Present day Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illions was  home of Colonel Robert R. McCornick upto 1955.Colonel left his about 500 acre estate to community.  The estate now popularly known as Catigny park has many wonderful things and activities to offer. Another very important thing which colonel gave to community is Chacago Tribune. He was the owner and publisher of the esteemed news paper.

A big area is covered with beautiful bright gardens. It is not just a pleasing sight to eyes to walk through rainbow lanes of diverse species of flowers and plants but the interested ones can learn a lot about these while visiting there. Crystal clear water bodies in between these grassy , flowery areas add to the beauty of the park.

 

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The flower is
the stem’s cry of beauty
to the universe.
-Vassilis Comporozos

 

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“To see the world in a grain of sand
and heaven in a wildflower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour.”
-William Blake

I could go on talking about beauty of flowers there for a very long time, such was the wide variety blooming there.

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Here is just a glimpse of rainbow fields….. just to ignite your imagination.

There are tall, elegant trees all around grassy lawns and then there are dense almost forest like areas.

 

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The water body

 

The home of colonel stands in the park and a conducted tour inside the building is carried out. We did not have much spare time in our hands hence we had to forego that tour but we had a talk with guides sitting outside the building. They informed us that it takes almost forty five minutes to an hour to complete the entire tour. I am sure the tour must have been very informative and enlightening . The house was built by colonel’s grandfather Joseph Medill. the estate was earlier known as Red Oak Farm but later on was renamed as Cantigny by Colonel and his wife in memory of the French Village where Colonel served with First Division during World War First.

 

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Just a small portion of Meccornick house

Another very important part of this park is the First Division Museum. The museum takes one to the pages of history of the U.S. army’s 1st Infantry Division. Many stories of soldiers are displayed through sounds and sights. I loved the way families, from very young kids, youngsters to old people were engrossed in front of various big screens eager to learn the journey of their nations through conflicts. I always feel soldiers of every country should be remembered by the countrymen. They definitely are nation’s pride.

 

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Reception area of the museum

Outside the museum is tank park. Many tanks are displayed there.

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No amount of words can capture the beauty of nature, the legacy, the history displayed there. I am pretty sure just a single visit too would prove inadequate to imbibe all the information displayed and churned out there by various means. Cantegny park is a monument of the contribution of a person to the nation and to it’s countrymen.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

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Our plan to catch hold of rising sun at Michigan lake was finalised during preceding evening. we four got up, freshened up and drove towards lake well before the announced time of sunrise on the day. I have always felt that the magic of watching a rising sun has it’s full impact if you start waiting for it in the darkness. The gaze fixed at east, slow descent of dawn, gradual spreading of light, changing of colours and the anticipation, all these combine together to make the experience sublime and uplifting.

Drive to North Avenue beach was pleasant. It was still dark . The road slipped smoothly under the wheels and the slight nip in the early morning air pepped up our eagerness to witness the majestic show  of sun stepping into the scene.

When we reached the beach, it was still translucent dark and the beach was almost deserted. one or two photographers carrying their kit, tripod walked on that concrete platform on which stood a small light house. This concrete strip runs midst waters. As there was hardly any human presence on the beach, ducks and other birds walked freely on the sand. It appeared they had been fun frolicking there for quite some time as the sand bed was full of their paw marks making it look like a painted carpet.

 

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The out lines of sky scrapers on city side gradually started emerging .  lights twinkled like gems while  the perfect moon with all it’s calm dignity as if stopped there behind the building to say it’s goodbye for the day.

on the other side we were waiting for the magical splendor of nature to unfold.

 

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The stage was getting ready for the  majestic appearance.Small blue waves lapped rhythmically.  It was mesmerizing to watch an unseen brush gradually paint the horizon  with soft silky hues– such lovely shades of pink, blue and yellow. While the light eased its way with gradual progression some feathery blue clouds floated as if in a blissful state. There were number of people on the beach but each one was wrapped in one’s own quietude. Watching the sky , I felt tranquil and serene within.  This always happens while waiting and watching the sun gracing the east sky.  Calm descends  slowly percolating down to the very core of soul.

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And then sun rose it’s head above the waters. It’s arrival coloured the sky pink and orange. The blues and yellows receded back. even the waves started blushing pink. as if all the elements around joined hands to be one with one another. How pacifying the thought was! we could see that lone, tiny boat on the other end of waters slowly inching towards the rising sun. None of us talked about it but all of us waited with batted breath to touch the boat the sun point before the sun rose high above the water rim. We all silently prayed to the boatman to be successful in his attempt. no prayers were not said loudly but the positive vibration of pious thoughts could be smelled in the air.

