METRO PLUS

Monsoon sojourn

The Dutch church   | Photo Credit: Photos S. Binu Raj

Munroe Island is nestled between Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River

When the monsoon hampered my trips to less travelled roads, I had no other option but to travel through the rain as I enjoy its varying moods. However as I drove, I noted that the beauty of the rain changed with different terrain.

In the hills, the rain seemed to rage while in the plains it was frivolous . If you want to see the interplay of the different moods of the rain, visit Munroe Island. Armed with an umbrella and my favourite camera, I reached Munroe Island to capture the beauty of the monsoon.

Toads croaked along the narrow pathways and birds were seen trying to dry themselves by ruffling their feathers. The village on Munroe Island is an idyllic, sleepy village.

Unique village

Munroe Island is nestled between Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River. Two other islands – Pattomthuruthu and Pezhumthuruthu, are connected to Munroe Island and the trio makes this area unique.

On reaching the mainland, I get the assistance of an auto-driver, Rajeev who is also a good guide. He takes me to the inner regions of the islands but warns that there are some areas where his humble machine cannot reach, “You have to tread through mud,” and I agree. Raindrops created ripples in the backwaters. Labourers, braving the rain, were hurriedly loading coconut husks in a country boat. To see the surprise in this village, you have to walk through muddy pathways amidst coconut groves. There is an old beautiful church built by the Dutch in 1878.

The red church, a classic beauty of Dutch-Kerala architecture, occupies pride of place on this island. Now, a favourite haunt of wood pigeons, this church has survived the test of time and looks like a stoic witness to the different moods of the Ashtamudi Lake.

I walk along the veranda of the Church to take a look at the huge white pillars, a typical form of Dutch architecture. There are no regular masses here and the dust that has gathered is evidence. The only Christian family here is that of Louis Fernandez. This octogenarian looks after the affairs of this Church.

The annual affair of Palli Perunnal or the annual church festival is conducted with the help of residents in the area, says Fernandez. They make sure it is conducted without fail.

On the western side of Munroe Island flows the majestic Kallada River. From the Kadavu, I decided to cross the river in a country boat that ferries people to West Kallada and back. This is the best way to enjoy the beauty of rain in a river.

My co-travellers were cursing the rain as the oarsman struggled to control the balance of the boat in a rough river.

“Though calm on the top there will be strong undercurrents,” says an elder and he points out the place where a boat race was conducted during Onam.

Munroe Island got its name from Colonel Munroe, the British Resident of erstwhile Travancore. He was elevated to the post of Dewan. He held the post till 1914 and was instrumental in connecting Munroe Island to the other islands by digging navigable canals.

How to reach there

You can reach Munroe Island by rail, road and water. If you want to enjoy the beauty of backwaters and have time and patience for a two-and-a-half hour boat ride, the best option is to travel by boat.

The Government-owned boat service is from Kollam jetty to Pattomthuruth. Check the boat timings before you opt for it.

Munroe Island is 25 km from Kollam. There are no frequent buses from Kollam, hence board a bus from Kundara and travel 12 km to reach Munroe Island. There is a railway station at Munroe Island but only passenger trains halt there. Confirm the passenger train timings if you are going by train.

S BINU RAJ