Trees


While visiting Munsiyari we came to know about two kunds, Thamri and Mehsar kunds. We didn’t go to Mehsar however trekked to Thamri kund. Trek to Thamri kund starts at Betulidhar, a place about 8to 9 kilometer before Munsiyari. It is also near to the gate from where trek to Khalia top starts. It is said that Khalia top is the best place to enjoy sun set and sunrise. However it is said to be a long , steep trek and then to and fro on the same day is not possible. Mainly groups of bikers mark it as a must to be place in their itinerary to Munsiyari.

So finally we zeroed in on Thamari. The trek is about three to four Kms one way. We started from kumayon mandal guest house after breakfast. A small Hanuman temple is at the base of trek.

We visited Munsiyari in the month of September. Worst of rains had passed but days still tended to be cloudy sometime. That day too clouds were hovering in the horizon but it still was very pleasant.

For me, a walk among the tall trees on the narrow pebbly path on hills  is always a welcome retreat to my own being. While treading slowly, stopping in between to imbibe the gracious silence I feel the calm spreading within. This trek too started like that. The trek was neither too difficult nor too steep hence was enjoyable.

 

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Well, while walking on that path I remembered John Muir,

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul. ”    

John Muir

 

We had company of one local person who on the way told us about importance of certain trees – one that is considered holy tree and its leaves are used to decorate devi- sthanam in homes during certain local festival, two trees that have entwined with each other to become one. He told me that most of the couples definitely get their pic clicked under the benevolent shadow of these trees as a good omen to their companionship. His local touches definitely made the journey more interesting though for most of the part I travelled in my own company.

 

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 The offbeat journeys are must sometimes, just to know where we belong.

 

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I love to lose myself to find my very own me….. Ah! I know I say it repeatedly but then, that’s how I feel.

 

On the way glimpses of snowclad peaks of Panchchuli, the undulating mountain ranges behind the forest looked enchanting. How unapproachable yet how arresting they looked. The cool authority of mountain ranges is always assuring.

 

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I know there is a path which leads to their heart but I love to maintain that distant relationship with them. It keeps the mystery alive and I can still feel them spreading within me.

It is an exhilarating experience to stand there on top after reaching the destination and watching the pond studded like a precious emerald in the green sparkling grass around it. I took my time to start descending up to the waters. A group of sheep had started return journey to their camps after quenching their thirst. It was a happy sight to watch the senior members of the group to trace their steps back to prod the younger and careless ones to move with the group when they stopped in the mid or tried to stray from their usual path.

 

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The kund is surrounded by Alpine and cedar jungles.  Silence there is almost echoing. Rustling of leaves, distant calls of birds- and the jungle hums to its own rhythm.

We went down and saw ruins of a building, a high gate type of structure laden with overgrown vegetation on one side of the kund. Ah! That fading page of history kindles the ambers of imagination.

There are remains of another structure on the bank of the kund. A platform type of structure on which a very small place of worship has been created by local people. We were told that local, religious fair takes place here annually and people visit here to pay their obeisance to Almighty.

 

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You can create me in any form, I am within you.

Yes, there are folklores attached to this kund. One of these is about two birds that flew down to it to guard it from being polluted . It is said that they keep the pond clean. Don’t know about the real reason but despite being surrounded by jungle, vegetations and being visited by cattle, animals and human beings the water of kund was sparkling clean. It has definitely been preserved beautifully.

 

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Though to and fro trek itself does not take much time but then the way to trek, the area around kund has lot to offer and one can spend as much time as one wants. It is a beautiful place to get yourself aligned with the sanctity of nature, the rhythm of silence.

All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.

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Since childhood I have memories of many Banyan trees. Among these many are some which are really really big and are known as Akshya vat. Vat is Hindi of Banyan. It is commonly known as Bargad.

