The Holy Forest in a Rural Village

Vidhya Jinesh | Jan 01, 2014 | Vol 6, Issue 1
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Muchukunnu Kottayil Kavu situated at Muchukunnu, near Quilandy in Kozhikode district (Kerala, India) exemplifies an effort to preserve the treasure- trove of nature. Kottayil Kavu is a part of Muchukunnu Kottayil Shiva temple, encircled by an elegant wall, surrounded by thick vegetation of the Kavu and a well structured big pond bestowing an enchanting natural holy ambience to it. According to a report by Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Kottayil kavu is the one among the 22 remaining Virgin Forests of Kerala.

Kavu or Sacred groves, which are the isolated patches of forest in the mainland, protected by assigning them as the abode of god/goddess are true vindications of such cultural convictions. Muchukunnu Kottayil Kavu situated at Muchukunnu, near Quilandy in Kozhikode district exemplifies such an effort to preserve the treasure- trove of nature. Kottayil Kavu is a part of Muchukunnu Kottayil Shiva temple, encircled by an elegant wall, surrounded by thick vegetation of the Kavu and a well structured big pond bestowing an enchanting natural holy ambience to it. According to a report by Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Kottayil kavu is the one among the 22 remaining Virgin Forests of Kerala.

Of the total area of about 3.8ha of the temple, around 2.6ha is covered with thick vegetation. (1ha =2.47acres). Sacred woods forms the environmentally sensitive wooden patches possessing great socio –cultural as well as ecological importance. Very often, the stand quality of sacred groves in a given region is better than that of several natural forests.  Sacred groves are also regarded as the treasure houses of rare and endemic species. It serves as the last resort for many birds, animals and plants. The role of well managed sacred groves as the gene pool gardens for in-situ conservation of genetic resources has been appreciated. So it is evident that the preservation of these unique landscape units is of key importance for maintaining the biodiversity and ecosystem of the region.

Conservation

With the initiative of Dept of Forests, Govt of Kerala for the Protection and conservation of sacred groves, in June 2011, a committee 'Kottayil Kavu Samrakshana Samithi was formed which include the members from the temple committees, environmentalists, public and the devotees. The whole project of conservation including the awareness programmes is termed as “Haritha Sukrutham' (means 'green holy action'). Under this programme, the volunteers planted thousands of tree saplings of wild variety and conducted awareness camps for school and college students. In an initial survey they could count over 2500 trees, in that 40 plus species are identified, including the one in the 'Red Book' of India which lists the endangered species. There are some rare varieties of trees also which posed difficulty for the local experts to identify. Apart from this many variety of plants and climbers, different species of butterflies, birds and some mammals like civet, mongoose etc are also spotted here. Thus the diversity of flora and fauna of the place represents the microcosm of natural wealth of Kerala itself.

Committee volunteers have taken measures to prevent the unauthorised collection of fire wood and small timbers from the Kavu. For restricting the dumping of plastic wastes like water bottles, wrapper, carry bags etc., more awareness campaigns need to be conducted. The project also envisages the documentation of the flora and fauna with the help of KFRI and labelling important species and signage. 

It is said that the temple earlier belonged to the Zamorin, the King of Kozhikode, and it was handed over to the Rajas of Kodungallur Kovilakom as per a deal between them. From the Rajas of Kodungallur Kovilakom, the management of the temple and sacred grove went into the hands of feudal lords of Nair community. At present the whole property including the temple and sacred grove is managed by a family trust called the Muchukunnu Devaswom Trustee Board and is supported by a public committee 'Kshethra Samrakshana Samithi'.   The nearby temple, Muchukunnu Kovilakom Bhagavathi Kshethram is also come under the same committee.

The Chairman of the Trustee board is Mr. M Gangadharan Nair and the Manager of the temple is M K Karunakaran Nair. The chairman of the Kshethra Samrakshana Samithi is Patteri Damodaran, who also acts as the Chairman of Kottayil Kavu Samrakshana Samithi. The secretary of Kottayil Kavu Samrakshana Samithi is Ravindran Muchukunnu.

Location /access: Muchukunnu; On Kozhikode- Kannur road, From Anakkulam stop (Pisharikkavu, near Quilandy) take diversion to Akalappuzha road, then it is about 3km. (Kerala, India)

For more information /visit:

Ravindran Muchukunnu, 
Temple Ph: +91- 496 - 2690751
Mob:+91 9495178380,

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