FLORAL WORLD

Am Enchanted to be back to the world of blogging after over 9 months.

It is always a trigger which sets off a series of events in your life and a visit to the  KAAS “Plateau of Flowers” in the Western Ghats  did just that.  I simply cannot keep the treasure to myself, so here I go opening the World of  Amazing Flowers.

Am back to the world of blogging. Hello , am alive and kicking once again.

The Kaas Plateau is located in the Sahaydri Hills, 25 kms off a sweet town called Satara, Maharasthra which is accessible from  Pune ( 120 kms away ) and Mumbai in Western India.

A hidden natural treasure and home to over 850 species of Unique Flowers  the Kaas Pathar ( meaning Stone) is tagged as a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site.

The entire Plateau is swamped by flowers and the colour of the Hills changes with every passing season . When I happened to visit the site at the tail end of Monsoons in September , Kaas was cloaked in a  Purple, have a look .

kaas flowers swampy panorama
The Hills are Blessed with the Music of Flowers

To really appreciate the splendour and magnificence of the region you need to keep a sharp eye for tiny microscopic carnivorous plants to large trees bearing medicinal fruits.

The purple strokes  of this natural painting are on account of one particular flower which seems to be dominating the landscape at this point of time.

They bloom at the tail end end of  the Monsoons ( rainy season) from September till October.

Bunch of purple
Cause of the  colour “Purple” in the Hills of Kaas

A zoom in reveals “alien looking purple flowers” which remind me of  the more familiar Sweet Peas we have in our gardens.

The zoom in also reveals the leaves which are armed to the teeth with deadly  looking thorns.

the flower in kaas
Impatiens lawii

These Enchanting  flowers are endemic ( native)  to this region and belong to the  Balsam family  Balsaminaceae .

An Enchanting area full of Natural Wonders , I will be back to unveil some wonderful pictures of flowers I have never ever seen before. Each would put to shame the creators of the movie Avatar and the imaginary world of Pandora.

So keep a watch out for Flowers which Bloom only once in 7 years.

 

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”.

SMITTEN BY NATURE

The Hills, Blue Skies , Fragrant Flowers and Butterflies.

The Splendour of Nature has me bowled over.

himalayan butterfly
Himalayan Splendour

Trees at Mussoories, Uttrakhand , India are ablaze with Flowers during the Summers.

Besides Bees they attract are a vast spectrum of Butterflies.

white one
The Little White Butterfly

Butterflies hang onto the flowers in Celebrating the arrival of  Spring.

solitary butterfly
Precarious Post

Am speechless.

GOATS, SHEEP and SHEPHERDS

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.

sheep and couple
Herding their Flock of Sheep

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.

sheep black faced
The Black Faced Sheep

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.

lady shepherd
Beautifully attired Lady Shepherd

I found these Sheep following their shadow while the Goat in White with Tail Up stands out.

follow your shadow
Follow your Shadow

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.

the goat
A proud Shepherd

Indian Countryside is charming and Enchanting. If you notice this post is a departure from the Write Ups of the past.

Do let me know what you liked or disliked?

 

DONKEYS OR ASSES

The high altitude cold deserts of Ladakh ( Jammu & Kashmir, India) have ensured all animals mutate or adapt to their natural environment.

The Donkeys or Asses (English), Gadha (Hindi), Bung bu ( Ladhaki) , Equus asinus ( scientific name) are no exception to this rule.

I first saw the Donkey at close hand in the Animal Rescue Centre , near Shrey ( home to the Rancho School)  ,  Ladakh .

The Rescue Centre is a wonderful Home for unwanted Dogs, Donkeys, Goats, Cattle and even Chicken managed under the aegis of the Hemis Monastery ( do read my blog titled THE HIMALAYAN MONASTERY in http://.www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com).

The Hemis Monastery is headed by His Holiness G. Drukpa of the Drukpa or Dragon lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. ( do see the red and blue flag fluttering over the rescue van in the picture below)

live to rescue
The Rescue Ambulance and the Buddhist Monks

This homeless Donkey pushes his nose through the Mesh at the Rescue Centre which protects him from predators in the harsh landscape of Ladakh.

Observe the Gregarious Fur as compared to Donkeys seen in the plains.

This Sweet little Ass opened my  eyes to the World of Bung bu (Donkey) in Ladakh. Magically I saw many of his brethren thereafter.

through the mesh
Homeless he reaches out for affection

I was wondering Why  someone would abandon a Donkey when I came an unusual sight, a herd of  Horses and  Donkeys on the Highway to the Hemis Monastery.

An inquisite White Mare looks at the Camera over the shoulder of  a healthy Dark Brown Donkey.

donkeys and horses
The Beautiful All White Mare and the Glistening Donkey

Snow is the source of water for these Donkeys at a height of 4000 metres ( 13000 feet) .

