While the human activity has become restricted as a result of drop in temperature the state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.
During the three-month long monsoon this year, the rains did not provide with Bharatpur district with enough water to fill the dams providing water to Keoladeo, thus the park faced a major problem of water shortage. “There was little water available here and thus we had to take water from the Goverdhan drain. Although it wasn’t enough, we later had to lift water from Chambal as well to reach the optimum level required for the park,” officials said.
This proved to be a major boon as with enough water and feed, the resident birds stayed put and built nests to lay eggs. “While the heronries became abundant, the water started drawing migratory birds right after the monsoons ended. At first small groups arrived however off late, we have been receiving groups of hundreds of birds on a daily basis. Coots, showlers, geese and many other species of birds have been recorded so far in huge numbers. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of chicks in the heronries as well and thus the park is teeming with life right now,” said officials.
Ornithologists, who have been waiting for winter to visit the park, have thronged in huge numbers as well. “There are regular bird watchers, photographers, ornihtologists who have been visitng on regular basis for over a month now. There is also a surge in number of tourists – both domestic and foreign. During the weekend we have difficult time in handling the tourists as their number swells more than expected. Overall the situation in park is good,” officials said.
MIGRATORY BIRDS MAKING A BEELINE
With the drop in temperature across state, the avian activity is on a surge now. With thousands of migratory birds making a beeline for the world renowned wetland of the state – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, tourist activity in the park has almost tripled in the past fortnight. As a result of this, the department officials are overjoyed while are also keeping a good eye out on the water availability in the dykes across the park.
The City of joy: Puri
God has created the earth for all of us, but the almighty has kind enough to leave the traces of his benevolence presence on the religious and sanctimonious country, India in the form four dhams for the Hindus across the length and breadth of the nation. The Char Dham is a set of four pilgrimage sites in India. Vaishnavite Hindus believe that visiting these sites helps achieve “Moksha” (salvation). It comprises Badrinath, Dwaraka, Puri and Rameswaram.
The city of joy,Puri has a long and illustrious history to attract the pilgrimages pan across the India as well as the world. According to Cunningham, the ancient name of this town was Charitra, mentioned by the Chinese piligrim Hiuen Tsang as Che-li-ta-lo. But the restoration of the word Che-li-ta-lo as Charitra and its identification with the town of Puri are open to doubt. The importance of the town as a seat of Vaisnavism increased when Chodaganga Deva constructed the temple of Purusottama Jagannath and installed the images of the deities. Thereafter, it became famous as the abode of Purusottama and was popularly called Purusottama Kshetra. The name Purusottama Kshetra was also for sometime known as Purusottama Puri and as the word Purusottama Kshetra was contracted into Kshetra or Chhatra, so also Purusottama Puri was expressed in the contracted form, Puri.
It is one of the most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus in the country, and is also referred to as Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) owing to the famous Jagannath temple located here. Situated along the coast of Bay of Bengal in the state of Orissa. Apart from lord Jagannath temple . An ideal weekend getaway for those living in the city of Kolkata and the other neighbouring towns and cities, Puri happens to be one of the most popular beach destinations in the eastern part of the country. Thronged by pilgrims and beach-loving tourists in equal numbers, Puri is a place which has a unique blend of both religious significance and the bucolic beauty of the indented beach. Two of these things together make Puri one of the most popular beach destinations in the eastern part of the country.
The Jagannath Temple
The Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Maha Vishnu, located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination. The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.
The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. These gave their name to the English term Juggernaut. Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every twelve or nineteen years by an exact replica. Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshipped at the temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains statues of these three Gods carved from sacred neem logs known as Daru sitting on the bejeweled platform or ratnabedi, along with statues of Sudarshana Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri. The deities are adorned with different clothing and jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.
The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely –
- Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style;
- Mukhashala (Frontal porch);
- Nata mandir/Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
- Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall).
The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ (an eight-spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the “Nilachakra”, it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.
The Nila Chakra (Blue Discus) is the discus mounted on the top Shikhar of the Jagannath Temple. As per custom, every day a different flag is waved on the Nila Chakra. The flag hoisted on the Nila Cakra is called the Patita Pavana (Purifier of the Fallen) and is equivalent to the image of the deities placed in the sanctum sanctorum.
The Nila Chakra is a disc with eight Navagunjaras carved on the outer circumference, with all facing towards the flagpost above. It is made of an alloy of eight metals (Asta-dhatu) and is 3.5 Metres (11 feet and 8 inches) high with a circumference of about 11 meters (36 feet). During the year 2010, the Nila Chakra was repaired and restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Nila Chakra is distinct from the Sudarshana chakra which has been placed with the deities in the inner Sanctorum.
Nila Chakra is the most revered iconic symbol in the Jagannath cult. The Nila Chakra is the only physical object whose markings are used as a sacrament and considered sacred in Jagannath worship. It symbolizes protection by Shri Jagannath.
The Singhadwara in 1870 showing the Lion sculptures with the Aruna Stambha Pillar in the foreground. The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate, is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the Main entrance. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda or the Grand Road. The Baisi Pahacha or the flight of twenty-two steps leads into the temple complex. An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the “Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen” is painted on the right side of the entrance. In ancient times when untouchables were not allowed inside the temple, they could pray to Patita Pavana. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway. Just before the commencement of the Rath Yatra the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out of the temple through this gate.
The Ashwadwara Gate
Apart from the Singhadwara, which is the main entrance to the temple, there are three other entrances facing north, south, and west. They are named after the sculptures of animals guarding them. The other entrances are the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate.
A cluster of minor temples in the southern part of Jagannath temple complex, including the Vimala Temple.
There are numerous smaller temples and shrines within the Temple complex where active worship is regularly conducted. The Vimala Temple (Bimala Temple) is considered one of the most important of the Shaktipeeths marks the spot where the Goddess Sati’s navel fell. It is located near Rohini Kund in the temple complex. Until food offered to Jagannath is offered to Goddess Vimala it is not considered Mahaprasad.
The temple of Mahalakshmi has an important role in rituals of the main temple. It is said that preparation of naivedya as an offering for Jagannath is supervised by Mahalakshmi. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Uchchhishta Ganapati. Tradition says the King of Kanchipuram (Kanchi) in ancient times gifted the idol when Gajapati Purushottama Deva married Padmavati, the kanchi princess. There are other shrines namely Muktimandap, Surya, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Narasimha, Rama, Hanuman, and Eshaneshwara.
There are many Mandapas or Pillared halls on raised platforms within the temple complex meant for religious congregations. The most prominent is the Mukti Mandapa the congregation hall of the holy seat of selected learned Brahmins. Here important decisions regarding the conduct of daily worship and festivals are taken. The Dola Mandapa is noteworthy for a beautifully carved stone Torana or arch which is used for constructing a swing for the annual Dol Yatra festival. During the festival, the idol of Dologobinda is placed on the swing. The Snana Bedi is a rectangular stone platform where idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are placed for ceremonial bathing during the annual Snana Yatra.
Astonishing facts about Jagannath Temple in Puri
Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshipped at the temple. The inner sanctum of the temple contains statues of these three Gods carved from sacred neem logs known as Daru sitting on the bejeweled platform or ratnabedi, along with statues of Sudarshana Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri. The deities are adorned with different clothing and jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-dates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.
It took three generations worth of time and effort to brick up the humongous walls of the famous Puri’s Jagannath Temple located in Odisha. The temple is of utmost importance to the Hindu devotees as it is one of the Char-Dham Pilgrimages. It also serves as a mighty historical structure built about millennia ago, in the year 1078. Millions of people visit Odisha to gain Lord Jagannath blessings.
The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra which is witnessed by millions as the three colossal chariots carry the deities. The English word Juggernaut shares its origin from this annual parade. But that’s not the sole specialty of the place! Some enigmatic activities without any scientific explanations have caught the travelers eye worldwide. Here are some of these mind-boggling facts –
1. Defying Nature’s Code of Conduct
Even a child knows any piece of cloth is dominated by the wind to fly according to its course. The same principle has numerous applications; from the giant sails on your ship to a small flag in your hand all follow the same code. But it looks like the flag mounted on the top of the Jagannath Temple is a unique exception to the principle. This particular flag flows in the opposite direction to the wind’s course without any scientific background to back it up.
2. The Climb
Every day a priest scrambles the walls of the temple with a height equivalent to that of a 45 storey building, to change the flag atop the temple dome. This ritual dates far back to the day the temple was built. The practice is done with bare hands without any protective gear. It’s believed if the ritual is skipped one day from the calendar, the temple will be shut down for a long 18 years. This might make the professional climbers jealous.
3. Light with no darkness
A necessary detail while sketching anything is shading. Shading happens when sunlight glows one part of the subject leaving a shadow on the other, which ultimately triggers shade. But, what if something has no shadow?
The temple is reported to have no shadow at all, at any time of the day from any directions possible. Could it be an architectural marvel or the Lord Jagannath’s message to humanity?
- The Riddle of the Sudarshan Chakra
There are two mysteries present at the pinnacle of the temple in the form of the Sudarshan Chakra. The first oddity revolves around the theory of how the hard metal weighing about a tonne, just got up there without any machinery just with a human force of that century.
The second is one deal with the architectural technique related to the Chakra. From every direction you look, the Chakra looks back with the same appearance. It’s like it was designed to look just the same from every direction.
5. Nothing’s above God, so nothing flies above it either
The sky is the bird domain. We see birds sitting, resting and flying above our heads and rooftops all the time. But, this particular area is restricted, not even a single bird is encountered above the temple dome, even an airplane could not be seen hovering above the temple. Might be because Lord Jagannath doesn’t want the view of his holy mansion to be disturbed!
- The Food is never futile here
In Hindu mythology, wasting food is considered a bad sign; the Temple crew follows the same. A total number of people visiting the temple varies between 2,000 to 2, 00,000 people every day. Miraculously, the Parsadam prepared every day is never wasted, not even a bite. Could this be effective management or the Lord’s will?
7. Mute water
Seconds, after you put the first step inside the temple from Singha Dwara entrance, the audibility to the ocean waves is entirely lost. This phenomenon is more prominent in the evening time. Again, no scientific explanation adds up to this fact. The sound returns when you leave the temple.
According to the local lore, it was the will of the Subhadra Mayi, the sister of the two lords who wished for serenity within the temple gates. Hence her will was duly fulfilled.
8. Reverse gear of the breeze
Take any place on Earth, on daytime the breeze from the sea comes to land and the opposite happens in the evening. But, in Puri, the breeze has a tendency to contradict and opt for the exact opposite direction. In the daytime, the breeze blows from land to sea and the opposite in the evening happens.
9. Magical methods to cook
The traditional way to cook the Parsadam is preserved by the priests here. Exactly seven pots are used as vessels mounted over one another and are cooked using firewood. Enchantingly, the top most pot is cooked first, and the rest follows the same order!
- Deities Disintegration
The deities are buried from every 14 to 18 years, one above another, replaced by new ones. These deities are made up of neem wood and are believe to be disintegrated on their own.
- The Rath Yatra
The Rath Yatra is an annual parade in which the deities are carried outside the temple on 2 set of chariots (3 each). The first chariot carries the deities till the river which separates the Jagannath Temple and the Mausi Maa temple. After that, the idols are boarded in 3 boats to cross the river. Now the second chariot comes in play. It carries the deities from the river to the Mausi Maa Temple where the ritual takes place.
The beautiful beach
The bucolic beautiful beach has lots to offer visitors to attract them. The fun and frolic and excitement and enthusiasm among the sightseers about the protracted and salubrious beach definitely going to leave an indelible scar on the memory down the line. It is said that by taking the bath at Mahodadhi literally means great ocean or sea to purge all the papas or sins and help in rejuvenating the pilgrims.
Other attractions of Puri
Apart from the Lord Jagannath temple and beach, other prominent places which create attractions are Gundicha temple, Loknath temple, Narendra Sarovar, Markendsavara temple, Shree Gaur Vihar Ashram and many others.
The city is well connected by rail and bus transportation and besides that, it is only 60 km away from the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar. The boarders can easily fetch luxurious and sophisticated hotels to spend their time and for relaxations.
To conclude and to be candid the splendor and grandeur of the Puri temple accompanied by the gigantic almighty Lord Jagannath give immense personal gratification for the present and rest of the life for the pilgrims. The pilgrim must visit once in the life to get the chance glimpse of all-mighty to find the route to satisfaction and salvation.
Mausam Mausam Lovely Mausam: Time for a long drive!!!
