Idukki: Love travelling offbeat and exploring new places? Here you go. Serene and ethnic calm in itself, the Ayyapancoil village is situated approximately 12 kilometres from Kattappana. Less known to tourists, it is a place of lush green vegetation, luxuriant meadows, scenic views, friendly locals and a heavenly atmosphere. What attracts the tourist attention to this place is the Ayyappancoil temple famed for its history and the hanging bridge which stands atop a scenic spot enroute to the temple. The best part of the visit is the view of the pristine surroundings from the hanging bridge, which keeps on swinging a little while walking on it. A walk through the bridge is the best shot you got to overcome the fear of heights as the view is worth it. Forget fears, you will fall in love with the sight from the bridge.
The age-old Ayyappancoil Sastha temple is a place of historic importance located on the banks of the Periyar River. It was built using stones and has inscriptions in old Tamil script. Pilgrims, particularly from the tribal community of Mannans, pour onto the old temple for its history and their strong beliefs. The Ayyappancoil hanging bridge owing to its picturesque view is beautiful in itself. The suspension bridge is built across the Periyar River, connecting the Ayyappancoil Grama panchayath and the Kanchiyar Grama Panchayath of the Idukki district. Being the longest hanging bridge in the district and situated alongside the Ayyappancoil temple, it attracts hundreds of tourists every day. The place is blessed with the beauty of nature at its most with the Periyar River flowing beneath the temple.
The temple idol is believed to be consecrated by sage Parasurama himself. A historical note indicates an underground path here connecting Idukki to Madhurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu. One can see the entrance of this historic path, though people are not allowed to go through it nowadays. When it rains, the temple submerges in water as the water level in the Idukki reservoir rise as a result of heavy rainfall. The submerged temple and surroundings with the 'sreekovil' alone risen over the water is a visual treat that one waits for. Local boats are used to reach the temple from the shore during these times.
It is located nearby the Kattappana-Kuttikkanam state highway. A visit anytime between September to March is the best to grab the beauty of the place at its summit. The place can be accessed by road transport from the nearest village or town.
Lack of proper facilities and promotion as a tourist spot has caused lowered attention to the place. The maintenance works of the hanging bridge are also not managed by either of the two panchayaths and is a topic of concern. If maintained properly and developed as per the latest tourist norms, it's a promising spot to attract local as well as foreign tourists to Kerala and to be highlighted under Kerala’s tourism activities.
A visit to the Ayyappancoil temple and the hanging bridge is a must on your list as you are exploring Idukki, the beauty. Be assured it will be one great experience and a memory for a lifetime. So, ready to escape into the surreal village of Ayyappancoil with its luxurious, untouched and peaceful nature?
(Author Minnu Maria Jose contributed the text and photos. She is currently pursuing Masters in Management Hospitality at Marian College Kuttikkanam.)