5km to the side of Gurgaon -Faridabad four lane road, driving through a thick forest of Vilayati Kekar trees interpersed with construction sites, you enter Mangarbani village (wrongly spelt Manger at the direction board on the main road).
The Art and Craft Hotel raises a few eyebrows just before we enter the village. Builders are already in possession of Dream plans to convert the ancient village of Mangarbani into a "Tourist Paradise", the Hotel is probably waiting for those Dreams to take
At this sleepy village of about 300 hamlets we ask our way to the Bani. As we reach Bani, the three soldiers from Mangarbani village who started the fight to save Mangarbani against seemingly odd barriers, greet us. We, a few friends who learnt about
Mangarbani through the film "The Lost Forest", had decided to devote the Sunday Morning to see the forest for ourselves.
"Heavenly'" " So cool'" "Longest tailed peacock" "Beautiful bird sounds" remarks kept coming as we walked. The residents pitched in with their knowledge of the Bani. The first and last rule of the Bani " Do not pluck or cut anything from the Bani. If
you graze your animals inside, you raise the wrath of Gudanya Baba whose Samadhi in a cave is worshipped by the villagers.
Broken Kadamb branch-Remove it at your peril!
Here is an excerpt from the magazine "Down To Earth"
---What sets the Bani apart from the surrounding vegetation is that 95 per cent of it comprises a slow growing tree called Dhau (Anogeissus pendula). The tree has a unique feature. If it is nibbled by cattle, it spreads out on the ground or over rocks like
thick prostrate undergrowth. If left undisturbed, it grows into a middle-sized tree. The 13-meter-tall dhaus in Mangar Bani testify to the forest’s antiquity, points out Pradip Krishen, the author of Trees of Delhi. ......
Sacred grove of Dhau trees seen from temple top
We saw Desi papri trees, Vat and Dhok trees , Seetaphal trees and Kadamb trees which were fruiting and Dhau, the endemic tree of the area which were sprouting all over after the rains.
Sweet fruit of Seeta Phal tree
Dhau sprouting through rocks
Take the Dhau outside Mangarbani and they refuse to grow. The Dhau is believed to be one large organism in Managrbani which propagates through root grown saplings only. Untouched by the British ( The British never discovered this village tucked away in
the interior, according to locals) and the Forest Department, Vilayati Keekar is absent in the village. No bougainvillas and no lantana bushes are seen anywhere. The Forest has remained natural as it was 3000 years ago. A Natural Museum worth presrving
for the next generation!
Under the shade of ancient trees
Mangarbani, a serene forest
Besides the Bani being the Preserve of fauna and flora endemic to the Aravalis (probably the only patch in Rajasthan-Haryana-Delhi, where Aravalis have survived in their original glory), this unspoilt forest is most likely responsible for water recharging
and safeguarding water veins underground. Destroy this vegetation cover, build on it and we could end up blocking/destroying any number of water veins under those impenetrable rock-systems.
Gurgaon and Faridabad have seen Surajkund, Badkhal and Dumdama lakes disappear within the last 25-30 years, once vegetation in Aravalis was destroyed and hilllsides dug up for minerals/stones for construction and/or levelled for putting up buildings. The
ban by the Supreme Court on all mining cant restore those water bodies, they are gone for ever.
Will the Gurgaon-Faridabad-Delhi residents let the unspoilt Aravalis in and around Manger Bani disappear? They could be destroying the most important water-recharge System/Preserve that could have sustained the coming generations by providing much needed
elixir of life 'WATER'
SAVE THE ARAVALIS THAT WE STILL HAVE------REHABILITATING THEM MAY BE BEYOND ALL OF US. AFTER ALL THESE MOUNTAINS TOOK MILLIONS OF YEARS TO BECOME OUR BENEFICIARIES------
Listen to the young men from Mangarbani making an appeal