Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Torrential spills and thrills

Chasing Monsoon/ Tejaswini/ Rafting

In pursuit of the rain…on the waves of adventure. Rafting during the rains is now gaining popularity in Kerala too. A daring venture through the Tejaswini River in North Kerala.

Tejaswini was hysterical… her cries could be heard from far. The long wait for the arrival of the rain, her lover, had turned into grief. Shaking her body, her hair let loose, hands outstretched, she took out all her grief, on the rocks. A magnetic charm permeated this amorous woman…

Fourteen of us set out in two inflated boats... I slowly turned back to look at them. Their lively chatter had come to a halt. They looked pale as if blood had drained from their faces. The paddles seemed to be slipping away… my grip tightened further around the paddle… my courage was draining away! Within seconds, Tejaswini pulled us into her bosom. Instantly, screams arose from the boat. Her frenziness had diffused into us …

Tejaswini is the waterline that divides Kannur and Kasargod into two. Our trip to Cherupuzha was in quest of extreme adventure, to experience the daring sport of 'rafting', that we get to see only in the National Geographic and Discovery channels…Crossing over the new bridge in Cherupuzha, we set out in our inflated boats from Kolladi in Kasargod. We slowly lowered our paddles into the river. Within seconds, the rafts were swept away, like catamarans caught in the floods.

The instructions and reprimands of the Nepali guides got drowned in Tejaswini's roar. The currents became stronger and stronger. Bats flew out of the mangrove forests along the river, forming circular patterns in the black sky, with their huge wings spread out. The screeching of the bats, the roaring sound of Tejaswini as she lashed herself against the rocks, all together created a mood typical of a horror film!

The raft almost hit a rock…my heart was in my mouth… Seeing the plus 2 students Sheba and Pooja in the raft, I tried to hide my fear.

The Nepali guides, Sanjeeb and Rajusreshta, were humming some Nepali songs. They were in Kerala to give training in rafting. Suddenly, the raft in front swerved, spinning like a top. It hit a huge tree that had fallen into the turbulent river, and stopped. We climbed up, clutching the rock on which the trunk of the tree rested. With the rope in the raft, the guide dived into the roaring river. Swimming against the strong currents, he tied the rope tightly to a tree on the opposite bank. We looked on, holding our breaths, at the Nepali's daring act. All of us jumped back into the raft as soon as it was freed from the clutches of the tree. Our companions, Aabeed and Binu had to swim some distance before they were able to climb in.

We went past the forests of Kasargod and Kamballur to reach Chemmaramkayam, the deepest point in the river at Chemmaram. We were again caught in the swirl of the current. We struggled to keep our heads from hitting the drooping branches. As we slowly tried to raise our heads, Aabeed, who was sitting in front, suddenly cried out loudly, 'duck down. A snake!' A snake lay coiled amidst the thick foliage. 'Kya Cobra hai?' the Nepali asked amazed. 'Hey! This is some other breed… will drift away in the next shower', someone replied.

During heavy rains, Tejaswini breaches both the banks. Then, nothing can pass through the Chemmaram kayam without getting caught in its swirls. From the hanging bridge above, many watched us with amazement. Gradually the current weakened. Tejaswini attains her true form as she enters Kasargod. Our five hour long 'drift' (our journey can also be described so) stretching over 12km came to an end at Kakkadavu in Kasargod. Even as we were walking back to the jeep, we couldn't help ourselves from turning back to look again at Tejaswini… our hearts were hesitant to bid adieu… at night, as we lay down closing our eyes, we drifted into sleep on Tejaswini's bosom, her distant sounds resounding in our ears…

Safe Rafting

White water rafting is a recreational sport that requires great courage. Unless proper precautions and preparations are taken, it is very likely that this sport can turn disastrous. Before venturing out into this trip, have a clear understanding with the raft operators about the safety rules and regulations. Natural obstacles and failure to follow the guide's instructions invite accidents. The safest option is to be under the guidance of an expert. Before setting out, make sure that the guide has a valid license.