When the dark clouds in the sky pour hearts out, the tiny drops of happiness to wash down the dust and grime reviving everything to life. Although the monsoon weather sometimes becomes a little unpleasant, it brings smiles on everyone’s face. As nature and greenery are at full swing, monsoon is the best time to cherish the local experience of the countryside and hill stations. So, here are some wonderful destinations near Delhi in this rain that’ll make you fall in love with monsoon –
1. Neemrana Fort – 117 KM
A perfect weekend getaway from Delhi, it is a 553 years old medieval Fort-Palace built on the two-billion-year-old Aravalli hills. Widely known for its magnificent construction, the Neemrana fort has been converted into a luxury heritage hotel. Here one can witness the most spectacular sunsets. Apart from dipping in the pool while it’s raining, relaxing spa services at the hotel, royal drive in vintage cars and zip lining are few world-class experiences that one should try out.
2. Bharatpur – 198 KM
For nature lovers, Bharatpur is one of the amazing places to visit during monsoon. The place is also known as Keoladeo National Park, home to nearly 230 species of birds. Bird watching, boating, and cycle or rickshaw ride inside the sanctuary are few amazing experiences among others.
3. Mandawa – 233 KM
Mandawa, located in the heart of Shekhawati of Rajasthan, is well known as ‘Open Air Art Gallery’ for its unique colorful paintings and adorned forts and havelis. Apart from exploring spectacular and masterpiece constructions, Mandawa offers its tourists with exciting camel rides near Saraf Haveli.
4. Lansdowne – 254 KM
Lansdowne, a small hill station located in Garhwal, Uttarakhand, is well known for its enchanting scenic and pristine landscapes. Lansdowne with its ancient churches and dense forests is the perfect choice for a peaceful and quiet vacation. Nature walks, trekking and camping are the best experiences one must try out.
5. Morni Hills – 272 KM
Morni, nearly 45 km from Chandigarh is the only hill station in Haryana. The hill station holds incredible Himalayan views, rich flora and the calm lakes which give extremely pristine experience especially when the sky pours down. One can have a pleasant boating experience at the quiet lakes and can spend leisure time at one of the exotic resorts.
6. Kangojodi – 276 KM
Kangojodi is a travel destination nestled in the Himachal hills. The place is a natural retreat which holds pine trees and surrounded by majestic hills and ravines. The place provides its visitors with a great camping site along with a myriad of offerings such as adventure sports, trekking, and other exciting activities
7. Parwanoo – 281 KM
Parwanoo, a beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh holds incredible natural beauty. It is an amazing weekend getaway from Capital during monsoon. The timber trail, a cable car track gives a heavenly scenic experience in this drizzling season. The hill station also offers its tourists a scenic view of its amazing fruit orchards located in foothill of Shivalik Range.
8. Kasauli – 298 KM
A small hill town in the lap of Himachal Pradesh, Kasauli is well known for its serenity and tranquility. The major attraction of this hill station includes snow-covered peaks and dense forests, which offers an adventurous trekking experience during monsoon. Apart from exciting and adventurous activities, Kasauli offers the absolute delight of indulging in local wines, extracted from homegrown fruit orchards.
9. Landour – 302 KM
Situated near Mussourie’s cantonment area, Landour is adorned with waterfall and luxurious valley views. With sky pouring little droplets, the scenery turns emerald, and hazy clouds roll around gently. During monsoon, Landour offers amazing stay options such as Rokeby Manor.
10. Shoghi – 331 KM
Wrapped in pine and oak woods, Shoghi is 15 km away from Shimla. The serene surrounding and the mesmerizing picturesque makes it one the best getaways from Capital during monsoon. Apart from the pristine scenery, the travel spot offers its tourists fun activities such as a toy train ride, and to spend some leisure time around Chadwick Falls.
A Rapturous welcome @ Gahirmatha Beach: Olive Ridley Turtle
Reptiles are always an exceptional class of animal kingdom. It certainly creates curiosity, fright, familiarity and above all admiration for its limiting attributes. The taxonomy of the animal kingdom could not be completed without the experience of class Reptilia. Be it a dreadful snake or silent killer cumbersome crocodile or lethargic elegant turtle, all leave an indelible scar in the fragile memory of philotherianism. Oliver ridley turtle is such innocuous and exceptional species which captures the imaginations of herpetologist when they arrived at sea coast searching for their breeding destiny. Gahrimatha is a place at the confluence of the bay of Bengal and Brahamani river in the Kendrapada district of littoral state Odisha. The picturesque bucolic beach gives sightseers immense reason to visit once in their life. In the advent of winter, lakhs of turtle colored the sea beaches with their rugged morphology.
Olive Ridley Turtle
The olive ridley sea turtle Taxonomically named as Lepidochelys olivacea and it belongs to class reptilia with thousands of individual. It is mainly confined to Pacific and Indian Ocean with northern tropical warm waters. Hence it is otherwise termed as the Pacific ridley sea turtle. According to IUCN Olive ridley place under vulnerable (VU) group. Its story began in 1758 as Testudo Mydas. These are best known for their mass nesting and nestling called arribada. Arribada is the place where thousands of female come together towards the same beach to lay eggs.
- Sexual Dimorphism is found in an adult case
- Olive colored carapace (Heart shaped)
- Creamy white plastron.
- Male and female ground to the same size.
- Rounded carapace in the female.
- Carapace (Olive in color) is dorsally flattened.
- Carapace became reddish due to algae growing on the carapace.
- Weight = 50 kg -52 kg (Rare) ,25-45 kg-Female,33 kg Male
- Hatchling-12-23.5 gm
- Tail used for copulation(reproduction)
The olive ridley is predominantly carnivorous, especially in immature stages of the lifecycle. Animal prey consists of protochordates or invertebrates, which can be caught in shallow marine waters or estuarine habitats. Common prey items include jellyfish, tunicates, sea urchins, bryozoans, bivalves, snails, shrimp, crabs, rock lobsters, and sipunculid worms. Additionally, consumption of jellyfish and both adult fish (e.g. Sphoeroides) and fish eggs may be indicative of pelagic (open ocean) feeding. The olive ridley is also known to feed on filamentous algae in areas devoid of other food sources. Captive studies have indicated some level of cannibalistic behavior in this species.
The olive ridley is best-known individuals for migration (Cyclical, seasonal, intentional). The convention on migratory species also provided a source of knowledge about this marine turtle. They focus Arribada management for conserving olive ridleys. Mostly ridleys migrate towards the nesting beach of Gahiramatha. This beas separates the Bhitarakanika mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. It is the part of (GMWS) Gahiramatha marine wildlife sanctuary. It is the part of Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary. It is otherwise known as Gahirmatha rookery (Natal nesting beach) other sports of mass nesting-mouth of Rivers Devi and Rushikulya.
