Friday, May 16, 2008
I like your blog.
I have written about some more spices in my travel blog.
Do go through them and post your comments, it any.
And if you like, pl. add a link to my blog.
I will also do the same.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
If you visit tourist places in Goa and Kerala, you can visit spice gardens.
About 1.5 lac (1,50,000) flowers are required to get one kg of Saffron.
The world’s best Kesar comes from India, from Kashmir to be precise.
Kesar is widely used as a spice for colouring and flavor.
Uses as Dye
The entire Kesar comes from the domesticated plant which originated in Crete.
Pampore - 14 km away from Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir - is the place where the world’s best Kesar grows.
Unfortunately, the yield of Kesar in Pampore has steadily and gradually decreased by more than a half in about 15 years.
How to use Kesar
Soak filaments of Kesar for a few minutes in a little warm water (4 strands per cup of finished product).
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Unique Wildlife Sanctuary
According to the Ramayana, Lord Ram himself stood at this point and carried out reconnaissance of Ravana’s kingdom in Sri Lanka just 48 kms. away.
A stone slab at Ramarpatham (meaning Rama’s feet), the highest point of Point Calimere, bears the foot prints of Ram.
Now it is a unique wildlife and bird sanctuary.
Situated at the southern end of Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu, the sanctuary may be divided into three divisions:
· Point Calimere Forest;
· Great Vedaranyam Swamp, which includes the mangrove forests at Muthupet, and
· Talaignayar Reserve Forest.It is a marine - coastal wetland with a wide diversity of habitats , including dry evergreen forests, mangrove forests, and wetlands.
The coastal water is the breeding ground, or nursery, for many species of marine fishes.
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary (PCWBS)
Point Calimere region was first identified as an area of high conservation importance by late Dr. Salim Ali, the world famous ornithologist, in 1962.
The Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary, with an area of 24.17 km², was created on June 13, 1967 for conservation of Black buck (Indian antelope), an endangered and endemic species of India.
In November 2002, the sanctuary and some adjacent areas (excluding the reserved forest) were designated a Ramsar Site - a wetland of international of importance.
Fourteen species of mammals have been reported in the Sanctuary.
The most graceful are the sleek and beautiful black buck.
When I visited the Sanctuary, the black bucks did not allow me to come close.
They kept a respectable distance.
When I advanced towards them, they retreated.
Other large animals are spotted deer, wild boar, jackal, Bonnet macaque, mongoose, monitor lizards, black naped hare, Civet cat and semi wild ponies.
There are large colonies of flying foxes in the Point Calimere forest and in the mangrove forest at Muthupet.
Dolphins and turtles often come quite close to the shore.
The sanctuary has one of the largest water bodies in South India and is rich in both resident and migratory birds.
A total of 257 species of birds have been recorded of which 119 are water birds and 138 forest birds.
Some of the major water bird species are the greater flamingo, the lesser flamingo, spot - billed pelican, grey pelican, spoonbill sandpiper, Asian dowitcher, white bellied sea eagle, brahminy kite and osprey.
The land birds include paradise flycatcher, Indian pitta, Rosy starling, Blyth reed warbler, crested serpent eagle and brown shrike.
Since 1959, the Bombay Natural History Society has been conducting regular bird migration studies in the sanctuary.
So far, over 200,000 birds have been captured, studied, ringed and released.
Bombay Natural History Society has set up a new field station in Kodaikadu in 2007.
The vegetation of the Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary is diverse, ranging from dry evergreen forests, mangrove vegetation, salt marsh to grasslands.
If you are interested in plants, you can see carnivorous or insectivorous plants, such as, Drosera burmanii and D. indica.
Places to see
You can see the footprints of Lord Rama at Ramar Padam.
You can have a beautiful view of the sanctuary and the larger mammals and birds from the watch tower located near the shrine.
The historic ruins of a 1000-year old Chola light house were wiped out by the Tsumani of 2004.
A modern lighthouse built in 1890 guides the mariners.
Point Calimere is the apex of the Cauvery River delta, and forms a right-angle turn near the coastline.
The area is littered by salt pans. They may create ecological problems, but they do attract a large number of birds.
It’s a wonderful sanctuary.
You will see the graceful black bucks, a variety of birds, plants, dolphins, etc.
