This is my second visit to Satkhol where A has shifted residence to almost a year back. This peaceful nook nestles in the bosom of the fruit orchard belt in Uttarakhand. It’s about two hours by road from Kathgoadam which is the nearest railhead.
While I was coming up to the cottage, I sighted these gorgeous red blooms on a huge tree. On enquiring from my taxi driver, I came to know that it’s the famous Rhododendron or Buransh in local language.
I was entranced by their gorgeousness and said so to A who promptly planned a drive out to Padampuri, a 30 minute drive from Bhowali, as that stretch is home to Rhododendron trees.
Excited, I charged the camera battery to full and away we went driving down on roads bordered by vast stretches of towering Himalayan pines, Sal, Sangwan and mighty oaks. The sun played peek a boo behind billowy white clouds which sailed back and forth on a brilliant azure canvas.
Padampuri is about 15-16 kms just after Bhowali and is a stunning drive through a wooded tract, punctuated by a winding river bed. We could hear the soothing gurgles of the water flow right up to our destination. The hill ridges had thick columns of pine trees dotting the entire mountain outline. And just beneath this thickly studded grove, we came upon a large number of Rhododendron trees.
The trees were richly jewelled with the crimson bouquets of the bell-shaped flowers. Each bouquet must have had 15-20 flowers which clustered together to form one large bloom. The cluster sits atop a ring of thick green leaves, each pointing outward. It almost looks like a platter of leaves has been made and each cluster has been delicately placed on it. Mother Nature is so damned artistic with her creations.
Spell bound, I just went on a picture clicking spree, alternating between close-ups and full shots of the trees. Changing lenses on a DSLR can be such a pain in times such as these and I was wishing I had 2-3 cameras, each mounted with a different lens.
I don’t think I did much justice to the beauty of these red bedecked trees which were glowing proudly in the mountain sunshine. Due to the rains of the last couple of days, the flowers were mostly bruised or withered. I really wish I could have seen them in their pristine glory a few weeks earlier.
Rhododendron is the state tree of Uttarakhand and National tree of Nepal. The flowers are harvested to make a juice which is turned into a syrup/ squash concentrate for sale. Since the flowers don’t have a taste of their own, a large amount of sugar is added to the red color juice- not sure if that makes for a healthy drink.
These flowers begin to bloom mid march onwards and continue till end of April. If you are ever headed up to Nainital or its surrounding areas in these months, I recommend you don’t miss out on this sight. While the ones in this area were mostly a deep red, I spotted pictures on the net about bright pink ones in Chopta and such higher areas where even mauvish and white ones bloom.
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You can check out this blog post that showcases the Pink Rhododendron in Sikkim that made me green with envy. Made a note to travel here next to enjoy these blooms.
I love to check out local flora and fauna on my travels and this flowering tree in Pondicherry made quite an impression on me. Enough to warrant a post of its own which you can catch here
Linking up with Parul for #ThursdayTreeLove