Ponnani

PonnaniPonnani is where the Nila finally ends her long, meandering journey and empties out into the Arabian Sea. Located on the edge of the land that juts out over the sea, and surrounded by the estuary to the north and coastal town was once a famous seaport and formed part of the old Tirumanasseri,ruled by the Namboodiri feudal lords.

Today, Ponnani counts as one of the most important fishing centers along the Malappuram coast. High sea fishing operations are centered mainly around Ponnanai and Parappanangadi, with nearly 350 mechanized boats plying from Ponnani along. Although the shifting shoal in the port poses a danger to the uninitiated, native vessels are quite adept at avoiding it.

Islam has always had a strong presence in Ponnanai, harking back to the times of the early Arab traders. The Juma Masjid is said to have been built in the mid 15th century by Zainuddin Ibn Bin Ahmed, a descendant of the one of the theologians who came from Arabia and settled here. Some have even called Ponnani, a small Mecca.

The Padinjarekkara Beach, Juma Masjid and the Vallabhatta Kalari Academy are some of the interesting local sights. The one of its kind Teak Museum is located at Nilambur.Kuttippuram, Tiru, Thirunavaya, Manjeri, Kotttakal and Perinthalmanna are important towns located nearby along the banks of the Nila.The vast stretches of Kole lands of Ayilakkad have been a perfect abode for local waterbirds and those from far distances and the season from November.

Ponnani is the lone port town in the Malappuram district, but not the boring one in the least. A cluster of casuarinas located on the shores, a giant lighthouse and the sight of winged visitors flying in and out make it an attractive and happening place. The lighthouse offers a spectacular view of the harbor, beach, estuary and the surrounding landscapes. Visitors throng the beach even in the middle of the day as the casuarinas trees offer shade for everyone. The sight of sea waves gushing forth towards the shore, an array of idle fishing boats and the sunset are not to be missed. The vendors, assembled under the trees, do a brisk business.

Ponnani beach is known for its Haritha Theeram Initiative. The Haritha Theeram aims at the protection of the coastline form natural calamities like tsunami, sea erosion, cyclonic winds etc. by planting tress like casuarinas and shrubs where very possible along the coast. The project launched jointly by the Fisheries and Forest departments during the year 2007 aimed at protecting the vulnerable stretches of the coast as well as the coastal community and stabilizing the natural environment. The initiative improves the trees cover in the coastal regions and helps to meet the demand of households for fuel, fodder and small timber. The first phase of the Haritha Theeram project aimed at forestation of the coast to reduce the impact of sea erosion and natural calamities like tsunami was a huge success. The forestry activities which included creation of bio shield along the coast by raising shelter belt plantations are bring implemented through the Theera Samrakshana Vanavalkarana Samithi (TSVS).The Theera Samrakshana Vanavalkarana Samithi are formed under Charitable Societies Act with the involvement of all the local residents of that coastal ward.

Swimming, fishing and photography are the ideal activities possible in Ponnani beach. The lighthouse is opened for the visitors during the evenings. They can also opt for a visit to the Ponnani harbor and can spectacle the coastal huts and fish auctions lively. Ferry rides from Ponnani harbor to Padinjarekkara or from Pallikkadavu to Purathur are the best options to explore the beauty of this coastal hamlet. The confluence point of Bharathapuzha and Tirur River with Arabian Sea near Ponnani beach is a sight not to be missed. Padinjarekkara beach and park, Purathur estuary and Ponnani Juma Masjid are located very close to Ponnani beach.

Along with offering unlimited entertainment options, an environmental consciousness is also provided to travelers and this responsible initiative makes Ponnani beach an exceptional attraction. A full day is needed to explore the beauty of this peaceful and alluring coastal hamlet.

THINGS TO DO

River Rafting

The raft used is made of recyclable and eco friendly material, fashioned out of wild bamboo and fastened with coir repes.Supported by large truck tyre tubes, rafting in this vessel down the Thootha River is an experience not to be forgotten.Beginnng at Perinthalmanna, the route proceed along the three districts of Palakkad.Thrissur and Malappuram and follows the course of the river.

Boating in Tirur Puzha

A boat cruise down the river, starting from Ettrikadavu and gliding down the backwaters to the estuary in Ponnani, where the river flows into the sea, is a singular experience. Besides the captivating scenery, you may encounter different species of migratory birds along the way and get a glimpse of the lives of the people living along the banks.

Boating at Kootai

Close to the Tirur railway station is a boat jetty located on a tributary of the Nila, locally known as the Kanoli canal. Here, the block panchayat maintains facilities for boating – there are two seaters,gondola like shikaras,platform boats and speedboat, gondola like shikaras,platform boats and speedboats that travel all the way up to Azhimugham,19 km away. Although the water is turbulent during the monsoons, a trip down the canal is an enjoyable and excited experience.

