The annual fest at Turahalli forest saw eager participation from volunteers, bird-watchers, nature walkers, rock climbers and others, to celebrate one of Bengaluru's last remaining lung spaces.
Now an annual fest at namma Turahalli forest, Turahalli Day was celebrated on December 6th 2015. The day began by around 6.30 am with people gathering under the banyan tree.
Ganeshram and Anurag, who were there to go on a plant walk, were already in a ‘taxonomic’ discussion with Ravee. A few others joined them and off they went on a green path. Here's the highlight of the plant walk, in Ganeshram's words: "One of the topics that was underlying the whole walk was the importance of forests and native flora and how it affects us. The other was how knowledge can change the way we view the world -Indigofera linnaei & Crotalaria pusilla brought about that effect. The edible berries were relished by one and all, as were the Ficus stories." Sigh... If only I was Hermione Granger; I would've used a time turner and walked with both the groups, one watching plants and the other watching birds.
Bird watchers at Turahalli forest. Pic: Sugandhi G
I joined Prashanth Badarinath and other bird watchers as we headed towards the Shani temple. Early morning calls of the Spotted Owlets, observing a Black-naped Oriole behind the banyan tree, soon to find an Indian Golden Oriole on the same branch; the birding activity was picking up already. As we moved up the hill, we stopped to watch a Booted Eagle glide by. Watching it almost eye-level, we could spot the different characteristics of the bird. As the group walked down the trail and turned right at one of the eucalyptus patches, we came across a flock of Olive-backed Pipits. It was here that we stopped and had a long discussion about Turahalli, the last lung space of Bangalore, the threats it faces, and why it is important to help in retaining it the way it is.
Spotted: Indian Common Sailer. Pic: Sugandhi G
We walked on, observing bugs, beetles and butterflies on the way. Near the other temple, a small puddle amidst the rocks treated us to a few Common Skittering Frogs. A chirpy little girl in our group quickly memorised the name and enthusiastically counted the number of frogs, reporting it to her mother :)
Volunteers picking up garbage strewn over the forest. Pic: Sugandhi G
The highlight of the day was the large number of volunteers cleaning up the forest. Vinay Kothari and others, including many children, had gathered bags and bags of garbage, some of which were transported out on two wheelers.
Some portion of the 150 kg of waste picked up. Pic: Bangalore Climbing Group
The BBMP van which came to pick up the garbage. Pic: Bangalore Climbing Group
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised to see a BBMP auto that had come in to take out the rest of the garbage. Turahalli was a much, much cleaner place on December 6th, with nearly 150 kg of garbage transported out of the forest, thanks to all these volunteers.
Cyclists pedal their way up. Pic: Sugandhi G
Standing on top of the hill, we were soaking in the breeze and the view, while a line of cyclists wearing green and black moved across in single file and disappeared into the forest.
Rock climbers at their craft. Pic: Sugandhi G
A young child tries her hand (feet?) at slacklining. Pic: Bangalore Climbing Group
The rock climbers and cyclists cross paths. Pic: Sugandhi G
Back at the Shani temple, we met Sohan Pavuluri and other rock climbers, an extremely passionate bunch of people that regularly visits Turahalli. All along the route, there were different groups of people climbing rocks. The pros reminded us of Spiderman, while in parallel they continued to lend a helping hand and a useful tip to the first-timers. The climbers always say that Turahalli is their second home. They proved why the forest is so close to their hearts.
A view of Bengaluru city in the distance. Pic: Amitabha Saha Roy
Everybody who was there, busy in their own activity, left the forest much cleaner. This was one celebration where there was no noise. And just when that thought came to my mind, two bikers revved up their engines and zipped past us. They were definitely not part of Turahalli Day; they were instead there to wake us up and remind us that Turahalli needs our support against the likes of them.