When Braham Kamal (ब्रह्मकमल) Bloomed in our home

One of neighbours in ONGC colony Dehradun gave us a cutting of a cactus like plant in March 2013. She told that the plant is called “Brahama Kamal” and is considered very auspicious in Hindu mythology. It is said that a lotus bloomed from the navel of Vishnu who is the greatest of holy trinity of Brahama, Vishnu and Mahesh or Shiva and Brahama was created on this bloom. That is why it is called Braham Kamal (ब्रह्मकमल). Kamal means lotus in Sanskrit

It’s scientific name is Epiphyllum oxypetalum. It is a very interesting and unique plant. It belongs to Family Cactaceae. It is commonly known as Night blooming Cereus, Queen of the night, Lady of the night as its beautiful Lotus like flower blooms late night. In India it is called as Brahma Kamal ( ) and is treated as a sacred plant. It is popularly known as Orchid Cactus as the flower has orchid like beauty and plant resembles cactus in habit. It is known by different common names in different parts of the world viz. Jungle cactus, Dutchman’s Pipe.

The plant is native to Sri lanka where it is known as Kaduphul ,it is believed that plant blooms rarely and that too late night. People in many places of India have been successfully growing it in the pots. At least I know of two people in Mumbai and Dehradun.

In the meanwhile, we shifted to Panchkula near Chandigarh and brought the plant with us. It began to add on branches but no flower appeared on it for two years. Then in the last week of July, a strange stem like structure covered with pink threadlike structures began taking shape. Firstly it grew straight downward from the tip of a blade of plant. Then the lower part began swelling and becoming like bulb. On the evening of second August around seven o clock the bud began opening and flower unfolding. By ten o clock in the night, it completely opened up to show a pristine white lotus. It was mesmerising to see it.

We were very excited as we were told that flower blooms for one night only and had a life span of 10 hours. In the early morning, we again observed it. It was still there but had begun to shrink back. In the noon, it completely became like a thread. But after three weeks it again gave another flower.

It is said to blossom during mid July to mid October in India. Let us see that if it bless us more times during this season.

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A Visit to Rose Garden Chandigarh

A lot has been written about this garden. The garden is situated in the sector 16 of city beautiful Chandigarh. We used to live in small village adjacent to Chandigarh and crossed the garden while going to attend our college and Panjab university on bicycle. We have visited the garden a number of time.

Then I went away from my city for job and lived for 35 years out in the places like Dehradun, Sivasagar and Silchar in Assam and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Each city has its own personality which is comprised of monuments, its people and gardens and parks and civic amenities. Chandigarh is a new city built after partition of the country and Punjab lost its old capital of Lahore.

The rose garden is a aesthetic quality place in the city. Nicely maintained and ever adding the beautiful varieties of roses. The best time to visit is during February and March when flowers are in full bloom. There is a fare during the month of February to celebrate the beauty of the most written about and admired flower: the rose.

You can visit it any time. It is always there to offer you something. Even a leisurely walk through the zigzag paths inside, sitting on the lawns and enjoying the fountains.

I visited the garden again to renew my contact with it and recall the old memories. It is very cold weather. There was a hazy fog. Roses were not in full bloom due to frost. But there were plenty of them. The number of visitors has increased due to awareness and visitors are coming from all over India and abroad. Thousands of pictures are taken everyday on mobiles and uploaded to internet.

I also took several pictures. Some of them are shown below.

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Garlic Vine

In our colony at Dehradun, on the boundary of a park a vine has spread itself. On the intervals of few days, it bears profuse beautiful purple flowers in bunches. The morning sun light passes through the delicate newly opened buds giving them a slightly reddish hue. The bunches over the gate seem as if someone has decorated the place.

I took many pictures and was very pleased to post them on the FaceBook expecting a few likes and comments from friends. Then I began searching Google for the name of this vine and after some efforts narrowed down my search to these flowers. But still I was not sure. The vine is strangely called Garlic vine. Its botanical name is Mansoa alliacea. In Bangla it is called Lata Parul. I saw now resemblance between a plant and a vine. After reading I came to know that its leaves when crushed release a smell akin to the garlic.

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Native to South America, Garlic Vine is one of the most rewarding, flowering vines that you can grow. It can either be described as a shrub or a vine since it produces numerous woody vines from the root that grow only 2-3 m tall and form a shrub-like appearance. It produces bright green leaves up to 15 cm long. Its compact habitat and pretty continuous flowers make it a popular ornamental plant in gardens in the tropics. Flowering twice a year you will find it quite often covered with flowers. Flowers start off purple with white throat and change to a lighter shade of lavender with age. Eventually fading to almost white. You will see 3 different color of flowers at the same time on the plant. It can be grown in containers and should be trimmed after the flowers are gone.
It is a very common and well respected plant remedy in the Amazon for the pain and inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as, colds, flu, and fever. Some capsule products of the leaves are sold in stores in Brazil and Peru, and it can be found as an ingredient in other various multi-herb formulas for cold and flu, pain, inflammation and arthritis in general. The use of ajos sacha is just catching on in the U.S. market; a few products are now available and it is showing up in several formulas for colds and arthritis here as well.

