EXPLORING INDIA’S SILENT VALLEY
Sunlight falls seraphim like through the canopy of the rain forest. Limited space in a dense evergreen forest can throw up marvels in the biodiversity of flora and fauna. Equal parts natural history, elegy, and environmental outcry, photographer NP Jayan’s studies of the Silent Valley in Kerala’s terrain are steeped in the panache of verdant green forests, the revelation of the viewfinder and his deep love for nature.
Jayan is among Kerala’s best award winning photographers. He has lived in the Silent Valley for long periods over six years and is akin to being a homeless minstrel. His images of the Silent Valley have about them a savoured simplicity, an ascetic purity and openness.
The images oscillate between the tenors of a tensile bird to the couched clouds that hug together in the monsoon shadow. Holding his camera aloft a branch of a tree, Jayan wields it like a mace, and clicks while in the distance a waterfall roars.
Living in a leech-infested rainforest can be trying—stockings and gumboots peppered over with snuff (powdered tobacco), the marshy lands offer many insights. Interestingly, Jayan shoots by daylight, his Canon is always used without a flash and you wonder how he captured the frog with praying hands. In another image, the speckled frog is a perfect camouflage to the surroundings, and you wonder how the artist in Jayan, personifies Dionysian abandon.
‘I shot that frog with a torchlight,’ he says, and you mull over his ability to turn his subject around.
Diffused sunlight floods the sky before quickly fading, poignantly bringing to mind the hours that Jayan spent patiently waiting for the perfect moment to capture the landscapes of the Silent Valley. These images have the ability to stop you in your tracks and make you contemplate India’s last evergreen forests.
“Rainforests are among the earth’s most valuable and diverse habitats. I learnt to live like the tribals- eat the berries , the leaves and fruit they ate and learnt to listen to silence, ”says Jayan.
These otherworldly depictions of the epic nature of rainforests shimmer in opalescent light as it is shrouded in the morning mist of a moist sunrise. The dark thunderclouds that hang over the sky glow from within like hot coals, illuminating the stream, which looks like flowing mercury. Each image is the reckoning of a story in the wilderness, one that celebrates the thick rainforest monsoon showers and keeps our eyes peeled on the nuances of nocturnes.
While the moth nestles gently in its nectarine mood, it is undoubtedly a serendipitous moment; Jayan’s meticulous frames render the rolling hills in the midground as the torrent of darkness beckons, providing the perfect foil for the tinted ellipse of the rock.
Obviously, Jayan is concerned with the rainforest’s transient aspects, and his quest for capturing a portrait of light and how it affects the relationship of one object to another is mesmeric. “I seek to evoke an emotional response for the viewer to experience nature just the way I do,” he
says. But these works also serve as a tool for communicating Jayan’s passionately held views on the conservation of the natural landscape — mirroring a sustainable ecosystem in India’s Silent Valley.
The Silent Valley is the last of the Evergreen Forests. Deforestation and development have taken its toll in areas surrounding the lush vale. The rain forests harbour tremendous biodiversity and the rivers are nurturing lifelines.” This makes perfect sense; because in these exotic and esoteric images there is an aura of elegance and the tongue in cheek comment of a wildlife photographer, who takes a few minutes of reverie in the visual vocabulary of language.
The lush green rainforests of Kerala’s Silent Valley, smothered by descending clouds
A family of eight elephants make their way through the lush greens of the Valley
Drops of water calm the forest soil
Rays of light gently seep in as the sun prepares to set
Perfect timing: An ant perched on a snake
The forests are awakened by the chirps of several feathered friends