“Gods own Country”
With the vast Arabian Sea in the west, the towering Western Ghats to the east, the forests blessed with a teeming population of wildlife, the land zigzagged by 44 major rivers and countless creeks and waterfalls - it is of little wonder that they call Kerala “Gods own country”. Kerala has the unique distinction of being India’s cleanest and greenest state. It can also boast of the fact that it has the highest literacy rate, almost 100% and the highest physical quality of life in the country. All this coupled with an exotic cuisine make Kerala one of the most frequented destinations by tourists in all of South Asia.
The Western Ghats is a beautiful range of mountains running parallel to the entire length of the western coast of India. The monsoon season in India that unleashes its fury during the months of July-October over the Ghats creates a lot of river and creek systems akin to the South Island of New Zealand.
The Southern River Runners (www.srr.org.in) a bunch of individuals hailing from Bangalore and Chennai have been running and exploring rivers in South India for the last four years. In these four years the group had to overcome many challenges posed due to unavailability of paddling equipment, dealing with uncooperative forest/district officials and managing wild monsoon floods in the thick jungle. Despite such challenges SRR has managed to thrive and have run many first descents on the rivers of South India. Last year the team set out to explore the rivers of Calicut district in Kerala and discovered a treasure-trove of steep creeks and waterfalls. They were also pleasantly surprised that the administration of the district welcomed the paddlers with open arms. They provided a lot of logistical help with arranging permissions and granting access to previously unknown river sections.
A strong team of 5 kayakers paddled the first descent of three class 4-river sections on the Chalipuzha and the Iruvanjipuzha in July 2012. “Puzha” pronounced, as “Pudha” is the Malayalam word for river. During the trip the team discovered a variety of waterfalls, big slides, and classic hard class 5 sections that were earmarked for later expeditions. The scope for white water kayaking in this region is huge.
MALABAR RIVER FESTIVAL
SRR is now organizing India’s first Malabar river festival (http://www.facebook.com/MonsoonRiverFestival) to celebrate all that Kerala has to offer the kayaking industry. The festival will be held between August 23rd and 24th in association with tourism department of Calicut. The aim of this festival is to promote the sport of kayaking and make the international paddling community aware of the fantastic and unexplored rivers that Kerala has to offer. The organizers of this festival plan to have various categories of competitions including kayak slalom, a boater cross, a rodeo and a separate group of events for female paddlers.
The organizers of the event hope to raise an estimated $10,000 dollars in prize money from corporate sponsorship and the event will be covered extensively by the local media. The competition will be held on the Chalipuza and Iruvanjipuza Rivers that are located about 35 kilometers from the major town of Calicut (Kozhikode). Participants will also have an opportunity to explore the region by themselves both before and after the festival.
Situated at a distance of 350 kilometers from Bangalore and 200 kilometers from Cochin, Calicut is well connected and there are direct flights and trains operating from all major cities in India to Calicut.