* Intoxicants should be avoided.
* Follow the guide's instructions
* If there are strong currents and rocks and boulders along the course, don't stand up while rafting.
* Be alert. Don't invite accidents because of your carelessness.
* Knowing swimming is preferable.

Safety equipments

* Life- jacket – for rescue if you fall into the water
* Helmets – because you encounter rocks and boulders en route.
* Throw bag- strong rope or a rope filled bag. To save oneself if the raft goes out of control.
* Repair kit- to repair any damage caused to the raft on the way.
* First Aid Box

In India, rafting is very popular in Ladakh, Himachal, and the Uttarkhand ranges. In Kerala, it is slowly gaining popularity. Rafting operators are few. Depending on the strength of the current and other obstacles involved, rafting has been categorized into 6 classes. Of these, the most dangerous belong to the Class-6 category. However, rivers in India very rarely fall in this category. The rafting through the Tejaswini River can be classified under class-2 or class-3 category and in times of turbulent flow, it can go up to class-4. When the currents are weak, even kids who can use life jackets can be taken along with the family.

Travel Info: Rafting along Tejaswini

A popular adventure sport worldwide. Rafting organizers are rare in Kerala. Extreme Rafting at Cherupuzha (Kannur) conducts rafting tours in Tejaswini River.

Kannur district. Cherupuzha, Tejaswini River, on Kannur-Kasargod border. 65 km from Kannur and 35 km from Payyanur.

How to reach:
By road: Buses available from Kannur to Payyannur (40km- 1.15 hrs, Rs.21.00). From Payyannur (Old bus stand) to Cherupuzha (1 hr, Rs. 17.00). From Cherupuzha town by auto to Xtreme rafting's starting point, at Kollada (4km)

Alternative route: Kannur-Thaliparamba (21km)-Alakkode (25km)- Cherupuzha (22km).

By rail: Payyannur railway station (35km), Kannur (65km)

By air: Mangalore (145 km), Calicut (160km)

Shyju Sebastian, Xtreme Rafting, Cherupuzha. Mob: +91-9495325669
Payyannur Railway Station: 0498-5203078
Kannur Railway Station: 0497-2705555

Best Season
June, July, August. If monsoon lasts longer, from September to mid-October rafting possible.

Medium range accommodation available at Cherupuzha. Aradhana residency, near Cherupuzha bus stand. Tariff range Rs.100-Rs.275, Ph: 04985-241385. For class A/C accommodation stay at Kannur, Thaliparambu or Payyannur. Xtreme Rafting organizers provide accommodation for small groups.

Rafting Packages:
Rafting charge: Rs.850/head (10km rafting/two hours). Xtreme rafting provides six packages for tourists. Details at: www.xtremerafting.co.in

Friday, 16 December 2011

Roads, Bridges and Transport

The Major attraction in Cherupuzha is a hanging bridge in Tejaswini river (also known as karyamkode puzha) which connects both Kasaragod and Kannur districts.
All the other roads in this area were built by the people themselves. The roads, Cherupuzha-Pulingome – Kottathalachi, Edavaramba – Koombankunnu, Kariyakkara – Koombankunnu, Vazhakkundam – Churappadavu, Chunda – Vilakkuvettam and Umayanchal – Kottathalachi are examples of the collective effort of people of Cherupuzha and Pulingome.
Both private and public transport buses are available from Cherupuzha to Cannannore, Calicut, Cochin and Bangalore.
Construction of the proposed Ezhimla-Payyannur-Cherupuzha-Pulingome -Thalakkaveri-Vagamandalam-Bangalore road is underway. A new bridge has already been constructed over Pulingome river near Cherupuzha, connecting Kerala and Karnataka. Talks are on between Karnataka, Kerala and central Governments on this project. If this road became a reality, the distance to Bangalore and Mysore would be reduced by more than 60 kilometers also 120 kilometers between Kannur and Bangalore.

