Saturday, May 7, 2022


The road from Shimla to Kalpa in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh is rightly known as the "Most Dangerous Road" in India. On one side is the towering Himalayan peaks and on the other is the deep ravine of the river Beas. The constantly curving road becomes most dangerous to drive during the apple season in August- September, wen apple loaded trucks come from the apple orchards of Kalpa in a long cavalcade.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Palash- the tree which heralds the spring


Justly called the Flame of the Forest, the Palash is mentioned in the Ramayana written by Valmiki Rishi 2000 years ago. It is a small , crooked tree, which grows throughout the Indian subcontinent.
The Palash leaves are woven into disposable plates by village folk. The tree loses all its leaves in spring and becomes resplendent with flame coloured flowers. The flowers are used to make colours to use during the Holi festival in India. During this festival, people sprinkle coloured water or dry powdered colours on their friends and relatives and exchange sweets.

There is also a yellow flowering Palash, which is rarely seen. Known to botanists as Butea monosperma, the Palash belongs to the Pea family. It is a very resilient tree and can tolerate drought, fire and water logging. It is called Muttuga in Karnataka and Dhak in MadhyaPradesh.

The lac insects breed on the Palash trees.A cottage industry produces shellac, a natural varnish, by breeding these insects on pollarded Palash trees.Strong, thick ropes are woven from the fibre of the bark. These ropes are used by river boats. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Sarnath, the place of the Buddha's First Sermon

 The Bamian Buddha which was destroyed by terrorists has now been recreated by the government of Thailand in Sarnath near the holy city of Varanasi.
 A bell erected by the Devotees of Sri Lanka
The place theBuddha gave his first sermon. Unfortunately, it is no loonger freely accessible to visitors as it is guarded by the police.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sacred Groves of the Western Ghats

 Wanting to visit a sacred grove in the thick forests of the Western Ghats, we started trekking from the nearby tribal village. The trail lead us through deeper and darker jungle.
 Beautiful wild flowers dotted the forest floor.
It is taboo to take anything away from a sacred grove except photographs. Even a dead tree is not cleared- it will turn into humus in due course and replenish the soil.
Leeches started affixing themselves to our feet! Our guide had carried a packet of salt, which he sprinkled on the leech. Soon it fell to the ground. In these jungles it is advised to apply neem oil to your foot before venturing. The leeches obviously hate the taste of the oil. You are also advised to wear sandals because leeches can get into your shoes and create havoc.
The sacred groves have been protected and looked after by the local villagers since hundreds of years. They contain most of the native trees some of which are really old. New species of flora and fauna are constantly being discovered by scientists in these groves. In February this year, a mysterious frog which is seen only for 4 days in a year was discovered by scientists.
The forest department also conserves the sacred groves.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Salt of the Earth

The river Aghanashini flows unimpeded through the thick rain forests of the Western Ghats before she joins the ocean. The tides make her water saline at the estuary, where salt has been harvested for hundreds of years. This salt known as Sanekatte Salt, is prized by naturalists and Ayurveda practitioners because this salt is believed to contain special medicinal properties as the river flows through the herbs of the forest.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Rare Beauties of the Western Ghats

 The Kaemferia shown above has a spicy scent. It is hidden in the underground all through winter and comes to life in the beeginning of monsoon season. No wonder it is called the 'Resurrection Lily'. Its local name is Nela Sampige. The tubers are used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Aerides orchid shwn above is another harbinger of the monsoon season. It is known as the garland made by the mythical queen Draupadi when she had to spend 12 years in the forest. Unlike Sita, who made long garlands, Draupadi did not have enough time to make lengthy ones.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Garden denizens

 It has been unusually rainy this year. The monsoon rains have not yet stopped, although they usually are over by mid September. Butterflies make the most of the sunny days.
 I was so glad to see a frog in the garden. Hope he will not become a juicy meal to the snakes which roam in the afternoon!
My thanks to the team of Our World Tuesday.