The forests of Point Calimere are one of the last remnants of the dry evergreen forests that were once typical of the East Deccan dry evergreen forests eco-region.
You can visit Thanjavur, just 90 km away, the seat of the celebrated Chola kings from the 10th to the early 14th century. The entire South India is open to you beyond that….
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Almost two and a half decades ago, when I was working in Chennai, I first heard of the Mangrove Forests of Pichavaram - 14 kms. from Chidambaram.
I did not really know what Mangrove forests were and what Pichavaram was like.
I requested my friends to organize a visit.
To this extent, I take credit for increasing its popularity.
My last visit was a few months after the Tsunami of 2004.
Pichavaram is a unique success story.
The Mangrove Forest is followed by an extraordinary sand bank which makes a lovely sandy beach.
The total area of Pichavaram Mangrove Forest (including 50 small islands) is about 1470 ha.
The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, the second largest in the world, is the healthiest mangrove forest in the world.
Mangrove trees are unique.
Try to visualize trees standing on stilts. And you have a rough likeness of what a mangrove tree looks like.
The sea water rushes in and out, through the waterways, twice a day, changing the salinity of the water from that of sea water to fresh water.
The trees have developed unique stilt like roots.
The roots have pores through which the trees breathe oxygen when the water level is low and the roots are exposed.
The roots have specialized membranes which act like filters allowing only fresh water to enter.
If some salt passes through, it accumulates in the leaves, which later drop off to get rid of the salt.
The seeds germinate on the tree itself and develop into cigar shaped seedlings.
When mature, the seedlings simply fall off the tree, penetrate into the soil and develop roots.
This ensures a high survival rate.
Soil and other debris accumulate between the roots, actually reclaiming land, and creating a unique eco-system.
At that time, I was having tea with a friend in Chennai.
I received a phone call from my friend in another city to enquire if I was all right.
Only then I learnt that the Tsunami had hit the eastern shores of India.
The Income Tax Office in Cuddalore was slightly affected.
I immediately made arrangements to ensure that our staff were safe and received immediate help, if needed.
The loss of lives was too tragic.
But relief started pouring in.My office in Chennai also collected and sent relief material for the local people.
They did a remarkable job.
The Tsunami proved that mangrove trees act as buffers and prevent damage to the hinterland.
However, till the early 1980s, policy makers and planners throughout the world, considered mangrove wetlands as wasteland.
This resulted in over exploitation and conversion of mangrove wetlands for other purposes.
Inspite of this, over half the world’s mangroves have been lost in recent times.
But Pichavaram is an exception.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Unique Temple of the Formless Shiva
· To meander through the Mangrove Forests of Pichavaram to the beach beyond.
· To visit, attend or give lectures at the Annamalai University.
· And to visit the Chidambaram Temple.
The word Chidambaram is derived from the two words ‘Chit’ meaning ‘consciousness’ and ‘ambaram’ meaning ‘sky’ (akaas) and signifies the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate state one should attempt to attain.According to another version, the word Chidambaram is derived from Chitrambalam which is derived from two words ‘Chit’ and ‘ambalam’ meaning Stage for performing arts.
Chidambaram Temple is unique because the main deity which is worshipped there is the Akash Linga or the formless form of Lord Shiva. Here, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of ether (one of the five forms of matter) which has no form.As you can see on the left side of the photograph, there is no deity at all.The wall is covered with leaves of gold foil strung on strings. (Of course, there are a lot of other deities).
The Chidambaram Temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja - the Cosmic Dancer.The beautiful image of Nataraja is extremely popular amongst artists.
We do not know much about the past of Chidambaram.But worship in this temple has continued uninterrupted since time immemorial.The Temple was definitely in existence in the 6th century A.D.Successive generations of the Chola, the Pallava and the Vijayanagar kings patronised the temple.
The Chola King Aditya 1 started guilding a portion of the roof of the temple with gold.
Long ago, there used to be a Thillai Vanam around Chidambaram. (‘Vanam’ means forest and ‘thillai’ is a species of mangrove trees - botanical name Exocoeria agallocha - which now grows in the Pichavaram mangrove forests nearby.) There are 2nd century A.D. sculptures in the temple depicting the Thillai trees.It appears that the coast was much closer to Chidambaram.