In the mean time a young couple had arrived and sat on the platform facing east, girl’s head softly anchored on boys shoulder while her traces flew slowly in the morning breeze. What a lovely picture they presented…. secure in each others company waiting for light to illuminate the world. I silently prayed for all their dreams to come true.

 

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And then came a group of youngsters riding on their bicycles. They parked their bicycles on the cemented strip and suddenly the air was filled with their lively chatters  and laughter. Sun too leapt to revel in their enthusiasm. Or was it blessing them to reach higher.

 

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as the cool sky of early morning was flushed with the magnificent hues of orange, crimson, rose and apple, we all there perhaps lived our most enchanting moments of the day  and got ready to walk in the agenda of the day with more calm and confidence.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summers are here and people are out in open to have their time out with nature. It is vacation times for students. Time of the year when mostly sky is bright blue with white fluffy clouds floating from this end to that end. Green forests with their comforting shades and soft light welcome one to their depths. Rivers, streams and brooks flow freely gurgling, murmuring. Water falls cascade down full of gaiety.

Every where vehicles with boats, cycles tied on their back can be seen running towards one or another destination.

That day we were near Mohican river in Loudonville area. Banks of Mohican river were buzzing with activities. As our vehicle took a turn from Landoll’s Mohican castle we could see people down there on the banks of stream. Lower boughs of trees from both the sides of stream bowed down trying to tickle the water and the naughty waves with spritely gait moved away filling the surroundings with their twinkling laughter.

 

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We moved further …..

About 32 miles of Mohican river is officially designated as Ohio state scenic river. It winds through Knox, Ashland, Holms and Coshocton counties. Scenic rivers retain most of their natural characteristics and atleast 25 percent of their riparian corridors should run through the forest covers. This area in Loudonville is known as the most popular camping and canoe destination of Ohio.

 

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Walking on clear, cool water was relaxing. At many places small rocks were lodged firmly on water bed. Some rested on them absorbing nature’s sound and scenes while children played and jumped from one to another. Some sat relaxing on the benches on the banks under the shade of tall, majestic trees while others were busy at barbeques. The wooden bridge at a distance joined one bank to another. View of the river from the bridge is beautiful. Absorbing everything heart filled with warmth and peace.

 

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This little girl with her parents was enjoying her water sojourn a lot. Her joy and laughter filled our hearts too with happiness.

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covered wooden bridge on the river

Stopped at  Mohican Little brown inn for some time. A cycle track and biking track runs in front of the inn. The open space in front of motel allows the winds to run freely. Children were cycling in the track. Near it is an Amish furniture shop. It being Sunday, the shop was closed but many furniture pieces were lying there in open. Beautiful pieces with lovely colours and smooth finishing. Amish people are known to adhere to their traditional way of living. Their home-made jam, ham and cheese are said to be delicious. However, we missed having a taste of that as the store was closed.

 

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The log cabin of the motel and the Amish furniture shop .

 

 

 

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Two pieces of the furniture, just a glimpse of craftsmanship.

On the way we stopped at Mohican state park gorge overlook. From the stone deck we had an awesome view of about 330 feet deep valley and hills beyond. In fact at that time of the year those hills beyond look like a dense green impenetrable wall of trees. In the valley down too the trees are so dense that one can see just the simmering green. Except that lone branch hovering on the valley from this side on which a bird sat, I was not able to make out distinct shapes of trees. But the view was overwhelming.

 

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The tree  near the stone stand facing the gorge.

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way to gorge.

We also spent some time near an area designated for RVs carrying the horse carriers along with them. Few recreational vehicles were parked there. Horses were being taken out, massaged and being freshened up. Families were under preparation to settle down. Children were playing around while others were harnessing the horses. Fun and recreation areas were designated. For boating, tubing and kayaking and canoeing near the rivers, for cycling and biking well laid tracks and for gauging the wilderness from horse back another patch .

Saw few Amish families travelling in theirs Bagghis, the traditional horse driven coach. This community tries to avoid the use of engine driven vehicles

 

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Our last destination of the day was Pleasant hill Lake Marina. Pleasant hill has an 850 acre unlimited horse power lake surrounded by 1350 land with lush green fields, forest.

