Kerala

Move to reopen forest routes to Sabarimala

As the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is witnessing a gradual surge in pilgrim footfall, the authorities are actively considering a plan to reopen the traditional trekking paths that originate from Erumely and Vandiperiyar Sathram in the second phase of the ongoing Mandalam-Makaravilakku season.

Official sources said the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had already approached the State government with a request to permit the devotees reaching Erumely to ascend the hills through the 42-km-long forest route. As part of it, a joint team of revenue and forest officials would inspect these routes to assess their condition and the threat posed by wildlife.

The forest path that begins from Erumely, which takes the Karimala- Valiyanavatom- Cheriyanavattom- Pampa- Marakkootom route, used to receive a good number of pilgrims every year till the authorities closed it in 2020 in view of the pandemic situation.

Of this, the opening portion of the route from Koyikkakavu temple to Kalaketty falls within the Kottayam forest division, while the remaining portion is part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve (west).

The other route, which originates from Vandipperiyar Sathram and passes through Pulmedu and Paandithavalom to reach Sabarimala, was primarily used by inter-State pilgrims who descended at Kumily.

Though these routes used to become active only during the Makaravilakku season, they later became active right from the beginning of the annual pilgrim season.

Confirming the move, TDB president K. Ananthagopan said the board had already requested the Forest department to restore the Karimala route while the path via Pulmedu remained relatively stable. “Despite being closed for two years now, the forest route from Erumely still remains one of the most preferred routes of the Sabarimala devotees. So, we will just keep it ready and wait for a direction from the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, the authorities are in the final stages of completing works on the Gabion box bridge across the Njunangar river at Pampa. The 20 meter long and five meter wide bridge, which is designed to ensure the passage of tractors with a capacity of up to 15 tonnes, will be opened by Friday evening.

As many as 24 pipes are laid in two layers underneath the bridge, built on a Gabion structure with stones stacked inside a steel mesh on both sides, to ensure the flow of water. About 60 coconut tree logs are piled on both sides of the bridge, so that it does not collapse during floods.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 4:45:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/move-to-reopen-forest-routes-to-sabarimala/article37807676.ece

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