When I showed her the picture of the river, she was stunned and at first, heard the name as ‘Azhakapuzha’ instead of 'Akalapuzha.' But then I had to agree with her after we took a trip there during New Year to take a respite from gloomy Covid times. Yes, it was indeed ‘Azhakapuzha’. Or the beautiful river.
Maybe someone named it ‘Akala’ river as it is said that distance can rouse the attraction and importance of an object. Doesn't distance increase beauty? A poet has written about how “Distance all value enhances!”
Akalapuzha is one of the popular eco-tourism spots in Kozhikode. It is a charming little place with beautiful hills and mountains that stretch out in the distance. There is even a grassland that stands right in the middle of these dams. And these dams have a stillness to them. They are a delight to the tourists. Malayalis would be more familiar with this place after the Tovino Thomas film 'Theevandi'.
Anyway off late all our journeys are in and around Kerala. Didn’t this pandemic restrict our travels? This was a time when proximity took over the distance!
Due to children’s insistence, this is our fourth visit in a month. Every journey is a new journey. I was as excited as a child to view the river at dusk as we welcome a new year.
When we reached there through the narrow road, the sun had turned yellow, and the drizzle had transformed Akalapuzha into a pristine green wonder. First, we took a boat ride to the faraway island. Though the children were squealing with excitement whenever the boat rocked, we were petrified. Those were instances when were wishing we all knew how to swim. But the sheer natural beauty in front of us suddenly erased all our apprehensions. So we moved away from the tree-lined shores. As we started advancing towards the island, the silence seemed to be retreating.
We returned from the island reminiscing the late Orpheus of Malayalam. When I saw the lovelorn expression of the birds, I wondered if time was passing too fast. I was sure lovers were going to love this river.
“Look longingly into the river as it nears the shore. How I long to see you again!”
We thought of going down the river to explore its beauty once again after a light snack. We took a tiny boat that barely carried four people and wore life jackets. That sail on that pedal boat was so much fun. We could see acres of nature under the sky for hours on end. Meanwhile, the children were excited about taking control of the steering wheel of the boat. I think perhaps the children are finding joy in soaking the stunning nature around them. For them, these tiny lakes and rivers might look like huge riverbanks.
Gradually, the river rekindled its beautiful name, as the water swayed in the gentle breeze that descended through the mountains, making the distant sky a melody of art by itself. The beauty of the name is reflected in the water. There is art in Akalapuzha and there is distance.
Beef, crab curry, and puttu were waiting for us at the Ruby Hotel by the river when we finally reached the shore at dusk. And they had also prepared some dry dishes sautéed in pepper. We did full justice to the meal. Gradually it was getting dark outside. Now we could only witness exotic scenery outside.
Again a drizzle. There was a light streaming through it. We slowly got into it. The car started moving slowly. As we looked back it felt like the water was meditating. The scene looked so static. A lake-like place in Kim Ki-Duk's ‘Spring-Summer’. There was darkness and light on the way. The night is also slowly receding into the mist. Then the river seemed far away, but without straying from the mind. Yes, Akalapuzha!
When there is Akalapuzha nearby, why should one go far away?
The flowing river
Purakkad Akalapuzha is becoming an important ecotourist destination in Kozhikode. The dense coconut groves and mangrove forests along the banks of the river are a refreshing sight. The streams, islets, native fishes, horn boats, fish farms, huts, and the Kuttanadu style paddy fields make it the Kuttanadu of Kozhikode.
Apart from enjoying the natural beauty, boating facilities are also available here. Pedal boats can accommodate up to 2 and 5 people, and boating is done in the afternoon. The project also aims to expand tourism potential by including rowing boats, kayaks, and canoes.
Due to its spectacular viewpoint, a lot of tourists visit here following the Covid protocols strictly. As it is a relatively shallow river, tourists come here for swimming, to catch mussels, and fishing.
Shikara boats are ready
Shikara boats that have the capacity to contain over ten tourists are also available at Akalapuzha. The Shikara boat ride starts from the Govindan Kettu Boating Centre. The construction of a large Shikara boat carrying 60 people is underway. The boat will also be in service within a month. The Shikara boats are built by professionals from Alappuzha. Once licensed by the Ports Department, they will begin their journey with travellers. The boat, which is open on all four sides, has a canopy made of palm leaves. The boat can accommodate up to 60 people and can hold small meetings and birthday parties.