The Chidambaram Temple car is one of the most beautiful of temple cars in Tamil Nadu. This car is used to carry the statue of Lord Nataraja around the town twice a year.
Chidambaram is 240 km south of Chennai and about an hour’s drive from Pondicherry.There are plenty of trains from Chennai.The road is also very good.
The coast is about 11 kms from Chidambaram.
The temple complex spreading over 40 acres is full of exquisite statues.There is the Shivganga, the traditional tank.Chidambaram is also worshipped as the temple of Nataraj – the Cosmic Dancer.There is an annual dance festival.The top most Indian dancers deem it a privilege and honour to perform here.
Nataraj, the image of the Lord Shiva in the dancing pose has been copied all over the world.
All the major temples in Tamil Nadu are administered by the Government. Chidambaram is the sole exception.The huge temple complex looks like an undefeatable fort and has been used as such.
You can visit the Annamalai University, which pioneered the concept of distance education in India. You can also visit the Pichavaram Mangrove Forests.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The western most of Adi Shankaracharya's Four Dhams
Some time ago, my mother wanted me to take her to Dwarka, the last of the Four Dhams of Adi Shankaracharya (we had already visited the other three).
The Lost Isle of Atlantis
According to Plato, “Atlantis, lying “beyond the pillars of Heracles”, was a naval power that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9,500 B.C.
Scientists and researchers agree that there was no such island as Atlantis.
Atlantis was a piece of sheer imagination.
But the ancient Dwarka has far too many similarities to the imaginary Atlantis.
This cannot be pure coincidence.
Dwarka is about 4000 years old. Plato wrote about Atlantis only around 360 B.C., that is, much later.
I think the only plausible explanation for the striking similarities is that Plato heard about Dwarka and based his imaginary Atlantis on Dwarka.
The present day Dwarka is a city in Gujarat state in Western India.
The name Dwarka has come from the Sanskrit word “Dwar” meaning door.
Once upon a time, if you were coming from the West, Dwarka was the gate way to India.
Today, Hindus regard it as a gateway to Heaven.
The legendary city of Dwarka was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna.
It is believed that due to damage and destruction by the sea, Dwarka submerged under the sea six times; and the modern day Dwarka is the seventh city to be built in the area.
The Dwarkadhish Temple
Dwarkadhish (from Dwarka and Dhish) means Lord of Dwarka.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The city is believed to have been built by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect.
And the ancient temple was built by Sambha, the grandson of Lord Krishna.
The present temple built around the 16th century has a five storey tower.
It is made of limestone and sand.
The structure of the temple is quite complicated.
A 24 metres (84 ft.) long, multicolored flag, decorated with the symbols of the sun and moon, is hoisted on the temple tower every day.
It majestically flitters in the air welcoming the pilgrims.
The temple has two gateways:
· Swarg Dwar (Door to Heaven), through which pilgrims enter, and
· Moksha Dwar (Door to Salvation), through which the pilgrims exit. From the temple, one can see the sangam (confluence) of Gomati River and the Arabian Sea.
The Bet Dwarka temple is built like a palace.
It is believed that Lord Krishna had ruled from here.
An idol similar to the one in Dwarka is kept in Bet Dwarka temple also.
Bet Dwarka can be reached by a short boat ride.
Dwarka is mentioned in the Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, Vishnu Purana and other ancient scriptures.
According to mythology, Lord Krishna killed Kansa (his maternal uncle) and made Ugrasen (his maternal grandfather) the king of Mathura.
Enraged by this, Jarasandha (King of Magadha), the father-in-law of Kansa, and his friend Kalayavan, attacked Mathura 17 times.
For the safety of his people, Lord Krishna renounced war (hence Krishna is also known by the name Ranchod - meaning one who has left the battle field).
He and the Yadavas decided to shift the capital from Mathura to Dwarka.
They reclaimed land from the sea on the banks of Gomati River and built a well planned city organized into six sectors, residential and commercial zones, wide roads, plazas, palaces and many public utilities.Dwarka also had a good and prosperous harbour.
After Krishna left for his heavenly abode, the major Yadava heads fought among themselves and killed each other.
Arjuna went to Dwarka to bring Krishna’s grandsons and the Yadava women to Hastinapur. After Arjuna left, Dwarka was submerged in the sea.