"Cherupuzha Sree Ayyappa Temple"
Cherupuzha Ayyappa temple is about 500 meters from Cherupuzha town. This temple which is known as Sabarimala of North Malabar, is a famous Hindu pilgrim centre

"Sankaranarayana Temple"

This ancient Hindu temple 5KMtrs away from Cherupuzha was once the main worship centre for the people of Cherupuzha and Pulingome. The temple is believed to be set up by “Parasuram”. Later, this was ignored and lost its importance for reasons unknown. This temple was renovated again by the Hindu community of Pulingome. Now, this is one of the important Hindu worship centres.


At the convergence of the rivers Kaveri (or Cauvery), the underground Sujyothi and the Kanike, the Bhangandeshwara temple at Thalakaveri has a distinct Kerala touch. Thalakaveri is in Madekere district in Karnataka state and is about 30 km away from Cherupuzha. Most of the route is through dense Karnataka forest. The forest road leading to Thalakaveri (Bhagamandala) has no regular transport facilities. People usually take a long walk through the forest which is one of the great features of this pilgrimage. Every October 17, on Tulasankranama, hundreds of people from Kannur and Kasaragod come here to witness the waters of the Kaveri gushing out from its source. It is believed that Goddess Kaveri appears in the form of a spring at Thalakaveri, which is what causes the upsurge at the source.
Because of the three rivers, it is also called Triveni Sangama. The serene temple has intricate carvings and a copper roof. A dip at the Triveni Sangam nearby is supposed to revive sagging spirits. For this is Thalakavari (meaning Head of the Kaveri), the origin of one of the seven sacred rivers. The source of this long river, which passes through two states, is on the top of the hill called Brahmagiri. It is 1535 metres above sea level.

"Narambil Bhagavathy"

Narambil Bhagavathy originated from the famous Rayaramangalam Temple. The Theyyam was performed in the Kodakkal Koroth Tharavadu, Ramanthali, Muchilot temples, etc. as a Goddess with fiery anger against evil. At Narambil Tharavadu near Cherupuzha, the Theyyam has been performed peacefully. There is an interesting myth behind the origin of Narambil Bhagavathy.
One story says that this Amman (mother goddess) was originally a "Vana Durga", or "Forest Goddess". She was worshipped by a poor young lady who was married (by arrangement) to a very cruel and much older man who treated her terribly (a sad circumstance that many village girls may be scentenced to).
The young woman was nevertheless patient and longsuffering, with her only solace being her own devotion to Narambil Bhadrakali. At one point, this woman gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. After observing the proper post-partem protocols, this young lady went to take her newborn to Devi's temple, both to thank the goddess and bless the child. When she returned home, her cruel husband began to rage that his dinner was not ready, and he beat her savagely.
Bhagavathy, sensing what was happening, took her most terrible form: she was wreathed in flames and cobras, with a rutting elephant in one ear-ring, and a roaring tiger in the other. Her fangs were long like a lion's, her tusks curved like a boar's, and her three eyes blazed with brilliance. She had the sun and the moon in her hair, and 500 serpents woven into her braids. She rushed into the house and tore the evil husband into pieces, finally garlanding herself with his entrails (or, in some versions, tossing them into the boughs of her sacred tree).
A messenger from Muchilottu Bhagavathy arrived on the scene to calm the goddess down. She advised her to become peaceful, wash her face, and come to eat with her sisters. The people were much afraid, especially the young wife of the evil man (now deceased). Narambil Bhadrakali was moved by compassion, and so assumed a kind, peaceful form, transforming the dead-man's entrails into a flowering vine. She kept the young lady and her child with her as companions, and settled in the area as a goddess who would protect the weak from oppression.

Other religious centers in and around Cherupuzha


Edavaramba Vishnumurthy Temple, Kariyakkara Ara of Pottan Theyyam, Muchilottu Bhagawati Temple - Vilakkuvettam, Chunda Thattummal Vishnumurthy Temple,St:Mary's Church Cherupuzha,Temple of Lord Shive Ayannur,Kamballur Bhagavathi temple,Meenkulam Sreekrishna Temple
Pulingome 5km from cherupuzha...

