Its been really really long since I went on a trip with a relatively big gang. It would be mostly just me or another person along with me. In rare cases we were 3 to 4 people. Out of a blue moon, we suddenly started off a trip with 6 of us. Myself, my mom, my cousins their parents – totaling to 6. It all started when my mom visited her bro and they planned this trip and when I was informed, I was like “Without me…????!!!!”. Finally they put me too into the car and we were off.
Earlier, few months back when my mom’s bro’s family were off to Kerala via Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, my cousin spotted this board that read, ‘Mayiladum Para – Peacock Sanctuary’ and there she made a point that they would be back in the same route again, not to Kerala but just to this sanctuary. And that point got its life and soul on the day we ventured there.
My uncle drove the car and from a particular point my sis started to notice carefully to our right and said “Its somewhere here after this point where I spotted that board”. And ya, we spotted it again. And we had a clear look at it this time. It read ‘Chulannur Peacock Sanctuary’. A small right turn and we enquired along the road for this peacock sanctuary. Did I tell you, we had already crossed Kerala border for a long time now. Some Malayalam mixed in the blood and we were like ‘Mayilladum Para evvida undana.?’. Errr. I dunno, to what extent that broken nascent stage Malayalam was correct or wrong. One of the guys we enquired, confidently asked back ‘Mayiladum Kunnu.???’. We shook our heads in positive. He led the way. Ok. Now we got a new vocabulary. We started to enquire about the Mayiladum Kunnu from then on. And as we preceded the boards in the beginning of the road, diminished. If the sanctuary guys could keep a board in the highway why didn’t they keep few along the path. That kinda gave this weird feeling that we were going in a wrong route.
And we kept on enquiring for this ‘Mayiladum Kunnu’ and we were at this gate with no boards and nothing at all and not even a gate and not even a sanctuary office. Now I was 100% confident. WE ARE AT A WRONG PLACE.
However, this place was a pretty big rubber plantation. We strolled in for a couple of minutes when my cousin freaked out ‘What the hell are we doing here.?”. My uncle and my mom went over to a near-by house to enquire about this place and she said that in the other side of this rubber plantation was a small pond where actress Jaya Bharathi bathed for the Malayalam movie ‘Mayiladum Kunnu’ was pictured. Wow!!!! That was a revelation. My uncle came back and said this info and sarcastically said ‘Lets go there and see the pond and take a sip of that Holy Water!!!’.
But whatever place it was my youngest cousin could not be controlled. She was the first to run into the plantation. But however we had absolutely no interest in seeing THAT pond!!!
My uncle wanted to give it another shot. We left this place and this time, the enquiry was not for any Mayil or peacock; it was only for Chulannur. Few twists and turns and we were at Chulannur. The roads weren’t bad. It could be bad only if it exists!!! In a small village at almost its dead end near a forest what kind of a road could anyone expect!!! There we were at the entrance of the sanctuary. And this place is also called Mayiladum Para (Not Kunnu)!!!
We were served with Jeera Water, a speciality of Kerala. And a man from the office accompanied us into the forest. This is not a dense forest. Peacocks esp. do not like to be in very thick or dense forests. I dunno why. May be those thick and dense forests are residents of predators like lions and tigers. Well, may be… Just may be. I have no clue.
We were gifted a peacock feather by them. A pretty good fun shot with it, right? That's my younger cousin's replaced eyeball!!!
Well, that's the photographer and her muse!!! Ok, now this sanctuary is declared as a national sanctuary for peafowls. This was called Chulannur Peafowl Sanctuary and later in 2008 it was renamed 'Chulannur Peafowl Sanctuary dedicated to the memory of Sri.K.K.Neelakantan'.
Now who’s that man for whom the whole sanctuary is dedicated? He was an ornithologist of Kerala who the book ‘Keralathile Pakshikal’ which literally means the Birds of Kerala. He was from a place called Kavassery, which is just next to this sanctuary. He must have been born and brought up in the midst of birds esp. peacocks. So apt for him, isn’t it.?
This sanctuary is sprawling in the districts of Thrissur and Palakkad for an area of 342 hectares near Thiruvilvamala. Apart from peacocks there are 76 other species of birds in here.
With the help of a staff of the sanctuary we started off inside the sanctuary. A huge gang of 5 adults and 2 kids. The track was pre-fixed. There were lots of trees on either sides.
But the best part was by the ears – the sounds of the forest was great. A mix of several bird sounds and several insect sounds.
Again a big mistake that we had done was planning to go here in the peak of summer. Like in Viralimalai, the peacocks must have hidden in the little caverns between boulders which are located deep inside the forest. That would require a longer trek.
But with a huge family and people of various energy capacity it is a problem. That too with kids!!! Unless the climate was cool and a little bit rainy clouds comes up, its absolutely difficult to see the peacocks easily. It is not impossible, but that would require atleast a basic trek, which I couldn’t venture much.
I had to venture back without any luck of peacock spotting :( !!!
P.S.1: At a place called Kuzhal Mannam, which is just the previous right turn before the turn for this sanctuary form the highway is the memorial of Chembai. One of the greats of Carnatic Music (The South Indian classical music). Since I had to get back by evening, we couldn’t make it to this place this time. But Chembai Memorial is a must visit for visitors of Chulannur.
P.S.2: Enroute we met some Thiyyam dancers who were getting ready for a performance. Thiyyam is one of the folk dances of Kerala, with Kathakali being a more popular folk dance. By default our car stopped for a few shots. Here’s one.
TO GET THERE:
From Coimabatore: 85 km
From Palakkad: 22 km
From Thrissur: 49 km
The best transport is your own vehicle or self arranged from your door step. Getting autos and buses is just not an option!!!
Dedicated to Mom, Subbu Uncle, Lalli Aunt, Thanrang and Mrinal – my cousins.