Saturday, October 30, 2010


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Paithalmala (Pi-thal-ma-la) is an enchanting hill station in North Kerala (India) in the Western Ghats near Kerala-Karnataka border. Standing as tall as about 4,500 feet (1372metres) above sea level, the summit is located about 65 kms north-east of Kannur (Canannore) city and 35 kms east of Thaliparamba. North of Paithalmala is the Kudaku forest.

These huge mountains lay spread over 500 acres of land enriched with dense forest. The easiest access to the summit is from a place called Kappimala. One can go by bus up to Kappimala (kaappi-mala) and then a bumpy jeep ride of two kilometers through the "muttatham-vayal" mountain till the forest border at "Manja-pullu". A two (2) km trekking through the forest will then take you to the summit.

The peak offers a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains beneath it. It is also a haven for a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. There are many seasonal waterfalls and brooks in the nearby areas. Paithalmala is an ideal spot for adventure tourism as well. There are not many such fascinating  hill stations in the region. It is believed that the name 'Paithal' (meaning an infant) has connection with the 'Paithalkon' dynasty of Malabar.

Tourism development in Paithalmala is being taken up as a major scheme by Government of Kerala. The works include a suspension bridge for watching the seasonal waterfall, renovation of the watch tower, facilities for camping, trekking path and road widening. At the base of the mountain at Kudiyanmala, a tourist information center and dormitory have been constructed.  The tourism development  at Paithalmala is estimated at about 27 million Indian rupees.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pyyambalam Beach

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One of the most beautiful beaches of Kerala, Payyambalam beach of Kannur is a vast stretch of golden sands dotted with coconut trees. This secluded beach is an ideal getaway for you if you want to spend a relaxed and laidback evening amidst calm surroundings. Read on further about Payyambalam beach of Kannur and visit it to experience true peace of mind.

The place is also a famous beach resort that is the perfect getaway for anyone who wants to spend a day or two in a calm environment. The beach is a beautiful place and many popular Indian movies have been shot over here. The beach has a massive sculpture of a mother and child that adds to the beauty of the beach. It is a popular hang out among young and old alike. The concerned authorities maintain the beach very nicely and take efforts to keep it neat and clean. It is definitely worth the visit if you go to Kannur.

How to Reach Payyambalam Beach

By Air
The nearest airport is Karipur International Airport, located at a distance of 93 kilometers from the beach.

By Rail
The Kannur railway station is located at a distance of 2 kilometers from the beach.

By Road
The beach is well connected by a wide network of roads and is easily accessible from anywhere in Kerala.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kottancheri Hills

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Kottancheri Hills is a part of the Western Ghats in Kasaragod district of Kerala, south India. This is an area of rain forest near Konnakkad 30 km north- east of Kanhangad. It includes a picnic centre and is ideal for trekking. Talakaveri in the Brahmagiri mountain range of Kodagu is nearby.The Kottancherry wildlife sanctuary is an extension of Ranipuram wildlife sanctuary. The Forests of Kottancherry is teeming with wildlife and merges with reserved forests of kasaragod.Wild elephants, wild dogs, deer, wildpigs, rare birds, butterflies are seen here. Heavy hunting of wild animals for meat reported from kerala side border of this reserve forest.It is also a trekkers paradise.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bekal Fort

