With just a pickaxe, Kerala farmer carves out a tunnel

With just a pickaxe, Kerala farmer carves out a tunnel

C.T. Thomas has dug through the laterite slope beside his home in Kannur to create a 25-metre cave

It was a holiday trip to Thailand that inspired 69-year-old C.T. Thomas to take a pickaxe and shovel and dig a 25-metre tunnel through a hill beside his home in Peruvamba Eramam Kuttar gram panchayat in Kannur district of Kerala.

His enthusiasm sparked by a tunnel cave made by residents of a Thai island, Mr. Thomas decided to replicate the novelty in the laterite hill slope adjoining his house. Six months later, his efforts have borne fruit despite local opposition and the tunnel cave is now a popular attraction, including for those who warned him against it.

The entrance of the tunnel that C.T. Thomas dug through a hill in Kannur district, Kerala. Photo: Special Arrangement


Aware of the fragility of the slopes and amidst dire warnings that the tunnel would collapse, Mr. Thomas worked on the tunnel with only his trusty pickaxe avoiding electrical tools that could have damaged the rocks. With the COVID lockdown affording him free time, he began work on a spot close to his house, which is also built on one such laterite slope.

“I removed all the soil after working 14 hours a day without using any electrical machinery or outside labour,” Mr. Thomas said, his work belying his age. All that was with him was a torch as he went on to dig the six feet high tunnel through the laterite hill. Even though the work is exhausting, as he goes digging deep inside the hill, it gives a sense of happiness and satisfaction. he said.

The tunnel opens in front of his house and stretches about 25 metres through the hill to end at the back of his house. Inside the tunnel are small chambers and above the tunnel are full-grown rubber trees, which keep the tunnel freezing cold at all times.

Not done yet

However, Mr. Thomas is not done with his work and continues to dig the tunnel so that he can reach the other side of the hill.

While family members were initially apprehensive, after six months of hard work, they are impressed by the tunnel and backing him, he said. Belying the fears of his neighbours, the tunnel has stood firm over the months. And many of those who were against it, now come to spend time in the tunnel. Once completed, Mr. Thomas wants to throw open the rocky passage for visitors.

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