Mini Pampa

Mini PampaPilgrimage is the oldest form of tourism covering places of religious and spiritual significance. The bathing Ghats of River Nila at Trikkannapuram in Thavanur panchayath of Malappuram district is one such famed pilgrim spot better known as the Mini Pampa of North Kerala. The Mallur Shiva Parvathi Temple near Kuttippuram Bridge has been increasingly attracting flocks of pilgrim and tourists for over a decade.

Divinity nature and festive mood are the factors that attract pilgrims to River Nila, also known as Bharathapuzha.A number of devotees from North Kerala and Karnataka going to Sabarimala make a stopover at this spot to rest, relax and perform religious rituals in the lap of pristine nature. Besides, a dip in the river is very rejuvenating. Recently Kerala government officially declared the spot as Mini Pampa, the official transit point for Sabarimala pilgrims. A giant and attractive statue of Lord Shiva in sitting posture is the prime attraction on the bathing Ghats.

Bharathapuzha with its 209 km length meanders through the central parts of Kerala offering one of the most unique cultureal, historic and nature based experiences for pilgrims. The Sabarimala pilgrims passing through Kuttippuram halt after crossing the bridge as the spot offers excellent bathing experience and amazing panoramic view. Apart from the pilgrims, hordes of tourist also visit this scenic spot throughout the year.

Biyyam – The natural beauty

BiyyamBiyyam, a picturesque rural hamlet located just 10 minute away from Ponnani town, is famed for its backwaters, kole lands and migratory birds. The vast tracts of kole lands in and around Biyyam have been witnessing a considerable increase in the arrival of water birds that use the kole fields as their major habitats.

With its backwaters bordered by mangrove clusters on its banks, the picturesque Biyyam is a home away from home for migratory birds, including the near endangered varieties of White Ibis and Glossy Ibis. Painted Stork, Asian open billed storks, Purple Moorhen and cormorants have also been sighted here. Apart these, resident varieties of birds such as little egret and reef heron are spotted here.

The mangroves offer safe resting points for the birds. Small canoes in the backwaters area sight to cherish. The Biyyam regulator-cum-b-Bridge built across the backwaters regulates the flow of water for farming and enables transportation. In evening, visitors throng the bridge to watch the sunset experience the beauty of the backwaters and kole lands

Small eateries opened near the regulator-cum- bridge in the evenings offer diverse food, beverages and snacks in economical prices. The on the spot preparation of dishes ensures freshness and quality of food. The food on road in Biyyam resembles the Nalumanikattu village tourism project in Manarcad.Sale of freshly caught fishes is also seen on the premises.

Kole lands are multipurpose water based ecosystems which come under Ecologically Sensitive Areas used for activities such as agriculture, paddy cultivation, fishing, lotus faming, duck farming etc.ThrissurMalappuram stretch has the largest kole land zone in Kerala. This vital ecosystem for water birds is where the large number of indigenous birds is sighted. It’s high time the kole lands are declared bird sanctuaries or community reserves for its effective conservation and management.

The kole lands of Biyyam are an exceptional ecosystem that attracts visitors and bird watchers with its astonishing pristine beauty

Padinjarekkara Beach Park

Padinjarekkara BeachPadinjarekkara Beach Park, popularly known as Koottayi Park, is located close to Ponnani harbor in Malappuram district. As the name saysit, Kottayi is where the river merges with the sea. Bordered with clusters of casuarinas trees, localy known as kattadis, the beach offers spectacular views and sweet memories.

The Padinjarekkara Beach Park, with its tiled walkways and resting points with huge casuarinas that offer cool shade, attracts hides of visitors. The view of the sea, sunset and the dishing boats coupled with the salty sea breeze and the musical movement of casuarinas make evenings at the park memorable.

Apart from enjoying the calmness, visitors can also indulge in a variety of activities like walking, swimming, fishing and photography. From the park,one can spot the Purathur estuary,Ponnani Harbour,light house and the coastal huts. Ferries can take you to the harbour after exploring the beauty of the nearby estuary. The trees offer a resting point for winged species too, not to mention the flocks of rare water birds. It is also the confluence point of the Bharathapuzha and the Tirur River with the Arabian sea. Maintained quite well by the Malappuram District Tourism Promotion Council, the park has an open stage, which hosts cultural and entertainment programmes during festivals. A cafeteria provides refreshments and playing equipment keep children engaged. With a minimal entry fee, the three - four hours you spend exploring the beach and other locations make the visit more than worthwhile. The park can be accessed by both road and water. A 40 minute ride by road from Tirur takes one to the Padinjarekkara beach. A seven minute ferry ride from the Ponnani harbor too can take you to this wonderful destination.Getting There

By Air : The nearest airport is at Calicut Airport,65 km.

By Rail : The nearest railway station is Kuttipuram,a short distance away.Long distance trains ply from Kozhikode..

By Road :Ponnani is 17 km off NH 17 and two hours away from Kozhikode. Buses ply regularly connecting the two towns..

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