My life in Emirates was like an incarcerated bird. School, home to and fro every day, et al made me feel so dull and unamazing. The chance that I got after school, to be back in India, was my chance to live life on my terms. For me, this was my opportunity to taste some action, adventure and explore the unknown, to be alive, to be awesome.
Yes, for me, alive and awesome, is to break free from the chains I was in… To start a journey of exploration of nature, exploration and life… to live life at it’s fullest.
My hometown in Kannur provided me the perfect podium for my thoughts to develop into action. Blessed with a nature that could compete with paradise, glorious history, culture, traditions, and speckled with modernity, it was the best place ever I could be in.

I had never explored the land beyond my home before that. There are a lot of beautiful things to see around – like the river, paddy fields, hillocks, but before all this I had just ventured out towards the Parassini River only.
This was my chance. Admission was ready, college had not yet started off for the fresher’s in Graduation, and I was smartly enjoying my well-merited vacation after a long time. It was a time, when I got to make new friends at home, friends who were more down to earth, more in love with nature and life, unlike my swanky NRI friends at Sharjah, friends who would change my outlook towards nature and life. They were distant cousins, neighbours and all, who would take me around to places of interest.
So, my journey began. For the first few days, it was the serene riverside where the best fishes were caught, then the paddy fields – all green and heavenly, then the coconut groves, where the best toddy in entire Kerala was being tapped, then Padikunnu (the Padi hill) – the small hillock which is most of the time, for strangers, just another piece of desolate green hilltops that is found in Kannur.
We used to go to Padikunnudaily to play our daily dose of cricket in the evening. It was quite a beautiful spectacle in the evenings, especially the sunset over the Arabian Sea, the lush greenery that was visible all around in the plains between us and the Sea, and the Ghats towering up tall towards our east. All this gave me a special feel to being alive – an awesome feeling.
My fascination for Padikunnu started increasing with each passing day. Along with its natural beauty, what supplemented the charm was the memorial for a few revolutionaries who were shot dead here by British police, a memorial that lay neglected by the rest of the world except for staunch communists. The view of the huge water tank maintained by the Kerala Water Authority was also added further allure to the entire hummock.
This was not all. There was something even more fascinating and mesmerising spot that was in the offing. Padikunnu had historical and mythical stories behind it too – stories related to our culture and heritage. And an important character in all these stories was the beautiful Padiyil Theertham, which had its existence in one corner of the hill.
What is Padiyil Theertham? Well, it is something that is very difficult to put in words. It’s a spring, a waterfall, a cave mouth – all rolled into one. It was a gushing waterfall during the monsoon days, and a mild spring during the hot summers, but anytime, it was the source of water for the thirsty earth, all the year round. It had the waters falling from over the top of a stunning rock, which was the opening to a cave – a cave that was shroud in mystery and fabled stories.
It is said that the other end of this cave is at Kashi. A person, who starts his journey here, walking into this unknown, would come out at Kashi after years of wilderness. It is even said that there were many who ventured into this cave, not in recent memory, never to return. There was another story of a spiritual Swamy, who had conducted tapasya in this cave for years – and suddenly disappeared one day – never to return. All these, and more stories which have missed my ears.
So one fine day, me and my new friends, were off to see this showpiece of nature. Moving down a path down the southern side of Padikunnu, the walk was equivalent to a trek in the wilderness, with nature strewn all around. The awesome Parangi Maavu (Cashew trees – called Parangi or Portuguese in Kannur, as this was introduced by them in the early 16th century in Malabar) all around was a treat to the eyes, the stone filled path, the chirping of the birds, the smell of the red earth, all were kicking alive the nature lover in me.
We reached there at last, and a view of the Padiyil Theerthamwas the one of the most splendid, eye-catching and stunning views I had in my life. There it was, a cave – beautiful in the most conventional and natural terms – that reminded one of man’s roots and history. The water gushing from above the rocks – and the sound of water hitting the ground was one of the best music that hit my ears.
I was a bit confused – what should I do first? Enter the cave or launch myself into the waters. In this perplexity, I found moving myself into the mouth of the cave. Within seconds I was there. Standing straight, looking into the darkness inside, I could feel the deep mystery, a sense of fear factor, and a spectacularly speeding heartbeat.
Then, I turned around, and looked at the falling waters. I could feel the adrenaline rush, and before even I could reflect what I was doing, my clothes were off my body and I had dived into the waters.
“It’s Awesome”
There was no other word to depict my feelings that ran through my body, heart and soul, when I could feel the cold, sweet and pious water from Padiyil Theertham all over me.
For the next few hours there was nothing that was motivating enough for me to come out of the waters. The sweet taste of the cool waters made those moments nothing short of paradise and heaven. At sunset, my friends had to literally pull me out of water and take me home.
It has been more than twelve years since my first visit to Padiyil Theertham, and there had been many more visits. Each time, once I reach there the smell and sight of nature brings back that awesome, alive feeling back to me.
“To break free, to be alive, is truly awesome”
The waters of Padi Theertham during a summer.
Photo from Shyju Thotti’s facebook album. 
This post is written for Cinthol’s new Alive is Awesome marketing campaign.
Please see this link for the Reporter TV (Malayalam news channel) programme on the recent environmental issues at Padikunnu.