The first Banyan tree of importance in my memory is one in Company Bagh of Kanpur. Kanpur is the city of my growing up days and the Company bagh there on the Mall road at that time used to be very different than what it is now. It was very dense and we never used to venture inside it beyond that historic well, which was a memorial to large number of unknown freedom fighters. We used to watch this big Banyan tree from outside the boundary wall . If my memory serves me correctly, even in bright summer days we could see dark room kind of spaces between the pillared stems/ roots of the tree.

The second Big Banyan I saw is the famous Great Banyan Tree in Indian Botanical Garden, Howrah. The botanical garden is also commonly known as Botanical garden of Kolkata or Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden. This botanical garden has many attractions but presently we will limit ourselves to the Banyan tree only. This Banyan tree is said to be more than 250 years old. Though no specific date can be successfully attributed to it’s origin but its reference can be found in writings of early nineteenth century. As the tree is in premises of one of the premier institute  where various kinds of botanical researches take place, all the factual information regarding it are available. The great Banyan tree has survived two major cyclones of 1864 and 67.

This single tree in itself is like a small forest. While walking on the wide road towards the tree, from a distance you find it hard to believe that there stands a single tree. It covers an area of about 1.6 hectares.We were told that the main trunk of the tree does not exist now. It was infected with some kind of fungus and to save the tree it was removed . However the giant tree still stand there supported by thousands of  aerial roots turning into subsidiary stems. Proper care is being taken care of  the aerial roots going down properly into the earth so that the huge, magnificent tree can be preserved for posterity.  A brick wall of small height was erected to mark the increasing area gradually being covered by the tree.

 

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The Big Banyan tree in the Botanical Garden At Kolkata– as we saw it from the road leading to it.

 

Few more shots of the trees . It really felt like walking through a forest.

 

And the third Banyan tree which I recently found out still stands in obscurity. Local people are aware of it but it is not being preserved and being taken care of properly by any concerned authority.The huge tree stands surrounded by many mango orchards from all sides. The mango orchards are owned by different individuals. If the tree is given freedom to grow it might cover areas of those orchards. Still local people rever and worship it. As the religious activities are gradually picking up around it, unplanned construction in between its area is increasing which definitely restrict it’s growing with abundance and mar it’s natural beauty too.  Various signs forbidding to put names on its branches have been put there but still almost every stem of the huge magnificent tree bleeds with engraved names.  despite these few saddening facts the Akshya Vat is a magnificent sight to behold.

This Akshay Vat is about 30 kilometers from the city of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India. The tree is in Manjhi village of Mall Block. The Pujari residing near the tree told us that the tree is said to be about 200 years old. Though there is no authenticated proof of that but believe me the vestibules between the prop roots turned into stems, far and wide stretched arms of the tree and the reigning silence take you to the times bygone.

In the center of the tree is a very thick cluster of many trunks. Many branches are sloping outward in all the directions and are in turn supported by entwined prop roots gradually thickening into new trunks. lovely passages and arched vestibules are formed by tapering branches and multitudes of trunks. Overhead stretches the thick canopy . It is a bright, sunny January day but this part talks in shadowed whispers. Big, thick trunked mango trees standing all around Akshay Vat in meticulously lines somehow reminded me of lines in prayer grounds. A villager  cycled away on the dusty road behind the tree, two boys sauntered in  the mango orchard, a bird called somewhere and the sentient atmosphere seeps deep down me.

The magnificent tree standing rapt in all around quiet, aerial roots hanging and once in a while few of them moving slightly with the wind felt like a wise old sage  with long beard lost in deep meditation. As I moved under it and looked upward , the green overhead canopy of leaves felt like showering blessings, keeping evils away.

 

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A panoramic view of Akshay vat of Manjhi village, Lucknow

 

All pictures@ Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That morning standing on the top of those ruins on Malyawant hill, when my glance fell on you for the first time, I was transfixed. You were standing there, many feet down in the compound of Raghurama temple but I felt as if you are gradually spreading inside me. Tall, stately, graceful, branches clad with green leaves and those bunches of white, delicate silky flowers, you looked divine. The mystique early morning blue swirled around you slowly very slowly rising upwards. you know what I felt…I felt as if a fairy, a devkanya,  had descended from heaven to enjoy the magical moonlight under your equally magical persona and now with first rays of sun filtering in, she is leaving to her abode, caressing and tickling you  with her Aanchal. Those soft, simmering  mellow golden spots on your leaves and flowers made you look radiating indulgent, affectionate smiles. Even from the height I was standing on, the white spread of  flowers under you was clearly visible. What I felt is beyond words. The peace, the pious feel, you filled in my heart…I felt blessed.

