Engulfed in a Waterscape

via Padma Jayaraj published on January 18, 2006

 ENGULFED IN A WATERSCAPE 


Padma Jayaraj 


[I wanted to tell you of an experience of mine at Athirappilly water falls. I had attended a Reiky Course. They open the chakras. And I do practice it daily to retain its effects. So when we went to the falls, I sat on rock with my feet deep into waters for some time. And involuntarily one pours water over one’s face. You won’t believe, I saw indigo and violet colors with a splash of golden edge at my brow chakra. Although a fleeting vision, it was unbelievable, the glow of the colors is something I’ve never seen any where. I had read sometime ago that bathing in the Ganga help to progress spiritually. I didn’t believe it then. Only when coming into contact with primordial waters tells the real meaning of the word Theertha. That is why I brought in a religious strain in this piece. It is based on personal experience. Not just to make the write-up sound good and holy.]


  Photo credit: Murali Krishna 


                                     


 


Kerala was as wet as wet could be for the family from the deserts of Rajasthan in the month of September. For them it was a peep into the diversity of the Indian subcontinent-its richness, natural, cultural, and ethnic. For, they could see how geography and climate shape the culture of a people. The rain forests of the Western Ghats and two monsoons have made Kerala Gods own country. And the family who has read the wind-etched romance of the deserts could see a different signature of Nature, the lush green. Behind the greenery lay, its perennial waters, the elixir of life. The Ghat region is punctuated with many silver cascades, big and little. Athirapally and Vazhachall, five kilometers apart on the Chalakkdy river, are two such falls, famous as picnic centers ever since eco tourism conquered the hearts of people.


 


30 km away from Thrissur, in central kerala  is Athirapally, an 800 feet high waterfall at the entrance of the Sholayar ranges.  We drove through drizzle, by passing two water theme parks on our way. Mickey Mouse and her tribe seemed too man-made for these nature lovers. “We will get down while coming back” , said 15 year old Sidharth impatient to see the falls he had surfed in the internet.


 


We took a diversion from the national highway and drove up. Beyond the glass windows of the car, beyond the curtain of rains, beyond the thick foliage on the bank, there appeared glimpses of a river rushing down on a parallel course. Breathing quickened, shared the excitement. Rivers pulse through our blood stream. The first speck of life was born in water. Human body consists of 70% water and is related to the tides. Great civilizations were born on river valleys. Lives, rivers, and landscapes have melted into one. Human history traces journeys that rivers make and the journeys that we make along them and across them. And its stories form the cultural fabric, a weaving together of waters and lives.
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“The Ganga concentrates on its waters 35 million theerthas”( sacred water), mused Sidharth’s mother. To an Indian mind the Ganga is the heart and soul of all waters and indeed all waters are sacred. 

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      Undulating hilly region stands sentinel to the falls at Athirapally. We walked up and then down the boulder strewn path through overarching trees. Soon, under the expansive sky the rocky terrain that embedded the rushing river emerged picturesque, wild, untouched by passing Time. The cloudy sky diffused pale sunshine and rocks were dry exuding warmth.

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    Like somnambulists we move towards its smoking mouth. Starting calmly from the high ranges, rushing through gorges and gullies, torrential and dramatic, the scintillating silver falls crash … The smoky-spray overwhelms us, stirring something within. The inviting rocky chain across the watery expanse is dangerous to the adventurous. Men guard the area with whistle in their mouth. For, an unpredictable rise may swell to sweep away all on its way. Yet, here and there are strewn small gifts, of shallow pools. We bathe or stand knee-deep; we feel waters playing around us, with us, icy-cool, rippling, embalming… Here we feel the Ganga at Rrihshikesh among the foothills of the Himalayas. It evokes nostalgia for a lost life where humanity found its trysting place; evokes npassion and peace. Here merges the inner and the outer landscapes. Silence is demanded: silent we remain; silent is the mind; silent is the core of this whirling universe of music, a protecting healing silence!! We are poised in the stillness of a huge spiraling, top of sound. As if caught in the eye of a storm far from the storms of life…

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“The Ganga concentrates on its waters 35 million theerthas”( sacred water), mused Sidharth’s mother. To an Indian mind the Ganga is the heart and soul of all waters and indeed all waters are sacred. 


