Kozhikode and Kappad may be crowd pullers, but there are other beaches close by rich in history and beauty
Kozhikode’s shimmering coastline is its cherished possession. Evenings and holidays are not the same if we haven’t headed to the beach. Sea-shore and revelry are so enmeshed that the city beach is often like a carnival. Those seeking peace are shooed out by merriment. The ones who cherish a little more space may choose Kappad. But Kappad is on every tourist’s map. So too is Beypore.
For those looking for peace, reflection and Nature’s wonder, there are options, most of them unexplored. A little over 25 km from the city, further down from Koyilandy, there are beaches rich in myth, history and beauty. The beaches at Kollam and Moodadi are a little different. Both are intermittently fenced by rocks that sneak into the sea. If the Kollam beach has on its shores the old Parapalli mosque, now renovated, by the Moodadi beach is the old Urupunyakkavu temple, a popular spot to offer bali.
At Moodadi and Kollam, the hillocks end and the sea begins. The bird-eye-view is pleasing. However, these shores have not got much tourist attention. Nandakumar Moodadi, a photographer and a local who grew up playing on the Moodadi beach, says the South-East portion of the beach is relatively shallow making it accessible. His childhood memories are of a shore padded with sand. Now it is filled with black soil. “So now we call it the black beach,” he jests. He says this short stretch, slushy at times, will be a beauty if kept clean.
The long sea-wall though interrupts a healthy interaction with the sea. But one can see the fishing boats neatly anchored at the far end, so too the old lighthouse. But it is on the side further down the temple, that the beach bares its beauty. Lore is rich on the shore locally known as the Urupunyakkavu beach.
“It is believed the temple was established by Parasuram,” says Wilson, a local. The temple is significant to the fisher community and their new fishing boats first go round the temple before setting sail. It was also once mussel haven. One can still see scars on the rocks from which mussels have been chipped off. Wilson recalls a time when mussels were part of every function at Moodadi. People feasted on it during weddings and carried them as gifts when they went visiting. “Mussel pluckers earned about Rs. 1,000-1,500 a day then,” he recalls. Post tsunami, mussels have shrunk, so too business. “I heard this year has not been bad though,” he adds.
The scenery is similar at Kollam — rocks, mussels, myths. But Kollam is historical. According to historian, MGS Narayanan, Kollam, known popularly in the past as Pandalayani Kollam, is where Gama landed. “Pandalayani Kollam was among the few natural harbours we had. Though Gama’s ship first anchored at Kappad, after sending out the news of his arrival to the Zamorin, he sailed to the Pandalayani harbour. He stepped on to the land here and was taken to meet the ruler,” says MGS. He says the natural harbour, a hub for old sailing boats and ancient trade, waned in significance as better ships came in vogue.
Myths and beliefs richly weave their magic around Kollam. At the mosque is a footprint believed to be that of the prophet. The water in the rocky well too is considered holy. The Auliya mosque near the well inscribes the year 1402 on it.
History sleeps at every nook and crevice of Kollam. Set aside history and it is a shore of immense natural beauty. Rocks of myriad shapes, some flat and friendly, other high and intimidating, fence the sea.
The fact that the beauteous beaches of Kollam and Moodadi are not on the tourism agenda till now, may change soon. According to Rajeev P.G., Secretary, The District Tourism Promotion Council, Moodadi, Kollam and Thikkoti, are on the DTPC radar. He says there is considerable interest in developing these beaches from the local administration. “All these beaches have tourism potential, but it lies underutilised. We have visited these places and are discussing ideas.” Thikkoti beach, he says, can be developed as a drive-in beach as it is much longer than Muzhipilangad, the other well-known drive-in beach. As plans and projects are discussed, languor remains the mood on these beaches.