August 17, 2016

Project Green Hands Nursery, Tiruvannamalai

Project GreenHands is an environmental initiative of Isha Foundation that aims to increase the green cover of the state of Tamil Nadu to 33% green cover by planting 114 million trees. 

Launched on World Environment Day, June 5th 2004, as a grass roots ecological initiative, the project has till date planted more than 28 million saplings in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry by involving more than 2 million volunteers. 

Some 4 years ago a nursery on leased land of around 8 acres was started on Golipannai Road (near Sparsa Resort Hotel) here in Tiruvannamalai. As well as developing saplings for distribution amongst farmers and reforestation organisations, Project GreenHands also sells saplings and herbs at an inexpensive rate to members of the public who visit the nursery. 

August 3, 2016

Samudram Eri -- Sand Quarrying Devastation

The Samudram Eri is approximately 700 acres of poramboke land located south of Arunachala. It is indispensable to Tiruvanamalai in its function as a massive water catchment area during the monsoon season. From the Eri, a pumping system sends its water to other catchment areas such as Thamari Nagar Tank, which are essential parts of the Tiruvannamalai's water supply. 

The Samudram Eri has been a valued part of the ecological system of Tiruvannamalai for hundreds of years but sadly we are not treating it with the respect it deserves. Already Tamil Nadu has a severe water shortage, and it is truly madness to destroy the existing system we currently have in order to provide lucrative gains for the very few. 

About 10 years ago industrial level sand quarrying started in the Tiruvannamalai area. Previously the Eri was undisturbed except approximately every 15 years encroaching thorny bush cover was felled. This occurred again about 3 years ago, which unfortunately gave even greater unfettered access to heavy sand quarrying machinery on the Samudram Eri. 

About a month ago sand quarrying on the Eri was halted, as to whether or not it starts again, only time will tell. But for the well being and future of our children and grandchildren, it is hoped that we begin to treat our ever diminishing resources with greater respect. 

Just a small part of the Samudram Eri devastation

Sand quarrying has created massive holes throughout the Eri

Numerous quarries throughout are now interferring with the water table

Some of these unnatural lakes are 20-30 feet deep and many acres in size
Deforestated Eri will be turned into massive quarries if work recommences

View of private farms and forestated land at the edges of the Samudram Eri

View of trees on top of the Samudram Eri bund

Magnificent Banyan Tree on Bund -- wonder how long it will be standing?

Part of the Samudram Eri trying to recover from the massive deforestation which occured several years ago

March 27, 2016

The Wonderful Palmyra and Nungu Fruit

Borassus Flabellifer also known as the Asian Palmyra Palm, Toddy Palm, or Sugar Palm, is native to India and the official tree of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as the “Karpaha Veruksham” (Celestial Tree) because all its parts have a use. 

At Samudram Eri bund. Cluster of Palmyra Trees back right

Borassus Flabellifer is a robust tree which reaches to a height of up to 100 feet and lives more than 100 years. In the initial stage, the young Palmyra grows slowly, but grows faster with age. It has fan shaped leaves. Ringed with leaf scars, the large trunk of the tree bears a resemblance to that of the coconut tree. The fruit of the tree, in Tamil “Nungu” is also commonly known by the name “Ice Apple” which was originally coined by the British in India. The tender fruit resembles ice. Scoop out the contents and drop it in a glass of tender coconut water. Keep it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes and have a delicious drink. 

Palmyra Trees back left of Horse

The fruit of this tree is borne in clusters and is about 4 to 7 inches in diameter with a black shell. Inside the black shell are three sweet jelly seed sockets covered by a thin, yellowish-brown skin. The fleshy white body contains watery fluid; however the fibrous and ripened outer layer of the palm can also be eaten raw, boiled or roasted. 

