The Oorakam Hill in Malappuram is located at a height of 2,000ft above the sea level. Towering over quaint villages, the Oorakam Hill offers a picturesque view and even lets you catch a glimpse of the far-away Calicut International Airport in Karipur. A trek up to the hilltop will also take you to an ancient temple.
Thiruvonamala comprises Arimbra Hill, Cheruppadi mala and Oorakam Hill.
Travel for about 4km from a place called Oorakam Poolapees, along the Malappuram-Vengara state highway, to reach the trekking point. Next to this is the mini Ooty viewpoint, and Erumapara viewpoint, which is part of a private property.
Travel for 1km from the Erumapara viewpoint, you reach the spot from where the trek to Thiruvonamala starts. It takes around 20 minutes to trek the steep slope to reach the temple.
This is believed to be the most ancient temple in Kerala after Sabarimala. The temple, which is around 2000 years old, is completely built using granite stones. Right next to it, you will see another newly-constructed temple.
The annual temple festival is held on the day of the Thiruvonam star in the Thulam month, as per the Malayalam calendar. Believers visit the temple during the festival every year. Thus, Oorakam Hill came to be known as Thiruvonamala.
After taking in the beauty of the temple, you can climb further up the hill and walk towards the west to reach the spot where the signal for the Karipur airport has been installed. The signal, cordoned off with an iron fence, guides pilots at night. Towards the north-west direction, you can also catch a glimpse of the Karipur airport, and even see the planes landing.
The bustling town of Malappuram can be seen far away. But the mist might descend upon you unexpectedly, bringing with it a chill and clouding the view.
It will be a refreshing experience for the travellers to trek through the wilderness and enjoy the picturesque view from the top. Start early in the day as the sunrise adds an alluring charm to the place.
The threat of the quarry
But posing a threat to this green hill are many stone quarries, some that operate with licences and others without. When political leaders and officials look the other way, the threat of another Kavalappara or Pettimudi tragedy looms large over the local people.
An unrealised dream…
Newspapers had reported that Oorakam Hill would be developed to a tourist centre during the late 1990s. This had given hopes to the local people that their region would be developed into a tourism hub and scores of tourists would visit daily. But several years down the line, that promise remains on paper.