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A MEMORABLE TRIP By Krishna Varier
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It was an honor to me to receive and accompany Mr. Shashi Tharoor; none other than United Nations Under Secretary for Communication and Public Information, during his last visit to Kerala. Though seeing for the first time I could easily recognize him.

We drove down to Kollengode. For Mr. Tharoor its his home. But from tourism point of view, now it houses one of the best Ayurvedic resort. A week long stay was arranged over there.

Little more than twenty kilometers from Palghat town, Kollamkode (Kollengode) can be reached by half an hours drive. Village atmosphere starts from Palghat town itself. The more you go interior, the more you feel remote. By the time you reach Koduvayoor Junction, you may get confused to turn left or right. Here left turn is the right choice. Keep left as per traffic rules. Greenery on both side and the view of Anamala at a distance gradually slips your mind to an imaginative mood.

Once upon a time it was a nightmare for the Command of Colonel Fullerton to crossover to Palaghatussery (Palghat) from Pollachi through the one and the only twenty kilometer gap in the western Ghats, long before the advent of the super highways of air and sea route. Nearest post on the western side of the ghats was Calingoody (Kollamkode) which is with in fifteen miles from Palaghatussery.

The frequent ravines required to be filled up before it was possible to drag the guns across them, innumerable large trees which obstructed the passage required to be cut down and drawn out of the track. All these factors and more forced the Chieftain to have a treaty with the Calingoody Dynasty. Moreover with its wealth lay in the forests, Kollamkode was dearer to the English East India Company. Kollamkode rings no bell to the average person, an old English map appears quaint and curiously indicative of the area’s commercially exploitative status.

Once you reach Puthunagaram, the next village, somewhere I felt a tamilian (a native of Tamil Nadu, neighboring state of Kerala) touch. Again the very same right/left turn confusion forced me to act. I tried to clarify in Tamil with a local person waiting on the road side. His advise to turn right came in good Malayalam pronunciation. He smiled at me , may be for my poor tamil accent.

Take right turn from Puthunagaram Junction, proceed another ten kilometer. Gigantic wild trees on both side of the road gives an idea to where you are heading to. The foot-hills of Anamala now doesn’t have any forest left. It is learnt from available diary notings that the Anamudi range were given to British planters on long lease. Clear felling by them led to the disaster that is now plaguing the drying river systems of Kerala.

Old typical Kerala architectural buildings reminds you that you have reached Kollamkode. Again right turn and travel one kilometer to be in front of the historical palace. Guarded big gates are opened for your vehicle to go in.

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