We started walking at 7.15 am from Chengannur downstream with Mannar as destination and if still well to go on to Viyapuram. Pamba was still flowing with the same vigour and might as we had seen her the previous day. Soon she would branch out into smaller streams as she prepares for her final leg into the low lying Kuttanad
backwaters of Allapuzha district. This walk has taken us through Pathnamthitta district quite extensievely and for brief periods through Idukki and Kottayam. For the next few days we will be in Allappuzha. Local people guide us on the way to be as close to Pamba as possible.
Throughout the day we stay close to the river and then when the road ends we get on to the main road. In Pandanad after two hours of walk, we are in our endeavour to catch the point where the first bifurcation occurs in Pamba during this stretch. On the way, we stopped for water at a house close to the water front.
Pamba in Pandanad
Chellamma speaks to us
Chellamma, the lady in the house, accosted us at the steps that lead to the river. She shared her childhood stories of her interactions with Pamba. “ All these places had sand banks, and there was a large sand bar in the middle where I used to take my bath”, She recollected. We guess the issue that troubles many of those who stay on the banks of the river is their accessibility to the river; the banks are muddy and overgrown with weeds. It is practically impossible to walk to the waters for a refreshing dip. Probably, this could be one of the factors that alienate the folks from the river which they once held so close to their hearts. According the locals we met on the street at Pandanad, which immediately comes after Chengannur, this place used to be inundated every year. But they do not have any flooding in their memory in the last 10-15 years. They attribute this to the river getting deeper due to sand mining.
Pamba forks with the right branch flowing on to meet Manimala river
We soon reach the spot of bifurcation called Kuthiathode. The main Pamba turns left and the other part turns right where in a kilometre it meets the Manimala river.
Pamba branches again to encircle Parumala
By noon, we crossed Pandanad follow the southern branch which further splits to enclose a larger landmass now known as Parumala. A small branch of Achenkoil river joins the southern branch of Pamba a few hundred meters down south. We cross the Illimala bridge to enter the island of Parumala. At Parumala, we are lucky to get a room in the famous Parumala church compound.
A temple Kavu
Just before reaching the church we see the famous temple Kotrathil Shrivalliya Panyannarkavu. This temple has two properties with acres of Kavu forests. Kavus do play an important role in preserving biodiversity as well as water balance. We are glad to see that the temple forests are well preserved. At Mannar the two branches of Pamba that enclose Parumala join again and flows on to Viyapuram.
A church by the Pamba on the way to Viyapuram
After lunch we walk on to Viyapuram. At several places we see fields being slowly filed with soil and house creeping in. Loss of the remaining wetlands this way would be very dangerous to the ecology of Kerala.
By evening we witness a branch from Achen Kovil river join Pamba just before Viyapuram. At Viyapuram we see the Pamba flow on wide and proud into Kuttanad. At a distance of about half a kilometre, Achen Kovil also flows on parallel to Pamba into Kuttanad. Tomorrow is the day we follow Pamba into Kuttanad, where it is known to branch and flow wildly before it reach Vembanad lake.