If you have ever been to a Buddhist Monastery you may have observed Monks in Crimson or Maroon Robes.

I was blessed with a Wonderful Sight of a Row of  Crimson Skyscrapers of Hollyhocks (English),Gulkhaira (Hindi) ,Alcea rosea ( Scientific Name) at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India.

red and white

Hollyhocks or Alceas come in an assortment of colours , however these gorgeous Crimson or Scarlett blossoms were simply awesome as they lined the path leading to the Wonderful Rumtek Monastery.

Alcea is derived from the Greek word Althea which means “To Cure” and that is exactly what these eye candies do. They have numerous Medical applications and cure many  a ailment.



Alceas or hollyhocks grow on extremely tall Single stems which have no branches . The Entire Stem is covered with a Cascade of Large Glorious Blossoms.

These beauties belong to The Hibiscus family ” Malvacae”.

double holly hock

The Enchanting  Crimson Colour seems to have rubbed off from the Signature Maroon Robes of the Monks of the Monastery or is the other way around ?  Who Knows???

I leave you with an Image of a young Monk to Judge for yourself.

a pensive monk
A Young Monk in Crimson Robes


The Himalayas hold many Natural Treasures and the Pink Powder Puff (English) ,Calliandra brevipes ( Scientific Name) seen in the pictures below is one of them.

The Pink flowers can easily be confused with Calliandera surinamensis, which also bears Pink powder Puffs. ( Do check out a previous blog titled POWDER PUFFS as well)

Both the species are native to South America but the Calliadra brevipes which grows on small bushes and belongs to the family Mimosaceae ( Touch-me-not family) has made itself at home in the cool environs of the Eastern Himalayas in India.

bush with buds
Bush with Buds

The Gorgeous Raspberry like buds of this pretty flower stand out against the light green composite leaves in a garden in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India.

Beautiful Buds

The Puff is actually composed of Stamens and Anthers , white at the base and pink at the tips. The question that arises is where are the Petals?

powder puffs
Pink Blossoms

Nature is Enchanting but getting the names spot on is an Uphill  Task Indeed.

( reading a previous blog titled POWDER PUFF will help appreciate this aspect better)

If I have erred, please correct me. Will be happy to amend the post.



I had always heard that the bright  Blossoms of Cacti are a sight to behold.

I always associated Cacti with dry Arid  Deserts in far away  lands like Mexico.

However, Nature had a surprise for me in the Rain Soaked Himalayas in the North East of India.

Little did I realize that the Himalayan Abode of Clouds  at Kalimpong would treat me to a Spectacular view of Cacti Blooms, have a look.

This is the Misty Himalayan Abode  of the brilliantly coloured  Cacti Blossoms that follow.

view from cactus nursery
The Cactii View of the Himalayas

Brilliant colours of these Cacti blossoms rival the Orchids, Azaleas and Rhododendrons of the Himalayas.

orange bloom
Vibrant Orange

Mellow Yellow Beauties nestled  in the midst of Beastly Thorns . I draw your attention to the  interesting bud at the bottom of the picture.

Mellow Yellow

Nature springs Enchanting surprises, ‘Amazing’ are they not?


Travel to see the Magic of Nature and you will be overwhelmed by the treasures that await to be discovered across  Planet Earth.

The Himalayas are one of the several abodes of these  Natural Treasures.

The Rhododendrons are a unique and varied species of trees and bushes/bushlets , many of which are now critically endangered.

The Natural Habitat of the Rhododendrons is the Himalayas and one of the Hotspots is the tiny state of Sikkim in North East India.

the tree
Behold the Rhododendron Tree

The Local Name from Nepal to Sikkim/North Bengal is Lali ( meaning Red) Gurans .

The Scientific Name of the species in the pictures is Rhododendron arboreum Smith  and it belongs to the family Ericaceae.

In some Himalyan States like Uttrakhand you get a lovely squash derived from the Red Blossoms of this High Altitude Species.

the crown
The Crown with Red Ruby coloured Blossoms

The Leaves of the Rhododendrons are unique as they form a spiral like  Crown as seen in the picture below.

While the Local name is derived from the species bearing  Red Blossoms seen below, the wonderous Rhododendrons exhibit various colours from White, Pink and even Yellow.

the flowers and spiral
Awesome Blossoms

Watch out for more blogs as the Enchanting World of Rhododendrons is revealed in  Himalyan Hotspots at altitudes over 13000 feet.

The pictures seen above were taken in North Bengal , close to the border with Sikkim and Bhutan.


The Ongoing Simhastha Mahakumbh in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh is a Carnival of Faith and a Tsunami of Humanity.

While the faithful find relief from their Wordly Pains by Submitting to the Will of the Almighty ,Lord Shiva in particular in Ujjain, there are many who seek help from more physical Pain Killers.

Lord Shiva Symbolized in Brass with the Holy Ganges trapped in his Hairlocks. ( however that is another story)

Healing the faithful

The Mahakumbh while an explosion of Faith in the Divine is also a wonderful opportunity to avail of the benefits of Traditional Herbal Medicine.

