A River and a People 4

"If you want to see a sea of humanity, go to Tale Kaveri on Sankramana day. If you want to see the goddess, go at another time." It's an old Kodava saying, truer each passing year. In the rains, the air at Tale Kaveri is cold and moisture laden; the trees drip silently. At the summit, all noise is muffled, and you are wrapped in a damp, cotton wool mist. The water in the tank is crystalline, and looking into the sacred pool is an epiphany. On a clear December day, the heart-wrenchingly beautiful hills of Kodagu fall away in wave after wave to the valleys below, full of rich fields and small, red-tiled cottages. The goddess enfolds you in an embrace of cloud, sky and breeze, forest-covered slopes, and birdsong, piercing the silent air. The environmental degradation we have seen in recent years has washed away the soil of centuries, and destroyed the equilibrium in which a people and a river have lived for thousands of years. If we are to preserve our land and heritage we need to renew our relationship with the river