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• To know about the natural national symbols of India.
• To understand the importance to protect nature.
• To know the other national symbols and appreciate them.
• To know the about different national festivals and celebrate them with joy.
This lesson deals with the natural national symbols and the other national symbols. It also explains about the different national festivals.
Velan and Ponni went on a forest trip to Pulivanam. The thought that they were going to visit the forest, made them ecstatic and they were filled with excitement and adventurous spirit. Veena, a wildlife reasearcher was with them. That forest had a legendary river running across. The forest also had 2,000 metre high mountain.
As per the plan, they had reached the forest area by a vehicle. “We are waiting for you” said the forest officer Manimaran, smilingly to the enthusiastic young researchers. Veena introduced Velan and Ponni to the officer. The personal vehicles had to be stopped there as they were restricted to go further. After that they had to travel only by vehicles run on battaries that are pollution free. These vehicles also called as ‘Jeep’ were covered with glass. A jeep was waiting for them. The forest officer Manimaran, Veena and the team boarded the vehicle.
“I think you are eagerly waiting to watch the tiger, but it is possible only when you are lucky enough. Though it is the tiger’s habitat, there are many birds, insects, reptiles, aquatic life and amphibians which make the eco-system. So please don’t wait only for the tigers but enjoy watching other animals too. And remember you shouldn’t speak loudly” said Manimaran.
In a few minutes they had a chance to see a beautiful pond with lotus. The vehicle was moving slowly. The lotuses were smiling back at them. “Lotuses are of different types. Those which are pink are called pink lotuses. The lotus has a very special structure” said Veena.
Just behind a big tree near the pond, a peacock was fanning out its feathers gracefully. Without making noise, Velan and Ponni were admiring it. “Uncle Manimaran, usually peacocks do this during rainy days. Will it rain now?” said Ponni.
“Maybe. It dances only during rainy days. But once a chieftain Began, wondered whether the peacock was shivering in cold and covered the peacock with his shawl. This chieftain belonged to the classical Sangam age of Tamils and also revered as one of the seven most generous personalities of ancient Tamil land.
There is a Peacock Sanctuary at Viralimalai in the district of Pudukottai (Tamilnadu)
“You know very well that the peacock is our national bird. For a long time the Peacock has a significant place in our culture, art and heritage. It’s beauty, stately appearance and its even distribution all over India makes it our national bird” said Manimaran.
The vehicle moved forward silently. They admired the beauty on either side even without blinking.
“We have come very close to the bank of the river. Now we have to go along the river. I am going to show you a different animal. You have to remain silent; only then you can see it. Please take your binoculars” said Manimaran.
Veena had instructed the team to bring their binoculars on the visit. Velan and Ponni had borrowed the binoculars from their neighbours. They focused their binoculars towards the gap between the bushes. That gave them a view of the river. Veena said, “Look, there is something black like a Gharial crocodile moving”. They could not see the animal clearly due to the glare caused by the morning sun. Manimaran said, “Turn away from the Sun’s rays and watch carefully. It is not a Gharial”.
Veena said, “No it does not look like a fish. It looks like an aquatic mammal – a river dophin”.
Velan and Ponni exclaimed, “What? Is it a dolphin? Marine acrobatic animal? How can it live in a river?
Manimaran said, “There are river dolphins in our country. The dolphins that live in the rivers have a long snout similar to the Gharial crocodiles. Just like bats, they use the ultrasound waves to catch their prey. They are essentially blind.
Velan said, “That was an interesting detail”.
“Do you know the name of the river beside which we are now on?”.
“The rich harvests of the fertile plains of Ganges was mentioned in one of Bharathiyar’s famous songs. Am I on the same banks of Ganges? My father asked me to collect some information about this place before visiting it,” said Ponni.
“No doubt about it.”
“Do you know that this river is 2,525 km long and is the longest river in India?” said Velan stunning everyone around.
“Though Brahmaputra is 3848 km long, it does not flow across India. So, What Velan said is right” said Veena.
Manimaran said, “We have seen a lot of things. Now let us relax. Come, let us have these pieces of mangoes.”
“These mangoes are very tasty, what kind of mangoes are these?” asked Veena eagerly.
“This kind of mango is known as ‘Imam pasand’ a variety of mango that was cultivated during the Mughal reign for the royal family. This is occasionally found in the forest. Even this was picked from the mango grove at the fringes of this forest” said Manimaran. Eveyone got into the vehicle and were ready to go.
“Now we are going to see another wonder” said Manimaran and drove the vehicle around a big banyan tree with countless roots around. He travelled around it for a few minutes and came back to the starting point. “Such a big banyan tree?” exclaimed Ponni and Velan.
“This is a very big banyan tree and is the oldest in this forest. It is the habitat of thousands of birds. It is as famous as the banyan tree in the Indian Botanical Garden in Howrah (Calcutta),” said Manimaran.
“There is another big banyan in Adyar (Chennai). It is as big as that. I saw that when I visited the Theosophical Society and wondered at it.” said Ponni.
“Let us now go slowly because there is a herd of elephants climbing the mountains right behind the banyan tree” said Manimaran.
Velan replied at once, “Oh! Aren’t the wild elephants ferocious? Are we in danger?”.
Manimaran said “First and foremost we are not supposed to trouble the wild animals because the forest is their home. We can admire them without disturbing them.”
Manimaran continued “We should know how to safeguard ourselves from the encounters of the wild animals. That is the reason why we try to explore the forests with the guides who belong to the forest tribal community”.
“Even though the animals are quite huge, they will not harm you unless you hurt them”.
“Let us also climb the hills along with the elephants. There is another surprise waiting for you on the top of the hills” said Manimaran.
After climbing the hill they came across a plain. He parked the vehicle and asked the team to see something using their binoculars. “Look there,”
There was a cone-shaped nest built with dried leaves. Manimaran asked, “Can you guess which animal’s nest is that?
I know that birds build nests on the ground, but this seems a bit strange,” said Veena.
It is a snake’s nest, the nest of king cobra”.
“What? Snakes build nests?” said Velan.
“This is the only reptile that builds a nest of its own and reproduces. Thus snake’s average length is 18 feet and is the longest of the poisonous snakes” said Manimaran.
“We have explored the forest and climbed the hills but we have not seen a tiger till now” said Ponni.
“Don’t worry Ponni. We have come across many wonders. The Tiger is a very shy animal. While descending down the hills we may see one on the rocky area on the slope” said Manimaran.
They had seen many unusual things that day. But they were very disappointed because they had not seen ever a tiger.”
“I have visited several forests but they are not identical. I got some new information from Mr.Manimaran and the tribals. I have visited forestes many times regarding my research. But I was not able to see the tiger. Don’t worry, we will see a tiger some time later comforted Veena.
They descended down the hill and came to the same place where they had watched the river dolphins. They parked the vehicle and rested for a while. Ponni came out of the vehicle and watched through the binoculars. She noticed something strange. She couldn’t control herself she whispered “Uncle, look there.” All of them quickly turned to look with their binoculars. They saw a tigress with her three cubs drinking water from the river. Veena captured the beautiful scene with her camera. Nobody dared to see anything other than the tigress, till it left the river bank and vanished away.
“This is the real king of the forest” said Manimaran.
“It is absolutely true” said Veena.
They all got back to the vehicle and were returning. Veena asked the team a question. “Do you know, there is something common between all the wonders you have seen today?”
“What is common?” asked Velan.
“Please, tell us quickly. We are very eager to know” said Ponni.
“All that we saw today are our natural national symbols” said Veena
“You are right, Veena. This didn’t strike me.” said Manimaran.
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