Periyar river, the lifeline of Kerala. It was a name that fascinated me. A simple name, meaning big. That’s all that the people around it need to know. But the river rises in the biodiverse Western Ghats, and in the short 244 Kms from its source to its mouth in the Arabian sea it traverses a wide range of altitudes. So, almost exactly five years ago we took a short trip to the Periyar National Park. We landed at the Kochi airport and took a bus to our destination. The road passes through the intensely urbanized plains. But then, as we crossed a bridge over the river, the urban clutter fell off. We’d reached our homestay, a small two-storeyed house near the entrance to the park.
We dropped our bags and headed out for a walk. There is always a lot to see just outside a national park. We walked back to the bridge we’d crossed. Power lines ran next to it and we were sure to find kingfishers and bee eaters perched there, at eye level. I had my big lens with me, but I’ll show here only those photos I took with the fixed lens of my cell phone. The river branched crazily here, as it reached the plains. A boat was tied next to a little side stream that we crossed. A group of langurs chattered madly as they ate leaves in the canopy of trees around the path.
The phone was also good for close ups. Here in the undergrowth is one of the numerous species that you could call a daisy. I love their complex flowers, five white ray florets and numerous five-petalled yellow florets in the disk. The arrangement of the disk florets and their shape should be a very good guide to a more precise identification, but I’m intimidated by the size of the family Asteraceae, the asters. Full identification is a finicky and time-consuming job.
Which trees grow here? The answer is plain when you look around you. But it is equally plain when you look down at the small landscape around your feet. A large leaf from a teak tree was flaking into pieces as it dried. I pointed my phone at it. Bamboo too, as you can see. And the small leaves of, what was it, jamun? Quite a variety. It would be hard to keep the jamun from being eaten by birds and langurs. But then those trees fruit so abundantly that you can always get enough. We reached the bridge, and then it was time for the big zoom and the end of my fixed-lens adventure.