Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Valley of Flowers in the Himalayas

I have always been fascinated by the Himalayas, which I visit every year. These are some of the photos of the abundabnt wildflowers in the Valley of Flowers where I trekked in August 2015.
 Innula with a bee.

 The valley- when you trek farther, you come to the grave of the British botanist Joan Margaret Legge, who lost her balance while trekking and died.
 The blue poppy in its natural habitat.
Many people are daunted by the rather difficult trek into the valley and come away without seeing any flowers. Some others expect a flower show like the tulips of Amsterdam !The Valley of Flowers is a naturalist's delight.
My thanks to the team of Our World Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lonar- the Secret Lake Made by an Extra-terrestrial Object

Although it is the only lake in the world made by the collision of a meteorite hitting the lava basaltic rock , nobody seems to be interested in it but scientists and naturalists. We drove to this wonderful place  when I was in Aurangabad last month, as I had always wanted to see it. The crater was made 50,000 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch when a blazing meteor weighing  over one million tons , travelling at an incredible speed of 90,000km/hour crashed into the basaltic rock .It gouged the earth and made a depression 1.8 kilometres wide and 150 metres deep.It erupted and spewed molten rock all over its rim, which has turned into a beautiful crest. Over the years, the jungle has taken over the crest.
 The Lonar lake supports a unique bio- diversity, not found in the flat land surrounding it. We had to walk through this jungle to reach the shores of the lake.
 The water in the lake is both saline and alkaline. One of our friends dipped his gold wedding ring in the water of the lake and wiped it. The ring shone like it had just been polished! During drought years, the water of the lake recedes, and the jungle makes a valiant effort to claim the land. When there is a good monsoon, the waters get back their lost territory, killing the jungle trees.The micro-organisms found in the lake are quite rare.
 As we walked in the jungle to reach the shore of the lake, we came across many ancient broken down temples to Shiva.
 The white circle in the water is an ancient man made well. Our guide told us that the water  taken from the eastern rim of the well is sweet, but the water from the western rim is salty. The well is named "Saas-Bahoo Well", (Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law well).
I am joining Our World Tuesday where you can read many interesting stories.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Breath of Fresh Air : The Native Biodiversity Garden

 I met Katy Rustom through this blog, and took the first opportunity to visit the wonderful biodiversity garden her organization CERE has started at Tanveera near Alibaug in Maharashtra together with the Shapoorji Pallonji Group and the Raigad Zilla Parishad .Named Shapoorji Palonji Native Biodiversity Garden, this piece of greenery in a semi-urban situation is literally a breath of fresh air and a serene place full of beauty and information. The entrance gates have sculptures of local butterflies ,and when you enter, you are greeted by the tall Deepmala- a traditional welcome by lamps.

 The one acre garden has more than 700 varieties of plants collected from all over India. They are arranged in sections like sensory, medicinal, wetland, butterfly etc. There is a pond ecosystem comprising a beautiful lily pond.  Although it was not the season, many plants were in flower like the Holmskoldia below .

 I was surprised to see a ground cover of Melastoma , whose cuttings Katy graciously gave me.This is a flower of the Western Ghats.
 Katy showing a rare tree in the garden. The garden nurtures and propagates many endangered native plants.
 Large white flowers of the Vajradanti, which is used in Ayurveda for treatment of dental problems.
One of the most unusual trees I saw was Ficus benghalensis var. Krishnae, with the leaves forming pockets!
 School children thronged the touch screen to find out about the plants and animals in the garden.I was happy to see so many school children visiting the garden and evincing keen interest in biodiversity.
 Boys were more inerested in running through the mini maze hung with bells. Boys will be boys!
 After a wonderful walk through the garden, we sat in the shade of a Bauhinia tree and wondered at the amount of hard work which must have gone into making this beautiful place.I hope there will be many more gardens of this kind.
I am joining Our World Tuesday where you can read about many interesting things of our world.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wild Flower of the Season

 Blue Tiger butterfly on the yellow rattlepod.
 Tanner's Cassia flowers profusely. It is also a medicinal plant.
A morning glory.
It is a joy to find wild flowers in an urban situation!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wonderful Western Ghats

 The Western Ghats were thickly forested in the beginning of the 20th century, but now there are only pockets of the dense rain forests remaining. I visited one such spot near Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district last week. A beautiful wild flower can be seen in the photo on top.
 A gurgling brook called Shalmala flows in the dense forest. A hanging bridge is constructed to connect the sparsely populated villages.
We wereastonished to see hundreds of shiva lingas carved on the rocks in the brook. According to legend, a childless chieftain of the area in ancient times was advised by a sage to do so. After getting the lingas carved, the chieftain was blessed with many children.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Around Valparai

Valparai is a hill station in Tamilnad, where you find unending spread of tea gardens. The Nerar dam near Valparai has a beautiful, serene waterbody. After seeing miles of tea gardens the lake was a sight for sore eyes.
Lion tailed macaques can be seen in the forests far from the tea gardens.
I hope these tropical forests will not be razed to make more tea gardens.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fushimi Inari shrine, Kyoto

 My daughter took me to Kyoto, Japan for my birthday. We visited the Fushimi Inari shrine the day we landed. The place was quite crowded as it was the time of the Gion festival in Kyoto. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god Inari, who is the god of rice. The torii gates are a brilliant orange colour. They make long tunnels which go a long way up the wooded mountain.
 People write their requests to the god in paper, fold it into a face of fox and keep it on a stand.Foxes are considered to be the messengers of the god Inari.
 The forest stretches all around the shrine. The same colour is used for the fences too.
My thanks to the team of Our World Tuesday.