This is how Arjuna has described the event in the Mahabharata:
"The sea, which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory."
The incident is described in the Vishnu Purana in much the same manner:
"On the same day that Krishna departed from the earth the powerful dark-bodied Kali Age descended. The oceans rose and submerged the whole of Dwaraka."
Atlantis was also wiped out like this!
The search for the mythological Dwarka has been going on since the 1930’s.
The Marine Archeology Unit (MAU) of the National Institute of Oceanography, Government of India started the search for Dwarka in the coastal waters of Dwarka in 1983.
Underwater explorations between 1983 and 1990 revealed the remains of a well-fortified township.
The foundation of boulders on which the city’s walls were erected proved that the land was reclaimed from the sea.
The general layout of the submerged city discovered by Marine Archeology Unit matched the description of Dwarka in the ancient texts.
Further excavations continued till 1994.
Murli Manohar Joshi, then HRD minister claimed that the ruins were 9,500 years old and would lead to a rewriting of world history, crowning a Hindu India as the cradle of civilisation over the claims of Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus valley.
The old Dwarka does not appear to be that old.
Scientists estimate the date to be around 2280 B.C.
Scientists have recently discovered a circular wooden structure under the water at a near-shore excavation site off the coast of Jamnagar.
They believe this to be a part of the remains of the lost city of ancient Dwarka.
The wooden structure is well preserved and surrounded by another structure made of stone blocks.
Wood can be more scientifically carbon dated and may help the scientists determine the exact date.
No doubt, influenced by the Tsunami of 2004, a group of ocean scientists have suggested that the ancient city of Dwarka could have been destroyed by a tsunami about 3,000 years ago.
World’s First Underwater Museum
The Marine Archeology Unit submitted an exciting proposal for setting up an underwater museum at Dwarka.
The proposal envisages an acrylic tube on the bottom of the sea through which visitors can view the ruins of the ancient Dwarka.
I have seen such tubes even in Bangkok.
The Government of Gujarat and their Travel & Tourism Department have been working (sleeping would be a better term) on the proposal for over two decades.
This is a unique opportunity to create something unique.
It will attract a lot of tourists.
The work can be outsourced to an international bidder.
This will solve the problem of funding and maintenance.
When completed, it will be the world’s first under water museum.
The nearest airports from Dwarka are:
Jamnagar - 121 Kms.
Rajkot - 225 Kms.
Ahmedabad - 375 Kms.
There are a number of daily flights from Mumbai and other cities.
Visit the real Atlantis, in India itself.
You can also visit lions of India in Gir Forests and the Somnath Temple.
Monday, February 25, 2008
If you visit tourist places in Goa and Kerala, you can visit spice gardens.Some plantation owners have improvised their spice gardens into tourist attractions.You can see a variety of plants where different spices come from.The guide will answer your questions and clarify your doubts.Your host will serve you authentic local meals in virgin surroundings and arrange a traditional dance.
We Indians use a lot of spices in their daily food.But most of us do not know where the spices come from.Someone suggested that I should write about the spices in my blog.So here we go.
This one on Haldi (Turmeric) is another in a series on Spices of India.Haldi is the only spice which is produced almost entirely in India.Indians consume 80% and export the remaining 20%.
Origin of the Name
The English name for Haldi is Turmeric - often misspelled Tumeric.The scientific name is Curcuma longa.It is also known as Kunyit in some Asian countries.What is Haldi The Haldi plant is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, native to tropical South Asia.
Haldi rhizomes (root) is similar in appearance to ginger root. But when it is peeled, it is bright yellow in color. The rhizomes are boiled for several hours in fresh water and then dried in the sun or in hot ovens at about 60 degrees celsius.Then they are ground into the deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice.
Cultivation and Harvesting
The Haldi plant grows in the plains of India in temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees C. with a good annual rainfall of 1500 mm or more per annum.
The plants mature between 7 and 9 months. The mature plants are gathered for their rhizomes. Some of the rhizomes are used for re-seeding in the following year.
Haldi has a bitter, peppery flavour with a mustard smell.It is extensively used in Indian cooking, in curries, in rice and vegetable preparations.
