Sabarimala pilgrims – better avoid poorly maintained Achan Kovil to Punalur road
We start with a photo. No, I have not landed in the moon or mars during my holidays!. I am just travelling by road from Achan Kovil Sri Dharma Sastha temple to Punalur after a long overdue visit to the temple. In fact it was my father’s wish to visit the temple since almost 50 years and it happened only yesterday. We travelled from Trivandrum, taking the traditional Sabarima pilgrims route Kulathupuzha, Aryankavu and then to Achan Kovil. After darshan, we enquired about the route to Punalur and was guided by the Kerala State transport drivers as well as locals to take the road from Achan Kovil to Punalur. Off we set, at around 7:30 pm after darshan. Within a few kilometers we realized we are in store for many road surprises.
In fact, it was more than expected for all the members with us. 45 kilometers of road stretch with absolutely pure road conditions. There was absolutely no road at all, with one pothole leading to another and at several places, even stones that could even cause puncture or damage to the car, if not driven carefully. There was no traffic flow and the odd bikers – counted only 4 of them who came in between 20-30 minute gap and a car and jeep and one transport bus at the end of the stretch. We had to stop all of them to seek guidance as to whether we missed the route or not and they all agreed with us that this is one of the worst road you can find in Kerala.
With makaravilakku season starting tomorrow, I can imagine the increased traffic flow starting tomorrow with several buses and cars on way to the famous three sastha temples, ie. Achan Kovil, Aryankavu and Kulathupuzha and there difficulties.
Better to avoid the stretch Achan Kovil to Punalur, as far as possible and take the road as it is too difficult to drive and there is poor or no connectivity for mobile phones, in case you are involved in an emergency situation.
It took us almost 2 hours to cover this 45 kilometer stretch even though we were driving a bigger car with good ground clearance. So we imagined the huge number of pilgrims taking this route during the Makaravilakku season which starts tomorrow!
Desperate and worried about the way ahead, and totally frustrated with the conditions, we asked those few motorists who is the elected representative of this area. It was another surprise – Sri K B Ganesh Kumar! A person who loves cars and driving and who is said to even look into minute matters. How on earth Ganesh Kumar ji, missed about the conditions of this particular and important road stretch!. It is a year challenge you can take it – at least to take a drive through this road driving it yourself. I know you love driving, so do it at late night hours and you will definitely enjoy it.
Equally important is the total negligence of Kerala PWD Minister and Travancore Devaswom board for assuring basic and safe road infrastructure before the start of the Sabarimala season. The revenue the Kerala government and Devaswom board earns is significant!.
By this blog post, I humbly request the Honorable Pathanapuram MLA Sri K B Ganesh Kumar, Honorable Kerala PWD Minister G Sudhakaran, Honorable Dewaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and Honorable Kerala Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan to consider repair of the road sector from Achank Kovil to Punalur or a war foot basis as well as installation of basic road signage all along this road stretch.
A drive along this route in any one of these days will make you realize the huge difficulty and danger factors involved for road users.
Sincere thanks in advance,
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi