Category Archives: Places of Interest

One Planet : Seven Worlds

Sir David Attenborough is an icon in the field of wildlife world. He has explored and brought his rendezvous with nature to common man through his extraordinary documentaries. Now he has brought this documentary “One Planet Seven Worlds” which will be on BBC Earth.

Our Earth has 70% water in the form of oceans and 30% landmass. In the beginning, whole landmass was one continuous mass. At that time, lot was happening inside the Earth. Lots of tectonic activity was occurring and lava as it was cooling down was also spewing out.

Tectonic plates were colliding and pushing against one another. Slowly the single landmass began breaking into fragments. Ultimately it broke into 7 stable land masses separated from each other by the water. These are the seven continents. Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America, Oceania and Antarctica.

Each continent has unique climate and geology which has given rise to stunning individual bio-diversities on each continent. That is why, Attenborough calls them Seven Worlds. The series will feature remarkable, new behaviour from different continents. From the extremely hot African plains to frozen waters of Antarctica.

He will also touch how we are now destroying the habitat of the wildlife. Due to this, some species are faced with extinction. Forests are being cut, extreme fishing and pollution is threatening our own and the wildlife existence.

Trailer of One Planet Seven Worlds

Introduction features a very soulful song “Out There” by Australian born singer Sia.

“I pray
Yeah, I’m hoping that if I pray
Maybe you’ll talk back
‘Cause I pray for some faith, some faith today

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

This walk feels longer in the dark tonight
No hand to hold, no hand in sight
I pour my heart out to the blackest sky
Oh, spirit, can you hear my soul’s cry?

No, I don’t wanna walk alone, I want to believe
‘Cause I am losing hope
As love will speak to me
Can you hear my call? Can I have a sign?
‘Cause I am losing hope
Yeah, on my darkest night

I got a feeling you’re out there
I got a feeling you’re out there”

Video on Youtube Link

Sia Kate Isobelle Furler

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We are living in the Meghalayan Age

Scientists have marked the time since the Earth began its life. They have divided it into different Epochs, Periods, Eras and Eons progressively in increasing time groups.

 

We are living in the following division of time.

Eon: Phanerozoic

Era: Cenozoic

Period: Quaternary

Epoch: Holocene

Holocene epoch began roughly 11700 years back and continues till present. United States Geological Survey (USGS) has divided this time into three ages namely

Greenlandian: 11700 to 8326 years ago

Northgrippian: 8326 to 4250 years ago

MEGHALAYAN: 4250 to present date

MEGHALAYAN age marks the time when a mega drought devastated civilizations across the world, including those in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, The indus Valley and the Yangtze valley. Drought lasted some 209 years and supposed to be prompted by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

Geologists chose the name “Meghalayan” as a nod to a rock sample they analyzed from Meghalaya, a northeastern state in India, whose name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. By analyzing a stalagmite growing on the ground of Mawmluh Cave, geologists found that each of the stalagmite layers had different levels of oxygen isotopes, or versions of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons. This change marked the weakening of monsoon conditions from that time.

Revival of Govardhan Parvat: The Mountain Moved by Krishna

In our country where mythology plays a big role in the lives of its inhabitants, many sites like hills, rivers, and caves have their associations with the mythology. One such concerns the Lord Krishna and is called Govardhan Parvat (mountain).

The legend is that when the uninterrupted deluge threatened to innundate Mathura, Krishna lifted the entire mountain on his little finger to make an umbrella to protect the Mathura.

UP government has planned to revive the almost barren Govardhan parvat situated about 23 kilometres from Mathura. Government plans to plant the herbal plants on the mountain. These are:

Kadamba: It is a tropical tree. Krishna and Radha are said to have conducted their love play under the cool shade of the tree. It is used as one of the raw materials in the preparation of “itars”.

Tamala or Indian bayleaf or tezpatta: It is commonly used in Indian culinary as well as medicines particularly for alleviation of diabetes due to the presence of highly antioxidant enzymes.

Karira: Scientific name is Capparis decidua. It’s spicy fruits are used for culinary purposes like vegetable, curries, and pickles. It is also used in medicine.

Pakar : It belongs to mulberry family. Leaves have sour taste.

Pilkhan: Scientific name Ficus virens. It grows to heights of about 100 feet. It is Avenue tree. It bears “strangler figs” because they can germinate on other trees and strangle them. It is used in Thai cuisine.

World’s High Rise Buildings

In today’s world, capitalism is the buzz word. This is flaunted by constructing skyscrapers. China which was once a communist country, has most skyscrapers. In total 46 of the world’s 100 skyscrapers are located in China.

