Tourist amenity centre, four-star ‘Ponmudi Palace' to be set up at hill station

Visitors reaching the Ponmudi hill station, near here, can look forward to enhanced facilities at the idyllic spot with the Kerala Tourism planning to set up of a visitor amenity centre.

Known for its picturesque landscape, winding pathways, small rivulets and green environs, the lack of visitor amenities and a place to get light refreshments are the major drawbacks of the lone hill station in the capital district that attracts lakhs of visitors annually.

The Rs.90 lakh amenity centre is part of the Kerala Tourism's plan to give a facelift to Ponmudi, under the newly launched destination development initiative for key tourist destinations, official sources told The Hindu.

The site between the children's park and the wireless station building in the Upper Sanatorium has been identified for setting up the visitor amenity centre. A rain shelter will be set up here.

A building complex of about 250 to 300 sq. mt. has been proposed for the amenity centre. The rain shelter will be a roofed structure without sidewalls.

Rock, bamboo

As the area is ecologically fragile, seating arrangements will be set up using naturally available materials such as rock and bamboo. For aesthetics and to withstand the high wind speed in the upper sanatorium, bamboo will be used as the construction material. Treated bamboo will be used to construct the basic structure. Bamboo poles will bear the main load of the structure. The bottom ends of bamboos will be embedded in cement concrete at ground level.

Pyramid shaped

The structure will be pyramidal in shape. The inner layer of roofing will be in plywood of suitable quality. Over the plywood, waterproofing will be done using a layer of roofing shingles — reinforced bituminous material cast in situ. Partition walls will be constructed using brick in cement mortar. Foundation and basement will made using rubble masonry. The project was worked out by the Director of Ecotourism. Habitat Technology Group has been entrusted with the work, official sources said.

The amenity centre will be managed by Thiruvananthapuram Forest Development Agency through the Ponmudi Vana Samarakshana Samithi (VSS). The cost of maintenance will be met from the visitor fee.

Since 2007, visitor management has been taken care through VSS by setting up a checking station and restricting entry through a fee. About 15 guides were engaged by the VSS in Ponmudi for cleaning and for providing security to the visitors flocking to the hill resort.

Guest house

Along with the visitor amenity centre, a four-star guest house is to be set up after demolishing the old government guest house that is in a dilapidated state. Aptly named ‘Ponmudi Palace,' the multi-storeyed building will have all the facilities of a four-star hotel. It is estimated to cost of Rs.4 crore.