The historic Munroe lighthouse on the banks of Puzhukkanila Backwaters in Kottayam district is all set to get a makeover. A project has been prepared to renovate the light installed in memory of Col John Munro, who was the Diwan (prime minister) of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, to guide boats passing through the Vembanad Lake.
The renovation will be carried out with the support of the CMS College wing of American Malayali Association at an estimated budget of Rs 50 lakh. "Discussions have been initiated with Kottayam municipality authorities to spruce up the lighthouse. Conservation of the monument erected in memory of Col Munro, who played a big role in promoting education in Kerala and was instrumental in setting up CMS College, will be a noble task," said Dr Jacob George, a former teacher at CMS College and is president of Green Fraternity.
Meanwhile, K Anil Kumar, coordinator of the River Integration Project, said that the waterway near Puzhukkanila would be renovated as part of the project to revive ancient water channels. "Puzhukkanila is the place where Meenachil and Meenanthara Rivers empty themselves into the Vembanad Lake. When the Rs 107-crore KIIFB-funded project to renovate Vembanad Lake is completed, Puzhukkanila would become a tourist spot," he said.
How to reach
The lighthouse is 8 km from Kottayam town. To reach it, take the Chingavanam route on the M C Road from Kottayam and take a deviation at Karimbumkala Junction. At Karimbumkala boat jetty, cross an iron bridge and walk past the Government Model Fish Farm along the bund after taking a right turn. In another 1 km, you are at Munro light.
Origin of the light
T Madhava Rao, who served as the Diwan of Travancore some years after Munro, ordered the setting up a series of lighthouses in a straight line along the east-west direction on the backwaters of Alappuzha and Kottayam. The lights were named after Col Munro. At Puzhukkanila, the lighthouse was built near the spot where the Meenachil and Kodoor Rivers merge, in 1874. It stands on the banks of the Vembanad Lake near Pallom.
Features of the light
The islet where Munro lighthouse stands has an area of 10 cents and is owned by the Kottayam municipality. The light, which is installed on top of a 35-feet-tall tower, was earlier lit with kerosene. The government had appointed a person to switch on the light every evening and the lens fixed near the lamp illuminated a large area, guiding boats and canoes heading towards the Vembanad Lake from Alappuzha at night for around 150 years.
In fact, the lights of Alappuzha town could also be seen from the top of the Puzhukkanila lighthouse at night.
The following activities are planned to give Munro lighthouse a new look:
The tower would receive a fresh coat of paint. Moreover, the dilapidated iron staircase will be repaired. A solar lamp will replace the old kerosene light. A crumbling house near the light tower would be rebuilt, adding a hall, restrooms and washrooms while retaining the traditional look.
Alongside, decorative stones will be arranged around the lighthouse and a compound wall constructed. Trees are to be planted near the tower and a boat landing built. Boat and canoe services will also be arranged to attract tourists.