Monday, June 1, 2009

A Study Tour to the Sabarimala Forests on 26-2-2000

Before I start writing this, I've to tell you something. First about Sabarimala to the people who don't know about the place. Sabarimala is one of the famous piligrimage spots in India. The place is famous for the Sri Dharma Shastha temple there. The place derives its name from Sabari, a pious saint who lived there. If you have read Ramayana, you definitely know her. When Sri Rama and Lakshman were on the quest to find Sita devi, they travelled continuously and reached this place and the legend is that Sabari, welcomed them in her hut and gave them food and drink. Now, I won't g ointo the story of the temple, interested people can check wikipdia for info. I wrote the following report in 2000, as the tour was conducted as part of a programme called "Promotion of Excellence among Gifted Children". We had to submit a record of the classes we used to attend or any special event like a study tour, and here is the report as I had written it 9 years ago (only with certain grammatical corrections).

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We conducted a very interesting study tour to the Sabarimala forests on 26-02-2000. It was in fact very interesting for it was our first tour to a forest. We had seen forests on T.V, but seeing the real forest was a very good experience.

We started our journey from Thiruvalla. We started at 7.20am with the students from Thiruvalla. We picked up other students from Thottabhagam and other places.We reached Pathanamthitta at 8.05am.There, the students from, Pathanamthitta joined us.There we halted for about 15 minutes. Then we started again. Our journey was throught the Sabarimala route.

We reached Perinad at 9.00am.There we stopped at Perinad Bethani Convent for breakfast. We took rest, there for about 50 minutes. After the rest we started again.

We entered the forest by about 10.15am. We saw very interesting sites there. We als o saw hills and valleys with decidious trees.

After travelling a long way through the forest, seeing beautiful scenery we reached the Goodrical Range office at 11.30am. On the way to the range office, we saw Sabarigiri Hydro Electric Project.At the range office, we were introduced to the range officer, and other forest officres and the renge officers introduced themselves to us.The Assistant Range Office there, was Sri Muralidharan Nair.We were also introduced to Sri Jayakumar Sharma.

From there, with these officers, we went to Nilackal St.Thomas Church.We went on foot.The Church is 2.6km away from the range office.

On the way to the church, we saw a small stream.We waded into it.We travelled as groups. It was very interesting to travel through the forest, though it was a little difficult for us to walk through a somewhat steep slope.There were big trees on both the sides of the road.We walked enjoying the natural beauty.

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[Here I'll take a small break. The yummy butter we got for breakfast that day, and the leeches which sucked our blood unknowingly all the way up deserve some attention. In my 'official' record book I couldn't write abt these, but now I'll. Thank goodness I was wearing canvas shoes, no leech bit my legs. Everyone else was a victim of these leeches. Nobody knows when they get in between your fingers, but only when they suck blood and become ball sized will one feel a chilling feeling where its clinging to; salt is the best remedy. We were given a full packet of sprinkle salt from the church.Also, in that forest stream we saw a bull. We were very happy that we had seen a forest animal, but a few minutes later we saw a man who was washing anotherone, who surely was their owner!]

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Thus we reached the church. There we got water.We prayed in the church.After that, all children were assembled by Sri Muralidharan Nair. We introduced ourselves to him, individually.Then he asked us, wgether we had heard about Ramayana nad Meghaduta.These two are classical works by Vathmiki and Kalidasa respectively.In these two works, there are parts closley related to nature.He told us, that in Ramayana, it is described that, the nature stood still when Sita was abandoned in the forest by Sri Rama's orders. Then Ganga forgot to flow, the trees stood still, the birds forgot to sing and the nature stood still. By abandoning Sita in the forest, Rama (man) was doing cruelty to her (nature). Today, man doesthe same with the nature. He's destroying nature and is causing undulations in the ecological balance.

In Meghadut, we can see that the Yaksha brings the clouds down by throwing flowers of "kudakappala". This shows the scientific fact that these flowers can causse rain whereever they are. He told us that forests are important parts of the nature.

After that he showed us some leaves and explained their peculiarity. He showed us "maanchiyam' leaves first and explained us that its 'peteol', the part below the leaf, is modified as the leaf; its not the leaf primordium which grows as the leaf.Then he showed Mikenea.He said that its a new variety of plant which grows in the forest, destroying other plants and trees. This plant grows on the canopy of the trees and covers the leaves there by reducing the rate of photosynthesis, killing them.

Then we started back.On the way back, Sri Muralidharan Nair, explained us about some forest trees. He also explained us about natural forests and artificial forests made by afoorestation by humans.

The main difference between the two are as follows:

Natural forest:

(1) Thick and dense.

(2) Trees are not in a row/ irregular.

(3) A very large variety of trees can be found here.

Artificial forest:

(1) Not very thick and dense.

(2) Trees are planted in a row/regular.

(3) Trees of only one or two spieces are found here.

After that he showed us some forest trees like Kadambam, Venteak, Elavu etc.We also saw wild arrow roots and reeds.

