The Forest of Creepers

Mar 01, 2015 | Vol 7- Issue 2
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Vallikkattukavu situated on the eastern valley of Eliyode Mala, in Edakkara, Kozhikode District,Kerala (India) remains unchanged even in this period of urbanization and change in lifestyle.  The Kavu is spread over an area of 28 acres on a hill and is stunningly beautiful in its wild state. The sublime feeling of the surroundings is enhanced by the spring water and cool air.

Kavu-s or sylvan shrines are regarded as primitive places of worship, simple in structure and totally lacking the grandeur of temple architecture. These sacred groves are hidden from human eyes by a profusion of creepers which are entangled around the trunks, branches and stems of trees and plants. But many of these Kavus, have undergone changes, addition of architectural features have transformed them into a temple mould, and thus diluting the importance of the greenery around. But Vallikkattukavu situated on the eastern valley of Eliyode Mala, in Edakkara, in Kozhikode District, Kerala (India) remains unchanged even in this period of urbanization and change in lifestyle.  The Kavu is spread over an area of 28 acres on a hill and is stunningly beautiful in its wild state. The sublime feeling of the surroundings is enhanced by the spring water and cool air.

The deity that is worshipped here is Goddess Durga. A natural formation of the earth which is considered to be Swayambhoo, is the representation of the deity here.  Specific areas are marked out, which are consecrated to the deities of like Ganapathy, Ayyappan , Bhadrakali and Paradevta. Only priests are allowed to enter these areas. A small office cum store of temple authority is the only building in the Kavu premise.

A holy spring from the hill flows down and drips near the Swayambhoo in the kavu, and then flows out through the entrance of the Kavu. Devotees are allowed to take a dip in places, specially allocated for this purpose. Two ponds have been constructed, just outside the Kavu which are fed by the water from the stream. The bigger pond is used for the ritual purposes; whereas the smaller one is for villagers for bathing and washing their clothes. The holy rituals begin in the early hours of dawn and conclude before noon. Evening Poojas are conducted on special days. No annual festival is observed here. The priests of the Kavu, belong to two Brahmin families, namely, Vallikkattu Illam and Karakkattu Illam. On a monthly rotational basis, the pujas are conducted by the two families. Now the kavu is under the control of Malabar Devaswom Board, an autonomous board belonging to Kerala State Government. The hereditary trustees of Vallikkattu kavu are from Kainolikkal Kuttiyadippurathu, Varodi Ponnarambathu and Vazhappadathil Kuruppu families, all of whom belong to the Nair community.

The Nature Untouched

Another major attraction of this place is the presence of monkeys, which gather near the holy site, every morning and evening, attracted   by the food offered to them by the devotees. Porcupine, wild fowl, turtle and many varieties of snakes and birds also have their home in this sylvan retreat. The area surrounding the Kavu is canopied by dense forest. The trees in the wet land are mostly of the Myristica type with aerial roots. This variety is generally found in marshy land. The density of creepers is so overwhelming, that the place has been appropriately named Vallikkattu, meaning a forest of creepers.  The hill offers wonderful trekking opportunities. The Kavu and the adjoining hills are a treasure trove of medicinal plants and herbs.

Kuttikrishna Kidavu who belongs to the Kainolikkal Kuttiyadippurathu family has an interesting anecdote to share with us. According to him there are a variety of creepers which flowers in different seasons. Not a day goes by at least a single flower to be found on the pedestal of the deity. Hence people have the belief that nature worships the deity offering flowers and natural water from the spring.

In the streams are to be found stones coloured like sandalwood and red sandalwood.  Devotees grind these stones to a fine paste to adorn their forehead. Kudduka choru is unique, cooked rice offering made to the deity here. It is then distributed in small pots, usually 101 pots, to the monkeys. This offering is made by those who are childless.

Those who have heard of this kavu are well aware of its bio diversity. However, in recent times, the Kavu is facing threats from various fronts, such as encroachment of land, soil erosion and ecological interference. This is our natural heritage, and we must accord it the veneration it deserves.

Location/Access: From Kozhikode town catch Buses towards Edakkara. Get down at 'Edakkara Siphon' Bus stop, it is about 1km to the main entrance of the Kavu. Or get down at 'Edakkara Ration shop' Bus stop. From here its about 1.5km to the Kavu. From Kozhikode town to Kavu is about 21km.

 

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