Tourist Destination of the Week - Konni
Konni is a small hilly town in the heart of Pathanamthitta district known for its pleasant scenery and eco-tourism locales that draw nature enthusiasts to visit the place. It is a haven for wild elephants and houses a unique elephant training centre. The presence of acres of thick forest with wild animals and nature trails has made Konni emerge as another adventurous tourist spot for safaris and trekking.
It is situated 11 km away from the district by road, and 28 km from the nearest railhead, Chengannoor. The lush green and fertile land nourished by the Achenkoil river joining the Pamba is dense in vegetation, which makes it an ideal farm tourism destination too. Konni is more popular as a hub for wild elephants that roam around freely in its vast and dense jungles, and for its huge elephant cages made to train the animals. Travelers have the options of going for exciting jumbo rides through the wild greenery of the jungle and trekking to the hill top from where one can have a bird’s eye view of the amazing valley and landscape.
Konni is an important junction on the Muvattupuzha-Punalur route. It is an important center for cash crops like rubber, pepper, coffee and ginger which form the backbone of the agricultural economy of the state. Konni is also a separate assembly constituency forming part of the Lok Sabha constituency in the district of Pathanamthitta.
The Konni region, with its verdant greenery and unique topography, is the gateway to the forest bordering the district. One of the two elephant training centres is situated at Konni, the other one is at Kodanad.
How to reach
Konni is well connected to the district by roadways. There is a bus station located at Konni, 10 km from Pathanamthitta and 16 kilometres from Pathanapuram both of which lie in the same route. The Konni-Chandanapally road connects Konni to the main towns of the district like Adoor and Pandalam. The Konni-Kalleli-Achenkovil road offers easy access to Tenkasi in Tamil Nadu via Achenkoil. This road is also a short cut route to Sabarimala from Tenkasi.
The nearest railhead to Konni is Chengannoor, at a distance of 34 km. Thiruvalla railway station is situated at a distance of 41 km from the place.
The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 99 km from Pathanamthitta. The Cochin International Airport is situated about 24 km from Konni.
Konni has been popular for taming and training elephants since the 19th century. The cage for training elephants and the adjacent museum of history are prime tourist attractions here. Konni is also part of an ecotourism campaign managedby the Forest Department. It constitutes a committee of officials and local people, and is being run with cooperation from the public.
The ‘Elephant Focus’, one of the recent innovative initiatives in elephant welfare and ecotourism in this nature destination has turned Konni into a role model for other similar forest-based animal welfare and ecotourism schemes focused on environment conservation and preservation of wildlife.
It is a shelter and museum for elephants where they are treated and trained. Huge wooden cages named ‘Anakkoodu’ have been built to house the elephants where they are taught and trained by mahouts. Each one can accommodate up to 4 pachyderms. It’s a novelty to watch the experienced trainers using their systematic training methods, tame the wild elephants. The huge animals, found wounded or roaming in the forest after getting separated from their herds, are brought to the venue for training.
Visitors get a chance to have a close look at these elephants, observe the training pattern and understand a lot about their behaviour, especially that of the calves which are often endearingly mischievous. Some of the names of the elephants trained at the centre include Konniyil Kochayyappan, Ranji Padmanabhan, Priyadarshini and seven-year-old Eva. The last one is the youngest member of the lot and, with its frisky, playful ways, is a favourite among the visitors and staff.
Konni features numerous streams of the panoramic Achenkovil river with its lush green banks, whose tributaries join the Pamba further down.
There are two ancient forest shrines at Achenkovil and Aluvamkudi. Palaruvi and Thenmala waterfalls have also caught the tourist’s fancy over the years. Palaruvi, located 16 km from Thenmala towards Shencottah, is set amidst evergreen forests and splashes down from a height of 300 ft. There are facilities for rock-climbing, trekking, boating and cycling in and around these spots.
Kumbavuruthy, the beautiful waterfall amidst thick forests, is yet another place of attraction. There is also the Kattathipara in Kokkathodu, which is a few kilometres away from Konni. Kattathipara is particularly attractive with its gigantic rocks and the triple-echo phenomenon.
The 1000-year-old temple of Sreemahadevar, one of the biggest in Pathanamthitta district and located at Muringamangalam, nearly half a kilometre from Konni junction, once belonged to the Pandalam royal family.
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