Aranmula: Complaints have been rife that Pathanamthitta lacks more tourism centres or proper facilities to attract visitors in huge numbers. While discussing the scope of tourism development in the district, the tour operators often complain that there is nothing else to enjoy other than Gavi, Konni elephant training centre and the coracle boat ride at the Thannithode Lake.
Surprisingly, no one has yet envisioned any projects that explore spiritual tourism by integrating the countless places of worship in the district or the scope of water and adventure sports in the spectacular waterbodies.
Meanwhile, the government recently flagged off a major project that opens great vistas to the spiritual and water tourism development in Aranmula.
The water transport project from Chengannur to Aranmula has got the green signal from the government, providing an impetus to its tourism sector too. The eight kilometre long stretch between Chengannur and Aranmula has been made part of the inland waterways considering the significance of Aranmula as a major spiritual city. The rich traditions and cultural heritage of Aranmula is quite famous and attract tourists from all over the world.
A two year long fight
The passenger boats in Kerala get approval to run services as per the Travancore Public Canals and Public Ferries Act, 1920. The Aranmula development committee is elated that the Chengannur – Aranmula route too could now be included in section six of this Act.
The authorities of the committee were frequently visiting the concerned offices and appealing to the officials, for the last two years, seeking approval for the route. Earlier, there had been boat services from Kochi until Chengannur. However, later, these services were stopped due to various reasons.
Aranmula pilgrimage circuit
The committee plans to introduce various tour packages with support from the DTPC, when the boats arrive. They say that the project would create employment opportunities for the people in the locality and generate income for the traditional artisans.
Even though they have designed more than one package, the main one is the tour package that begins in the morning and ends by noon. The committee has also demanded to build a boat jetty at the forty cents land owned by the irrigation department in Anjilimootil ghat.
The tour package
The Aranmula development committee plans to conduct discussions with various agencies and stakeholders including the DTPC about the tour package that begins in the morning and ends by noon. The tourists who reach the famed Aranmula Parthasarathy temple can offer prayers before witnessing the grand arrival of the Thiruvonathoni.
Besides, they would also get a chance to see how the iconic Aranmula mirrors are made.
From here, the visitors would be transported to Malethkadavu ghat, in vehicles. The boat ride begins from the Malethkadavu ghat at 11 am. A snack would be distributed in the boat. The visitors can enjoy the amazing beauty of places like Sathrakadavu, Amabalakadavu and Nikshepamali ghats.
They would then be taken for an exciting ride through the racing tracks of the Aranmula boat race. A visit to the Vilakkumadam palace which is considered the central spot of the Aranmula temple and the various ghats from where the traditional palliyodams set their journey are the highlights. They could also see the origin of Kozhithode Lake before ending the trip at Malethkadavu ghat.
The visitors would be treated to a sumptuous sadya or feast for lunch. It would be followed by a visit to Aranmula architectural heritage centre where they could see incredible wall paintings and miniatures of iconic temples. Besides, they could also see how the palliyodams are constructed. The tourists would then be dropped at Chengannur / Thiruvalla railway stations.
Craft village and kayaking
The traditional artisans who make Aranmula mirrors and the palliyodams hardly get any support or financial benefits, despite gaining global fame. The committee proposes building a crafts village where all the amazing crafts and artistic creations could be exhibited and sold under a single roof.
They have submitted a representation regarding this to Minister Veena George. Video exhibitions that narrate the history of the Uthrattathi boat race and shows the various stages of Palliyodam construction would be displayed here. Moreover, the Kozhithode Lake that flows through four panchayats needs to be revived in order to take full advantage of the tourism scope of this region.
More visitors could be lured by introducing adventure activities like kayaking and coracle boat rides. Besides, a park too could be built at Naalkalikallu, close to Kozhithode Lake that is lined with vibrant greenery on both sides. Land that is suitable for this project is available near the bridge. A food park too could be arranged here with cooperation from the various Kudumbasree units in the district.