We are to go to the famous vineyards of Nashik today and we await our host and driver.
Am all ready to go, with camera bag slung across the shoulders and breakfast in tummy, As the waiting turns from few minutes to many minutes, i reluctantly take a stroll in the unkempt garden of the hotel.
Magically I was transported into a floral forest as I observed the world beneath my feet.
A beautiful yellow flower caught my eye and connected me to a painting by Van Gogh I had seen in Amsterdam.
Observe ,the variegated leaves , the unusual shape of these flowers and pea like fruits.
I have seen these “flowers” in the colour red , seeing them in white caught my eye.
I think they turn white from green, am not sure though.
The waiting had invited me to observe and enter the FOREST OF FLOWERS.
The attire and clothes of people are so interesting and unique. Gandhi caps are rarely seen in any other part of India. Spotted these gentlemen watching a car being towed away.
While I had read a bit about the main event, the Kumbh and done a bit of homework, what took me by surprise was the magic that unfolded enroute to Nashik .
It was one of the most enchanting journeys I have undertaken by road in recent years. The camera kept clicking as there was excitement every minute. I think the car driver must have sworn never to travel with me again as I requested him to stop repeatedly as i hopped out of the car to take pictures.
I share the journey with you.
The entire route has breathtaking sites of villages. mountains and rivers .
The western ghats reveal the gorgeous black volcanic rocks of the Deccan plateau and of an era when dinosaurs once ruled the land.
Mountains, a village , a bridge and the river that descends from the mountains.
What took me by surprise were the pomegranate fruit orchards which line the highway. It took my breath away . I had never seen pomegranates being cultivated. The red van i had seen at the start of the trip was only the teaser.
For me it was sheer Magic unfolding . Pomegranates are not endemic to India. It is said they were introduced by the first Mughal King Baber ( 700 years ago) from modern Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Am sure he would have nearly fallen off his horse on this magical 200 km long drive.
What a sight.. fruit orchards along a highway. Can you match it..
The little red truck had unveiled the magic of Pomegranates.
As I sign off , keep a watch out as this is only Chapter 1 of the drive, let alone the destinations.
The Amazing Forests of Bandavgarh tells fascinating stories of Kings, White Tigers and a fort gifted to a brother. This is the last ( for now) and chapter 5 in the series on Bandavagarh .
Legend has it that Lord Ram gifted the fort to his brother Laxman ( do see my write up on Artifacts of the Samode Safari Lodge)
The Bandavgarh National Park and Tiger Reserve was once home to the White Tiger ( not spotted for the last 50 years now) and was the domain of the Baghela Rulers of Rewa. It was preserved by these wise rulers as a Wildlife sanctuary from the 17th century ( 400 years ago) when they shifted their capital from Bandavgarh to Rewa.
It is home to numerous monuments, temples ,caves and forts, most of which are beyond the reach of the ordinary tourist like me. A visit to the fort requires a special permit I hope I will be able to visit the 10th Century Fort in the years to come.
The caves are about 2000 yrs going back to the 1st A.D. The entire region .
I have observed that hills inhabited by ancient temples in India are often a treasure trove for environmentalists.
They are often the catchment areas of water for the region, ancient forests provides medicinal plants and in turn its inhabitants, the fauna ( wildlife) , thrives.
The Amazing forests of Bandavgarh are a wonderful example of this ancient wisdom.
There are some pictures which I am adding in Chapter 6, which will show up the deficiencies of the Forest administration at Bandavgarh.So keep your eyes pealed.
After much inner conflict I think its necessary to mention the same.
Leave you with the birds of this amazing water world
The parent bird was so agitated as the boat was within touching distance of its offspring ( in the foreground of the picture) that it flew menacingly to peck the boatman. Did The Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) know who was in charge ?
I have had only a “fleeting glimpse of half a dozen flamingos” at an abandoned dock in Mumbai years ago.The sights at Nalsarover truly reveals the magic of the flamingoes. what an eyeopener: they flock here in thousands.