BLACK ON WHITE

During the time of the Pyramids , Egyptians worshipped an IBIS headed God called Thoth. ( please do no mix up with the Greek God Thor).

Do read and see the previous blog titled RED HEAD as well.

The featured image has a Cattle Egret and a Black headed Ibis.

The lovely Black & White Fauna foraging in the rural countryside near Somanthpur,Karnataka, India.

agro-fields
Black & White Oriental White Ibis ( do not mix with the cows)

I wonder what this flock of Black Headed Ibis ( English) ,Threskiornis melanocephalus ( Scientific name)  with their large sweeping curved beaks is looking for ?

The Open Bill in the picture below reminds me of another Bird called Open billed Spoonbill.

The picture below reminds me of a scene out of Jurassic Park ( do you recall the Holywood Blockbuster ?)

 

what-a-beak
What a Beak

Also called Oriental Black Ibis , these lovely birds  belong to the Ibis family Threskiornithidae and are native to the Indian Subcontinent.

However this family of three seems to be different to the pair above as the heads seems to be grey and not black.

three-greyheads
Grey  Heads 

This family of Grey Heads seems to like the Paddy Fields which resembles their  natural habitat, the Wetlands.( could be Juveniles or immatures ?)

Their walk does resemble the Egyptian walk simulated in the Michel Jackson song of the yesteryears “Walk like an Egyptian”.

juveniles
Zoom in, though a bit fuzzy

This Black & White species of Ibis is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN and Birdlife International which means their numbers are rapidly declining and I pray they do not follow the path of Ancient Egyptians into extinction.

CANNONBALL FLOWERS

Was I Lucky ?

It is rare to see  The Cannon Ball Tree in India , but I was fortunate not only to see the Fruits, the Massive Cannon Balls , but the very pretty and Enchanting Pink Blossoms as well. ( do see the previous blogs titled CANNON BALLS)

The Tree Trunk is engulfed by Blooms from Head to Toe.

” In sharp contrast to The Fruits which are Dull Brown , the buds and Flowers are a Lovely Shade of Rosy Pink mixed with White.

The Large attractive and fragrant  blossoms of The Cannon Ball ( English) tree,  Couroupita guianensis ( scientific name)  which literally encapsulate the entire length of the  tree trunk  make this a Gorgeous Ornamental tree when in bloom.”

numerous
Cascades of Buds

A Soft picture of the Lovely Pink Flower along with Buds in very stages.

” The name Nagalingum ( Hindi, Kannada & Tamil)  or Shivalingam ( Marathi)  in various Indian languages are derived from the way the Stamens are arranged resembling a mythological Multi-headed  Cobra. ( see the pictures that follow).

The tree ( though it has it’s Origins in South America) has thus found a place in Indian Mythology and is supposed to be dear to Lord Shiva as the cup shaped Stamens resemble a Shiva Linga.

Though I must confess I have never seen any  temple which houses these Magnificent Trees.”

all-the-stages
GORGEOUS BLOSSOM

The Ground below the tree is carpeted with the Gorgeous Blooms .

“If you observe the blossoms in the  pictures carefully you will see the flowers bear two types of Stamen , both carry pollen, one on a white hood (these are the infertile or faux pollen)  and the second in a cup like structure arranged around the Pistil below the hood ( fertile pollen) .

The Staminodes or the Cobra Head  carries the Infertile Pollen which is Food for the Bees and Bats  ( yes Bats) which are the  pollinators for these  Large Flowers.”

fallen-and-bruised
FALLEN & BRUISED

Scientific facts and more details will follow in the days to come.

“this promise has now  been fulfilled and the facts raise many interesting questions as well which makes it worthwhile having a re-look at the Enchanting flowers of The Cannon Ball Tree.

Some have even compared the Cobra Head like Staminodes to a Sea Slug or Nudibranchs.

All the details that have been added to the original blog are in italics and in inverted commas.”

The feature picture is of a solitary Pink Bud of this Enchanting & Mysterious Tree.

DIVINE SHADOWS

The last blog “Atop a Hill” was an illumination of the path to an Unusual and Ancient Temple located less than an hour away from Pune , Maharasthra, India. Am sure many residents of this charming City have not seen this Marvel which lies at their doorstep wrapped in multiple Gifts from Nature.

The First Glimpse of the ramparts as one approaches the Bhuleshwar Temple ( built in I am told in 1200 AD.)

the-ramparts-of-the-temple
Ramparts of an Ancient Temple

The Trident ( the Trishul) and the Auspicious “Damroo” ( a hand held drum)  indicates the ruling deity of the temple is  Lord Shiva.

The  Ramparts are of an  Ancient Fort which once protected the Temple in it’s Midst.

trident-and-fort
The Trishul and the Damroo

The Unusual and marvelous architecture of the temple is breathtaking.

I have never seen the likes of a temple even similar to the Bhuleshwar Temple in over 50 years of my existence on this Planet.