Here are top 10 skyscrapers of the world.

  1. Burj Khalifa: Dubai, 828 meters completed in 2010. Use: hotel/res/officeShanghai Tower: Shanghai, 632 meters, completed in 2015. Use: hotel/office
  2. Shanghai Tower: Shanghai, 632 meters, completed in 2015, use: hotel/office.
  3. Ping An Finance Centre: Shenzhen, 599.1 meters, completed in 2017. Use:office
  4. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre: Guangzhou, 530 meters, completed in 2016. Use: hotel/res/office
  5. Shanghai World Financial Centre: Shanghai, 492 meters, completed in 2008. Use: hotel/office
  6. International Commerce Centre: Hong Kong, 484 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  7. Zifeng Tower: Nanzing, 450 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  8. KK10: Shenzhen, 441.8 meters, ,completed 2011. Use: hotel/office
  9. Guangzhou international Finance Centre: Guangzhou, 438.6 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  10. Marina 101: Dubai, 425 meters, completed in 2017. Use: hotel/res

In US where no skyscrapers with height more than 300 meters have been constructed since many years, many skyscrapers with height more than 400 meters are under construction.

 

KINTHUP: THE MAN WHO DISCOVERED PATH OF BRAHAMAPUTRA RIVER 

HOW THE WORLD CAME TO KNOW THAT TSANGPO AND BRAHMAPUTRA ARE ONE AND THE SAME RIVER?

It is thanks to the person in the picture. His name was Kinthup, a tailor by profession.

British officers sent him on a very dangerous mission because despite being illiterate he had amazing graphic memory.

As we know now Brahmaputra which originates from Tibet and flows East and suddenly enters very deep gorges to loose height and enter North East India. It is known as Tsangpo in Tibet . But during 1880, it’s path was not mapped. Some people even doubted that these are two different rivers.

Tibet was then a closed country and not under British. When the sent Kinthup through Sikkim in 1880 secretly to go as far as possible along the river. Plan was that Kinthup would throw wooden logs (specially marked) into the river in Tibet and British troops were stationed in India. If it was the same river, they soldiers will definitely retrieve them.

He remained for 4 years on his mission facing lots of hardships, arrests, slavery , sleeping on treetops. Returned back in 1884.

Mallet Ferry Wharf 

Mallet Ferry Wharf! I visited the place. It is a ferry terminus and fish trawlers unloading port in Mumbai. You are welcomed by a stench of fishes as you approach the area. Hundreds of fish traders stand up and fish is conveyed to top from boats by ropes and mesh nets. There are mounds of sea fish of every kind. All places are full of fish. There are porters towing it away on the carts. Water drips from the baskets carrying the fish. Trucks are filled by the fish. Every boat has a flag and they are bobbing up and down in the waters. “Bombay duck” which is a fish dries on the ropes in the boats. This fish does not have bones and very delicate to handle when cooking if you are not breaking it into pieces. The hanging fish looks like buntings.

There were fisherwomen, very fat and strong. The boats which have emptied their catch were parked to one side. The fishermen on them were preparing the food: lentils, rice and fresh fish. Crows pecked at the fish filled in the basket waiting to be put into the trucks. These seemed to have become bored by eating and eating in plenty. Seaguls caught the flaoting dead fish thrown out of the boats.

On the right side is the ferry wharf from where ferries ply to Mora Bunder in Uran and Alibaug, and to Elephanta caves. Ferry journey is very convenient as it takes very less time in comparison to the road journey which entails crossing whole of Mumbai and then to mainland of Konkan. These people usually work as Stevedores in the Mumbai port. During British time, they constituted the major workforce employed for manual jobs. People wait there on the benches. There are shops selling refreshments in the waiting area. Buses from Mumbai ferry the people here. 

 

Facing Floods in Assam….

I worked as a scientist with ONGC which is the premier oil and gas company of India. I was posted in Cachar Project of ONGC during 1987 to 1991. Our company was desperately looking for oil and gas in this area. Five rigs were employed for these operations in different areas around the town of silchar located in the southern part of Assam adjoining Agartala and near this town is another town called Badarpur which is a gateway to north eastern states like agartala, Manipur and Mizoram. The area where drilling operations were being conducted bordered Bangladesh. Two rivers namely Surma and Kushiara flow through this area which are actually two parts of Barak river coming to this area from Manipur. In fact, town of silchar is situated on on the banks of barak river. These two parts again rejoin and enter Bangladesh where ultimately it joins mighty Brahmaputra river.

