Photo feature: From lush greenery to pristine rivers, the stunning beauty of Kerala's Konni
Konni is a hilltown in Pathanamthitta district, about a hundred kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. Dense jungle, huge black boulders and the sinuous coil of the Achankovil river define this lovely place.
The Elephant Training Centre formerly the site of khedda operations, is now a sanctuary for elephants as old as 65 and as young as six months old. They are housed in huge wooden cages, two or three to a cage. The Aanakoodu is a huge tourist attraction.
Stunning beauty awaits the visitor at the Adavi lagoon of the Kallar river, where as many as 15 coracle boats are on offer for 'bowl boat rides.'
Konni is also traditional rubber country, with virtually every other hill and dale given over to rubber plantations.
Malayali irony at its unwitting best. At Adavi, this chai kada has not been gussied up in the least but proudly bears the self-titled tag of Café.
The lagoon is hedged by ancient trees with gnarled roots, a dense canopy of leaves, stout overhangs as well as near impenetrable undergrowth, all adding to the mystique of the place.
The sun shines through onto a patch of the dense underbrush as we drift on lazily.
For all its lush appearance, the river at this place is merely a few feet deep and one can see the water-smoothened pebbles and stones on the riverbed.
All around is this lush greenery, the sound of the gently coursing river, the air strident with birdsong. Even given Kerala's propensity for verdant vegetation, one could well believe that this is some part of the Amazon rainforest!
Rs 800 will fetch you a half-hour coracle ride downstream. The boatsmen are locals and will willingly sing praises of the region's almost unbearable beauty, but in that laconic manner so typical of my countrymen!
What wildlife can you see from the lagoon, we ask. Wild elephants but not very often, is the reply. And then, we get lucky. Barely five feet in front of our coracle, a huge King Corba falls into the water heavily and then makes his way swiftly across to the other bank, not in the least conscious of the boats or the suddenly silent human beings in his vicinity. What`s more, I actually manage to click a snap with slightly shaking hands!