Standing on the falling grasses of a sloppy valley, wrapped under the clutches of nipping fog, I looked beneath to see a struggling heavy loaded truck to climb the steeps of Kuttikkanam. I let my brain to wander through the memories as it climbed down the stairs by almost 22 years. When the time stopped in the year 1995, I was traveling to Kuttikkanam on an old Mark II model Ambassador, drove by my father. We were on our way to Charles Villa, the hostel assigned for the first batch of Business Administration students in Marian College. While passing through Kuttikkanam, I felt as if I have landed on an unexploited farm land. I had no idea about Kuttikkanam and the most amazing places to visit near Kuttikkanam.
After 22 years, when I visited Kuttikkanam for a short stay, I grabbed an opportunity to interact with the current students of MMH and MA Communications & Media. Some of them were so kind to take me around for giving a real experience of Kuttikkanam and some of the most amazing places to visit in and around Kuttikkanam. In 22 years, Kuttikkanam has changed from a lonely bush-land to a small charming town. Among the several beautiful places that we visited in 2017, Downy’s tomb captured my mind a lot. Downy is a white female horse (a mare) owned by Col. J. D. Munro.
Col. J. D Munro was a Scottish soldier and an officer in British Army. He and his horse Downy were killed in an accident at a place close to Peermade. The ring that caused his death is now popular as Mathai Kokka. Col. J. D. Munro and his horse were then buried in a cemetery (almost 12 kilometers away from Mathai Kokka) besides St. George CSI Church. The cemetery that was built in 1869 is now renowned as the British Cemetery at Pallikkunnu.
Sudden changes in climate is one among the unique features of Kuttikkanam. A clear sky turned dark and the clouds started drizzling in less than 5 minutes. We helped ourselves with umbrellas and ambled over the rolling pebbles. The church and its surroundings were so neat and clean that one would love to sit and relax in the yard on a sunny day. The cemetery was closed but not locked, my newly found friend opened the gate and escorted us to the British Cemetery. The cemetery resembled a fascinating garden, but then, it was indeed a garden before its transformation to a cemetery. If not for the history, for the beauty of the church, its surroundings, the nearby tea gardens laced with lush green hillocks, one must consider this among the amazing places to visit near Kuttikkanam.
The cemetery was old yet vast and alluring that we had to try different routes to treasure hunt the tomb of Munro and his female horse – Downy. At last, we could see a tomb with an image of horse and we knew that it was Downy’s. Close to Downy’s tomb was Munro’s. We learned from some locals that the cemetery where Munro and his horse are buried is purely for Britishers. For Indians, the church keeps a land adjacent to the British Cemetery. As we walked through the wet lawns a breeze hugged me and the entire place was fragrant with wild herbs.
The spot with historic importance that I never had bothered to explore during my 3 years bachelor’s program in Kuttikkanam has stirred my thoughts after 19 years. George Babu, a student of MMH in Marian College could not refuse my request and we set off to Mathai Kokka. Crossing Kuttikkanam and Peermade, we reached the ring and it is obvious that no one would survive a fall into the depth of Mathai Kokka. The valley was abstruse and we couldn’t see the deck with thickly populated trees and convoluted shrubs. Mathai kokka is also a magnificent view point where you may enjoy a golden sun rise.
After living in Kochi for over an year, I believe the city dwellers really need to take a break and explore some of the best getaway locations around. Kochi too has some of the most amazing places to visit and enjoy.