On the occasion of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, the flow of tourists has witnessed an increase at Padmanabhapuram Palace, the age-old wooden palace in Kalkulam taluk of Kanniyakumari district this year.
Last year, the festive spirit was subdued owing to several factors such as floods that devastated Kerala and construction of fly-overs between Kulithurai and Marthandam on Trivandrum- Nagercoil Road and near Parvathipuram, which reduced the flow of tourists considerably.
Normally, on the days of festivities, the illuminated and well-decked 6.5-acre palace would attract about 3,000 to 4,000 tourists. However, when compared to previous year, when only about 500 tourists got access to the palace, the influx of tourists had gone up to 1,500 a day now, Ajith Kumar, charge officer of the Palace, told DT Next on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, even the local residents did not take the celebrations well in 2017, as a mark of respect for those killed by Cyclone Ockhi. The Onam celebration commenced at the palace on Monday and will continue till September 12. People could access the grounds, but would not be let into the palace on Wednesday (September 11), a declared local holiday. Further, he said developments of structural conservation were mostly done at the palace. To facilitate tourists, especially the elderly and those who could hardly walk up, they were open to access special galleries to watch a unique video tour, Ajith said.
On the other side, flower market at Thovalai has lost its shine this time. Normally, flowers were much sought after during Onam festival. According to M Rajesh, a wholesale florist, it’s market price shot up as usual during this festivity, but activities of buying and selling were not brisk this year. Since most parts of Kerala had experienced rainfall as Southwest monsoon became intense, many traders were reluctant to come to procure quantities of flower. Except for jasmine (Mallipoo) and pichipoo, price of other flowers is normal. Few days ago, a kilo of jasmine fetched Rs 450 at the market, but it has shot up to Rs 1,000 through the night of Monday. The price of pichipoo also jumped to Rs 750 a kilo against its normal market price of Rs 450.
Anticipating a good sale, variety of flowers were bought from Hosur, Alangulam, Dindigul, Sathyamangalam and Salem days ahead of the festivity, but only stocks had piled up, he said.
Another florist, A Karunanidhi added that almost 15 truckloads of flowers could not be offloaded since its demand has dropped significantly. Owing to a fall in demand from traders in Mumbai affected by floods, large quantities of flowers landed at Thovalai impacting its value, he added.