HIMALAYAS IN PINK

The Lower Himalayas from Sikkim till Uttrakhand are covered in a cloak of Pink  immediately after the lofty mountains are  touched by the first drizzle brought forth by the Monsoons.

The   Pink Rain Lily , Storm Lily , Rose Fairy Lily (English) , Zephyranthes rosea ( scientific name) bloom into vast stretches of Pink as the first rain drops touch the topsoil of The Himalayas.

The following picture  of a hillside covered with Pink flowers was taken in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India.

hills-and-lillies
Pink Himalayas

A close cousin the Zephyranthes candida  ( also called Rain Lily in English ) was seen by me in Pune and extensively covered in a previous blog titled “SIX POINTED STAR”. The dexterous labeling by the Gardners of The Corinithian Resort & Club, Pune   helped me discover the botanical name of these Pink Lilies.

However besides the difference in colour the Pink Rain Lilies on the Himalayas you see in the pictures here were growing in the wild in free abandon and in vast numbers carpeting the Hills in Pink.

lily-plant
Pink Rain Lilies in SunLight

The Pink Rain Lily like their close cousin The Six Pointed Star belongs to the Amarylis Lily family Amaryllidaceae.

These Beautiful Pink Flowers however hide a deep and dark secret in their bulbs which are hidden in the soil from which they spring forth as they contain deadly toxic alkaloids.

The alkaloids  lycorine and  haemanthamine  present in the bulbs can cause severe vomiting and convulsions and even lead to death .

a-pair-in-speckled-leaves
Speckled Leaves, Fallen Flowers and Lilies in Pink

If you read earlier blogs you will realize that many deadly toxins exist in their natural Form in Plants, yet these very toxins when used by professionals are converted into medicines and cure many ailments which affect us Humans.

After over a year of blogging and learning I am increasingly Enchanted by the numerous forms and ways of Wonderful Nature.

 

A BLESSED COLD

An Evil Virus has pervaded into my system causing a Running Nose, a persistent Smoker Like Cough  ( am a non-smoker) , a Headache and a very Cranky Me. We usually call such an Infection a Common Cold.

Over the years I am attempting to practice the intake of natural or herbal medicines as far as possible. So Cough Syrups ,Aspirins , Paracetamols and cocktails thereof are a NO NO for me.

I depend to a large extent on the Ancient Indian Science of Medicine called “Ayurveda” which is primarily based on Natural Herbs and Plants. ( do read up an earlier blog titled “Natural Healers “) .

A Mythological Depiction of the Emergence  of the  Deva ( Demi-God ) of Ayurveda, Lord Dhanawantri from the depths of the Ocean can be seen in the painting below.

Dhanvantri
Churning of the Ocean for the Nectar  (“ Amrit”) of Immortality

The Beautiful Painting above is soaked in Symbolism revealing hundreds of fascinating stories from Indian Mythology. I am not deviating from the focus of this post  so will reveal no more.

One of the mysteries thus revealed to mankind was the secret of a Remedy for the Common Cold Virus .One of  the Key Ingredients in the Ayurvedic recipe “Sitolpaladi” is the  Fruit of the Amazing Creepers you can see in the Picture Below.

“Long Pepper” creepers can be seen at the entrance of The Treatment Rooms of The Awesome Spa at Mahindra Resorts, Poovar, Kerala, India.

pepper in a spa
The Spa at Mahindra Spa &  Resort,Poovar

 Pippali ( Hindi & Sanskrit) , Indian Long Pepper ( English Name) , Piper Longum ( scientific name)  is a wonder cure for a large number of ailments including Fever , ailments of the Lungs & Gastrointestinal system  and Obesity to name but a few.

I was lucky to Spot a Long Pepper on the creeper , the roots of which are equally important in various Ayurvedic prescriptions.

The Long Pepper must not be confused with the the Round Black/Red or White Pepper, both of which belong to the Pepper family “Piperaceae”.

pepper creeper
The Creeper grows around a Bamboo Support

Kerala is a unique state in India as you will find an Ayurvedic pharmacy alongside the more familiar Modern Chemists which we now frequent in other parts of the World.