 


Undulating hilly region stands sentinel to the falls at Athirapally. We walked up and then down the boulder strewn path through overarching trees. Soon, under the expansive sky the rocky terrain that embedded the rushing river emerged picturesque, wild, untouched by passing Time. The cloudy sky diffused pale sunshine and rocks were dry exuding warmth.


 


Like somnambulists we move towards its smoking mouth. Starting calmly from the high ranges, rushing through gorges and gullies, torrential and dramatic, the scintillating silver falls crash … The smoky-spray overwhelms us, stirring something within. The inviting rocky chain across the watery expanse is dangerous to the adventurous. Men guard the area with whistle in their mouth. For, an unpredictable rise may swell to sweep away all on its way. Yet, here and there are strewn small gifts, of shallow pools. We bathe or stand knee-deep; we feel waters playing around us, with us, icy-cool, rippling, embalming… Here we feel the Ganga at Hrishikesh among the foothills of the Himalayas. It evokes nostalgia for a lost life where humanity found its trysting place; evokes passion and peace. Here merges the inner and the outer landscapes. Silence is demanded: silent we remain; silent is the mind; silent is the core of this whirling universe of music, a protecting healing silence!! We are poised in the stillness of a huge spiraling, top of sound. As if caught in the eye of a storm far from the storms of life…



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D(["mb","    And then unaware, showers came down; we stood engulfed in a waterscape.…it was as wet as wet could be.

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                          *          *          *           *              *

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      More than three hours on the rocky bank; a light lunch from KTDC restaurant we move higher up through windswept, rain-drenched woods, home to monkeys and a rare bird( hornbill) Malamuzhakki vezhampal, whose sound echoes among the mountains. Yes this is the state bird of Kerala. Two kilometers up is Vazhachal, more powerful, torrential and forbidding. The wooded area is encircled for protection. Still the flowing waters from the mountain sides tickle our feet, giggling. Creepers hug the giant trees and flowers droop down with honey-drops at their tips.

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‘It is such a drop when sunlight passes through acts as a lens and forest fire is caused.” Said Sidharth’s older brother, a student of physics. Yes, but the sunlight cannot peep through this thick canopy, Mother Nature’s loving protection!

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   Seven kilometers up, harbored in the reserve forest, is the dam of Peringal kutthu where electricity is generated.

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“ These falls will remain implicit as we eat our rice, as we open our taps, as we switch on our lights …let us not profane these sacred gifts” said Sidharth’s father  as we drove back.

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And then unaware, showers came down; we stood engulfed in a waterscape.…it was as wet as wet could be.


                          *          *          *           *              *


More than three hours on the rocky bank; a light lunch from KTDC restaurant we move higher up through windswept, rain-drenched woods, home to monkeys and a rare bird( hornbill) Malamuzhakki vezhampal, whose sound echoes among the mountains. Yes this is the state bird of Kerala. Two kilometers up is Vazhachal, more powerful, torrential and forbidding. The wooded area is encircled for protection. Still the flowing waters from the mountain sides tickle our feet, giggling. Creepers hug the giant trees and flowers droop down with honey-drops at their tips.


‘It is such a drop when sunlight passes through acts as a lens and forest fire is caused.” Said Sidharth’s older brother, a student of physics. Yes, but the sunlight cannot peep through this thick canopy, Mother Nature’s loving protection!


Seven kilometers up, harbored in the reserve forest, is the dam of Peringal kutthu where electricity is generated.


“ These falls will remain implicit as we eat our rice, as we open our taps, as we switch on our lights …let us not profane these sacred gifts” said Sidharth’s father  as we drove back.


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