An Introduction to River Nila

C K Sujithkumar | Oct 01, 2014 | Vol. 6, Issue 4
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As everywhere in the world, river systems have played an important role in shaping the social, historical and cultural heritage of Kerala. Among the 44 rivers of the state, River Nila, otherwise known as Bharathapuzha has a unique dimension in the socio-cultural and ecological realm of Kerala. It is the only river of Kerala that passes across the amazing land mass of Western Ghats through the Palakkad Gap.

As everywhere in the world, river systems have played an important role in shaping the social, historical and cultural heritage of Kerala. Among the 44 rivers of the state, River Nila, otherwise known as Bharathapuzha has a unique dimension in the socio-cultural and ecological realm of Kerala. It is the only river of Kerala that passes across the amazing land mass of Western Ghats through the Palakkad Gap.

The flow path

Nila is the longest river flowing through Kerala. The river has a total length of 250 Km, out of this, 209Km belongs to Kerala. River Nila originates from Thirumurthy Hills of Anamalais in Tamilnadu State at an elevation of 1964 MSL. It flows through Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram Districts in Kerala and drains into the Arabian Sea at Ponnani in Malappuram District. It has an extensive catchment area of 6186 Sq. Km. Out of this 1786 Sq. Km. comes in Tamilnadu State.

River Nila is bestowed with rich web of tributaries and sub-tributaries. Kannadipuzha (Chitturpuzha), Kalpathipuzha (Korapuzha), Gayathripuzha and Thuthapuzha are the four main tributaries. Amaravathipuzha originating from Thrimoorthy Hills of Anamalais in Tamilnadu joins with Kalpathipuzha at Parali in Palakkad District and forms Nila. Palar, Uppar and Aliyar are the tributaries of Kannadipuzha. Kalpathipuzha which originates from Anamalais has four tributaries - Koriyar, Varattar, Walayar and Malampuzha. The third tributary Gayathripuzha also originates from Anamalais and joins with Bharathapuzha at Mayannur. Mangalampuzha, Cherukunnapuzha, Ayiloorpuzha, Chulliyar, Meenkarapuzha, Vandazhipuzha are the tributaries of Gayathripuzha. The last tributary Thoothapuzha joins the main river downstream at Koodallur in Malappuram District. It takes its origin from Silent Valley Hills in Palakkad District. Its tributaries are Kunthipuzha, Kanjirapuzha, Ambankadavu and ThooppanaduPuzha.

Cultural Dimension

The history of River Nila is much celebrated. It is believed that the indigenous culture of Malayalam (the language of Kerala) has been created and sustained by the great flow of this river. It is an indispensable part of life and culture in Kerala. It is the cradle of their tradition and cultural evolvement. The river has much influence in the socio-religious, cultural history of Kerala.

The river also nurtured a great literary tradition. It is on the sacred banks of this river, the language of Malayalam has evolved and matured. There also exists a vast variety of folk, ritulastic and classical art forms along the valley hamlets.  The poets gave Nila, the lovely pet name to her.

Ecological Degradation

All the above mentioned glorious prides are bygone stories. As a result of indiscriminate sand mining and deforestation in its catchment area, Nila, once a perennial river, now dries up during summer -months. It is said that the river is on the verge of extinction. Crops have been damaged in thousands of acres along the river because of shortage of water.  In many places the river loses its real shape and structure.  The flow cut into many streams within the riverbed and wild coarse grasses are grown throughout the river course. The sickness of the river has immensely affected the life of people along the basin area.  The construction of dams across the river, widespread encroachment along the river courses all giving acceleration to the virtual death of the river system.

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Comments

Chitturpuzha is not amaravathi .amaravathi a tributary of cauvery river .

Great primer on the Nila, thank you! An inset map of the river would have helped too.

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