The pink carpets of water lilies, which took the State by storm last year, have once again made their way to the backwater villages here. But this time, there is no one to gaze in wonder at these vast vistas of flowers.
The COVID-19-induced crisis has now cast a shadow over a series of events based on the flowering season. Though the lilies have begun to bloom since the onset of the monsoon, the flowering locations have been made off-limits and people from other areas are banned from visiting these spots. The residents of Malarikkal confirm that at least 700 acres of paddy fields in the village’s interior have turned into a sea of colour with the flowering of lilies. But following a directive from the district administration, no boats have been made available for the tourists to reach these locations.
“There have not been a single visitor till now. We, however, are still hopeful of going ahead with the festival after the Onam as there are still about 40 days left for the farming works to begin. By that time, the blooming splendour is expected to expand to more areas and reach its peak,” said K. Anil Kumar, convener of the Meenchilar-Meenantharayar-Kodooraar River Linking Programme.
Around 80,000 people visited Malarikkal alone during the flowering season last year while 120 boat rowers, who ferried these visitors, together earned around ₹12 lakh.
Buoyed by the visitor influx, the Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission identified 15 locations for tourism promotion.
“We established supporting mechanisms at these locations and even kickstarted a marketing campaign when the activities came to halt. Events based on this natural show, which typically extends up to December at some locations, can be revived once normality is restored,” said K. Rupesh Kumar, State coordinator, RT Mission.