Nature trails

Exploring Top Slip

Another trip to Top Slip.. bang in the middle of the rainy season. Top Slip is a forest reserve on the Anamalai Mountain Ranges of Tamil Nadu in South India. Here is the link to my previous post on Top Slip.

 

This is the Tamil Nadu Tourism office at Top Slip. They offer animal sighting tours, cottage accommodations, a small hotel and an eco-friendly shoppe for tourists.

 

 

There are guided safari tours in to the Forest in a mini bus. Animal sightings are frequently reported on these tours. We too signed up for it… And off we went into the forest.

First view of the forest are the sky high Bamboo clusters:

 

 

Out first sighting was a herd of wild Asian Buffaloes… They were huge and massive compared to the buffalos I had seen on the plains.

 

 

There were black monkeys, but I could not take a clear picture of them. They hardly sit in a place letting people observe them. So it was very difficult to identify what type of monkeys they were.

We also saw large flying squirrels perched high up on the tall trees:

 

This is a tribal settlement in the middle of the forest. The only way to this settlement is through a narrow winding path through mountains and the thick forest. People in this photo are not tribals :) They are crowds of tourists enjoying the light drizzle and cold climate.

 

A view of the mountains and forests, as the light drizzle became a heavy downpour:

 

 

It started raining very heavily on our way back. The green beautiful winding mountain paths now looked dangerous and slippery in the heavy rains. My interest in taking photos kind of lulled as I was totally occupied in praying for safety :)

 

I saw this elephant back at the tourism office. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, munching away happily without bothering about the rain. She sure taught me a lesson on how to enjoy a heavy downpour :)

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Waste recycling in villages
Village Bliss

Waste recycling – The natural way

Village life / country life is serene, peaceful and healthy. But apart from this villages have been recycling from long past. Here comes the story about it:

Houses are mostly built in the midst of farmlands / tree grooves. This is a view of my in-laws house, in the middle of coconut grooves.

The outer patio is completely made of natual materials. The entrance arch is made from banana tree stalks.When this arch starts ddrying, the unripe banana fruits and banana stalks are cleaned and used as vegetables for cooking.

Walls of the green Outer Patio are made using bamboo poles and dry coconut leaves. Dry leaves falling from coconut trees are collected and woven in to long mats. These are tied to bamboo poles to form walls.

This is a bunch of fallen leaves waiting to be woven into mats.

Most of these dry leaves and stalks are used to heat water. This is a view of the water heating area..

This is a small furnace for heating water. The other side of this wall has insulated copper pot. All paper wastes, leaves, coconut husks, dried coconut leaves are cut and fed as fuel to this furnace.

Vegetable wastes and food leftovers are composted with hay and cow-dung. Earthworms further break down the waste into manure. After a few months, this bunch of composted leftowvers makes good organic manure for the farm.

While all degradable garbage goes into the waste compost pile, rest form the fuel for water heating. So there is no waste going out of the house or the coconut groove. Everything is recycled or burnt up right here.

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Village Bliss

Colours

Functions and celebrations in India are always colorful.  Apart from this, our every day life is also filled with colors. Here are photos from villages across Tamil Nadu that abound with color:

Village temples are mostly for guardian dieties. These gods are believed to protect the village from diseases and evil forces. A demi-god statue on the wall of village temple, near Dharapuram:

Devotees often build huge statues of horses in these village temples. These colourful horses are built of cement:

A colourful peacock decking the entrace to a village meeting place:

Colourful motiffs painted on the pillars of temples and houses:

Snakes are respected and worshipped in many places. Turmeric is a spice and looks like ginger. It has a birght yhellow colour and is used as a colourant. A combination of snakes and turmeric – a snakepit marked with yellow color by religious local folk.

Coconut and palm trees are the most common trees found in South Indian roadsides. This leaf had turned yellow after the recent rains.

Remnants of the previous assembly elections still linger… A stone & mud wall in my native village painted  with election symbols.

Walls of houses are often used as canvas for advertising. They are painted in bright colours and are one of the best ways of low cost advertising in India.

