Monday, April 28, 2014

The Salt of the Earth


Stunted and sturdy. Maharashtra's Sahyadris don't exactly fit the template of what we'd imagine mountain ranges to be. Which makes sense, because the Sahyadris are not so much mountains as they are a hill range. 

Visitors looking out at these hills can be forgiven for feeling a little cheated - there's really nothing to amaze at or feel awed by. None of the peaks and crags and mighty majesty of the mountains up north, nor the lush, postcard-perfect prettiness of the hills down South. Just a matter-of-fact, business-like string of hills looking back at the viewer.  

And yet, there's something to the Sahyadris. A brusque solidity of substance that isn't quite beauty. These are hills that aren't embarrassed to remain tied to the seasons, going brown in the heat and green in the rain. Nothing is ethereal or ephemeral, everything is empirical - the plants that visibly struggle to flower, the forests that thin out and then thicken again, the animals and birds that contend with the elements, the terrific heat and the torrential rains, the none-too-reliable respite of cool winters. 

There's nothing intangible or mystical to be found here. There's no escaping the world and finding wisdom on remote snowy fastnesses. No wispy, gauzy inspiration for budding poets, philosophers, or artists. Everywhere, there is only the salt of the earth, leavened with flames of the forest and marigold.

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