It seems that the high-altitude hamlet of Ilaveezhapoonchira in Kottayam district is touching the floating white cotton clouds. Undoubtedly, there is a mystical touch to this exotic place as it is always shrouded in thick mist even at noon. The strong winds can literally blow you away and the evenings are punctuated by intermittent drizzles. The lush green rolling hills and expansive valley make Poonchira an enchanting destination for travellers.
But be also wary of the fact that the heavens can open up anytime and the hillocks are prone to lightning strikes. After this village was featured in Soubin Shahir-starrer Malayalam film ‘Ela Veezha Poonchira’, which was directed by Shahi Kabir, the whole world knows about this mind-blowing tourist spot in Kerala.
Five districts in ‘one frame’
Ilaveezhapoonchira is 3,200ft above sea level and one could get a bird’s eye view of five districts from the top. One can enjoy the pristine beauty of nature at this breathtaking place that is spread across Kottayam and Idukki districts. Around 200 acres of land covering Kudayathoor Mala, Mlankallumuzhi-Kolanimudi and Hidumbanmedu is among the best spots for adventure tourism in India. It is interesting to note that one could see the Alappuzha light house, Kochi refinery, Malankara dam and Thodupuzha town from the pinnacle of Ilaveezhapoonchira. The sun rise and sun set are simply incredible.
The Kottayam district’s Police Wireless Control Centre is functioning at Poonchira, and the wireless station is set up at the highest point in the region. The film ‘Ilaveezhapoonchira’ tells the story of the police officers working at this facility.
According to Civil Police Officer Benoy Augustine, who is currently working at the center, there are many stories about Poonchira that were not documented in the movie. The center is under the control of two staff of the Police Telecommunications Department and as many personnel from Kottayam’s Armed Reserve (AR) camp for guard duty. Two staff will be on duty at any point of time and the duty will be rotated every four to five days.
Food and other essential items for four to five days should be stocked before joining the duty. Though there are facilities to purify rain water, potable water should be transported to the wireless station in jeeps during summer season. As mobile phone signals are weak in the region, signal-strong spots are marked to make cell phone calls.
Most of the personnel shy away from duty at the Poonchira wireless station as one have to lead a secluded life while on duty. “But you will be tempted to return to Ponnchira if you like its beautiful landscape,” says Benoy. Besides Benoy; Nidhish G and Shaji Maarad, who jointly wrote the screenplay of the film, are currently on duty at the center. While the movie was canned, both Nidhish and Shaji were on duty at the wireless station.
Cinema and reality
The wireless station in the movie is not the real police outpost but the ‘reel’ station, which looks like a train compartment, is not a film set either. The film’s wireless station is an old office where the weather forecast center of the Fisheries Department used to function. The Fisheries office had been closed down years ago.
Currently, the wireless station is functioning at a new building made of coarse granite and has three-tier protection against lightning strikes. The wireless station of Idukki district is situated at Rajamala, which is also manned by four officials.
“The shooting at Poonchira was definitely challenging as weather used to change in a jiffy. Sometimes we had to wait for many days to complete a scene. Another challenge was lightning as no one knew where the lightning would strike. I believe that we had been able to capture the beauty and disquietude of this gripping place in its entirety,” Shahi Kabir, director of ‘Ilaveezhapoonchira’ said.
How to reach
• 8km drive from Kanjar town via Koovapally on the Thodupuzha-Moolamattom route.
• 10km drive from Kanjiramkavala in Kottayam district.
• Only four-wheel drive vehicles and two-wheelers can reach the top.