I have been shuttling between small town of Betul ( my home town)situated in the lap of Satpura mountain range and Bhopal, since I settled down here in 1985. Those were days of trains pulled by steam locos and buses. Last traces of steam locos were still in use. Canadian steam loco with shining star at the nose, roared through the track pulling morning Janata Express. Despite bygone 25 years, I never lost the charm of Midghat. Narmada bridge, tunnels passing through Budhani Ghat and Ghat just before Betul. One can not resist peeping out of window on route to Nagpur via Betul,as the enchanting forest, mesmerizes every soul in all seasons, be it scorching summer, pouring monsoon, or chilly winter. Ups and downs, sharp curves, streams running down from cliffs of Vindhyachal and Satpuda , gushing under the railway track bring back childhood charm. Rains, in particular make this journey a life time experience. Spring is a time of emergence and migration.
Insects and hibernators emerge from their winter sleeping places Birds migrate north and use the flyways they may have used in the autumn to go south. Birds stake out their breeding, nesting and feeding territories so they may raise their young. The air is filled with birdsongs. Palash (Butea frondosa), might have got its nick name “Flame of the Forest ” in this area . Miles after miles blooming orange and red flowers, during mid March and April thrills every young heart and soul .One can not suppress joyful energy when Spring sets in with Palash blooming all around. Entire nature goes berserk. It is said that the tree is a form of Agnidev, “God of Fire”. It was a punishment given to Him by Goddess Parvati for disturbing Her and Lord Shiva’s privacy that he attained form of tree. Equinox on 21st/22nd March brings change, leaves start getting yellow and dried. In a few days the forest on the track, losses all its greenery. Yet another color is filled in, which is no less beautiful then flowering spring. Forest is filled with intoxicating Mahua odor. Whether drunk or not, the odor fascinates every passer by. Drying wheat crop paint entire landscape in golden yellow. Tress after trees, but not a shade to shelter from scorching sun. Only Cicada humming, rest of the life becoming slow and dizzy. Narmada and other rivers slow down as if they are breathless in strong sun. Peak summer in May astonishingly generates life. Small buds peep out of skeleton trees. One after another, trees wear new tender leaves. The colors are so marvelous that they , sometimes beat flowering of Spring. In early summer morning slanting sun rays emerge out of thin and transparent pinkish- green leaves of Mahua tree keep you captive during your journey. It is June the jungle is filled with parrot green new leaves. Hope and uncertainty prevails, as moisture increases with wind from South.-west It is a matter of a few days from now the entire landscape would under go metamorphosis . Monsoon is round the corner. Weathermen. astrologers , formers and elderly persons become busy in making prediction for rains so that sowing could be completed timely. It is a busy time for nesting crows also. It is said crows have extra sense for rains. Their nesting pattern is used for predicting monsoon in tribal villages. If nests are at the top branches, it is scanty rainfall. Nests on middle of trees indicate an average rainfall and nests at the lower branch bring a good and heavy monsoon. This theory has roots in survival of the fittest principle. It is first shower associated with strong wind, lightening and thunder. Entire jungle on route becomes greener and cleaner. Small streams ooze out from every nook and corner of Satuda and Vindhyachal. Soon showers stops. Empty clouds role down from the cliff over looking plains .Monsoon yet to pick up. By mid July monsoon sets in. The Narmada touches both the banks. Whirls in muddy water below the railway bridge create hypnotizing sense. On way between Dharakhoh and Maramjhiri train passes through tunnels and viaducts 600 to700 feet high. Below you see lush green valley with few abandon barracks which once sheltered railway gagmen who defied obscurity enchanting “ohisa-bhai ohisa dum laga ke ohisa” while laying the tracks under arduous conditions.. These two stations were full of activities in the age of steam engines , as each train was stopped for a banker to push the carriage on the Satpuda plateau .Khatar- khatar- khut of the track , sound of steam whistle, of falling springs in narrow valley, once created an orchestra which is rare after inclusion of diesel and electric locomotives. It is September 22nd , autumn equinox. Kans grass (Saccharum spontaneum) with white crown, colorful zinnia, red, white, pink and yellow cosmos all waving together with high grass along railway track and road declare end of the Monsoon. From two months now, winter is going to grip mountain terrain of Vindhyachal and Satpuda. Cold breeze pierce through ribs. It is time of gossip and chatting by the fire. Sowing for Ravi crop is over.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”
This article is all about a perception ,how you enjoy beauty that nature offers to you, so next time when you travel do not miss out the track side nature any where in the country.