Poplar cultivation

We traveled by Shatabadi Express from Delhi to Dehradun. First it was in winters and second only in June of this year. As soon as the train crosses the industries out side Delhi, the dead river called Yamuna, the green fields begin to span both sides of the train line. Yamuna river, one of the three rivers-Ganges, Yamuna & Saraswati- forming the holiest trinity of Indian rivers is a cesspool of industrial waste, floating dead animals. Its color is almost black and it seems like a corpse. Its chemical oxygen demand (COD), a parameter to indicate the industrial waste pollution must be very high.

 

So with Saraswati which existed once upon a time in the North India and went underground and is which is said to be flowing underneath, becoming imaginary, Yamuna has joined it. First of these was catapulted underground by Nature and Yamuna has been killed by the humans.

Anyway let us continue with journey. So we see amidst this greenery crops like wheat in winter, sugarcane, mustard, green fodder, maize and rice according to the season. The soil of region is enriched by Ganges and Yamuna rivers. But in addition to these crops, there is a tree which is straight in shape cultivated on the peripheries of fields. There sheer number is mind boggling and some of them have become full fledged while others are in various stages of growth.

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This is called agro-forestry. The trees along with crops. These trees are very fast growing and are used to make timber and cardboards. The trees are cash crops making many farmers rich.

At the time of journey, I relished and admired the results of hard work put in by the farmers and landowners. This vista continues unabated up to Haridwar. I was becoming curious where all the wood from these trees goes for processing.

We learned this in a hard way. We were returning from Chandigarh to Dehradun after a weekend by our car. We always follow the route which runs from Panchkula to Naraingarh to Kalaamb to Nahan bypass to Paonta to Dehradun. It has been raining last two days in the region. We have some inkling of land slides after Nahan and as we reached about 10 kilometers from Nahan bypass, there was mud all over the road and road was blocked ahead due to blockage.

We returned back and from Kalaamb took the road to Yamuna Nagar to follow the old traditional route to Dehradun from Yamuna Nagar to Saharanpur and Dehradun. As soon as we crossed the timber processing units in Yamuna Nagar, we thought we taken a wrong road. But no. There was almost no road. It was shreds of road in the craters and pools of water. There was worst kind of jam. And the car, it would completely left to God’s mercy. Its underbelly grinded against the edges of craters. The reason for all this was before us. Coming from the opposite side were countless tractor trolleys over loaded with the poplar logs. These were so heavy that tractor’s front wheels went skywards whenever it lunged forward from the rest. What was more threatening was the precarious way these trolleys dipped to one side or the other whenever one of its tyres fell into the craters. It seemed that they will fall on us and crush us alongwith car to death. All these were coming to Yamuna Nagar where a number of processing mills have been established. Many trolleys have turned turtle and blocked the road. Situation was such that we crossed ten kilometer hell of the road in more than 2 hours. It was not until we crossed the bridge over Yamuna that road become worthy of travel.

Incidentally, the agro-forestry was started during 1980’s by an enterprising person called Surinder Singh Hara. He owns about 180 hectares land called Hara Farms near Yamuna Nagar which he made suitable for agriculture by clearing the jungle. He produces crops which belong to this region along with turmeric, many fruits and poplar and specially cloned variety of Eucalyptus.

I think it is the duty of the Government and those who are adding extra burden on the road to contribute and make the road good. This will ease the life of persons who are driving these vehicles and labors. It will also save the fuel and maintenance of the vehicles which will ultimately go for the good of people.

Tragedy of Hill People in Uttrakhand

Uttrakhand is called Dev Bhoomi or the abode of Gods. The state was carved out of erstwhile Uttar Pradesh and comprised of hilly areas situated both in Himalayas and Shiwalik.
Lord Shiva is the God who is associated with the region. There are places and temples related to him. The two rivers namely Mandakini and Bhagirathi which merge at Devprayag to form Ganges flow through these hills.
All through the year, tourists, most of them being the pilgrims, are the mainstay of the people living in the Uttranchal. The region is dotted with temples of great Tourists, most of them being the pilgrims, are the mainstay of the people living in the Uttranchal. The region is dotted with temples of great importance. And also the hills offer adventure sports to the enthusiasts. Local people were employed with hotels and guest houses and some of them run their own small provision shops and eateries. With the catastrophe in which thousands of the pilgrims got caught and are still being rescued and brought to Dehradun or other places from where they could be sent to their homes. So many of them have perished. Devastation have been so great that region will be unsafe to venture into and the fear will be a big deterrent. So the tourism there is going to suffer worse phase ever. In such situation, the inhabitants are going to suffer. Their only source of income gone, crops smashed and land filled with rubble of stones and debris rendering it unfit for agriculture, their prospects seem very bleak. Hunger stares like an unseen demon. They are living under constant threat of floods. They are gentle poor and mostly illiterate people and even if some of them come down to cities in search of work leaving their families behind, their income will be very insufficient to feed the hungry mouths at home. Really it is very grim situation. And then the hills offer adventure sports to the enthusiasts. Local people were employed with hotels and guest houses and some of them run their own small provision shops and eateries. With the catastrophe in which thousands of the pilgrims got caught and are still being rescued and brought to Dehradun or other places from where they could be sent to their homes. So many of them have perished. Devastation have been so great that region will be unsafe to venture into and the fear will be a big deterrent. So the tourism there is going to suffer worse phase ever. In such situation, the inhabitants are going to suffer. Their only source of income gone, crops smashed and land filled with rubble of stones and debris rendering it unfit for agriculture, their prospects seem very bleak. Hunger stares like an unseen demon. They are living under constant threat of floods. They are gentle poor and mostly illiterate people and even if some of them come down to cities in search of work leaving their families behind, their income will be very insufficient to feed the hungry mouths at home. Really it is very grim situation.