I will follow up with more pictures, in subsequent blogs. of my tryst with Nature in the precincts of this masterpiece.

bhuleshwar-temple
The Bhuleshwar Temple, “Atop a Hill”

When I entered the temple at 1000 hours it was pitch dark inside and I could not even see my nose, let alone my toes.

Divine Shadows were magically  created from the light of the Camera.

The Trishul, the Holy symbol “Om” and the Auspicious Drum show up when all else was Invisible to the Human Eye.

trishul-and-shadows
Divine Symbols of Lord Shiva

I was Blessed indeed and a quiver ran down my spine in the Enchanting Bhuleshwar Temple.

All I could mutter was “Om Namah Shivaya”.

KING’S LIPSTICK

The Palm Family, Areceacae, encompasses a vast range of Plants including The Toddy Palm and the Coconut. ( do check out  previous blogs titled THE ENCHANTING WORLD OF NUTS & INDIAN NUT to know more ) .

Two Common Names of the Unique Palm you see in the Featured Image,  The Rajah Wax Palm or Lipstick Palm  ( English) collectively combined to give me the Title of this blog. Rajah means King in Hindi

The Lipstick Palm bears no Fruit , Flowers .or Timber and is cultivated Primarily for its Aesthetic Appeal or simply put; its Looks.

colours.jpg
Stunning Looks

Cyrtostachys renda ( Scientific name) is a Tall Tree  introduced  from Indonesia and is widely cultivated in Gardens across Kerala, India as a decorative Plant.

The Characteristic Scarlet or Red Coloured Central Shaft or Mid Rib gives this Palm Tree several interesting names such as Red Sealing Wax Palm , Lipstick Palm and The Rajah Wax Palm.

hidden red
Lipstick Red at the centre of Feathery Leaves

If you recall Proclamations in Former Times were always made Legal with a  Royal Seal .

In India even today many Legal Packages/Letters are sealed using Lac or the Red Sealing Wax.

The Red Wax on which the Royal Seal was embedded  was the same Scarlet Colour as The CrownShaft of the Rajah /Sealing Wax Palm.

Fascinating how  common names and history combine to make these Palms Enchanting, which but for the Red Lipstick would go unnoticed.

Pictures above were taken at THE UDAY SUITES, Trivandrum and THE MAHINDRA RESORT, Ashtamudi. Both these Lovely Resorts  are in Kerala, India.

PATIENT HUNTER

As the “River of Flowers” meanders through  the Coastal Lands of the Southern Tip Of India, it creates a Wonderful Ecosystem and an Enchanting Habitat.

Mangrove Forests  burst forth in the Estuary of the River Neyyar and constitute many a Wonderous species of Plants which survive in marshy lands much like Amphibians; half in water, half on land.

The Hanging Red Fruits of this Species hang decoratively over the Tranquil ( do read an earlier post titled TRANQUILITY and TRANQUIL MERGER)  Waters of the River Neyyar in Poovar, Kerala, India,

forest of hanging fruits
BEAUTIFULLY UNKNOWN

As the tendrils of the  aerial stems  curl and swirl carrying the floral buds to the peaceful  waters of the River, you can spot an equally calm HERON casting a reflection in Tranquility.

“The Indian Pond Heron (English) , Ardeola grayii grayii (Scientific name) had me deceived as it was in breeding plumage.

The Dull Brown Robes had been transformed into shimmering multiple hues, the beak was greenish-Blue and the Legs were a Beautiful Red.”

quietly awaiting
INFINITE PATIENCE

“I had never seen the Indian Pond Heron in Breeding Plumage and had been thoroughly deceived into assuming that I had seen a new species of Heron.”

This was the primary reason I did not pen down the name or the scientific name before. Am thus reblogging this now, with all the additions in the text , post discovering the identify  in apostrophes.” (“)

The Heron, displays Infinite patience as it awaits silently, with hardly a scant movement, gingerly holding onto twigs which arch over the surface of the River.

The Cup like leafs in the foreground of the photograph are Water Hyacinths.

the scenario
A STATUE?

The Heron beat me hands down in patience and I did not wait to witness what this Enchanting Bird had for Lunch.

“It also took me on a Wild Heron Chase by donning a lovely new plumage to charm the Lady Heron.”

The shimmering subtle hues of the  “Breeding ” Plumage show up beautifully in the Featured Image.

 

ETERNAL SLUMBER

The Enchanting Royal Cenotaphs in Bundi, Rajasthan are located besides a Lotus Lake and surrounded by the Ancient Aravalli Hills.

The Pictures remind me of movies Like India Jones, Tomb Raider and blogs on Angkor Vat.

The Era of Kings and Queens is over, yet these lovely Structures now run over by Nature remind me of an Era long gone by, when they Ruled this very Land under which they lie in Eternal Slumber.

hidden behind trees
Forgotten and hidden among trees

The Leaves have fallen from the  naked trees and turned to dust along with The Maharajas ( Kings)  and Maharanis ( Queens)  whose ashes lie beneath these lofty Cenotaphs, called Chattris ( literal translation is an Umbrella) in Hindi.

the leaves are shed
Ancient trees mask the Royal Cenotaphs

Details like the procession of Elephants in stone carved at the based of the Chattris and the Beautiful Natural Surroundings accentuate the beauty of this relatively unknown region of Rajasthan.

