Mountain ranges in Theni District, Tamilnadu, India are known for the splendor of its natural landscape and the beauty shaped by the Forces of Nature. I feel comfortable when I visit the Western Ghats range of mountains in Theni District. When I was a teenager, I was enchanted by beauty of Kurangani hills in Bodinayakkanur. I revisited this mountain after an interval of more than thirty years, and the enchanting beauty and interesting features of the natural scene were absent. I felt that I was part of Nature and nothing could separate me and the aesthetics in Nature. Nature is the art of God. This particular spot in the Western Ghats inspired me since it was unaffected by human activities in the late sixties. The natural watercourse from top of the mountain flowing toward Bodinayakkanur, the waterfalls near Top Station and Mudhuvakkudi and the evergreen Shola forests in the Central Station… are still lingering on my mind. Butterflies, flowers, colorful birds and hundreds of primates… no one has ever been able to travel back in time. If the laws of physics that govern nature really permit time reversal, there should somehow be a way to achieve it. Nature has not blessed me to travel back in time. “The poetry of the earth is never dead”-John Keats. “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her”- Wordsworth. However, I cannot go against Nature since we all depend on Nature for survival. Unfortunately, the mountain ranges, that bewitched me thirty years ago, face severe conservation challenges today. Indigenous communities dwelling on various mountains and hills have lost their cultural identity today! They can no longer be called “first people” and “protectors of forests” and have become vulnerable to exploitation. Disappearance of our ancient forests has made a deep impact in the minds of all Nature lovers. Our ancient forests have lost their regenerative capacity due to various reasons such as land conversion for plantations, invasive alien species, frequent wildfire and wrong policies that paved for introduced tree species. If we fail to initiate steps to protect our mountain ecosystem, we will face adverse consequences like fragmented Shola forests, environmental degradation, climate change, and loss of native flora and fauna.
When Conservation International declared the Western Ghats as one of the 34 Global Biodiversity hot spots, I was relieved. I hope that efforts will be taken to save one of the most biologically and culturally diverse places in the world.
I used to tell my close associates that civilization has destroyed our connection to nature. Civilization is nothing but on encroachment on Nature. I remember William Wordsworth when I visit the mountain areas in Theni District. For this Romantic poet, it is nothing but the presence of God everywhere:
To the external world hints of a greater spiritual reality; trees are symbols, rocks and stones a hidden language, mountains mysterious statements made by a creator who tries to communicate with his creation. This supreme consciousness, spirit of nature, or God is present everywhere:
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something for more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting sins,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky and the mind of Man
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts
And rolls through all things.
I remember Rabindra Nath Tagore’s poem (from Gitanjali):
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Let us oppose environmentally destructible practices. Let us plant trees and save our earth from the adverse impacts of climate change. Let us save our beautiful earth for the sake of our future generations. The earth is our Mother.