The name Pulingome is believed to be originated from a huge tamarind tree (Puli) located at the riverside on the way to near by village Palavayal.
Pulingome was under the rule of “Mushika Dynasty” of Ezhimala during the Sangha Age. Later, this became part of “Kolathunadu” under “Chirakkal Dynasty”. Pulingome had a well established society and a rich culture all through its history. The ancient, Sree Sankaranarayan temple here is believed to be set up by “Parasuram”. The Pulingome Makham where two holy men of Islam, were buried some 1300 year ago and the remaining of a temple in the Karnataka forest near the border are examples of Pulingome’s  cultural heritage. Later with the invasion of Tippu these regions were brought under Mysore kingdom and after Tippu’s death the region was under British rule.
During Tippu’s invasion or due to the outbreak of some serious epidemic lot of villagers left this place and settled in Madikere in neighbouring Karnataka state. Pulingome had strong social and business links with Madekere at that time. A very small group of inhabitants remained here. There were also people belonging to tribal communities like Mavilar, Pulayar and Vettuvar. As they were not much familiar with agriculture they lived by hunting animals and collecting edible roots and fruits from forest. The women of the community used to wear dress made of leaves of “Irupul Tree” and used to change their dress twice a day. The tribal men used to wear the skin of “Arayani Tree”. Their residential area was known as “Kammali”.
The rich families, who were responsible for collecting tax under the royal rule, later became owners of the land under their custody. They were called “Janmies”. Most of the land in the eastern hills of western Ghats were under their custody. The tribal inhabitants were treated as their slaves. The lease amount (Pattam) for a slave couple was used to be 50 rupees a year and this money went to the owner of the slaves. The slaves were known by the family name of their owner (Janmi). An open auction of slaves was conducted in the premises of Kammadam Temple as a part of the annual festival. Communities like Mavilar, Vettuvar, Kudivettuvar and Peringala were the major slave communities. The owner of the slave used to get the auction money. The daily wage for slave men was two Idangazhi (A measuring unit) of rice and one idangazhi of rice for women. On special occasions like Theyyam, Marriage, Delivery etc. the Janmi used to give ten Idanagazhi of rice and one nazhi (Another measuring unit) coconut oil.
Ancient farming methods
The entire agriculture land was under the custody of landlords (Janmies). By the end of summer the land which would be mostly covered by bushes will be prepared for cultivation. The bushes will be cut and burnt. This cultivation method was called “Punam Krishi”. Rice, Cucumber, black gram etc. will be planted in the area prepared. By the first rain these seeds will be sprouted along with other unwanted plants. Next phase of work will be removing of these unwanted plants from the field. This work usually was done by experienced women workers. This activity will be repeated once again after a few months. After the harvest, the Janmi will plant “Murikku” posts all over the field. Pepper will be planted in the area and will be made to climb on the Murikku posts planted and the area will be transformed into a pepper plantation. As murikku trees are having thorns, the pepper will be safe from wild animals.
The Janmi used to give his land for cultivation on lease to farmers. He used to collect 2/10 of the income from the land as “Paattam”. Janmies used give their land to farmers on lease for 12-16 years. The farmers were not supposed to cultivate any permanent crops and were not supposed to construct wells in the land. The farmers were also not supposed to cut the trees in the land. Incase they cut any tree they were asked to give “Kuttikkanam” to the landlord. If pepper is planted in the land, the entire income from that on sixth and 12th years used to go to the landlord.
The Janmi used to give 10 cents of land to the farmer to set up a house. The farmers were allowed to cultivate Banana trees and vegetables. They also used to keep cows and other domestic animals.
By the inception of 20th century, a society comprising of Janmies, small farmers and tribals was in existence. The after effects of the Independence movement and the farmers’ agitation of North Malabar started reaching this area. Such movements evoked responses from this area also. Mr. C P Krishnan Nair of Edavaramba was leading the farmers’ agitations.
