Punnayurkulam and its Nirmatalam

// May 1st, 2013 // Culture and Ecology

The Nirmatalam (Three-leaved Caper) at Natapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam. 29 Apl 2013.

The Nirmatalam (Three-leaved Caper) at Natapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam. 29 Apl 2013.  It was so dear to Kamala Suraiya. It still grows and flowers in winter said a woman in the locality

The Punna or Ball Nut Tree is there in the very name of the place.  The Punna tree and Kulam or pond signify the Neytal Tina in the ancient Sangham landscapes and toponymy of ancient Tamilakam until the eighth century AD.  There is also a Kavu or sacred grove shrine called Punnur Kavu at the heart of Punnayurkulam at the north western frontier of Thrissur district very close to Malapuram district.  It is only 10km west of Changaram Kulam.

The ancient Chitrakuda Kallu and Naga yakshi idol at Nalapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam, 29 apl 2013.

The ancient Chitrakuda Kallu and Naga yakshi idol at Nalapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam, 29 apl 2013.

You need to cross a few Kol wetlands to reach Punnayurkulam from Changaram Kulam.  The historic Biyam Kayal and Eramangalam wetlands are lying to the north of Punnayurkulam.  Guruvayur is towards the south. Just 500m west of Altara juction in Punnayurkulam you have the ancient Nalapatt Kavu, the ancient sacred grove of the Nalappattu household that produced many stalwarts in literary culture like Narayana Menon and Balamani Amma.

The old Ilanji tree at Nalapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam. Naga idols are beneath it.

The old Ilanji tree at Nalapatt Kavu in Punnayurkulam. Naga idols are beneath it.

The Nalapatt Kavu was taken over by the Government a couple of years ago and was supposed to be  conserved as a memorial of Madhavi Kutty or Kamala Das or Kamala Suraiya. As an eminent poet and prose writer in Malayalam and English, Kamala needs no introduction.  She has compassionately and democratically decentered and disseminated desire and the love of the human through her radically liberating writing that was uniquely creative and iconoclastic.  Through her subversive moves of religious conversion she has also demonstrated the importance of the human will and the fleeting nature of cultural identity.  She was a true liberalist and pluralist in her life and letters.

A sculpted granite plaque resembling an open book at the Nalapatt Kavu, Punnayurkulam.  It could be a pedestal or base of some other ancient idols.

A sculpted granite plaque resembling an open book at the Nalapatt Kavu, Punnayurkulam. It could be a pedestal or base of some other ancient idols.

I visited the place on the evening of 29 April 2013.  It was Dr Babu Rajan my colleague who informed me about the place. There is an ancient sacred grove and a pond now in ruins. A Chitrakuda Kallu which is an ancient relic of the Naga Buddhist tradition of ecological conservationist culture  is still there.  A few Naga deities and idols are surviving; so is the old Ilanji treee and the Nirmatalam or Three-leaved Caper. These flowering and medicinal plants were so dear to Kamala the poet and insightful artist and healer of the minds.

Nirmatalam. 2013. Mixed media on Paper by Ajay Sekher

Nirmatalam. 2013. Mixed media on Paper by Ajay Sekher after visiting Nalapatt Kavu at Punnayurkulam on 29 Apl 2013.

These sacred treasures of culture and nature must be preserved for posterity in their pristine richness and organic antiquity.  The bilingual world of letters opened up by Kamala requires such an ecological and earthy abode to take root and survive in addition to the sensitive minds of the readers.  This intangible heritage of all Keralites must be protected and conserved for posterity and to maintain  the very sense of being a civilized society.

Nirmatalam on the left and Ilanji on the right at Nalapatt Sarpa Kavu in Punnayurkulam.

Nirmatalam on the left and Ilanji on the right at Nalapatt Sarpa Kavu in Punnayurkulam.  The sacred grove needs protection and care.

One Response to “Punnayurkulam and its Nirmatalam”

  1. Vrindha Bair says:

    My mom is from punnayurkulam, and her ancestor house The Thekkiniyedath House is near the Pambu kavu.

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