Pleasant hill lake is situated in the heart of Mohican county just outside the village Perrisville, Ohio. Variety of outdoor recreational activities fishing, boating, water skiing.

Pleasant boat marina offers waverunners, ski, pontoon, fishing and paddle boats.

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A view from boat of the lush green area surrounding area of peasant lake….

 

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Fishing in solitude

 

US_227w The dense forests appear to harbour untold secrets, inviting one to go deep to unravel the mystries, the sole contemplator stands lost in his own world and then there are those adventurers running over the length and width of waters as if to be one with nature.

 

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It was amazing to watch those little kids on tube tied to the rushing, speeding boat. What thrill they were feeling… they sat there unperturbed through all jumps and turns of tube…. their hearts were full of trust on their parents and with all their innocence they perhaps thought ..nothing can go wrong… God always is there with such unwavering faith.    I thought so while watching them from our boat.

 

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The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together!

Kenneth Grahame

 

US_234wI have a very special relationship with river. It flows inside me.

 

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Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

 

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An outing is perfect when you are with your own people, your group.

 

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And the ended with memories to cherish, moments to treasure.

All the pictures by sunder iyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landoll’s Mohican castle in Loudonville, Ohio, at first glance looks like a picture out of fairy tales book. Standing in deep salubrious woods the wooden castle with it’s many spires, balconies and stairs is enchanting.

 

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starry pinks and purples gives welcome smiles when heights entice with arms outstretched

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and far off horizons descend in my eyes

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As I climbed the winding stairs which were getting narrowed with rise of every storey my expectation of the view from the top was rising and the view, the feel, was worth every step. The tall, stately trees came closer. Leaves started whispering to share the secrets. The stillness of the moment percolated deep down in heart.

 

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While climbing the stairs never look back. The vision has to be followed by venture.

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And then the vision turns into reality. on the topmost balcony……

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Another view from the top…

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Artistically laid down path around the castle…..

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Besides suits in castle there are separate cottages too. Set in green spread surrounded by trees and adorned with baskets of colourful flowers the entire area is a beautiful place to unwind and relax.

 

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The Copper Mug Bar and Grille in the vicinity of castle provides awesome dining facility. Both indoor and outdoor facility is available.

 

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outside dining space of restraunt

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every flower is a miracle and watching that miracle unfolding make you bloom inside.

All the pics@Sunder Iyer

 

Our car turned away from the main road and entered Griggs Reservoir Park area. Drive through main road too was very pleasant as it was the green season and nature on both the sides of road was fresh and sparkling. However drive through park area was much more pleasant. Scioto river flew side by side through out the length of the drive. though between Scioto and road long stretch of green plants bushes and grass ran along yet the the glimpses of rippling river were soothing and uplifting.

Scioto river flows through Columbus, Ohio, here it collects it’s longest tributary Olentangy river and meets Ohio river at Portsmouth.

 

 

 

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we parked our car near one of the shelters. there are many shelters in park, some facing river while others are scattered midst greenery on the other side of the drive way. Griggs reservoir park in Columbus is an ideal place for picnics with friends and families, for spending quiet me time in the company of rustling leaves, whispering woods while river goes on humming in the background.

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the shelter gives an unobstructed view of river and it’s other bank lined with dense rows of trees. boating can be enjoyed in Scioto here.

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It was evening time. the golden orb rested on the tips of trees on other bank. the sparking blue waters slowly turned into golden yellow. the group of ducks floated calmly, as if in a prayer mode. the serenity of the scene percolated deep down within soul.

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After their final goodbye to the day ducks walked away to their resting areas. it was a heartening sight to watch them crossing the road with confidant and firm steps . they knew in their heart that they are safe while crossing the road after all pedestrian is the king of the road.

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the park has designated disc golf course but as there were not many visitors there at that time we enjoyed our few flings on disc throw right on the drive way.

 

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This is the disc Golf course area. professionals play here.

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one step at a time is good walking

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without words we share a lot.

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There is always a relief away from the maddening crowd.

The park has driving, biking trails but walking on those paths is such a joy that you never think of finding an exit.

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This is the area near dam. one can go down right upto there and sit listening to the harmonious symphonies of water and leaves.

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The magnificent Griggs dam.

During our two three visits there we enjoyed the different moods of the place. That is the beauty of nature. Every day you notice some new flower, a new plant and then the magical sunlight paints the woods in different shades on different days and hours.

All the pictures @ Sunder Iyer.

