A heritage village in Himachal Pradesh
Located in the Tehsil Banjar of Kullu, Bahu is a small village just over 2,000 meters above sea level and is a great place to visit to discover ancient temples and shrines. A number of hiking trails pass through this hamlet, and the scenic hike to Baloo Nag Ttemple is well worth the breath and sigh. Another hotspot is the Sheshnag Temple. With grasslands as far as the eye can see, Bahu is a heritage village that boasts of the architecture of bygone times. There is also a road safety shrine made from old tires and other vehicle parts, one of many in the area. The village is full of wooden and stone houses with stone tiled roofs, and is dotted with a variety of statues.
Ma Mauliksha temples in Jharkhand
72 terracotta temples stand peacefully in the Dumka district. Do a quick search online and you’ll barely find any information. But there are centuries of traditions hidden inside. The Maluti temples were built as edifices for the Pala rulers of Bengal, followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. The initial tally was apparently 108, but poor management – a problem the World Heritage Fund still identifies at the site, centuries later – left it in the dust. The current “survivors” depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and are built in the style of Bengali Hindu temples. The main building (and deity) of Maluti is that of Ma Mauliksha, a goddess curiously absent from Hindu scriptures. However, she finds some resonance with the deity Vajrayana Pandara, a female bodhisattva. Legends place Mauliksha as the elder sister of Goddess Tara (from Tarapith pilgrimage site, West Bengal). A family reunion could then take place just 23 kilometers away.
Terracotta plates in Pilak
In the heart of Belonia, in the south of Tripura, Pilak is a center of religious art from the 8th and 9th centuries. Dotted with terracotta plaques, stupas, stone figurines and images of the bodhisattvas Avolokiteswara and Narasimhan, it also hosts an annual three-day archaeological festival. Pilak also has close ties with Buddhist sites across the border, namely Mainamati and Paharpur in Bangladesh. His images recall the heterogeneous beliefs and sects of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Archaeological Survey of India recently excavated more Pilak, to better understand the area and its history.
The Coringa Mangroves
The Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest expanses of mangroves along the east coast of India. The estuary region boasts of unique biodiversity, with rare mangrove species, fishing cats, sea turtles and otters. The sanctuary also has more than 250 species of birds, almost half of which are migratory, coming from Central and North Asia and Eastern Europe – seagulls, little egrets, brahminy kites, reef herons , black-capped kingfisher, etc. You can also find white-backed and long-billed vultures here. The sanctuary has a “marine protected” area, which is home to more than 80,000 waterfowl and about two dozen endangered bird species. Spread over 235 km², the Coringa ecosystem provides significant environmental and economic benefits. It protects the coastline from erosion, cyclones, storms and tsunamis. It is also home to important nesting sites for olive ridley and green sea turtles, and has over 200 species of finfish and breeding crustaceans.
Petroglyphs at Kharu
Petroglyphs are remnants of the past – a story of past civilizations and the evolution of history. The Ladakh petroglyphs are found along the Indus River and are believed to have been created between the 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE. The approximately 500 petroglyphs are best preserved in the rock art sanctuary of Domkhar, about 160 kilometers from Leh. Other notable regions of Ladakh are Kharu, Khaltse and Tangtse, which boast of similar ancient rock carvings. The chiseled shapes on the rocks speak of a different time – line drawings of animals on a dark surface, to give us insight into the past and patterns of cultural migration. The rudimentary writing on the rock surface is thought to be similar to those found among Central Asian tribes, who lived a nomadic life 2,000 years ago.
Fireflies in Maharashtra
When Cold Play sang “The Lights Will Guide You Home”, they sure couldn’t have known about Purushwadi’s magical fireflies. Streetlights are a thing of the past in this small village in Akole district, about six hours from Mumbai. In May-June, this area becomes a hotspot for fireflies, with millions and millions of them lighting up after dark. The picturesque village is made up of around a hundred families, some of whom, via an NGO, welcome visitors who come to see the show. In the morning, one can walk around the village and pick berries directly from the fruit trees, visit the nearby dam, help the villagers in their agricultural fields and eat a sumptuous home-cooked meal. But as night falls, the landscape changes – if you’ve read Enid Blyton’s description of an enchanted forest, the experience is not far off. Villagers previously kept fireflies in bottles to use as a light source, but the practice has now fallen out of favor. See grassroutes.co.in