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KERALA TOURISM NEWSLETTER

ISSUE: 205

SEPTEMBER 2010

Kuttanad

Kuttanad is a region in Kerala that has many interesting aspects emanating from its culture, evolution, agricultural practices and many more. With a major portion of the area lying in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, it is a land where backwaters and canals make their presence felt more than any other region in Kerala.

Catching one's attention for a first-timer in Kuttanad is obviously the vast stretches of picturesque paddy fields, the continuity of which is broken by canals that link backwater stretches in the surrounding area. A unique feature of the agricultural practice here is farming below the sea level.

The region of Kuttanad, according to legend was once a forested area, which later got destroyed by a forest fire, thus giving it the name Chuttanad or the burnt place. In course of time Chuttanad is said to have become Kuttanad. History reckons Kuttanad as a region, which was under the reign of Chera dynasty that ruled over ancient Kerala. And one of the famous kings in the dynasty, Cheran Chenguttavan is said to have ruled his vast kingdom from Kuttanad. The place was also a famous centre of Buddhism at that time. Hence, also known as Buddhanad, which perhaps later became Kuttanad.

The entire Kuttanad region is broadly classified into Lower, Upper and North Kuttanad. Some of the well-known villages that form Kuttanad are Kainakary, Ramankary, Chennamkary, Nedumudi, Kumarakom, Edathua, Kavalam, Pulinkunnu, Kidangara, Muttar, Neerettupuram, Thalavadi, Champakkulam, Payippad, Karichal, Cheruthana, Karuvaatta, Narakathara, Mamkompu and Thayankary.

The villages of Kuttanad are picturesque and are a haven for photographers and birdwatchers. The major occupation in Kuttanadu is cultivation of rice. The backwaters and canals in the region are used by locals for transporting goods and people. Country boats ranging from the size of small canoes to that of huge rice barges are used for water transport.

Its predominant rice cultivation has earned Kuttanad the sobriquet - The rice bowl of Kerala. Here, annually three crops are grown. In earlier days when rice farming started gaining popularity in Kuttanad, large parts of Vembanad Lake were reclaimed by local farmers for rice cultivation. The Thanneermukham bund is a famous landmark in the Kuttanad region and attains significance in its farming sector. This is a salt water barrier built across the Vembanad Lake. The bund divides the lake into two parts: one with brackish water perennially and the other half with fresh water fed by the rivers draining into the lake. Rice cultivation thrives on the side that has fresh water throughout the year.

Besides a land blessed with some of the outstanding scenic beauty in Kerala, the region of Kuttanad has also earned a name in the cultural sphere of Kerala. Some of the noted personalities in Malayalam literature, cinema, folk art and drama hail from Kuttanad. And they include the Jnanpeet-winning novelist, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai; poet Dr K. Ayyappa Panikkar; folk and theatre personality Kavalam Narayana Panikkar; filmmaker John Abraham; renowned film actor Nedumudi Venu and noted exponents of Kathakali like Mathoor Kunhukunhu Pillai Panicker, Chennithala Kochu Pillai Panicker, Mankulam Vishnu Namboothiri, Champakkulam Pachu Pillai Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai, Thalavadi Aravindan and Kalamandalam Shanmughan.

Kuttanad is thus a jewel among the natural splendours of Kerala and is also a land that has made a stamp of its own in the cultural domain of Kerala. It continues to captivate the minds of people from different walks of life. And travelers invariably find Kuttanad a land that never ceases to amaze them. Cruises on houseboats, the scenic beauty of paddy fields and coconut groves, flocks of local as well as migratory birds, paddling of domesticated ducks cruising on the backwaters, a refreshing swig of toddy, backwater delicacies, the many facets of backwater villages and its people, all make Kuttanad a unique land with never-ending vistas and experiences.

To watch Kuttanad video click here
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