I had only heard of this remarkable tree and was overwhelmed when I saw these amazing Cannon Balls hanging from a tree in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Spotted at the entrance of the Sathya Sai Hospital in Whitefield, Bangalore.
“As promised am Updating with missing details on the Fascinating CANNON BALL Tree which hails from the Amazonian rain forests of South America.”
I simply cannot digest this Enchantment alone and thus sharing the picture without the usual details and some interesting snippets. For that kindly wait for a week when I am back on my desk at Home.
“The Cannon Ball tree ( English), Couroupita gueanensis ( Scientific name) bears large brown Cannon Ball like fruits which create a thunderous sound like a cannon being fired when they crash to the ground.
These Large trees ironically line the Footpath along the frontage of a Hospital in…
14th of January is celebrated as Makar Sakranti and is the day the Sun meets the Constellation of Capricorn ( Makar in Hindi) .
Makar Sakranti is the ONLY Hindu festival which is based on the Solar Calender and is celebrated across the country ,though assigned different names like Pongal in Tamil Nadu ( South India) and Uttarayan in Gujarat. ( Western India)
The day marks the beginning of an auspicious period and is celebrated with the distribution of sweets made of Jaggery ( Gud in hindi) and Sesame ( Til in Hindi).
This blog is about Sesame ( English), Til ( Hindi), Sesamum Indicum ( Scientific Name) and I can think of no better day than Makar Sakrantito introduce this ancient tiny seed to you.
The picture below shows the arid farmlands of this traditionally attired farmer of Rajasthan who has recently harvested his crop of Sesame oilseeds.
His White Turban and manner of wearing it indicate he belongs to the Nature Worshiping community of Bishnois.(do read my blog on THE BLACK BUCKS)
The proud Bishnoi farmer and the Sesame fields
The Sesame plant is the oldest oilseed known to man and the species Sesamum Indicum is native to India.
The Sesame plant is extremely hardy and can survive in the arid and parched desert like climate of Rajasthan. ( see the sandy soil in the picture above)
The photograph below is of a bushel of dried Sesame plants ,each carrying numerous tiny seeds carefully packed by Nature in fruits which resemble capsules.
A closer look shows the Enchanting Power Packs of Sesame Oil seeds.The Sesame fruits ( in the picture)consists of 4 Packs which burst open to release the seeds on maturity.
The seeds of the Sesame plant have the highest content of nutritious oil in any seed known to man.
Is it then a Wonder that they are today included in almost every cuisine known to Man.
The little off white ( or black) seeds on Buns and the sides of Sushi are none other than Sesame Seeds.
The 4 power pack capsules of the SesamePlant are ready to burst from the tip and are thus harvested before they can disperse their valuable oil seeds.
The tiny Sesame seeds are a SUPERFOOD and pack an array of Proteins,Vitamins Minerals , Oils and dietary fiber.
The Ancient Indians knew the nutritional value of the Power Packed Sesame Seeds and thus intertwined them with religious festivals like Makar Sakranti to ensure the population at large remain healthy.
Next time you eat a Hamburger , do look at the tiny white seeds that adorn the Crown of the Buns.
So friends, Wishing you a Happy Makarsakranti and remain healthy with Til ( Sesame) Gud ( Jaggery) . Til for health and Gud for sweet words and deeds.
This single extraordinary flower stands out from a sea of green at the amazing HOTEL FATEGARH in Udaipur.( Rajasthan, India).
At first glance it is difficult to identify what belongs to which plant. It is a maze of leaves, branches, buds and flowers.
It is indeed a lot of fun ( and sometimes frustrating ) to identify a flower or a plant. Try it.
My recent education makes me hone it down to the Malvaceae family ( A diverse family including the flower Hibiscus, the cash crop Cotton, vegetable Okra and the fruit Durian) .
Recent education was in a vegetable market in New Delhi, where I saw the conical tell tale buds of Roselle (Hibiscus Sabdariffa ) for the first time. ( a rushed picture from my mobile)
Thus the Genus Hibiscus is clearly established from the buds , now onto the tougher part of identifying the species.