Mating is often assumed to occur in the vicinity of nesting beaches, but copulating pairs have been reported over 1,000 km from the nearest beach.
Research from Costa Rica revealed the number of copulating pairs observed near the beach could not be responsible for the fertilization of the tens of thousands of females, so a significant amount of mating is believed to have occurred elsewhere at other times of the year.
Olive ridleys generally begin to aggregate near nesting beaches about two months before nesting season, although this may vary throughout their range. In the eastern Pacific, nesting occurs throughout the year, with peak nesting events (arribadas) occurring between September and December. Nesting beaches can be characterized as relatively flat, mid-beach zone, and free of debris. Beach fidelity is common, but not absolute. Nesting events are usually nocturnal, but diurnal nesting has been reported, especially during large arribadas. The exact age of sexual maturity is unknown, but this can be somewhat inferred from data on minimum breeding size. For example, the average carapace length of nesting females (n = 251) at Playa Nancite, Costa Rica, was determined to be 63.3 cm, with the smallest recorded at 54.0 cm. Females can lay up to three clutches per season, but most only lay one or two clutches. The female remains near shore for the inter-nesting period, which is about one month. Mean clutch size varies throughout its range and decreases with each nesting attempt.
Mean clutch size of 116 (30–168 eggs) was observed in Surinam, while nesting females from the eastern Pacific were found to have an average of 105 (74–126 eggs). The incubation period is usually between 45 and 51 days under natural conditions but may extend to 70 days in poor weather conditions. Eggs incubated at temperatures of 31 to 32 °C produce only females; eggs incubated at 28 °C or less produce solely males, and incubation temperatures of 29 to 30 °C produce a mixed-sex clutch. Hatching success can vary by beach and year, due to changing environmental conditions and rates of nest predation.
The olive ridley has been exploited for various purposes. It can be food, oil, leather, egg, meat or fertilizer. The egg is esteemed everywhere due to its negative delicaly. Gahiramatha is the largest breeding ground of Oliver ridley turtle. Collection of eggs is illegal but these laws are rarely enforced. Costa Rica is famous for turtle exploitation as it is economically viable. Illegal poaching of eggs is considered a major threat to the olive ridley population. This is the major issue which attracts the conservationist and biologist to put steps forward.
Welcome @ Gahirmatha Beach
Gahirmatha Beach is a beach in the Indian state of Odisha. The beach separates the Bhitarkanika mangroves from the Bay of Bengal and is the world’s most important nesting beach for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. The beach is part of Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which also includes the adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal.
The Gahirmatha Beach in Kendrapara district of Odisha (India), which is now a part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, is the largest breeding ground for these turtles. The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, was created in September 1997 and encompasses Gahirmatha Beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal. Bhitarkanika mangroves were designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. It is the world’s largest known rookery of olive ridley sea turtles. Apart from Gahirmatha rookery, two other mass nesting beaches have been located, which are on the mouth of rivers Rushikulya and Devi. The spectacular site of a mass congregation of olive ridley sea turtles for mating and nesting enthralls both the scientists and the nature lovers throughout the world.
Olive ridley sea turtles migrate in huge numbers from the beginning of November, every year, for mating and nesting along the coast of Orissa. Gahirmatha coast has the annual nesting figure between 100,000 and 500,000 each year. A decline in the population of these turtles has occurred in the recent past due to mass mortality. The olive ridley sea turtle has been listed on Schedule – I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991). The species is listed as vulnerable under IUCN. The sea turtles are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna (CITES). India is a signatory nation to all these conventions. The homing characteristics of the Ridley sea turtles make them more prone to mass casualty. The voyage to the natal nesting beaches is the dooming factor for them. Since Gahirmatha coast serves as the natal nesting beach for millions of turtles, it has immense importance on turtle conservation.
Gahirmatha beach is incidentally acclaimed as world’s largest-known nesting ground of these animals. Apart from Gahirmatha, these threatened aquatic animals turn up at Rushikulya river mouth and Devi river mouth for mass nesting. An estimated 6.57 lakh female turtles had turned to dig a pit and lay millions of eggs on the nesting beach during March this year. Fishing prohibition is presently clamped in Gahirmatha zone to ensure disturbance-free mating of the marine animals. After the end of the mating season, most of the male turtles usually return back leaving behind the female turtles to lay their eggs. The female turtles virtually invade the nesting beaches usually at the dead of the night for laying eggs, the phenomenon is described as “arribada”. After indulgence in instinctive egg-laying, the turtles leave the nesting ground to stride into the deep sea water. Hatchlings emerge from these eggs after 45-60 days. It is a rare natural phenomenon where babies grow without their mother. The ban on sea fishing remains in force around the year in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary as the seawater here is the most conducive habitat for these delicate marine species.
The rate of mortality of these endangered species is quite high. An olive ridley usually lays about 120 to 150 eggs from which hatchlings emerge after about 45 to 60 days. But not all eggs remain intact as predators devour it.
A unique query always comes to the ordinary citizen of the nation that what they do for us? According to WWF(World wildlife) sources, turtles are great scavengers, the garbage patrol of an area, and eating up dead fish from lakes and rivers. They do no harm and they do a lot of good. Turtles also provide homes for a lot of critters. Burrows dug by gopher tortoises shelter over 350 species, including burrowing owls, rabbits, and bobcats. Turtles are even bio-engineers, keeping the landscape healthy and varied by dispersing seeds.
A box turtle that eats some strawberries and then walks half a mile and defecates the seeds is adding to the landscape. They also rotate including the sand on the sea floor, and redistributing energy from one ecosystem to another. Nesting sea turtles leave about 75 percent of their energy on land in the form of eggs and hatchlings before they return to sea. So, turtles do a lot for the world’s ecology.
What else would we lose? An absence of turtles would be a “cultural, psychological loss,” to many societies. We revere their traits of persistence and serenity. They’re the one reptile that just about everyone likes.
This beautiful article on Olive Ridley Turtles has been co-authored by Lipsa Das, dedicated and compassionate teaching professional. She specializes in the field of Life Sciences especially Zoology. She is a lecturer in Zoology with specialization in Cell Biology and Biochemistry from North Orissa University. She has completed her M.Sc., M.Phil and pre Ph.D. coursework from the same university. Teaching is her passion as well as profession. She is very much committed to the field of research and it’s application towards society. As a member of the animal kingdom, her foremost aim is to protect nature and it’s biotic factors. As a lecturer, she tries to inculcate an inventive attitude in her students. She is convinced that in order to protect the mother earth, this thought needs to first germinate and take shape in our mind.