As symbolized in the painting above The Indian Long Pepper is an unusual Spice native to India as it also exhibits anti aging properties.

I thank THE BLESSED COLD without which I would not have discovered  SITOPALADI and Piper Longum.

Goodbye as I mix Sitopaladi Powder in Honey to give the Final Kick to the Common Cold Virus.

THE HAUNTED

When I opened the window at Mussoorie,Uttrakhand ,India in the Western Himalayas I was overwhelmed by a Sea of Trees covered with multi hued blossoms.

“Have been fortunate  after many days to now identify the flowering  Sea of Trees as those of The Indian Horse Chestnut.”

view from window
Haunting view of  Himalayan Flowering Trees from the Window

On a closer look through the dense Foliage I see the Haunted Home of the Swallows. ( do see an earlier blog titled  UP IN THE SKY ). Silly me, The Swallow had been pointed towards the their home all along.

haunted house
Haunted Home in the midst of mysterious blooms

A zoom in reveals glorious blossoms in pink, yellow and white buzzing with Butterflies. If you wish to see more of the butterflies do see an earlier post titled SMITTEN BY NATURE along with the Feature Image.

For me am totally Haunted by these gorgeous and mysterious Blossoms and the mystery is compounded as I have been unable to identify them.

“The Spike of Flowers of the Indian Horse Chestnut ( English Name) tree,  I have since  learnt can be seen only in the months of May and June”.

blooms

Mysterious and  Haunting Flowers

Be Haunted like the Butterflies by the abundance of these blooms , seen at an altitude of 2000 metres ( 6000 feet approx.) in the Lower Himalayas.

” The Mystery is now finally resolved, these lovely flowers are of The Indian Horse Chestnut ( English Name), Pankor      (Hindi Name), Aesulus indica (Scientific name). A Deciduous Tree Native to the Himalayas and found at an altitude between 900 to 3000 metres.”

pink blooms
The Breathtaking  Inflorescence

Am hopeful that someone will be identify these Trees with Chestnut or Maple like Leaves and break the Haunting of these mysterious and Enchanting flowers.

“The mystery is resolved, the fruits are used as a cure for Colic in Horses and  probably the reason for the name Horse Chestnut.”

THE CHAMELEON RIVER

The featured picture is of a Rhesus Macaque on the banks of the mighty Teesta River as it curves through the ravines and gorges of the Himalayas in Sikkim and West Bengal, India.

This post is a continuation of the previous article titled ICY HIMALAYAN SOURCE which traces the Origin of the River Teesta from  Glaciers and Lakes in the Lofty  Snow capped Himalayas.

The Teesta River is known for it’s Emerald Green Waters which magically change to a Muddy Brown when Monsoon Rains Drench the  Slopes of the Himalayas.

Besides the Chameleon like characteristic defined above, the Teesta River is also the Lifeline of Sikkim and home to many villages which dot its bank as it curves through Forests and Mountains.

curves
The Lifeline, Teesta River

The Rangeet river ( the principal tributary of the Teesta) merges with the  Teesta River  near the Teesta Bridge.

The new Muddy Brown Robes of the Teesta River are clearly  revealed against the waters of the Rangeet River in the picture below.

confluence
The Merger or Confluence of two RIvers

The famous Coronation Bridge across the Teesta River before it descends to the Plains in West Bengal and Bangladesh thereafter.

It was built to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 when Undivided India was a colony of the British Empire.

The Road also leads onto the Kingdom of Bhutan and  North Eastern States of India.

Coronation Bridge
Coronation Bridge connects to the Kingdom of Bhutan

Indicating its fury in  Brown Muddy Robes the Teesta River inundates Trees and Forests as it swells dramatically due to a steep  increase in the  volume of water during the Monsoons. ( Rainy Season usually June-September)

teesta floods
Drowning Trees observed by a Parakeet

The Chameleon like Teesta in the plains near Jalpaiguri ( a township in the Doars region of West Bengal)  reveals a vast White Sandy River Bed during the Summer.

white sands
White River Sands during the Summer

The Teesta River  or as I call it the “Chameleon River” leaves India to enter Bangladesh  and it is time to bid Goodbye.

