INDIAN COUNTRYSIDE

I have had the most Unusual , Fascinating and absolutely Enchanting time in the Indian Countryside as I campaigned for three weeks for a Political Party during the ongoing Assembly Elections in the most populous and diverse state of India, Uttar Pradesh. ( literally means Northern Region) .

The setting is an area  near the Ganges ,which is over 99% Rural consisting of close to 350 Villages.

Be Enchanted as I was with some pictures which capture the Flora & Fauna in this Agriculturally Rich Region in Northern India.

Parakeets, Mangoes and flowers  like the Lotus adorn the facade of this Beautiful Home. The Inspiration is entirely from Nature and the surroundings.

rural-nature
Rural Illustrations on a Country Home

Take a deep breath, soak in the fresh air, it is the Countryside and air pollutants reside in Urban cities.

For me it was a joyous time as I soaked in the Natural Beauty as I campaigned from door to door and village to village.

baya-nests
Aerial Homes of the Baya Bird

The Peepal  or Sacred Fig Tree ( English), Bodhi or Peepal ( Hindi) , Ficus religiosa ( Scientific name) in the foreground is a much revered tree across the Indian sub continent.

The tree in the backdrop is another endemic and fascinating Tree the Indian Lilac ( English), Neem  (  Hindi) Tree, Azhadirachta indica. This tree is a natural Germicide.

The little Brown Hill on the rooftop adjacent to the Temple consists of Flat cakes made from Cow Dung.

temple-in-rural-setting
An Ancient temple set in the midstof  Endemic Trees

The Featured Image is a typical rural scene in a Sugarcane  Field with Cattle Egret encompassing an Indian Buffalo.

Am delighted to finally reveal where I spent three weeks of my life participating in the Dance of Indian  Democracy .

Now off to Hospital and the realm of doctors , where I will dream of the Enchanting three weeks I spent in Naugawan Sadat assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

SPELLBOUND

The location is the temple village of Bateshwar,  Bah, District Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India  as mentioned in the previous blog titled Balls of Sugar.

The River is the Yamuna which flows within a mere 5 kms of the River Chambal at this point which in turn is now home to the Endangered Gharials.

I was spellbound by the beauty of the Landscape and had the pleasure of  watching an Indian Cormorant skim over the River as it competed for Fish with the Fishermen.

fisherman
Cormorant in Flight 

Mustard Fields in bloom, Silhouettes of Large trees , a foggy Winter morning and a Cormorant in Flight kept me Spellbound.

skimming-the-surface
Spellbinding Landscape and the Cormorant

The Sun filters through the Fog and the Flying  Cormorant has a Pelican for company and a new competitor for Fish as well.

not-alone
In the Company of a Pelican

The pictures say it all, need I say am Enchanted ?

 

PEARLS FOR FOOD

It is so  often that tiny rural roads, bereft of traffic and burly trucks , unfurl Pellets of Joy.

The narrow road from Yawat, off the Pune-Solapur Highway , Maharashtra,India,  leading to the Spectacular and Ancient Bhuleshwar Temple was one such Bundle of Joy. It winds through the most interesting agricultural fields of Food and Flowers.

green-fields
Monsoon Clouds over a Lush Bajra Field

Bajra ( Hindi) is a mineral rich, gluten free Millet which has a History of over 5000 Years in India and predates the advent of Wheat by hundreds ,nay thousands , of years.

Also known as Pearl Millet ( English), Pennisetum glaucum ( Scientific name), it forms the staple food of many a rural households in Maharashtra in the form of a Bread ( Roti)  called “Bajra Bhakri”.

fields-and-clouds
Resembling  “Pearly” Rush Reeds

I often confuse Bajra with Jowar , another millet known as Sorghum in English. Both are mineral rich millets and a wonderful alternative  for those that are Gluten Intolerant and cannot consume Cereals like Wheat.

I remember a delicious milk pudding ( usually served Hot) called ” Bajre ki  Kheer” which I had when I was younger. Little did I realize that one day I would be fortunate to see the Little Black Pearls in the Pudding growing in fields near Pune.

green-one
A Young One  emerging from a Leafy cover

Is it not Enchanting to see “Pearls Grow” ?

ROCK OF FAITH

The River Neyyar in Kerala, India merges gently into the vast Arabian Sea.

Tranquility, The Tranquil Merger, Patient Hunter and The Sea Crow are  blogs posted before that highlight The Beautiful and Tranquil region of Poovar.

