An entreaty for the Kollengode Thrissur railway, a Green Corridor.
This is ananalysis on the decades’ pending proposal for “Kollengode – Thrissur railwayline”, a green rail-corridor through the valley of Nelliyampathy Hills that enhancesthe value- addition of Tourism
in two states!
(Madan MenonThottasseri email:email@example.com)
This is the chronicle of a once shelved proposal for a railway line, which could have beenincluded into the ‘wish list’ of both Kerala andTamil Nadu
all these years.This railway line through the valley of Neliyampathy Hills can beyond doubt facilitate for a fresh green rail-corridor from South Tamil Nadu to Thrissur,the cultural capital of Kerala, bypassing the busy Palakkad junction and it will be increasingly
pertinent now for the tourism development in both states. Unfortunately the said project never enjoyed much popular demand in Kerala and had been ignored by political bastions of all fronts.
I have been advocatingfor the Kollengode – Thrissur line during the past few years and expected theKerala government to include it in the ‘wish list’
this time too, for getting itincorporated into the Railway Budget/2012-13 as the shelved project has thepotential to get it refurbished. The said project which was resurveyed justfour years’ back is once again selected for a survey under the Railway Budget2012-13.
Though the project had been getting shelved, it is a blessing indisguise that the announcement of a fresh survey for the rail link could prove that the proposal had not gone astray forever!
The proposed Kollengode– Thrissur line will practically enable a Chord line between Pollachi andThrissur. The existing Pollachi –Kollengode - Palakkad section (58
k.m) iscurrently under B.G conversion,wherein the Pollachi – Kollengode is with adistance of 35 k.m. Though the proposed line connects two towns within theState of Kerala, it will pave the way for establishing a direct green corridorfrom Tiruchchi - Dindigul
-Pollachi region in Central Tamil Nadu toThrissur, the Pooram city in Central Kerala. Both States will be equally benefited from this proposed railway line.
Kollengode– Thrissur Railway line:
The on-going gauge conversion in Palakkad – Kollengode-Pollachi – Udumalaipet - Palani - Dindigul;and Podanur – Pollachi routes will be completed in a phased manner
as per theproposal to the Railway Ministry by Southern Railways. The rail traffic in the entire stretches was closed forgauge conversions for the past two years.
There is a long pending proposal for a new line between Kollengode, the erstwhile tiny realm and Thrissur, thecity of pooram festivals, which is actually very much
significant for the B.G conversionproject in the Palakkad- Pollachi- Dindigul route aimed to facilitate shortest route to temple towns of south Tamil Nadu from Malabar andCochin regions ofKerala. A traffic survey for connecting Kollengode and Thrissur (B.G)
was done during 1964-65 by the distinguished Padmashree P.N.Baskaran Nair (late) who simultaneously surveyed the Salem- Bangalore and Hassan – Mangalore lines. Infact this was the second survey, as the initial survey conducted during thepre-independence period
in mid-forties already went unnoticed. The line was resurveyed in the year 2007.
Being a short distance of approx. 54 k.m, the Ministry of Railways can still incorporate the proposed Kollengode-Thrissur B.G line in the coming Railway
Budget/February 2011 and simultaneouslyrelease adequate funds for the early implementation of the newline as well as for augmenting the completion of the gauge conversion projects in Dindigul –Udumalaipet – Palani - Pollachi - Kollengode- Palakkad/Pollachi-Podanursections.
The proposal to link Kollengode lying in the Pollachi- Palakkadsection under B.G conversion, with Thrissur, the city ofpooram festivals via.Nenmmara, Ayalur Road, Chittillamcherry, Mudappallur( For Mangalam Dam),Vadakkumcherry , Kuthiran, Pattikkad ( for Peechi
Reservoir) and Mannuthy was neglected and kept in the cold storage for the past four decades.
It is very noteworthy that the proposed Kollengode – Thrissur line passes through Nenmara, thegate-way of Nelliyampathy Hill- Station the upcoming tourist
destination and an ideal out-door shooting location for movie makers.
