Just as a day opens its eyes, the fields and roads of the small Kottayam village, Malarikkal, are abuzz with photoshoots, riders, tourists and sellers, these days. The place known for its 650 acres of paddy fields filled with pink and white water lillies, lotus flowers and more is enjoying its seasonal blooming of the flowers and visitors can't have enough of its beauty.
According to Thiruvarppu Panchayat President Ajayan K Menon, the tourist inflow began about 15 days ago this year, though the season hasn't started yet. "Most of the tourists now are from various parts of Kerala. On August 6, Sunday, we witnessed an unprecedented inflow of tourists to the region. We are expecting tourists from outside of Kerala around Onam time." The flowers bloom on the flooded fields of the region called 'J block 9000' near Kumarakom. The season of the water lillies is between September and October, around the end of the monsoon season.
The Water Lilly fest
The Malarikkal Water Lilly Fest, which is held as part of the Meenachil River-Meenanthara River-Kodoor River realignment project, was officially launched today. The fest will be held till September 10. The panchayat president said that on the days that experience a large number of tourists will have food arranged by Kudumbashree in the region. "During the Onam season we are planning to have the food arrangement regularly," he said.
Things to keep in mind
The paddy field where the water lilies are seen belongs to a private party and hence there is no permission to foray there. The visitors can travel in small country crafts through the water where the water lilies are floating. Women are selling the water lilies in bunches also.
Parking is prohibited on the road. However, parking has been arranged in nearby houses and compounds, where vehicles can be parked by paying a parking fee of Rs 30 per vehicle, the organizers said. The washroom facilities available in certain houses too can be used for payment.
This time there are special arrangements for canal tourism through the Kanjiram-Vettikatt route. In the evening, the trip is arranged in small country crafts and mechanized boats.
The fest is being organized jointly by the Tourism Department, District Administration, River Realignment People’s Forum, J Block, Thiruvayikkiri Paddyfield Committee, Kanjiram Co-operative Society and Malarikkal Tourism Society
A sensation since 2019
For the local people, the yearly blooming of water lillies was a regular phenomenon. However, it won the attention of outsiders in 2019 after some of the visitors posted pictures and videos of the region on social media platforms. While the earlier practice was to clear the flowers for the fields to make them conducive for farming, now the people are actively reaping dividends from it by helping tourists enjoy the sight through boat rides, selling them bunches of flowers, making arrangments for shoots and more.
Sunrise, the best time to visit
The water lilies are spread across 600 acres out of the 1,800 acres of paddy fields and the best time to soak in the beauty of these exotic flowers is during sunrise. The 6 am to 9 am window offers the best sights of the region, even if it rains out of the blue, says local people. The local boatmen charge Rs 100 per person for a boat ride through the field.
How to reach
At the Illickal junction in Kottayam, turn left to the Thiruvarppu road. You could reach Malarickal via Kanjiram Boat Jetty road after the Kanjiram bridge. If you are coming from Kumarakom side, then turn right to the Thiruvarppu road at Illickal.