Trust you enjoyed the Journey through the Himalayas from Alpine Forests to Tropical Forests, from Icy Banks to the White Sands.

“TROPHIES”

When you travel through India and see the Beautiful and Majestic Palaces and Forts you will also see countless “Stuffed Animals” which were heartlessly Hunted to decorate these Royal abodes.

Many species like the Asiatic Cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus ventaticus)  have been driven to extinction in India, whereas some species like Tigers are now  restricted to Wildlife Parks and Sanctuaries. 

Stuffed Heads of Animals are mounted onto wooden boards ,as is the Head of the  Gaur ( English)  , Bos gaurus ( Scientific Name) in the picture below,  and are called “TROPHIES”.

These “Trophies” are then proudly displayed in the abodes of esrtwhile Maharajas and Kings symbolizing  the valour of their Forefathers.

bison
INDIAN BISON

The Featured Photograph has Mounted Heads of  the Graceful and Majestic Deer “Bara Singhas” ( that with 12 horns) , Swamp Deer ( English), Rucervus duvaucelli ( Scientific Name) which is now constricted to the Terrai region ( Dudhwa Wildlife sanctuary) , a spot in Central India( Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary) and Assam( Kazhiranga ) . This Unique Deer once roamed across the entire  Indian Subcontinent but is now extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Indian or Asiatic Lion ( English).  Panthera leo persica ( Scientific name) can today  be found ONLY  in the Gir Sanctuary in Gujarat, India. The Indian Lion is still Endangered and was on the verge of Extinction.

This Specimen is now in a Glass Box marked Number 26 and must survive on Grass.

lion is box number 26
Asiatic Lion in a Box

The River Monster , the Giant Devil Catfish (English), Goonch Fish, Bagarius yarrelli ( Scientific Name) also inhabits the fast flowing and deep waters of the Chambal River .

A Stuffed Indian Leopard ( Panthera pardus fusca) can be seen in the background in the picture below.

Fortunately both are neither Endangered or Extinct.

fish and cheetah
GOONCH Fish on the Table as a  Leopard looks On

While Smoking did not Kill the Gharial ( English) , Gavialis gangeticus ( Scientific Name) in the picture below, hunting for “Trophies” surely has driven them to be Critically Endangered.

The Gharial is a unique fish eating crocodile which is Native to India and now found in the Wild in the  Chambal River. ( please checkout earlier posts titled CURSED YET ENCHANTED RIVER , OVER THE CLIFF, EGYPTIAN ROOST and THE GREAT CANYON OF INDIA)

gharial
Gharial

If you are Enchanted by Trophies , skip going on Safaris as you may not find what you seek in Forests.

SMART KITTY( for NIA)

I took these pictures while  we were being briefed on the HEMIS MONASTERY in Shrey, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India.

However  this Smart Kitty took up a lot of my attention as it made itself comfortable in front of the heater in the room.

I know my friend from Turkey , Nia, loves Cats, so the pictures were taken with her at the back of my Head.

 

cat and carved table
Who is sitting on my Chair  asks Kitty ?

 

Cat and Heater
Nice Warm Spot 

 

all attention
All Attention as the door to the room is left Ajar

Oops sorry I lost the thread of what was being discussed as Smart Kitty had me Enchanted in Ladakh.

QUILTED SKY

The Mountains, The River and The Skies at Rishikesh seem to have come to Life  in an Enchanting Way.

The Himalayas breathe out tufts of cotton, Quilting the Skies in rows of neatly laid out Clouds.

The Rays of the Morning Sun touches the Quilted Skies turning them into  Hues of Crimson Gold. ( do check out my blog CRIMSON SUNBIRD and THE CRIMSON GANGES)

radiating from the mountains
The Sun Rise over the River Ganges at Rishikesh, India

Sitting besides the Holy Ganges River and watching the Sun play Midas as the colours of the Skies and Clouds change is an experience hard to describe or capture in photographs.