The White Surf in the background is the Arabian Sea separated by a slim Beach from the Mouth of the River in the foreground.

the meeting point
The End of a River

A Elephant like Rock at the meeting point of the River Neyyar and the Arabian Sea.

the rock
The Witness to the Merger

The Divine witnesses the merger of the calm tranquil fresh Waters of the River with the Turbulent and Restless salted water of the Sea.

cross
Rock of Faith

The Enchanting region was photographed from a Boat.

PATIENT HUNTER

As the “River of Flowers” meanders through  the Coastal Lands of the Southern Tip Of India, it creates a Wonderful Ecosystem and an Enchanting Habitat.

Mangrove Forests  burst forth in the Estuary of the River Neyyar and constitute many a Wonderous species of Plants which survive in marshy lands much like Amphibians; half in water, half on land.

The Hanging Red Fruits of this Species hang decoratively over the Tranquil ( do read an earlier post titled TRANQUILITY and TRANQUIL MERGER)  Waters of the River Neyyar in Poovar, Kerala, India,

forest of hanging fruits
BEAUTIFULLY UNKNOWN

As the tendrils of the  aerial stems  curl and swirl carrying the floral buds to the peaceful  waters of the River, you can spot an equally calm HERON casting a reflection in Tranquility.

“The Indian Pond Heron (English) , Ardeola grayii grayii (Scientific name) had me deceived as it was in breeding plumage.

The Dull Brown Robes had been transformed into shimmering multiple hues, the beak was greenish-Blue and the Legs were a Beautiful Red.”

quietly awaiting
INFINITE PATIENCE

“I had never seen the Indian Pond Heron in Breeding Plumage and had been thoroughly deceived into assuming that I had seen a new species of Heron.”

This was the primary reason I did not pen down the name or the scientific name before. Am thus reblogging this now, with all the additions in the text , post discovering the identify  in apostrophes.” (“)

The Heron, displays Infinite patience as it awaits silently, with hardly a scant movement, gingerly holding onto twigs which arch over the surface of the River.

The Cup like leafs in the foreground of the photograph are Water Hyacinths.

the scenario
A STATUE?

The Heron beat me hands down in patience and I did not wait to witness what this Enchanting Bird had for Lunch.

“It also took me on a Wild Heron Chase by donning a lovely new plumage to charm the Lady Heron.”

The shimmering subtle hues of the  “Breeding ” Plumage show up beautifully in the Featured Image.

 

NATURAL HEALERS

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.

creeper
Watch out for The Rope Like Creeper

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.

on the roof
Hanging over the Terracotta Roofs

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.

hanging balls
Medicinal  decorations

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.

UP ABOVE IN THE SKY

The Himalayas are home to numerous Birds which can rarely be seen in other parts of India.

I spotted this Barn Swallow swinging amongst the clouds in Mussoorie, Uttrakhand ,India, which is located at an altitude of 6000 feet ( 2000 metres approx.)

string beween clouds
A String between the Clouds above

The Western Himalayas at Mussoorie turn into a glorious shade of Green in June.

The Green Trees are themselves covered with numerous blossoms which attracts numerous pollinators ( i.e. insects).

The Pollinators in turn  are a feast for these Swallows.

green hills
Green Himalayas till as far as the eyes can see

Barn Swallows ( English), Hirundo rustica ( Scientific Name) are experts in picking their prey from the skies.

The plumage of males and female are very similar of this species and thus I will not even attempt to guess the Gender of this one.

showing the way
Showing the Way

I had to stretch my neck backwards to catch a shot of  this lovely Swallow, perched high above on a Wire Stretched across the Blue Skies.

Is my Feathered Friend Showing me the Path to what lies Ahead ?

 

THE KING AND I

India is the Kingdom where Mangoes rule the World of Fruits, undoubtedly the King of Fruits.

Mangoes are the compensation to this land for bearing the Hot Summer Months. The Scorching heat fills these scrumptious Fruits with the Sweetest of Juices. The Hotter the Summer the sweeter  are the Mangoes.

Mangoes ( English), Aam ( Hindi), Mangifera indica ( Scientific name)  are native to the Indian Subcontinent and entrenched in the the History of this Ancient Land. It is from this ancient Land that they spread to the rest of the World.

The Mango Tree is revered in India and forms part of all auspicious functions like Inaugrating a New Home or A Wedding.

Garlands are made from Mango leaves and hung on the Main Entrances of Homes symbolizing Fertility and Good Luck.

mango tree
The Tree of the King of Fruits

Spring covers the trees with blossoms , the fragrance of which drives the pollinators like Bees wild.