Previous blogs like RIP PRETTY ONE, THE HAUNTED and TRANQUILITY have somehow compelled my subconscious Brain to unveil these ROYAL CHAMBERS of Everlasting Peace.

Resting Chambers
Royal Chattris

ONCE UPON A TIME

Hear the Stories of Rajas and Maharajas ( Kings and Emperors) of a Time now long gone by, Once Upon a Time ….

forests cover time
The Forest have covered the Tracks of Time
held together by trees
Trees Upholding the Times Gone By
all fall down
Even the Mighty Trees are Felled by Time

The StoryTeller is taking a Break and and will return with all the Tales of the Royalty of Rajasthan. Till then be Enchanted by the Trees in the Forests.

CHERRIES nay BERRIES

These Dark Green Shrubs were hiding a Cheerful Wonder revealed only by their Cherry Red Tubular Blossoms.

bushes
DENSE FOLIAGE HIDES THE “CHERRIES”

A Bunch of Joy glistens in the Himalayan Hillside at Gangtok, Sikkim.

The Red Cestrum ( English), Cestrum “newellii” ( Scientific Name) belongs to the Night Shade Family, Solanaceae.

tubular flowers
SCARLET CLUSTER

These Cherry Like Fruits turn into a Lovely Wine Red Hue on Maturity.( do compare the picture below to the featured image).

However as is characteristic of the Night Shade Family , every part of the plant is poisonous. Thus stay away from the these “Cherries” if you know what is best for your well being.

mature
MATURE BERRIES

The Marvels of Nature never cease to Enchant.

CONICAL CYPRESS

Enchanting Forests of Conifers cover the slopes of the Lower Himalayas at altitudes between 1500 to 2500 metres ( 7500 feet) .

Do read previous blogs titled LAST STAND and M’I’STICAL HIMALAYAS connected to the changing landscape in the Himalayas.

The Pictures below are of a true Greybeard , a Lonely Cypress, in Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie, Uttrakhand, India.

See  how  The Cypress  towers above the Conical Tower of this nearly 200  year old Palace in Bright Sunlight.

lonely cypress
A Conical Turret and The Cypress Tree

Dark Clouds cast dark shadows and the mood over the Cypress turns to Grim.

dark light
Dark Clouds Approaching

Light begins to fade and even the Cheerful Red Cones turn to shades of Grey.

darkness
Hungry Dark Clouds eat up the Light

Outstretched arms of The Hapless Lonely Cypress as Grim turns to Eerie , the SunLight is gradually blanketed out by Ominous Clouds.

hidden
The Silver Lining as Darkness embalms all

The pictures remind me of Fairy Tales , Wizards and Witches and a Childhood long gone by.

 

BRAZILIAN FLAME

I have seen the Flame of the Forest ,( do check out previous Blogs Titled FLAME OF THE FOREST and AFRICAN FLAME OF THE FOREST to see and know more) and a look alike the Indian Coral Tree ( Scientific Name Erythrina variegata) ,  setting Forests on Fire with their Bright Colourful Flowers.

However these  amazingly Flamboyant Flowers simply took my breath away, they are simply on another spellbinding level.

This lovely  Brazilian Coral Tree was photographed at the amazing Ecofriendly Vishranti Resort tucked away in the fertile Doon Valley,Uttrakhand, India.

flowers on tree
BRAZILIAN CORAL TREE

I have never seen such amazing Coral flowers . Forests in Brazil ( country of Origin) must be awash with these beauties.

The Erythrina crista-galli ( Scientific name is known by numerous names like the Fireman’s Cap Tree, Cock’s Comb Coral tree and Cry Baby Tree. I leave it your imagination and the pictures below to imagine why?

New Green Leaves and  nascent buds have a brush of Coral hinting at the Splendour to follow.

raw buds
BABY BUDS

The Green Buds convert to these lovely Coral Parrot Beak like Mature Buds grouped together in clusters, each  held on coloured gentle stems ( called petioles) .

 The Buds are very similar to other Flowers of the Genus Erythrina. Do have a look at the Posts mentioned before.

buds
Beautiful Parrot Beak Buds 

The  Cockspur Coral Tree adorns probably one of the most striking of all blossoms in the Genus Erythrina. This rarely seen import from Brazil is seldom seen in India.

It belongs to the Pea or Legume Family , Fabaceae and is a fixer of Nitrogen in the soil as well.

I try to identify and post the family as it plays a critical part in identifying the Species

floral cluster
Profuse Cluster of Coral Blossoms

Is it a wonder that these beautiful Blossoms are the National Flowers of both Argentina and Uruguay.

incredible flowers
AMAZING CORAL BLOSSOMS

Stunned by these Flaming Blossoms from Brazil ?

I was Enchanted to learn that The Indian Coral tree and The Brazilian Coral tree had so much in common and even belonged to the same Genus and family.