I worked on an old Romanian rig in Adamtilla. It was about 120 kilometers from our residence in silchar and a good 2 to 3 hours journey. Our company has hired maruti gypsy jeeps for this job.

There we did duties on 14 days on and off pattern. It means that for 14 days you will be there on the rig. Of this, first 7 days one officer did day duty from 6 am to 6 pm and other did the night duties. After 7 days pattern reverses and when 14 days are over, the employee shall go to his declared hometown and resume the duties again after 14 days. Mostly people did the off days at their hometowns from different stations throughout India.

But with me the case was different. I was a well-site chemist which is a supervisory duty but as my family had moved to my hometown in Chandigarh, but my boss gave me 14 days chance in addition.

When the shift was off duty, the staff was put up in a temporary accommodation at Patharkandi which was about 7 kilometers away. It was a good accommodation with Assam type houses for 2 people each. In addition, there was a mess for food and entertainment room with TV and VCR. There were no TV channels like these days. There was also a badminton court. But real pleasure was the flowering plants like marigolds and dahlias. A gardner from Orissa supervised the gardening. In fact this residency was the first one created when the project commenced.

Buses took shifts to drill site and back. Although it was only 7 kilometers but road condition and ongoing construction of a bridge over the sunai river stretched the time to half an hour or so. Many a times the roads inside the tea gardens were blocked.

When the shift completed its tenure of 14 days, they were transported to airport about 170 kilometers away. It belonged to air force and flights operated only in the day time only. There were only two flights each day and operated between Kolkata, silchar, agartala and Manipur. Everyone was desperate to catch the flight amidst uncertainties like strikes, irregularities of flights and inundations due to floods.

I faced one such flood. We were on the rig when the news of flooding due to overflowing of the Sonai river and closing of road traffic trickled in. The river was in spate. It was decided to stop the work. There was a railway station on the line from agartala to badarpur. While all the staff was sent to station we 5 to 6 people stayed back to close all the engines. The drill string was pulled up to casing shoe and BOP (Blow Out Preventer) was closed. The plan was that staff reaching earlier will try to somehow hold the train till we reach the station. But the work on rig is as difficult to close as it is to begin. So when rest of us reached the station, the train had already left. There was as such scarcely one train daily so there was no chance till next day evening.

We returned to drill site which was now pitch black. Somehow the generator was started and light was restored. There was no food. Nothing to lie back on. Mosquitoes attacked in hordes. Cicadas chirped with piercing sounds. Whole night passed like that. In the morning, flood had not receded. Only way to colony was walking along the railway track all the way 7 kilometres. It was raining incessantly. The going was slow. There were many small rivulets flowing full and the wooden slippers were of uneven thereby increasing the chances of slipping down. Had someone slipped, he would had sure fallen into the stream. After sometimes, as energy was sapped, walking became very tiring and we had to sit in the rain for sometime.

At last, after 3 hours we reached patharkandi colony. We got refreshments and were dead tired. We were held up there for 3 days before the shifts resumed again.

2.6 Million Old Fossils found in Masol Village of Punjab

Shivalik mountains have been suggested to be 16 to 5 million years old. Much of present day Himachal Pradesh is situated in these hills. Punjab, Haryana plains sit just below these hills. This area has many perrenial rivers flowing through these states. Due to this, the area must have been rich in vegetation and plenty of water made which had made it an ideal place for many animals to inhabit it.

In fact, a research conducted jointly  by India-based Society for Archaeological & Anthropological Research (SAAR) and France’s National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) and department of prehistory of the National Museum of Natural History has found rich cache of diverse fossils of fauna which is being dated back to 2.6 millions years claiming them to be the oldest fossils shadowing the ones found in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia which are said to be 2.58 million years old.

The excavations were carried out in the Masol village of Mohali which is situated in the foothills of Shivalik.

In fact, more than 2,000 fossils of different herbivores have been found by the team during digging. These include Stegodon, an ancient elephant with tusks up to four metres, and Sivatherium, a giant giraffe.

Stegodon

sivatherium

The study adds that before this find, the oldest sites were in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia dating back to 2.58 million years.The team has also found 14 fossils of Leptobos, pre-historic ancestors of modern-day cows that weighed up to 320 kilogrammes

Leptobos

Leptobos

These rare fossils, excavated between September 2009 and March 2015, were bubble-wrapped and dispatched to a French lab.

