A ramble up the “choes” or dry rivulets of the Shivaliks affords assorted views of nature’s “stony flower beds”. The “choes” are strewn with rocks and stones of a many-splendoured hue and shape. Some are so smooth and lustrous as if nature had leveraged its powers of attrition to act as an accomplished gem cutter and polisher. Among the very striking rocks was one with many holes/cavities and embedded in the “choe” that flows down to Choti-Badi Nagal village, about 15 km from Chandigarh. It was as if a sculpture had been fashioned by Rodinesque water. I sought consultation to ascertain the stone's age and its curious chiselling.
Photo: Vikram Jit Singh
I learnt that effects of rain splash and water in spate are prime reasons for the holes. "The rocks are carbonate rich and the white patches, veins and fragments are of carbonates that get dissolved in water on prolonged action of weathering. The big holes that you see in the rocks as well as small cavities are because of this action. Sometimes, big fragments that are enclosed in the rock having a layer of carbonates get loosened on removal of carbonate layer and come out leaving a hole behind. You are well conversant with caves in limestone country, which are a common sight in Shimla, Mussoorie and Nainital hills. Amarnath Cave in Kashmir is an excellent example,'' explained Prof RS Chaudhri, former chairman and director of geology department, Panjab University.
Assistant Prof Ashu Khosla (PU geology department), who specialises in studying fossils, added: "This rock belongs to the Uppermost Pleistocene Age (1.2-1.5 million years old). The hills where this rock was found are the youngest in the Shivaliks. This rock is not very hard, is coarse in size and that is the reason pitholes/cavities are formed by water, as also by weathering and erosion. Water can easily enter and break such rocks in several places."
Knock, Knock! Who'S There ?
Photo: Opinder Kaur Sekhon
The tricity's residential areas lying in the shadow of the Shivaliks are rife with wild creatures wandering in. Some, like snakes, leopards and weird moths, give the jitters while others get enshrined in memory and are shared in a jiffy via social media! Antique collector Opinder Kaur Sekhon was paid a visit by a peacock in breeding plumage at her residence in Sector 2, Chandigarh.
"As a routine in the morning, we were busy, and suddenly my maid came running to me saying 'moora' in her Nepali, which she meant was 'peacock'. My joy knew no bounds when I saw the peacock in our lawn and I called my daughter to click pictures from inside. We feared that were we to go out, the peacock would fly away. Thank God! Our four dogs were not aware of the peacock otherwise they would have been after his life.
They say a peacock's visit is lucky but I am not sure exactly how that is so. But I felt happy. He remained in our house for at least half-an-hour," wrote Sekhon.
Aqua Guard Not Working!
Photo: Sarabjit Lehal
At the Butterfly Park, Sector 26, Chandigarh, one would expect to observe exotic “flying flowers” gracing the manicured lawns. Vehicles are not allowed inside, even government ones, unless strictly necessary. But what wildlife photographer Sarabjit Lehal saw on May 9 left him astounded. A glistening Ford EcoSport SUV (CH 01 AX 2931) mounted on the lawns and being washed in violation of the morning ban. In Lehal's own words: "These two boys were called from their work to wash the car. It took them about 45 minutes to give a thorough washing. All this while, the water pump was switched on. This happened between 9-10 am. From the way they were handling the job, it looks like a regular feature."
I asked the forester in charge of the park, Rohit, who admitted to the violation. "However, we take great pains to conserve water and this washing has happened only once. We are sorry for this," he said. Rohit was not willing to reveal the SUV's ownership. On May 13, I emailed Lehal's photos to UT chief conservator Santosh Kumar and his deputy, Birendra Choudhary. All the response that was elicited was from Kumar, who wrote back tersely on May 15: "The in-charge forester of park has been sought an explanation n matter is being inquired into." (sic)
Meanwhile, I conducted my own inquiry. The SUV belongs to Namita Singh, daughter of Karan Singh, the UT range forest officer. Both father and daughter drive this SUV, and live close by in Sector 7B. How very convenient!
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