And when we came down and I stood there under you, it was like literally getting drenched in the showers of blessings. The delicate white flowers with long, slender greenish white pedicile and small white star shaped petals on the tip, dropped from above gradually, rhythmically. On the branches high above were thousands and thousands hanging in bunches like chandeliers. I felt enriched to the core of my being. That was a sacred moment.

I don’t know by what name are you called? But I felt if Kalptaru [ the mythical tree found in heaven abovem which is believed to fulfill all your wishes, if you deserve ] is there, it must look and feel like you only.

 

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All pictures by Sunder Iyer.

Few days ago I got to spend few hours with this ninety two year old gentleman with varied experiences of life. He takes care of this ages old temple but does not hold a good opinion of so called Sadhus and babas. He prefers to communicate with we grahasth [family] persons, who according to him happen to be more enriched spiritually.
He lived with Sri Govind Ballabh Pant, the first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, when he practiced as an advocate and Our country was under British rule.He started his first government job with salary of Rs forty per month, did his char dham yatra on foot from Haridwar.He shared lots of memories of the days when entry of Indians was banned in Hazaratganj after four P.M. as that was the time British offiicials and their families used to come there for enjoying their evenings.He also shared how there was scarcity of educated people and posts in government offices, seats in higher educational courses lay vacant for want of candidates.
This temple where he now resides is ages old. He told us that no body knows who built it originally. years ago it lay surrounded by dense forest on the bank of river. Dacoits, bandits and freedom fighters too took shelter here.When he arrived here then also it was surrounded by dense forest and forty to forty five snake couple resided in the vicinity…and why not after all it is an ancient shrine of Lord Shiva.It is said that plastering of the temple structure has been done by the mixture of Urad dal [ black lentil] pulp of Ber [ indian plum / jujubi] and chasani [syrup of Gur[jaggery]

Talking to him was like turning pages of a old history book nay more interesting and enthralling. He created wonderful imagery while narrating his travel experiences of mountains and the underlying spiritual essence provided hope and strength.

 

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All pictures by Sunder Iyer.

From the first floor verandah of Kumainu-Garhwal mandal tourist guest house at Gwaldam, hills beyond the market square buildings were  clearly visible and slowly climbing file of stately pine trees was inviting.  Slightly left to the hills, tiers of mountain and peaks were cloaked in thick grayish white clouds.We were told that on a clear sparkling day the snow capped Himalayan peaks under the blue canopy of sky offer a magnificently divine view from that point but that day we were soaking in the surreal mystique feel.While talking to the locals we gathered that at the farthest tip of pine adorned hills there is a small ,beautiful grass land.We suddenly planned to visit that. We finally could not make upto that point as we had started quite late and it  being a cloudy day the darkness descended earlier than usual. However we enjoyed our  leisurely ascent midst pine jungle.

The cab could take us upto the school building and from there onwards we  climbed in the august company of lofty pines. .A kind of bitter sweet fragrance of slightly moist pine woods , ground carpeted with golden yellow needles of pine,stately pines adhering to earth with all their might yet appearing aloof to things around bearing a saint like equanimity….the conglomerated impact of all these elements of nature somehow takes you to an entirely different planes.The chains and burdens on your being start dropping one by one and sitting there with your back resting against one of the pines if your eyes stroll to the upper most tips of pines, you feel nearer to heaven than earth.

This ridge provides a beautiful view of valley on another side. Kosi river snakes through the valley. it’s silvery band shimmered  midst the green, blue haze.

