67. Waterfalls to Cherish

@Athirappilly, Kerala, India.

This is one journey which went through spirituality without earlier expectations. The desire for nature was surely rewarded, but the prize was even better with these spiritual additions in the form of beautiful churches which marked their presence on the way to Athirappilly. Saint Antony’s Church of Konnakuzhy was the most striking of them all, with the look of one of those Chinese civilization buildings in Age of Empires II, most probably resembling that of half-a-castle from the front side. It deviated from that East Asian building of the game, with three crosses – one of them Syrian, along with two stars which resembled the crosses. The centre of the structure had Jesus Christ stretching his arms and there were four other statues of saints, Mother Mary and Saint Anthony at both sides of the entrance. The blue colour shades made it clear that the structure was quite new and not of that world of tradition, most possibly a replacement for an older structure which might have found itself too small for the people on a Sunday. With a small, but beautiful curved altar with pictures which were rich in the beauty of simplicity was successful in giving that much needed close-to-divine feeling. It is said that there is always more than what meets the eye, and I would repeat it here, for there is the presence of God for sure.

Of the next two churches, one would be noticed by a wooden cross with its parts all tied up as if to keep it in shape, and the next one by the Pieta structure on its front. Both looked quite new, may be due to the paint or may be both were re-built on a date not too far away into the past. The second one seemed to depict modernity more than the first even as both showed very little attachment to any old tradition in architecture. The point to be noted is that the path taken was not through the much easier road from Angamaly as it was the road in better condition which turned from Chalakudy which was taken. This path surely had more spiritual elements with so many churches around while the other path might have gone closer to nature with smaller roads surrounded by greenery as well as Ezhaatumugham which would be on the way. The longer route still got more of Indian Coffee House, not just one, possibly two of them. In a world of outside food which is infested by bad shavarma, there would be not many who won’t long for a trustworthy place to have food, a place like Indian Coffee House which has been the perfect choice for better food for many Keralites; a place which I have known and visited ever since I was a little kid.

The journey through the greenery never ended, as the place had for itself a lot of it. The visiting time approved by Kerala Forest Department is supposed to be from 8AM to 6PM which meant that there was a lot of time for us to spend there. The first thing we see when we enter there are monkeys – not the humans who behave like the tree jumpers, but the real monkeys who are not related to Tarzan in any way. They are the creatures of the trees of nature who are disturbed only by the humans. Those who trace evolution from these creatures can surely go and live with them, for they were drinking and eating from whatever humans had left on the side of the path, including Frooti, Jumpin, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, 7up, Mountain Dew and everything they could get. When plastic is banned and people are not supposed to feed animals, the exact opposite things happen – one has to wonder what the word “ban” really means. If the animals were educated, they might have understood it better, for what is education these days but a rusty tool used to get jobs with good salary? There is surely no improvement of character or civic consiousness these days with professional courses which teach no value. All those basic human characteristics might be going down the drain with this one dimensional training suitable for circus.

The number of humans still outnumbered the monkeys by a large number, on a day which seemed to attract too many tourists. Therefore, there was a certainty that there won’t be any hostile takeover leading to a future Planet of the Apes. For now, the human existence will continue to harm their natural habitats. The number of people just kept on increasing as we walked down towards the end of the waterfall – that world was different now, and it has developed into a big tourist destination from what I had witnessed during a bike trip about six or seven years ago. That journey was surely more fun, but I wouldn’t be into that much fun anymore. It was the first big trip on a motor-bike, a Honda Unicorn which was new and running at exactly sixty kilometres per hour just for that much needed mileage boost – those were the days of immediate artificial awesomeness which faded away like evil at the gates of heaven, and now it is the season of long lasting beauty which is a permanent influence. Many of the devil’s people will find no difference between the two, but there is always a significant difference when the view point changes, and it is even more when the physical change is also visible easily.

As I don’t wish to make this more like Amitav Ghosh’s “In An Antique Land”, and confuse myself with my lack of knowledge of this world and the other which would be set ablaze by my strange imaginations, that bike trip would stay offline for now. There would be need to explain the scene of waterfalls as extremely beautiful. It is surely one of the most beautiful ones seen from this close a range, not exactly a perfect thing like Jurong Falls of Singapore, one of the tallest artificial waterfalls in the world; but a force of nature which has been weak in strength due to the lack of rain. But its beauty is not affected and during heavy rains, this would look gorgeous in another way. The view from the top is not much different either, even as it is the rock that we see more than the water falling from the top, but that scene also had its own beauty and this view might be more appealing to me than a stronger waterfall. The rock has its own beauty and its shape is not less appealing. The next destination would be Vazhachal Falls which is close enough, and there was another waterfall on the way which had almost dried up.

Vazhachal was not really the same as Athirappilly though, as it was not steep and had water flowing between rocks with a small inclination of the ground. But there was no question of the natural beauty around. It was viewed from that area which was built like a park which had a herbal garden and enough tea shops. The lines of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was quoted there on a board – “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” But it missed an “s”, of promises, may be they just had one promise to keep and I sincerely hope that they get to keep that promise. The waterfalls are lovely for sure, and therefore lets enjoy the beauty along with keeping the promises, our duty to the environment – by not exploiting the nature and abiding by the rules, for the rules are not meant to be broken and they are to be obeyed – if they were to be broken, why should they be called rules? Obedience might not be easy, and conscience is not a thing which enjoys co-existence with modernity, but there is a tradition, not only tracing back to Mahatma Gandhi, but even further behind the timeline upto King Mahabali, so lets live by the rules and keep this natural beauty clean and worthy enough for the future generations.

Diving out —>



66. Mystifying Nature

@Urulanthanni, Kerala, India.

