Untarnished, untouched Kuttampuzha beckons all

This also means that the pollution levels are comparatively lower, a fact made profound during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 95% of the Kuttampuzha panchayat is either forest or waterbodies.
About 95% of the Kuttampuzha panchayat is either forest or waterbodies.

KOCHI: Kuttampuzha panchayat, which sits on the palisade of Ernakulam, is considered to be one of the largest panchayats in Kerala.

Spanning over 650sq kilometres, an area larger than the Alappuzha district, it is also home to one of the last evergreen forests in Kerala, and maybe even India. This also means that the pollution levels are comparatively lower, a fact made profound during the Covid pandemic.

Nature’s bounty

The abundance of forest and water resources here differentiates the panchayat from the rest of the district. About 95% of the area is either forest or waterbodies. The remaining 5% is where the people reside.

“Around 20 years ago, a group of experts from Delhi arrived here to examine the quality of water resources. Kuttampuzha panchayat was declared as the only one where aquatic life in the rivers was not affected,” recalls Murali Kuttampuzha, a prominent writer and activist who was also part of the inspection team.

Kuttumpuzha’s economy is largely agrarian, with the primary harvest of commerce being rubber and pineapple.

Interestingly, Hindustan Newsprint, a famous print agency in the state, exported almost 85% of its raw material, bamboo, from Kuttampuzha.

Tribal colonies

After Wayanad, Kuttampuzha hosts the most number of tribals in the state. What also distinguishes the panchayat is that it is one of the few in Kerala to have a tribal woman as president. That honour belongs to Kanthi Vellakkayan.

“There are 15 colonies here, belonging to the tribals. The major tribes represented here are the Muthuvan and Mannan. Kallelimedu ward has the most number,” says Kanthi.

Origin of ‘Kuttampuzha’

Residents say the name Kuttampuzha originated from the word Koottanpuzha, meaning a conjoined river. Indeed, Kuttampuzha is also a conclave of three rivers — Vadattupara, Pinavoorkudy and Pooyamkutty. These joined together to form Kootanpuzha, which eventually became Kuttampuzha.

The road through the panchayat used to be the an Aluva-Munnar highway in the olden times. It was used primarily by the royal family of Poonjar, and soldiers travelling to the Muziris Port. Needless to say, it was a major trade route and connected the tea plantations in Munnar.

The road was destroyed by the 1924 floods and the subsequent landslides in areas near Pindimedu. “The road is unique in terms of its structure. It is completely straight throughout and has no elevations or bumps,” says Francis Antony, a former ward member.

Tourism prospects

The natural bounty of Kuttampuzha makes it an ideal tourism destination. Murali, whilst stressing that such efforts need to be also mindful of preserving the ecosystem, agrees that tourism will be a big boon for the region.

“It can help generate good revenue and result in the development of the area, Murali adds.

Indeed, Bhoothathankettu, Pooyamkutty, Shooli Mala, Peendimedu waterfalls, Chellattala, Mamalakandam and Variyam Kuthu are a few of the major tourist attractions in the area.

In addition, the Injathotti Suspension Bridge, the longest hanging bridge in Kerala, and the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary are other bustling tourist spots in the panchayat.

What’s in a name

Weekly column on the history of place names. Got suggestions? Write to xpresskochi@gmail.com

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The New Indian Express