Am leaving you only with images and Silence through an Enchanting Forest In Mussoorie.
If you scream for inputs, will be happy to add details tomorrow.
Am leaving you only with images and Silence through an Enchanting Forest In Mussoorie.
If you scream for inputs, will be happy to add details tomorrow.
An entire wall at the Polo Heritage Hotel, Jodhpur was covered with these glorious skyblue-violet flowers. There was a wonderful cover , almost as far as the eye could see with these marvelous sun gazing blooms.
Commonly called the Skyblue clustervine, they are native to Florida, USA.( only the four southernmost counties of Miami etc)
I was amazed to see a creeper native to tropical America flourishing in the near desert climate of Jodhpur, Marwar.
The skyblue clustervine has beautiful heart shaped leaves ( see the picture below) adding to the majesty of this perennial climber.
The scientific name Jacquemontia pentanthos is in honour of a French naturalist Victor Jacquemont.
The flowers belong to the same family as the Morning Glory and thus open their petals with the rising sun.
Do check out my blog THE CHAMELEON FLOWERS to know about The Morning Glory as well.
Though the ultramarine coloured flowers are relatively small ( less than an inch or 2cms in diameter) they grow in large clusters.
Being vigorous climbers they can be glorious covers for a garden wall , fence or a trellis.
The violet-blue coloured flowers in vast numbers are a huge attraction for bees in particular.
See the picture below, the camera had spotted a bee stealing the nectar.( top right) .
Do observe how the vine curls and stretches with the unidirectional leaves.
The pentagon shape of the flowers or the five petals give it the latter part of it’s name “pentanthos” .
The flowers also have five white coloured stamens besides a white core.
I wonder why the THE SKYBLUE CLUSTER VINE is enlisted as Endagered in the state of Florida.
It contrast it is extremely happy in its adopted home of Jodhpur which was also hosting the wonderful musical festival titled THE RIFF.
The Butterfly Bush ( Scientific name :Buddleja davidii) is a beautiful flowering shrub with its origins in the mountains of China.
Bushels of flowers adorn the bush and it forms a splendid natural boundary to the gardens of the JW Marriott Hotel in Mussoorie, located in the lap of the Himalayas.
The sweet fragrance of the abundant flowers attract bees and butterflies in droves and hence the name BUTTERFLY BUSH.
The lavender coloured flowers also give it an alias, THE LILAC BUSH.
A basque missionary of the 19th century Father Arthur David lends his name to this profusely flowering bush. ( scientific name Buddleja davidii)
Found naturally in the mountainous zones of China the butterfly bush has flowers in several colours , however I was witness to two colours, lilac and white.
On close observation you will see the flowers have an orange centre and hence the shrub is also called ORANGE EYE.
With drop dead looks and the sweetest of fragrances, the deceptive Butterfly Bush is now classified as a NOXIOUS WEED in many countries where it was introduced in the 19th century.
The rapidly growing bush spreads quickly and the profuse number of flowers ensures the plant a steady supply of seeds for self propagation.
The shrub grows back quickly even if cut from the stump and the seeds can lie dormant in the ground for several years. The shrub further ensures it’s survival as the male and female flowers occur on the same plant.
It has become an Invasive weed in countries like New Zealand and United Kingdom where they have been compelled to introduce a leaf-chewing beetle Cleopus japonicus as a biological control agent.
Recalling an old saying ” LOOKS ARE DECEPTIVE”, we should be careful what plants we introduce in our gardens as unknowngly we can upset a delicate ecosystem.
If we plant trees and plants ENDEMIC to the region it will ensure the survival of native species as well.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival ( RIFF) is a musical extravaganza held annually in Jodhpur at the time of Sharad Poornima.
The festival is a celebration of the rich tradition of Folk Music in the remarkable and colourful state of Rajasthan, India. RIFF is set in and around the grand and imposing Meharangarh Fort which dominates the landscape of the city of Jodhpur.
The festivities or musical performances are held almost round the clock from Dawn till the wee hours of the next day in the Rocky Desert surrounding the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort.
This year the RIFF brought into limelight.a fascinating community of musicians , the MANGANIARS. A community of artists from the The Thar desert of Jaisalmer and Barmer.
The Sun rises to the soulful music of musicians at Dawn during the festival at Jaswant Thada.
The Manganiars follow the traditional Oral format of education and their children learn Music from the moment they are born , similar to a fish learning to swim.
Learning by rote from Guru to student , there are no written verses or musical notes to follow. They just follow the rhythm.
