Pookode: A Cool Lake at the Gateway of Wayanad

Pookode lake:Blue waters, chilling evergreen forests and misty mountains of Wayanad

Up the ghat pass of Wayanad at the very gateway of this ancient elevated paddy land or Wayal Nadu at around 700m lies this tropical blue lake skirted by vernal wet green forests and grass land tops.  The Pookode lake is a natural freshwater spring lake having  great ecological, geographical and cultural antiquity.

Going up the 9 hairpin bends of Wayanad ghat pass

This refreshing waterbody is so close to the highway (Calicut-Kalpeta) and travelers are wooed to its chilling charms.  Temperatures are much lower around the lake and it is a great getaway from the heat of Calicut.  I was drawn to this ancient beauty while attending the National Theatre Festival of Kerala 2011 at Kozhikode.

Forests and mountains encircling Pookode lake

Plenty of KSRTC buses are available from Calicut to this place.  It takes under two hours to reach the lake from the city.  The blue lake also has mesmerizing lilac waterlilies in its bosom.  Reeds, bamboos, flowering riperian shrubs and trees lull the lake from all sides.  The walk around the lake along the winding path is amazing and spectacular. It opens up a new view of lake at every curve and turning.

Canopied with bowers: The green walkway around Pookode lake

Plenty of tourists from other states are also here to enjoy the chill and charms of this forest fairy.  boating and canoeing provisions are available.  Plenty of monkeys are also here.  There are also a few fish ponds near the lake.  It is a plastic-free zone and rural handicrafts are available in eco-shops with mud walls and bamboo thatches.

Grey Pansy butterfly near Pookode lake

The ancient Banyan and a small shrine of Pookode Amma the mother goddess of Pookode prove that this was an ancient sacred lake and shrine like Devikulam near Munnar located well above 1600m in Iduki district towards the south.  It is interesting to note that this sacred lake is so close to the Jain ruins of Sulthan Bathery and Mananthavady in Wayanadu.  Wayanadu itself is known for its Jain antiquity that still shelters Jain people in its natural bounty though reduced to a few in hegemonic invasions in history.

Rich reeds and bamboos skirting Pookode lake

Wayanadu with its geographical proximity with the Deccan plateau and Kodagu, Hassan and South Kannada districts of Karnataka was a cradle of Jainism from BC era itself.  Its closeness to Sravanabelgola is remarkable. Pookode Amma could be Pathmavady Devi or Khusmandini Devi or any other sacred fairies of Jainism with a local tint.

Cozy and cool cruise in Pookode lake

Now she is worshiped locally in the Hinduized form of Wana Durga or Bhagavathy.  I remember V V K Valath the renowned scholar and researcher in Kerala culture and history who opened up the mystery of Wana Durgas in Kerala by researching and disseminating the knowledge on their Sramana past.  He is the major organic intellectual in Kerala to expose the spatial and renaming strategies of Brahmanism with which it changed the whole cultural terrain in south India in a few centuries.

People enjoying the riperian beauty and soothing breeze of Pookode lake

Unfortunately he could not complete his mega project of writing about place names and local histories in Kerala.  Anyway Malayalees are gifted with his few volumes on a couple of disctricts like Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Palakkad, Ernakulam etc. published by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi.

Banyan and shrine of Pookode Amma the mother goddess of Pookode on the south bank of the lake

Anyway today the azure blue waters of this virgin spring is still medicinal and contains healing powers for the local people and the tribals of Wayanadu who were its original owners.  This is one of the coolest summer locations in Kerala where you can beat the heat and rising temperatures in the planes and relax in the lap of mother nature for a while and regain your human qualities and creativity which you can utilize for the conservation of nature and culture in an inclusive and democratic way.

Lilac waterlilies in Pookode lake

Green Imperial Pigeon of Chinnar

The thorny scrub of Chinnar is a unique habitat at the eastern margin of Kerala.  It houses the relics of stone age rock art and cave paintings.  The dry deciduous and thorny jungles of this eastern slope of the Western Ghats form a rain shadow country.  It  nurtures the sandalwood forests of Marayur and the Grizzled Giant Squirrels, Star Tortoise, Tufted Grey Langurs and much much more…  The mystery of Pambar and Chinnar rivers includes big mammals like Elephant, Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar Deer and a variety of birds and butterflies.

Spectacular Landscape of Chinnar

I visited this unique valley encircled by Eravikulam National Park on the west and south, Indira Gandhi WLS on the north and Kodaikanal forests on the east with an artist friend Jain in the first week of May 2010.  We saw plenty of Spotted Doves and Tufted Grey Langurs.  The landscape of the dry valley was breathtaking.  The dry jungles of Chinnar lie at an average elevation of 600-500 meters MSL.  From Munnar we can reach hear by driving down north east some 50 km through Marayur.

A Peafowl Pair in Chinnar
Blue Moutains and Green Jungle in Chinnar

The blue mountains in the background and the lemon green forests in the foreground formed a spectacular and highly soothing view.  We saw peafowls in the dry grass.  Spotted deers ran past us as we entered the thorny bush. A tribal forest watcher told us that it is also home to the endangered Mugger crocodiles which are rare in South India.  There are dormitory, rooms, tree huts and log huts by the Forest Department for travelers.

Tufted Grey Langur in Chinnar WLS

We entered the Tamil Nadu side and drove through Indira Gandhi WLS towards Udumalpet for a few miles to see a herd of wild elephants calmly grazing by the highway.  A mother and calf were enjoying their time together without much concern about the onlookers.   I could go up to 70 meters near them.   A forest guard was there to check the people.

Mother and Calf: A Close Elephant Encounter in IGWLS

While returning from this wonderfully and unbelievably close elephant encounter, before entering Kerala I noticed a big pale pigeon on a wild fruit tree.  Stopping the vehicle  I approached the tree with my camera and found a splendid Green Imperial Pigeon in its sheer beauty and grace.  Its glorious green wings and whitish underparts and head were visible in the dying light of the Chinnar sun.   I could also hear the yearning call of this pretty pigeon that animated and resonated the whole landscape and sunset at Chinnar.

Green Imperial Pigeon in Chinnar
Thorny Scrub of Chinnar
Thuvanam Falls inside Chinnar WLS