Nileshwaram (or nileshwar, nileswar, nileswaram) is a quaint town in North Kerala.
Attractive in many respects, Nileswar is finding its rightful place as a tourist destination.
Not long ago travellers stated hearing about the stunning backwaters of Kasaragod. Nileshwar is the entry town to the backwaters. Boat rides start at Kottappram, 2 kms south of town.
If you are on a cultural tour, this is the place to be. The way of life that revolves around temples, sacred groves, colourful festivals, theyyam and folk dances will fire up your curiosity.
There are a couple of reasons more to name Nileshwar as the cultural centre of Kasaragod. It is the seat of the Folklore Centre, run by the Archeaology Department. The old palace of former local kings, Nileshwaram Rajas, is converted into the folklore centre.
While there are several folk arts, theyyam is in a league of its own. Theyyam is held at many temples and kavus. The performer (theyyam) goes into a trance and is taken over by a spiritual entity with supernatural powers. Devotees talks to the theyyam about their pressing problems. Theyyam listens and offer solutions, all in a commanding tone.
Kavilbhavan Yoga & Nature Cure Centre addresses health disorders through yoga and naturopathy. It is located at Mannampurath Kaav in Nileshwar. Started about 50 year s ago by Yogacharya Raman Master, it has grown and branched out to Paalayi, Payyanur and Kanhangad.
Nileshwaram has two rivers, Nileshwaram puzha and Karyangodu puzha. After curving around the town, they unite and open into the sea.
Close to the estuary there is a small fishing harbour and a white sandy beach – Thaikadapuram. Azure waters, plenty of fresh air, broad beach – what more do we need to spend an hour or two?
Incidentally, Thaikadapuram is one of the famous breeding grounds for Olive Ridley Turtles. They are the smallest turtles found in India and are very rare.
Do you know that turtles travel very long distances and return to the same beach they were born to lay eggs?
Neithal is an organisation that is involved in the welfare of these turtles. Located at Thaikadapuram, their volunteers collect eggs from the beach, help hatch them in safer locations and release the new born turtles into the sea.
Not long ago, sacred groves used to be everywhere in Kerala. These groves are isolated patches of forest like growth, usually dedicated to snakes. Snakes live there and are never disturbed. Some large Kavus exist along with shrines.
Some of the famous ones near Nileswar are Benkana Kavu, Mannanpurathu Kavu and Cheerma Kavu.
There are many temples in and around town. Some of the important ones are Thaliyil Shiva Temple (Neelakandeswara Temple), Sri Vettaykkorumakan Temple, Pallikkara Sree Bhagavathi Temple, Arayakkil Sree Veerabhadraswami temple, Kadanjathoor Sree Krishna Temple and Sree Muthappan Temple.With hills, rivers, coconut groves and paddy fields all over, needless to say that the country side is pretty. Explore a village such as Pattena to experience the beauty of a Kerala village. Or take a walk through the foot bridge over the river. The 400 m footbridge, the largest in Kerala, connects Kottappuram to Achumthuruthi.
Where to stay
There are a few resorts and home stays near town. Kanan beach resort, between Bekal and Nileshwar, tops all reviews.
Or you could stay overnight in a house boat. They serve all food and moor the boat somewhere at night. You could even opt for a candle lit night.
It is also convenient to stay at Bekal since Nileshwar is only 1 hour drive away. Bekal has higher end resorts and hotels.
Location: North Kerala
Nearest towns: Kasaragod at 37 kms, Kanhangad at 10 kms
Bus Station: Kanhangad Bus Station at 10 kms
Taxi / Auto Rickshaw Hire : Kanhangad Town at 10 kms
Railway Station: Kanhangad Railway Station at 10 kms. Nileswar has a Rail Station too.
Air port: Mangalore Airport at 97 kms
Food Options: Restaurants in Bekal, Kasaragod town, Kanhangad and Nileswar.
Accommodation Options: Resorts, home and boat stays. More hotels, lodges and resorts at Kasaragod town, Kanhangad and Bekal.
Best time to visit: October to May. Can be visited throughout the year although monsoon can spoil some fun during Jun-Aug.
Nearby Attractions: Bekal, Kappil beach, Kareem Park, Ananthapura Lake Temple, Anandasramam, Nityanandasramam, Madhur Temple, Chandragiri fort, Edneer Mutt, Kottencheri Hills, Posadigumpe, Kanwatheertha Beach, Valiyaparamba backwaters, Thejaswini River Rafting and Ranipuram.