Sri Jayakumar Sharma told us a very important and unimaginable fact. The actual price of every singlr tree is about 18.2lakhs. This value is based on the amount of oxygen a tree releases. The amount of oxygen released by a tree is much more than that produced in a factory.From this single fact, the importance of forests can be understood!

By 1.15pm, we reached the place were our bus was. There was a teak nursery and Sri Nair, explained to us, the process of planting teak. The process is described below:

How do you plant teak?

The teak is planted only in summer. The tap root of a one year old teak plant is taken and it is planted in such a way that 1cmof the root is above the ground. The tap root is used since stores most of the starch needed for plant growth.

Then we all posed for a photo. After that Sri Nair gave us some information about the Indian forests in common. 33% of the land area of a country or a state must be forest. In India only 21% land is forest. In Kerala only 24% land is forest area.( This was in 2000, but what now?)

There are mainy six types of forests in India.They are:

(1) Evergreen forests

(2) Decidious forests

(3) Semi evergreen forests

(4) Tropical montane forests

(5) Coniferous forests

(6) Thorny forests

In Kerala, there are "Sarppakkavukal" also. The decidious forests are further divided into dry decidious and wet/moist decidious.

The percentages of land area in India occupied by each of these types (in 2000):

(1) Evergreen forest---> 15.5%

(2) Decidious forest (dry +wet)---> 41.5%

(3) Semi evergreen forest--->25.5%

(4) Tropical evergreen forest--->12.5%

(5) Coniferous forest--->2.5%

(6) Thornforest--->1.5%



3 methods of forest conservation:

# With the help of law officials and courts.

# Afforestation.

# Forest education.---> 3 steps (a) Publicity, (b) Interaction, (c) Result

Forest destruction can be caused by both abiotic and human interference, enchroachments, grazing, forest fire.

Forests should be preserved since they ae the basis of all sort of lives.

After that, we went back to the bus. The bus then left for the range office, where we had lunch. The time was about 2.00pm. After resting sometime at the range office, we started for Pamba.

We reached Pamba Rest House at 3.30pm. There we visited the medicinal plants' garden. This garden had been established with a motive of making people acquinted with the rare medicinal plants and preserving them. We saw "Dashapushpam" and "Naalpamaram".

From the garden we collected the seedlings of some plants.After resting and spending about 30 min there, we left for Pamba. We saw the famous Pamba river and we all washed our feet in the river. The water was shallow. We went to the Pamba Ganapathi Temple there. By then, the time was 4.00pm. After spending sometime in the temple, came back to our bus. Then we started back. We dropped the staff of the range office at their office. We thanked them for coming with us and guiding us all through out the day. We set back for home at about 5.30pm.

The valley appeared beautiful in the rays of the sun. On the way back we stopped at a hotel for tea. Then we started again.We reached Pathanamthitta by 7.30pm. There we dropped the students from Pathanamthitta. We reached Thiruvalla by 8.30pm. There we got down. Bidding good bye to our friends, we left for home.
This journey was indeed an interesting and educative one. We could see the places which we had seen on TV. I will travel once more to these forests if I get an opportunity again.
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That's all for the official report. Now, I can't finish this without saying that, a leech indeed bit me, see "a" leech, and above my elbow! I was wearing a new navy blue churidaar and its sleeve got wet with blood. Atleast I didin't have to be sad for not encountering a leech. :) But I only knew that it had bit me only when I felt that chill. Poor leech I threw it out of the window. Pamba Ganapathi temple is a famous pilgrim centre. Those who come to Sabarimala, come there also. We had gone after the Sabarimala season and the condition of he temple waas pathetic! Garlands, flower wastes and lots of flies! What are the authorities doing? Can't they clean it? It will be the same every year. Its a wonderful forest, but each year, GOVT and Dewaswam Board are bringing inmore and more "facilities". The result, the pilgrimage which was considered as sacred and in which people sacrifice comforts, are becoming, "pilgrimage tourism". Leave God ;take nature, they call it "Poonkavanam", where the temple is. "Poonkavanam" = "garden". Soon the "developments" will make it, a desert for development=deforestation. That forest, I don't know how much of it remains there now a days, there might be some still, but soon its going to vanish... Its a painful fact, to which we want to be oblivious, but can't be. We should save the forest, because nothing can match the forest.

PS: Forest:

Forest mesmerises, forest enchants,

Like an old witch; attracts souls.

Forest speaks through silence,

Forest sings, in wild tunes,and tounges;

Of birds, trees and streams.

Forest dances in wind, water and fire;

Forest, spreads its smells and tastes;

Shows brilliant colours;

In flowers, lights, shades and more.

Forest, the world beyond words, forever, forever.....


4 comments:

  1. Hi I was also part of this trip.Very good narration Thanks for sharing .

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  2. Lost contacts with all friends who were part of that program..It will be good if anyone creates a group or something for all gifted children.Do u have contact with any of them?I was just searching for such a group and got your blog's address.

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  3. Ok. I can try and contact my batch on Facebook. :) And of course I can contact my classmates who were with me.

    ReplyDelete