Hearing the Manganiar children perform in a Baithak ( interactive sit down) were the most memorable moments during the 5 days of this remarkable festival.
Striking perfect notes and singing in praise of Lord Krishna , the children brought tears to my eyes as each note strung the chords of my heart.
The spellbinding gestures and facial expressions of these child artists completed the musical masterpieces to perfection. Watch for yourself in the following photograph.
The curtains were brought down by an awesome galaxy of Manganiar artists spanning three generations.
The majestic ramparts of the Meharangarh Fort reverberated to the magic of music resonating through its walls.
The powerful voices of the magical Manganiar artists rises in musical harmony in praise of the Maharajas of Marwar. The children were at ease though it was their first performance on stage.
The splendour of their music was well matched by their traditional Colourful turbans or Saafas .
Sharad Poornima is a full moon night when the moon is the brightest and largest in Northern India.
It also announces the arrival of winters ( sharad is winter in Hindi) and also the time when this lovely festival is held in Jodhpur.
Festivals in India generally follow the Lunar calendar and the weather religiously follows as well.
The RIFF provides a wonderful platform to the extraordinarily gifted Manganiars.
Music is the soul of these travelling desert musicians and their only means of livelihood as well.
The enchanting musicians of the desert, The Manganiars sing at Dusk as the moon rises from the horizons of Jodhpur
What can be more enchanting than listening to the soulful music of the Manganiars in the lap of nature under the gaze of a Full Moon.
RIFF you had me enchanted.
Am leaving you with enchanting images of THE HIMALAYAS as seen from the Jaburkhet Nature Reserve, FLAGHILL, Mussoorie, Uttrakhand, India.
Breathtaking Himalayan ranges unveiled from the peak of Flaghill.
The beautiful trek to the Jaburkhet Nature Reserve was organized by JW Marriott , Mussoorie as part of the Walnut Trail.Thank you.
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.
Keep reading as more posts will follow.
Fuschia (fyus-chia) is an attractive colour which is similar to Magenta.
These lovely pendulous flowers in the driveway of JW MARRIOTT, Mussoorie bear the name Fuchsia ( mark the correct spelling) and adorn the colour Fuschia as well.
Growing profusely in the shade I call these magnificent flowers TEAR DROPS OF JOY.
The flower is called Fuchsia ( fook-sia) in honour of the 16th Century German Botanist Fuchs. ( sorry, but that was the name of the scientist) It is rare for the scientific and common name to be same, this lovely flower shares this honour. Scientific name is Fuchsia hybridia.( there are however over a hundred species and the last name could change).
Do observe the colour of the stems as they turn Fuschia as well.
This is obviously another species of this wonderful flower within the lovely garden of Prateek’s home and part of the Brentwood Sanctuary, Mussoorie.
Please do read my previous posts ( THE WALNUT TRAIL, THE SECRET TRAP, THE CORN VILLAGE( http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com) and THE MUSHROOM TRAIL ) to connect the dots.
The buds look like a Lady’s Ear Drop, which is also another common name for these stunning flowers.
The petals and sepals seem to be in conflict as one gazes downwards and the other reaches out to the Sun.
These gorgeous flowers are native to Central America and cannot bear the harsh summer heat of the plains of India. Hence they are relatively rare to see in this country.
They however love the Himalayan mountain air and were adorning the gardens of the Hotel like little chandeliers.
They also bear an edible berry ( the fruit of the Fuchsia) . Do try it and let me know how it tastes.
Bearing testimony to the phrase ” LOOKS ARE DECEPTIVE”, a species of this gorgeous looking flower is an invasive weed in many parts of Australia, New Zealand and many Islands of the INDIAN OCEAN.
Fortunately they brought me only TEARS OF JOY.
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 Walnut Grove & 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 )
The luxurious JW Marriot Hotel at Mussoorie has studied nature beautifully.
They organized an enchanting trip called Walnut trail.
Pictures that follow are part of this splendid trail.
What a delightful sight as the mountain spring gurgles down the mountainside.
The gorgeous violet and yellow wildflowers sway with the gentle cool breeze and the sunlight filters through the undergrowth around the mountain stream.
A gentle movement and a glimmer in the sunlight reveals another marvel of nature.
Strategically placed between two species of wildflowers is a perfectly made spider’s web.
The rays of the sun reflect off each strand, revealing a marvelous trap setup for insects that would approach the flowers.
A spider patiently awaits it’s prey and sits right in the centre of this circular web.
The Spider has chosen a perfect location to weave a geometrically perfect web.
What can we learn from the Spider? Do comment.
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