These Large Palm sized seeds laid out on the streets on way to the River Banks did not merit more than a few pictures.

The presentation and Location on the street made me drift away from the Vendor of these Massive Smooth and Hardened seeds.

However I was amazed to find out  that the seeds of the Badi Imli ( Hindi) , Lady Nut/Giant’s Rattle ( English) ,Entada pursaetha ( Scientific name) are a Natural Pain Killer which rival steroids and chemical painkillers in both potency and efficiency.

The Yellow Parchment in the picture below highlights the vast benefits of this Naturally Occurring Pain Killer, which I read only once I set about writing this Blog.

pain killer

These Oversized Seeds Grow in Gigantic Beans like Peas in a Pod on Woody Climbers in Dense Forests.( reminds me of “Jack and the BeanStalk”) .

Known to Traditional Medical Practitioners for centuries  and mentioned in Ancient Sanskrit scriptures this GIFT FROM THE GODS is a bounty for those suffering from Inflammation of the Joints.

Unlike Steroids like Cortisones these Gigantic Dark Brown seeds have no side effects.

badi imli

I am kicking myself for not being more attentive to the Vendor of these SEEDY PAIN KILLERS.


This is Ujjain,Madhya Pradesh, India , an ancient city in the Heart Of India located on the Tropic of Cancer.

It is also the the city which was in former times the Capital of the Famed King Vikramaditya. The Ancient Indian Calender, the “Vikram Samvat” , is named after him according to which the current year is 2073. ( Do check out an earlier post titled “HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNIVERSE”)

The pictures that follow were taken were taken on an Island dedicated to this Learned and Just Ruler  ,Raja Vikramaditya , of an Era long gone.

The Ashen Faced Man  in Black was almost invisible to me as he sat under a Large Leafy Tree and merged with the shadows.

The Black Robes and his multiple Skull necklaces lead me to believe he was a “Tantrik”. A  Powerful Sadhu believed to be endowed with “Magical Powers”, some veering to the Negative .

tree man and saffron

A bit shaken by the unwavering Gaze of the “THE MAN IN BLACK” and in no frame of mind to be on his wrongside, I pretended to take pictures of the Large Tree he was sitting under.

The Tip of the Temple seen behind THE BLACK MAN in the picture above can be seen in the picture below .

the tree

Was I in for a stroke of “Magic” as I had unknowingly photographed a tree Unique to the Indian Subcontinent and the only Species in the Genus to which it belonged.

I was seeing the highly medically acclaimed  “Kaitha” Tree ( Hindi), Indian Wood Apple ( English), Limonia acidissima ( Scientific name) .

The Fruit, Leaves and Barks of this extremely useful Tree are all used in The Ayurveda school of medicine.

( do log onto : ,for more) .

the fruit


It is only when I was selecting the pictures for a blog that I chanced upon these Fruits which I have never had the privilege to see before.

Magic at Play , what say you? Enchanting !!!



The pictures that unfold capture fascinating moments after Sunset on the Banks of the River Kshipra during the month long Mahakumbh held in Ujjain , Madhya Pradesh, India.

“The Naga Sadhus” usually do not wear any clothes and cover their entire body with Bhasm or Ashes.

The Ashen or Ghostly look symbolizes their proximity to the Supreme Being and a break from all Worldly Interests.

The pictures below were a stroke of luck for me, taken on the banks of the gently flowing River Kshipra in which millions would take a ceremonial Bath called “Snan” during the month long “Simhastha MahaKumbh”.

( Do check out previous blogs titled Colour me saffron, Divine Flowers, A River Worshipped and Trinity ,to know more )

the sadhu
The  Ghostly Naga Sadhu and his Entourage in Saffron Robes

A Vast and Beautiful Oil Lamp is brought forth as the Ghostly Sadhu beckons and conducts the entire Ceremony that unfolds before my eyes stretched in wonder . Lucky me!!!

The backdrop is of ancient and beautiful temples that adorn the banks of the Kshipra River. The mythological  fables and tales that surround each go back to thousands of years.

ghost beckons

Hands outstretched to  the Skies , all the Sadhus chant and Prayer to the Almighty as the Oil Lamp is lit and the God of Fire, “Agni ” is invited to join the communal prayers.

the lamp is lit

The  Lit Oil lamp is help in both hands by the Ashen Sadhu and the Aarti or prayers are offered to  the Goddess of the River Kshipra.

People set forth small boats with Diyas or Lamps into the River Praying for the well being of their families and friends.

the sadhu aarti
Evening “Aarti” or Prayers

All Elements of Nature are held in high esteem and a request is made  during the Aarti for Peace to spread it’s wing Far and Beyond.

The Heavy headgear of the Naga Sadhu consists of Seeds of the Tree Rudraksha, which when roughly translated mean  “Tears of Lord Shiva” .

“Enchanting Ghost” is he not?