Discovering the Dynamic Rivers of Kerala
Updated: Feb 12
Kerala, known for its lush greenery and serene backwaters, is also home to a network of 44 rivers, 41 of which flow westwards and the remaining 3 (Kabini, Bhavani and Pampar) flow eastwards. The major rivers of the state, including Nila (Bharata Puzha or Perar), Periyar, Pampa, Kunthipuzha, Chandragiri Puzha, Korapuzha, and Chaliyar, play a crucial role in the state's development and history.
Rivers as a Source of Trade and Transport
In the ancient and medieval times, rivers played a significant role in the state's trade and transport. Inland trade was mainly carried out through the waterways, with the harbours at the mouth of the rivers providing safe anchorage for ships. The rivers also served as a means of communication between different parts of the state, connecting the people and the places.
The Cultural Significance of Kerala Rivers
The rivers of Kerala have not just influenced the state's trade and transport, but have also been instrumental in shaping its culture and history. 24 out of the 32 Brahmin settlements in the state are located on the banks of rivers, and several historic temples, churches and pilgrimage centres are situated near the waterways.
Political and Military Significance of Kerala Rivers
The rivers of Kerala have also had a profound impact on the state's political and military history. The Periyar flood of 1341, for instance, made the port of Muziris useless for trade, leading to the rise of the Vaipin Island. Similarly, the 1789 flood in the Periyar river forced Tippu Sultan to abandon his plan to conquer Travancore.
Irrigation and Industrialization Projects
In modern times, the rivers of Kerala have been the site of major hydro-electric and irrigation projects, with the latter playing a crucial role in the state's agriculture sector. Projects like Peechi, Malampuzha, and Periyar Valley have helped to irrigate the land, while the hydro-electric projects like Pallivasal, Sengulam, Peringal Kuthu, and Sabarigiri have facilitated the state's industrialization.
In conclusion, the rivers and backwaters of Kerala are a testament to the state's rich history, culture, and development, offering visitors a glimpse into its rich heritage and natural beauty.