Uttaranchal-II – A Road Less Travelled

A hot cup of tea, misty morning and the picturesque Himalayas in front, mornings could never be better than this. A good night sleep did cast its magic on us. It is lovely to see morning hours with a different view.

“Blessed are those who are close to nature” The serene and unpolluted environment fills the people of mountain with exuberance and a life time gift of sparkle & innocence on their faces.Their expectations and needs are very limited which in turn makes them content & cheerful.

Living on the edges: Most of the houses are constructed by cutting the mountains. When my friend told to us that their backyard opens in the mountain, my son couldn’t believe till he saw the rocks and muddy piles by himself.

It is amazing to see people climbing up and down the mountain several times in a day, as if they are climbing stairs in an apartment. Children walking up the hill with the school bags, cow boys taking their cattle for grazing and pahari women climbing with huge baskets on their back for collecting fodder.

Didihat: Situated at 1.725 mt. above sea levels in Pithoragargh district of Uttaranchal is a small village hardly seen on the map of India. It is situated on the pilgrimage route to Kailash Mansarovar, and is very close to Nepal border. The culture and language of the people here resembles to people of Nepal.

It is best advised to explore this pristine beauty on your own, a cab or a personal vehicle is helpful. My friend made the plan for our trip of 3 days in the place, and her husband sportingly accepted to take us in his car to all these places.

First day of our trip was planned for Munshiyari, a place famous for trekking and as a starting point to the Kailash Mansarovar. We avoided trekking to the glaciers with small kids and opted to see the natural beauties on the land instead.

Munshiyari: It is a hub of activity for people opting for trekking and exploring glaciers such as Pindari glaciers. From Munshiyari the mountain ranges of Himalayas are much clearly visible, especially Panchachuli the five famous mountain rangers of Himalayas. The place has abundance of natural beauties to enjoy.

A friend indeed: As per plan we slept early, as we decided to start our trip to nearby places at around 6 am. To our surprise a big travel bag with home cooked lunch and other eatable was ready. Which my friend and her husband prepared in the wee hours of morning! They did not want us to eat outside when traveling with kids.

This heart felt welcome extended to us was indeed moment to be cherished for life.

Time for a break: We found a good place to sit and enjoy our home cooked food with nature. The place was an under construction botanical garden and gave an ample opportunity for the kids to explore nature, looking out for butterflies and wild flowers. The food was excellent with a pahari touch to it and the hot cup of coffee refreshed all of us.

Betuli Dhar: All ready and set to go, we started our trip at 6 am in the morning. A panoramic view of sun captured our eyes, as the sky was sprinkled with orange, yellow and red hues. Sunrise is difficult to see on mountain due to misty mornings and jungle fire. Birds flying away in search of food, farmers getting ready for a hard days work and the gentle and cold breeze. Life is bliss!

Betuli dhar is a waterfall and is one of the major attractions in Uttaranchal. To reach the waterfall there are 200-300 steps to climb and a rough terrain to cross. We climbed the steps but could not get the courage to cross the rocky terrain with the kids. It was a beautiful experience, similar to trekking at a small level.

A quick trip to another Country: Kali river was accompanying us throughout our trip; it becomes more vibrant as we reach near the Jhulaghat, the bridge that connects Uttaranchal to Nepal.

The bridge is a marvelous architect structure. It was a bit scary to walk on the bridge, which has no support in the middle and shakes vigorously when one walks on it.

My son wanted to cross the bridge and touch Nepal. With the permission of the Indian security guards we crossed the bridge and stepped into Nepal a foreign terrain without any penny spent. Had a talk with Nepalese people and took a few snaps.

The trip took the whole day and we were exhausted. Reached home and had a typical pahari meal of rice, rajma and a salad of Timur seeds powder.

Shirakote Temple: The next day was reserved for visiting this exquisite temple, which is built on mountain. It is dedicated to lord Shiva. Many community festivals are held here at regular intervals. Visiting the temple is a great experience in itself. Though the way to temple is quite steep and rough with over 500 steps to climb, a walk along the nature never let us feel the tiredness.

After reaching the temple and the summit of the mountain, we were transformed altogether to a different world. Gusty cold winds and the leaves dancing making a beautiful music. It was as if the world has stopped for those moments, with no noise pollution and strains of the city life.

The temple has an array of huge bells in copper, which when hit with force, makes a loud sound audible even on the plains in the city. From the temple one can see a panoramic view of whole Didihat. We did prayers and stayed there for a while.

Exploring the local areas: The last day was reserved for visiting Didihat. The markets in Didihat are bustling with activities and goods that have made their way from Nepal. Purchased a few nick knacks from the local market.

My friend gifted me a natural flower drink, which I found out has anti oxidant properties and is very beneficial for overall health.

It is made with a flower similar to Hibiscus and is called Barose flower in local language.Since the natural drink is not patented by any company, we had to make do with the empty wine bottles, which were used to fill the concentrate.

