The Brijrama Palace is one of the finest buildings along the banks of the Holy River Ganges at Kashi ( Benaras or Varanasi).
The picture above and those that follow were taken at daybreak from the Terrace of this Ancient Palace which as you can see gives a wonderful overview of the City and the River Ganges.
Previous blogs titled BLISS IN KASHI, DAYBREAK IN KASHI & INVOLUNTARYDIP IN KASHI would help you connect the dots.
A wonderful capture as the Rock Pigeon tilts his head while perched on his bath tub as if viewing the hustle bustle of people on the River banks below through the Ancient ramparts of the Brijrama Palace.
The All Marble Bath Tub is filled with the Holy waters of The River Ganges and covered with auspicious Marigold petals.
The Royal Rock Pigeon (English), Kabootar ( Hindi) ,Columba livia ( scientific name) seems to be in a State of Bliss, what say you?
Iron chains keep Curious Visitors Off the Edge and provide the Pigeons some privacy as well.
What an Enchanting Morning to sip a Cup of Hot Tea after a cold dip in the River and watch the Pigeons bathing in absolute luxury along with the Rising Sun.
The State of Kerala is located on the Southern Tip of India along the Arabian Sea.
It is also the home of Ayurveda, an ancient Indian System of Medicine that uses the natural healing properties of Plants.
The Heart Leaved Creeper seen in the picture has the most incredible and near divine healing properties. The extremely strong but slender aerial roots were used in Ayurveda as sutures. Not only did these natural sutures heal they also held the wound together.
Several Healing Creepers wind themselves over the Indian Gooseberry tree making it hard to discern one from another.
Initially I assumed the Round Ball Like Fruits were Gooseberries ( a natural storehouse of Vitamin C and antioxidants) , then I realized they were the fruits of a creeper planted in a Herbal Garden.
My confusion is further confounded as the fruits are not of the Heart Leaved Moonseed ( English Name) Creeper, Giloy or Gurach ( Hindi Name) ,Tinospora cordifolia ( Scientific Name) either as the leaves and fruits you see in the picture below are entirely different.
The Ayurvedic Giloy Herbs are used to cure Cancer and Heart Diseases ( remember they have heart shaped leaves ) besides many other ailments.
While you are enchanted with the pictures and the natural Terracotta Roofs ( a hallmark of homes in Kerala) I must get to work and discern the third member of the Trinity of these Natural Healers.
Most Of India is Scorching with temperatures ranging well over 40 degrees Centigrade ( 104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Am treating myself and all the readers to the Cool and Wonderful Splendour of the Himalayas while The Indian Sub Contintent sizzles in preparation for the arrival of The Monsoons. ( translated for the uninitiated it means Bushels of Rains or the Rainy Season)
Presenting a Bouquet of the Splendour of Sun and Shadow in the Himalalyas.
The Grassland in the foreground adds to the Beauty of the Snow Clad Mountains.
Parched Indian Plains seek Dense Clouds laden with Moisture.
Where else will you find such an Enchanting Bouquet of Splendour but in Ladakh,India.
Water is Life and in the Desert State of Rajasthan the Value of Water is enhanced by the Power of Infinity.
Thus the Beauty and Importance of a Lotus Lake in the midst of the Parched Brown Aravalli Mountain Range in Bundi, Rajasthan is a Sight to behold.
If you look hard you will see Spots of Orange at the base of the Brown Hills on the far Right of the picture below.
These are the Flame of the Forest Trees in bloom ( do check out a previous blog by the same title) . Palash ( Hindi) or Butea monosperma( Scientific Name) .
The Sukh Sagar Lake or literally translated The Lake of Happiness is surrounded by Palaces and Temples along its banks . The Royal and The Divine.
Keep a sharp eye for the clump of Green in the midst of the Brown Mountains.
The Sukh Mahal or the Palace of Happiness is stated to be the residence for a short time of none other than Rudyarg Kipling,the author of Jungle Book.( the movie has recently been released as well ).
