That was the most unexpected trip of year 2016. I was not required to be a part of the trip. But sheer need of a change and a vacant weekend pulled me in. So I set forth to travel 200 plus kms to experience the unseen forests of Bharuch, a district in Gujarat that is known for its industrial presence and Gulf of Khambat. I was not alone in the trip, Hardik and Akash my colleagues and friends were part of this adventure. Since it was an official visit, there was a vintage looking Bolero for company as well along with a very entertaining Chandanbhai at the steering.
As it was the month of July, there were only different hues of green around us. Before we get into forest, the objective behind the trip was to photo document the plantation efforts done by Forest Department in and around Bharuch to combat loss of biodiversity and to bring back lost species of trees and plants. I being a non-botany person, was about to be awed by what is in store. As you may know forests are divided in clusters for it’s better and management. So we visited Netrang and Jhagadiya divisions of Bharuch. The visit was more than enriching. Firstly I could see the green side of a district that is more known for presence of industries. The two day trip took me to deep forest areas reserved for plantation and water conservation activities. The terrain was undulating, wet and full of thick foliage. My camera never rested. It captured the forests and its life, with all its glory.
Certainly a trip to forest will definitely not be uneventful. I had a fall, rather slipped and skied only to land on my bum. And all throughout this fall I was only concerned about the safety of the camera. The second adventure was to ‘get lost in the woods’ with zero mobile connectivity. I must tell you, here I realized the utmost importance of being physically fit to walk and run without losing breath. When rest of the team trekked to the top of hillock, I was catching breath and was thinking ‘would I become the lunch of that leopard that must be watching me from over the tree and salivating’. Thanks to the foresters, who by then had filled my imagination with stories of frequent leopard sightings in and around the area where I got lost. But the fact is I was only worried for a while, because if at all a leopard finds me interesting, there was not much I could do, than surrendering myself. Once the worry faded away, I looked around and was astonished to see trees and variety of trees. Small and big ones, stood strong holding on to the ground, like a mother taking care of the newborn. These were the trees which for centuries are holding on to the earth and stop erosion of land only to provide a secured life to its dwellers, the living beings.
Bamboo forests, natural and man-made are abound in Bharuch. The smell of wet earth and dripping water from the long leaves painted a picture of a joyful monsoon. Rain drenched grasses never made by heavy feet feel the need of rest and for two days we wandered throughout the bamboo plantation and got introduced to many offshoots of older bamboo trees, as old as 30 years.
Undoubtedly the most astonishing part of the trip was the magnificent hilly range with a natural formation like that of the Mount Rushmore (to my bewildered eyes) known as Vadadhiya Dungar. Any lover of hills would be amazed to see the formation. Bharuch has many historical hot spots, like the Kadia Dungar Caves, which has seven caves carved from the mountain during the 1st and 2nd century AD. It is believed that the Pandavas stayed over here during exile.
So what is stopping you, when it is monsoon make a plan to visit Bharuch.