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And last, the colors of old tiles in a village house near Pollachi. In red and black, they strike a rich contrast.

And so on… goes the joy of colors. It is there all around us, if only we have the time and the mood to enjoy it :-)

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Village Bliss

The slow moving world

A recent trip took me to Sakthi mutram, a small place near Kumbakonam. We continued on to Thirunallar in Karaikal. It was a different world – peaceful and beautiful. Here is a glimpse into a slow moving and peaceful society:

An evening stroll along the street, greeting neighbours and stopping for a leaisurely chat. This is the local means of collecting news and free distribution of advice. If you are a good cook, share your new tryout dish with your neighbours, yet another excuse for a chat.

The older generation do not feel left out from the active social networking. What if they cannot walk around much… All that it needs is to sit on a “thinnai” and watch out for those who pass by. Everyone normally stops by to chat with this granny and ask about her well-being. A wait by the thinnai brings all the local community news right to her doorstop.

Stopping by the street to ask about mutual givings, latest happenings and family events…

All houses on a street make one big family with mutual sharing of fun, grief and happiness. 

My guess is that concept of “Relaxation” was born after discovery of “Hurry”. The world in which there is no hurry needs no specific relaxation. Life and relaxation are synonymous here… Unheard of are  diseases and side effects of hurry and stress. All my busy friends out there, lets celebrate a slow moving lifestyle by taking time to enjoy and cherish every minute.

Today is the first day of tamil new year and also the tamil harvest festival, Pongal. Wish everyone a happy pongal and a happy new year.

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Nature trails

Beyond Top Slip

A trip to Top Slip is what we planned initially. This is what Wikitravel has on Top Slip: Topslip is located near Pollachi in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, at an altitude of 800 feet from the sea level on the Anamalai mountain range. It stands majestically with Green Spread Mountains and forest all around. The unique teak forests, Bamboo Forest also located near Topslip.

We boarded the early morning local bus at Pollachi for a long journey. We knew the path was through forests and mountains. We were expecting lovely green sights and occasional sighting of wild animals. But the grandeur and beauty that unfolded is beyond description.  

The initial journey was through farms and coconut grooves. Then came a rugged path (in fact there was no path at all) that led to the foothills. After this, started the mountainous terrain with thick forests.

It was first normal forests, similar to the ones on way to Valparai. But as we ascended further up, instead of tea plantations that we saw on way to valparai, here we were greeted by dense forests. Bamboo plants rose to unimaginable heights. thick clusters of  flowering teaks, surrounded by huge bamboo bunches were a common sight. Every inch of land was covered by thick undergrowth and huge mighty trees. Devoid of all signs of human civilization except for a lone bus trudging along.

As we neared Top Slip, there were forest guards and pretty animal statues. This place was a tourist attraction and had the normal tourist crowd sporting sun-glasses and cameras. We decided not to get down at Top Slip and continue further in the same path.

After Top Slip, the topography changed to pleasant lawns and pretty greenery.

But not for long.. soon after started the same dense forests. We were trying to guess names of at least a few trees we saw on the way. But apart from the old flowering teak trees and massive bamboo clusters, we were able to identify only the occasional Neem, Peepul or Banyan.

This is one of the huge sprawling trees on the way. Most of the trees are covered by climbing plants that reach up to their tips and spread through their branches.

We finally reached the last stage in our journey which was the Parambikulam reservoir. It is a heavenly place with two tea-stalls, a statue and a small park around it. By the time we reached, visitor hours at the reservoir had long gone :) So we spent time walking around the place and boarded the same bus to return back :) Buses are very rare with only three buses in 24 hours.

On the way back, it started raining and a lone elephant passed. Missed taking a picture of it due to the moving bus and rains.  On the way back, we saw this tree… It was split in to two by lightning.

We loved every moment of the journey back… the moist wind, heavy downpour, sound of animals and birds… everything remains etched in my mind. This picture was taken on the way back where the mountainous path ends, leading to the plains.

All the grandeur and beauty of these dense forests are a remainder to the fact that Nature is far from being tamed, but can support and protect us if treated with respect and care.

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