Nature, myths, heritage lure visitors to Madayippara
In ‘Keralolpathi’ (Origin of Kerala), P Shankunni Menon states that Ezhimala of northern Malabar, stands as a guide for the naval fleets from historic times. In the south east of this huge hill lies Madayippara, the laterite hillocks which covers an area of over 6000 acres.
Madayippara which nestles in Kannur district has to tell ample stories on its history, culture and biodiversity. The place has been enriched by the presence of devotional figures, the icons that are embedded in the tradition of Madayippara.
The place offers a spring for the eyes of visitors who reach here. It is a land that surfaced when the water receded. Such areas were called ‘Maadu’ in Malayalam and later it turned out to be ‘Madayi’.
Madayippara offers a melange of flora and fauna, especially birds and vibrant coloured flowers. It has a rare collection of insect-eating plants also. During Onam season Madayippara seems to be a paradise of blue flowers such as ‘Krishnapoovu’ (Utricularia cecilii), ‘Kannanthali’ (Bicolour Persian Violet), ‘Kakkapoovu’ (Utricularia graminifolia) and many more. Tributaries of 17 major rivers in Northern Malabar originate from Madayi hills and forests.
The seasonal changes are visible in its full glory at Madayi, especially the torrential rainfall of monsoon and the scorching summer. Water from the incessant rainfall will get stored in the laterite rocks and later it seeps into the group of boulders. At last they emerge from the huge rocks as small streams and come down as magnificent waterfalls.
Such streams are the major drinking water resources for the local residents of Madayippara and adjacent villages. Nature renders a special beauty and taste for the waters flowing in the rocky hillocks of Madayi.
Another curious sight is the Vadukunda lake that never dries up even during summers. It is also called Jewish lake as it was constructed by the first Jewish migrants in India.
Once Madayippara and nearby villages were under the control of the Portuguese. As a reminiscence, several cashew trees still grow in many sites of Madayi. Due to very dry summers, fire easily catches the dry grass stretching in the meadows and the Portuguese called these regions as 'Land of Burning Fire’. Following this, this place was locally named as ‘Eripuram’.
In the 17th century, Hyder Ali and his army had camped at Palayam ground of Madayippara where a battle took place during the time of Tippu Sultan.
Madayi Palli which was built in the 12th century has been closely knitted with the unique culture of the region. It is situated in the Pazhayangadi slope of the hillock. It also has an ancient fort called the Madayi Fort built by the Vallabha king of the Kolathu dynasty.
A member of the royal court of Kolathuraja Udayavarman and a prominent figure of ancient poetry, Cherussery lived here. Hence Krishna Pattu has been still recited in Madayippara during the month of Chingam.
This region stands as a plateau between two huge rock structures. From there, one can enjoy the magnificent sunset, the Pazhayangadi river which flows through the south-eastern region and the view of Pazhayangadi town.
The myths and lores and esoteric temples observing strange customs and rituals evoke curiosity in all who visit Madayippara. In Kannur, the major temples where Theyyam performances take place include the Vadukunda Siva temple and Madayi Kavu.
Another interesting factor is that the priests in Madayi Kavu are the non vegetarian Oriya Brahmins. There are many dalits living in the regions of Madayi. The tale of Kaari Gurukkal, God of Pulayas (a Dalit caste) who guised as a tiger and became a tragic god (‘daivakkaru’) originated in Madayippara. The ‘Pooram Kali’ festival of Madayippara also has prominence in Kerala history.
The rituals of Madayi Kavu have a close association with seasons. At the end of summer, a ritual called ‘Kalasolsavam’ will be done and the ‘Mari Theyyam’ will perform during the Malayalam month Karkkadakam. When harvest season begins in Madayippara, some paddy spikes are offered from the temple that marks the beginning of the harvesting.
The beautiful landscape of Madayippara has been marred by China clay mining. The mining led to the iron content in the rocks leaching into the nearby wells thereby creating drinking water crisis in the locality. Later the people's protests compelled the authorities to stop mining activities and that was a story of survival of the charming village.
By rail : Pazhayangadi, about 2 kms; Kannur, about 25 kms.
By road: Bus and taxi services available from Kannur to Madayippara (24.5 kms)
Ezhara Beach (35 kms), Vellur (13 kms), Kavayi (31 kms), Chootad Beach (6 kms)
(Travelogue published in Mathrubhumi Yathra magazine)