Forest Research Institute, India

Dehradun is the capital of Uttrakhand State in North India. It is situated in valley surrounded by Himalayas in the North and Shiwalik Hills to its south. Due to its salubrious climate and greenery and moderate weather, during the pre-independence days, British officers used to retire to cold climes of Mussoorie which is hill station beyond Dehradun and established many institutions in Dehradun. One of them is Forest Research Institute.

Established as Imperial Forest Research Institute in 1906, Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun, is a premier institution under the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE). Styled in Greeko Roman Architecture by C.G. Blomfield, the main building is a National Heritage which was inaugurated in 1929The Institute’s history is virtually synonymous with the evolution and development of scientific forestry, not only in India, but over the entire Indian sub-continent. Set in a lush green estate spread over 450 hectares, with the outer Himalaya forming its back drop, the Institute’s main building is an impressive edifice, marrying Greco-Roman and Colonial styles of architecture, with a plinth area of 2.5 equipped laboratories, library, herbarium, arboreta, printing press and experimental field areas for conducting forestry research, quite in keeping with the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Its museums, in addition to being a valuable source of scientific information, are a major attraction for tourists.

I stay very near to this institution. Many times I visit this institute in the morning for morning walks like so many others. You will find many people in the morning coming for walks. Over the years, the trees have become very mature and some of them are so huge that you cannot snap a photo of them. Trees of every variety can be found here. There is also a Botanical Garden. It is very beautiful but over the years casual attitude has caused decay in the maintenance.

So many tourists who visit Dehradun make it a point to visit the place. Here are some pictures.

Flowers in front
Flowers in front
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Botanical Garden
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Botanical Garden
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Side Entrance to main building
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Side Entrance
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Pink Flowers Tree
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A Palm Variety
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Rill
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Officers guest house

Train Journey from Delhi to Dehradun

It is the beginning of the month of April and Delhi has already become hot. The weather in India changes every 3 months. It is the spring season and soon sweltering heat will envelope North India. Dehradun which is situated in a valley between Lower Himalaya and Shivalik hills named after Lord Shiva.

We boarded the train from New Delhi Railway station at 06 hrs and 50 minutes and it is all sitting on chair cars. Due to being an AC train, it is closed with glass panes.

Soon we were hurtling through the vast plains of North India. The area is situated between two great rivers namely Ganges and Yamuna. It is called Doab meaning the land between two rivers. Naturally it is very fertile and featureless and totally flat.

There were never ending fields of wheat which looked like golden because the time of harvesting is nearing. Then there were sugarcane fields and carts yoked by bullocks and loaded with sugar canes could be seen on the beaten paths.

On the periphery of every field were poplar trees with translucent green leaves on the tops. If you have lived in this area only then you can realize the beauty of this area and sturdiness of the people.

My mind flashed back and I thought how once Mughal kings and their generals must had roamed in this area. Before their coming here, petty Hindoo fuedatories were there and they were always fighting between themselves. This lack of unity undone them.

Then came the British. The East India company established the army cantonments in Meerut and Ambala which employed these hardy people as the soldiers. These people belong to Aryan race and are the fairest and strongest in India. Aryans first established themselves in Punjab between Sind river and 5 rivers. The increasing pressure of population and cattle drove them towards Ganges valley which was even more fertile than Punjab.

First city to arrive at was Meerut which still is the big cantonment of Indian army. Then Muzzafarnagar, shaharanpur, Roorkee and Haridwar followed. There was no change in the scenery of wheat fields till we crossed into Saharanpur and you could see for miles the mango gardens in the bloom. Soon they will bear delicious mangoes like Dushehri which is so sweet.

After crossing the Haridwar, we entered into woods. The trees were sprouting new leaves which were coppery colored and soon shall become greener. At 1240 hrs we arrived in Dehradun.