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Chorla Ghat - en route from Belgaum to Goa

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by Aanand, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. Aanand

    Aanand Amatore

    The hills are alive, with the sights of Karvi
    Gauree Malkarnekar | Sep 7, 2016, 04.18AM IST
    Chorla: All along the Chorla Ghats, where the Goa-Karnataka-Maharashtra borders intersect, a thick uniform growth has covered entire hill sides, the dark stem of the plant heavily laden with large flower buds. With the arrival of September, stray flowers, in different shades of purple, have already begun blooming, adding spots of intense purple to the otherwise green-brown landscape of the Western Ghats.

    The flower is karvi or strobilanthes callosa, the species of it presently blooming in the Chorla Ghats being one that sees flowering after a gap of eight years - a rare blooming, which will turn patches of the Western Ghats into carpets of purple. Endemic to the Western Ghats, the karvi is preparing for mass-blooming, as it always does, in several patches of the ghats, including at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai.

    "By late September, all the patches of Western Ghats covered in this particular species of karvi will be in full bloom, making these stretches burst into pink and purple splashes of colour. This particular species blooms once in eight years, the last time being in 2008. There are other karvi species that have a blooming cycle of up to twelve years," says environmentalist Ramesh Zarmekar. This blooming is expected to last till around early to mid-October.

    He said that the karvi plant is usually found at a high altitude in the Western Ghats, presently growing at 800m above sea level at Chorla, and is known to thrive where ample moisture is found in the soil.

    "But the karvi flowers have also been found earlier at a height of about 100m from sea level. Detailed research on the plant is still in its initial stages," Zarmekar says.

    Research scholar at the department of botany at Goa University Prabha Pillai says that so far a karvi plant is known to see only one blooming in its lifetime, after which it dries up and dies.

    "The year following the blooming, when the rain hits the Western Ghats, the karvi plant leaves seeds from its pod in the soil for the next plant to come up. Plants from these seeds will grow for the next karvi blooming to take place," Pillai says.

    While alive, the plant is known to be a habitat for Malabar pit vipers, bamboo pit vipers and the green vine snake among other snakes. Its leaves serve as food for grasshoppers and the Indian bison, and once dried up ticks nest in hoards on the plants.

    "Though the plant is not known to be used for medicinal purposes, its stem is widely used by tribals in Maharashtra and Goa to build shacks to live in as these stems are known for their elasticity. The karvi flower blooming results in its nectar being drawn for what is known by locals as karvi honey, which is more intense in colour and taste," Zarmekar says.
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