A true nature lover cannot help but seek refuge in the misty mountains, beautiful brooks or the lush greenery, just to unwind his/her mind and relax on the lap of Mother Nature. Vanaparvam, the Biodiversity Park at Kozhikode is one such destination that lures visitors and nature lovers with its enchanting grace. The name ‘Vanaparvam’ could be roughly translated to ‘the chapter about the woods’. The epics are usually narrated as parvas or small chapters. Vanaparavam is, hence, an area in the middle of the pristine forest where you could experience the surreal beauty of nature in its purest form.
The journey begins
The weather was still moist, from previous night’s heavy showers, when the writer began his trip from Kozhikode via the Bengaluru Highway. There is a small junction called Eengapuzha Angadi just past Thamarassery. At this junction, you have to cross the bridge that isn’t too wide to reach the bus stand area across the river. From here, take the small road that turns to the left. As you drive through this road, you could catch glimpses of the beautiful and simple life of the idyllic countryside. The road ends in front of the board that reads ‘Vanaparavam’. The small parking area can only accommodate just five or six vehicles. However, you would be mesmerized by the sound of the rivers as soon as you get out of the car.
The gate that has been painted in green opens to the magical land of Vanaparvam. There is a bridge above the brook that meanders through the rocks and boulders. The ticket counter is just beside where the bridge ends. The ticket costs Rs 30 per head. As soon as you enter the area, you could see an artificial grotto that bears the name Vanaparavam.
Vanaparavam is a biodiversity park that has been inaugurated around a decade ago. However, not many know about this gem that hasn’t been explored much. This must also be the reason why the park is so clean and you will not see piles of garbage on the side.
Varghese is a watcher with the forest department and lives close by. He has been working as a watcher for daily wages for more than thirty years. Varghese claims that it was he who suggested this area when the forest department had thought about starting a biodiversity park to attract nature enthusiasts. He knows the pathways and the names of each species of flora in the forests in the Thamarassery range just like the lines on his palm. It was 2011 that the forest department had opened the biodiversity park in these woods. Varghese has been part of it since then.
The unique sights
Countless varieties of plants, orchids, herbs and medicinal plants grow on both sides of the stone paved pathway. There is a green house where unique varieties of orchid are grown. There is also a row of insectivore plants that trap the insects that fly close to them. The insects are trapped inside the green bag like area that has a leaf lid. The trapped insects get decayed and the plant absorbs the essence through the leaf. The web weaved by the poisonous tiger spider gleams against the golden sunrays.
The Paathipara waterfall inside the Biodiversity Park is small yet wide. The cool water flows over the round rocks before falling into a cascading waterfall. As you walk further, there is a small brook that originates in the woods. Varghese says that he collect the clean and pure water from this brook for his household needs.
When the wild kurinji blooms
The butterfly garden would surprise you with just the sheer number of butterflies in myriad hues and sizes flying around. Varghese says that there are hundreds of species of flies that lay and hatch their eggs in the soil. More than three hundred varieties of butterflies have been discovered in this butterfly garden.
You could also enjoy the fascinating beauty of kattukurinji or wild strobilanthes kunthiana flowers and the tall ezhilampala (blackboard) tree.
The stone paved narrow pathways have dense forest on both the sides. Besides, there are huge rocks and groups of boulders too. On the left side, the mountain slope leads to the swiftly flowing river. The rocks are slippery as moulds have grown due to the incessant rains. The muyalpara waterfalls are quite young and the clear water looks invigorating. Parting the waterfalls into two sections, a giant rock sits in the middle. At a glance, this rock looks like a humungous black rabbit sitting right in the middle of the waterfalls. It is this huge rock that looks like a rabbit that has given the Muyalpara waterfalls its name.
The valley of death
Varghese points to beyond the mountain ranges to show the Kakkayam dam. Meanwhile, the forest on the other side of the dam is the Sugandhagiri forests of the Western Ghats. Water would gush down if it rains on the mountains. However, it may be sunny in the valley. So, bathing in the waterfalls, seeing the nice, sunny day could actually be dangerous as rain water could gush down from the mountains with a violent force. Varghese says that he had had the misfortune of seeing many who had ignored his warning return lifeless.
The Vanaparvam Biodiversity Park surely offers a unique experience where you can see and enjoy nature up close. The enchanting forests and the cool weather would linger in your minds for longer, even after you return to the hectic life of the cities.