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Aymanam steps out of books

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A view of Aymanam village from Lake Vembanad
A view of Aymanam village from Lake Vembanad

George Jacob

Fiction writers made the village popular. Now, Aymanam plans an initiative for a share of the tourism pie.

KOTTAYAM: It was in this obscure village that Ammu and Velutha realised their attraction for each other; it was here that Baby Kochamma fell in love with Fr. Mulligan. On the winding dirt roads you would come across a Comrade Pillai even today and might hear the stories of Kari Saipu.

Aymanam, or Ayemenem for most of the English language readers, is ‘Arundhati country’ as it was in this village on Vembanad Lake that the Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy based her novel ‘God of Small Things.’ Noted Malayalam short story writer Aymanam John too had told tales of this village.

Sister corners glory

While her sister village Kumarakom hogged all the limelight as one of the hottest tourism destinations in the world, Aymanam, which lies across the rivulet, had remained mostly in the fantasy world. Now, the villagers want to tap its tourism potential.

Says K.K. Shajimon, the grama panchayat president, “This not just the fantasy land that comes alive in novels and short stories. There is much more to Aymanam village. In fact some of the more famous star hotels are situated in this panchayat though the credit goes to our more famous neighbour.”

The village has more than a kilometre of the lake shore, but the real scope for tourism lies in the scores of rivulets that pass through the village into the lake. According to him, with over 4,000 acres of paddy fields, the village can cater to farm tourism. Even today, farming is vibrant in the village, once the hot bed of farm worker trade unionism and scene of Communist struggles.

Eyeing pilgrims

According to Mr. Shajimon, the focus of the new initiative will be pilgrim tourism. “There is a saying here that the temple festivals in Travancore commenced with the one at Sri Narsimha Swamy Temple and concluded with the festival at Srimahadeva temple at Parippu, also in our village,” he said.

The Pandavom Dharma Sastha Temple, known for its rich wall paintings, and the age-old Kudamaloor Church, the birth place of Saint Alphonsa, are in our village, said Mr. Shajimon.

“We offer the visitor a slice of real village life in Kerala,” he said.

The new initiative will commence with the launching of a new website www.aymanamtourism.com on the New Year day. This will be followed by a series of activities which would earn the village a place on the tourism map, he said.

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