Noted thinker and writer M N Vijayan once said, “Poetry is a reflection of dormant memories and unknown desires.” People term this thought a dream. And many have this dream.
It is a surreal feeling to curl up in a cosy armchair with a cup of piping hot black tea on the verandah of your house with the book ‘Oru Desathinte Katha’, written by littérateur and avid traveller S K Pottekkatt, and rainstorm for company.
As you delve deep into the book, the thoughts of various travel escapades will flood your mind like the heavy downpour outside. If you want to get a grip of Kozhikode, then you should read ‘Oru Desathinte Katha’ (The Story of a Locale) as celebrated writer Pottekkatt penned the book after walking through the alleys and pathways of Kozhikode in Kerala umpteen times. The award-winning Malayalam novel tells the story of protagonist Sreedharan and his village Athiranipadam. In the book, Sreedharan, along with his friends Chathukunjan and Appu, visits Karottukavu near Kozhikode.
Where is Karottukavu
In the novel, Pottekkatt draws a clear picture of Karottukavu with his magical prose. ‘Karottukavu is 1.5 miles east of Ilanjipoyil and is near a river. It is an old Bhagavathy kavu (grove of goddess). There is a half-dried up modest reservoir near the holy grove. The wild trees such as ‘kanjiram’, ‘neermaruthu’, ‘thanni’ and teak envelop the natural tank and have created a green fortress in the area. Hundreds of monkeys are having a gala time at these centuries-old trees. Some people term this grove ‘Kuranganmarude Kavu’ (monkeys’ grove).
Anyone reading Pottekkatt’s description of ‘Karottukavu’ would definitely long to set into this place that boasts of pristine and natural surroundings.
Retracing storyteller’s steps
The highway from Kozhikode to Bengaluru stretches through the greenery of Wayanad. While travelling on the motorway, you will pass the Indian Institute of Spices Research in Moozhikkal and just before reaching Chelavur, you will find a narrow road on the left side. A signboard across the road announces the presence of Thurayilkavu Bhagavathy temple in the vicinity.
Once you enter the road and drive for a while, a narrow bridge across the Poonoor River, which is a perennial river, will catch your eye. The area around the river is covered in lush greenery and the sight is soothing for the eyes.
Take the narrow cement pathway, which can hardly accommodate a car, near the bridge. As you drive for 200m, you can find couple of steps paved with red natural bricks on the right side. A grand old banyan tree will greet you as you scale down the steps. The sight of scores of cheerful monkeys, which are literally hanging around in the trees, is definitely going to bowl you over.
A nip in the air
The eerie silence can give you jitters. Though the region is close to corporation precincts, the place has all the hallmarks of countryside. Sreedharan’s Karottukavu in the book ‘Oru Desathinte Katha’, which was published in 1972, is a 10-acre green patch next to the Thurayil Bhagavathy temple on the shores of the Poonoor River. It seems that the area replete with tall trees, thick vegetation and hundreds of monkeys has not changed much from the times of Sreedharan. The magical beauty and calmness of the wilderness will transport you to a time that is around 40 years ago.
The walls on both sides of the temple are made of firm and rock solid mud. The pathway is paved with gravel and both sides of the walkway are lined with traditional lamps. After walking for close to 400m, you will enter the temple compound and one gets a feeling that you are in the middle of a verdant forest. Birds are chirping, crickets are making their presence felt with shrill sound and the monkeys, as always, are making merry.
Faith takes a new dimension
The temple is blanketed by thick groves, which had been maintained by generations. The goddess of the temple is worshipped as forest ‘durga’ and ‘jala durga’ by the devotees. It is noteworthy that the idol bears the rigours of rain and shine throughout the year. An expansive floor and a huge stone depicting Hanuman will catch your eye as you approach the temple.
Holy rice from the temple is spread on the cement floor adjacent to the forest so that the wild monkeys can have their fill of food.
The patch of greenery is surrounded by city and it is indeed a miracle that there is a verdant forest spread across 10 acres amidst the busy life of a bustling town. To put it short, a natural jungle wrapped by concrete jungle.
There is also an interesting story behind this green strip. Well, the tale goes like this, according to temple committee member Sreejith Padiyath, who is also a cop.
When Hanuman was carrying the hill, which was replete with medicinal herbs, a sliver of the hill fell on this area and eventually became the 10-acre jungle. The hill with the life-saving medicinal plants was carried by Hanuman to revive the grievously injured Lakshmanan. No one knows whether the story has any substance but one good thing is that the forest has survived riding on the back of faith.
A walk through forest
The forest is richly dotted with creepers and tall trees. The trees are so big that it takes the arms of five or six persons to wrap around the trunk of a tree. The woodland is also a repository of rare species of spiders. One can also find some special flowers and bubbly small birds. While strolling through the forest, you will also be drawn to a water body, which has placid crystal clear water and green leaves could be seen settling down on the bed of the water body. The trees stand rooted in water and the water body clearly captures the reflection of canopy with the dexterity of an artist.
The other side of the river comes under Kozhikode Corporation and this side of the river belongs to the Kuruvattur panchayat. But the forest, the natural tank and the monkeys are oblivious of the boundaries drawn by man.
When one sets foot out of the cool confines of the forest, one can only hope that such green paradises remain untouched.