Visit to Karripode village in God’s own country

The lush green paddy fields at Karripode

Murli Menon

One has just returned after a close encounter with nature at Karripode village in Kerala State. Karripode is a 30 minute drive away from Palakkad, on the fringes of the “Neliampathy Hills”.  One passes the historical village of Chitoor along the way.  We are welcomed by a group of cattle egrets flying in formation ,as soon as we enter Palakkad. We start our jungle safari in an open jeep and soon find ourselves in the middle of thick evergreen forests with no habitation in sight as far as eye can see.  After thirty minutes of driving through the jungle, one sees a large water body in the distance. We are informed by our guide that the water body is not a lake but a fresh water spring surrounded by rocks. The water is crystal clear and transparent and surrounded on all four sides by small rocky hills.

We come to the edges of this giant lake to find hundreds of birds. It is a pleasure to watch a multitude of colourful birds at close quarters, as they flock to the edge of the water.  The water is shallow and swampy and boating is not possible, so one has to be content watching the birds from a distance. However, the deep blue sky, reflected in the crystal clearness of the waters is a joy to behold. Watching the crimson sunset over the Parakund (Malayalam for Rocky lake) is memorable.

After a brief stop to watch the birds, one goes deeper into the jungle to spot the Giant Malabar Squirrel. After an hour of driving through the jungle one can see a glimpse of this magnificentcreature. Giant Malabar Squirrels are black incolour but have two large elliptical brown spots one on each side of their body which makes them look incredibly attractive to behold. Giant Malabar Squirrels are shy creatures and disappear atat great speed on hearing the sound of approaching humans.  Hence the ideal strategy to spot these gentle and shy friends, is to alight from the tree a kilometer away and stealthily trek towards them in a non menacing way and shoot with the zoom lens as I did. Giant Malabar Squirrels live on the peepal trees and use their sharp teeth to eat mangoes, papayas and jackfruits. Karripode, situated on the border with Tamil Nadu is a sanctuary for the Giant Malabar Squirrel and several other colourful birds. This extraordinary area gets partly inundated by about 2 feet of water in the monsoon months (July-September). Once below sea level, this area was raised by earth movements which cut it off from the Eastern Ghats. It was broken up by later earth movements into flat farmlands (where people can be seen growing rice) and higher grounds with sandy, salt-free soil. The Giant Malabar Squirrel depends on the thorny scrub of the higher ground area for its feed. The other wildlife atKarripode includes blue bull, wolves, hyenas, desert foxes, jackals, wild-cats, and caracals.

How to get there?

Karripoide is 15 km. away from Palakkad Town. The non-stop drive from Palakkad to Karripode should not exceed thirty minutes.

By road:

Visitors traveling by road have to drive from Palakkad to Karripode which is approximately15  km.

By air:

The nearest airport to reach Pallaad is at Coimbatore. Coimbatore is connected by direct flights from most Indian cities.Karripode is a 45 km. drive from Coimbatore airport which takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

By train:

PalakadRailway Station is the nearest railhead to reach Karripode.  From Palakkadprivate buses ply to Karripode.

All trains going to Kochi and Thiruvanthapuram via Coimbatore stop at Palakkad.

Where to stay?

Homestays are the only option for tourists who want to visit Parakund.  A family of four can avail a homestay at Rs. 500/- per night, exclusive of food.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner which includes traditional Kerala delicacies like idlis, dosas, injipuli (ginger with tamarind) , rice and elisseri (pumpkin) can be home delivered from the small eateries at Karripode.

Where to eat?

Lots of small restaurants serving Malayalee vegetarian cuisine dot Palakkad. Freshly steamed vegetables with spices, cooked in coconut milk, with hot freshly steamed idlis are available at most roadside dhabas. The food at the high profile hotels is only for the gastronomically adventurous who like greasy food. Vegans can opt for fresh tropical fruits including water-melons, papayas, tender coconuts, pineapples which are available at the local market. (Murli Menon, is a travel writer, stress management consultant and author-based at Ahmedabad, India. He is the author of “ZeNLP-Learning through stories” published by The Written Word Publications, “ZeNLP-the power to succeed” published by Sage publications and “ZeNLP-the power to relax” by New Dawn Press. He can be reached at [email protected])

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