Endangered Vultures in a Cenotaph

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.

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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.IMG_20191003_072401

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.

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The vulture houses

IMG_20191003_071055DSC_0293Families 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.

IMG_20191003_073332These 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.

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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.

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Environmental Artist!!

The wallThe glow of the sun, running of the deer, temples of Chennai, paint brush, deforestation, water conservation, sponges, walls… Oh!! a random collection that I am trying to put here… Well this is about the fun that some of the Chennai folks had on a beautiful morning as the sun tried to peep out of the clouds.

Morning 6.45 and there were at least 25 young and elder folks down at one of the sub-urban area. Their objective was to have fun while painting the abandoned, peed walls of Chennai. This was the wall Opposite to the “National Institute of Wind Energy”. I have been through this area so many a times, and believe me it had been a mess. The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) sub-urban group along with “The Hindu” started this initiative of cleaning up places and giving a beautiful life to the walls.IMG_20181028_083328

While I have had a beautiful pleasure of seeing and capturing the artistic walls at Cochin fort, this was altogether a new experience. Here we the ordinary, non artists like me and many others were showing our talent on the walls.

img_20181028_084940.jpgThe whole process, began with Shanmugam, the co-ordinator from EFI talking about the marsh lands, water bodies, forest cover and the three rivers that are there in and around Chennai. It was really interesting facts and figures to know that Chennai had 33 water bodies and at least 4 small forest covers that used to adorn the city. Off-course, thanks to we human efforts, they are in a depleating mode. And with that context setting, he beautifully shared the topic for today’s painting. It was on “nature” and the city.

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Armed with the resources of paints, brushes, sponges… Yeah Sponges, we were pleased to dirty our hands with paints. The EFI team had ensured that the place was cleaned up and walls white washed so that we could get started. Off-course there were a couple of artists there who were the guide for us.

Some members requested the artists to create the outline and they could start colouring them while the adventurous like us, said attack without a plan. Well, we got to our wall space and started creating. The challenge was what and why. My partner and my son and I got into major argument. Well no marks for guessing who won.. 😉 

And we started, the outline for the deer started, and then the free flowing tree. Off course, there was a helping hand from the artist who after our initial effort said, “No problem, do it… I will get it sorted”

We could only look perplexed and went on. Well I must say, we could not have done it any better. After close to 90 mins of beautiful toil and work, we managed to get our wall done.

What we loved the most was the part of sharing. No body was in a rush for the limited paint materials that was there. If there was a ask for a brush or any particular paint, the other waited and then pitched in to support. Well, we also had a great personality who loved to do borders on every paint work. He walked around with a black paint and draw lines. His standard statement was, “I think there needs to be a line here?”

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It really did not matter, how busy the street was getting. All of us were well glued to create our own imagination and representations. It was good fun, while supporting a beautiful cause to beautify our city and walls.

Hopefully the smelly walls will breath easy and keep the city beautiful!!

Few things that we could think of doing as we planned for our next wall some other day:

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  • Plan the theme, what is that you would like to paint.
  • Bring in a pencil to help outline what you want to draw.
  • Water bottles, as you may feel thirsty.
  • Invite more friends to join the fun.
  • Always, remember not to pee on the walls.. you may be painting it someday.. 🙂

Chennai is a melting pot for art & culture and it certainly stays true to its nature. Will initiatives like these what EFI has been doing, it just adds to the flavour.

Come enjoy and unleash your happiness for a beautiful tomorrow at Chennai!!

Our creation
Our Creation!!