Traditionally, our grandmothers used to grind dried Haldi roots with mortar and pestle.But now, it is available and mostly used in powdered form.It is often used in place of saffron for its saffron like color.
Haldi is antiseptic and anti inflammatory.Haldi paste is the common home remedy for cuts, bruises, burns and inflammation.
Haldi has antibacterial properties.Its active ingredient curcumin has anti-tumoral (anti-cancer) properties.It also helps cure arthritis and psoriasis.Research about its medical properties is going on in different laboratories.
Haldi is also a strong anti allergic. It is used in a large number of cosmetic creams.
Haldi paste is applied to bride and groom before marriage in several parts of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.It is believed that Haldi gives a glow to the skin and kills the harmful bacteria on the skin.
In spite of its rich colour, Haldi cannot be used as a fabric dye because its colour is not very lightfast. It fades on exposure to light. Even then, Indian women use Haldi to dye their saris. This may be because of its medicinal properties.
Haldi is also used to deter ants. We do not know how Haldi repels ants, but it works.
Haldi is probably the oldest spice known to us.Its use dates back to the Vedic period, or nearly 4000 years.Haldi is sometimes called ‘Indian saffron’ because of its brilliant yellow color. Indian Haldi is the best in the world.It may give us a cure for cancer, arthritis and psoriasis.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
World Famous Ratha Yatra
Jagannath Puri, or simply Puri, is one of Adi Shankaracharya’s Char Dhams (or Four Places of Pilgrimage) located in the four corners of India.
Badrinath is located amidst the snowy peaks of the Himalayas.
Origin of the Word Jagannath
The most famous and oldest Jagannath temple in India is in Puri, Orissa.
There are two mythological stories relating to the deity.
The carpenter insisted that under no circumstance, he should be disturbed while he was carving the deity.
There is some disagreement amongst experts about the exact period of construction of the present temple.
The temple is built in the Kalinga style of architecture.
But once a year, during the rainy season, usually in June or July, the deities are brought out in one of the most clourful processions any where in the world.
Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra (Balaram) and Subhadra are taken to their aunt’s temple (Gundicha Mandir) - a distance of 2 km from the temple.
The deity remain on their chariots for the night.
Puri is an important town of Orissa.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Spices of India
If you visit tourist places in Goa and Kerala, you can visit spice gardens.
Some plantation owners have improvised their spice gardens into tourist attractions.
You can see a variety of plants where different spices come from.
The guide will answer your questions and clarify your doubts.
Your host will serve you authentic local meals in virgin surroundings and arrange a traditional dance.
Indians use a lot of spices in their daily food.
But most do not know where the spices come from.
While writing this blog, I had a visitor.
She asked me what I was doing.
I told her I was working on an article on ‘Hing’.
She said it was used for cooking and how I could write an article on cooking.
I asked her what was Hing.
She said it was a stone.
I told her I was writing the article for misinformed persons like her.
Actually, someone suggested that I should write about the spices in my blog.
So here we go.
This is the first of a series…..on Hing or Asafoetida.
Origin of the Name
The English and scientific name for Hing is Asafoetida.
This name is derived from the Persian ‘aza’ (for resin), and the Latin ‘foetidus’ (for stinking).
Its pungent odour has earned it a lot of bad names.
It has been equated with Devil’s Dung or Shit.
It is called Teufelsdreck (literally meaning Devil’s Dung) in German.
In French, it is Merde du Diable (Devil’s Shit).
In Swedish, it is Dyvelsträck,
In Dutch, Duivelsdrek.
In Afrikaans, Duiwelsdrek.
In Finnish, Pirunpaska or Pirunpihka.
In Turkish, it is known as Şeytantersi, Şeytan bökösu or Şeytanotu (the Devil's Herb).
In North India, it is called Hing or Heeng.
The following list gives its name in different languages of India:
Kashmiri: Yang, Sap
Sanskrit: Badhika, Agudagandhu
Telugu: Inguva, Ingumo Urdu: Hing
What is Hing
Asafoetida is a species of Ferula plant which is native to Iran.
Hing is the resin like gum which comes from the dried sap extracted from the lower stem and roots of the plant.
The resin is grayish-white when fresh, but dries to a dark amber color. The resin is difficult to grate.
It is traditionally ground between stones or in mechanical grinders.