Chitrakoot and around is steeped in religious and mythological anecdotes. This is the place where Lord Rama spent eleven out of his fourteen years of exile. Amidst old, new, big, small temples and other places of religious importance, about eleven kilometers from Karwi, a bit away from the main road,on Allahabad Chitrakoot road lies Ganesh Bagh, a page from history, a witness to Peshwas ties with Bundelkhand region. It is said to be built in 1880s.
Ganesh Bagh was perhaps created as a recreation retreat. The premises  has an ornately carved Shiva temple with various unique features , a seven storeyed step well, a big pond with steps and cenotaphs around it, few more smaller enclosures, a palace, remains of few other buildings and wide open space which is now being converted into lawns and gardens.
when Peshwa king Vinayak Rao chose this secluded place to built his resting retreat it’s location was perhaps the deciding factor. Even today the quiet serenity of the place has a balmy impact on the tired mind and nerves. Mighty Vindhya range stands  as a backdrop and all around Ganesh Bagh are fields, trees and far flung villages with few mud houses. The pastoral beauty is soothing.
The seven storey step well or Baoli is the first structure after entering the gate. We wandered around  in the colonnaded arcades and passages of it’s top most story only though we could see two more stories below that . These were out of water level. One more story ,submerged in water too was visible. However the stories below that could not be seen. There was a narrow  canal like opening through which deep down  water could be seen in a long stretch. From the front end steps ran down and on both the sides of gap ran covered colonnaded verandah. In between at regular distances horizontal platforms connected verandahs of both the sides. On the farthest end was a huge circular well like structure. This too had water in it. The well had circular covered verandah around it . Remnants of water drainage system could be seen in this verandah. Perhaps the area was used  by royal women for bathing etc. On one side a small door opened to the open space on other side of wall of step well. A loan huge mango tree stood in the open space. May be a garden or full fledged mango groove was there in the bygone days. The step well, it’s structure, design and continuous presence of water altogether form an amazing cooling system to bear the scorching heat of Bundelkhand. The step well is an amazing feet of engineering with perfect synchronisation with nature. At that time also they catered to all the comforts, luxuries and needs of people but always maintained an ecological balance. Nature was given an important place in the scheme of things. And here are we, creating havoc in the name of development.

 

 

Arcades m corridors of step well. Picture @Sunder Iyer.

Huge, magnificent well at the end of corridors. Picture@Sunder Iyer.

 

The circular verandah around the well. Picture @sunder Iyer

Shiva temple stands on a raised platform. At one end of this covered colonnaded verandah are three chambers with stone door frames  which had beautifully carved images of various Gods and Goddesses. On some of these images sea blue, pink, maroon colours still can be seen. none of these three chamber has any deity in the sanctum. No worship or daily rituals are performed here but local people throng the temple during Shravan month and on the occasion of Shivratri. Floor of the verandah running in front of these chambers is very interesting. Two games chaupar and ludo were engraved on the floor. verandahs I have seen in front of temples. Devotees sit there chanting, singing bhajans, offering prayers but indoor games!Well that was something unique. On the other end of verandah staircases from both the sides lead to the roof top. few feets ahead the verandah culminates into an oval small pond shaped structure. Not exactly of size to be called as pond, rather a stone tub would be more appropriate. This too was covered. For what purpose this could have been used. During those times this definitely must have been filled with water. Were there lotuses blooming or women used to sit their dainty feet dipped in water! Well , I was earlier talking about those staircases leading to rooftop. Reaching the rooftop one can even touch the ornately carved Shikharas of temples.Nowhere else have I ever been in such close proximity with Shikharas of temples. The richly carved shikharas display images of various gods , goddesses, mythological creatures,animals and some erotic figures too. This open rooftop was connected to palace through passages. In front of Shikhara on a small covered platform sat Ganesha. That may be one reason that the temple is popular as Ganesha temple among locals even though the main deity was Shiva. View from rooftop is beautiful. If it is the time of year when rains paint countryside in all shades of green and far away hills appear to be enveloped in misty blue, I am sure sitting there on rooftop listening to the sounds of silence can turn out be an unforgettable experience.

 

Over all view of Ganesha temple. Picture@Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

 

Carvings on the wall of temple. Picture @Sunder Iyer.

indoor games carved on the floor of temple verandah. Picture@ Sunder Iyer.

 

The Shikhara trio. The first floor view. Picture @ Sunder Iyer.