The famous design called Paisley ( Kairi in Hindi)  owes it shape to the King of Fruits , Mangoes. Have a look at the Mango on the Left  below and turn it 180 degrees clockwise. Behold the Paisley.

the blooms
The Blossoms and Raw Mangoes

Raw Mangoes form the base of numerous mouth watering Pickles and Chutney. Each region of this Land has a different species of Mangoes and thus  naturally hundreds of Recipes abound.

It would take a lifetime  to discover and taste all the recipes.

plenty of mangoes
Curvaceous Mangoes

For me personally Mangoes are my favourite Fruit and of the hundreds of species of mangoes, Chausa rules my Taste Buds.

Are you still reading the blog, go and grab a Mango. The King of Fruits will disappear within a month.

CONICAL CYPRESS

Enchanting Forests of Conifers cover the slopes of the Lower Himalayas at altitudes between 1500 to 2500 metres ( 7500 feet) .

Do read previous blogs titled LAST STAND and M’I’STICAL HIMALAYAS connected to the changing landscape in the Himalayas.

The Pictures below are of a true Greybeard , a Lonely Cypress, in Kasmanda Palace, Mussoorie, Uttrakhand, India.

See  how  The Cypress  towers above the Conical Tower of this nearly 200  year old Palace in Bright Sunlight.

lonely cypress
A Conical Turret and The Cypress Tree

Dark Clouds cast dark shadows and the mood over the Cypress turns to Grim.

dark light
Dark Clouds Approaching

Light begins to fade and even the Cheerful Red Cones turn to shades of Grey.

darkness
Hungry Dark Clouds eat up the Light

Outstretched arms of The Hapless Lonely Cypress as Grim turns to Eerie , the SunLight is gradually blanketed out by Ominous Clouds.

hidden
The Silver Lining as Darkness embalms all

The pictures remind me of Fairy Tales , Wizards and Witches and a Childhood long gone by.

 

THE MAGICAL RUDRAKSHA

The “Rudraksha: is steeped in magical  mythology and entrenched in the psyche of millions of Indians.

The mere utterance of the word is synonymous with the Mystical and evokes both awe and reverence.

Literally translated it means the “Tears of Lord Shiva” ( Rudra is another name for the Supreme  Lord Shiva and “aksha” are  tears).

Scientifically called Elaeocarpus sphaericus, it is a large evergreen tree  ( called The Bead Tree in English) found in the Himalayas. The Dried Fruits ( beads) borne on this now threatened species are called Rudraksha.( please ses the featured image)

I was fortunate to see this Magical Tree for the first time in 51 years of my existence on Planet Earth in the Doon Valley ( Dehradun , India) .

the tree
The First Glimpse of the Magical Tree

Each bead   ( see the feature image) of this Mystical tree is supposed to have numerous Curative properties especially to lower High Blood Pressure, Calm the Heart and Relax your Nerves.

To know more about the therapeutic properties you could check out the following link which a scientific paper on this Curative and Magical Tree.

http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=rjmp.2013.23.31&org=10.

The Himalayan Rudraksha is extremely  prized and sought after in the Indian sub Continent.

You ( my readers)  are indeed fortunate ( and probably one of a handful) to view the Fruits in their natural state in the picture below.

The Round  Olive like Green Beads are the Raw Fruits of the Rudrakhsa Tree.

on the tree
Round Green Beads or  Fruits of The Bead Tree

A Sight Rarely Seen

The Rudraksha or Bead Tree has numerous  mystical characteristics. It is extremely difficult to propagate by cuttings, the seeds take over Two years of suitable climate to Germinate and almost a decade before it bears fruit.

The picture below is of A Raw Green Fruit, a dried Purple-Brown Fruit and the skeletal Rudraksha or Seed without the external Flesh.

beads

Various Stages of the Rudrakhsa Bead

The Rudraksha Beads are similar to Rosary Beads and usually 108 beads are strung up to make up a Prayer Necklace.

On your travels through India watch out carefully and you will see many religiously inclined like Priests and Sadhus adorn these Wonder beads.

Am sharing a picture of a fabulous Naga Sadhu  taken during the Kumbh at Ujjain, adorn a head gear made of up the Enchanting and Holy Rudraksha. ( do check out  a previous blog titled “ENCHANTING” GHOST ) .

rudrakhsa turban

The Magical Rudraksha at the Simhastha Kumbha Ujjain

Am still pinching myself to ensure am not dreaming and I actually saw a tree bearing the revered Rudraksha.