Sherpagaon, a land stunning with its wild, untamed biodiversity…!!!
The thirst for an unknown beauty of nature when mingles with the rush for some enchanting small creatures, the journey becomes more close to a soul for a photographer like me who is always crazy on studying small wonders of nature. Sherpagaon, a projected remote land of Kalimpong, West Bengal surrounded by hills at an altitude of approx. 1,740 metres was the stop for my first visit to North Bengal. Yes, it was a bliss of nature at foot stop of hill with amazing landscape. Soaked with Gurkha tradition, the journey gave me an everlasting feeling.
Through the zigzag twist and loops around, the journey was actually both the mental and physical relinquish. Turns of road gave me lots of surprised picturesque view. Green hilly slopes covered with mighty clouds, seemed to be the stairs of heaven in true senses. With every inches of altitude, my hope for insects in this unexplored place became at its peak. The foot hill welcomed me with the touches of torrential rain, something to relish and something to experience the strength of Mother Nature.
Invoke of pine and alpines, rhododendron trees, the mesmerizing beauty of orchids all around through the smoky car windows gave a sooth to my bee lining journey at the end. The homestay was just beyond my expectation…!
The owner clearly defined the hospitality through "atithi devo vabo" during my stay. Yes, they are punctual, caring and trustworthy in every sense. In this context, I want to share something interesting. They offer a special Kinda Pakorda with hot tea to their guests, it’s a trend there. They actually provide the Pakorda prepared with local vegetation easily available in and around home yard, mostly from nearby greeneries. My first two encounters added flavour to my taste buds, but it was horrible for the third with its bitter taste, and I took no risk further.
My special interest for the visit to that place was only for documenting bush frog. Sorry to say, the inclement weather did not offer any opportunity to my expectations. My first day attempt was unproductive for rain though I determined for extended hours of work at night. Based on my study, the activities of frogs are supposed to be started in the early stage of darkness. I missed the moments the very next also as 06.30 PM was too late. I misjudge the habit of the mountain and that disheartened me a lot on my project. But the Mother Nature never emptied her children. Quite unexpected, my hard work paid off and I recorded two Trapdoor Spider, a long dream of mine, put another wings to my crown being a spider photographer.
The last day morning was crucial to me and I ventured out in search of some new species. I started my journey through a slant slope with dense greenery on both sides. Quite emotionally, I walked through the slope of the hill for hours…recorded few interesting subjects. Suddenly, I felt, the daylight intensity low and the cloud was going to cover me. Some village girls were in the field, taking out ginger and I expressed my concern. It was a lovely experience with the encouraging words from the girls, "it may takes one more hour to rain here"…. and surprisingly, the rain started just after 52 minutes of their words! With all my energy, I worked another sometime and quiet exhausted, I determined to return back and started walking through the harsh of high altitude. Crossing the bars of height, with emptied water bottle I was feeling so exhausted, returning back to my homestay seemed to be impossible during that moment. Took halts, compensated the lung capacity breathing high and again went up the hill slopes. Series of such exhausted spells ended and I finally reached my homestay. I even couldn’t speak out then, just looked for an open air to punch in my lungs. I got stuck again when I failed to find an electric fan …..! Yes, they did not think it any necessity for the homestay. Fortunately, the rain started. I opened the window and let the clouds drenched me. Yes, Mother Nature blessed me with her ultimate solutions. I heard some whispering sound of Mother Nature, “I think I gave you as much you deserve!” Words were not enough to describe how I felt …!
The trip ended with some mixed complements. First, during rainy, you could find flow of water particles all around the atmosphere, even though no rain. Floating water particles pushed you a new obstacle if you try to work against air. The lens will immediately be filled with water particles. Second, if you are not an inhabitant of hill area, you could suffer the problem that I faced. Third, species diversity patterns changes across spatial gradients in response to changes in climate, area, latitude, altitude, available resources and habitat complexity.
It’ is not an end, it’s a new beginning. I will return back with a new hope and thirst for another exciting venture. This venture is a life lesson for me to muster the courage of taking a new risk for the future.