The famine after world war II and the misrule of Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer incited a large scale migration of people from Travancore (South Kerala) to this area. Majority of them were Christians who had a different social and agricultural background. They were hard working people and they brought new agricultural practices to this area. They introduced cash crops like Rubber to the local people. The tapioca was  brought here by these people. Prominent among these early migrants were Mundamattam Joseph, Parasseril  Augasty, Mankottil Joseph and Vellaringattu George.
Initially there was bus service till Peringome which is 11 kms from Pulingome. There was only a bullock cart road from Peringome to Pulingome. This was mainly used to transport timber from the forest. This road was converted into a full fledged road in 1949 and a wooden bridge was built on Cherupuzha river.
The farmers had very limited facilities to sell their crops. The nearest business centre was Payyanur. The only businessman, Pulingome had at that time was Mr. Kaderkutty Haji. The present football stadium at Pulingome was donated by him to St John's High School, Palayvayal and was named after him later.
The rivers in this area were not having bridges. People used “Pandi” for crossing rivers. Pandi is a kind of raft made of bamboo trees. Upto 15 people can cross the river at time on a Pandi and the people will be standing during the voyage. Hundreds of students going to the school at Palavayal used to cross the river every day by Pandi. Pulingome was a major “Pandi Ferry” at that time.
Healthcare Facilities
There were only traditional Physicians in the area during the early ages. Later a Government Rural Dispensary was set up at Pulingome. Another major hospital in the area was St Sebastian’s Hospital set up by Medical Sisters of St Joseph’s in 1966, at Cherupuzha.
Roads and Bridges
People had to use “Pandi” to cross the Pulingome river for so many years. Needless to say this was risky and adventurous. In 1972 a new hanging bridge was built over Pulingome River connecting Pulingome to Palavayal. This was possible because of the collective effort of people of Palavayal and Pulingome. Later, this bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge.
The roads in Malabar area were initially built for transporting timber from neighbouring areas. Till 1949 people were depending on these roads for transporatation. In the light of the farmers’ agitations and the Munayankunnu Firing Episode, a new road was built in 1949 from Vellore to Pulingome. This was to facilitate the activities of Malabar Special Police (M.S.P) to contain the Communist movements in the area.
All the other roads in this area were built by the people themselves. The roads, Pulingome – Kottathalachi, Edavaramba – Koombankunnu, Kariyakkara – Koombankunnu, Vazhakkundam – Churappadavu, Chunda – Vilakkuvettam and Umayanchal – Kottathalachi are examples of the collective effort of people of Pulingome.
Construction of the proposed Ezhimla-Pulingome -Thalakkaveri-Vagamandalam-Bangalore road is underway. A new bridge has already been constructed over Pulingome river connecting Kerala and Karnataka. Talks are on between Karnataka, Kerala and central Goverments on this project. If this road became a reality, the distance to Bangalore and Mysore would be reduced by more than 60 kilometers.

"Pulingome Makhaam"

Pulingome Makhaam 5KMtrs away from cherupuzh is a famous pilgrim centre of Muslims. About 1300 years ago, two holy men who had come for religious propagation were buried here. They were residing at Kadayakkara, near Pulingome. Every year Uroose festival is celebrated here in the month of March. Thousands of people of different caste and creed from north Kerala and Southern Karnataka reach this sacred place for Uroose festival. Mass dining of more than ten thousand people will be held as a part of the festival.

cherupuzha accident.......

Cherupuzha(Kannur):, Monday, September 12, 2011: Almost 80 people including students were injured when a bus overturned near Cherupuzha in Kannur district on Monday. The incident occurred around 8: 30 am.

River Tejaswini of Cherupuzha


River Tejaswini, also called Kariamkode, which is comparatively small among 44 rivers of Kerala. It originates from Brhmagiri Hills of Coorg forest in Karnataka, enters Kerala near Pulingome, flows through the districts of Kannur and Kasargod and meets the Arabian Ocean, near Nileswaram as a part of Valiyaparamba Backwaters. Tejaswini, which is 64 km long, do have a rafting stretch of 20 km with plenty of rapids extending up to class-3.