Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thottapppilly Spillway and Vembanad Backwaters

Vembanad backwaters where one witnesses the magnificent union of six major rivers which spread-out extensively before joining the 80 km coast line of the district. The Alleppey town itself is crisscrossed by a system of canals, which is part of the navigational channel classified as National Waterway 3. The abundant growth of coconut palms on the bunds reclaimed from backwaters has contributed to a thriving coir industry with high quality export oriented products. The richness of the coastal waters is expressed annually in the blooming and consequent deposit of a huge quality of fishes and prawns on the Alleppey coast called 'Chakara', this annual shifting sandbank which appears during post monsoon period contributes to the local economy and is festive season for the inhabitants. The engineering experiments of Thottappilly spillway of 1955 and Thanermukkam bund of 1975 create conducive conditions to check floods and regulate saltwater intrusion. The ancient rice bowl of Kerala - Kuttanad, 55000hectares of unending paddy fields which very endemic salt and flood tolerant rice varieties lies in Alleppey District . The paddy fields lie 0.6-2 m below sea level and the practice of cultivating at such risk is the key factor here. The lakes, lagoons and channels are also witness to the brilliant and spirited boat-races, the most famous of them being the Nehru Trophy Boat Race held every August. This greatest festival of backwaters happen right in front of us. The annual floods rejuvenate and cleanse the soil and water. This explains the abundance of marine life - prawns, lobsters, fishes, turtles, mangroves and other flora. The backwaters and wetlands host thousands of migrant teals, ducks and cormorants every year who travel to reach this pristine aqua refuge. The culture of this district is also resplendent with rich and diverse ways of celebrating life - the boat races, songs and festivals all hold the spirit of the people.

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