On our final day here, we went for a guided nature walk by the Banjar River. We started the day super early; enjoyed a breakfast in the warm indoors, the air outside was frigid, it was perhaps the coldest of all our days here. It is always so magical to start your breakfast in the deep dark of the night and as moments pass, the once wilful night slowly starts fading out into the light. It seemed like the fog had put its scarf over the horizon, carelessly though, and as night was giving way to the day, so was the thick fog that once looked so tenacious.
A short drive through the woods towards the core jungle landed us next to the Banjar river. The air was so fresh and the river extremely calm, everything was quiet, the sun was slowly rising over the horizon, the sunbeams were shining through and now the misty blue on the horizon was giving way to orangish hues. The transition was so surreal and magical; overwhelming natural beauty. We just stood there, mesmerized and awestruck by the surroundings.From the littlest insects to animals to birds to the thick green around; nature never ceases to amaze.
On our way we came across a two storied lookout station, we went in and up the stairs to a viewing deck. You could see the entire river on one side and the jungle on the other where you could always spot an animal or two. The birds flew over the river and into the horizon gloriously; you could sit here all day watching and still, it would not be enough.
The still that was there when we arrived here was no more, there was purpose around – the birds were suddenly in action, the calls from the animals were more pronounced and the villagers had started to arrive with their cattle to bathe them in the river. The more the villagers were trying to hold their cattle in the water, just like little kids, more escape routes were being conjured up, it was hilarious. It all ended up with laughter all around. The bond these guys share with their animals is very special, it is beautiful.
Little kids from the village had accompanied their parents to the river for a morning dip and water play. The kids had such simple ways to keep themselves amused and boy were they happy; eagerly waved at us with such excitement as we passed by.
On shoreside, our kids had piled up a sizable collection of mineralized rocks that were meticulously handpicked from the banks of the river. The size of their stack was worrisome as the entire lot, which was getting heavier by the minute, was coming back home in our bags to their rock collection – which is essentially heavy ROCKS that was carried by their parents over the years on return journeys.
On the way, the kids found a thin and long piece of wood that had been washed on to the bank of the river – this was first used by them as a tracking pole and then it was elevated to a staff of honor to be held by the undisputed leader of the river walk. Such symbolism invited a struggle to hold the sacred artifact (when I say sacred artifact, I mean driftwood) and ended with one of them taking a semi dip in the water. The kids from the village were super amused. However, the peace was restored almost instantaneously as they realized that such “staffs of honour” were virtually below each and every tree here. Oh, what fun!
Famished, we made our way to giant rocks that sat in the middle of the river and helped up ourselves to some food that we were carrying from the lodge; one of the most endearing parts of this morning was when you could sit on these natural boulders complete silence and listening to the jungle, with an underscore of the sound of the stream cutting through the rocks. Loved it!
No words can describe all that we had experienced at Kanha and Banjaar Tola, it was just so surreal yet so palpable. While it would severely fall short, the only word that can come close to describing our experience here was invigorating. The time we spent in the wilderness, albeit short, provided memories of a lifetime. The magnanimity of nature is truly unrivalled, untainted, eternal; and as stewards, it is our unfettered duty to preserve, foster, nurture and cherish its every offering.
Thank you for the memories Kanha
I would like to end this post by sharing a remarkable quote by Astronomer Carl Sagan. He was a member of spacecraft Voyager’s imaging team; he convinced NASA to turn the Voyager 1 camera back towards Earth when the spacecraft went beyond Neptune for one last look homeward and he said…
“That’s here.That’s home.That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast, cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great, enveloping cosmic dark.In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”