The Featured image and the one below were taken while approaching the Hemis Monastery.

The Wild Tibetan Ass or Khiang  ( scientific Name Equus kiang kiang) or the King Ass is the largest of Asses and found exclusively in the high Himalayan Tibetan Plateau and Ladakh.

all alone
Equipped to handle the Sub Zero temperatures

The endearing Nose of the Donkey at the Rescue Centre had me Enchanted. It had cast a spell as I saw Donkeys repeatedly on my trip to Leh in Ladakh.

 

nose only
Cuddly Nose of the Homeless Ass in Ladakh

Strange are the Ways of Nature or was I merely Enchanted ?

Please do no not chuckle, imagine being Enchanted by an Ass.

LIVING PHARMACY

I had first spotted the White Cobra Headed Flowers borne on a Spike like bouquet at the Arboretum at Sunder Nursery ( do check out my blogs titled  GOLD MEDAL, SUPERSTAR, POWDER PUFF, RED AND WHITE, ROSES ARE RED etc  )   New Delhi.

However it was even more fascinating to see these  Evergreen Medicinal Herbs grow Wild on the Hills and Walkways at Rishikesh, Uttrakhand, India.

The Shrub of the Malabar Nut ( English) , Vasak ( Sanskrit), Adusa ( Hindi) , Adhatoda Vasica ( Scientific Name) is Native to the Indian Sub Continent.

The picture below was taken along the uphill walk  to the 13 Storied Bhootnath Temple at Rishikesh. ( do see the Calf and little boy to the Left of the Gigantic tree)

evergreen herb
Growing Wild on the Himalyan Hills of Rishikish

I will be switching from the Kohi ( Hills of Mud)  MicroHabitat at Sunder Nursery , New Delhi, created to emulate the Original Landscape of Delhi as it existed 600 years ago ,to the cool Natural Habitat in the Himalayan Hills of the Vasak Herb.

Every part of the Malabar Nut Shrub is a Boon for Mankind. The Adusa Shrub is in Fact a LIVING PHARMACY.

herb in sunder nursery
In Bloom at the Kohi Microhabitat, Sunder Nursery

The Flowers are enriched with Sweet Nectar which is much sought after by the pollinators like the Iridescently coloured Crimson Sunbird seen in the picture below. ( do check out my blog titled CRIMSON SUNBIRD).

The Gorgeous  Flowers themselves are a cure for numerous Respiratory diseases like Asthma and Tuberculosis as well.

with sunbird

Spotted with the Flamboyant Crimson Sunbird

The Vasaka Herb is mentioned in the  Charak Sanhita,  a  treatise of  Ancient Indian Medicine ( Ayurveda)   going back to the 1st Century or 2000 years ago .

Various parts of the Herb like the leaves and Roots provide relief from Pain , Ulcers, Inflammations and a plethora of other human ailments.

Do check out the website http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/vasaka.htm which details the various Medicinal Uses of this Herb which grows Wild and provides a Free Treatment to All.

The Buds bloom in an orderly fashion, bottom to Top.

the beautiful buds
Spiked Inflorescence

 

A Single Spiked Bouquet bears all the Stages of the beautiful White Blooms of The Malabar Nut or as I call it the Cobra Headed Flower.

The Stamens remind me of the fangs of a Cobra .

flowers in 3 stages
All the stages of the Medicinal Flower

While being attracted by these uniquely shaped Blossoms am also fascinated as to how Ancient Ayurveda Systems derive practical treatments from Nature itself.

Ayurveda, the Ancient Indian Medicinal System followed a different thought process, whereby  Natural Medicines were available FREE.

Is it not an Enchanting concept in today’s age of Patents , Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices ?

 

GOLD MEDAL

Roses ( English), Gulab ( Hindi)  are indeed fascinating and I have written a series of blogs  ( ROSES ARE RED, RED and WHITE and the more recent SUPERSTARS) on these spellbinding flowers.

The featured image and the photographs that follow are  of the pastel coloured cultivar ( read hybrid)  GOLD MEDAL.

The image below reveals two shades of the  GOLD MEDAL, one of which veers to a shade of EGG WHITE.

The SUPERSTARS ( do read the previous blog by the same title) add a vibrant colour to the picture below.

gm
Shades of Gold

The ancient Indian name “Saptapari”  ( that with a hundred wings ) aptly describes the wonderful multi-petaled characteristic of this lovely Rose.

The featured image and the one below reveal how the sepals ( the green leafy parts of the flower) unfold and let the yellow blossoms emerge from their midst.

Do you read a message from Nature here ?

buds and flower of gold medal
A closer look at the gentle yellow colours of the GOLD MEDAL 

This nearly White GOLD MEDAL reveals how the shades of the same hybrid evolve as the blossoms mature.

