The village by the Manimala dreams big, to launch an ambitious tourism development plan tapping its natural beauty
Kovalam, Kumarakom and, in the time to come, Kaviyur? If the magic of destinations are a magnet to tourists, Kaviyur, a little village by the quiet-flowing Manimala river, has quite a lot going for it. Its ambitions to glow on the tourism map come from within, born out of a realisation of its strengths.
The new-age tourist, visiting to experience life, heritage and the inner workings of a place, cannot ask for more in this village. Mythology, history, water, hills and dales make Kaviyur enchanting.
A mega riverside rural tourism project of the grama panchayat now aims to open all these to travellers from the world.
The village was one of the 64 ancient Brahmin settlements in Kerala. The centuries-old Mahadevar temple with exquisite wooden sculptures, the Thrikkakkudy rock-cut temple constructed by the Pallavas, a famous temple dedicated to Hanuman, churches, the Polachira lake and the National Fish Seed Farm will keep the tourists busy through their days here.
Kaviyur’s strengths are its rich cultural heritage and its people, with a literacy rate of 97 per cent. The panchayat’s decision to exploit the tourism potential of the village has received wide public acceptance.
“Our aim is to develop Kaviyur into a major rural tourism destination in the central Travancore region,” T.K. Sajeev, grama panchayat president, says.
The panchayat has prepared a tourism project, Manackachira Puzhayoram, and is awaiting support and assistance from the Tourism Department for implementing its Rs. 1.5-crore first phase.
The local body has recovered a large extent of government land on the riverside from encroachment.
The panchayat, in association with the Public Works Department, has taken over the land along the Kattode-Thottabhagom stretch on the southern side of T.K. Road. The tourism project will come up on the side of the Manimala, Mr. Sajeev says.
The plans are big. Coracle rides in the Manimala, well-designed walkways along the river bank for scenic walks, a small swimming pool in natural settings, a swimming course in the river and cafeterias run by women’s self-help groups of the Kudumbasree Mission will be its major attractions.
A riverside walkway with two suspension bridges, similar to the one on Marine Drive in Ernakulam, from where tourists can enjoy the beauty of the river and the enchanting shades of the monsoon will fascinate both domestic and foreign tourists, Renjith Thomas, block panchayat president, says.
The project will provide employment opportunities to the local people, enhancing their lives and enriching the visitors’ experience, Mr. Thomas says.
Small family cottages have been planned along the river banks in the second phase, he adds.
Volley ball, basketball and badminton courts, a children’s park, a cultural meeting area, natural forests and boating have been written into the project. Riverside landscaping, beautification of the one-kilometre Kattode-Thottabhagom stretch of the Thiruvalla-Kumbazha State Highway, an amusement park for children and a garden on the riverside are among the features.
Mr. Sajeev says a garden of the Kerala Water Authority at the Kattode pump house will be developed into a children’s park and garden.
The panchayat, in association with the Kudumbasree Mission, is planning to open a few crafts shops with a wide range of handicrafts on the riverside.
People had raised apprehensions that the tourism project would affect the conduct of an annual religious congregation on panchayat land on the riverside. The panchayat chief’s assurance that neither the panchayat nor the tourism venture would pose any hurdle for the congregation has cleared this air.
Anju Sankaramangalam, panchayat vice-president, says the local body has even installed solar lamps on the riverside to light up the venue of the week-long annual Sree Narayana religious convention.
Mr. Sajeev says the panchayat aims to create jobs and enhance income through the development of natural resources within the parameters that protect and enhance the environment, besides exploiting areas of opportunity in tourism, farming, food, small enterprises and handicrafts.
The panchayat, he says, will be able to mobilise local communities, in partnership with State agencies, to achieve goals in line with the framework of the national development plan.
Mr. Sajeev says the panchayat will establish a fool-proof solid-waste management system for the village and the project in a time-bound manner.
Land will be demarcated to dump and treat waste, and the people will be made aware of the need for waste segregation, disposal of plastics, maintenance of cleanliness and public hygiene.
He says the Kerala Film Development Corporation has proposed setting up of a multiplex on an acre of panchayat land on the riverside. The panchayat committee will accept the proposal soon.
The panchayat, he says, will explore the possibility of launching a houseboat in the river Manimala in the second phase of the project.