Pine needles dropped silently while tall, magnificent trees stood  like powerful warriors with golden heart. Their sermons can be clearly heard by a keen ear and dedicated heart.I gathered some pine cones fallen on ground. Some were ripe and dried, some were small green and sticky.perhaps the untimely separation from parent branch caused the raw wound and heart bled .

We roamed around enjoying the picturesque landscape, the sylvan scenes, inhaling delicious fragrance of woods.The evening proved to be a perfect prelude to our Bedini trek.

 

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All pictures by Sunder Iyer

 

 

13.06.2016. At. 6.30 A.M. We started out trek towards Bedni. I am not going to talk about destination here. It’s all about passing through small villages on the way, walking midst the forest wilderness, tuning to the calls of birds, buzzing of bees, gurgling of streams.

At the beginning of climb there are small houses on road sides and we get to meet many people busy in their daily chores yet each of them have enough time to wish the passing tourists. Specially the small kids we met wished us ‘namaste’ with folded hands. If you talk to them, they will stop, leave the work in hand and with smiling faces respond to you. It’s not that tourists are a rare feature in the area. On daily basis  many people pass through their village route yet they never fail to display the welcoming attitude.

 

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These kids were our first encounters en route. They got up from the place they were sitting and came down on the edge of passage to greet us.

 

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She is Manisha with her little basket going to collect leaves for her goat. The basket she carries is made from a locally available plant. Yashwant told me the name of the plant but I forgot, It’s a species of Bamboo but these plants do not grow as big as Bamboo. Manisha goes to school too. She is student of class second. It was time of summer holidays and she was contributing her bit to household chores.

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This group of young girls was going to cut and collect wheat from fields. Heera, our guide told us these girls belong to  his wife’s village, hence they are his ‘saliyas’  sis – in -law. The girls laughed, felt shy, jostled one another, the magic and beauty of relationship brightened the mood and filled the heart with joy……..Right that one is Hira, behind the girls.

The journey on Bedni route is beautiful amalgamation of people and nature. In fact up there both of them do not stand out separately but together they weave a tapestry of lovely hues, colours and depth. They act as supporting forces perhaps as the creator planned it to be.

We met many people on the way, some local inhabitants, other groups of trekkers.There was this duo of father and son.The boy must have been around ten years old. Father was an employee of Uttarakhand co-operative bank. Both of them originally planned to trek upto Roopkund but it was boy’s first trek and he got tired so they returned from Bhekhal Tal.Then there was this young boy from Delhi, Gajendra, the solo back packer. He was returning from Roopkund. How the interest and inclinations are changing, One thing I felt was that people have now started realizing that wilderness is becoming a necessity gradually.

Most of the local people were taking their buffaloes to the top at grasslands. Some leave their domestics for two three months there so that they can feed on lush green grass there. Some of them stay there for two three days and bring back the animals. On the top there are custodians for the animals, who take care when masters return after leaving animals.We met Priyanka and her mother and Deepa with her husband who were on the way to the top taking there buffaloes.

 

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Our first stop for tea and snacks was at Rankadhar.View of valleys on three sides is beautiful .

 

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After Rankadhar descent for Neel Ganga starts. Between Wan and Patal Gairoli Neel Ganga is almost a mid way point. Valley of Neel Ganga is cool, Soothing. One can easily get down to the stream. The crystal clear water flowing above the pebbles, encircling the boulders sing in  honeyed  voice and in between pipes in the birdies sailing on the wind and you get merged with nature. You don’t even have to try, getting one with it flows in naturally.

 

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                                        sunder and Heera at Neel Ganga valley

 

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Nature is God….by the side of river

 

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                                                        The tea shop after Neel Ganga

 

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At Patal Gairoli

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A cup of tea in serene valley of Patal Gairoli….no less than nectar.

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With Deepa from Wan at Patal Gairoli.We met there only and then walked together upto Bugyal with a teacher from Gopeshwiar and a  gentleman from Kolkata electricity board etc.

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This group of boys we met at Patal Gairoli was returning from Roopkund. Had a lively hearty talks with boys.

