Witness the annual dance of pink water lilies in Kottayam


Kottayam has turned pink. Its tranquil paddy fields are blanketed with bright pink water lilies, their waxy, disc-like leaves spread over the water. Water lilies have bloomed over 600-650 acres of paddy fields and the phenomenon has been attracting hordes of Instagrammers.

Though Malarikkal, a hamlet on Kumarakom Road, around nine kilometres from Kottayam railway station, is at the centre of the water lily wonder, villages such as Ambattukadavu and surrounding fields too are aflush with lilies. An annual phenomenon, these native water lilies, known as aambal in Malayalam, bloom at night and wilt as the day gets hotter. They appear in fields after harvest and country boatmen ferry people up and down the pink expanse.

The aambal blooms only in fields that are cultivated. By August-September, they start appearing cluster by cluster and by the latter half of September, they are spread out across the fields. After the paddy is harvested, the seeds of the aambal that were deposited earlier in the field grow and it completes its life-cycle, which is usually two-to-three months.

Witness the annual dance of pink water lilies in Kottayam

The water lily bloom has as much potential as the neelakurinji of Munnar that draws thousands from afar. Just as the lilac flowers cover the valley in Munnar once in 12 years, these pink lilies would offer a visual spectacle every year.

The State Tourism Department along with the Responsible Tourism Mission (RT Mission) is planning a yearly three-month-long Pink Water Lily Festival along the lines of the Tulip Festival held in Amsterdam. The RT mission has identified over 15 places in and around Kottayam district that witness this floral phenomenon and is planning a tourism circuit that will cover these areas.

Witness the annual dance of pink water lilies in Kottayam

Anil Kumar, co-ordinator of the Meenachilar-Meenanthalayar-Kodurar river re-linking project, says the boatmen and the local farmers have worked along with the Tourism department to facilitate the flow of people to these rural areas. The boatmen take tourists into the fields, where they can see the flowers up close, he says. Starting from January 1 in 2018, efforts had been on to clear the canals in the region and make them fit for small country boats to ply.

This would also mean income generation possibilities for the local communities. K Rupeshkumar, State Responsible Tourism Mission Co-ordinator, says: “Watching water lilies is part of the ‘experience the life-cycle of a paddy field’ package offered by the RT Mission.” He adds: “However, we need to educate tourists to not pluck the flowers indiscriminately.”

Witness the annual dance of pink water lilies in Kottayam

So, catch a glimpse of the lilies while they last. Small boat services have been launched in Kottayam, which will take tourists into the fields.

The ideal time to visit is 6.30 am. Malarikkal is around 10 km from Kottayam town. The phenomenon is expected to last till November 10.

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Printable version | Nov 17, 2020 1:57:34 AM |

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