Sundays, quite obviously, are special for Team Sunday Walkers as its members travel 15 to 20km on foot, that too to new destinations. They don't just saunter to a new place but make earnest effort to delve deep into that region's heritage and culture.
The credo of Sunday Walkers is simple but striking - ‘tread different paths, meet different people, listen to different stories and learn different things’. Team Sunday Walkers is a bunch of travel aficionados who want to walk into the wealth of knowledge provided by a new locality, and the grouping swelled with each walking expedition. By strolling through the alleys, village interiors and historic places, they touch the pulse of each new area. The walkers dig deep into the stories behind the fables and unravel the meaning and pride behind a place name. The members of the Sunday Walkers set aside Sunday for just walking after selecting a well-known place or an age-old village as their destination. Usually they walk about 15 to 20km and return by noon.
A unique walk was organized at the Valakulam Higher Secondary School in Malappuram district as part of the World Soil Day celebrations in 2005. The main aim of this walk, named ‘Soil Walk’, was to get a feel of the soil and earth by walking barefoot and nearly 2,000 students of the school walked without any footwear for 5km. This programme inspired Valakulam school teacher K P Shaniyaz and T Mohammed to start a walking group with six members with the goal to explore new places on Sundays.
The group started walking on the contention that if one can walk barefoot for 5km without any hiccups, then walking 15km without footwear won’t be a tall order, and the first walking odyssey was a great success. That’s the genesis of Team Sunday Walkers, which now has more than 100 members. The first foot trips were through the narrow lanes of Malappuram and later expanded to Kottakkal, Manpuram and Thunchan parambu, among others. The wayfarers also began to explore the countryside of Malappuram on every Sunday. Nilambur teak museum, Angadippuram, Chaverthara and Tirur wagon tragedy memorial, the list is exhaustive.
Later, the strollers stepped on to places in other districts such as Kuttichira and Kakkayam dam in Kozhikode district; Thrasak, Malampuzha and Nelliampathy in Palakkad, and Lakkidi and Pookode in Wayanad. The success of these tours, took the ramblers to places outside the state such as Chennai and Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. The longest distance the group travelled on foot is 35km from Pookkottur war memorial to Tirur wagon tragedy memorial during which the members had spread the message ‘know the greatness of freedom’.
Another achievement of this walkers’ club is the journey through the shores of Malabar. The wayfarers also make it a point to document the information collected during these journeys so that the future generation can benefit from it. On every Friday, the group is intimated about the destination and those interested will assemble at the designated point early in the morning on Sunday.
Once a place is zeroed in, help of people who know that region well is sought. If the destination is far off, the team members will take a train or bus to a place near to destination and walk from there. Besides Shaniyaz and Mohammed, the team is guided by E K Atheeq, Adithyan Namboothiri and K P Anwar.