NANDANKANAN: The Celestial Garden for Wildlife
Everybody contemplates as human beings are the best creations by the almighty. But besides them, it is the varied wildlife creatures and their panoramic views across the length and breadth of the world are definitely going to sooth and sensitize the sightseers. The Nandankanan, literally meaning The Garden of Heaven near the outskirt of Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha in the environs of the Chandaka forest, and includes the 134-acre (54 ha) Kanjia lake brings godly pleasure to its viewers. Established in 1960, it was opened to the public in 1979 and became the first zoo in India to join the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in 2009. It also contains a botanical garden and part of it has been declared a sanctuary. A major upgrade was done in 2000 (after the damage caused by the super-cyclone of 1999 in coastal Odisha). More than 3.3 million visitors visit Nandankanan every year
Forest officials decided in 1960 that including rare plants and animals in the Odisha pavilion at the World Agricultural Fair in Delhi would help increase attendance. The message was sent to the forest department to capture as many small animals as possible for the display. In all, the forest department managed to capture two spotted deer (Axis axis), two barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), two blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), one mouse deer, one leopard cat, one flying squirrel, one racket-tailed drongo, one hornbill, two parrots, two hill mynah, one peacock, and a mongoose. In addition, the divisional forest officer of Deogarh captured a pangolin (scaly ant-eater) and two porcupines, and the divisional forest officer of Puri captured a pair of wild boars and a Python. All of these animals were delivered to the Delhi fair and exhibited at the Odisha pavilion.
The State Finance Department raised objections to a zoo in Odisha because of the cost of both establishing and maintaining the facility. While the issue was being debated, animals arrived back at Bhubaneswar in May 1960, posing problems to the forest department for housing and feeding them. P. Mohandra (Divisional Forest Officer, Puri) and G. K. Das (Divisional Forest Officer, Deogarh) built temporary structures at Khandagiri for the animals, and the community of Jain helped feed them. Discussions about a real zoo started soon after Dr. H. K. Mahatab, then Chief Minister of Odisha visited the animals.
The initial proposal placed the zoo at Ghatikia close to Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves. However, this was deemed to pose water problems in the future. A zoo needs a lot of water to meet the need of animals, cleaning of animals sheds and for various other purposes. The then Range Officer, Chandaka suggested Jujhagarh forest block on Kanjia lake near Barang Railway station as the most ideal location. The then Chief Conservator of Forests, Divisional Forest Officer, Puri, Range Officer, Chandaka and D.P. Ghosh, Forest Ranger visited the place and were impressed with its scenic beauty. Kanjia lake with its vast expanse over 125 acres low and undulating hills of Jujhagarh and Krushnanagar with lush green vegetation on both sides of the lake presented a picturesque site. Jujhagarh Forest Block had all the advantages for locating the zoo except communication from Bhubaneswar and the only approach was via Chandaka covering a distance of 38 km.
A committee consisting of Dr. Radhanath Rath, Sri G.C. Dash, and Sri D.N. Choudhury, the then Minister of Forests, Secretary, Forest and the Chief Conservator of Forests respectively visited the place. They were very much impressed with its aesthetic beauty and recommended the location of the zoo there with construction of a straight road (a distance of 14 to 15 km) from Bhubaneswar.
Accordingly, it was decided to locate the Zoological Park in Jujhagarh Forest Block, Botanical garden in Krushnanagar Forest Block and develop Kanjia lake for Boating and Angling. The Director, Fisheries agreed to develop a portion of the lake for rearing various kinds of fish for visitors to see. Initially, it was decided to keep spotted deer, barking deer, black bucks, wild boars, sambars, nilgai, and bears in spacious enclosures. Other animals like the leopard cat, mongoose, flying squirrel, porcupine, python, monkeys, hyena, jackal, civet cat, pangolin, jungle cat, parrots, mynah and other birds in suitable cages. It was decided to put efforts to capture tigers and leopards which could be exhibited in suitable cages for the time being and the suitable spacious enclosures would be built for them later on. It was also decided to raise a good flower garden and to plant important species and medicinal plants of Odisha inside proposed Botanical garden in Krushnanagar. Eventually, the site around the 134-acre (54 ha) Kanjia Lake was chosen. The lake would be developed for recreation as well. A 15-kilometer (9.3 mi) road was built to the site, and Nandankanan Biological Park was officially inaugurated on 29 December 1960, by Sri S. K. Patil, then Indian Minister of Food and Agriculture.
A botanical garden was opened in 1963. The first tiger arrived at the zoo in 1964 from the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta, along with a pair of African lions, a pair of Mugger crocodiles, and a puma. The facility was renamed Nandankanan Zoological Park in 1981.
In 2009 Nandankanan Zoological Park became the first zoo in India to be registered member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
Special Attractions –
The sylvan setup of the Park provides many special features which attract the visitors in large numbers.
Boating on the paddle or rowboats in the blue water of Kanjia lake is an exhilarating experience. The multi-storey Boat Ghat is renovated to give new looks providing enough space for the visitors to relax and enjoy the picturesque freshwater spreading over an area of more than 66 ha. lake. The boating service is outsourced for better management and satisfaction of the visitors. The lake is also known for its rich floral and faunal diversity and is declared as a Wetland of National Importance by Govt. of India.
White Tiger Safari
A unique white tiger safari established on 1st October 1991 over an area of 12 ha in natural surroundings. It provides exposes you to a unique situation where the visitors are confined in a vehicle and the animals roam in the open jungle. Nandankanan is the first zoo in India with a white tiger safari.
A twenty-minute drive through the meandering roads crisscrossing the natural forest in a specially protected vehicle takes the visitors straight into a pride of lions in the lion safari over an area of 20 ha established in the year 1984.
Herbivore safari was established in the year 2011 extending over an area of 21 ha. with a road network of 2 Km. length. The safari houses Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, Sambars, Four-horned antelope, wild boar, jungle fowls, peafowls, etc.
A Bear safari covering an area over 5 ha. has been established in the zoo during the year 2012. Visitors can avail the opportunity to sight sloth bears in their natural habitat through safari bus service.
A reptile park, with a life-size Tyrannosaurus at its entrance with an interpretation center, houses 27 species of reptiles including crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and snakes. One would encounter crocodiles, king cobras and a huge Reticulated Python inside the reptile park.
