Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Tea Gardens of Valparai

 Valparai is a sleepy town in the Anamalai range of the Western Ghats. Long time ago, the place was a dense tropical forest housing a diverse group of wildlife and native trees. Now vast tracts of these forests have been cleared to make way for tea. In contrast to the earlier biodiversity, Valparai now has only one type of flora-Camellia sinensis, also known as Tea. There are stumps of the non-native Silver Oak dotting the estates to give shade to the tea plants. Wild elephants, having had their habitat denuded, often enter the tea gardens.
 Neat rows of tea plants are attended by female workers.
The endangered Nilgiri Tahr is sometimes seen by the roadside. It is a sign of hope after driving trough  miles and miles of tea estates.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sundarban- the Beautiful Forest

 The wetlands seen above are the ones made by tidal activity on the rivers Vidyadhari, Piali and Malta. These wetlands join the wetland ecosystems of the Ganga- Brahmaputra delta, making the vast marshy area of Sundarbans. The name Sundarban means 'beautiful fores'. Some say it got its name from the Sundari trees which are found there.
In the picture above, you can see a couple of  brick kilns, which are a rarity now. The bricks of this area are famous for their toughness and long life.
 We travelled by boat on the river Ganga, alighting at some settlements .The riverbanks were lined with mangrove trees. There were hugr crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks.
 We caught a glimpse of a wild boar near these mangroves. The famous Royal Bengal Tiger eluded us.
 The locals believe that Sundarban area is protected by a goddess called Bon Bibi and her brother Jongoli. There are shrines to them in all villages. We watched a dance drama enacted by the locals on the story of Bon Bibi one night.
You can read about many interesting places at Our World Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Valley of Flowers

 Bhuynder valley in the Himalayas in Uttarakhand state lives up to its English name- the Valley of Flowers.From mid June to mid October each yeat, the valley becomes covered with hundreds of varieties of wildflowers, some of which you can never see anywhere else. Every week the flowers change as old flowers fade and new varieties take their place. Mid August to mid September is the best time to visit the Valley, as the Monsoons would be abating giving rise to fine days. There would be less fear of landslides then.
 Since the Valley of Flowers is a part of the Nanda Devi biosphere, a UN heritage site, it is kept in a pristine condition with minimum road building activity. Staying in the valley at night is forbidden. The trek from Gangharia village to the Valley is around 3 kilometres, and is delightful with wildflowers of many shades all along the trail.
 The Queen of the Himalayan wildflowers is the Blue Poppy, which is seen at altitudes of more than 14,000 feet.
 In August when I did the trek, there were bright Inulas everywhere at 10,000 feet.

I could count 52 different wildflowers on my trek.
The Valley of Flowers is a heaven for naturalists and botanists. There is a memorial for Ms.Legge, an English researcher who slipped and fell to death in 1939.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Forts of the Deccan

In the history of India, forts have played a major role. The Mirjan fort was the bastion of the queen of Gersoppa, who traded spices with the Portuguese in the 16th century.
 Built of red sandstone, it is an impressive fort on the Arabian Sea.While the Mirjan fort was constantly under threat by the enemies and pirares, the Gandikota fort had a natural canyon  to guard it;
 The beautiful canyon made by the river Pennar discouraged the enemies from attacking it.
 The fort is built using red granite which is in abundance there. Unlike the Mirjan fort, Gandikota is a living fort with people living inside the fort .
 Wildflowers bloom in the barren land.
This building was a prison with dungeons in the 13th century.
Many thanks toMrs.Nesbitt who started abcwednesday, and to Roger who is firmly taking it forward.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Javagal- Poetry in Stone

 The Hoysala kings wer great patrons of the arts.There are many beautiful temples built by them between 1000 to600 years ago in our state. One of the most beautiful is the Lakshmi Narasimha swamy temple at Javagal. It has intricate carvings on all the walls.
 The temples have hundreds of stone pillars.
The entrance is guarde by a pair of stone elephants.The elephants are adorned with stone ornaments.
These temples were built using the locally available soap stone, which is soft when it is freshly quarried, but turns hard and strong after being exposed to the elements.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Trek to Thadiyandamol

 The Thadiyandamol peak in Coorg district, is the third highest peak in our state. Usually shrouded in mist, this 5630 feet peak is a nature lover's paradise. Early this month, I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful place.
 The trail which goes through coffee plantations for a while becomes harder to trek when it enters the dense rainforests of the Western Ghats. You do not hear a single human or machine made sound as you trek, but the loud song of the cicadas interspersed with the songs of innumerable forest birds.
 The only human sound you may hear is when your companion says "Ouch" when she sees her bleeding leg which was bitten by a leech.
Thadiyandamol is also famous for being one of the points in the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India conducted during 1802-1860. 
The top of te mountain is covered with grasslands where a myriad wildflowers bloom.
My thanks to the talented Mrs.Nesbitt who started the ABCWednesday and to Roger who takes it forward every week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

N for Narmada

 The river Narmada in Central India flows westwards while most other rivers of India flow eastwards.Like all the rivers in India, the Narmada is also considered holy. It flows amidst marble rocks in Jabalpur. You can go on a row boat down the river and enjoy the scenery. If you hire a bot with a boatman, he will regale you with funny stories, all in verse.
The Dhuandhar Falls is a bweautiful spot near Jabalpur.
 Maheshwar, a small town on the Narmada, is famous for the fine  Maheshwari sarees made of silk. One can go boating here also.
 Maheshwar was the capital of the Holkar kings of Indore. Queen Ahalyabai in the 17th century brought about a lot of improvements in the kingdom. She is still revered by the people of Madhya Pradesh.
A memorial to the legendary queen is visited reverently by hundredsof people every day.
My thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt who started ABCWednesday, and to Roger and his team.