The present Nenmara townis constituted bythe erstwhile twin villages which are better known from the name of popular‘vela’ festival- the Nenmara- Vallenghy
Vela , held in the firstweek of Aprilevery year. This festival attracts not only people of Cochin-Malabar regions and Coimbatore - Pollachi – Tiruppur- Palani regions ofneighboring Tamil Nadu,but also tourists from bigger cities likeChennai,Bangalore,Mumbai
etc. Of late foreign tourists visiting Kerala duringthe months of March- April are enticed by travel industry based in cities inthe region like Coimbatore, Kochi and Calicut to witness the spectacular festival which is rated at par with Thrissur Pooram. The
said rail link between Kollengodeand Thrissur will give a face-lift to the paddy-cultivation and trading centers covered under Chulliyar, Pothundy, Mangalam and Peechi irrigation projects.Cruise rides in Peechi and Pothundy reservoirs are popular.It will be
anenchanting journey by a train that chugs through the beautiful countryside surrounded by thick lush of paddy fields, coconut – areca nut farms, rubberplantations and picturesque hills!
The Nelliyampathy hills with amazing varieties of flora and fauna, around 65 km from Palakkad and 45k.m from Nenmara is situated at a height of 467 meters to 1572
meters at the highest peak.The Hill station is comprised of a chain of ridges separated by valleys ofdense, evergreen virgin forests and orange plantations. There are more than adozen hair-pin bends on the ghat road from Pothundy Dam passing through junglesof
Sahyadri ranges. Nelliyampathi’s forest regions are sanctified with wild animals like elephants, leopards, hill squirrels, bisons and a wide spectrum ofbird life.
Nelliyampathy is also the perfect location for eco tourism and farm tourism. The sprawling teagardens,coffee, cardamom and orange plantation add beauty
to this destination of all seasons. Studies had revealed that a rich civilization existed in Nelliyampathy during Tamil Sangam era. Certain view-points en-route to the hill station offer a splendid sight of the Palakkad Gap, which is a geographical phenomenonin
the Western Ghats formation, showing the extensive paddy fields of the Palakkad district and adjoining Coimbatore-Pollachi regions forming a verdantcarpet.
Seethakundu waterfall with a height of 100 meters is an added attraction from where tourists can have a nice valley sight. Padagiri, the highest peak situated on
Nellikotta mountain ranges is the trekkers’ paradise. Trekking is possible to reach Mampara as well for beautiful valley-sight. Even Pollachi and Valparai can be seen from there.Nenmara town and Pothundy reservoir can be seen from yet another view point –Kesavanpara. There
are private operators offering Night-Safari to see wildanimals, especially elephants; but must be beware of fuming elephants roaming around to charge anything on its sight!
GreenRail Corridor for Value Addition of Tourism in Nelliyampathy:
Probably it may be aprudent decision of Kerala State to give a thrust for Ayurveda andBack-water oriented tourism to woo maximum number of class tourists to thestate.
Ofcourse Kerala, boasting with the tag of “God’s Own Country” could register asuccess story while offering resorts by the side of back-waters withfacilitiesfor cruise boating, sail and stay in house-boats, in-house Ayurveda health-centers in resorts etc.
which are very much acclaimed by tourists from all continents.
It is desirable that thegovernment of Kerala consider launch of special campaigns at big cities within India as well as in Europe and U.S, for bringing
guests to state; It can be “TeaGarden Tourism” for locations like Munnar and Nelliyampathy. “Festival Tourism” may be feasible for attracting tourists to exclusive colorfulfestivals wherein there will be elephants’ parade, traditional drum recitals and display
of fire-works at Thrissur Pooram, Nenmmara-Vallanghy Vela etc.
Tourism campaign for Nenmmara- Vallanghy Vela festival can be clubbed with that of Nelliyampathy,the hill-station with tea gardens, orange farms, cardamom
estates. Nenmmara is connectedby road with Palakkad, the district headquarters through two or three routeswith distances around 20k.m. The town in the valley of the hill station is actually lying in the middle of Pollachi- Vadakkumcherry-Nenmmara-Thrissur
Inter-State route merged with NH-47 at Vadakkumcherry. The distances by road from Nenmara to Pollachi towards east and to Thrissur towards west are 49 k.meach.
