Kollengode, where time stands still
When you hear Kalingudi, don’t think it’s an outback in Himalayan Valley. This is the name given by English men for Kollengode. When the train arrives very slowly at the station, the scenic view will attract anyone. When the train slows down, the first sight will be the ancient Sree Krishna temple. And when the train gets close to the railway station, we can see ancient buildings through the green forests.
The Palakkad curve is the easiest curve between the 1600-kilometer-long western ghats starting from Narmada in Gujarat to Nagercoil. In the 27 kilometer long curve between the Vadamala and Thenmala, the valley of Thenmala is known as Kollengode. It is the great dense forest in western ghats which is completely filled with herbs. This is also the forest land where somalatha plants are grown. The juice extracted from the somalatha plant is also considered as divine oil for rituals.
For centuries, the somalatha for rituals was received by the mother earth from the Kollengode king who had authority over the forest lands in western ghat. The somalatha for rituals are offered in the Thirukachamkurissi Temple. Kollengode is also a valley of medicinal plants for serious diseases. Since it’s not a residential area, most Vaidya families didn’t settle in Kollengode. The tribes who lived in the forest valley are the ones who utilized the medicinal power of plants in the Kollengode forest lands. The treatment with the strong medicine from the herbs of Kollengode tribe has reached Ponnani through Valluvanad and reached Kozhikode through Mannarkad hills. The big old trees which can be seen on the surface of the region when we reach Kollengode railway station is an attraction to anyone. A complaint raised when the Railway started in India was, a lot of trees were cut down to build railways. But they made a solution by planting and taking care of big trees and greenery from Palakkad to Pollachi railway.
Warlords' Favorite Valley
Palakkad’s western ghat valley was always the Warlords' favorite valley. Palakkad valley was always considered as the best place for the army’s to rest. Because it’s a high region, enemy soldiers cannot easily climb and attack. Moreover, they can defeat their enemies by sending their horsemen. Since pure water is available, they don’t have to be afraid of any viral diseases. In those days beyond the enemy soldiers, deadly diseases such as cholera killed the armies. Thus Warlords and their armies find their shelter in the Palakkad valley by building camps and centers. Palakkad has also turned out to be an important center which has a high security gateway to Kerala for the armies coming from east.
Thanjavur was one of the army centers of British in South India. The British army activities towards Kerala were controlled by the army centers in Thanjavur. Most of the British navy activities upon Kerala were controlled from the Dharapura headquarters in Mumbai. The British army came from Thanjavur to Kerala through Thrishnappalli, Dindigul, Pazhani, Pollachi way. The movement by the British army starting from Thanjavur to Kallingudi (Kollengode) to capture the city of Palakkad from Tipu was always great story among the armies. The British movement in 1782, to capture the Palakkad city from Tipu is explained in the army report by the leader of the army Colonel Fullart.
The great poet P. Kunhiraman Nair lived in a rent house which still exists just opposite to the Kollengode railway gate. It’s quite natural how the great poet, who was fascinated by the beauty of nature, finally arrived in the great forest valley of Kollengode. He lived as a teacher who taught at Kollengode Raja’s high school. Raw ground nuts were Kunhiraman Nair’s favorite food. Velayudhan,known as Kurukkaswami, was Kunhiraman Nair’s student and cook who claims that the great poet would live his lifetime eating raw groundnuts and drinking plain water. The poet always took his bath from the Gayathri river which flows near the Kollengode railway station. Every morning he would greet the train which passes in front of him. The Poet who saw the world through green trees and nature, also considered the train as a big creature among the forest which rolls over the earth like a beast. Aside from that, he wasn’t ready to accept the scientific terms of the train. Hence he didn’t write any poem about trains even though many of them passed.
Living a poetic life is way better than writing poems. That’s how P. Kunhiraman Nair became a poet. But Kurakkaswami, who was told to be the student and cook of the poet, didn’t even write a line of a poem. Therefore, he found enthusiasm in living a poetic life. Kurukkaswami would go as a helper sometimes when the poet takes a journey in pursuit of nature. Kurukkaswami still becomes emotional when he recalls the moment when they went to Anamala through the forest areas of Kachamkurishi, Seetharkundu, Chammanampathi to write the poem “ Thamarathoni”.
One day, poet called Kurukkaswami and gave a 100 rupees of those days and told: Don’t destroy your life living with me like this. Go away and live a better life…Don’t come back without getting better” … When Kurrukaswami was about to leave the poet gave a last advice. ’A bit of soil, a bit of a girl, a bit of gold’ try to achieve this. Then you’ll have a foundation in your life. Presently at 78th year, he innocently states that he still didn’t understand the meaning of the advice the great poet gave.
Kurukka Swami ran away to Wayanad with that hundred rupees. One day in his wandering life, he heard the news of his master’s death while drinking tea from a tea shop. As well as the great poet, Kurakkaswami’s life was also a revelation.Kurukkaswami left the job at the railway signal section as a revelation. Then lived a long life as a carrier and cook. 37 years ago, Kurukkaswami brought a statue of Ganapathy, and placed it under a tree near Kollengode railway station. He did it innocently without any rituals. But now it’s a worship center.
Like the movie song ‘Aanakalillathe ambariyillathe Aarattunadakkarundivide’’ this place doesn’t have a priest. Each and every one themselves becomes the priest and pray to Ganapathy. Kurukkaswami recalls that the great poet was a devotee. He spent hours praying. The great nature-lover who gets blindly involved with God is a natural fact. Because God communicates to mankind through nature.Although he had a good name ‘Velayudhan’ he liked to be called as kurukkaswami. This innocent person who never had the cleverness of a fox like his name is also a ‘guruswamy’ of the place. Kurukkaswami who goes to Sabarimala monthly has accepted his life on Ayyappan’s philosophy.
Samarasa Suddha Sathya Sanmarga Sangam. Established in 1955. Those are the lines written on the old buildings that people notice when they reach kollengode railway station. Like a name united by the complete fulfillment of the human society, the ashram fostered philosophies contributing to humanitarian action. It was Kerala’s only branch of Tamil Nadu’s Arul Perumjyothi movement. As well as Sree Narayana Guru, Arul PerumjyothiThaniPerumKarunai is a movement used for social reform in Tamil Nadu. Arul Perumjyothi’s basic principle was mankind’s hunger. They gave more importance to hunger than God. Similarly, Arul PerumJyothi was against idolatry. Instead they worshipped fire as Jyothi.
The fire which can reform the whole world and can raise people from resting and nourish the human body is the power Arul PerumJyothi worshipped. It’s a story, how kollengode became the center of Arul Perum Jyothi Thani Perum Karunai which controls Chidambaram,kadalur and Vadalur. It’s as story just like Kurukkaswami placed the Ganapathi under the tree who doesn’t know any rituals. The Kollengode-Vadalur headquarters was not founded by an ascetic or witch. Besides, it was Vishwanathan who had a tea shop near the Kollengode railway station gate. He was filled by the spiritual light by giving tea to the people who comes and goes in the train.
Silently, as a matter of fact, he became the founder of the Vadalur headquarters (Samarasa Suddha Sanmarga Sathya Sangam). He built it with the help of KandamaraMannadiyar and ChokkalingamChettiyar in 1955. Knowledge, Social reform and Charity were the main mission. A foreigner lived with Vishwanada Swami for a long time. Then after Vishwanatha Swami’s death, the foreigner returned to Arul PerumJyothi in Tamil Nadu, said Kandhamara Mannadiyar’s son Gangadharan, who is also an artist and social activist.