Manjampothikunnu: a picture perfect getaway
After a long search for a one-day ideal picnic spot, we zeroed in at Manjampothikunnu. Located at Kanhangad in Kasaragod district, this place is not familiar to most. My friend Sasi, a photographer by profession, suggested this place. We were also looking for a less-crowded destination. Google didn’t provide much information about this place and for the natives, Manjampothikunnu doesn’t seemed a tourist destination. They were quite surprised upon knowing that we came to visit this place. It's human nature, we thought. Hardly have we found any place in our locality so attractive.
As far as the natives of Kanhangad, there are many tourist destinations available for them in the vicinity -- Bekal fort which is of historic importance and a seaside destination, Ranipuram hills adjacent to Kodak hills, Valiyaparamba, the backwaters of the Northern Kerala and such.
We did not want get late for our trip. We reached Kanhangad railway station in the early hours of the day itself and our host Ashokettan was awaiting us outside with his car. A 10-minute drive through a narrow road took us to the foothills of Manjampothikunnu.
As the name suggests the hill was engulfed by a thin layer of fog. Gold-coloured grass seen spread over the rocks. It is not known whether the hill derived its name from of the snow or the yellow grass. The small lone trees scattered across the hill provide shade as the day progresses. There is a viewpoint from where the visitors can catch a glimpse of the sea on the western side.
The Blue hills in the east make a spot a favourite one for the wedding photographers. Ashokettan told us about the hues of the evening sky. According to stories, this hill was formed during the time of war between Lord Rama and Ravana. As Hanuman was passing through this place carrying the mountain which had the Mritha Sanjeevani herb, a part of the mount fell here and it alter became Manjampothikunnu. There is now a temple for Hanuman on the north of this hill -- Manjampothi Veeramaruthi Kshetram.
10.45 AM: Surangas
A world of the caves awaits the visitors downhill. In one of the bigger caves, a woman called Chirutheyi stayed for a very long time. The natives named it after Chirutheyi.
The rest of them are not actually caves -- they are Surangas found extensively in the outskirts of Kasaragod. Suranga is a horizontal tunnel dug in the slope of laterite hill from where the water percolates out and is collected. Suranga resembles a cave filled with water.
The water is taken to houses using pipes and this method of water harvesting is still used by those staying in the hilly terrain. Water is available even during summer also.
1.20 PM: Anandashram
We then descended the hill and headed to the farm belonging to our host Ashokettan, a retired health officer and also an organic farmer. We had yellow cucumber, the inter crop raised at his plantain farm and proceeded to Anandashram. It was time for lunch then. Being a holiday, visitors were relatively high in number and majority of them were North Indians. Inside the prayer room, we found 4-5 foreigners. Here, visitors have the provision to pray as well as meditate. The serene Anandashram was founded in 1931 by Swami Ramdas, fondly called as Papa by his followers. Cottages are also available for the visitors up to two days of stay. Food and accommodation are entirely free.
Cow shelter in the ashram is such a delight to watch. It is said that the cows in this ashram are blessed. Well-maintained cow shed, fans, wall-mounted music system playing instrumental music, quality food, green fodder in plenty -- these animals enjoy a relaxed life till their death. The cows will be shifted to an old age home as they turn old. To note, not even a single animal is slaughtered.
Nithyananda Ashram at Kanhangad, which is built in the model of Somnath Temple in Gujarat, is another well-known spot. The ashram and caves surrounding it are worth visiting. The visitors are provided food and accommodation facilities at this ashram founded by Swami Nityananda.
4.30 PM: Bekal fort
From the ashram, we headed to the Bekal fort. After watching the stone sculptures and historical monuments, we relaxed on the beach planning our next trip.