Pothundy Dam, just 6 k.m away from Nenmmara, which is constructed at the start off ‘Ayalur(Ayiloor)River’, a sub-tributary of Bharathapuzha is an ideal
recreation location with gardens. Boat rides are offered in the vast reservoir to attract tourists. This dam is having a unique status as ‘second largest in Asia without using cement-mixture’. The Kerala government may have to plan for constructionof adequate
tourist resorts and budget motels at Nelliyampathy, Pothundy, Nenmara and Kollengode. There will be a good potential to install cable carservice between the gardens in the Pothundy Dam to Nelliyampathy Hill station to boost tourism. The Kerala Tourism can
avail the technology transfer from oneof the best global companies for the same.
Though the Kollengode Railway station is the nearest rail-head for Nenmmara and Nelliyampathy, due to the proximity, it had not served the purpose much
by the rail connectivitythrough Kollengode, the Palakkad – Kollengode – Pollachi M.G Line, part ofthe M.G. network in Palakkad – Kollengode - Pollachi– Palani –Dindigul and Polachi – Podanur sections in the region. This branch line under B.G conversion has
potential for linking with trunk routes at three junctions,viz. Palakkad, Podanur and Dindigul. The pending project, Kollengode– ThrissurRail link enabling linkage between major trunk routes of Southern Railway at Dindigul and Thrissur, will enhance the
potential for traffic earnings and optimum utilisation of rolling-stocks.
Tourists campingatNelliyampathy can be brought down to the valley to see the spectacular show of elephants’ parade and colourful fire works displayed
in the Nenmmara-Vallenghy Vela festival. Together with Nenmmara and Vallengy, many villages like Ayalur(Ayiloor), Chittillamcherry, Cheramangalam, Mudapallur,Vadakkumcherry, Pallavoor constitute an enclave of Vela- Kanyarkali festivalsin the months of April-May
every year. Kanyarkali festivals are performed intemple premises from desk to dawn and it provides all ingredients offolk-dance-dramas that can attract intellectuals to laymen amongsttourists.
It is not an exaggerationto say that during the festival season, in this enclave of festivals in thePalakkad district, not even a single day passes
without acelebration involvingprocessions by adorned elephants accompanied by drum recitals likeChendamelams, Panchavadyams etc. and colourful fire-works at least in a coupleof temples.
People of the Thrissur-Nenmara- Kollengode and Pollachi- Udumalaipet- Palani regions have lot ofexpectations on the B.G connectivity between Palakkad
and Dindigul(180 k.m) aswell as between Podanur to Pollachi (40 k.m). Further if the new line between Kollengode and Thrissur is made possible, it will establish the shortest route from Madurai/Tiruchcchi regions in Central Tamil Nadu to the Cochin regions
ofKerala state. Trains between Madurai/Tiruchchi and Thrissur, Guruvayur,Ernakulam, Alleppy etc. can be operated through Pollachi –Kollengode – Thrissurroute, by-passing the traffic saturated Palakkad– Ottappalam – Shoranur/Thrissur sections. Trains towards
Malabar region,Mangalore and beyond, through Konakan railways to Uduppi , Goa, Mumbai etc. canmove through Pollachi-Kollengode- Thrissur- Shoranur Jn. as well as through Pollachi-Kolengode –Palakkad - Shoranur sections. In reality the gauge conversion in the
Dindigul –Palakkad sector and also the new line between Kollengode and Thrissur will facilitate Tamil Nadu to become one of the major beneficiary states of theKonkan Railways.
The distance fromMaduraito Ernakulam via. Sengottai –Punalur - Kollam and Alappuza, (after thegauge conversion in Sengottai –Punalur sections) is 411
k.m. Once the gaugeconversion between Dindigul –Palakkad sections is over and also provide the newB.G. link between Kollengodeand Thrissur, the Madurai- Dindigul- Palani -Pollachi- Kollengode – Thrissur sections will offer a shortest route toErnakulam with
only 351 k.m. Thus therewill be a reduction of 60 k.m in thedistance between the temple city of Madurai and Ernakulam (Kochi) the “Queen ofArabian Sea”.
