During the winter months, a number of migratory birds visit India from the countries where winter is very severe and food availability becomes low. These annual visitors add colour to the season.
Many of the migratory birds are water waders and land in the lakes , big pools and other water bodies. Amongst these are greater Cormorants. They are huge birds and expert fishers. They hunt in groups and there is great jostling and fighting for the catch snatching.
In older days the trained Cormorants were used for river fishing in Japan and China. A snare was tied at the end of the neck which in addition to keeping the cormorant under leash also prevented the Cormorants from eating the fish except for smaller ones. As soon as the bird caught a fish, it was taken out from water and made to spit out the fish.
Nowadays, it is only a tourist attraction.
During December a number of these big birds descend on Sulkhna Lake in Chandigarh. I took some pictures.
“Choe” in local language in Punjab means a stream or a rivulet. Sukhna choe is the name of stream after which the lake in Chandigarh is named.
The choe passes through areas of union territory Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab before merging into Ghaggar river.
Many unauthorized settlements have mushroomed along it particularly in Union territory of Chandigarh. Some industries have also come up near it.
There was a time about 50 years ago when the clean water flowed from the dam but these days if you pass by the gates of Lake hardly any water flows there.
At that time I was about 10 years old. Our elder sister was married in a village called Gajipur which falls in Punjab and this choe passes near this village. We used to visit our sister many a times and water in this stream was so clean that we used to swim and bath in it.
Then after doing my M.Sc., I got the job and left this place. After 35 years, I have returned. I went to see the choe and was aghast to see its plight. A workable bridge with big pipes have been constructed over the narrowed span over it. Building activity has reached all around.
In the older times, there was no pass over this choe. Hardly anyone came here with vehicles. Farmers who have their land on the other side of stream used to cross it with bullock carts or on foot.
The black frothy water flows under the bridge through pipes. It is giving nauseating smell. Industries and effluent from households is discharged into it. Although union territory administration has installed effluent treatment plant to treat the effluent generated in the area of there jurisdiction, it is said that Haryana is discharging the untreated effluent directly into it. There seems to be no coordination between the three agencies and also it seems corrupt people in the environment supervision agencies have turned the blind eye towards its plight.
Still, I found a big flock of one bird species in the stream. This bird is called Black Winged Stilt. I think they don’t have anywhere else to go or have adapted themselves to the changed circumstances. But they seem to avoiding the frothy area down the bridge. They were largely seen in the area near a place where another stream of relatively cleaner water was confluencing with this stream.
These birds have very long legs and 60% of their body weight is in the legs. The longer legs have advantage in that they can catch their food in deeper waters. They usually live in the groups and catch the insects and other aquatic animals.
World famous Rock Garden is located in Chandigarh. Chandigarh is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana. As such the Chandigarh is called City Beautiful because it is a planned city based on modular units called sectors. Every sector is a complete city in itself with a market, milk supply centers, dispensaries and schools.
Then there are some sectors which are commercial sectors having big stores, cinemas and offices. On one end of the city in a row are Sukhna Lake, Rock Garden, Legislative Assembly and Secretariat which incidentally is biggest building in the city and houses the offices of Punjab Government.
Rock garden is a unique creation. It was designed by Nek Chand who was an engineer in public welfare department of the Chandigarh. The area where the garden is located was a forest of thorny trees and was used to dump the waste materials like tubelights, bangles and other broken articles like cups and plates collected as garbage from the homes. It was piling up there. We have some photos from the garden.
Nek Chand, being a man of few words, used to sit there contemplating alone. After days of thinking, he decided to turn all the waste into garden with figures made from the broken elements and create magic out of the waste materials. He created scenes from the rural culture of Punjab like marriage parties, well to draw water with a bucket and rope moving on a pulley, drunk men and girls on the swings. There is a water rivulet which runs along most skewed paths like falling from a high point then running along the pathways.
The other day I was searching for the bicycle shops in Chandigarh area. The name of one shop was “Bhonsle Cycle”. For a moment, I thought I was in Mumbai because of the Maharashtrian title of the name. Similarly, there is A jewellery shop in Manimajra, a large town in Chandigarh territory. Today there was an article in the newspaper about the upcoming festival of Ganesh Chaturthi being scheduled for celebrations by large population of Marathis in Chandigarh.
Connection began to clear up. The third battle of Panipat came to my mind. Marathas then ruled many parts of Haryana and Punjab. Although they lost but Marathas being so brave and aggressive to reach Punjab is a fact. But the present population of these people is due to the proximity of head quarters of Northern Command of Army. Many army persons must have settled here. Also, due to the great improvements in the transportation systems mobility of people within the country has increased a great deal. People who work on central government offices also are posted in different parts of the country. I on my part have spent 22 years in Mumbai.
This year marathi people here have begun gearing up to celebrate 50 years of the Puja. It all started in 1962 when first Marathi play was staged. In 1964, first Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated in the Tagore theatre and idols were immersed in Sukhna Lake. In 1965, the festivities were cancelled due to breaking of India Pakistan war. Many of the people taking part in arrangements and plays were from defence and went to perform their duties. In 1966, Air Force provided a spacious vehicle called “queen Marry” for carrying the idols for immersion. In the year 1967, Mandal was established officially and besides this festival others like Kojagiri, Sankrant and Gudi Padva began to be celebrated. In 1968, Utsav was celebrated in Government technical college premises. In 1970 the Mandal was registered officially. In 1978 Maharastra Bhavan building was inaugurated in sector 19. Since then it is a regular affair. People of Chandigarh also participate with great zeal.
Since idol was not made here earlier, it was brought from Maharastra. It was the most difficult task since train connection is poor and also handling of the idol is a delicate matter. Once even, Air Force brought the idol by air lifting it from Mumbai.
This year, there shall be a performance by renown artist Abhya Devare from Satara. Krishan Leela will be performed by Pallavi and Kanhari Pinge. In the Anand Mela, there will be Si Khand, Puran Poli along with Kari. Marathi women have become good punjabi cooks here and cuisines shall be prepared by them.