The team says that it is a multi disciplinary effort involving specialists from the field of geology, geomorphology, sedementology , physics, palaeontology , taphonomy. The research paper on these fossils has been called “Taphonomical studies of the Plio-Pleistocene Transition Fauna of Masol in Shivalik Frontal Range, Northwestern India”. Due to the tectonic activity in this region, many fossils buried deeper have moved to shallower depths.

The scientists have already conducted paleo-magnetic dating electron spin resonance (ESR) tests on the fossils to know their age.

The Punjab government is planning to start eco-tourism trail of these villages in Shivalik Hills where fossils of wild camel, horses and bulls dating back to nearly three million years have been found. Besides the scenic beauty and wild life of the area being major attractions, Siswan Dam site is picnic spot and can be developed further as a tourist destination.

Siswan Dam

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Cactus Garden in Panchkula Haryana India

IMG_2155

Panchkula in Haryana India is a part of what is called Tricity. Tricity is Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab and Haryana and also a union territory. The adjacent areas of Chandigarh were developed following the pattern of Chandigarh. So there is Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana adjoining the Chandigarh. These three comprise the Tricity.

There are many attractions both natural, historical, religious and man made in the tricity. One of these is Cactus Garden located in Sector 5, of Panchkula. It is Asia’s biggest garden devoted to rare and endangered species of Indian succulents, was named after its founder Dr J S Sarkaria.

The Cactus Garden is a regional collection of cacti grouped by growth forms and specific genera. While walking through the garden you will be able to view dozens of species. Popular groups are Opuntias (prickly pears and chollas), Ferocactus (barrels), other succulents include Agaves, Columnar cacti, Echinocereus (hedgehogs), and Mammillarias (pincushions). There are beautiful adenium plants also called desert roses which bear numerous beautiful flowers.

There are lawns, fountain and shady trees thoughtfully placed around the periphery of the garden. In short the garden is very lovely. It is just opposite the market where one can have meals, snacks and there are big showrooms of major companies.

The majority of cactus species are pollinated by numerous species of bees, a number of which specialize in cacti. Cactus bees are all solitary, but in some species the females congregate by hundreds of thousands at nesting sites to dig their individual nest burrows, which are densely concentrated in an area of a few thousand square feet. Cactus pollen is packed into these burrows to feed the grubs, which the parents do not tend. Some cacti are pollinated by birds, moths, or bats.

Here are some pictures we took in the garden.

Travels along Morni Hills Road

Morni is a hill station about 55 kilometers away from Chandigarh. Morni in local language is referred to peahen. The name is derived from the name of girl of a local ruler. There were many small princely states all over Shiwalik hills. The rulers were mostly Rajputs many of whom owed allegiance to Mughals.  Morni hills were ruled by Rajputs from Sirmaur which is near Nahan in Himachal Pradesh.The place is situated in Shiwalik hills and can be reached through a road from Panchkula. The map of the road is given below:

The road is serpentine because hilly area begins just after crossing the Panchkula and after a continuous climb for about 20 kilometers from Panchkula, the path begins to descend. I have gone up to point where this descent begins.

There are hills covered with wild shrubs and trees including teak. When you begin the journey towards Morni from Panchkula there are hills covered with thorny acacia trees. Hordes of monkeys roam along the road. All day they are there squatting on edges of road and climbing on the adjacent trees. People who came to visit Shiva temple near Berwala, gave them banana and other eatables. This causes the menace to normal visitor who is afraid to get down.

On the way, is Gauri Shankar temple which is seldom open. It seems more of a private property of some Guru who enjoy immense clout over politicians rather than a public place as the temples are generally opened to public. After about 8 kilometers there is small bridge on a seasonal branch of Ghaggar river which is dry in the summers. There is a place with dense trees and foliage along the river which is marked as a bird sanctuary. But you have to be very patience for sighting the birds.

There are few fields where farmers can be seen working. The area beyond Panchkula suddenly takes on an idyllic character. Hills along gorges seem like walls of brown mud completely devoid of greenery except the exposed roots of some trees at the top. In these walls, one can see parrots clinging  on to the holes which they must have dug for raising their nests.

One can also come across, the men and women sitting in the cars stopped at different spots engaged in cavorting activities from the city giving slip to their legal partners. Groups of young boys and girls can be seen drinking and making merry. Due to the drunken driving in the hills many a times fatal accidents have been reported.

There are Langoors also hiding in the bushes and occasionally coming into open on the road or to cross the road. They seem to be shy of humans and avoid humans unlike the monkeys. There are many birds and trees which bear flowers and adorn the landscape.

Birds


Trees


Animals