 

splendour
A pollinator seeks the sweet nectar

 

A sweet fragrance  hangs over the Gorgeous Rose Garden at Sunder Nursery. New Delhi where they bloom in hundreds in neatly manicured Rose Beds.

the tree and rosebuds
Handsome tree in the midst of ROSES

The tree however hides a secret in its bosom , which i will attempt to unravel in the blogs that follow.

Be Enchanted.

FLOWERLESS FRONDS

Ferns are a unique species of Plants which have No Flowers or Seeds.

The  moist Himalayan mountainside provides Ferns the perfect environment where they flourish and exhibit a vast and diverse range of species.

ferns on the mountainside
Spot the Ferns on this glorious Mountainside

These lovely Ferns sport bicoloured fronds, brown and green.

They spread their wings through Spores and not seeds like Flowering plants with which we are more familiar.

Look at the underside of the leaves  and you may see Red dots, these are clusters of sporangia called SORI.

I was so taken up by the beauty of these lovely ferns that I forgot to take any pictures of the SORI.

bicoloured leaves ( fronds)
Glorious ferns adorn the Himalayan undergrowth

Looking deceptively like coriander leaves  , this is another species of Ferns that grows along with Mushrooms ( Funghi) and Moss.

However unlike Moss, Ferns are classified as Vascular plants. They have cells which transfer water from the roots to the leaflets and vice versa.

coriander fern close up
Fronds resembling the leaves of Coriander

A Fern with rounded  Pinnule ( leaflets) highlights the diversity of these amazing and largely ignored Pterophyta.

rounded ferns
Rounded Fronds or Leaves

The Shiny Blades of the Frond  of the Fern highlight a brown Axis.

Confusing sentence but technically correct highlights different parts of the Fern.

undergrowth and ferns
Large Feather like Fronds

Next time when you huff and puff up a mountain in the Himalayas do glance at the ground beneath you feet, you may see the bearer of millions of Spores.

If anyone can identify and give these species names,  all the readers and I will be Blessed Indeed.

 

BLACK BUCK

Watching wildlife in their natural habitat is simply Magical.

The sheer joy of tracking and seeking Wildlife  in their habitat is difficult to express or reflect in pictures.

The Kala Hiran ( Hindi), Black Buck ( English) , Antilope cervicapra ( Scientific Name) is an Antelope which is fighting a  battle for survival .

It is also the only LIVING SPECIES of the Genus ANTILOPE.

Female Antelopes graze in the fields near the village of Bilaspur ,30 kms from Jodhpur .

female black bucks
Part of  the Harem

A herd is led by a dominant male which has a distinctive Black Fur as can be seen in the picture below.

A typical Harem can consist of  50 antelopes. The one we spotted was less than a dozen.

The Black Buck is an ungulate antelope native to the Indian Sub Continent.

behind the tree
Grazing behind the Kejri tree

The sun was setting and the light was fading fast.We were unfortunately accompanied by two young tourists from New Delhi who were more interested in  taking their own pictures  ( Selfies) rather than racing against the setting Sun.

However despite their efforts we were blessed as we spotted this herd  of about 9  including the Male Black Buck in the open fields moving away from a lake .

The Black Buck requires a large quantity of water unlike the Indian Gazelle ( do  read my blog THE ENCHANTING OASIS) which is an antelope as well.

black buck 1
Looks up as something is amiss

The Black Buck gives chase as it finds a juvenile male ( fur still fawn and horns not fully developed) near one of the female members of The Harem. ( see the feature image)

The Black Buck can notch up a phenomenal speed of  80Kmph.

the chase
On the run

The Black Back is protected in Rajasthan by the Bishnoi community which consider the Antelopes as Avatars of the Gods.

This inherent belief has ensured the survival of this species which requires large open grasslands and shuns dense forests.

Due to such beliefs the Black Buck numbers have improved from Vulnerable to Near Threatened.

CAMEL BODY ART

Camels can be seen in thousands at the annual Camel Fair at Pushkar.

The camels are decorated by shearing the hair, tattoes and tonnes of Jewellery . Over time it has transformed into a form of Art in its own right.

We peek into this form of Camel Art at Pushkar and see the simpler forms of Body art created by shearing.

camels all over
Undecorated Juvenile camels

When you compare the picture above to that below you will appreciate the amount of effort that goes into creating the DECORATED CAMELS.

The lovely sunshine shows up the body art of this camel created entirely by shearing the hair.

Camels decorated
Decorated Belly and Floral Rump

The head,  and the tail have tattoos whereas the belly , chest and hump have been decorated by shearing the hair.

A poster of a famous actress from Bollywood can be seen in the foreground.

 

bollywood and the camel
Fit for Bollywood with a decorated tail

This Camel has been tattooed with two auspicious symbols, one is the swastika and the second the trident or the trishul .

Do notice one of the Swastikas has been incorrectly tattooed.

swastika
Swastika

Trust you enjoyed the Camel Fair.