Karyathanpara awaits the promise of dawn. Fresh, green and quiescent, it earnestly looks forward to its metamorphosis into a holiday hub when world-weary travellers would put up their feet and watch the Kuttiadi river quietly embracing battalions of acacia trees.
Karyathanpara has better known neighbours — the Kakkayam Dam site and the Urakkuzhi waterfalls. Situated in the Koorachund panchayat of Kozhikode district, Karyathanpara nestles next to the Western Ghats and Wayanad and enjoys soothing weather most of the year. If on a late April afternoon, with brooding, dark clouds looming in the sky, it tends to become sweaty and sticky, residents are quick to blame the impending rain for the humid air.
This serene catchment area has not risen beyond being an ethereal backdrop to wedding videos and music albums. Karyathanpara at its scenic best, when the rains have retired and the sun is still edgy, is a painting. Miles of grass rolling over mounds and dips is fenced by the mild river. Like soldiers guarding the river are scores of acacia on its banks planted by the Irrigation Department and it now lends the place its landscape.
The trees, on the other hand, trunk-deep in water for months, have a slow death and slant onto the river. Scores of fallen trees, their dry branches emoting different stages of helplessness and swayed by the moods of the river, gives Karythanpara its architecture. A silent witness to all the action is the dark mountains at the end of the canvas.
What were paddy fields along the river once disappeared when the Kakkayam dam came and Karyathanpara became a catchment area. The Kuttiadi river gained might and the landscape changed.
Karyathanpara's virtue is its accessibility. There are no walks through wild forests or treks up devious mountains. The landscape largely remains bottle-green and friendly, dotted by pink, purple and blue houses. Neither is it severed from civilisation. On the main road, a new shop where the wares range from rice to soap opened a few days ago. There are houses around, each comfortable in their niche, typical of the country-side. On the banks, group of villagers grow vegetables.
Before the bridge on which moss runs amok and underneath which the river flows without fuss, Karyathanpara is on the cut-road to the left. Barely 200 metres into it, the landscape on the right begins to create its signature. The Kuttiadi river is rocky at the mouth, with a dozen little wells on its rock belly. Placid now, a vigorous monsoon can raise its rage, says Augustine Karakada, president, Koorachund gram panchayat, who accompanied us to Karyathanpara.
A lot of dreams are being woven around Karyathanpara by its residents. A proposal for a new road to make it a river-side drive is also ready. Wash room facilities will come up soon. Those like Thomas, a resident and some of his friends have taken the first steps to making a resort. More resorts are in various stages of planning. In a couple of years, Karyathanpara will arrive, they say.
No conversation on Karyathanpara is complete without Kakkayam. So we drive to Kakkayam, three km away. The Urakkuzhi waterfalls are a 20-km drive up the mountains. The drive is through rain forests and wild peas and cocoa flank the road. This is the territory of the king cobra and elephants, says Thomas, an avid trekker.
At the top, the Urakkuzhi waterfalls are about a km away from the Kakkayam dam. Urakkuzhi, as the name suggests, is a barrel-shaped waterfall, intercepted along its path by disobedient rocks. So from no angle is an undisrupted view of the waterfall possible. It is mostly heard than seen.
As we wind our way back to the car, the driver looks a tad worried. An elephant is trumpeting below. “It doesn't sound too far,” he says, ostensibly relieved to be on our way back.