Monday, September 24, 2007
A couple of months ago, I followed Cauvery river from Karnataka to ThamizhNadu up to the point where one of its streams merged into the sea near Nagapattinam. Upstream, I went to Shivasamudra in Karnataka where the river split into two, giving rise to Gaganachuki and Barachuki waterfalls on one side and SriRangapattinam on the other. There is also a river bank not very far away from Shivasamudra, which gives you an opportunity to take bath in Cauveri. I forget the name of this place. Here, Cauvery is more wider and the drive from here to Bangalore is very scenic (A separate travelogue on this later).
Downstream in Thamizh Nadu, among many other places, I visited the majestic and incomparable Srirangam. After flowing through Hoganikkal, Cauvery forks into the beautiful island of Srirangam. The 'anaikattu'/rock (very popular and revered) that bifurcates Cauvery was built/found/placed close to 2000 years ago. One part of the forked river is called Kollidam and this part merges into Bay of Bengal near Nagapattinam (the other flows into the sea near Cuddalore). 'Anaikattu' and dams are built to facilitate irrigation. Once into Thamizh Nadu Cauvery splits into several tributaries. I had a good grasp of them a month ago. Now I forget. Suffice to say Thanjavur delta formed near the island of Srirangam, is one of the richest Cauvery banks for irrigation. When I was at Srirangam there was lot of buzz about Cauvery water getting released from the dam, the next day. It got released the next day and I was near Lalgudi to witness Cauvery water flow into the dry river beds. There were about 300 government offiicials present to witness this. I was surprised to see no politician there. Watching the water gush and flow was quite a sight. When I drove to Kumbakonam, Sirgazhi, and Mayavaram there were some moments where we were overtaking the water flow and and some when we were lagging behind it. Quite thrilling.
Some interesting facts (from what the locals said) I learned about Cauvery was 1/3rd of it flows in Karnataka and 2/3rds in ThamizhNadu. About 80% of the water is wasted and not used for any useful agricultural activity (Unverified - and I would be dissapointed if it is true). Since the water is not stored in a dam beyond Srirangam, whatever seeps into the ground and canals is what is used for irrigation. Everything else just flows into the sea. It is easy to call for construction of another dam but I'll desist from judging until I know better. When you see the water flow, the first wave of water has green/brown patches on top of it. Many people who don't know what it is, play with it and potentially die as a result. These patches are "snake nests". Snakes build homes on the river when it is dry and these nests are washed away when water flows. The green/brown patches are sometimes whole snake pits with live snakes.
The emotional attachment that the people of the land attach to the river has to be simply seen to be believed. I had the genuine pleasure of following the river quite literally only a few days after following a major part of ThamaraiBharani.