It is rarely used in its pure form.
What is generally used is compounded or 'bandhani' asafetida - a powder containing 30% asafetida resin, rice flour (or some other form of starch) and gum arabic.
Cultivation and Harvest
The plant is grown in Iran (the country of its origin), Afghanistan and in Kashmir in India.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant of the carrot family and grows to a height of 3.6 metres.
The plant has stout, hollow, somewhat succulent stems, 5 - 8 cms. in diameter at the base of the plant.
The leaves are 30 - 40 cms. long, tripinnate or even more finely divided, with a stout basal sheath clasping the stem.
The flowers are yellow, produced in large compound umbels.
The resin can be extracted after the plant is about four years old.
The older the plant, the more resin it produces.
The time to start harvesting the resin from the succulent stem and the root is just before flowering, in the months of March / April.
An incision is made in the upper part of the root / lower part of the stem and the exuding gum / latex is collected.
Several incisions can be made in the root / stem till there is no more oozing of gum.
This process can continue up to three months.
A single plant can yield up to 1 kilogram of resin.
Hing helps digestion and reduces flatulence.
A pinch of Hing gulped down with buttermilk or lukewarm water gives immediate relief from gas.
It is therefore added in dals and vegetables to redce flatulence.
Taken in excess, it can cause loose motions.
It helps in asthma and bronchitis.
A concoction of Hing in alcohol applied to a child’s neck can cure colds.
The same concoction applied on a child’s stomach is believed to help digestion.
Hing taken with butter milk enhances and improves the voice.
It is also a strong preservative.
The odor of Hing is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers, otherwise its aroma will penetrate and contaminate the aroma of all other spices stored nearby.
Its odour and flavor become much milder and more pleasant on heating in oil or ghee and acquire those of sautéed onion and garlic.
For this reason, vegetarian Hindus and Jains, who do not eat onions and garlic use Hing.
Hing is added to lentil (dal) and vegetable preparations.
It is also used in food as a condiment and in pickles, relishes/chutneys and papads.
I am sure Hing must be an integral part of your food.
This article will tell you more about this spice.
Gone are the days when Kabuliwalas used to bring Hing from Afganisthan and other places.
Now Indian manufacturers import the resin, make it into the compounded form also known as ‘bandhani hing’ and export it.
The wonderful thing about Hing is that a pinch is sufficient for a food preparation for four persons.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Home of the Indian, or Great
One horned, Rhinoceros
Lady Curzon and the Rhinoceros
She is the fairy God Mother of the rhinoceros of Kaziranga.
On June 1, 1905, the Government issued a preliminary notification announcing its intention to declare certain areas of Kaziranga a reserved forest.
On January 3, 1908, the Government declared 232 sq. kms. (90 sq. miles) a reserved forest, and officially closed it for shooting.
Over the next three years, the area was extended by 152 sq. kms. (59 sq. miles) upto the banks of the Brahmaputra River.
In 1950, P.D. Stracey, senior conservator of forests, changed the term ‘Game Sanctuary’ to ‘Wildlife Sanctuary’ because the word ‘game’ connotes animals for hunting.
On February 11, 1974, the Government of India declared the 430 sq. kms. (166 sq. miles) Wildlife Sanctuary a National Park, and changed its name to Kaziranga National Park.
Kaziranga National Park celebrated its centenary in June 2005.
There are five species of Rhinoceros in the world.
Two of these are native to Africa and three to southern Asia.
Rhinoceros also have acute sense of hearing and smell, but poor eyesight.
The two African species and the Sumatran species have two horns, while the Indian and Javan species have a single horn.
Today, they are found only in small areas of the north eastern state of Assam and in neighbouring Nepal.
The rhino’s horn is considered to be an aphrodiasac.
There are plenty of snakes including the python, king cobra, and a variety of lizards.
Kaziranga has vast expanses of tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical forests crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and numerous small bodies of shallow water.
The nearest airports are Guwahati 239 kms. and Jorhat 97 kms.
Success at Kaziranga and the dangers
Kaziranga is considered the flag bearer of all the wildlife conservation efforts across the globe.
Floods caused by over flowing of the Brahmaputra River during the rainy season have often proved disastrous.