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Bekal Fort is the largest fort in the state of Kerala, India, spreading over 40 acres (160,000 m2). An important features of this fort are the water-tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad and wide steps leading to the Observation Tower which is a rarity. From there one has ample view of towns in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikare, Bekal, Kottikkulam, Uduma etc. This observation center had strategic significance in discovering even the smallest movements of the enemy and ascertaining safety of the Fort.
The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourth of its exteriors is drenched and the waves continually stroke the citadel. The Mukhyaprana Temple of Hanuman and the ancient Muslim Mosque nearby bear testimony to the age-old religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defense strategy inherent in the fort.
Unlike most other Indian Forts, Bekal fort was not a center of administration for no remains of any palace, mansion or such buildings are found within the fort. Arguably the fort was built exclusively for fulfilling defense requirements. The holes on the outer walls of the fort are specially designed to defend the fort effectively. The holes at top were meant for aiming at the farthest points; the holes below for striking when the enemy was nearer and the holes underneath facilitated attacking when the enemy was very near to the fort. This is a remarkable evidence of technology in defense strategy.
During the Perumal Age Bekal was a part of Mahodayapuram. The Kodavalam inscription (Pullur, 7 km from Kanhangad) of Bhasakara Ravi II (the King of Mahodayapuram) illustrate the undisputed political sway of Mahodayapuram over this region. Following the political decline of Mahodayapuram Perumals by the 12th century AD, North Kerala including Bekal, came under the sovereignty of Mushika or Kolathiri or Chirakkal Royal Family (who were a secondary royal family at that point to the Cheras, Pandyas and Cholas). The maritime importance of Bekal increased much under the Kolathiris and it became an important port town of Tulunadu and the Malabar.
It was usual in older days for every royal palace to be protected by a fort. The Bekal fort might have, therefore, existed even from early days of the Chirakkal Rajas. While writing a description of the Kolathiri Kingdom in his Kerala History, K.P. Padmanabha Menon writes: "The eldest of the male members reigned as sovereign Kolathiri. The next in succession, the heir apparent, was the Thekkelamkur. The residence assigned to him was the Vadakara fort. The third in succession was the Vadakkelamkur in charge of Vekkolath fort. This V(B)ekkolath fort is identified by some scholars as the present Bekal."
H.A. Stuart, in his Handbook of South Canara (1985), makes this observation: "Several forts were built by the Shivappa Nayaks of Badnore between 1650 and 1670. The two forts of Bekal and Chandragiri were originally under the Kolathiri or Chirakkal Rajas until the time of Shivappa Nayaka's invasion. Perhaps, the Bednore rulers might have rebuilt and improved it."
The Battle of Talikota in 1565 led to the decline of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire and many feudatory chieftains rose in political prominence including the Keladi Nayakas (Ikkeri Nayaks). The Nayakas realized the political and economic importance of Tulunadu (which is the region comprising of modern-day Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts along with the Northernmost part of Kasargod District ) and attacked and annexed the region. Bekal served as a nucleus in establishing the dominance of the Nayakas in Malabar. The economic importance of the port town prompted the Nayakas to fortify Bekal subsequently. Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka initiated the construction of the fort and it was completed during the period of Shivappa Nayaka. The speedy completion of the port was aimed at the defense of the fort from overseas attack and to strengthen their attack on Malabar. Chandragiri fort near Kasargod was also constructed during this period.
Somashekhara Nayak captured Manjeswar and Taliparamba and built a fort at Kanhangad called Hosdurg which literally means 'New Fort' in Tulu. The other forts found in Kasargod are constructed on the coastal region and on the route to Madikeri (Mercara in Coorg). It is believed that the 'Koteyar'/'Ramakshatriya' community found in Bekal, Panayal and other places in Kasargod were brought to this land by the Nayaks to strengthen and defend the fort. There was a prolonged struggle between the Kolathiries and Nayaks to recapture and maintain their hold over this area. These battles came to an end with the rise of Hyder Ali who conquered the Nayakas. Subsequently Bekal fell into the hands of Mysore kings.
Arabian Sea visible from the fort
Bekal served as an important military station of Tipu Sultan when he led the great military expedition to capture Malabar. The coins and other artifacts unearthed by the archaeological excavation conducted recently at Bekal fort is a manifestation of the strong presence of the Mysore Sulthans. The death of Tipu Sulthan in Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 saw the end of Mysorean control and subsequently the fort came under the British East India Company.
During the reign of the Company Bekal became the headquarters of the newly organized Bekal Taluk of South Canara District in Bombay presidency. South Canara became a part of the Madras presidency in 1862 and Kasargod Taluk was up in the place of Bekal Taluk. Gradually the political and economic importance of Bekal and its port declined considerably. Kasargod became part of Kerala with the state reorganization in 1956.
Its solid construction resembles the St. Angelo Fort at Kannur built by Portuguese and also the Thalassery Fort. The Ikkeri Nayakas had not developed guns to defend themselves from the invaders approaching from the Arabean sea route. But the western part of the fort is built in a solid manner with numerous slits on the walls for defending the fort from the naval power of other rulers. So it is believed that the present look of fort was the outcome of the conflict between European powers. Modification to the fort was made by all the rulers who ruled the land from before the time of the Ikkeri Nayakas. Moreover a number of forts built by the Ikkeri Nayakas have failed to stand the test of time and perished. Located at the centre of the fort is an Observation Tower built by Tipu Sultan, which offers a breathtaking view of the coastline. Also in existence is a rest-house built by the British Government. Presently the protection and preservation of Bekal fort has been entrusted to the Archaeological Survey of India.



