Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Meghalaya, the Abode of Clouds, is a state in the northeast region of India.  About one-third of the state is forested.Meghalaya experiences the two seasons, of winter and monsoon, and is characterized by a cool climate throughout the year. The Cherrapunjee-Mawsynram belt in the southern slopes of Khasi Hills records the heaviest rainfall in the world. Numerous rivers flow through Megahalaya, although none of them are navigable, due to rocky beds and strong currents.

The sacred groves in the state cover an estimated area of about 10,000 hectares. Most of the major sacred groves are located on the catchment areas of important rivers and streams of the state. About 60 of them, with an area of about 6,500 hectares are located at the source of perennial streams.

Predominantly tribal, the original inhabitants of this state are Khasis, Jaintias and Garos. Khasis and Jaintias trace their ancestry to the Mongolian race, while the Garos belong to the Tibeto-Burman race. Their cultural trails and ethnic origins remain distinctive, mainly due to their geographical isolation. The Khasi language spoken here is believed to be one of the few surviving dialects of the Mon-Khmer family of languages, in India.




The tribal communities of Meghalaya have a tradition of environmental conservation based on various religious beliefs, which have been passed on from one generation to the other. Based on these beliefs, certain patches of forests are designated as sacred groves under customary law and are protected from any product extraction by the community.

In Meghalaya, the traditional religion in the East and West Khasi Hills districts is Niam Khasi or Seng Khasi, and in the Jaintia Hills district is Niam Tre. According to traditional beliefs of the region, a forest deity resides in the sacred groves

For example, labasa is the name for the god of the Mawphlang sacred grove, described by interviewees as taking the form of a tiger or leopard. There is a strong belief that this deity inhabits the sacred grove and offers protection to the community. Similarly, Basa or Ryngkew Basa is the sacred grove deity, which is benevolent and provides for the wellbeing of the people in the village. In general, protecting a sacred grove is a form of respect for its deity.

It is an unpardonable crime to cut down trees or even pick flowers and fruits from these sacred groves except for cremation and religious purposes, that too, with the permission of the ‘Lyngdoh’ (Priest).

These sacred groves are divided into three categories, depending on the places where they are located. In places ruled by the Lyngdoh (Priest) the sacred groves were called Law Lyngdoh. In place where the traditional religion (Niam trai) plays a major role, the sacred groves were called ‘Law Niam’ and in places where the village is ruled by a village Headman, the sacred groves were called ‘Law kyntang’. 

All these sacred groves have the same status although their names are different. These sacred groves are closely related to the social and cultural life of the people and a number of rites, rituals and religious ceremonies have been associated with them.

These sacred groves are very rich in biological diversity and harbor many endangered plant species including rare herbs and medicinal plants. The sacred-groves, which have been preserved since time immemorial, are in sharp contrast to their surrounding grasslands. 

These groves are generally rimmed by a dense growth of Castanopsis kurzii trees, forming a protective hedge, which halts intrusion of Pinus kasia (Khasi pine), which dominates all areas outside the sacred groves. Inside the outer rim, the sacred groves are virtually Nature's Own Museum. The heavily covered grounds have a thick cushion of humus accumulated over the centuries. The trees in every sacred grove are heavily loaded with epiphytic growth of aroids, pipers, ferns, fern-allies and orchids. The humus-covered grounds likewise harbor myriad varieties of plant life, many of which are found nowhere else.





Monday, 2 June 2014


                                          Baori of Rajasthan

The Chand Baori in Abhaneri Village

Abhaneri is a small rural community near Jaipur in Rajasthan. Abhaneri is at a distance of about 96 Km from Pink city. The Chand Baori is one of the primitive step wells in the state of Rajasthan and is well thought-out to be one of the largest well in entire globe. The famous Chand Baori in Abhaneri village is one of the most unnoticed attractions in India.
History of ChandBaori:

Chand Baori, an incredible step well was constructed by “King Chanda of Nikumbha Empire” somewhere between 8th – 9th centuries so as to provide the neighboring areas with a reliable water resource before contemporary water deliverance systems were launched. The Chand Baori is devoted to Goddess “Harshat Mata”, a deity of bliss and Joy.

Wonderful Edifice of Chand Baori:
The far-fetched structural design of Chand Baori is more or less 13 inch profound. It appears exactly like a well. There are 3,500 tapered steps in this step well. The steps are prearranged in impeccable evenness and moves down 20 meters deep into the base of the well that leads to a dark green water pool. The green water at the pedestal of the well indicates that the well is of no use now. However, it stands as a remarkable tourist spot of an architecturally exciting construction that is more than 1000 years old. One can also find a beautiful temple adjacent to the well.

The steps encircle the step well on the 3 sides while the 4th side has a group of pavilions that are constructed top of the other. The 4th side of the well with pavilions has fortes with gorgeous carvings together with the sacred statuettes. Also, there is a stately abode with rooms for both King and Queen and an arena for the performing various cultural arts.

In addition, Chand baori also has turned out to be a Social gathering spot for the villagers of Abhaneri. Generally, the locals will sit around the huge step well and chill out during the scorching summer season of the year. The temperature is always about 5-6 degrees lower at the base of the well when compared to the summit. The famous Chand Baori at Abhaneri was marked in a movie called “The Fall”. This step well also made a quick appearance in a smash hit film called “The Dark Knight Rises”.

At present, this Step well is one of the vital assets of the country and is carefully administered by the “Archeological Survey of India”.