It is fabled however the same was made for Royalty to indulge in the Happiness ( Sukh) of Worldly Pleasures away from the prying eyes of courtiers in the Main Palace.
The Lush Green Trees contrast sharply with the Rocky and Brown Mountains. Symbolic? A message from Nature, maybe ?
The Lotus lake is dotted with Hindu Temples preserved by their Rulers for Centuries who followed the same faith.
The Temple below is submerged in the waters of The Lotus Lake and the Picture was taken from the Roof Top of the Temple.
My first exclamation as I gazed at the Lotus Lake for the first time was a loud “WOW”
The featured image is of a Shivling covered by a typical Rajasthani Canopy , which in turn is sheltered by Lofty Date Palm trees, on the Banks of the amazing Sukh Sagar in the midst of the Parched Lands of Rajasthan.
I had blogged on Himalayan Sheep and Goats a few days ago and thought it prudent to compare them with their brethren in other parts of India.
Do they vary like the Food, People and Landscape as well ? Please check out the pictures that follow and the blog mentioned above to express your views and thoughts.
All these pictures were taken from a Jeep near Ajmer, Rajasthan and Raipur , Pali District, Rajasthan.
It is extremely Rare to see a Shepherd Couple herding their flock together . This picture is thus highly Prized.
Black Faced Sheep reminds me of an old Indian Saying,”from where have you blackened your face”
The Fur is dense and had been retained thus far. Do compare the fur to the Himalayan Sheep in my blog mentioned before.
Also unusual is to photograph a Lady Shepherd. We are now Lucky, twice over.The Steel container she carries is called a Tiffin Box which has separate compartments and in all likelihood carries her Lunch.
Please observe the fur of the Sheep, they have been sheared.
I found these Sheep following their shadow while the Goat in White with Tail Up stands out.
Finally a Single Male Shepherd with his Prized Ram.
Is the Knife in his hand Prophetic as this lovely Specimen could well be the Mutton on your platter.
Indian Countryside is charming and Enchanting. If you notice this post is a departure from the Write Ups of the past.
As the Water pipes ( see picture below) bring preciousWater to the brown parched Desert Lands of Rajasthan, the lands bursts into Joy.
From dust bowls they evolve into green vegetable farms ( do check out the blogs THE DESERT BLOOMS and THE GREEN DESERT) .
A family of the humble House Sparrow ( English), Chirayia ( Hindi) , Passer domesticus ( Scientific Name) celebrates the arrival of the source of Life.
The transformation of the Desert lands is well and truly visible in the picture below of a Field of Carrots in the village of Ranesar near Kichan ( do check out the blogs THE WINTER GUESTS and THE FEAST) .
Yes, Water is Life.
The inquisitive Lady Sparrow is checking the water pipelines and wondering why her Morning Shower has been interrupted and the water has ceased to flow.
The lands are now bountiful and fertile with the introduction of Life giving Water.
Carrots being transported on trailers attached to Tractors to cities like Jaisalmer and Jodhpur.
After all the work is done the Sparrows try their hand at Balancing atop the Water Lines.
Is it not Enchanting to see the Magical effects of Life giving Water ?
An entire wall at the Polo Heritage Hotel, Jodhpur was covered with these glorious skyblue-violet flowers. There was a wonderful cover , almost as far as the eye could see with these marvelous sun gazing blooms.
Commonly called the Skyblue clustervine, they are native to Florida, USA.( only the four southernmost counties of Miami etc)
I was amazed to see a creeper native to tropical America flourishing in the near desert climate of Jodhpur, Marwar.
The skyblue clustervine has beautiful heart shaped leaves ( see the picture below) adding to the majesty of this perennial climber.
The scientific name Jacquemontia pentanthos is in honour of a French naturalist Victor Jacquemont.
The flowers belong to the same family as the Morning Glory and thus open their petals with the rising sun.
Do check out my blog THE CHAMELEON FLOWERS to know about The Morning Glory as well.