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Ranipuram is a hill station located within Kasargod district of Kerala state, south India. It is located about 48 kilometres (30 mi) east of Kanhangad  on the Panathoor road branching off at Panathady and lies 750 m (2,460 ft) above sea level adjacent to Bhagamandala forest range.
History & Geography
Evidence of pre-settlement traditions exist in the form of 'Theyyam', a folk dance to please the mother goddess held in the month of May. This place was formerly known as Madathumala until the 1970s, when it was purchased by the Catholic Diocese of Kottayam for the purpose of settlement. Settlers renamed it as Ranipuram in memory of the virgin mother.
There are two trekking routes available through the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests. Part of the way the climb is assisted by cut steps. The ambiance of the forest trail is remarkable and once you reach the "Mani" (grass covered hilltop) the view is superb. The undulating cloud-topped hills stretch up to the plains and ocean on the horizon. This is unexplored territory for the nature enthusiast and birdwatcher. Butterflies are in abundance and birds of the evergreen biotope like the black eagle,crested serpent eagle and little spider hunter common. Elephants pay visits in the summer months and leopards have been sighted in the not-too-distant past. The Ranipuram forest should be declared as a wild life sanctuary by Kerala Forest Department to merge with borders of Thalakavery wild life sanctuary in Karnataka. The proposed Ranipuram Wildlife Sanctuary may protect and maintain overall biodiversity of the area in a better way. The place holds immense potential for ecotourism and may develop into a premier hill station in Kerala with the judicious development of amenities. Tourist cottages are available here provided by the KTDC and some private players have entered the scene. The proposed Ranipuram Wildlife sanctuary will be a boon to tourism development in Kasaragod district.
Jeep services to Ranipuram are readily available from Panathady, linked to Kanhangad by frequent bus services.
Ranipuram Shola National park / wildlife sanctuary (60 km2, Proposed)
The proposed Ranipuram Wildlife sanctuary / National park consists of various Flora and Fauna which are endemic to Westernghat and yet to studied biodiversity hotspot. It merges with Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karanata. The Ranipuram hill station which falls in Panathady reserve forest is an ideal area to convert in to a National park/wild life sanctuary. The evergreen and shola forest seen only here in this district. Elephants, Leopard, wild dogs, Deer, wild boar, macaques, jungle cats, leopards, slender loris, porcupine, malabar giant squirrels, malabar civet  and rare butterflies and medicinal plants are found in these forest. Most of these highly endangered animals are killed by people due to lack of conservational awareness or to protect their crops. Ranipuram wild life sanctuary will be in contiguous to Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka.
For this purpose, nearby reserve forests such as Panathady, eleri and konnakad can be encompassed to an area of 80 km2 of forest. If it is declared as a wild life sanctuary, it may enhance the tourism industry of this district along with Ranipuram hill station. Declaring it as a Biodiversity/ wildlife sanctuary is the only way to protect this Westernghat biodiversity hotspot and to ensure its survival for future generation. Illegal country liquor are made deep in the jungle. Poaching of wild boar, porcupine, hares, deers and even monkeys for their meat taking place mostly in the night time. It is never reported outside and inaccessible due to hilly and remote area. For that reason, Kerala Forest&wild life department, KFRI, TBGRI, ZSI officials neglected this area and most of the central and other fund have been diverted to their nearby district instead of setting up the park here. They should immediately take up a study for setting up of the park here.
