At Ponnumthuruthu island you can commune with nature and god
IT IS a lush island of peace for those who looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. An uninhabited island that is just 35 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
Ponnumthuruthu island seems to be too serene to hold any surprises for occasional visitors. But deep within it, there is a temple. One has to wait patiently for the arrival of a country boat that takes visitors across for a close look. But even the 30-minute ride around the six-acre island does not reveal much. The ducks waddling along the bank ignore curious visitors.
The oarsman skilfully veers the boat towards the land. There, one can spot a board that says `Ponnumthuruthu Siva Temple.’ As one walks through a narrow path, a pond and a grove on either side add to the scenic charm of the place. Suddenly, one spots the temple at a distance.
The loudly painted structures do not quite blend in with the idyllic surroundings. A dilapidated cave temple would have been more suited to the environment. “It was almost like that a few years before. Little care was given to the temple in old days,” says N. Muraleedharan of Valiyapurackal family. The family owns the island and the temple.
Getting to the island can be a bit tricky. Drive down to Kadakkavur and then to Varkala via Anchuthengu. Ask for directions to reach `Onnam Palam.’ Now, you will have to depend on the local people for to reach the bank of Anchuthengu Kayal. There are no autorickshaws or taxis. After the long walk, the 10-minute boat ride to the island is the best way to watch the picturesque settings. Another way to reach the island is drive down to Akathemuri and then take a 30-minute boat ride to the island. Neither Onnam Palam nor the island has much to offer by way of eats or snacks. It is best to carry water and something substantial to eat (vegetarian only) if you plan to spend a day on the island.
As you further explore the island, the local people tell you that the place comes alive only during the Sivarathri festival. On the night of Sivarathri, many devotees spent the night on the island to commune with nature and god.
Occasional travellers visit the island which is a haven for birds of all kinds. “Some years back, some officials of the Tourism Department had come here. There was a proposal to set up a bird sanctuary or a tourism promotion centre here,” says Muraleedharan.
Devotees and tourists can visit the temple between 6 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. They can avail of the free ferry service only during the hours that the temple remains open.
As the sun sets, you can see hundreds of birds returning to their island. Unhurriedly, along with the dense island, they merge slowly into the darkness.