Considered to be the lifeline of Kerala, the Periyar River is the longest river in the state of Kerala, India that covers a length of about 244 km. It serves as a source of drinking water for the major towns in the state apart from a few other perennial rivers. Sivagiri hills of the Western Ghats serves as the origin for the river, which reaches the Periyar lake after flowing through the National park of Periyar, which finally reaches into the Arabian Sea after flowing through Vembanad lake. Some of the river’s major tributaries include Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti and Edamala rivers. As a perennial river, it is considered to be a channel that has a continuous flow in parts of its stream bed all the year round.
History of Periyar River–
The Kingdom of Pandya, who ruled Madurai until 12th century, had the Periyar valley under their reign. They’d constructed the Mullaperiyar dam in the year of 1895, which was built across the west-flowing Periyar river, that later stops the river to form a reservoir. It also resulted in the creation of an artificial lake, which enhanced the charm of the valley.
The Travancore kings, used the reserve as a source for hunting grounds, during the 18th and 19th centuries. Inside the reserve was a palace – the Edapalayam Lake Palace, which was meant for the guests of the royal family. In 1899, the area was declared as a forest reserve called the Periyar Lake Reserve. This step was taken with the main intention of protecting the hunting area of the kings from the encroachment of tea plantations.
What it is to Kerala-
It is considered to be one of the most celebrated rivers in Kerala, as it serves as the lifeline and pulse of all the activity in the native settlement. Apart from serving as a source of water for all of Kerala, it is also a source for supplying electricity, throughout the state. To top it all, it is considered to have a rich reserve of fisheries that gets harvested across its course and the river also serves as a secret to prosperity in regards to the agriculture in the state, as many irrigation projects are supported by the waterbody. The Cardamom hills plateau of Kerala also gets benefited from the river as the latter provides nourishment for the plateau.
Periyar river- Today
The river is considered to be a perfect tourism spot for people from all over the world, where they can indulge in numerous activities like bamboo rafting, boat rides and birdwatching. The people of Kerala understand the importance of the river and how measures must be taken to conserve the waterbody. For instance, steps were taken recently, to conduct clean-up drives for the river apart from other waterbodies, as the people realized how much these waterbodies were polluted and that it was in their hands to conserve them. Hence, it comes as no surprise that Periyar river is considered to hold a Divine status in God’s own country.