Kasaragod district surrounded by three forest district, North by Dakshin kannada (one NP and 2 wildlife sanctuaries), Kodagu in east (one NP and two wildlife sanctuaries) south by Kannur (one wildlife sanctuary and one elephant corridor). Till today, forest officials of this district never sent any proposal to state forest department or central government. For setting up sanctuary here, although shola, evergreen and mangrove forests are seen here.
Frequent visits of elephants from the nearby reserve forest suggests that it once was an elephant migratory route. Take action now before it too late. It can be successfully converted without any rehabilitation process as in the case of Malabar wildlife sanctuary of kozhikode district.
The proposed Munnamkadavu Dam and Irrigation project may very useful to create fresh water ecosystem and later a wetland ecosystem to home for wild crocodile, otter, endangered fish and other water birds. Afforestation around the catchment area of dam reservoir will help to create another new wildlife sanctuary here in future and recreate lost wild elephant corridor. It is also an integral part of Brahmagiri biosphere.
Flora': Evergreen monsoon forest, shola, orchids, medicinal plants, grass lands etc.
Mammals: about 24 species mainly Elephants, wild bison, Leopard, wild dogs, mongoose, pangolin,, Jungle cats, Malabar giant squirrels, Flying squirrels, fox, porcupine, bonnet macaques, Langur, Leopard cats, Deer, wild boar, slender loris, hares, squirrels, bats etc.
Birds: About 200 species mainly Great Indian horn bill, Paradise flying catcher, green barbet, peacock, trogon, wood pigeon, malabar grey horn bill, white bellied tree pie, heart spotted wood pecker etc..
Reptiles: King cobra, kraits, viper, rat snakes, Indian cobras, green whip snakes, monitor lizards etc.
Amphibians: About 19 species, Thousands of insects and spiders
About 100 species of butterflies including sword tail, forest nymph, malabar bird wing etc.
Ranipuram Forest as a Permanent habitat for wild elephants?
Wild Elephants can be seen throughout the year in Ranipuram if we make necessary water holes and good migratory route here. Now wild elephants are visiting in summer only. Karnataka Forest department doing necessary water holes for thirsty wild elpahnts. Our MLA's did not raise any voice for declaration of Ranipuram / Panathady RF as a wildlife sanctuary, which might boost up ecotourism project of this district. So we must make necessary arrangements for staying of wild elephants throughout the year. Otherwise encroachment, deforestation and quarrying may intensify in future.
Ranipuram and Greater Talacaveri National Park/ Biosphere Reserve
Panathady reserve forest and kottancheri forests contiguous to Talacaveri wildlife sanctuary of Karanataka is to be included in the new Greater Talacaveri biosphere / NP. Reserve forests of this range of kasaragod district should be included in new NP for better protection of wildlife. Currently illegel hunting and deforestation widely reported from these reserve forest. Kerala forest department immedeately step into this matter. District panchayath , block panchayath and local panchayath should be discussed about this matter to save the forest and wildlife of kasaragod. Recently Panathady reserved forest included in the tentative list for nomination of Natural properties of World Heritage site under UNESCO.
Reintroduction of Nilgiri Tahr in Ranipuram
Another dream Project for kasaragod district is the Reintroduction of endangered Nilgir Tahr here in Ranipuram biodiversty park. Nilgiri Tahr was once found all over the western Ghat of kasaragod now locally extinct. Population of this wild goat increased in southern part of the state, especially Eravikulam National park. so Relocation of some of the Nilgiri Tahrs in Ranipuram can be done with help of Kerala Forest Department, District Tourism Promation council, and Wildlife Institute of India. This may lead to a Tremendous progress in Tourism in the district and also enhance the biodiversity of Ranipuram. Grassy hill slopes with vegetation, shola forests, cool climate are Ideal for relocation of Nilgiri tahr here in Ranipuram.
Getting there
Nearest major railway station: Kanhangad, about 48 km from Ranipuram, on the Kozhikode-Mangalore-Mumbai route.
Nearest airports: Mangalore, about 50 km from Kasaragod;