Kurangani

GOI-UNDP Endogenous Tourism Program a design report
June 2007

Kiran Keswani
architect Bangalore, India

kiranmkeswani@gmail.com

Action points for the hardware component of the Kurangani project are :
1. To finalise acquisition of traditional houses or buildings from owners who are willing to contribute to the Rural Tourism program, for adaptive re-use as interpretation centre, spice shop, cafetaria, toilets and homestays in Kurangani village (lower station), Middle station and also in Bodinayakkanur town. To create a local implementation team that can restore a traditional structure or build a new one using traditional building materials and skills. To begin upgrading of infrastructure facilities of Kurangani village, Middle station and Top station in terms of water supply, electricity, garbage disposal, drainage and sewerage systems. To discuss with entrepreneurs who will offer camping facilities and to finalise the camping sites. To identify the skilled artisans who supply tents to the vendors at the Theni weekly market and to discuss the needs of the Kurangani spice tour & commission a sample, camping tent.

2.

3.

4. 5.

Local Implementation team to include : Engineer Senior mason Carpenter with traditional skills Local village youth

2

Finalising the “Places to do” in Kurangani

The “places to do” in Kurangani SPICE TOURISM project site could be : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The 14km trek to Top-station Camping at Middle station Spice walk at lower station Tribal hamlets The Cardamom grading centre at Bodinayakkanur Palace at Bodinayakkanur

For those of the places finalised, we will need to provide sufficient infrastructure, to make it possible for tourists to visit these places in a comfortable manner. What are the tour packages that will be offered? One-day, two-day or a week ? What will be the itinerary for these tours?

3

Identifying the Tourist amenities needed
The BASIC tourist facilities needed are : for The 14km trek to Top-station TOILETS RESTAURANT PLACE TO STAY Camping at Middle station CAMPING SITES Spice walk at lower station TOILETS Tribal hamlets TOILETS The Cardamom grading centre & Palace at Bodhinayakanur TOILETS SPICE SHOP

4

Developing the infrastructure
The infrastructure needs would need to be determined for developing each of the tours / journeys that the tourist will take. This includes water supply, electricity, garbage disposal, drainage and sewerage systems.

Assessing the Route
There is a need to understand and to improve : 1. 2. The 4 ½ hour road route from Theni to Top-station that passes through Munnar Although it passes through Kerala, and is not directly a part of the project site, it may be possible to influence the concerned authorities to provide a toilet & a clean eating place at Poopara. There are, en route, a few petrol stations that may be approached for a tie-up on the tourism program. They can provide a toilet facility and a drinking water/tea counter. It is essential to generate these associations, wherever possible, so that no new “toilet blocks” arise onto the pristine natural landscape.

3.

4

Circulation Patterns of tourists
It is essential to also finalise the various circulation patterns that will be generated when the tourist flow begins. Each of these routes then, need to be assessed, so that appropriate infrastructure can be made available.

5

Current local architecture – what NOT TO promote

These are examples of buildings that are being built to serve as resting places and Resorts in Munnar and between Theni and Munnar. Since they do not encourage use of local building materials or Indigenous craftsmanship, it must be ensured that as few of such buildings flourish in the Tourism region.

6

Architecture in the Munnar region that should be DOCUMENTED AND REPLICATED

Elements to replicate :
Mangalore tile roof Stone walls the curved window elevation Design of glass window shutters Wooden fascia board/eaves board Entrance porch

7

Natural landscaping & the built-forms that may be REPLICATED

These are examples of buildings that are being built to serve as resting places and Resorts in Munnar and between Theni and Munnar.

8

ROOF designs in the Munnar region to be incorporated at Kurangani Top Station and Middle station

These is a roof type that may be best suited for the new facilities that may be planned for the Endogenous tourism project at Kurangani. Most of the Tea Plantation buildings in and around the Munnar area are roofed with these corrugated metal roofs. The green roofs have created an interesting roofscape in the region. They are unique and also offer an architecture completely different from the typical Kerala sloping Roof with mangalore tiles.

9

Details from the Munnar region that may be used at Kurangani

RETAINING WALL & RAILING DETAIL

Wherever possible, if local stone is availble at a reasonable price, and if the stone masonry skills are available, it is advisable to use stonework for retaining walls, steps and pathways. If workmanship is good, it is also recommended for walls.

STEPS & STONE COMPOUND WALL DETAIL

10

Planning details of the Kerala Livestock Development Board Ltd.
the Indo-Swiss project at Mattupatti, Munnar

It may be useful for the Implementing Engineering/Artisan team for the Kurangani Endogenous tourism project to study this Centre, on the way to Top-station along the vehicular route. It is worth noting the random stone masonry, the proportions of the concrete lintels painted white and the sloping tiled roof detail. The signage locations are also appropriately chosen.

11

Use of natural wood for SIGNAGE & TREE HOUSES

These are examples of signage that use a combination of stone & wood or stone & vinyl board.

These are examples of wooden signage and a tree house seen at Munnar.