Evening was spent in a walk down the valley to my friend’s farmhouse. Exploring the wild fruits and flowers on the way was quite an experience for my kids, who were amazed and confused as to how anyone could stay without television and computers!

With a heavy heart we bid good-bye to my friend and left the place with the warm generosity extended to us etched in our memories forever. The trip made us realize that traveling is more than just seeing a few places and visiting monuments. It is all about exploring nature and being one with it.

The History Of Important Flowering Trees

Most flowering trees are small and can be planted in full sun or partial shade, being easily adapted to small yards. The Japanese Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia x Soulangiana, awakens in late winter or early spring. First growing flower buds that increase in size as the weather warms up, burst into dramatic flower colors of purple, pink, white, red, and yellow; the yellow flowering magnolia is the rarest. If freezing weather occurs, as it often does during the late winter or early spring, the flowers will wither from the tree, but most often will rebloom, as the weather warms up again.

Crabapple flowering trees are cloud-like, fluffy white, pink or red in color, and often bloom along with the flowering dogwood trees and the pink redbud trees. The white dogwood, Cornus florida, flowering trees are among the most generally planted and grafted pink dogwood cultivars, and red dogwood trees are available to buy commercially, but are much more expensive. White dogwood trees, Cornus florida, were discovered and described as growing in Florida and Alabama in 1773, by the famous American botanist and explorer, William Bartram, who wrote in his book, Travels, page 399, “We now entered a very remarkable grove of Dogwood Trees (Cornus Florida) … an … admirable grove by way of eminence has acquired the name of the Dogwoods … spacious groves of this fine flowering tree, which must, in the Spring season, when covered with blooms, present a most pleasing scene.”

Flowering cherry trees in the primitive wild forests were described by William Bartram, in his book Travels, on page 196, as “delightful grove of … Prunus Caroliniana, a most beautiful evergreen, decorated with its sweet, white blossoms.” This flowering cherry tree today is known as the Cherry Laurel, and is in high demand as an evergreen privacy screen that produces in late spring, fragrant white flowers. American gardeners have been struck with the beauty of the long list of varieties of Japanese, flowering cherry trees. The most important Japanese flowering cherry tree is the Kwanzan, Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’, that grows splendidly as a beautiful garden specimen, abundantly clothed in early spring with large, double-flowering blossoms, that grows up to 25 feet tall. 350 of these trees were planted in Washington, D.C., in 1912, by the First Lady, wife of President Taft, and 1800 Yoshino flowering cherries were planted at the same time. In 1935, the first National Cherry Blossom Festival was held at the Nation’s Capitol, and since then, many other Cherry Blossom City festivals have been held to celebrate the birth of spring. Citizens of Macon, Georgia have planted thousands of these Yoshino flowering cherry trees to connect with many pageants and local events, which attract large numbers of tourists to celebrate the festival. These Japanese, flowering cherry trees are cold hardy, and recommended to be grown and planted in zones 5 – 9. Other popular Japanese cultivars are; Blireiana, Prunus cerasifera ‘Blireiana’; Kwansan, Prunus serrulata ‘Kwansan’; Okame, Prunus campanulata x Prunus incisa; Snow Fountain, Prunus x Snow Fountains ‘Snowfozam’; Snow Fountain (Dwarf), Prunus x CV. ‘Snofozam’; Yoshino (Akebone), Prunus yedoenis ‘Akebone’;

William Bartram observed two other native plants that were flowering trees growing near Mobile, Alabama, on page 396 of Travels, “I observed amongst them wild Crab (Pyrus coronaria), and Prunus indica, or wild Plumb.” The wild “Plumb” tree, Prunus indica, that Bartram saw, identified today was the Chicasaw plum, Prunus angustifolia. In his travels throughout Georgia, Bartram found a native flowering plum, Prunus indica. Flowering plum tree hybrids that are commercially available from mail order gardeners are a stunning, reddish-purple leaf plum, named Newport, Prunus cerasifera ‘Newport’, that grows 20 feet tall and thrives in zones 4 – 10; Purple Pony, Prunus cerasifera ‘Purple Pony’, a genetic dwarf growing only to 10 feet and decked in flowers colored red, pink, and white; Thundercloud, Prunus cerasifera ‘Thundercloud’, grows copper-red leaves, that after flowering, produces a delicious, edible, red plum fruit, zone 5 – 9.

Crabapple flowering trees are reliable bloomers with soft, fluffy flowers, in the early spring of red, pink, or white, with outstanding cultivars of Pink (Brandywine), Malus ‘Brazam’; Red Perfection, Malus ‘Red’; Red, Malus eleyi; Radiant, Malus pumila ‘Niedzwetzkyana Radiant’; White (Spring Snow), Malus ‘Spring Snow’; White (Floribunda), Malus ‘Floribunda’; Wildlife animals experience long-term food availability from the crabapple fruit, intensively grazed upon especially by deer, duck, and turkey.