 

 

There were long stretches midst dense forest when we were alone with nature and then we traveled within, inhaling peace, trying to fathom the depth of the hearts of those centuries old high, very high trees. How many untold stories lie buried deep in their furrowed, wrinkled persona. The sighs, the tears, the joys and happiness of enumerable passers by have they absorbed with equanimity. They must have borne storms, avalanche, harsh winds yet none of them appeared to be discontented. Even when their heart is wide open and bleeding they stand there deeply attached to the ground below. Deeply rooted to the place they were born  they travel far and wide into space of time like meditating sages.

 

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                  Died and decaying still giving life to others, nourishing others.

 

While walking through the jungle sometimes through clearing we could see the view beyond. As if a window opened between the trees and the bright blue sky with floating white clouds and grassy hills suggesting not to be in hurry at all. At every step nature has something new, something amazing to offer. Hidden in the wilderness are such precious gems albeit for those who seek.

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                                                Few Buransh bloomed in between

 

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Nature’s armchair

 

 

 

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – said Lin Yutang. I tried to realize it in between the journey too and believe me I did.

 

All the pictures except those of Patal Gairoli are mobile clicks.

 

 

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On twelfth of june 2016 when we started from Gwaldam guest house towards Dewal road, we did not have any fixed plan. We reached Gwaldam with a plan to trek upto Bedni  but somehow the feedback we received there discouraged us to venture on the route. We Got an impression that the terrain is too challenging for our age. So on the morning we set out to reach the last point accessible by vehicle on that route, that is Wan. We drove with a leisurely pace stopping in between to click pictures, to listen to the rhythm of silence flowing through the forest of tall, stately pines.

And then we reached Wan. At the turn of the road was this tiny shop. We parked our vehicle there and inquired whether we could get a cup of tea . It’s Jamuna dadi’s tea shoppe. Here we met Hira. Hira takes trekkers – individuals and groups on trek tours to Bedni, Roopkund and beyond. Few minutes of conversation with him and he convinced us to embark upon the trek to Bedni. Somehow or other the way he took upon himself the responsibility of making this trek possible for us made us free of all worries. Jamuna dadi too with her enchanting smile encouraged us . Ultimately it was decided that we shall spend the day in the village and then next morning start our trek.

 

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  Jamuna dadi, the shop owner

This stay at Wan was totally unplanned but perhaps such unexpected changes make traveling very fruitful and enriching. The day we spent in the tiny village was truly rewarding, Sitting there in the tea shop in salubrious surrounding of green hills we met many new people and listened to various travel tales. There was this gentleman who once upon a time worked as porter and had accompanied many foreign nationals to uncharted paths, untraveled roads on high hills, through dense forests and deep valleys. Now with tired limbs and weakened joints he roams and works within village limit only but he still looks with longing and fondness towards the high peaks and sharing the tales of his glorious, tough travels make his eyes shine with luminous joy. He remembers with fondness his past adventures and conquests but not being able to do that now had not made him bitter at all. This calm acceptance of  the inevitable  patterns and changes in way of life is very endearing….a life long lesson. The real travel is just not visiting new places but learning new lessons of life, developing a new eye to various facets of life.

 

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                             Panoramic views of Wan

Hira took us for lunch to his home. His home was in front of tea shoppe, across the road on a slightly higher plane. His mother and wife prepared the food.  Fresh hot dal, vegetables and salad from fields, chapati and rice with home made chooran was tasty and we enjoyed it a lot. During entire day we visited other houses too, had tea in different courtyards and learnt a lot about local customs, traditions, festivals, fairs, Gods and Goddesses.

 

bedni_12In conversation with Hira and Yashwant, near the river flowing through the village

 

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out of these three pictures, the first one is the stream of river, whose flow the villagers get diverted to run their indigenous flour mill. Second pic is the outer view of their flour mill ,while the third one is the inside view. such praiseworthy effort on the parts of villagers.

 

bedni_26bedni_7 - Copy - Copy Lady walking towards her field to cut the wheat and in the upper one cutting wheat in the field.

