Thrissur exploring possibilities of kole tourism

Kole wetland

Vibrant with birds, fish, paddy and water bodies offering avenues for leisure and fun, the kole wetland zone between Pullu and Manakody in Thrissur is all set to enter the tourism map of Kerala.

The district administration is transforming this beautiful ecologically-rich stretch into a major tourism destination.

Pullu-Manakody kole land stretch lures bird watchers with its stock of rare migratory birds which flock the place during the season. This kole zone ranks third in terms of being an ideal habitat for migratory birds next to Orissa’s Chilka and Gujarat’s Amipur lakes, which stand first and second respectively. So far, more than 250 varieties of birds have been spotted in these picturesque kole wetlands.

A team under the sub-collector had been visiting the kole areas between Pullu and Manakody for the last few months to get a report ready before the starting of the eco-tourism project. However, plans are afoot to conduct an in-depth a study into the ecologically-balanced area considering its rich reserves of flora and fauna and also the social implications of a tourism center coming up on so rich a natural landscape. The authorities are very particular to learn how the project could impact the environment in the light of the lopsided planning effected in Munnar and Alappuzha.

The district administration is planning to bring in experts in the field to do a thorough assessment of the project before it is implemented. The Tourism Department will be financing the feasibility study. The entire project will be under the ambit of the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) in Thrissur. If things go as planned, Pullu-Manakody too will be on Kerala’s tourism map with as much prominence as Guruvayoor and Athirappilly, which are not too far away from the kole lands.

Projects envisaged

Boating: The wide and natural feeder canals are ideal for boating and this is one of the projects under consideration. But it will be implemented only if it does not affect the water requirements of farmers. Hence, the Agriculture Department will be in close liaison with the project. The Tourism Department Council and the Irrigation Department are planning a dredging operation to increase the depth of the canals, the sides of which will be protected by rope carpeting.

Some features envisaged under the project are a pavilion modeled after tree houses, food kiosks, steps to go down the kole fields, wayside electric lamps, walkways, parking bays, seats along the walkway and rain shelters.

Fishing: The Fisheries Department will be an angler’s support base. The department will provide the accessories for holidaymakers to hook a fish or two from the abundant water reserves around. Farmers too will be provided access to local markets where they can sell their produce directly.

Local farming: Tourists could get insights into local farming techniques like ox-cart tilling, water-wheel irrigation and manual paddy harvesting. Indigenous artifacts like the toddy pot, areca cap and country curios will also be provided for tourists.

Eco museum: On display will be pictures of almost all the birds which fly in to the kole lands, their moves, eating habits and flight patterns. A digital display of the changing moods of the kole fields, their beauty, color and changes brought about by each season is also on the museum’s plan list. The place will be fortified by a police aid post and monitored by CCTV cameras.

Cycle tourism: Plans are afoot for an exciting tourism project on bicycles. Tourists can pedal out to places unseen and lands unexplored along bunds. This invigorating scheme will be implemented with the help of local self help groups.