Cluster of older, taller Palmyra Trees

The Nungu fruit is valued for its nutritional benefits. It is known to; prevent chicken pox, improve digestion, cool the body, good for acidity, acts as an anti-inflamatory, helps eliminate body toxins, useful as an expectorant and laxative, good for ulcers, liver and spleen disorders and prevents constipation in pregnant women. However when using palm fruit its important to use tender fruit, as over ripe fruits will be hard to digest and may cause stomach problems. 

Large number of unripe fruit in Female Tree

Once the Nungu fruit has been opened it does not last well, so should be used immediately. The fruit’s rapid fermentation over the course of a mere three hours is the main reason why villagers use Nungu as a fast, inexpensive and easy source of alcohol. The sap of the tree involves tapping the top shoots and collecting the dripping juice in hanging earthen pots. The freshly collected juice is very refreshing and not intoxicating but will quickly ferment into an alcoholic drink i.e. “toddy”. 

Male Palmyra Tree

The leaves of the Borassus Flabellifer are used for thatching, mats, baskets, umbrellas and writing material. Literature in ancient Tamil Nad was written in preserved Palm leaves known as Olai Chuvadi. The writing utensil was in the form of a sharpened iron piece called an Eluthani. 

The stem of the leaves of this Tree has thorny edges which can be used to construct fences by nailing the thorny edge leaves together. The skin of the stem can be peeled off and used as rope. All parts of the tree and fruit are utilised. 

Fully ripened Nungus

The Nungu season generally runs from May through August. Nungus turn a brilliant shade of deep, blackish purple when fully ripened. Full-sized fruits share the same size and shape of large eggplant, although their tough texture resembles a coconut. 

Cluster of ripe Nungus

If not intended for immediate consumption, choose to scoop out each section intact, with the tan, fibrous skin still encasing the pod. This preserves the life of Nungu (placed in a fridge) by a day or so. 

Each section has been scooped out intact. Water sac surrounded by fibrous covering

Video showing Opening Nungu Fruit

January 2, 2016

Garden Nursery, Tiruvannamalai

Considering Tiruvannamalai is situated surrounded by countryside, there are not many Garden Nurseries located in this area. Fortunately several years ago a very nice Nursery i.e. "Sesha Nursery Garden", opened up next to NH66, about 4 kms from the Town Centre. The Nursery sells; Flowering Plants, Fruit Trees, Creepers and a large selection of Green Plants.

Yesterday I visited the Nursery to pick up some Rangoon Creepers, Ferns and a selection of bits and pieces. The plants at the Nursery are in excellent condition and everything is kept in good order.

Probably like most people, I find life easier when prices are clearly labelled and didn't appreciate having to haggle for every leaf and branch purchased at the Nursery . . . particularly as I succumbed to "haggling fatigue" early on, and probably ended up paying extra. Certainly when I return, will bring good backup to ensure a better deal!

October 29, 2014

57 Cent Parcel near Vediappanur road

The pictures below are of a 57 cent parcel of land near Kottangal village (Vediappanur road) just off the Girivalam Roadway. Arunachala darshan is beautiful from this place. 

The owner is willing to sell the whole parcel to one purchaser or part thereof. Water supply in this area is good. The perimeter of the land is marked by granite posts. 

For more information please email at the contact information top left margin of this page. 

October 22, 2014

Beautiful parcel of land at Devanandal

This is a posting of a very beautiful parcel of land, previously agricultural, located in the peaceful, idyllic area of Devanandal. The land is approximately 1.75 acres in size and is gated. The perimeter of the land is protected by granite stones with barbed wire. The cost includes well which has a plentiful supply of sweet water. 

For more information as to conditions and cost please email via the contact icon located top left of this page.

Bund to left of land

To the left of the above photograph is a bund the other side of which has a large expanse of poramboke land which is used for grazing in the dry season and in the case of heavy rain, gets filled with water. The poramboke land can never get built on as it is a seasonal reservoir so provides a very nice buffer to this land parcel.

Arunachala darshan from land

Well on land with plentiful, sweet water

The 1.75 acre Land Parcel

Peaceful, idyllic area

Many trees including Coconut on the Land