Indian history revere this carcass eating majestic bird. This bird has connections to that of Indian history, Parsi community and by large an important part of the Bio-system. This is only bird that feeds on the dead carcass of Cows. Just imagine, they contribute towards 4% of natural scavenging. Sadly, it is said that, the Asian Vultures have dwindled to just a mere 100,000 from 40 million in 1980s. This is a whooping drop.
My first interaction with these majestic birds was in Singapore and I never thought I will witness them close again. It was a delight to see these birds in action there, well fed and taken care off.
While the country may not be that concerned as to why is it so concerning, there is one small town in Orchha Madhya Pradesh that is working towards conserving these endangered species. Orchha, also know for its mythological and historical significance is also gaining relevance. This city has a strong significance to the Bundelkhand culture.
Apart from the beautiful temples and on the banks of the beautiful Betwa river, the Bundelkhand kings created Cenotaphs that talk about their splendor and command over beautiful architectures. The cenotaphs on the banks of the Betwa river has become the natural conservation places of conservation for these Vultures.
Families of vultures stay there, enabling proliferation of the four varieties of Vultures. It is a delight to see the way the government has taken steps. There is a clear signage that talks about the care that is being taken. The cenotaphs actually are quite a sight and they are cozy places for vultures to stay and grow. One could see the beautiful little vulture birds trying to take wings too. It is quite mesmerizing.
Today, it seems that we have close to 60 odd Vultures there and they are growing. While I was busy shooting the cenotaphs, these vultures were basking in the early morning sun.
These cenotaphs have been built in around 16th & 17th Century in memory of the long lost kings.
These cenotaphs have an Indo Islamic architecture and is a clear indication of the Mughal influence on the Bundel kingdom and constructions.
The neglected cenotaph of “Vir Sing Deo” is a good example of architectural influence.
When we reached Orchha it had just stopped raining and Betwa was flowing in full spate and the cenotaphs looked mesmerizing against the rising sun and puddles of water.
Things to check:
- Orchha is a small city and is closer to Jhansi. One can take share auto or an auto to reach Orchha.
- It is quite a tranquil place.
- You can carry your camera bag / camera / cell phone.
- Vultures are endangered, so do not provoke or disturb them. They are quite peaceful creatures. Remember that they are hunters too.
- Cenotaphs are great places to shoot, so explore it and avoid stamping on cow dung.
- Carry your own water bottles or food.
- Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat”.
It is a must visit place, apart from just visiting the cenotaphs, you could enjoy the endangered Vultures up close and live in the beauty of their majestic beings.