The lake is full!

We have had some good rain in the last week or ten days, and the lake is now full once more. It is a wonderful sight, all the more so because of the importance of this water for people in the local towns and villages.

If we are lucky the rains will continue for a few more weeks, the overflow from our lake will go on to fill other small tanks and lakes, and the water table will rise even further, to the delight of the farmers.

When you live in a country like India you realise just how precious a resource water is, and how important it is to preserve what we have.

I have just been out with my camera to record the lake, but then decided not to upload the pictures. After all, the photos I have just taken can never improve on the banner at the top of this blog!

If you want to see the view for yourself then you know where we are, and you will be most welcome!

 

Elephants at Lakeside!

elephants at Athoor damThe drought is really taking hold.

For the first time ever, elephants have come over the Palani Hills to our valley in search of water and food. Five elephants visited over the weekend. The crowds of local people made them nervous so we kept our distance!

Today’s Hindu newspaper tells the story.

People in our area are hoping and praying for a good summer monsoon to help replenish water supplies, for ourselves and the animals. If we don’t get it we then have to wait until November.

On a positive note it has just started raining. Maybe the elephants have brought us good luck – and good rain!

 

De-silting at the dam

As you know, the monsoon rains were a dismal failure last year.

Kamarajar Lake is used as drinking water for our local town of Dindigul and so the level is falling rapidly as more and more water is pumped out. This always happens during the summer, but this year the levels are exceptionally low.

The local government has ordered that all reservoirs should be de-silted, and work began here on 10th May. The photos were all taken on 16th and show just what a serious situation we face – and the levels are even lower than that now!

The south west monsoon should be with us soon, and we hope that that will bring some respite. Forecasts are that the rains should hit the coast of Kerala on or around 3rd June. The western ghats should get some good rain although we will get much less as we are in their shadow – but we do take some of the river water which flows in this direction from the hills so we are hoping to see a rise in the levels for a time. Of course, the water level will still continue to fall as water goes to Dindigul and it won’t be until November or December that the lake is full again. Let us hope that the monsoon doesn’t let us down this time.

Kamaraj Dam Athoor

This shows just how much silt has built up over the last 50 years.  It will take a lot of work to get back to original levels. (Dam and overflow on the left, lake on the right!)

De-silting Athoor lake

Photo taken on the lake bed.

9a

Looking towards the dam.

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When the lake is full the tree roots are under water.

10a

There is probably 10 feet or more of silt here.

7a

8a

1a

2a

12a

Failed monsoon

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You may have read my previous post about how pleased we were to see the monsoon rains.  Sad to say, the rains did not last and we have had very little water.  Although the lake still looks beautiful in the above picture appearances can be deceptive and it is at least 6 feet lower than it should be at this time of year.  We should only be seeing the very tips of some of the bushes ( as in my header photo), and no exposed islands or land at the lake edge at all.  We have even started watering our gardens 6 weeks earlier than usual.

It is going to be long hard summer for everyone, epecially the farmers, this year.  We are eagerly looking forward to the next hoped for rain in July or August.

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

When I used to live in England rain was something we put up with grudgingly, but now that I am living in India I appreciate the value of the life giving rains.  All living things, man or beast, look forward to the monsoon and welcome its arrival.  The first rains of the north east monsoon have arrived turning everything green and allowing the farmers to prepare their land ready to sow their next crops.

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

Monsoon in Kamaraj Valley

A gentle breeze from the west swirls, changes direction.

Blowing harder now, from the east.

Leaves fly from the trees;

Whirlwinds rise, dust whipped into life by the growing wind.

In the air the scent of rain.

 

Lake reflections shatter, broken by the growing waves

into a million pieces.

Lone egret takes flight.

Sambar lifts his head, questing the wind.  Turns silently

Into the forest, is gone.

 

Dark clouds billow, climbing high into the threatening sky.

The wind drops, eerie stillness descends.

Blinding flash of light.

Thunder rolls around the valley, echoes from the hills.

The sun shrouded, darkness descends.

 

The first drops raise dust, disappear into the parched earth.

Silence reigns, then thunderous roar

Of heavy rain on leaves.

Lake and mountains disappear, grey curtain hiding all.

Senses succumb to the rain.

 

Raindrops bounce, sparkling, shinning; consuming sunburned earth.

Roots reach out, greedily seeking;

Flowers raise their heads.

Verdant green revealed; leaves long hidden by yellow dust

Washed clean by the longed for rain.

Monsoon in India

English woman praying for rain!

Lakeside sits on the banks of Kamarajar lake near Madurai in Tamil Nadu (hence it’s name!)

After the north-east monsoon (November/December) the lake is full and looks wonderful. As the year progresses water is pumped out to provide drinking water for our nearby town of Dindigul. The level also drops because of evaporation.

As the level falls we continue to enjoy fantastic views. First little islands appear, then these are connected to the mainland by narrow strips of land. By this time of year there is enough ‘new’ land for local people to graze their sheep, goats, cattle and water buffalo on the sweet green grass that springs up as the water retreats. It’s a beautiful, mesmerising sight to see the animals grazing across the open spaces – a miniature Serengetti!

The south-west monsoon starts in June with most of the rain falling on the west coast of India. Kerala and the Western Ghats gets abundant rainfall, some of which finds its way down the eastern slopes of the mountains to our lake. We generally get some rain but not a great deal but it is good to see a small rise in the lake before it drops again with the continued pumping.

Not this year though. The south-west monsoon is delayed and weak, and across the country water levels in reservoirs is only 57% of what it was this time last year, down from 62% last week. (That’s an average, for us it is more like 90% so we are lucky). There are already reports of damage to crops in some parts of the country and some farmers are holding back on planting their rice seedlings until the rains come, which could affect food prices later in the year.

It’s a strange thing for an English person to say, but I’m praying for rain!

The lake after the north-east monsoon