A Calendar for the Palanis
In the year of 2013 the challenges faced by small hill stations and communities in India’s Western Ghats continued to multiply. The double-edged sword of tourism and development has brought both prosperity and ecological upheaval to these fragile areas. They were originally settled for their beauty and salubrious climates, but today they are besieged by issues of noise, solid waste, water shortages, poor governance and other concerns of sustainability. Kodaikanal, located in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu, has unfortunately become a case study in uncontrolled growth and lackluster management. Record numbers of tourists continue to visit this south Indian hill station (160,000 in one particular ten day period according to the Hindu). In the heart of the township that hosts these growing numbers of tourists is Kodaikanal International School. In its 112th year KIS continues to offer a global education based on the International Baccalaureate curriculum for students from South Asia and beyond. There is a strong spiritual foundation for this learning; something that I like to see as an agglomeration of its Christian missionary roots, India’s mosaic of faiths and something special, quite indefinable in the air.
As an alumnus who was shaped by experiences in the hills and school, I continue to stay involved with the school through its alumni association, Council of Directors and contact with friends who have given their professional lives to the school. This year it has been my privilege to help contribute to the school’s annual calendar. After a few initial suggestions from my side, the calendar was designed by the intrepid KISCO team (Sonny Deenadayalan, Judy Redder, Billy and others). I selected 13 different black & white panoramic images that highlight important ecological themes in the Palani Hills. The images are all digital panoramas and owe their final presentation to DSLRs and software rather than the wet darkrooms where I used to spend so much time. Calendars will be available from the KISCO office (located at the front gate of the school). I will also print a limited series of 40” long enlargements for spring art shows in Kodai and other locations.