It’s a thrilling experience to watch from close range the armoured tank like creatures who have the strength to attack and overturn a vehicle.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Land of the White Tiger
Almost all of them, the world over, owe their origin to the forests around Bandhavgarh.
And they are the progeny of a single male white tiger - Mohan who was captured there in 1951.
Bandhavgarh Forests and National Park
The forests around Bandhavgarh (in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in central India) were the Shikargah, or private game preserve, of the Maharajahs of Rewa.
The forests contained unbelievably large number of animals.
His Highness Maharajah Venkat Raman Singh shot 111 tigers by 1914.
After independence and abolition of the Maharaja’s rule, there was too much uncontrolled poaching in the forest.
In 1968, the Maharaja of Rewa handed over the forest to the Government of India for creation of the Bhandavgarh National Park.
In 1968, Bandhavgarh was declared a National Park.
Originally, it had an area of only 105.40 sq. kms. with 25 tigers.
In, 1986, the area was increased to 437 sq. kms.
Bandhavgarh was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1993.
White tigers have been found in the old state of Rewa (and other parts of India) from time to time.
Compared to the normal orange tigers, white tigers are larger in size, both at birth and when they become adults.
Mohan is the father of the progeny of white tigers of Rewa.
(Another breed of white tigers has originated in Orissa.
A few other white tigers have been born in some other places of India.)
Mohan was captured as a cub in 1951 by Maharaja Shri Martand Singh of Rewa, whose hunting party found a tigress in Bandhavgarh with four 9 month old cubs, one of which was white.
Maharaja Martand Singh named the white cub Mohan (meaning enchanter), one of the many names of the Hindu God Krishna.
Successive selective breeding produced a progeny of white tigers.White tigers are considered a celebrity and Prime Ministers have often christened them.
Mohan is dead.
Animals in the Sanctuary
Bandhavgarh National Park is like a bowl surrounded by the Vindhya Mountains.
The Park has 32 picturesque, wooded hills, where you can see plenty of animals.
There are more than 25 species of other animals, including leopard, gaur, sambar, chausingha, nilgai, chinkara, spotted deer, sloth bear, wild pig, striped hyena, jackal, fox, dhole, ratel, small Indian civet, jungle cat, palm squirrel, grey mongoose, lesser bandicoot rat, langurs and rhesus macaque.
There are two ways of travelling inside the park - in a motor vehicle or on elephant back. Although most of the animals are accustomed to both - while inside the forest, speak softly and do not make rapid, jerky, movements.
Jeep safaris should be taken either in the morning from dawn to about 10 am or from about 4 pm till dusk, because the animals are most active during these periods.
Elephants belonging to the Forest Department take visitors every morning for tiger tracking.If a tiger is sighted, the elephant will take you directly to the tiger.
There are more than 250 species of birds including little grebe, egret, lesser adjutant, sarus crane, black ibis, lesser whistling teal, white-eyed buzzard, black kite, crested serpent eagle, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, common peafowl, red jungle fowl, dove, parakeet, kingfishers and Indian roller.
There are a variety of snakes - cobra, krait, viper, rat snake and python, There are also a number of species of lizards and turtles.
The vegetation consists of Sal forests and Bamboo.
Places to see
The historic Bandhavgarh Fort commands a bird’s eye view of the entire National Park.
There are no authentic records to show when it was built.
The Fort is believed to be over 2000 years old.
There are 39 caves in the Bandhavgarh Fort and in the surrounding hillocks in a radius of about 5 kms.
You could also visit Khajurao, Agra and Varanasi.
The nearest airport is Jabalpur 164 kms.
The nearest railway station is:
Umaria - 32 kms.
Jabalpur - 164 kms.
Katni - 102 kms.
Satna - 120 kms.
Khajuraho (via Satna) 230 kms.
Varanasi (via Rewa) 340 kms.
Katni 75 kms.
Rewa 115 kms.
Umaria 30 kms.
Kanha 250 kms.
Public transport is available from all these places.
Bhandavgarh National Park park is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream.
There are excellent accommodation and internal transport facilities to suit all budgets.
Best time to Visit
The climate at Bandhavgarh varies from 0 to 20 degree centigrade in winter and hots up to 46 degrees centigrade in summer.
The best time to visit Bhandavgarh National Park is between December and February.