|A Pipit takes a respite under the stone|
A few hundred yards ahead is a small house with a low-shingled gable roof – a sign that when it rains, it rains a lot on this mountain – that belongs to an old lady. She was certainly not as old as the fort was when it was titled the sweet fort, but today if it is to be called a sweet fort; it is because of her.
|Ruins of Sudhagad and Tel Baila in the background|
|An Indian Bullfrog in a vernal pool|
|The sweet house|
|Agriocnemis splendidissima and Kumudini|
|Buldhana on an evening|
The air was cool when I first entered the city before the sun. Small hills and an undulating terrain contained within a thick fog, settled contently in-between. The sun, as it rose, was warm and red, and as the temperatures slowly increased, it scattered the fog out from the dell. It was my first visit to Buldhana, and although I knew the language very well, I had my own doubts of finding my own way in a new place.
The town of Buldhana is small but not congested, and is spreading outward steadily. The buildings are trimmed to a certain level, allowing a wide view of the town from other significantly shorter buildings. Yet it is not as flat as that further into the Maharashtra hinterland. Buldhana is one of the thirty-five districts of Maharashtra, and lies in the Vidarbha region – where lie my roots.
Coming from a large overcrowded city gives one the pleasure of seeing empty streets and children going to school on their bicycles – a peculiar way of life in Maharashtra that the coming generations are certainly going to miss. I found a temporary abode after asking around a little. Interacting with people here occurred to be extremely familiar to me – the dialect of Varhadi they use is one of the sweetest of Marathi. It has been many years since I listened to this dialect which always fascinated me. In my childhood I used to try to mimic it but would gradually come to speak in the dialect typical of Mumbai city – which I think is the plainest (and boring) dialect without any accent.
The landscape of Vidarbha is generally uniform, with plains dominated mostly by grasses, and the short undulating terrains by dry deciduous forests. Amidst these live the Black Bucks, Chital, Sloth Bear, Leopard and, if you go further north and east-wards, the tigers.
|Lonar crater lake - created by a meteor impact on the basaltic rock|
|Information board on Lonar crater|
Loss of hiding and feeding areas has forced deer, wild boar, and other animals to enter agricultural areas and damage the produce. It is apparent that the problem was created by farmers. Fortunately, the farmers also accepted the matter as did the government, and programmes were put in place to reverse the impacts – such as by afforestation. I was impressed to know that farmers are not entirely against the ideas of keeping forests intact, instead of increasing their land holdings for agriculture. But of course there remain a few who think otherwise.
Yet in the end when we discussed the future of our agriculture, it was not forests, or wild animals, or even the climate they were worried about. The answer they gave was the most expected – and we all sat as hopeless and bleak as a wilted flower in winter wishing for the sun. The young generation has been attracted by urbanization through the means of education and media. The mindset of the young have delineated from its former roots (as have mine, I admit). I’m afraid the question remains not about how or when we will see an impact on our agriculture, but when it does, what will we do.
|Mobile towers are one of the first signs of development today. Surpassing even the provision of basic needs.|
I call Buldhana as the warm one because, except for its cool and pleasant weather, its residents gladly accept the fact that there are no industries and therefore it is a clean district to live in. And secondly because its farmers have become extremely sensitive to the issues related to deforestation and its ultimate get-back on our own plates.
|Lord Hanuman of Sudhagad defeats the evil|