Some say that the nature of the universe mystifies humans – those thinkers, philosophers and all those people who are responsible for the intellectual greatness which has been achieved in those centuries. But what could be said about the nature of nature which has been mystified through ages right from the age of the Romantic poets, or may be even before them in another way. The nature has remained a mystery for centuries and in my humble opinion, it still remains so, and it doesn’t matter how much the science has progressed. There is always the mystery element and the things that science can’t solve, for everything is not about logic and reasoning; for not everything is meant to be found out – the mystery element keeps the world beautiful and our minuteness in this huge universe is not something which should inspire us to be evil and wretched, but to respect the creation of God, for there would be no point if everything is explained using theories and our descendence is from some random ape; some people might find some relief in it – Planet of the Apes was a good movie and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is fine too, but that art-entertainment combo is an entirely different thing.

All the glorification of scientific discoveries is leading to a world that Dorian Gray had? That would be a situation worse than the hell that Keanu Reeves’ Constantine visited, with the devastation supported by the moral degradation of many centuries, all in one poisoned tea cup, the lovely drink replaced by the pathetic immoral half-truths. Beyond these poisonous factors of a world degraded by over-use of science and technology, there lies Urulanthanni, the virgin land of beauty, untouched by the evils of science other than the basic elements which brings no evil. There is still the need to keep the exploitation of science and modernity away. Its a fact that the places unexplored would remain the most beautiful places of natural beauty. Technology from being a boon has become that bane that makes the Dark Knight’s enemy look like a little evil man with the mind of a small kid. It makes fate a lesser destroyer of lives; the more dangerous thought would still be about how dangerous a combo they would make if put together in a cage with no door, no way to escape. They might join together to create that monster of science, somewhere close to a mutant – not of X-Men, but of Resident Evil, for some viruses are of another grade. The horror never ends with science’s newer ideas of exploiting God’s creations.

After leaving the fake that is technology for the truth that is the beauty of nature, the place is about sixty kilometres from Alwaye and seventy-seventy five from Ernakulam. A significant resting place on the way would surely be Kothamangalam, with enough good restaurants to have tea and food. If the chosen path is through Muvattupuzha, that could serve as a better base before the journey to the interiors, as the Indian Coffee House there has more parking area and there is another good vegetarian restaurant just before it with enough space to park the car. Aluva and Perumbavoor are always good options too, with many vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants, so many of them to choose from – a stop might be necessary as the number of options would be getting lesser and lesser once one crosses the town of Kothamangalam. Both the Catholic and the Jacobite Syrian Cathedrals of Kothamangalam would also ask for some attention on the way, with a long history and the beauty that they exhibit. There is always a possibility of stopping on the way and therefore one has to be ready to apply the brakes all the time, if there is the thought of enjoying the beauty of nature all the time.

After Kothamangalam, the next major stop would be Thattekad, which is not only a beautiful stop with a great view from the bridge, The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary, covering an area of about 25 km² is one of the important bird sanctuaries in India, named after Salim Ali, one of the best known ornithologists in the nation. This bird sanctuary has a rich and varied birdlife which could be interesting to some. The Bhoothathankettu reservoir as well as that of Idamalayar are worth having a look, but for these option, there is the need to take a turn before moving on to Thattekad route from Kothamangalam. This could be done before moving on to the bird sanctuary on the way to Urulanthanni. The next place which is close enough to be called a small town is Njayappilly, and then there is Kuttampuzha. The option to go to Pooyamkutty might be there for another significant experience, but Urulanthanni would demand a right turn which could be acknowledged by asking any of the helpful people who might be standing on the roadside. It is surely a better option as this is not a place to visit using google maps – may be the purest of mother nature would never approve of it either, for the modern men should be able to find the best of nature by themselves and not by some random technology.

When the destination is reached, the beauty which you have witnessed already would really be playing in your mind. The place might be found by accident too, for sometimes nature calls you and gets you to the right location. This might be something Ace Ventura might agree, and one needn’t be that aggressive to find nature’s gift; for it does appear right in front of you at times as long as there is that eye to see the signs. The rest is upto you; for one can try to be a “Lord of the Flies” character, another Robinson Crusoe or just a random recluse – what would hurt nature the most might be a modern man with all his bloody modernity with him. But there would still be no range for most of the mobile connections, only Vodafone coming up with full range and Idea with a little range at times. The rest would be dead, with no sign of any existence giving that feeling of being a mobile phone carved in stone; it is good to have that feeling of Stone Age, for people need to know that technology will ultimately fail and what would remain is pure nature as long as it remains alive. Urulanthanni is still a success of Vodafone, for nobody might have thought that it would have an upperhand over BSNL and Airtel at such a location.

The way to waterfalls, crossing quite a number of waterbodies was quite beautiful, with greenery all around, and no specific path to walk around – for it was all green and grass covering was tall enough to make any existing path not easily noticeable. The water level kept increasing throughout the waterbodies which had to be crossed on the way and by the time of return, there was water till just a little below the waist of a 5’8″ person. The leeches made a good work out of legs, making sure that the blood kept coming out of the legs for hours, from more than one spots. This should surely work well enough for a future thesis in Gothic Horror – for they did quite a good job in vampirism, sucking the blood and enjoying every moment of it. It is thus not a negative thing, but a positive addition – just as the waterfalls and the greenery along with some strange remains of a structure gave the feeling of playing Tomb Raider, and that thing looked more like those magic vaults of Age of Wonders – that game which sucked hours out of my life. All these combined to create that feeling of nostalgia – not just of nature, but also of that technology whose influence is now limited in my life.

Diving out —>