 

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bedni_16 Separating grains from plants. I admired the school, college going girls, who study in nearby bigger places but were at home during summer vacation. They participated equally in  all the agricultural activities.

 

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It was time of harvesting wheat. The women folkfields were busy cutting wheat from fields, separating the grains by beating the dried plants.

Meeting the children and interacting with them was a wonderful experience. Yashwant, Deepak, Pankaj, Yashpal, Pushkar etc were in the age group of nine to fourteen. Few of them studied in schools of some nearby bigger places and were in the village during their summer vacations. Awareness level of the children living in those remote places was amazing, from latest mobile technologies to political scenario of state and country to each and every plant, trees of their area, mythological tales, local rites, rituals each of them was very well versed in all these subjects. Very sweet, affectionate kids were they.

 

bedni_20                   enjoying tea and gossiping with women

 

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They showed us their fields in the valley, introduced us to various plants and their utilities. Narrated the tales and facts heard from their grand parents about centuries old Surai trees and  by their description made alive  the crimson clad valley in the season of Buransh blossoming. Excitedly they invited us to revisit their village at that time. Those lovely smiling faces as if reflected radiant Buransh.

While returning from Ghanti dhar we were caught unaware by a sudden spurt of lashing rain. No cover was available. we had not taken our umbrellas with us, children were not worried about themselves but were concerned that we had to start our trek early morning and we didn’t have any change of clothes with us. A little ahead on the side of road we found a bent, hollow tree under which we tried to get shelter. We tried calling the driver of our cab to come and take us but that too did not work as no BSNL coverage and connectivity is available in Wan and nearby areas and we both and our cabby Prem all three of us had BSNL numbers only. With luck we saw two people coming towards us, Kids asked them whether they had a mobile and then they called their mother to send our driver to pick up all of us. Finally huddling together inside the cab we reached the village, where jamuna dadi was ready with black hot tea to greet us. The entire episode was so fun filled. It revived our childhood spirit and enthusiasm. True, the joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, changing horizons. The simple joys are the most nurturing ones.

We spent the night in a small, low ceiling neat room with mud walls, whose door opened to green high  hill beyond the valley. The bed sheet, quilts and blankets were clean and we had a undisturbed sound sleep. Kaloo, the black, bulky dog sat on rooftop entire night as if on guard.

 

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Next morning we left the place with Hira on our trek to Bedni but we did not leave Wan. We brought it with us. It became a part of us and simultaneously we left something of us there behind. We returned back to our daily city routine but the journey never ended. It keeps rewinding again and again within the deepest and quietest chambers deep down inside us.

 

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All the pictures by Sunder Iyer.

Details of Our guide–

Hira Singh Bisht Garhwali

Village — Wan, Dewal. Chamoli, Garhwal, Uttarakhand.

Phone number — 09756480219[ whats app available on this number], 07895165848.

 

That huge banyan tree stood elegantly at outskirts of our village. It was a big, really big tree, tall, shady and vibrantly green. Ensconced snugly under the tree was the shrine of Baram devta. Baram devta might have been derived from Brahm devta or may be Bhairav dev. Whatever might be the origin but when I got acquainted with this devta, he was referred to as Baram dev and he was the guardian angel, protector, benefactor of our village. As he was the savior, the defender, he had to be valiant and gallant that’s why perhaps he was considered to be a fierce and fiery God. Over such blazingly powerful God spread the blissful canopy of the banyan tree.

At the advent of any auspicious occasion in any family of the village people came to Baramdev’s shrine. Bowing their heads, they used to pray for peaceful completion of the ceremony devoid of any hassles, disturbances and obstacles. The ritual was never complete without a fervent request to Banyan tree to keep Baram devta happy and appeased in case he gets angry due to any fault of any person. That tree was like the wise old man of the family. Such tranquil was the impact of the benign shelter of the tree that the mind automatically became quiescent with quiet assurance that nothing can go wrong.

