Project Nila: A Journey, A River, A Culture


Humans have been dependant on nature since the dawn of time. One of the oldest civilisations in the world, Indus Valley Civilisation got its name from the river which was the lifeblood of society. It went on to become the cradle of civilisation, with a flourishing trade network and an emerging culture which would be venerated for centuries to come. Such has been the impact of the flowing water body that the one of the largest countries in the world is now identified by the very name of the river.

While the importance of rivers has slowly taken a backseat in our race for development, recent moves have given rise to new hope for the sake of our waterbodies. With the National Green Tribunal coming down on camps along with some of the more famous spots along rivers, there is new focus on the destruction of our natural heritage in the pursuit of money and business.


This time there comes a project from the southern state of Kerala. Titled “It’s The Way You See It”, a project undertaken by travel photographer Ajay Menon and story teller and Responsible Tourism Advocate Gopinath Parayil which follows the course of the river Bharathappuzha, the second longest river in the state; a journey to find the river, in the rain and understand the sociocultural, economic and natural impact it has on people and places.

The social importance of the river itself is immense, being home to a number of centres of performing arts like Kathakali, Koodiyattam and Ottamthullal. Also home to a number of significant temples, the river is also an important pilgrimage place to pray for the souls of the departed loved ones.


The journey celebrates the rich natural, cultural and social heritage of the river valley civilisation. It highlights how challenges can be converted into opportunities and how local resilience is helping the river civilisation, it’s people and places to celebrate their unique river.

Along with the journey and the rich heritage, the project has also aimed to highlight the degradation the river faces at the hands of people. The project, which captures the journey through the monsoon months, has tried to create awareness towards the importance of not just a water body, but also the heart of the cultural spirit of the region.

Stay tuned for some of the highlights of this magnificent journey.

Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar

Image Sources:

The Blue Yonder Project