RARE Newsletter | Vol 33 | Earth Day 2021 | April 2021 | April - 2021

RARE INDIA RARE NEWSLETTER
APRIL, 2021
 
"Pruthvi Mein Sharire Shritha II"
(The EARTH and our bodies are connected.)
                                       From hymns to Rudra
 
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From Gibran to Kipling and many of our religious texts reiterate our connection with Mother Earth. Living urban lifestyles this is the connect our bodies and spirit yearn for and travelling to nature bound places helps us ‘connect’ deeply with ourselves. At RARE, almost every hotel, lodge and retreat create spaces and opportunities to connect with nature and the outdoors. We present to you some of our most iconic walks that allows the earth to envelop you in a way where all your five senses are engaged.

Nature and forest walks are activities of discovery and often meditative, I remember walking for hours in a daze. These walks are from my personal experiences as I have walked by myself or lead by a local guide, and have always come away shedding a little something of my complicated life on the forest floor among the dead leaves and flowers.
 
- Shoba Mohan
 
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“Satpura ke ghane jungle” on foot
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Since I discovered Satpura over ten years ago and its unique forest explorations, I must have walked these trails several times. The first time, I walked into the jungle with a naturalist and two park guides who carried bamboo sticks for protection. Following the naturalist’s briefing on how to behave in the forest and what to do if we see a wild one, we walked for three hours that day in winter – an easy walk following our park guides in a single file, stopping now and then to check a track or sign on a tree. One memory and a favourite story is to find ourselves in the middle of an alarm call – the langurs’ frantic calls, a peacock’s repeated warnings and the indignant hoof beat of a lone sambar.

Just a year ago, while in Reni Pani Jungle Lodge to celebrate their tenth anniversary, we had the privilege to walk in Satpura jungles with Pradip Kishen filmmaker, environmentalist and author, discovering the “Jungle Trees of Central India”, learning about trees and their lives in the wild. Unforgettable moments and lessons about nature and the wild, only possible on foot.
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Into the Dang Plateau near Ramathra
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Ramathra was an unknown crumbling fort in the wilderness, dotted with small tribal hamlets. The name doesn’t quite mean the same in English, which is actually ‘Ram Tehra’ – a reference from our great epic Ramayana that Lord Rama stayed here while on his search for Sita, his consort.

Brought back to life as Ramathra Fort, a boutique hotel for travellers to experience the beautiful fort, Kalisil lake and wild country around – Ramathra’s signature activity is a wild trail to the Dang plateau. Completely wild and rugged, this is classic Aravallis located along the boundaries of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, covering a major part of Karauli district. Wild life sighted easily on night drives and walks include hyenas, nilgais, jackals, porcupines, etc. This rough and rocky trail takes you through forests of Dhonk (Anogeissus pendula), river gorges and valleys, trees that have created shaded havens stretching their roots far and deep in search of water, ravines forming shallow caves called Khos where the devout have set up shrines for prayer. Ultimately you end up in a flat rocky stretch overlooking a waterfall which is just a trickle in the winter, but in the monsoons it is a gushing forceful river falling over the rocks that travel long to meet the Chambal. At this point, an ice cold lemonade followed by a picnic lunch in the wild awaits you.
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Hiking to Tagore Top
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As remote as it may sound, when you see a board that says Tagore Top, you are curious to know the connection between the great poet Rabindranth Tagore and Kumaon Hills. Yes, Tagore lived in these beautiful hills, spending a few summers here with his convalescing wife. High on top of the hill overlooking the Ramgarh valley is the cottage he lived in during these summer sojourns. Accessed by a trail about a fifteen minute walk from Soulitude in the Himalayas, the trek takes you through a couple of small villages and local farms before a steep climb to the top where the cottage sits in seclusion, almost forgotten. The Kumaon government’s half-hearted attempt to preserve this legacy is more of an eyesore, but takes nothing away from the energy of the space. A ramshackle low seating on the edge of the ridge offers a fabulous view of the hills around and is supposed to be where Tagore penned ‘Gitanjali’.

