There is nobody who has not heard about Thamarassery Ghat Pass [churam]. It has become a symbol representing Wayanad. An aboriginal man by name Karinthandan showed this route to a British engineer. Once the engineer found out the way, he killed the aboriginal man. The tree to which the spirit of Karinthandan is believed to be chained is in Lakkidi. At first, this route was used by British people for horse riding. Later on, it was developed into a proper road.
Thamarassery Ghat Pass
Around 13 km of length, 9 hairpin bends, road running through the forest for some distance, the prepossessing scenery from the viewpoints situated at intervals, the hours-long traffic blocks that used to be there before and not there nowadays, and collapse of the pass are all characteristics of Thamarassery Ghat Pass.
In Wayanad, I first visited the renowned Thirunelli Temple, around 2000 years old and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. I started early in the morning and so, the journey through roads covered with fog was a thrilling one. Travelling through the forests of Mananthavady, Kattikulam, Thirunelli route is an indescribable experience. One of the features of Wayanad is the termite nests of different sizes that we see on the way. The temple situated at a high altitude itself is a sight that cannot be missed out.
It is said that in ancient days, when a king came to this temple to worship god, the priest of the temple told him about the scarcity of water. The king made an aqueduct with granite through a nearby hill. The aqueduct is still there. The stands of the aqueducts are impressively carved. These carvings as well as the construction of the temple are done in architectural style of Karnataka. On the other side below the temple, there is a holy temple pond called Panchatheertham which has footprint of Goddess Seetha.
This temple is known for ceremonies like shradham, ancestor ritual [pitru bali], temple pinda bali, etc. As per Hindu religious belief, these ceremonies are conducted in the presence of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara; temple has triad of deities. It is believed that water of Papanashini River washes away sins. Papanashini emanates as a stream from Brahmagiri Hills.
Legend says that Brahma installed the idol of Lord Vishnu in Thirunelli Temple and delighted by this, Vishnu gave Papanashini to Brahma as a boon. There is another temple here, Gundika Temple, where the deity is Siva. It is believed that sins of previous births are forgiven by collecting and stacking stones here.
Next, I went to Valliyoorkkavu Bhagavathy Temple via Appapara. The special attraction of Appapara is that a Nair man cooks and sells unni appam, a small round snack, the main ingredients of which are rice, jaggery and sugar. This unni appam is known for its taste. The shop and the snack are still here. Though this is a place elephants visit frequently, they have never attacked or caused any trouble to this shop.
Valliyoorkkavu Bhagavathy Temple
Valliyoorkkavu is prominent among temples. There is a banyan tree here. In olden days, all the tribal people of Wayanad would come near the tree and the landlords used to buy them in auction. The festival of this temple is held in the month of March. Even today, all the tribal people of Wayanad come here to take part in the festival. This temple is situated in Mananthavady-Panamaram Route.
The rest of the article is contained in part II....