An amphibian enclosure has been established with viewers’ gallery over a plinth area of 56 m2. Necessary behavioral enrichments like flowing water saw dust, live plants, water pool, etc. have been provided within the enclosure. The enclosure is designed to house and display amphibian species. Nandankanan is the first premier large zoo to exhibit amphibians. At present, there are 21 numbers of amphibians belonging to six species.
Open Top Leopard Enclosure
The new open-top Leopard enclosure in Nandankanan is one among the very few in the country which attempts to exhibit this species in a large naturalistic enclosure which is open to the sky. This enclosure has been designed aesthetically to maximize visitor satisfaction without compromising the safety and security of the animal as well as visitors. The enclosure which has an exhibit area with a deep dry moat also has four feeding chambers and two back kraals. The entire enclosure has existing natural vegetation including two large Ficus bengalensis trees together with other trees and bushes. In addition, environmental enrichment by way of machan platforms, stone cave, wooden logs, water trough, etc. has been provided to encourage them to indulge in natural activities.
The toy train has been a great attraction for the children. Its starts from the toy train station which goes around a circular track of 1.58 Km. along the lake and thickly vegetated hillock area with free-ranging herbivores. The entire facility is now under renovation.
The aquarium is an integral component of a modern zoo. Adequate steps were taken to include well-researched education materials on the various aquatic ecosystems both marine and freshwater indicating their uniqueness and conservation needs. The aquarium was dedicated to the visitors on 4th February 2008 by the Honourable Chief Minister, Odisha.
Battery Operated Vehicle
To facilitate elderly and physically challenged visitors in particular and tourists in general, Battery Operated Vehicles (BOVs) are available for tourists for an hourly trip around the zoo on payment of Rs.50/- per head and Rs 750/-and Rs 500/-per trip of large and small BOVs respectively.
If one has got the time and an aptitude for learning then the centrally located library, with a wonderful collection of more than 3000 books and journals on wildlife, veterinary and other matters can serve one’s satisfaction.
Nocturnal Animal House
Many animals that only move freely at night but are almost immobile and hide in the thicket or in their burrows during the day are housed here. The twilight condition is created in these enclosures to provide an opportunity for the visitors to know what these animals secretively do in the darkness of the night.
Reptile Interpretation Centre
An Interpretation Centre depicting the evolution and biology of reptiles has been established in the entrance of Reptile Park displaying models of prehistoric animals.
The Interpretation Centre has been established near the entrance gate. The Centre has display boards, models and audiovisual aids depicting the importance of Zoological Park and other important wildlife areas of Odisha. It also displays the activities behind the scenes for creating awareness amongst the visitors. A film on Nandankanan is also screened in the mini-auditorium inside the Centre.
The zoo museum established in Nandankanan to preserve, display and interpret the animal specimens of zoological importance for public viewing and nature education. The museum displays taxidermy specimens, formalin preserved specimens of early developmental stages of animals and eggs of flightless birds. This facility will be of great interest to the visitors in general and school children in particular.
Electronic Gate Entrance System
An automated electronic entry gate system has been installed in the Zoological Park on 30.03.2012. Each visitor is issued with a bar-coded ticket for entering through any of the six electronic gates into the park. This gives an exact figure of adult, children and foreigner visitor entry statistics at any point in time. This facility is the first of its kind for entry into any tourist place in Odisha.
The walk-through aviary for exotic birds is a unique exhibit of its kind in the country. The walkthrough aviary has a cascading waterfall and a meandering water channel of 58 m length connecting two pools having two arched crosses over the bridge along the 216 m laterite stone paved the walking path with separate entry and exit points. In addition to the existing large and small trees, hundreds of selective plants have been planted to provide perches and hiding places for the birds housed. There are enough feeding points and nest boxes for use of the birds selectively. The inmates of the aviary are mixture of arboreal, terrestrial and aquatic birds. It is a visitor’s delight to view the free-flying birds overhead.
The Safari Sojourn
The major attraction for the tourists is the beautiful and bucolic safaris consist of sloth bears, deers, tigers, and lucrative lions. The specially protected bus will board the tourists for an enthralling, exciting and apprehending journey starting with deer safari and concluding at lion safari. Visitors throughout their journey not only bemused by the panoramic beauty of wildlife animals but by their out of the ordinary cameos. In this context, it reminds me of an incident from my last visit. A sloth bear sobriquet as “Diesel “ blocked our road as the bus entered to their den. According to sources it loves the odor of diesel running vehicles. As soon as the buses cross their safari, it comes out of its habitat to take a glimpse of its fans. Besides the bear safari, the hopping peacocks and perky and piquant deers at a striking distance have always attracted the attention of tourists.
The steeled gates of entries and exits create apprehension and excitation among the visitors during our en route to the much-awaited abode of tiger and lion safari. No doubt their gifted morphs are soothing to the eyes but it certainly raises few questions in the minds, do the deadly animals have lost their aggression for some reasons or other?
Nandankanan zoological park was declared as the wildlife sanctuary on 3rd August 1979. It is certainly a place to travel during your leisure’s and vacations. Apart from children, ages of all persons have something to watch and mull over during their visit to the celestial garden. The scintillating and satiating picturesque scenic views of wildlife’s, diversified botanical species and avifauna of wetland alleviates the common man’s pain and provides them something to ponder for the rest of the life.
Bhitarkanika: Nesting and Breeding paradise of Crocodiles
Littoral state Odisha wins the heart and soul of visitors across the globe for it’s naturally sculptured and indented picturesque sandy beaches blended with dunes and pines. Apart from its pastoral beaches, the state is famous for its estuaries and her wildlife. Moving forward with our discourse, on the north-east of the Odisha coastal relief we encounter at the confluence of Bay of Bengal and Brahamani and Baitarini river; the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.
Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is considered a standout amongst the most noteworthy of Asia. It is unique because of reasons more than one. The dynamic and salt tolerant types of trees, the Mangroves that by and large develop in tropical and sub-tropical between tidal locales; the lush green, rich and throbbing eco-framework.
Situated in the estuarial locale of Brahmani-Baitarani, in the north-eastern place of Kendrapara region of Odisha, the haven covers a zone of 672 square kilometers of mangrove timberlands and wetland. Crossed by a thick system of creeks, with the Bay of Bengal on the east, Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is home to more than 215 types of flying creatures, including winter transitory flying creatures from Europe and focal Asia.
