Paniyeli Poru, 52 km from Ernakulam, is a place of quiet and natural beauty

Forget Aluva, Paniyeli Poru is where you catch the river Periyar in its truer self. As the undulating, meandering road takes you to the verdant village of Paniyeli some 52 km northeast of Ernakulam, there’s the unquiet Periyar flowing over an expansive bed of rocks.

True to its name, this is the junction where several strands of the river, flowing in from Malayattoor, violently conjoin, crashing down over little hedges of treacherous rocks.

Poru, meaning fight in Malayalam, could also be in reference to the combative spirit of yesteryear raftsmen who fought the violent gush of the streams as they transported bamboo rafts from Edamalayar in the north. “This used to be the case till about eight years ago when the business came to a halt,” K.N. Unnikrishnan Nair, forest range officer, Kodanad, says.

Paniyeli Poru, as local tourists know the place now, is an ecotourism destination where lovers of nature can trek through dense foliage along a walkway, watching the river rush past besides watching the numerous birds that perch on the rock formations, trees and mangrove forests that dot the place.

It’s a bird watcher’s heaven, says Varkey, a watcher working under the Vana Samrakshana Samithi. At the end of the long walk, you are to cross the streams one by one, cutting across mangrove forests till you reach a clearing amidst the river strands from where you get to relish the thunderous rush of water in frothy flow, the Poru!

The rocks sport several deep craters interconnected underneath as in a cellar. Storks of numerous variety and migratory birds of several kind go about fishing as you watch the river frolic by. “There was a time when the place would witness drownings regularly.

The Vana Samrakshana Samithi has now put up warning boards cautioning people against venturing into the river in areas where it is deep beyond measure. Visitors are also warned against littering the place with plastic. A little less effectively, though, as soft drink cans and bottles could be seen strewn over the rocks.

The forest department, says Mr. Nair, has plans to introduce some activities and adventure sports here, but that will take time. For now, idlers can come and breathe in fresh air, spend the day watching the river babbling over the rocks. Right now, the place doesn’t have any hotels or place of stay, but resorts are in the making not far away. One of them is some distance inside the jungle itself, says Varkey. It is on a piece of land with ‘pattayam’ (title deed) obtained in the 1970s, he assures.