Maestro of the Monsoon

Decorated by varieties of flora and fauna Sahyadri Hills stand tall amongst the hotspots of biodiversity. Lush green forests, waterfalls, valleys and grasslands cover approximately 140,000 sq.km. area. Running along the west coast of India the Western Ghats experience vast changes in climate.

After the season of harsh sunlight, warm breezes and dried water puddles a lightening spark through the dense clouds. The dirt on the leaves is washed out with the droplets of water. The game of shadow and light starts taking a new turn.

On one fine day, in the month of June I decided to explore the dense jungles of Andharbaan. It is known as Andharban because in Marathi “Aandhar” means Dark & “Ban “means Forest. The forest is so dense that even the rays of the sun cannot enter through the tightly knitted branches and leaves. At that time, the monsoon showers were creating a rhythmic music on the leaves and in the puddles. Croaking frogs were giving a tune to that music. After walking for half an hour through the dense forest I arrived at the area where there were plains. As I stepped into misty light a sparkling blue bird flew through the air into the dense forests of Western Ghats which left a mark of its master piece on my mind “a whistle no one can forget”.

That note echoed through the valley and what reached my ears was the reverberation of the sound. It was a tune I never heard before, a sweet whistle, soothing ambience and blue metallic colour which sparkled before my eyes. Yes, this was my first encounter with the Beethoven of Western Ghats and this is the story of his famous tune…

The folklore related to this mysteriously sweet whistle dates back to Dvapar Yuga, the era known for Lord Krishna the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

When Krishna was roaming through the jungles he arrived near a stream, and thought of resting for a while. He fell asleep near the mountain stream. A boy passing by saw that Krishna is asleep and stole his flute. While on the run, he started playing the flute in bits and pieces. Later when Krishna woke up, he realised that his beloved flute is gone. As he followed the tune, he reached the boy and cursed him that he will turn into a bird. After that the boy turned into a bird (whistling thrush) but the music he learnt on the way after he stole the flute remained with the boy forever. Even as a bird, he continues to whistle the magical tune of Lord Krishna.

Even today the whistling thrush sings the tune for a long time, which calms everyone, and leaves sweet memories of the soothing sound. The whistling thrush has the ability to learn the entire tune. These thrushes are also known locally by the name of “whistling schoolboy” for the whistles and calls they make. They sing or whistle in a very unique manner like humans. To observe this beautiful Beethoven of the Western Ghats, you will need to be patient, be alert and listen to the music of nature.  However, human greed is posing a threat to the very existence of birds. Their population is declining and the forests are facing threats from mining, habitat destruction, climate change and deforestation. If we want to save and conserve this particular species, then we have to take sustained efforts towards conserving the habitat

Music of the forest should not get lost in the noise of traffic.

Nivedita Joshi/27.09.2023

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