Though the ultramarine coloured flowers are relatively small ( less than an inch or 2cms in diameter) they grow in large clusters.
Being vigorous climbers they can be glorious covers for a garden wall , fence or a trellis.
The violet-blue coloured flowers in vast numbers are a huge attraction for bees in particular.
See the picture below, the camera had spotted a bee stealing the nectar.( top right) .
Do observe how the vine curls and stretches with the unidirectional leaves.
The pentagon shape of the flowers or the five petals give it the latter part of it’s name “pentanthos” .
The flowers also have five white coloured stamens besides a white core.
I wonder why the THE SKYBLUE CLUSTER VINE is enlisted as Endagered inthe state of Florida.
It contrast it is extremely happy in its adopted home of Jodhpur which was also hosting the wonderful musical festival titled THE RIFF.
The Butterfly Bush ( Scientific name :Buddleja davidii) is a beautiful flowering shrub with its origins in the mountains of China.
Bushels of flowers adorn the bush and it forms a splendid natural boundary to the gardens of the JW Marriott Hotel in Mussoorie, located in the lap of the Himalayas.
The sweet fragrance of the abundant flowers attract bees and butterflies in droves and hence the name BUTTERFLY BUSH.
The lavender coloured flowers also give it an alias, THE LILAC BUSH.
A basque missionary of the 19th century Father Arthur David lends his name to this profusely flowering bush. ( scientific name Buddleja davidii)
Found naturally in the mountainous zones of China the butterfly bush has flowers in several colours , however I was witness to two colours, lilac and white.
On close observation you will see the flowers have an orange centre and hence the shrub is also called ORANGE EYE.
With drop dead looks and the sweetest of fragrances, the deceptive Butterfly Bush is now classified as a NOXIOUS WEED in many countries where it was introduced in the 19th century.
The rapidly growing bush spreads quickly and the profuse number of flowers ensures the plant a steady supply of seeds for self propagation.
The shrub grows back quickly even if cut from the stump and the seeds can lie dormant in the ground for several years. The shrub further ensures it’s survival as the male and female flowers occur on the same plant.
It has become an Invasive weed in countries like New Zealand and United Kingdom where they have been compelled to introduce a leaf-chewing beetle Cleopus japonicus as a biological control agent.
Recalling an old saying ” LOOKS ARE DECEPTIVE”, we should be careful what plants we introduce in our gardens as unknowngly we can upset a delicate ecosystem.
If we plant trees and plants ENDEMIC to the region it will ensure the survival of native species as well.
I could hardly resist taking pictures of these lovely lavender coloured flowers within the Dhanraj Mansion at Mumbai.
The Dhanraj Mansion is a lovely heritage building located diagonally opposite the historical YACHT CLUB and THE TAJ MAHAL HOTEL ( do check out my blog THE GATEWAY TO INDIA at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com) .
The Laurel Clock Vine is a vigorous climber and had covered the Gulmohar tree and formed the hedge in the mansion as well.
The heart ( or paan ) shaped leaves with their pointed tips adorn this creeper unique to South Asia. Unknown to me these attractive leaves serve as baby cradles as well.
As I went closer to photograph the flowers of the Laurel Clock Vine ( Scientific name: Thunbergia laurifolia) I was surprised as two eyes inquisitively looked back at me .
Nature springs a lovely surprise gift.
A baby chameleon ( I guess a few days old only) was probably on his first day out and had stretched out on a heart-shaped leaf. Have a look at the baby sunbathing on his cradle.
Reminds me of the fairy tale of Thumbelina.
How can I not share a close up of the gorgeous flowers which had beckoned me into this lovely mansion. Do observe the vine winds up clockwise giving the creeper its name .
The guard of the mansion was extremely unhappy with my photographic acrobatics.
Beating a hasty retreat I wonder if the inmates of the mansion ever saw the baby ?
I had been enchanted in an Urban Forest in the midst of bustling Mumbai . Hope you discover the JOY OF NATURE in the cities you dwell in as well.