The Forest Department has decided to ban visitors to the site of a colonial bungalow that has resurfaced in the reservoir of the Thenmala dam in Kollam district.
The bungalow resurfaced a few days ago when the water in the reservoir receded to an unprecedented low following the drought.
Forest guards were posted at the site on Thursday to prevent visitors from going near the structure. Visitors will be allowed to see the bungalow from a distance. Hundreds of visitors are arriving at the site everyday to see the mystery bungalow that stood in one piece under water for 30 years. The site is inside the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a protected area, where visitors are restricted. However, in view of the curiosity the bungalow has generated, no restrictions were imposed on going to the site. When it turned out that a good number of the visitors were revellers, the department thought in terms of imposing restrictions.
Many youngsters entered the site in groups and consumed liquor in the bungalow and vandalised the structure, pulling away 125-year-old bricks to take it home as mementoes. Chief Wildlife Warden V. Gopinathan said the department would not permit such activities inside a forest area.
“The department has no plans to protect the structure as it will once again go under water and may even crumble down. As per law, nothing can be taken away from a wildlife sanctuary, Mr. Gopinathan said. The revellers had strewn bottles and plastic materials inside and in the vicinity of the structure. Such items had been banned inside forests.
He instructed Shendurney Wildlife Warden R. Lakshmi to post forest personnel at the site and prevent visitors from entering the limits of the wildlife sanctuary. Ms. Lakshmi told The Hindu that a beat forest officer and four forest watchers were posted to prevent the public from going near the structure.
Visitors can see the structure on entering the reservoir through an earth dam on the Thenmala- Kulathupuzha road and walking up the distance through the forests coming under the Anchal range. After an hour’s trek, visitors are in the wildlife sanctuary and can get a glimpse of the bungalow. But entry beyond that is banned, Ms. Lakshmi said.