India Business
Kerala to open its pretty plantations for tourists
Jan 15, 2007 - 7:36:15 AM

Athirappalli -, Jan 15 - Tourist haven Kerala, known for its exotic backwaters and lush landscape, is now all set to throw open some of its picture-perfect plantations set around old colonial bungalows for travellers.

The state owns tens of thousands of acres of plantations at high altitudes with their accompanying cool climes and century-old picturesque colonial bungalows. It has decided to open 14,000 acres of plantations for farm tourism.

'The decision was taken after the central government agreed to transform five percent of plantations into tourism spots,' said Babu Thomas, managing director of the Plantation Corporation of Kerala - Ltd.

'So far, the natural settings like captive secondary jungles, rocky patches, rivers, rivulets, river banks, minor and major waterfalls and dam sites in the midst of plantations were not open to the public,' Thomas told IANS, adding that the decision to open up the estates would give the people a chance to enjoy the beauty.

In 1999, the PCK had constructed six cottages on the banks of a spectacular waterfall - just two kilometres down the famous Athirappalli waterfalls - but the forest department went to court against it, saying forestland could not be opened to the public.

However, in November last year, the Kerala High Court asked the forest department to earmark two hectares of land for the construction of cottages and for tourism activities.

The farm resort constructed by PCK at Athirappalli, 63 km from Thrissur city, in the midst of 2,300 hectares of rubber plantation and on the bank of the Chalakkudy river is a perfect hideaway for nature lovers to spend their holiday.

One can go for trekking in the forest, or sit in a tree house and watch birds and animals, go fishing, bathe in the waterfall or just relax on the grass and listen to the gurgling of the brooks and the splash of the waterfalls. The lesser-known but enchanting Charpa falls, which used to be a major location for Malayalam action movie shooting, is just 3.5 km from the resort.

Sambar deer and elephants as well as different species of birds can easily be spotted on a safari through the curved roads in the mid of deep forests in the nearby Vachumaram area.

'Where else will you get to spend your holidays in the midst of 6,000 acres of green farm with no noise save for the sound of the waterfall?' asked Thomas. The resort is just 40 km from Kochi International Airport.

'We are planning to convert this project area into a good arboretum or botanical garden by raising wild edible fruit trees, ornamental and endangered species of forest plants and trees,' said D. Devapalan, general manager - of PCK Ltd.

Devapalan pointed out that PCK, which has an initial share capital of Rs.75 million, was the first to open its inspection bungalows in the rubber and oil palm estates for tourists. The Tata Group has followed suit and opened its tea estates for visitors.

'We will be launching the same projects in the Perambra estates - and Koduman estates - in the near future,' Devapalan said.

PCK has under it 12 estates spread over Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts of Kerala. The major activity of the corporation is to undertake plantation in crops such as rubber -, cashew and oil palm.

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