BABAR’S MAGIC ON THE HIGHWAY TO NASHIK

Am heading to the Simhasta  Kumbh  ( an event held only once in 12 years) and the vineyards of Pause Wines.( creators of somras) at Nashik. ( a story 5000 years old lies hidden in the name)

( their slogan is Life can Wait)

Have traveled to the region before and written about it too. Do check out  : Pune: Capital of the Peshwas ( http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com) and Forest of the Clouds.

( http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com) .

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.

Gandhi caps are unique to the state of maharashtra
Gandhi caps are unique to the state of Maharashtra

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 .

take off point
take off point

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.

the red truck was filled with surprise
the red truck was filled with surprise“pomegranates”

I  share the journey with you.

leaving the capital of the peshwas
leaving the Capital of the Peshwas

The entire route has breathtaking sites of villages. mountains  and  rivers .

the countryside
the countryside

The western ghats  reveal  the gorgeous  black volcanic rocks of the Deccan plateau and of an era when dinosaurs once ruled the land.

the road winds through the western ghats
the road winds through the western ghats

Mountains, a village , a bridge and the  river that descends from the mountains.

breathtaking sights
breathtaking sights

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.

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inside the fruit

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.

the fruit on the tree
the fruit on the tree
blossoms and fruits
blossoms and fruits
the farm
the farm

What a sight.. fruit orchards along a highway. Can you match it..

flower, fruits and mountains
flowers, fruits and mountains

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.

Cheers ( do google the book )  to Baber ( Mughal King and my friend: do read on the Jaipur Literature festival in http:// http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com to know more)  and Pomegranates.

SECRET TALES OF AVATARS, CHAMBER OF SECRETS and HOBBIT HOMES: BANDAVGARH

The dense and lush  forests of Bandavgarh hold numerous secrets in its bosom.

“Secret unveiled” : be enchanted and spellbound at the  Tala  Range  ( insist on visiting  this range first and foremost) of the Bandavgarh Forest Reserve.

2000 year old caves draw a striking resemblance to the imaginary homes of Hobbits

( Tolkiens: Lord of the Rings)

Badi Gufaa at Tala
Badi Gufaa at Tala

Spiders  (order Araneae ) enchant me and the first i learnt of a “Spider Walk” was my dear friend Dr Mary Catherine Frazier. So if the Tiger eludes you ( as it did me) go for a Spider walk .

Tiger , tiger....
Tiger , tiger….

This large  wood spider was spotted in the washroom marked JENTS at the Tala Range of the Bandavgarh Forest Reserve. Forest Department pull up your socks please.

wash room at Tala. enchanting spelling.
wash room at Tala. enchanting spelling.

Moving onto the positive, Wood spider: It went to the “JENTS” section.

Wood Spider
Wood Spider

This Secret of Chambers ( Harry Potter fame)  is real at Bandavgarh and has a history going back to 2000 years.

spiders and skylights in the caves
spiders and skylights in the caves

This gentleman ( or lady ) insisted on hanging upside down.

Experts pls identify
Experts  identify please

The movie “Avatar” connects me immediately to this enchanting forest with wildlife  and trees in size Extra Large.

The Lord Vishnu is also depicted through his ten AVATAARS ( meaning reincarnations) showing the evolution of Man .

Giant statues ( 7 meters high or 21 feet high)   of some of these Avataars can be seen in the Bandavgarh hill fort in the midst of the  forests.

The  hills within the Tala Range
The hills within the Tala Range

A lot seen, a lot missed: will be back

a hoarding at the railway station at Umaria
a hoarding at the railway station at Umaria

AMAZING FORESTS OF BANDAVGARH IN THE HEART OF INDIA

At last into the home of the White Tiger: Bandavgarh
At last into the home of the White Tiger: Bandavgarh

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.

Jeeps canters and elephants are three modes of transport within the BTR
Jeeps canters and elephants are three modes of transport within the BTR

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 hills in tala range atop which the fort is located
the hills in tala range atop which the fort is located

The caves are about 2000 yrs going back to the 1st A.D. The entire region .

 Caves ( i call them Hobbit homes) In Tala range
Caves ( i call them Hobbit homes) In Tala range

I have observed that  hills  inhabited by ancient temples  in India are often  a treasure trove for environmentalists.

Official write up at the site of the lying VIshnu and Shivling
Official write up at the site of the lying VIshnu and Shivling inside The Tiger Reserve at Bandavgarh
Behold the Creator:Lying Vishnu
Behold the Creator:Lying Vishnu

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 official board is silent on the Shivling the symbol of Lord Shiva
The official board is silent on the Shivling the symbol of Lord Shiva
The dense moist sal ( shorea robusta) forests of Bandabagrh
The dense moist Sal ( shorea robusta) forests of Bandavgagrh

The Amazing forests  of Bandavgarh are  a wonderful example of this ancient wisdom.

Grey Hornbills
Grey Hornbills
Romantic Owls
Romantic Owls
Langurs at the local pub
Langurs at the local pub

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.

Nalsarovar Water Forest: Home of the Flamingos

The “water world”  of “Nalsarovar”  is the home to the graceful Flamingos ( Phoenicopterus roseus & Phoenicopterus minor ) .It’s a sight of a lifetime.

Through the blogs titled ” enchanted forests” I attempt to unveil to the reader  the numerous forms of  magical and enchanting nature .

Welcome to the water forest, Nalsarovar, abode of the flamingoes.

flamingos
flamingos

Sarovar”  literally translated from Hindi means a Lake.

Nalsarovar a world of water
Nalsarovar a world of water

Nalsarovar is however an enormous “water forest”  located a short 45 minutes by road (65 kms) from Ahemdabad. ( Gujarat, India)  . It is also one of  the largest  “Ramsar”  sites in India.

Water combined with marshy land make it an ideal habitat for hundreds of water birds, many of which migrate to  Nalsarovar from  the colder northern worlds.

migratory birds
migratory birds

The birds are best viewed from the flat  bottomed boats which are manned by extremely knowledgeable boatmen. Follow their advice and you will be witness  to one of the marvels of nature.

reach by sunrise for the best sightings
reach by sunrise for the best sightings

Personally did not go on a horse, but its an option with this cheerful  young jockey. Do observe the saddle.

want to go on a horseride?
want to go on a horseride?

Do write to me  at chandmukul@gmail.com and i will be happy to share more pictures and details. Also watch out for my blogs on the region in http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com.

Leave you with  the  birds of this amazing water world

In Ancient Egypt the IBIS was revered .
In Ancient Egypt the IBIS was revered .
A brush with a darter bird
A brush with a darter bird

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 ?

agitated bronze winged jacana
agitated pheasant tailed jacana

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.

flamingos and flamingoes
flamingos and flamingoes

Do keep an eye for more on the region.