INDIA, PART 11: PANNA NATIONAL PARK – WALKING WITH NATURE

 

The only negative to our stay in Pashan Garh, the eco-lodge in Panna National Park is that it was way too short and that’s not just because we didn’t get to see any tigers. Devoid of honking vehicles, hordes of people, concrete and marble – this was a place of natural beauty and I couldn’t get enough. The landscape was quite unique – pale green and orange and gold and brown and the light from the sky was muted as the sun rose in the morning:

The  topography is a mosaic of plateaus, marshes, deep  gorges, teak forests and savannah grasslands:

 

Even the sounds were muted – broken only by the crunching of leaves under our feet or the calls of the many animals that dwell within. I’ve shown you the birds, now let me present some of the two and  four-legged creatures

BLACK FACED LANGUR MONKEYS – My friends are well aware of my aversion to monkeys – I don’t really know why but it is about the only mammal that draws this response.  So it was surprising to me that I adored the families of langurs that populate the forest:

 

Above photo courtesy of Wes.

My altered perception may have something to do with my reaction to the Hindu faith that is based on millions of Gods and Goddesses.  You see, the other name for this monkey is Hanuman. Hanuman Langurs are considered sacred and are worshipped in India. They are named after the Hindu monkey God, Hanuman, who is said to have burned his hands and face while rescuing a woman from a fire. This is why a  langur’s hands and face are black.  In the Hindu religion Hanuman  was created to aid one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu.  Hanuman is the embodiment of the unlimited power that lies unused within each human individual.

The langur  plays a protector’s role in its symbiotic relationship with the forest’s population of chital deer.  Both provide alarm services to the other calling out from  their respective viewpoints in the trees and on the ground.

CHITAL – This spotted deer, also called an Axis deer is quite abundant in the grasslands of the forest.  It has no specific breeding season and the herd is not territorial – members come and go freely

Courtesy of Wes

SAMBAR – This is a very large and in my opinion very handsome deer.  In fact, one male we came upon was busily enhancing his looks in a mud bath to help him attract a lady:

The female Sambar deer  needed no adornment:

 

 

NILGAI (BLUEBUCK) –  This is the largest Asiatic antelope and is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.  NILGAI is Hindi for “blue cow”  as the male bulls have a blue-gray color (the females are brownish) and it is considered  as sacred as a cow.  The Nilgai appears, however to be a combination of a cow body attached to a horse-like head.

 

Courtesy of Wes

There is an incredible sense of peace and tranquility in walking through this beautiful land.  This poem from the Healing Forest Website says it best:

 

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