Aside from the Mangroves, another irregularity that the haven has to its record is the restraint of its biological community by the Giant Salt Water Crocodiles and various assortments of other creature species. It is a direct result of these forces, that a tremendous field of backwoods around 145 square kilometers has been authoritatively proclaimed as the Bhitarkanika National Park. This stop including mangrove woodlands, springs, estuaries, streams, aggregated land, backwater and mud pads is exceptionally huge for the environmental, natural and geomorphologic foundation of Odisha
The Odyssey: One can start his exciting, entertaining and evergreen journey from Khola and Gupti, the two entry points to enter the most sought-after destination, Bhitarkanika National Park. Sightseers should take entry permit from the Forest Check Gate at Khola and Gupti. Both Forest Department’s and private boats are available at both places. Private boats are also available at JAYANAGAR & CHANDABALI which are in close proximity to Bhadrak railway station(60 km). Bhadrak is a beautiful bucolic based district 125 km from Bhubaneswar, the state capital.
As visitors start their journey on the mechanized boat along the rivulet of Brahamani, will come across by mind-boggling mangrove ecosystem, banked on both sides of the river. The phototropic pneumatophores roots of the mangrove plants protruding upward from the soil in search of sunlight provide surprising scenery to the sightseers. At the same time, they will experience chirping birds and stammering monkeys on the twigs of sundry trees. By the time they try to catch those memories in their imagination most of the times and sometimes in their cameras and cell phones, the steamer slows down its speed to take glimpses of much-awaited attractions of the sanctuary I;e the gigantic crocodiles and their young ones.
For visitors, the best time to travel the Bhitarkanika is between the month of October to march. With the onset of winter tropical crocodiles used to come out of the water to bask in the sunshine and scouting for the remedy of its excruciating mouth ulcers which form with the onset of the chilly season.
After traveling the most exciting and venturous journey around one and half an hour with apprehension and astonish tourists will reach at the shoreline of the Dangamal village the gateway to the Bhitarkanika National Park. As the visitors get down of the boat on the shore, the rustic mangroves ecosystem welcome them flanked on both sides of a narrow passage heading towards the Bhitarkanika National Park. The silent and salubrious national park supported with small backwaters gives enough reasons to give a smile to the sightseers.
It is a decent place to locate the monster Salt Water Crocodile, some developing to 23 feet long, alongside different reptiles like the Water Monitor Lizard and the King Cobra. Spotted deers and wild hogs are bounteous in the recreation center and can be spotted at all the real areas. Goliath saltwater crocodiles and an assortment of other untamed life occupy this eco-framework which is one of Asia’s most breathtaking natural life sanctuary. Eight assortments of Kingfishers are found here and can be spotted along the numerous brooks and riverines inside the recreation center. The arduous ride from Khola to Dangmal or the other way around is exceedingly prescribed.
Mangroves are salt tolerant, mind-boggling and dynamic eco-frameworks that happen in tropical and subtropical between tidal locales. Bhitarkanika is one such area of rich, lavish green energetic eco-framework lying in the estuarine locale of Brahmani-Baitarani in the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara region of Odisha. The zone is crossed by a system of brooks with Bay of Bengal on the East. The rear way between the winding rivulets and streams houses the second biggest practical mangrove eco-arrangement of India. Its 672 km². of mangrove timberland and wetland, gives a home to well more than 215 types of winged creatures including winter transients from focal Asia and Europe.
In 2006, Guinness Book of World record acknowledged cases of a 7.1 m (23 ft 4 in), 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) male saltwater crocodile living inside Bhitarkanika National Park. Due to the trouble of catching and estimating a substantial living crocodile, the exactness of these measurements is yet to be confirmed. There is an old adage “Never trust a crocodile and its tears”. After visiting the sanctuary and national park suddenly seems too sublime from our memory. Sightseers definitely going to have an indelible scar in their memory down the years about the cumbersome crocodile and its silent killer approach.
Dagara: Rendezvous with Red Crabs
Odisha is one of the littoral states of India with sculptured indented coast-line which captures the imagination of tourist for it’s pastoral and beautiful beaches. Pilgrims pan India mostly persists boisterous and crowded Puri and Gopalpur beaches for fun and frolic throughout the year. Besides these there are picturesque tourists places if we travel towards northern Odisha will come across a district named Balasore which is the rice bowl of the state. From the Balasore station if we traversed towards Kolkata around 64km we will encounter an exotic village on the confluence of the mouth of river Subarnarekha and Bay of Bengal named Dagara. The nearest railway stations are Jaleswar (58km) and Basta(25Km) away from the scenery spot.
The centers of attractions of the beach are red crabs enlisted in IUCN(International Union for conservation nature) red data book as a threatened endangered species. The calm, cool and collective Dagra village attracts tourists throughout the year but mostly in winter seasons. The prolific sandy dunes intermingled with pine trees lure tourists interests and serendipity.
The salubrious surroundings is a nesting and breeding paradise for red crabs. The arthropods seem to be a hallucination for the visitors, the faster you approach them the sooner they will disappear into their tiny holes. Sightseers like to play cat and mouse game with them and love to lose the battle in the end with a relentless simmering smirk.
The merge of the calm Subarnarekha river with the Bay of Bengal not only attracts tourists but bodes well for business with a proposed Kirtania port. The numbers of holidaymakers not on the higher side due to lack of sound infrastructures in terms of transportation, motels, and cuisines, but it definitely can be a tourism destination with a beautiful and bucolic sunset and sunrise with reddish picturesque serenity scenery beyond the horizon and rendezvous with red crabs at a striking distance.
Announce in local language in addition to Hindi and English: Government tells airports
The government Wednesday directed all airports to make public announcements in local language first, followed by Hindi and English, officials said.
The latest move follows a directive from Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.Officials said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued a directive to all aerodromes under its control to start making public announcements in the local language in addition to Hindi and English.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has also sent out a communication to private airport operators regarding public announcements to be made in the local language.Prabhu has directed the AAI to take steps to make that all announcements on public address system at all the airports in the country should be in local language followed by Hindi and English, officials said.The directions would not be applicable for silent airports, where public announcements are not made, they added.
In 2016, the AAI had issued a circular asking airports under its control to make public announcements in the local language followed by Hindi and English.The minister’s decision came after representations from certain quarters that public announcements at airports should also made in the local language, they added.There are more than 100 operational airports.
Will review web check-in charges, says Civil Aviation Ministry after IndiGo furore
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced that it would review the decision of some airlines to charge for web check-ins. A tweet from the ministry said it would review if such charges would fall within its unbundled pricing framework.
The Ministry’s announcement came after online furore of the decision of budget carrier IndiGo to start charging passengers for the selection of seats during web check-ins.
