I am still dazed by the sight of hundreds of graceful ephemeral butterflies, fluttering all around me and they looked like flying flowers; truly a breathtaking sight. I feel blessed to have witnessed such a gift of nature.
We call it progress but we endure severe repercussions of living in a concrete jungle. Our cities are almost devoid of trees and this markedly, increases stress, vulnerability to depression, anxiety and severe mood swings. My mood too gets awry sometimes and I need to run away from the madness and I head towards the green countryside. Lush greenery soothes ragged nerves and puts you out of the doldrums.
I love getting out whenever I get the chance and when I heard that there are swarms of butterflies in the hilly terrains of Mulapadu which is just about 35kms away from the city, I had to go. I saw a video and I was hooked; I just had to see the hordes of butterflies of various colours, sizes and patterns.
My friend Sasi invited me to go along with her but I couldn’t make it that day and kept regretting my loss. But then I sincerely believe Paulo Coelho’s words,” when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. And that is what happened the next day when Sasi, who was making a second visit, asked me to join her. I grabbed the opportunity and we set out with a picnic basket and cameras in tow. I made some fresh popcorn and fritters to munch on.
My garden at home too has a couple of butterflies but the sight of a kaleidoscope of these winged beauties in their natural habitat is a not to be missed sight. Thanks to the monsoon, hordes of these colourful butterflies were fluttering in a few places.
Vijayawada is surrounded by hills and they are dense forests. We had to drive up to 8 km’s on a goat track and the terrain was like entering a green tunnel. We were excited to even sight a different shaped leaf and would troop out to capture it. There were many citrus trees and bamboo.
Shooting flora and fauna is not an easy task. We tried to capture the beauty of the winged creatures but they were just too fast. I managed to catch a grasshopper which sat quietly on a leaf. There were many anthills around and we did see a snake slithering across. We heard the peacocks calling out. At the centre of a clearing, there was a temple and it was an ideal place to rest awhile. I am sure there were monkeys too but we did not sight them in the dense forest. Smooth round pebbles indicated that rainwater came gushing down and that is how the greenery survived.
There were many trekking trails around which led to the top of the hill. We walked up one and came to an ancient water well and there were so many butterflies around it. Bright yellow butterflies and black and golden yellow spotted butterflies flew around gracefully when we came too close to clicking pictures. “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you, ” said Nathaniel Hawthorne. And that is what happened exactly with us.
What an amazing feeling it is to stand in the midst of a kaleidoscope of butterflies. I felt as if I was in the middle of a dream sequence straight out of a soppy Bollywood romance. Acting out an angel with wings in school always made me wish I could grow real wings and soar in the sky and these butterflies refreshed all those dreams again. But now I know that I already have wings and I just need to fly. Happiness is actually like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away.
It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever but these tiny, delicate creatures beauty is short lived. The butterflies in Mulapadu also can be sighted only for a couple of weeks, towards the end of June. An average butterfly species has an adult lifespan of just two weeks or less if there is really heavy rain or wind and in the wild, they are exposed to many predators like birds and other insects, so may not live as long as they are capable of.
We posed, and clicked pictures against the dense forest which made a perfect natural backdrop and then set out to return. On the drive back, we were still gazing at all the different ferns and foliage growing wild. Suddenly we spotted a cute little ball scurrying away and we stopped the car and jumped out to check. To my utter delight, I saw that it was a baby Indian Star Tortoise. It is a threatened species found in dry areas and scrub forest. This species is very popular in the pet trade as it looks very cute. Its lifespan is 30 to 80 years but as pets am sure they die early. My grandson, Arian loves animals and how I wished that he was with me to enjoy the butterflies and the tortoise.
It’s said that when you see a butterfly, it’s someone you love in heaven reminding you of them and giving you a reason to remember all the beautiful memories you shared with them. And I have many loved ones up there. All in all, it was a very uplifting and stimulating day spent in the lap of nature and I always store my magical bundle of memories in my memory bank and relive the moments whenever I go through the captured moments. As a child in school, I heard this very often…A girl should be like a butterfly, pretty to see but hard to catch and I always stand by that truism.
PS: Sorry for the not-so-good pictures. I am no photographer and don’t claim to be one.