After the B.G conversion in Palakkad- Pollachi- Palani - Dindigul sections while Southern Railways can makeit feasible to operate express trains between
Alappuza(Alleppy)/Ernakulam/Guruvayur/Mangalore/Kozikkode(Calicut)/Palakkad and temple towns like Palani, Madurai, Rameswaram, Thiruchchi, Nagore, and Velankkanni inTamil Nadu, it should simultaneously operate Passenger Trains aswell. The Kollengode – Thrissur
line, by-passing the traffic saturated Palakkad,if implemented will further reduce the distances between Ernakulam and all thesetemple towns by 46 k.m which is included the distance saved of 60 k.m cited above.
The distance from Tiruchchi to Thrissur,Guruvayur or Ernakulam/Cochin (via.Manappara - Dindigul – Palani – Pollachi – Kollengode - Nenmara- Vadakkumcherry-Mannuthy-
Thrissur/304 k.m) will be less by69 k.m**whencompared with the present round-about Tiruchchi- Karur - Erode – Podanur-Palakkad – Ottapalam –Wadakkancherry – Thrissur (373 k.m) route.
Further in future,theThrissur- Nenmara – Kollengode - Pollachi- Podanur B.G.sections (129 k.m),willserve as an alternative route to the busy Thrissur-
Palakkad Jn. – PodanurJn. (125k.m) double-lined trunk section. Thus Southern Railways can treat this route through the valley of Nelliyampathy hills, lengther by just 4 k.m asa ‘third line’ between Podanur andThrissur, while it enables to skip the traffic
saturated Palakkad Junction.
Kollengode– Thrissur railway that facilitates a chord line from Pollachi, the industrialtown inCoimbatore district of Tamil Nadu well-known for the
biggest marketforvegetables, agro products, hill produce etc., to Thrissur the city incentralKerala, known for the Pooram festival, should never carry the tag ofabranch-line within the boundary of Kerala. As the line establishes Pollachi–Kollengode – Thrissur
inter-state ‘chord-line’ (89 k.m). It will neverbe extraneous if Tamil Nadu comes forward initiating for this ‘Chord Line’ knowing the potential for augmenting tourism and trade, even if Kerala is notkeen on advocating for the same!
The Pollachi –Kollengode-Thrissur ‘chord’ rail-link will be advantageous for the tourismdevelopment of Nelliyampathy (Kerala), Valparai (TN), Top Slip(TN)hill-stations
and many water reservoirs in the region- Pothundy, Mangalam, Peechi, Malampuzha, Chulliar,Meenkara, Aliar, Sholaiyar, Kadamparai, Nirayar and Parambikkulam. Ultimatelythis line will add value to the tourism potential of these hill-stations and nearby dams
with gardens, amusement parks,boating lakes, resorts etc. that canbe easily accessible by foreign tourists landing at Kochi, Kozhikkode or Coimbatore airports.
It is a different issue that Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi who had presented the current year’s railwaybudget underwent a unique situation wherein
the whole of the party to which hewas associated turned against him and threatened to sack him if the hike inpassenger fares are not rolled back. The hapless minister DineshTrivedi hadresigned even prior to the completion of debates in respect of his budget
inthe Parliament. The incumbent Minister Mukul Roy (who was nominated to RajyaSabha solely as a replacement for Dinesh Trivedi) must look into the facts in respect of the decades’ long pending Kollengode – Thrissur railway line.
Railway ministry must gracefully take note of the potential of the Kollengode – Thrissur railway lineand vacatethe project out of repeated and callous resurveys.
It is fine if the ministry instantaneously takes forward the project that can augment traffic earnings andoptimal operation of rolling stocks of Southern Railway for implementation in the current Railway Budget itself and undo the injustice done all these
The Keralagovernmentmust take all preparations to get the sanction for the Kollengode-Thrissur railway line and it is desirable to seek the support
from Tamil Nadu while demanding for the branch line, as Tamil Nadu will be an equal beneficiary from this line which facilitates a chord rail link from Pollachi to Thrissur instead of a round-about link through Palakkad.
