INDIA. New Delhi: For almost everyone throughout the world, 2020 introduced a series of altogether different daily routines. It opened up new avenues – unseen or unthought-of earlier and personally forced me to go through many healing journeys. Connecting with nature was one of the so many healing journeys that made me connect deeper to myself.
Lockdowns due to COVID slowed life, and the only outings I had were to get daily supplies and outdoors close to home. Since there were almost no people on the roads, I formed a habit of walking slowly and enjoy the standstill life. In the process I started paying closer attention to the details of everyday life; stray dogs, cats, domestic flowers managing to survive no-attention mode, trees and tried to satisfy my inner explorer extinct.
Then came a small break from the pandemic, and though on a staggered pattern, people started venturing out for work, short vacations, and parties. Traveling became more accessible; I also joined in and tried to resume my pre-pandemic normal life. I now realised how much I missed traveling walks and my interactions with nature during lockdowns.
Then came the second wave, and made us realise how uncertain life’s happy moments are. Luckily this phase also passed out. The world became lively again but with warnings of the third wave that threatened and forced us to keep following safety protocols.
Two sessions of lockdowns and interactions with urban nature were more than enough, I longed to get out and explore nature from a different perspective that I have experienced during the lockdowns. The news of various tourist destinations opening up made me pack my bags and head to the closest nature/wildlife location: a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary (formerly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary).
The trip opened up a new chapter in my life, the experience was something I have never experienced before; the butterflies, the birds – everything looked different, their chirping was a musical concert I have never attended before. The flowers and the water body looked so mystical. Music was audible everywhere for those who listen.
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, a protected sanctuary is a man-made and man-managed wetland protecting Bharatpur, Rajasthan from frequent floods, and earlier was primarily used as a waterfowl hunting ground. It was created in1760 when an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was built to provide relief to the town from annual floods. The soil extracted to build the dam created a depression and this depression was converted into Bharatpur Lake as a duck shooting preserve.
The birding season at this bird haven for bird watchers and nature lovers opened in August 2021. Millions of birds of over 368 species visit this important wintering ground for Palaearctic migratory waterfowl every year and share the habitat with 379 species of plants, 45 species of fishes, and around 30 mammals.
As I leaped out of my comfort zone and connected with nature as I cycled around the sanctuary, the energy of the land rejuvenated me; I felt a new person emerging out of me and felt this was the place I belonged to. This short excursion to the avian home transformed, invigorated, and mesmerised me as it opened up a world of knowledge and understanding.
This short excursion was like a life-changing project for me. During all the time I was with the winged creatures, the power of nature enthralled me. The clean atmosphere provided me with the space I was longing to heal myself and immersing me into the wilderness was just a way of connecting back to my inner self.
The pandemic taught me that nature is all around us, and it helps one clarify, heal and connect with himself. We just need to know how to indulge.