I have a recent picture of the Lady Finger ( Okra) plant which shows the similarity of the two family members in the typical cone-shaped buds, the whorl below the buds and the leaves.
This picture was taken at THE CORN VILLAGE near Mussoorie in the Himalayas.
Do remember all I have are photographs taken from a digital camera close to two decades ago.
The habitat where one locates flora ( or fauna) is an extremely useful tool in identifying the species.
After a pain staking comparison of the buds ( they have no hair in the picture), the typical whorl below the buds and the leaves resembling the head of a coconut tree ,I think the flower is christened Hibiscus Caesius Garcke.
( Please verify at http://efloraindia.nic.in )
As i leave you to ponder and decipher the correct identify of Susan, I move onto identify the white flowers seen along with these eye catchers.
The ship of the desert or Camels are naturally adapted to the way of life in a desert.
North Western Rajasthan is the natural home to these enchanting creatures of God.
Numerous folk tales recite the tales of how the camels came to inhabit Earth.
Goddess Parvati ( the consort of Lord Shiva) is fabled to have sculpted the Camels from clay and the Lord is supposed to have infused the breath of Life in them.
The story goes on to say they initially had 5 legs, but were then unable to walk, so Lord Shiva folds the fifth leg and pushes it into the chest, this then forms the hump and leaves a mark as well.
The story continues as the Camels create mayhem by going about their merry ways and eat up all the foliage. The Lord Shiva then creates the RAIKA (also called Chaamad) from his body( chamdi or skin ) to tend to camels and thus restore order.
The Raika are a unique community of camel herders and breeders who survive to this day in the colourful state of Rajasthan in India.
The following picture shows three Raika men in traditional attire with their musical instruments at the extravagant annual musical festival RIFF held at Jodhpur.
The backdrop is that of a hand painted Phad which tells the epic story of a local deity Pabuji.
( more on this in a separate post)
The Raika firmly believe they were born for only one purpose, that is to take care of Camels.
Their lifestyles and future are thus delicately bound to Camels.
With modernization and mechanization, the demand for Camels as a means of transport has sharply declined.
Spinning yarn from Camels hair and making Carpets and other textile products is one of several ways for the Raika to survive.
Do notice the leaves at the back of the gorgeous turban of the elderly Raika.
The extremely intricate relation between nature, animals and man is highlighted by the lifestyles of this amazing and enchanting community called THE RAIKA.
A closer look at the Bobbins shows how the Raika use the twigs of the desert trees and camel’s hair.
The gorgeous but large turban is made from 10 yards ( 9 metres) of cloth.
This large cloth acts as a protection against the scorching heat of the desert , as a tether for camels and also as protection against angry camels.
The elderly Raika has Camel’s milk in his hand in a practical and environment friendly container, the leaf of the Aak Shrub.
The desert is an unusual forest and the preservation of water is a compulsory adaption for all forms of life.
The Aak ( Hindi and Sanskrit ) bush , Apple of Sodom ( English) , Calotropis procera ( scientific name) ) is used extensively by the Raika .
The leaves of the Aak have been used extensively by the Ayurvedic school of medicine for centuries and are supposed to be a great antidote to snake bites and a cure for jaundice as well.
The Raika thus always keep the leaves tucked away in their extensive headgear.
The leaves of the Aak make ideal containers to drink Camel’s milk. They are large , leathery and do not permit liquids to seep through them.
The flowers of the Aak are revered and garlands are made from them and offered to Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is also supposed to have absorbed the poison from the churning of the Ocean and saved all living beings from its effects.
The milky sap of the Aak bush also contains some of the most vicious poisons like Calotropin.
Much like Lord Shiva, the Raika have learnt how to transform the naturally occurring poison into a cure for numerous ailments.
The Raika are a living enigma and a wonderful example of Mythology coming to life.
