Mysteries of death: Through the Rain-Drenched Trails of Tamhini

In the heart of Western Ghats, amidst the embrace of Tamhini, our small group of nature enthusiasts set on a journey that would forever etch a story of wonder into our memories. It was a rain-soaked day of August 4 when we travelled into the dense forest, seeking secrets hidden inside. We were on a mission to see a marvelous spot untouched by tourists. Our destination was a sparkling lake, whose waters replenished only in the monsoon season when numerous waterfalls surrounding it filled its depths.

The path leading us there was through a mosaic of green and brown, where each tree and woody shrub showed signs of ancient stories. Even the moist leaf litter beneath our feet appeared to be undisturbed, as if touched only by the most delicate of footsteps.

As we approached, the forest gradually opened up into a breathtaking view; a lake so pristine, its water was like a mirror reflecting every detail of the canopy and sky above. To add to the beauty, the raindrops created ripples on the surface, that seemed to echo the excitement in our hearts. Here, in this moment we felt a sense of oneness with nature. We soon realized that this journey of exploring the landscape had not just been a physical adventure but a spiritual one as well.

Carcass of a Malabar Giant squirrel ©Nisargasutra/Kruttika

Gently, we approached the fallen creature with all our senses heightened by curiosity. Its eyes were now dim, the forest around us seemed to hush, as if paying a tribute to the fallen king of the trees. Theories started flowing among us; Had it succumbed to natural causes? Was it a victim of a predator’s half successful attempt? Maybe it was struck by a lightening? We tried to play detectives looking for clues but there were none. Mother nature had kept its secret well.

The same evening, we decided to go on a night trail eager to find out about the nocturnal forest life. On our way back to camp, we stumbled upon another marvel. In the lively puddles formed by the non-stop downpour, a brown morph checkered keelback sat gracefully, its scales shimmering like liquid bronze. As we stood there under the moonlit sky, surrounded by the calls of amphibians and hidden creatures, we felt a connection with this mysterious land. It was almost like meditation, a special background music by the frogs curated for this moment of spotting the snake. That same trail showed us the rich biodiversity of Tamhini; from a young freshwater eel to the commanding presence of a massive bull frog, from various frog mating/amplexus to the silky cocoons of worms hidden behind leaves – each encounter was noteworthy. We returned to the camp carrying with us not just the memories of the forest but also the profound sense of awe and satisfaction/ contentment.

A brown morph of a checkered keelback sitting in a puddle between rocks ©Nisargasutra/Kruttika

The contrast between life and death was stark, and yet, both scenes were intertwined in the intricate dance of nature.