Uncut gems of heavenly Wayanad

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The tourism destinations of this quaint district wait for a lift.

Malabar, with its silvery beaches and rich culture and tradition, is taking the Kerala brand of tourism to greater glory. Complementing the picture is Wayanad with its mist-veiled mountains, pristine lakes, awe-inspiring wildlife, places of archaeological and anthropological interests and the colourful lifestyles of various tribes.

But do the tourists get the comforts they yearn for in the district? Take a stroll through the shores of the Pookode Lake. Broken garden benches and pavements and damaged boats lying in a heap mar the beauty of the shimmering expanse of the lake. The scene is enough to spoil the outing of a tourist.

Though Wayanad has been considered a destination registering good tourism growth, a dearth of infrastructure and delay in executing projects have cast a dark cloud over its prospects. Records maintained by the District Tourism Promotion Council show that 5,67,906 visitors visited the lake in 2012 as against 5,23,498 in 2011.

Enchanting beauty

Thousands of visitors, both domestic and foreign, reach here on holidays to get captivated by the enchanting beauty of the freshwater lake. But they have to make do with two small toilet blocks. Boating amid the lush greenery and the mountain slopes is a major attraction, but not enough boats traverse the lake. From 44 boats — 25 pedal boats and 19 row boats — two years ago, the number has slumped to nine, a council official said.

The visitors have to wait for a long time to get into a boat or give up the plan. A few months ago, globe-riding and water tricycles were launched only to be withdrawn a few days later as the fitness certificate has not been obtained.

The condition of the tourism destinations such as the Edakkal Caves, the Banasurasagar Dam and the Kuruva islands are not different from that of Pookode.

The government has banned construction on the premises of the Edakkal caves, but shopping complexes are coming up on either side of the approach road and illegal quarrying using explosives goes on.

A secondary pathway constructed by the Tourism Department to the cave at a cost of Rs. 50 lakh to tackle the rush during peak hours is yet to be opened. As many as 3,44,747 tourists visited the Neolithic monument in 2012 as against 2,43,599 visitors in 2011.

A drinking water shortage and the inadequate number of bamboo rafts to cross the Kabani river hamper visits to the Kuruva islands.

Major project

But Veena Madhavan, Sub-Collector, who is the secretary of the council, says a major project has been planned at Pookode to renovate the children’s park and beautify the shore. New boats will be deployed.

The secondary staircase to the Edakkal caves will be officially opened soon and a new raft will be launched for the tourists to reach the Kuruva islands, she says.