Their beliefs and way of life are a wonderful example of maintaining harmony with nature even under adverse and harsh circumstances.
The Raika are a truly amazing community but struggling to survive and preserve their ancient customs and way of life.
Have experienced only a small glimpse of the Raika at the RIFF at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
I believe there is a CAMEL FESTIVAL which celebrates this community in early November in Pali district of Rajasthan.
I could hardly resist taking pictures of these lovely lavender coloured flowers within the Dhanraj Mansion at Mumbai.
The Dhanraj Mansion is a lovely heritage building located diagonally opposite the historical YACHT CLUB and THE TAJ MAHAL HOTEL ( do check out my blog THE GATEWAY TO INDIA at http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com) .
The Laurel Clock Vine is a vigorous climber and had covered the Gulmohar tree and formed the hedge in the mansion as well.
The heart ( or paan ) shaped leaves with their pointed tips adorn this creeper unique to South Asia. Unknown to me these attractive leaves serve as baby cradles as well.
As I went closer to photograph the flowers of the Laurel Clock Vine ( Scientific name: Thunbergia laurifolia) I was surprised as two eyes inquisitively looked back at me .
Nature springs a lovely surprise gift.
A baby chameleon ( I guess a few days old only) was probably on his first day out and had stretched out on a heart-shaped leaf. Have a look at the baby sunbathing on his cradle.
Reminds me of the fairy tale of Thumbelina.
How can I not share a close up of the gorgeous flowers which had beckoned me into this lovely mansion. Do observe the vine winds up clockwise giving the creeper its name .
The guard of the mansion was extremely unhappy with my photographic acrobatics.
Beating a hasty retreat I wonder if the inmates of the mansion ever saw the baby ?
I had been enchanted in an Urban Forest in the midst of bustling Mumbai . Hope you discover the JOY OF NATURE in the cities you dwell in as well.
Very often Nature casts a spell and leaves a message or a sign.
The featured image is of toadstool mushrooms in the lush gardens of the JW Marriott WalnutGrove & Spa, Mussoorie.
It was probably the first picture I took in this beautiful Resort overlooking a stunning Himalayan Range.
It was also a sign by Mother Nature for what was to follow.
The following picture is of a signboard in the enchanting Jabarkhet Nature Reserve, Mussoorie.
( though I took this picture I realized the significance only after I began writing this article)
The J. Nature Reserve is part of a privately owned gorgeous enchanting forest .
The Nature trek around FLAG HILL ( Jaburkhet Reserve is located on the Flag Hill) was one of several memorable trips organized by JW MARRIOTT under the umbrella WALNUT TRAIL .
( do check my previous post titled THE SECRET TRAP)
This mushroom resembling a Garden Umbrella was discretely camouflaged under some dried leaves . Am positive that even our cheerful group leader Aditya ( hope you read this post) missed this specimen of the Fungi family.
As the J.Nature Reserve conscientiously guards the forests from intrusion the undergrowth in the forest has flourished.
Deadwood is neither collected or tampered with and therein lies the secret of the abundance of Fungi ( mushrooms) .
The lifeless stump of a tree had given birth to an unusual and attractive colony of mushrooms.
The shaded mountainside preserves moisture which provides a perfect home for Moss.
Moss in turn holds the topsoil of the mountain and is a reservoir for water as well.
This unique and magnificent species of Fungi thrives in this delicately balanced ecosystem.
Such glorious rare sights can be witnessed only in forests which are untouched by domesticated animals like cows and goats.
Bracket mushrooms adorn the mountainside . Homes for elves and fairies?
The largest and definitely the God Father of mushrooms photographed by me in this enchanting forest of the Himalayas.
The tiny toadstools under the Walnut tree in the gardens of the JW Marriott Resort was my sign that I would shortly be on a Mushroom trail.
Is it not ironical that I noticed the signboard read “Mushroom Trail” only whilst writing this article.
I guess Nature has its ways? ( hope the nature loving and wonderful staff of JW Marriot would discover the toadstools in their garden after reading this post )