Ultimately the Kollengode-Thrissur rail link will add value to the tourism potential of Nelliyampathy Hill station. If implemented, Nelliyampathy will be easily accessible to
foreigntourists landing at Kochi, Kozikkode and Coimbatore airports as they can reach the entryway of the hill station - Nenmara town by a train.
On implementation of the Kollengode- Thrissur railway, pilgrims and tourists will get a circular route – Palakkad – Podanur –Pollachi – Kollengode
– Nenmmara- Thrissur- Shoranur – Ottapalam - Palakkad(255 k.m) comprising two smaller circularsections. The first one will bethe KOLLENGODE – Nenmmara -Vadakkumcherry– Mannuthy – THRISSUR - Wadakkancherry - Shoranur – Ottapalam – PALAKKADJn.- KOLLENGODE circularsection
(154 k.m) covering the erstwhile Vengunadu andValluvanadu realms touchingtwo district head quarters- Palakkad and Thrissur.The other one will be the Kollengode – Palakkad – Podanur – Kinattukkadavu– Pollachi – Kollengode (147 k.m) covering the erstwhile Kongunadu,
Palakkadand Vengunadu realms.
These circularsectionswill be advantageous for the tourism development of Nelliyampathy (Kerala) andValparai ( T.N) Hill stations and many water reservoirs-Pothundy,
Mangalam, Peechi,Vazhani, Malampuzha,Chulliar, Meenkara, Aliar,Sholaiyar, Kadamparai, Nirayar and Parambikkulam.
**Details of 'Thrissur- Tiruchchi' distance Saved (69 K.m):THRISSUR-TIRUCHCHI
Jn., via. ERODE : Thrissur-Erode 232 K.m+Erode- TiruchciJn.141 k.m=373 k.m; THRISSUR-TIRUCHCHI via. KOLLENGODE, POLLACHI & DINDIGUL:Thrissur-Kollengode 54 k.m + Kollengode-Pollachi-Dindigul 157 k.m+Dindigul-Tiruchchi Jn. 93 k.m = 304 k.m. Distance saved: 373-304=69
This ARTICLE is the amended version of my earlier Articles –
Will theRailway Ministry look into the prospects for a ‘chord’ rail link from Pollachito Thrissur? (http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8265495-will-the-railway-ministry-look-into-the-prospects-for-a-chord-rail-link-from-pollachi-to-thrissur)
posted in ‘Allvoices’ on on 22nd February,2011 and Kollengode – Thrissurrailway line: Tale of a neglected fresh green rail corridor from Central TamilNadu to Central Kerala
posted in ‘Allvoices’/31st July,2010 which was based on my own original Article already published in ‘indianexpress’; see in blogs of indianexpress.com/ expressindia.com on 16th June,2009.
Can read in ‘Blogspot’ which was posted on 17th June,2009(http://kollengode-thrissur-railway.blogspot.com/2009/06/kollengode-thrissur-railway-line.html);with
Malayalam Captions posted on 29th June,2009 in blogspot itself, prior to theRAILWAY BUDGET ON 3rd July,2009 by Railway Minister Ms.Mamata Banerjee. Alsoread my latest Article
in Blogspot once again to endure a callous resurvey? (http://kollengode-tcr.blogspot.in/) posted on 28th March,2012
Many people have fully copied my Articles from “expressindia” without mentioning about their copying, and posted
in various sites as if they havewritten the Article and few people have quoted in their blogs/ forums.
Sometimes readers may wonder why I have been writing again for theKollengode – Thrissur Railway line as the
previous Articles will serve thepurpose. It is to be noted that in this latest Article I have given a thrustfor the tourism development of Nelliyampathy hill station and the need for theKerala Tourismto
launch special campaigns - ‘Tea Garden Tourism” and “Festival Tourism”. FurtherI have a reason to dream on the saidKollengode-Thrissur railway line as I have felt the need for the same rightfrom my school days at my native ‘Ayalur’
Village, just 4 k.m away from Nenmmara. There will be thousandsof people in the Pollachi – kollengode – Nenmmara – Thrissur stretch who are nursing similar dreams.
I would request readers not to copy this Article and post in any other Blogs.