Journey through seasons- A perception

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.
VCDubey

5 Comments

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    there is a poetic touch to your writing…. very heart rendering

    if you could break the above in short paragraphs the reading would be more easier

  • VCDubey says:

    thanks. I will keep in mind the advice.

  • Roopesh says:

    Hello Mr. Vishwa,

    You have described an area which I can relate to being from Nagpur. When I used to live in Delhi, I made regular trips to Nagpur and passed through this stretch. Many times I wished I could get down on any of the intermediate stations to see who lives there cause these parts are sparsely populated. One of the great sights is when up and down line are apart and there is a train on distant track. Spotting a steam engine pulled train like that would be heavenly. Once, a groups of friends (not including me) even trekked from Dharakoh to Maramjhiri ghat section. Have you travelled on NG (Nagpur – Chhindwara – Jabalpur – Gondia)? I have traveled on it and really enjoyed the rustic settings. I plan to do road trip in these Satpura areas some time.

    • VCDubey says:

      I just want to tell people it is not the money that brings freedom and happiness, it is the perception of the nature that makes sense. One can enjoy such journey in passenger train eating puries and alloo ki sabji with home made pickle kept on palm on any rainy day.

  • nandanjha says:

    A different kind of travel log. Thanks Mr. V C Dubey for brilliantly capturing the finer nuances of changing seasons. In my younger days, our connection to “Broad Gauge’ (or the Badi Line as it used to be called) from my home-town was through a ‘Meter Gauge’ and steam locos. I very much remember that Star on the nose, as you rightly said.

    Bihar has probably the distinct advantage of being low on development but very high on train-coverage so even remotest corners were connected via Train and since the rate of development was not high, it took a while to get those meter gauges to broad gauges and to get those steam locos to diesel/electric ones.

    Thanks again.

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