 

Another beauty of Ganesh bagh is the big pond near the temple. steps from all the four sides lead to water . The pond is square in shape. Few cenotaphs around the pond were still intact though indications were apparent that there were more such structures around the pond.

 

The pond with steps and cenotaphs. Picture@ Sunder Iyer.

Ganesh Bagh is ASI protected monument. Premises are neat, clean . Whatever structures have survived the vagaries of times and humans , those are maintained.
If you love soluted, history, architecture and nature, you should not miss out on Ganesh Bagh , more so if you happen to be in the vicinity.

September, October  or January, February is the best time as the natural, pastoral beauty is at it’s best during those months.
Ganesh Bagh should be visited during day time only. It is more convient to have one’s own vehicle. However from Chitrakoot or Karvi you can hire full auto etc. Public transport is not available on the route.

All pictures by Sunder Iyer.

 

Edakkal caves are located in Waynad, Kerala, India. The caves are about twenty five kilometers from Kalpetta. the two caves are about 1200 meter above sea level. These are not actually caves in it’s traditional sense rather a heavy boulder straddling over a fissure in rocks form a cave. the main attraction of these caves are stone age etchings, writings, geometric figures and various scenes, activities of  neolithic times. The depictions on rocks is not limited only to one particular period rather it cover the span of many eras.
Besides being heritage repository these caves are also a good option for adventure and nature lovers. Though to facilitate climbing to caves steel staircases have been erected yet the rugged beauty of rocks and panoramic views all around is enough to leave it’s charismatic impact on you.
The caves were discovered by Fred Fawcett, the then superintendent of police of Malabar district in 1890.The caves are situated on western side of Eddakalmala and to reach there one has to trek through Ambukuttymala.
After leaving our vehicle in the parking area we started walking on the road to caves. The road rises gradually and after some distance becomes quite steep but shady tall trees , wild vegetation and lavish display of beautiful natural scenes on both the sides of road make the ride quite pleasant,

Soon the well laid road gave way to rocky terrain. Though slightly out of breath we kept on walking. When we started climbing up to some distance there were small shops of eatables and souvenirs on both the sides of road but later on after ticket window we were totally in company of nature. So, though we stopped in between to admire the beauty of nature and of course to catch our breath but we continued climbing. climbing over randomly piled rocks we reached a place where there was a very narrow passage between between the rocks. To pass through it we had to bend considerable and balance ourselves on precariously piled up rocks to haul ourselves on the other side. But it added to thrill and in spirit brought us nearer to the times bygone.

 

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Hoisting and balancing ourselves on the boulders we reached the entrance to first cave. The entrance has a steel gate. Only a limited number of people are allowed in the cave at one time. The gate perhaps has been put to regulate the traffic in and out of the cave as those few steps are the only way to enter and exit the caves.

 Picture by Sunder Iyer

In the cave on the rock wall was a gallery of carvings and etchings, animals, human forms, some figures looking like tribals with head gear and ornaments etc., some geometric shapes and drawings look like kolam drawings. Then there were animals, various symbols and scripts too. Everything was scattered all over the walls of caves.  How could they engrave so much on rocks? What were the tools used and such lasting imprints that centuries after we stood there agape with wonder and amazement.

The human figures with head gears, the wheel

Picture by sunder Iyer

Picture by Sunder Iyer

Writings on the rocks. What script is that? What had they said? Wish could know that.

 

Pictures by Sunder Iyer
Edakkal caves are said to be only place in India with stone age carvings.  These caves are said to have some links to Indus valley civilisation too. Recent studies have found certain signs which establish it’s link to Indus valley civilisation.

It was intriguing to see those imprints from centuries ago. With what instrument were those drawings made? The figures were all over the rock wall. The cave must have been different at that time and then this certainly was not an easy task. Why did they put so much labour into it?

Man has always had creativity inside him and urge of expression too. What do all these figures represent? So many questions floated in my mind. Look at the wheel like figure. What is it? A representation of time? One of man’s inventions? Can you make out those two human figures in the picture above? It looks like a tribal king and queen, hands up, in a dancing pose.The above image is definitely is some script. It is believed that these drawings and writings in the cave do not belong to any one particular period rather they belong to many spans of time. What have they written? Wish I  could read it.
So many thoughts fill the mind. I felt thankful to those unknown ancestors who left their signs in such non-erasable way . It is always good to feel connected.
All pictures by Sunder Iyer