River Nila

Kathakali and MohiniattamRiver Nila stands for different things to different people – the fount of inspiration for poets and writers, the wellspring of cultural ethos, rousing the artistic and the aesthetic, a winning location for enthusiastic movie directors, a waterway for people and gods, a sand goldmine for avaricious traders…and so the list goes on. A source of life and livelihood for those living along its basin, it is the longest river in Kerala and has given birth to an ancient river civilization. Nila has also has a profound influence on Kerala’s classical and fold traditions, its religious and social life, its festivals and literature. It is the common thread that binds together traditions and cultures with the lives of people. But most significantly perhaps, the river has left its indelible mark on people’s psyches as the symbol of all that is immutable in nature – noble and inviolate.

The river basin receives an annual rainfall of 2,300 mm, most of its during the monsoons. As rains peak during the soggy June to August season, the rain water rushes through the estuary at Ponnani before slamming into the sea. Wide swathes of ochre spread for miles before disappearing into the blue green ocean. But once the rains depart, the river is no longer as alive and exuberant, a fact that continues to be a cause of concern for some time now. Officially known as Bharathapuzha, as it passes through the holy Bharatha kandham near Thiruvilwamala, this river is simply called Nila by those who know her intimately.

Nurturing both the agricultural and cultural life along its banks, River Nila has inspired the literary luminaries, Thunchath Ezhuthachan and Kunhan Nambiar.Jnanpeeth award winner T Vasudevan Nair,has also written paeans to Nila.Vallathol too, has written many poems about the greatness of the river. Sankara Jurup, Vyloppilli, P Kunhi Raman Nair, Olappamanna, Edassery and Balamani Amma are among artists inspired by Bharathapuzha. Great astronomers such as Thalakulath Bhattathiri and holy men such as Pakkanar and Naranath Bhranthan have also drawn inspiration from the river.

Acclaimed institutions such as the literature park, Thunchan Parambu,a draw for the intellectually inclined, have sprung up along the river banks. The place where the father of Malayam literature, Thunchath Ezhuthachan, had spent the better part of his life scripting texts now hosts a centre for literary pursuits. The poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, set up the premier institute, Kalamandalam,in Cheruthuruthy.It is a centre for learning Kerala’s performance arts – dance forms such as Kathakali,mohiniattam and thullal – as well as the traditional percussion instruments. 

Nila : The Nile of Kerala and the second longest river in the state.Nila provides the perfect eco system for Aattuvanchi,whcih in turn makes the river a picturesque sight post monsoon.

River NilaA heritage park on the banks of the river Nila at Velliyamkallu in Thritala, where the legend of ‘Parayipetta Panthirukulam’ has its roots, was inaugurated for visitors. The village Velliyamkallu near Thrithala, in the western part of Palakkad district is linked deeply to the river Nila with the legacy of Parayipetta Panthirukulam, which still inspires Malayalam literature.

At Velliyankall,where the Bharathapuzha takes a sharp and enchanting bend, a Shiva temple stands to tell on such story. It is said that the river changed its course to give space for the temple, the legend of which also has its roots in the Parayipetta Panthirukulam,one of Kerala’s famous pieces of mythology.

For the lovers of the river, Velliyankallu is a place from where the river can be enjoyed best for its majesty. The park and the tourism facilities are named after the Pathirukulam fable. The temple is also a prominent marker, giving the village of Thrithala its name. A heritage park is built for visitors who arrive in the evening to see the Thrithala regulator-cum-bridge constructed across the Bharathapuzha.

The Varikkassery Mana is known to many as a film shooting location for films of all Indian languages is located in near Ottapalam in Palakkad district.

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