12

Existing Signage at Top station

Proposed Signage

The existing signage uses tubular metal supports and metal signboards.

It is suggested that wood be used as much as possible

13

Facilities at Top station for eating, resting & a convenience store

The facilities available at present need to be upgraded or replaced in entirety. The structures are of a temporary nature. They need inputs of good workmanship and use of natural building materials such as exposed stone walls and tiled roofs or stone walls and corrugated metal roofs of high quality.

14

Existing room facilities at Top station

Proposed room facilities for Kurangani
The standard of the rooms being offered to tourists must be of adequate cleanliness and hygience value.

The existing room facilities at Top station are as shown here. It is important to plan a new set of facilities in the same location and to restore these existing rooms to a more hygienic setting

15

Nature Trail

The 14 km trek or nature trail may include the following : a Herb garden Benches Hammocks Birdshop Retreats / huts Bird feeders Green field home Perennial garden
Viewing deck on tree Elevation of Birdshop

16

Existing pathway from Top station to Lower station
The existing mud pathway is useable if it does not rain. In case of rainy weather, it tends to get slushy and slippery and would be dangerous to use. In some parts of the trekking route, there still exist stone pathways from earlier. Even small stretches intermittently along the way can make it easier for the tourist to trek down more comfortably.

Small stretches of stone paths may be planned as shown in picture 2 , if implementing the entire 14 km is expensive.

1

Existing unpaved path

2

Existing stone-paved path

17

Facilities for a home-stay available along the 14 km trek
• The same structures to be used • Standards to be established for cleanliness and hygiene for tourists

Existing benches at Top station with natural wood which need to be replicated elsewhere
along the trekking route as well.

18

Kurangani existing settlement in its natural landscape

It is recommended that some of the existing families at Lower station, Kurangani be approached to offer a room as home stay to tourists. The toilet facilities for the Lower station may also be accommodated within the existing structures available in this settlement. Kurangani police station structure may be reused as Tea/coffee shop with toilet facility

19

Camping sites and the local material available

The Camping sites at Kurangani top station, Middle station, Lower station or in areas available between these may consists of 5 to 6 tents or more as per the demand and as per the capacity of the local community to manage the facility. These images are taken at the weekly market at Theni. This market takes place every Sunday. Local skills in making these tents can be tapped for the tourism camp sites.

20

Some more examples of the materials used for the tents at the Theni weekly market.

It is important to identify the artisans who make the tents for the weekly market; to explain the needs of the tourism project and the ways in which the camp sites will be used and to adapt this local technique for the project. This would generate income for the local people and also prevent the ordering of camp-tents from city-based dealers.

21

Kurangani middle station

The existing houses at Middle station use stone and mud for the construction of their walls. The roofs are sloping, sometimes in tin or in asbestos cement. For homestays to be arranged at middle station, refer earlier slide that shows corrugated metal roofs in green colour which may be able to create a uniform and interesting architectural language for Kurangani.

22

Kurangani Lower Station Existing settlement in its natural landscape

The leaves of the areca nut Tree are being used extensively in the construction of walls for verandahs or small shelters outside the main house structure. Areca nut leaves are also used for laying of roofs in the Kurangani region. For the Endogenous Tourism or Rural Tourism project, some of the tea stall shelters for tourists may use this building technique. There may also be a need for small shelters along the trekking path from top station to lower station which may use the areca nut leaves.

23

“Places to do” at Bodinayakkanur
It may be essential to have a few additional places included in the Spice tour, in addition to the Spice walk, in order to offer the tourists an interesting mix of activities. Therefore, the Palace and Cardamom grading centre may be considered.

the Palace

Cardamom grading centre

24

Cardamom grading centre at Bodinayakkanur
The Cardamom grading centre at Bodinayakkanur, between Theni and Kurangani may be a part of the SPICE TOUR for Kurangani. It is suggested that they be requested to have a small tea shop that can offer tourists fresh cardamom tea while they are on their tour and when they visit the centre to understand the grading activity.

25

Summing up
ACTION POINTS for the hardware component Finalising the “Places to do” in Kurangani Identifying the Tourist amenities needed Developing the infrastructure & Assessing the route Current local architecture – what NOT TO promote Architecture in Munnar region to be DOCUMENTED AND REPLICATED Natural landscaping & the built-forms that may be REPLICATED ROOF designs in the Munnar region Details from the Munnar region that may be used at Kurangani Planning details of the Kerala Livestock Development Board Ltd.
( the Indo-Swiss project at Mattupatti, Munnar )

Use of natural wood for SIGNAGE & TREE HOUSES
Existing room facilities at Top station

Facilities at Top station for eating, resting & a convenience store station Existing and Proposed Signage
Existing pathway from Top station to Lower station

Proposed pathways along the trek Facilities for a

home-stay
Kurangani middle station

Existing benches at Top station with natural Wood Kurangani existing settlement in its natural landscape Camping sites and the local material available Kurangani Lower Station - Existing settlement in its natural landscape Cardamom grading centre at Bodhinayakanur

26