Christmas in Kanha

Year end is the best time to celebrate Christmas in an exciting location. This year we celebrated it in the middle of a jungle amidst bonfire. Santa Claus was extra nice to us as he threw in a Tiger for company.

The new route to Kanha, a bit longer but very scenic.

Our journey started on a cold afternoon on 23 December, to catch a train to Jabalpur and then drive straight to Kanha National Park. The Indian Railways, however had other plans as the train got delayed by 5 1/2 hours and we end up spending the entire next day travelling.

We however, are not complaining as we had a blast driving down on another route to Kanha via Niwas, Mandala District but 40 kms longer. The road was good but the route had virtually nothing, so as soon as we hit Niwas, we stopped for “chai” and ended up enjoying “Samosa mix” a local snack made with boiled “Kala chana” and some sev. It was a real treat and we also picked up some “chakhna”, a mixture of some fried sev and peanuts for the celebrations that night.

Samosa mix @Niwas.

Our stay was at Camp Dev Vilas, an eco-resort owned by Tigerwalah Anurag Sharma, who has over ten years of experience in Tiger conservation and wild life photography.

Camp Dev Vilas.
Our Cottage @Camp Dev Vilas.

Next morning we got up at really early and reached the park gate at 5.30am for a Safari.

Early morning @Mukki Gate, Kanha National Park. Waiting for the gates to open.

Kanha National Park is the largest parks in Madhya Pradesh in the Maikal range of Satpuras spread across 940 sq.km, across two revenue districts of Mandala and Kalaghat. It was declared a reserve forest in 1879 and as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933. It was upgraded to a national park in 1955.

Flora

The park is home to 1000 species of flowering plants with Sal (timber) and other mixed trees in the forest interspersed with beautiful meadows. It is also home to Indian ghost trees in the denser part of forest. There are open grasslands called the Kanha meadows, which are of great importance in Barasingha conservation. It has countless other species of plants, birds, insects and reptiles.

Beautiful Kanha forest.

Fauna

The park is home to tigers, leopards, wild dogs, wild cats, foxes, sambar, barking deer,  jackals and the Royal Bengal Tigers, which we lucky to sight on Christmas. As winter ends you can spot the Indian Gaur too.

Swamp Deer, Barasinha, is only found here in India and the park is respected globally for saving it from near extinction. In 1970, a special enclosure was made inside the forest to encourage the breeding and protection of Barasingha ((rare hardground Swamp Deer), “the jewel of Kanha” from extinction. This programme has been a huge success.

Wild Boar.
A Snail.
Gate made of Antelope horns.

 

The landscapes and the surrounding luxurious meadows in the park make it a very beautiful jungle. No wonder that this forest was the inspiration behind “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. It also boasts of a beautiful sunset point, called Bammi Dadar. Originally it was “land of the Gonds” and there were two indigenous tribes of Central India, the Gonds and the Baigas. They were later relocated outside the park.

The park has two historical landmarks inside. One marks the courage of a guide Lapsi, who was an expert and courageous hunter. He lost his life in 1930, fighting a ferocious tiger protecting his colleagues.

The other one is related to mythology and Hindu religion called Shravan Tal. According to a legend in Ramayan, Shravn, an ideal and the only son to blind parents, was carrying them for pilgrimage.

The legendery Shravan Taal.
The Taal is beind the trees. You can’t go there since Park rules prohibit you to get down from the vehicle.
Wolves.

They stopped for water here. King Dashrath, a skilled hunter known for his ability to aim by sound alone, shot and killed Shravan mistaking him for a deer. On realising his mistake, the King regretted his mistake.

Since that day the lake is called Shravan Tal.

THe King, himself made an appearance for us.
The Vega Dancers getting reay for their performance.
Beautiful headgear of Women dancers.
Elaborate headgear of male dancers.

On Christmas day, Camp Dev Villas had organised a local dance troupe and we enjoyed the evening watching and dancing their tribal dance.

 

Walking sliently.

Last Saturday, I joined a silent walk in the Bio Diversity Park, Gurgaon.

For the uninitiated it is a walk in wilderness to experience the magic of nature and enjoy a few moments of calm and quiet. There is no agenda nor any talk, just the company of nature.

These walks stared in countries like South Korea and Japan where people walked in forests with the aim of discovering  and experiencing the healing powers of nature.

It is quite a new phenomenon  in India but there is a bit of difference here.

Unlike South Korea and Japan, here they tend to be more of a family affair since these walks are held over the weekends. Another difference is that Indians find it difficult to walk quietly, but it is still an excellent way of discovering the powers of the forests to heal and connect with likeminded people.

It has been scientifically proven that when we spend time in nature, our brain behaves differently. It affects how we feel and think, directly impacting our immunity.

The Gurgaon Metro line can be seen in the horizon.

The beauty of the setting sun.

Such an activity is very good for people who like to spend time together in a natural settings to release stress, experience beauty and improve their mood.

The ideal place for such walks would be where there isn’t traffic and where you can walk slowly, like a forest trail or on the beach. During the walk if you pass on another person you should greet them simply by nodding or smiling and  spend time with your companion without uttering a word. On the way since your full attention is on walking you find some very interesting plants, trees and objects.

Try it for yourself and see its healing power.

 

Ceramics Fest 2016

Got a chance to visit the 6th Ceramics Fest at Anandgram (Aya Nagar), organised by Delhi Blue Pottery Trusts (DBPT).

The DBPT is the brainchild of the legendary Sardar Gurcharan Singh, father of the studio pottery movement in India and was set up by him in 1991. They have been organising such festivals annually called Potter’s Bazaar.

However, soon they realised that people felt that only traditional pottery was being displayed in these festivals, so they re-christened it and called it Ceramics Fest. So now you have beautiful pots, planters, plates and toys made in nature-friendly ceramic being displayed in the festival.

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The exhibits are so beautiful that even if you go to see, you are attracted to buy at least some of these beautiful creations, all costing under 5000 rupees. This is probably the largest gathering of studio potters and it was great learning, how a lump of clay transforms into the beautiful objects.

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Folk performance are held in this amphitheatre.

The artist use different mediums such as stoneware and porcelain, to make the stunning pieces. In the absence of good quality stuff avilable locally, the high cost of raw materials pushes the cost of the artifacts. The Porcelain is imported from China, and clay is bought over from Aurovile.

During this festival, a number of workshops are also planned, such as Hand building workshop by Monica and Ambar Agnihotri, Slip trailing by Milap Chand, Cooking in a clay pot by Anuradha,  making a cooking pot by O.P. Galav and understanding ghatam, a clay instrument workshop by Elethur N Hari Narayanan. Additionally some folk artists are also performing.

If you live in Delhi or are visiting it, this is a must see.

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