“MoCA has noted that airlines are now charging for web check-in for all seats. We are reviewing these fees to see whether they fall within the unbundled pricing framework,” read the tweet from the Ministry’s handle.
IndiGo had announced a change in its policies, making all seats chargeable for web check-ins. This had come into effect on November 14. Previously, customers were charge only for selecting certain seats. They could choose not to pick a seat, allowing the airline to allot a seat of its choice to them without extra charge. IndiGo’s new policy left free allocation of seats for check-ins at the airport unchanged.
The policy sparked heavy criticism online over the weekend, prompting the promise of a review from the Ministry.
The criticism had ranged from accusations of airlines starting to charge passengers for services that have so far been given without extra charge, to expressions of displeasure over what some claimed was a step towards increasing queues and congestion at airports.
Lord Shiva’s Kedarnath fully engulfed in snow
This is the current, stunning and marvellous picture of historical Kedarnath Shrine fully engulfed with knee deep snow sent by senior journalist friend Mohit Dimri, which remains closed during the winters and opens in April, May reviving its usual functioning with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims all over the country and the globe thronging in, for Lord Shiva’s Darshan, the creater and destroyer of this Universe.
The climate here is extremely chilling with the usual temperature sliding to minus 7 degrees during noon and crossing – 20 or more degrees during midnight. But what looks interesting and adventurous is the fact that the employees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute (NIM) looking after the affairs of the maintenance and development of Kedarnath and its immediate surroundings are round the clock busy amid the most deadly, treacherous and challenging situations, clearing the area and roads of heaps of snow measuring 2 to 3 feet over ground. Hats off to them.
It may be recalled that during 2013 June 15/ 16 when the entire Kedarpuri including Ram Bada and the Kedar valley was engulfed with the highly devastating deluge due to massive cloud bursts and subsequent bursting of the Chorabaari Lake also called the Gandhi Sarovar, they were the brave and hard working people of the NIM who in the aftermath of this devastating ecological disaster rebuild and renovated the entire Kedarnath vicinity under extreme challenging weather conditions beyond anybody’s expectation with the landing of high tech extremely heavy loaded bull dozers and other machines ferryed at such a towering height through helicopters.
It was a record in itself. Historical Kedarnath temple is situated at 11, 755 feet from the sea level where even during the summers, the weather comes to 2 to 5 degrees during the nights and the running high speed Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers get frozen . Over ten thousand pilgrims from Uttarakhand and several other parts of the country had died during this catastrophic tragedy. Uttarakhand has four historical religious shrines popular world over where millions of pilgrims come to pay their respects and prayers with extreme obeisance to lord Kedarnath, Badrinath, Goddess Gangotri and Yamnotri.
While Gangotri and Yamunotri emerges from the huge himalayan glaciers since time immemorial quenching the thirst and irrigational needs of the entire nation finally converging in Bay of Bengal, the Kedarnathand Badrinath shrines are of immense value for the devotees all around the globe.
A month ago prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Kedarnath Temple for the second time on the day of its closure during the winters and had announced several projects for the over all facelift of Kedarpuri that involved innovative development of inner roads and construction of modernised luving accomodation for the pujaries as well as the pilgrims who visit here from distant parts of the country and the globe including inner roads etc. The work on these projects got badly affected due to the excessive snow fall say the sources which will be resumed after the inclement weather situation improves in the near future. The Kedarnath site and temple fully clad in snow gives the imresson as if a pitch white( bright) silver sheet have been spread in Kedarpuri by Lord Shiva.
PLEASE DO VISIT THE -HINDUSTAN KI AKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN at Garhwal
I had been to the Badrinath Dham, a 1200 year old historic temple built by the initiative and tirless efforts of the Adi Shankaracharya then and eagerly went three kilometres ahead towards the historic Vyas Gufa, where, as the saying goes – thousands of years ago Ved Vyas meditated. Just near Vyas Gufa there is Bhim Pul (Bridge) a huge boulder of the size of roughly 8×8 feet, naturally lying over the river, giving it a shape of a bridge.
It is said that it was physically placed by Bhim to cross this high tide Mandakini river by the Pandavaas when they went for salvation during the final phase of their lives. It’s a conventional belief that the Pandavas went to heaven from this route. Anyways, what’ s important here is that after Bhagwan Badrinath’s Darshan one definitely feels like visiting the last village of India called MAANA and its here that you can have the privilege of the visiting the last TEA SHOP with the title: HINDUSTAN KI AAKHIRI CHAAI KI DUKAAN.
Though this shop is now surrounded by few other such stalls but this is the last one, selling eatables, soft drinks and other miscellaneous items in addition to tea. Every winter the villagers of Maana Gaon about approximately 180 families( am not exactly very sure about the number) shift to their counterpart village called Neeti, near Joshi Matth during the winters and then return back in April when the doors of Bhagwan Badrinath Temple are opened for Darshans again.
There is a single patwari for both the villages of Neeti and Manna, quite a distance away from each other who had to travel miles on foot to settle cases during the winters if any pertaining to disputes or crimes. The village Maana primarily comprises of Bhotia families the Garhwalies, whose forefathers, it’s usually believed have come from Tibet centuries ago when there was a free trade between the Garhwal citizens and the Tibetians called barter trade, now under China’s jurisdiction.
The first woman Mount Everest conquerer and the pride of India Bachendri Pal is also from the nearby village in Chamoli district and the same community. The inhabitants of Maana village get reservation in jobs and majority of the men folks are in comfortable positions in government jobs having good eductional background.
Maana was also famous for the clandestine production of indigenous liquor as the area being cold most of the time is usually consumed locally. The village Maana is significant from the security point of view as the villagers are considered to be our border protectors as well who are of great support and moral boosters for the ITBP jawans and officers camped there to guard our boarders under extreme challenging climatic circumstances.
About 1100 kilometres from Delhi journeying to Maana involves about 800 kilometres hill travel. If you really want to visit Badrinath Dham and the last CHAI KI DUKAN at village MAANA do visit Garhwal, Uttarakhand and enjoying touring adventure watching roaring Alaknanda and Mandakini on the way that finally become pious Ganges at Devprayag, the confluence point of both these rivers. Uttarakhand is full of surprises, adventures and historical spiritual destinations. Don’ t forget to miss them. The Uttarakhand government has accorded Maana village the special status of tourism village.
This is the latest picture of HINDUSTAN KI AKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN posted on fb by Garhwal’s eminent literateur, writer of several books and cultural activist, seen sitting with his friend at the precint of the shop, namely Narendra Kathait.
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