William Bartram also found the wild American, native flowering tree, the Grancy Greybeard, Chionanthus virginicus, growing as an under story plant, as described in his book, Travels, written in 1773, page 7. Gracy Greybeard, Chionanthus virginicus, is also known as the Fringe Tree, covered with rounded creamy-white clusters of deliciously fragrant blooms. These trees grow to 30 feet and are very cold hardy to zone 3 – 9. Chionanthus virginicus is a very rare tree, and is very difficult to find or buy from a mail order company nursery.

Flowering pear trees, Pyrus calleryana, are well known to most gardeners, and the trees being early flowering in March, abundantly covered with white clusters of flowers. Outstanding cultivars of flowering pear trees are: Aristocrat, Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’; Autumn Blaze, Pyrus calley calleyana ‘Autumn Blaze’;, Bradford Ornamental Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’; Cleveland Select Pear, Pryus calleryana ‘Cleveland Select’; and Chanticleer Flowering Pear, Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’; Many large cities line out flowering pear trees in well positioned rows along boulevards and sidewalks for spring enjoyment.

Giving Flowers According to Zodiac Sign

Zodiac signs have intrigued people for a long time. They not only affect personality but choice of flowers and other things as well. Thus, giving flowers according to the zodiac sign of the recipient is a good idea. The ideal flowers according to zodiac signs are discussed below.

Capricorn

Capricorn is an earth sign and people born between December 22nd and January 21st fall under this sign. These people are quite stable, materialistic and practical. They are also self-disciplined and ambitious. They prefer flowers that signify tradition due to their stable nature. So, giving them the poinsettia is advised. This is a traditional winter flower and so, will be appreciated by Capricorns. One can also give carnations to people born under this sun sign as it is the birth flower of the Capricorn.

Aquarius

Aquarius is an air sign, which lasts from January 22nd to February 19th. People born under this sign are honest, loyal and intuitive. They also love independence. Giving orchids to an Aquarius will be suitable. The flower, with its beauty and grace complements the intuitive and spiritual nature of these people and is also, their birth flower.

Pisces

This is a water sign and lasts from February 20th to March 20th. People born under this sun sign understand people and themselves better than others. Moreover, they are gentle, compassionate and generous. With the fish as their sign, it is no wonder that pieces like water plants and flowers. Thus, one should give them water lilies. This flower is commonly associated with Pisces.

Aries

Aries is a fire sign, which lasts from March 21st to April 20th. Typically, people having this zodiac sign are confident, fierce and full of energy. The best flower for a person with this zodiac sign is the tulip. This is because the tulip will be appreciated by these people due to their appreciation of bold gestures and the unexpected. Daisies will also be suitable for these people as it depicts the energy in them.

Taurus

This is an earth sign, which lasts from April 21st to May 21st. These people are headstrong but have a warm hearted and romantic side to their personality. They like beautiful things as well as pleasure and comfort. The lily, with its beauty and fragrance, will definitely appeal to the sensuous nature of the Taurus. One can also give poppies to a Taurus, which is their birth flower.

Gemini

Gemini is an air sign lasting from May 22nd to June 21st. People with this sign are quite lively, outgoing and light-hearted. The most suitable flower for this zodiac sign is the rose, which signifies love and companionship. These two things are the essence of this zodiac sign. Moreover, people having this zodiac sign are really versatile and so the rose, with its ability to convey various messages, will surely appeal to them.

Cancer

Cancer is a water sign, which lasts from June 22nd to July 22nd. The people having this sign are very sensitive and emotional. Their world is centered on their home and loved ones. The most suitable flower for this zodiac sign is the delphinium. This flower will surely appeal to the sensitive and romantic nature of a person born under this zodiac sign as it symbolizes an open heart and a passionate feeling.

Leo

Leo is a fire sign, lasting from July 23rd to August 22nd. People with this zodiac sign are dominant and extroverted. They are also very generous and warm hearted. Leos also love being in the spotlight. The sunflower is perfect for a Leo as it complements a Leo’s big hearted personality with the grand proportion.

Virgo

It is an earth sign and people born between August 23rd and September 23rd have this sign. People with this sign are meticulous and pay attention to details. They are quite modest and reserved and can be a little shy. However, they do have a lighthearted side, which can be complemented with asters. This flower will definitely appeal to the lighthearted side of a Virgo with its lush texture and beauty.

Libra

Libra is an air sign lasting from September 24th to October 23rd. People with this sign strive for harmony and balance. Libras are also kind and gentle. The hydrangea is a good choice for a Libra as it complements the kind and thoughtful nature of this sign.

Scorpio

Scorpio, which is a water sign, lasts from October 24th to November 22nd. People with this sign are intense and passionate. They have strong willpower and conviction. Gardenias with their seductive scent and boldness will definitely be appreciated by these people. Besides this, peonies with their bold color will also appeal to a Scorpio.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius is a fire sign lasing from November 23rd to December 21st. People with this sign possess physical strength as well as powerful intellect. They are open-minded with a thirst for new knowledge and travel. Carnations will be appreciated by a person with this sign as the flower depicts the multi-dimensional personality of the sign quite well.