The forest streams of the Western Ghats are like a treasure trove of nature

I wake up at dawn to the call of a Malabar whistling Thrush before the sun’s rays touch the forest floor. This beautiful little violet coloured bird’s call echoes through the entire forest. Leaving my camera and the baggage of goals behind, I walk to the pristine and reverent stream alone; for this is the most beautiful moment I love when I am in the Western Ghats.

The streams in these forests were the ones that made me develop a strong emotional connect with nature during my childhood. When you sit next to a stream devoid of thoughts, you experience a magical connection with it. This seldom comes when we are driven by purpose.

I feel that the pure and crystal clear water reflects my mind. Right from a frog hidden underneath a rock, a group of ghost-like birds whooshing past me in search of food, the spider that weaves itself with nature, the mud puddling butterflies with their riot of colours, the mating insects, to the sun rays penetrating through the deeply woven canopy, everything allows me to reflect on myself.

Pristine and priceless

The morning light that touches the stream is priceless. It is the light that transforms the eerie feeling of the night. The hooting call of brow hawk owls changes into the echoing whistle of a Malabar whistling Thrush. It seems like the bird’s way of showing happiness.

Every dawn is a ray of hope. Everything comes alive and reverberates with a powerful intensity. It brings positive energy in me. It makes me concentrate. I feel like I am living inside a treasure trove.

The forest is like an open book, thrilling and mysterious, new every moment.

Right from a small plant struggling to catch the morning light to the trees with huge buttresses, everything inspires me.

They cannot have a price tag because the joy that comes from within me at dawn near a stream cannot be bought. Coming back to a city changes this entire feeling and I ache to go back.

It becomes a utopia when I am in a city. It transforms into a soothing dream when I am travelling to these places.

It becomes a reality when I am there. And with reality comes peace.

Wealth of joy

During my outreach programmes in towns and villages, teachers, curious ask why I work on conservation education for children when there is ‘scope’ in other areas.

I think to myself, “How can I do anything else other than conservation education when the forests which have the streams that I love the most are being destroyed?”

I hope to translate the wonderful wealth of joy and the importance of forests to children in an engaging way, so they too can find their connect with nature and become ambassadors for conservation.

(The author is an award-winning nature photographer and co-founder of the Youth for Conservation. In this monthly column he talks about his passion for nature, photography and conservation.)