To pause here and recite Gitanjali even without an audience is to reach out and touch the past, personally it felt like being in the presence of the poet. You can choose to retrace your steps and head back to Soulitude but if you continue from here you will walk through undisturbed forests, one particular stretch is resplendent in season with the flaming red of Rhododendrons, both on the trees and the forest floor. The trek ends in the heart of the Maheshkhan forest from where you can drive back to the hotel.
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A high point in Munnar
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When I reach the top of a hill, however high or low, I look back at the path traversed with the a certain satisfaction, immediately replaced by humility. Humbled at being here, the opportunity, for the view and for the energy that made it possible. While walking in Munnar, you are in the  Western Ghats this  is  no ordinary range; their forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoons that mediate the warm tropical climate of the region. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ghats present the best example of non-equitorial tropical evergreen forests of the world.

A three hour hike to the ridge on the Chokkarmudi Hill close to the Windermere Estate, stops an hour short of the peak by the same name. Walking with my naturalist who was well versed with birds of the Western Ghats, herbs and shurbs that grew in profusion on the slopes made this a slow walk. We stopped often to look out for a bird or to smell a herb or two. Once on the ridge, the reward was a view of the Aanamudi hills, a faraway outline through the mist, the Munnar river, city and Golf Course on one side and endless tea plantations on the other. Some of the other treks in this region include Misapulimala, Kolukkumalai, Pampadum Shola National Park and Top Station.
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Bathing in a forest in Assam
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There is always a feeling of being zoned out in the forest, the breeze on my face and the early morning sun especially as park safaris at that time lull me to sleep. I have never missed any action, but a mindful forest walk is different when the aim is not to look for anything. The energies of trees, some of them a few hundred years old and canopies shedding their leaves or sap onto you is renewal, a few full-body hugs to voluminous trunks and you are calmed from within.

Walking in the forest of the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark of Wild Mahseer, created partly through its own regeneration and some by deliberate planting, is to allow the forest to catch you in a loose embrace and turn you inwards. You enter the enclosure to stand next to a clump of giant Dragon Bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus), there are quotes and verses about nature as you pass through to the temple of Donyi and Polo (elemental gods of the communities of the Eastern Himalayas), encounter birds and butterflies as you wind your way on the trail pushing through wild creepers and over hanging shrubs. Where the trail forked, I took to my natural right towards a man-made pond and sat down on a rickety bench, by now thoroughly overwhelmed. I must have sat there for a good hour or more, tears flowed down unchecked and it felt like gratitude.
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At every RARE Hotel remember to choose our walking experiences. Especially walking with children is to see things we often miss as grownups. Their curious and insistent questions are often answers to somethings we are afraid to ask. Take your children into forests and nature reserves, walk with them, it will change their lives and yours forever.
 
“Paths have character: there are easy ones,
challenging ones, unforgiving ones, ones that
encourage you to walk with a steady swinging rhythm
and others that tease your stride
with odd twists and turns.”
Walking is a Way of Knowing
by Madhuri Ramesh and Manish Chandi
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EVENTS FOR EARTH DAY
Beautiful Planet with RARE | April 22 | 4-7 pm IST
Beautiful Planet is a series we promote to applaud and celebrate exceptional people working towards conservation based tourism, contributing to building awareness for a fair and beautiful planet. Join us as we chat with Rupesh Rai from The Goat Village at 4 pm; Rahul Kulkarni from Farm of Happiness at 5 pm and Puja Mitra from Terra Conscious at 6 pm live on Instagram at @rareindia.

TOFTigers presents Bengal Tiger Conservation | April 28 | 3:30 pm IST
Join Dr. Raghu Chundawat, one of India's best known tiger experts as he discusses today's reality and hopes for the future.
Register here.

Sustainability NOW: Future of Luxury in India with Avid Learning | April 29 | 6:00 pm IST
Tune in for an absorbing panel discussion on the shifting notion and practice of luxury across the industries of fashion, lifestyle, heritage, beauty and hospitality.
Register here.
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For all special offers and itinerary curation connect at
+919810265781 / +917814955020 / bookrare@rareindia.com.

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