine lake at ABC Gel.
Cyriac realized that there is a spring in the plot only when he began to cultivate the land. That is how he thought about creating a lake and an isle here. The lake was created artificially by scraping away soil. When it reached 5 feet deep, Cyriac understood that it was loose sand beneath it. The construction of the lake was completed only after conducting a soil test by the government agencies to scientifically determine the strength of the soil. The lake, whose construction began in 2010, was only finished in 2014. However, the effort has really paid off as it turned out to be a stunning and serene lake with clear water.
The lake and the isle are not the only treats that await you at the ABC Gel. Cyriac has even made a beautiful garden where flowering trees, fruit-bearing tress, plants, shrubs and many varieties of bamboo beckon the visitors to enjoy its charm. It is the perfect place to see some of the rare varieties of bamboo like the Buddha bamboo, painting bamboo, Bheema bamboo, golden bamboo, and the dark bamboo.
Cyriac says that around 32 different varieties of bamboo are grown at the bamboo woods. There is even a place which is thickly covered with trees and shrubs which gives an impression of the dense forest. A walkway from where the visitors can enjoy the beauty of the nature, is under construction here. It is almost like enjoying a minor trekking experience by walking on tarred roads.
The trekking path in the woods leads to a hill which is the highest point in the entire plot. The elevated space which just had an area of 10 cents was converted into an elaborate hill top of around 30 cents. A path has been cut out surrounding this hill. The beautiful view of the space between the 2nd curve and 9th curve of the Thamaraserry mountain pass could be enjoyed from the verandah of the building atop this hill. It is an excellent view point from where the visitors can watch the slow-moving cars which pass through the mountain pass.
There is a cottage with a long verandah here from where one can enjoy the cool breeze and spectacular views. A huge swimming pool is being constructed in front of the cottage. Cyriac plans to turn this waterbody into a stream which runs through the path that surrounds the hills and ends as a beautiful waterfall. He hopes that the waterfall would be visible from even as far as Lakkidy. A few more cottages would be built here before turning it into an exclusive honeymoon spot, says Cyriac.
The tale of the trees
Though it's only been 4 years since the ABC Gel has opened, all the trees that stands in the plot look at least 12-14 years old. Cyriac reveals that the different varieties of bamboos, date palms, rare plants like Benjamina and many flowering trees, which already had a growth of at least 5 years, were purchased from various nurseries at Hyderabad and then transported to be planted at the ABC Gel. Just like the spectacular flora here, the visitors are charmed by the extremely handsome white horse named Roosh, which stays at a stable in the park.
Cyriac envisioned ABC Gel as a dream destination where one can perfectly be in harmony with the nature. He has clear plans and unique ideas to turn ABC Gel into one of the finest forest - agricultural parks in the country. He plans to open a quaint restaurant amidst the golden bamboo forest where one can enjoy some delicious dishes in the company of scintillating nature. An auditorium and a few island cottages at the extension points of the lake are some of the projects which would soon take off.
When Cyriac began the construction of this park, a few people in the locality had complained that it would create serious environmental problems in the area. However, the favourable stands taken by the authorities proved helpful for Cyriac to achieve his dream. Moreover, the lake has now become a huge rain water harvester, that too, without damaging the environment. As a result of this, the wells in the neighbourhood houses are always filled with fresh water and do not get dried up even during the summer. Besides, the water level in many wells has increased significantly ever since the lake was built here.
Cyriac says that he has the wholehearted support of his wife Leela and children Amy Rose, Thomas Ben, and Thoman Zen. The family is equally excited about the beautiful park and often gives ideas and suggestions to make it even more elegant. ABC Gel is also the perfect place to conduct get-together or parties. Instead of spending dull moments inside suffocating auditoriums, friends and families can happily gather here and have unlimited fun, enjoying the beautiful nature and some delicious dishes as well. Camps, too, could be set up here. A favourite spot of wedding photographers, ABC Gel offers perfect frames with beautiful nature in the background.
Becoming one with the nature
Youngsters often chose the isle in the middle of the lake as a favourite camping destination where they love to conduct camp fires filled with fun and frolic. Cyriac describes ABC Gel as a special place to become one with the nature and enjoy some delectable delicacies served with love and care. Those who visit the place are sure to fall in love with the pristine lake, mesmerizing isle, and the enchanting bamboo forests, and most of them vow to return to this incredible 'man made' paradise.