Southern India 2019 – 5

Still catching up…

After our late night at the Meenakshi ceremony we had an early alarm so as to be on the road at nine o’clock as we transfer to the Western Ghats in Kerala. Much of the day being spent in a car there’s really not that much to write about other than to say that for almost the entire joourney we were going through very flat land that is very intensively cultivated and that the people appeared to be most industrious. It turns out that because so many young people from Kerala are now working abroad, mainly the Middle East, that Kerala has a complete shortage of vegetables which Tamil Nadu is happy to provide. More on this anon.

On the way we took a short stop to have a look at a traditional artisan brickyard.

This dear soul makes bricks by hand at a rate of one thousand four hundred a day. He mixes up the clay according to type of brick then hand loads it into a frame of four and turns them out in lines for the sun to dry. Once dry they are stacked to continue drying and then, once they have enough to fill the kiln, they are fired to finish them off. It was Sunday when we visited and he had been working since two in the morning so that he would have some time later to spend with his wife an three young children.

We continued across the plain but eventually we could see the hills of the Western Ghats in the distance, at the end of a long straight road we could see a huge line of pipes coming down from the hills. Let me introduce you to Colonel John Pennycuik.

Colonel John Pennycuik was a proper old son of the Raj. He was born in India to a military family but after both his father and elder brother were killed in battle he was sent to England to be educated then joined the East India Company in Madras (now Chennai). He became a civil engineer and was concerned that the fertile plains of Tamil Nadu were doomed to failure through lack of water. His solution was to take a river that flowed west into the Arabian Sea, divert it to flow east, build a dam at Perriyar to create a lake and send the water by pipe down to irrigate the plain. Despite the all odds he did it and you can read the whole story on Wikipedia. The dam was opened in 1897 and it has completely changed the state of agriculture in Tamil Nadu which is how they are now able to grow all the vegetables for Kerala too. A very grateful state government dedicated the statue in the picture (they do tend to go for gold statues here) which is set in a very nice building surrounded by gardens; every year the farmers all still celebrate their good fortune on Pennycuik Day.

After a short stop to pay our respects to the Colonel we continued up the hill through numerous hairpin bends and continually crossing the pipeline until we crossed the border into the state of Kerala and on to Thekkady where we are staying at the Spice Village an hotel run on very eco-friendly lines and at three and a half thousand feet in altitude it has a most begnign atmosphere indeed. This is the view from our chalet.

So far there appears to be only one drawback, this fellow and his mates

it appears that they like to spend the afternoon outside our place squabbling and yelling at each other and everything else, this may not end well for them.

Tomorrow I go for a walk in the forest.

4 February 2019

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