Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bhoothathankettu - an idyllic weekend location from Cochin.

Well, you must have heard of that old idiom - "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray". I think it is particularly true in the case of planning trips. At least, it has been the case with me. I had planned to go to Bonacaud near Vithura in Trivandrum on Sunday the 19th, but actually ended up in a place that was around 300 kms away from it. Friday I had two options - either to go to Bonacaud or visit my sister's place at Ernakulam. I didn't want to go to Bonacaud alone, so I asked my cousin's husband whether he would be interested in going  to Bonacaud on Sunday. He agreed to come with me and so all was set to go to Bonacaud. But on Saturday night he pulled out saying that he had some other commitments. So I talked with my friend Pradeep in Ernakulam and we decided to go to Bhoothathankettu. Bhoothathankettu is a dam and a tourist place located around 50 kms from the city of Cochin. The Periyar river flows through a lush surrounding of greenery here. This is a popular tourist destination and on weekends, attracts quite a number of people.

Sunday morning 8.00 I was at my sister's place in Tripunithura. After taking a bath and having breakfast, I called Pradeep up to know when we could start to Bhoothathankettu. I wanted to start early so that we could go to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary also. But he was sleeping peacefully having put his mobile phone in Silent mode. I kept calling him but he was not picking up. At around 12.30 in the afternoon he called me and told that he just got up and saw the missed calls in his mobile. I told him that I would wait for him at my cousin's place at Vytilla. We decided to have lunch on the way from some hotel. Finally around 2 o' clock, we started from Vytilla. Our vehicle was a Santro car which I had arranged from my cousin. We took around two and a half hrs to reach Bhoothathankettu including breaks for having food and sugarcane juice on the way.

We could see that the place was a popular weekend destination among Kochi folks as it was fairly crowded. We parked our vehicle and started our stroll. The place was quite beautiful, with sceneries typical of dam sites. I could see some birds perched on a raft like structure but couldn't get a closer picture as I didn't have my DSLR with me. Eventhough summer had started, the river was surrounded by lush greenery on both the banks. We asked for the way to old Bhoothathankettu and the person told us to walk along the banks of the river. The trail started right after the dam and went right along the banks of the Periyar. It was a 1 km walk to old Bhoothathankettu. One can step on to the boulders which make the old Bhoothathankettu and see the calm waters beyond that. The water in this part of the old Bhoothathankettu is very still which means the waters are probably quite deep here. Looking at the huge boulders one can be sure that whether it was the demons according to the myth or the floods, it must have required huge power to roll down the boulders onto the river bed.
We spent some time on top of the boulders enjoying the cool breeze. Soon the Sun started setting giving us some good photo ops. With the still waters and calm surroundings, this is a perfect place for unwinding after a hectic week of work. But I am a poor story teller, so I hope my pictures do a better job in communicating the beauty of this place.
Entrance to the dam

The small park by the side of the dam

Scenery from the dam site



On top of the dam


Start of the trail to Old Bhoothathankettu



Periyar












At last we reach Old Bhoothathankettu







Footprints of the demons? :)




Still waters. In fact so still, it gives you an eerie feeling.


Can you see a boat at the far end?








Sun on its way down.


A tree overrun by creepers.




Attractions:
The dam across the river Periyar, lush green surroundings, a walk along the banks of river Periyar to the biggest attraction here, the Old Bhoothathankettu, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Thattekad located nearby, Idamalayar reservoir which is around 12 kms from here.
Myth
The Old Bhoothathankettu is a string of huge boulders across the river Periyar with a narrow opening through which the water flows through. The myth relating to Old Bhoothathankettu is that ages ago demons or bhoothams planned to drown Thrikariyoor temple whose presiding diety is Lord Shiva by damming Periyar river and flooding the area and the temple which was situated on the banks of the river. The demons rolled down huge boulders onto the river bed in order to build a dam across the river. But before they could complete their work, Lord Shiva imitated the sound of a rooster which made the demons flee as they thought dawn was approaching. But their handiwork could be seen in the form of huge boulders strewn across the river bed and hence the name Bhoothathankettu which means 'Fort of the Spirits'.
Reality
The presence of the huge boulders on the river bed is attributed to two great floods - one in the 4th century and the other in 1341, which threw open the port of Kochi. The massive landslides during the flood is believed to have caused gigantic rocks to roll down from the mountain and become entrenched in the Old Bhoothathankettu.
Location - around 50 kms from Ernakulam town and around 10 kms from Kothamangalam.
Route - Ernakulam - Kakkanad - Kothamangalam - Bhoothathankettu.
Nearest Railway Station - Ernakulam
Nearest Bus Station - Kothamangalam
Thanks for reading.
(The Myth & Reality are taken from various sources in the net including Wikipedia)