Travellers to Kerala will now get to sail across the waters of the southern state in the Uru, a traditional sailing vessel, thanks to the state-owned Bekal Resorts Development Corporation Ltd (BRDC) launching a special tourism endeavour that offers tourists the opportunity to explore the culture and history of North Malabar by sailing across the backwaters in the destination in an Uru. 

The novel tourism project has been envisioned by the BRDC as one which will offer a rich experience to the traveller by stringing together the cultural, historic, art and other elements of Malabar. The project envisages to attract international and domestic tourists.

The focus will be also on introducing the art forms of North Kerala along with tribal art. Along with the artforms of the North such as the Yakshaganam, Duff Mutt, Pavakali, Kolkali, Alamikkali and Oppana, tribal art such as the Mangalam Kali, Eruthu Kali, Man Kali will be performed by artistes so as to offer the travellers a peek into the rich cultural milieu of the state.

The traditional culinary delights of the land will also be offered in the package. The travellers will be taken on a journey through the heritage of the state which will include trips to sacred groves, forts, temples, churches and mosques. The package also lets the travellers explore the rich biodiversity of the state, natural medicine, and experience village life as well. Other heritage monuments such as palaces, forts, prehistoric burial locations, and other historic sites will be introduced to the travellers through narratives and visual tools. 

Though houseboat tourism is prevalent, backwater tourism through Uru is a first of a kind offering. BRDC, which has been successful in fetching Kasaragod district a spot in the tourism sector with its innovative SMiLE tourism project hopes to make a significant mark with its new Uru tourism model. The focus of the BRDC is in understating the needs of each traveller and offering the right tourism experience.

The Uru which is being arranged by the BRDC under tourism department can accommodate over 50 people. BRDC Managing Director TK Manzoor said the project has been approved at a director board meeting presided over by State Chief Secretary Tom Jose held in Thiruvananthapuram. Tourism Secretary Rani George, Tourism Director P Bala Kiran, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) MD Krisha Teja, Kasaragod District Collector D Sajith Babu and Finance Joint Secretary Girish Parakkat were also  present. 

Uru Legacy to be Retold

The Uru story dates back to centuries and its significance in furthering the trade is etched in the annals of history. The travellers will be given a glimpse into the making of the vessel, its history and significance will be introduced to them through narratives and visual tools by the SMiLE entrepreneurs trained in ‘story-telling’.¬† History has it that the Arab travellers who reached the coast for trade paved the way for the building of Uru.

Uru or a fat boat which corresponds to the traditional shipbuilding culture of Kerala play a major part in the state’s history. The Uru is constructed without any blueprint and is created by expert craftsmen who use only locally available tools and equipment. The giant vessel is considered an architectural marvel around the world. The project has also been envisioned as one which will preserve the shipbuilding culture in the North which is now a disappearing art. 

By Manoj

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