Five things to do in North Kerala: Malabar is a different slice of Kerala
The opening of the Kannur International Airport has opened up an excellent opportunity for the tourism sector in North Kerala. We have been operating groups since past five years to North Kerala arriving via Mysore and Southern Karnataka and further reaching central Kerala via Train. Our experience of North Kerala is incredible, and we have been organizing tours to these rich less discovered destination way too before the opening of the airport. So this time we thought of writing a blog post about our exploring trip to Kasargod, to explore the possibilities of incorporating more exciting programs for guests traveling with us.
Through this blog post, we are trying to showcase some exciting programs you can do as a traveler. Some of them would require some local technical assistance, as they are not just places where you can walk in. They are neither touristy experience or conducted for tourists. It is these experience that makes our programs rich; we conduct multiple trips to these destinations to ensure that these beautiful experiences are delivered in the best possible manner.
The term Malabar is a very much an ancient term that associated with North Kerala, then it was ruled by the Arakkal and the Zamorins. However, in trade terms, Malabar coast could be referred to as the coastline that stretches from Trivandrum all the way to Mangalore.
Theyyam can easily be an iconic figure that connects with Kerala tourism and Malabar at the same time. The contrasting colors, the attire, costumes, the headgear, and the ceremonial acts and processions make it a unique sight. There are around four hundred different types of Theyyam that are associated with varying temples across the Malabar. Each temple has its own identity and is very much ritually unique. Theyyam could be easily explained as a belief where a human turns in to a godly status, who could bless and advise people for their problems. The man who becomes a Theyyam east only vegetarian meals, keep himself away from doing sin, alcohol, and sex. Theyyams are conducted during the temple festival, in holy grooves which are locally known as "Kaavu", and ancestral homes. The ritualistic dances of Theyyam will extend from October to May.
The Madiyankoolam temple is a temple located not very far from Kanhangad. A diety is Goddess Kali (BadhraKali) and Lord Siva is the Dwarapalaka. An elaborate temple that has two temple ponds, one for the devotees and one for the Poojari (temple priest). The story goes like this, Shiva was visiting this part of the country along with his friend, when he reached Madiyankoolam, he got this soothing aroma of someone preparing "Unniappam" a local sweet fritter made of rice flour, banana, and spices. He was so impressed with the taste of the Unniyappam, he told his friend that he is not returning from Madiyankoolam. There are some very interesting carvings inside the temple, one will have to remove his top shirt to get inside the temple. This is a great place to visit during the morning, the village along with the silent ambiance is just a great way to start the day. There is a big lamp just outside the temple, many would identify it as something iconic to Madiyankoolam.
A serene holy environment where you could feel the spirit of peace. Anandashramam is an ashram with a lot of trees around, with beautiful gardens and a couple of buildings, and a Goshala (cow farm) in the backyard. Swami Ramdas who was the founder of Anandashramam had a deep thought of the worldly life and opted to take a divine pat. He did some extensive travel across Indian and finally arrived at Kanhangad to start the ashram. This is a place where people come to insulate a life of spirituality and realizing one's identity with the supreme being. Peace and love co-exist here and the whole environment here is no different. The Ashram is a living monument of a beautiful life in spirituality, peace, and love.
Co-operative Weaving Unit
Just opposite to Anandashramam is a cooperative handloom weaving center. In Kerala, there has been a lot of cooperative weaving units which are run and operated by the employees itself. They buy yarn from the Kannur Yarn Society and make threads out of it through the age-old system of Charka which very much became an iconic symbol along with Gandhiji. From the Charka they prepare threads, set it into a loom and weave it. This looks like a very primitive method of weaving cloths. Here they begin the preparation of the thread after boiling the yarn for 24 hours, later dye it manually and start the process. A visit to this center is about learning the detail process of how the warp and weft threads together make fabric, essentially the basics of what we wear. These units have not been able to go the mechanized model due to lack of funds for a system upgrade, and they still have a good market for their products. You wear it, it is going to be super comfortable. Buy some for yourself, you will not regret.
Beedi making unit
Beedi is tobacco based product very much like a cigarette. Unlike present time, during an era, smoking was like a fashion statement. People of Kerala used to smoke beedi, where some tobacco is rolled on to a tobacco leaf. But more than beedi, it was a revolution that made a bunch of people quit and starts their own corporative society. Employees of the Ganesh Beedi factory in Mangalore, call for an employee strike due to low wages. The factory eventually closed, ten thousand members contributed one rupee each for capital to start their own beedi making corporative society. Today there are some 4000 women depending on this industry, as not many stand for it these days, I mean beedi.
The industry is down as many people prefer cigarette over beedi, awareness about tobacco use and other reasons have prompted the Dinesh Beedi cooperative society to diversify into other segments like virgin coconut oil, biscuit manufacturing, IT services, and a lot more other industries. Yes, it is a good sign.
It is that these are very much authentic elements to the Malabar, mostly to the districts of Kannur and Kasargod in Kerala. There are far more interesting stories to them and the trip becomes more interesting once you get access to these stories. Apart from these experiences, the Malabar has some of the most stunning beaches in the whole of Kerala.
The Kerala tourism and most Kerala tour operators try to pitch the Bekal fort as the most beautiful thing that you have in the Malabar but come on!, you got to be here and explore to see and understand more about what Malabar has to offer.