You can literally see the Sun Rays as they glance off the tufts of clouds even though the Sun is masked by the towering Himalayas.

gilded skies
The Touch of Midas 

A gentle breeze gently sets in motion the entire Panorama of Clouds creating a surreal landscape as their reflections even transform the Holy Ganga into Molten Gold. ( do read my blog MAA GANGA at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com)

golden skies
A Gentle Breeze brings Life to the Quilted Skies

A Lonely Kite sets out alone in the Quilted Skies in quest of the mysteries that create such Wonders.

a bird and clouds
Soaring above the Mighty Himalayas

How I envy the Mesmerizing  and Enchanting view the Kite has of the entire Vista that surrounds the Ganges at Rishikesh .

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.

BLACK BEAUTY

A friend and an avid Naturalist introduced me to an intriguing subject “History of Food”.

Captivated to the subject as it is closely intertwined with Nature I now look at my Food, in particular Vegetables and Herbs,  with more respect. Each vegetable  tells me a story of how they have integrated the World in more ways than we can imagine and the Continents they have traversed.

The Black Beauty , Aubergine , EggPlant or Brinjal is a prehistoric vegetable known to Indian civilization since the dawn of time.

egg plant.jpg
BLACK BEAUTY

The vegetable Baingan ,( Hindi), EggPlant ( English) ,Solanum melongena ( Scientific Name) belongs to the potato family Solanaceae.

If you see cuisines across the world  today it is hard to imagine there was once a time when THE BLACK BEAUTY was unknown to regions beyond the Indian Subcontinent.

Imagine no Moussakas? ( friends in Turkey and Greece please note)

The picture below is of a vegetable farm  near the village of Kichan ( do check my blogs WINTER GUEST and A FEAST) , Rajasthan.

brinjals till the horizon
Baingan and Maize grow together in a field near Jodhpur

The beautiful mauve flowers of the BLACK BEAUTY look like lamps as the sunlight filters through their petals.

They are however carriers of the poisonous alkaloid Solanine , which like modern drugs causes hallucinations as well.

The  EggPlant or Black Beauty was therefore also known as the “APPLE OF INSANITY” or MAD APPLE .

the flower
The Nightshade Family

Tomatoes & Potatoes both belong to the  NIGHT SHADE (Solanaceae)  family  of the Brinjals and also carry the same alkaloid Solanine.  

Hybrids of the Black Beauty or Aubergine can also be White and hence the name  EGGPLANT.

Consumption of the BLACK BEAUTY  however brings with it a plethora of health benefits like  Flawless Skin, Healthy Hair, Weight Reduction and a control on diabetes and high blood pressure.

Do look well at your vegetables, they may have come from a distant and exotic land.

 

 

SPECTACULAR

These Spectacular climbers from South America have set the trees at Sunder Nursery, New Delhi  AFLAME with their gorgeous and bountiful blooms.

all is scarlett
The Scarlett Tree

The Bougainvillea is named after a French Naval Commander and was introduced by the British in India in the 19th Century.

Bougainvilleas are ferocius climbers  and have set this tree AFLAME.

scarlet all over
The blooms envelop the Tree

The enchanting scarlet blooms are actually bracts ( leaves pretending to be petals). The Flowers are inconspicuous, tubular and of the same colour as the three  three faux petals or bracts which surround it.( see the featured image)

The  enchanting Scarlet Bougainvillea seen in these pictures is in all probability Bougainvillea glabra ( Scientific name) 

on a limb
The Scarlett Limb

This sturdy vine/shrub or plant with tiny sharp thorns is extremely hardy and thrives in the warm and dry climate of India.

Numerous cultivated hybrids can be seen across the world now , however one hybrid called TEMPLE FIRE caught my attention and seems closest in spirit to the species seen in the pictures above.

The colourful Bougainvillea can be seen in various colours and is also the national Flower of the country of GUAM.