When I set out for “Chellanam”, a coastal village in the west of Kochi on a Sunday morning, I knew nothing about it except for a few facts that it is a place which often gets affected whenever nature decides to sulk. Villagers live a hard life as the sea can get rough anytime. Even the Tsunami waves, Cyclone Okchi and the sporadic monster waves that never hesitates to lash out did not spare this small hamlet which is untouched by urbanization.
As not much has been written about the place except how unruly ‘Nature’ traumatize the inhabitants often, I couldn’t gather much information about the place which left me with one option to take a bus to Chellanam which is just around 24 kilometers from Kochi. I stay at Kochi. At the same time, during the course of my inquiry I came to know that people at Chellanam are very friendly which was of course, a comforting factor.
On the way, I met Smithesh, an auto driver who hails from Chellanam without whom I would have been left clueless on how to explore the place.
Velankanni Church on the shores of Maruvakkadu beach built in the name of St Mary instantaneously, became one of the places to visit as I got to know that though Tsunami waves played havoc all across Chellanam in 2004, the boisterous waves did not enter the church, perhaps a miracle.
While arriving there, I saw several bunches of Bananas hung on a rope with both ends attached to two wooden poles erected on both sides. “ It’s called ‘ Kula Perunnal’. (Kula means bunch and Perunnal means festival.) The bananas will be auctioned and the money thus earned will be used for the activities of church. The parishioners were getting ready for it. Inside the church Dasan whom I met right there and was busy with the festival invited me to attend it. I could have but as I was planning of returning the same day, I politely refused.
Even when I was inquiring about the Kula Perunnal, I could hear the lapping waves of Arabian sea in the background. Just climb a few steps leading to the sea wall and you will be surprised that the same placid waters could be rough any time.
As the day slowly progressed, people were coming and getting settled before the church and on the sea wall. Thomas, whom I met there told me that don’t be taken in by the calmness of the sea. “ Just two days ago, the water advanced too much that the land and the water merged.”
After spending some precious moments, I was on my way to Chellanam harbour. The muddy road leading to the harbour was too narrow and bumpy as the south west monsoon had already started and it was raining cats and dogs.
On either sides, there were small houses and a marriage function was going on in one of them. On the way I met and chatted with some fishermen who were working on their nets and then went on my way to absorb the beautiful scenery around.
A beautiful small chapel built in the form of a ship awaits you in the harbour.
It’s so true that travel makes you more conscious about the environment which you might not have been aware of before. The sight that saddened me during my hours in Chellanam was when I saw the food waste from one of the nearby houses, where a marriage function was going on being dumped in the sea, though they have their own reasons on why they did that. And soon, it was time to move towards another location.
Despite the traditional occupation – fishing which is their main source of livelihood, they also undertake prawn farming. The view was mesmerizing and I hardly realised that underneath these coconut trees prawns were being reared.
“From the initiation period, at least eight months are needed before the prawns are harvested. Not only, prawns we also carry out farming of Pearl spot fish and many others,” Smithesh explained along the way.
Though it brings in money, several risks are also associated with the business, he added.
Time flew back like the ‘arctic tern’ as I savoured the natural beauty of the place. I headed back home vowing to return with ample time at my disposal yet another time, soon.
” Have you ever heard of this beautiful hamlet in Ernakulam, Kerala?”
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