In case of any problem, illness or difficulty people rushed to the tree. Sitting near the small raised platform, the problem was narrated in detail. The God with his grim expression appeared to be unmoved/unconcerned but banyan’s hanging roots and bent leaves with slow nodding movements as if shared their grief. The rustling of leaves voiced it’s concern.

And it listened…wishes were fulfilled, obstacles removed, illness cured. Any cart or traveler entering the village never ever thought of crossing the path without paying obeisance to God and tree. We all used to spend some time under the blissful shelter of the tree. Just one look of the solid, shady Banyan standing firmly on it’s place with it’s arms stretching wide and we knew ‘all is well’. Palanquin of every daughter of village stopped under the shade of the tree before proceeding to her in law’s place. Relatives and friends accompanied her to that point. Girls after paying respect to deity would cry their heart out embracing the tree. The tree was their confidant and support like an elderly family member. In childhood the hanging  roots, the strong arms of Banyan tree were the swinging paradise. Even though kids held the roots but the feeling was that tree is supporting them. It’s his arms and he will never let them fall. While arranging their dolls marriage under the blissful shade of Banyan, girls never thought that one day they themselves will be standing under it to be away, with the grief of leaving one’s home, the near-dear ones and a prayer was ushered in the ever attentive ears of Banyan…’take care of my parents, dada. I am leaving them and please call me back to you in sawan at the earliest and the memories of carefree childhood, dreamy adolescence poured down with the streams of tears. Banyan dada was testimony to so many blooming love stories, pangs of separations, shattered dreams and soaring hopes.

Every newly wed bride before entering our village first paid her respects to Baram Dev and Banayan dada. The moment the bride put her feet decorated with aalta and payal on the ground the branches seemed to bend a little more to bless her. With hands full of red bangles, her anklets tingling, she circled the tree to pay her obeisance and with that she entrusted her dreams, her wishes to sagely Bargad or Banyan dada and with firm belief of fulfillment she proceeded to start her new phase of life. That Banyan tree was not just a tree. It was a history in its own, secured in its folds were so many tales of emotional catastrophe, treachery, sacrifices. It saw all- the purest of humane heart to the meanest of them, from epitome of ideal to the vilest of them. Nothing escaped from it’s vigilant eyes and just heart. Dreams were woven, desires were sown on the firm base of faith that Banyan dada is there to make them come true, to fulfill them.

And then life’s compulsions brought us away from village. Earlier we used to visit the native place frequently but then the generation of grand parents gradually left us, most of the homes were locked as jobs, education and other such commitments made the family members disperse in different directions. Recently I happened to meet our Bargad dada after a very long time, nearly three decades. If I were not told I could not have thought that it is the same Bargad dada. All those embracing arms, spreading wide and far were hacked to accommodate the multistory buildings with flourishing business establishments, tea shops, restaurants. The platform under it was raised higher and is quite big now. An ornamental, big temple of white marble stood in place as a small shrine of Baram dev. The evident commercialization has robbed off the soul of the place. A busy bus stop has come up nearby. Touching the platform ran a pucca road. Screeching, racing vehicles zoomed in and out. Midst all this hustle-bustle, chaos and din of empty voices was crouched our Bargad dada, with it’s few branches raised towards sky…….as if praying to the God to take him away as its shady shelter, the vast hearted canopy was being considered usurpation of land, the savior was seeking to be saved ……….

pic by sunder iyer

Exposed roots of very old trees always fascinate me .To  me they possess an antiquated charm like bygone era. They make me nostalgic like those ruins of ancient monuments and in turn have a kind of sad impact on me.

 

For a very long period the roots lie in obscure  and intimate security of earth ,beyond the penetrating eyes of the world. The soothing murmur of the water deep down in the earth, the warmth of mother earth embracing the roots close to it’s breast, the soft whisperings, the cozy darkness…….how  they feel after their this intimate world is shredded away ?

 

The designs and patterns of exposed roots suggest various stories ,reflect different moods.We captured these roots on the placid,quaint bank of Cauvery……let us see what are they trying to say……………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pics by sunder iyer