Seven Amazing Trees

Bristlecone pine

Seven amazing trees from all over the world.

Oak chapel

Oak chapel or Chêne chapelle is an oak tree, is a religious monument and object of pilgrimage.This is situated in AllouvilleBellefosse, France. The tree is between 800 to 1,200 years old. The hollow trunk has two chapel inside which were build in 1669. This religious monument is surrounded with spiral staircase for access.
Oak Chappel  at allouville bellefosse
Oak Chappel at allouville bellefosse
source : Old Trees in The Netherlands and Western Europe

 Circus Tree

Axel Erlandson, an American farmer has a hobby of giving unique shapes to trees. He opened a horticulture attraction in 1947, which was named The Tree Circus.
Circus tree
Circus tree
Basket Tree

Different shapes of Circus Tree

Chandelier Tree

Chandelier Tree is a 315 foot (96 metre) tall coast redwood tree in Leggett, California with a 6 foot (1.83m) wide by 9 foot (2.74m) high hole cut through its base to allow a car to drive through. The hole was carved in the 1930s.

 

Chandelier Tree in California - One of seven amazing trees
Chandelier Tree in California – One of seven amazing trees

 Baobab

Also known as bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree, can grow up to grow up to nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall and 35 feet (11 m) wide. Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres (32,000 US gal)) to endure the harsh drought conditions.

 

Baobab Tree at Limpopo Province, South Africa
Baobab Tree at Limpopo Province, South Africa
One species, Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive, has a circumference of 47 metres (150 ft) and an average diameter of 15 metres (49 ft). Carbon dating has been used to estimate the age of the specimens at approximately 6000 years.

Tea pot Baobob
 

Bristlecone pine

Bristlecone pine are considered as the oldest tree in the world, some living up to 5,000 years.
Methuselah, named tree is considered as the oldest tree and non-clonal organism still alive in the white mountains of eastern California, at the age of about 4,841 years, its exact location is currently undisclosed to the public as a protection against vandalism.
Bristlecone pine
Bristlecone pine
Banyan tree
Banyan tree has a big canopy with ariel prop roots running from its branches to ground and covers several hectors of land, with age these roots become thick and woody and become
indistinguishable from main trunk. Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment under banyan tree (bodhi tree) in Bodhgaya in India.

This large banyan tree was planted in 1873,in Hawaii and now it has coveredtwo-third of an acre
Due to the complex structure of the roots and extensive branching, the banyan is extensively used for creating Bonsai.

Bonsai of Banyan Tree

Tule tree

In Spanish this tree is known as El Árbol del Tule, is located in Oaxaca a Mexican city.
This tree has the stoutest trunk in the world.This tree has the stoutest trunk in the world measuring trunk girth at 190 feet (58 m) and trunk diameter at 37 feet (11.3 m). Initially it was thought to be multiple trees, but DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree.
Arbor Del tule tree in Mexico
Arbor Del tule tree in Mexico

Closer view of tree

The tree is also known as “Tree of Life” from all the images of animals that are reputedly visible in the tree’s gnarled trunk.

Seven Wonders of Camouflage

Seven wonders of Camouflage

I am back with another wonder of nature, this is camouflage or colour changing ability of some species of invertebrates and vertebrates. This is a unique characteristic or rather a weapon which is some time used as a defense and sometime to catch prey. These creatures so perfectly blend with the surrounding that its very hard to spot them.
So, please have a look and enjoy!
1. Mollusca
a. Mimic Octopus
Camouflage by Octopus - Seven wonders of Nature
Camouflage by Octopus – Seven wonders of Nature
Mimic octopus: As the name suggest this is an expert to mimic other creatures. Normally it has brown and white stripes or spots. This octopus can contour its body and change its colour and also mimic the likeness and movements of more than fifteen different species including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crab, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones, and martis shrimps. Depending upon the predator it can decide which animal to impersonate, for example if it is attacked by a damselfish then octopus impersonate as a sea snake, (damselfish’s predator) by burying six of its arms and waving other two arms in opposite direction, and changing colour to black and yellow. Really a champion of disguise.
b. Cuttle Fish
Cuttlefishes are also known as chameleon of sea because of rapid changing ability.
2. Arthropoda
a. Golden Tortoise Beetle
Beetle camouflage
Beetle camouflage
These beetles can change colour from golden to red. Instead of using pigment cells it changes its colour by altering the reflectivity of their shell, which is a remarkable feature of this tiny creature.
b. Golden rod crab spider
Depending on the flower on which it is hunting it can change its colour, but as it can change only in white and yellow so normally it hunts on white and yellow flowers like daisy and sunflower. Colour changing is induced by visual feedback.
3. Flounder fish
This is an ocean dwelling flat fish. They manage to blend so well with surroundings that it’s hard to locate them. A peculiar characteristic of this fish is that it has both the eyes on same side, which is an aid for the act of camouflage. A larval flounder has one eye on each side of the body, but as it grows one eye migrate to other side.
4. Amphibians
Peron’s tree frog can change its colour in less than an hour from grey, brown or even white. Due to its high pitched cackle it is also known as laughing tree frog.
5. Reptiles
Some Chameleons are expert in changing colour varying from pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, yellow and turquoise.
6. Birds
Ptarmigan
Ptarmigan, also known as rock ptarmigan exhibits seasonal camouflage, it changes it’s colour from brown to white. In winter it’s white with black tail , and brown in spring and summer. It is a gamebird in grouse family. These birds prefer to live in barren and higher elevation areas.
7. Mammals
Some mammals like Arctic fox, Arctic hare, Ermine exhibit seasonal camouflage, with the onset of winter their colour changes to white which remain for whole winter, after winter i.e. in spring and summer they have a different colour. This change help them in both ways, catching prey as well as protecting from predators.
a. Arctic fox
Arctic fox during spring/summer and winter

 

b.Arctic hare
Arctic Hare during spring/summer and winter

 

c.Ermine
Ermine in spring/summer and winter

 

d. Barren Ground Caribou

Barren Ground Caribou in spring/summer and winter

Most expensive coffee. Do you know how this is prepared?

Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world selling for between $100 and $600 USD per pound or about $50 a cup. Its also known as Civet coffee or Weasel coffee. Kopi Luwak is an Indonesian word, Kopi which means coffee, and luwak is a common name of a cat size mammal Asian Palm Civet. Kopi Luwak has an exceptional aroma and most pleasing taste.
But I’m sure many of us don’t know how this delicious coffee is obtained. Civets consumes red coffee cherries, containing fruits and seeds. But, its not able to digest the coffee beans so they are passed out. The beans and collected washed and dried. Though Civets are not able to digest the beans but their digestive juices penetrate the beans break down the proteins and enhance its flavour.
We may worry about the safety, but rigourous washing, sun drying and roasting at high temperature help to eliminate bacteria making it a safe coffee.
Really, an unusual way to get an unusual flavour…….

Amazing zoo

Above is not a still from a movie instead, but a common occurence in “Lujan Zoo” in Argentina. Here people can not only go near wild and dangerous animals, but they can cuddle and even take a ride on them. There is no information though from the zoo, as why these animals behave as domesticated ones.
Lujan’s zoo is located in the Province of Buenos Aires at 42 miles (68 Km) north west of Buenos Aires city, this is one of the main attractions of the city that every week receives hundreds of local and foreign visitors.

Visitors can even pick up the smaller animals and play with them at risk to themselves and the creatures. Shockingly there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of safety regulations to protect either humans or animals
At the zoo visitors are in direct contact with the animals and can also enjoy rides on them. Cages are accessible to everyone who paid $50 and signed the paper saying that if you are eaten, the Zoo is not responsible.
Even children are allowed to enter the lion’s cage and other potentially dangerous animals.

Animal protection charity, The Born Free Foundation, has condemned the zoo and issued a statement to urge tourists not to visit it.

Will Travers, CEO of The Born Free Foundation said: ‘Based on what I have seen displayed on the Lujan Zoo website, I am fearful that a terrible accident is going to happen.
CEO of The Born Free Foundation add : ‘The zoo is, in my view, placing the lives of its visitors at great risk by encouraging them to have ‘close encounters’ with dangerous, potentially lethal, wild animals.

Anyone who has any knowledge of big cats will understand that they are wild animals and, as such, as unpredictable.

Seven little known facts from the Mahabharata (1)

Shri Krishna challenging Bhishma in the war of Kurukshetra

Seven less known facts from Mahabharata

In Indian mythology, we find mention of stories which are not only interesting, but also serve a message/ purpose. Mahabharata is one such epic, where we find these types of topics in abundance. Here are seven captivating stories from the epic Mahabharata from Indian mythology.

1. Arjuna as an eunuch

In Indralok, Arjuna was propositioned by apsara Urvashi, but Arjuna addressed her as ‘mother’, Urvashi was annoyed with the rejection and cursed him that he would become a eunuch. When Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjuna that the curse would serve him as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period he would regain his masculinity.

Arjuna as Brihannala

This proved to be significant in the war of Kurukshetra. After spending 12 years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile in cognito, in the court of king Virat. Arjuna made use of the curse and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala.

2. Five golden arrows

As Kauravas were losing the battle of Mahabharata, Duryodhana approached Bhisma one night and accused him of not fighting the Mahabharata war to his full strength because of his affection for Pandavas. Bhisma greatly angered, immediately picked up 5 golden arrows and chanted mantras declaring tomorrow he will kill 5 pandavas with the 5 golden arrows. Duryodhana not having faith in his words asked Bhisma to give custody of 5 golden arrows saying that he will keep them and will return them next morning.

Long back before the Mahabharata war, Pandavas were living in exile in a forest. Duryodhana placed his camp on the opposite side of the pond where Pandavas were staying. Once while Duryodhana was taking bath in that pond, the heavenly prince Gandharvas came to take bath Duryodhana could not tolerate this and had a fight in which Gandharva captured him. On request of Yudhisthir, Arjuna saved Duryodhana and set him free. Duryodhana was ashamed but being a kshatriya, asked Arjuna what benediction of boon would he like Arjuna replied he would ask for the honour gift later when he needed it.

Bhishma downfall
Bhishma’s downfall

It was during that night of Mahabharata war, when Krishna reminded Arjuna of his unsatisfied boon and told him to go to Duryodhana and ask for 5 golden arrows. When Arjuna asked for the arrows Duryodhana was shocked being a kshatriya and bound by his promise he had to give those golden arrows. He asked who told you about golden arrows, Arjuna replied who else other than Lord Krishna.

Duryodhana again went to Bhisma and requested for another five golden arrows. To this Bhishma laughed and replied this is not possible and will of Lord is Supreme and undeniable and whatever happens tomorrow in the Mahabharata war is written long before.

3. Birth of Drona

In Mahabharata, we find strange ways of people being born (see related article). Drona was not gestated in a womb, but outside the human body in a droon (vessel). Bhardwaja went with his companion to the Ganga to perform his ablution. There he beheld a beautiful apsara named Ghritachi who had come to bathe. The sage was overcome by desire, causing him to produce reproductive fluid. Bhardwaja captured the fluid in a vessel called a drona and Dronacharya sprung from the fluid thus preserved. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bhardwaja without ever having been in a womb. Drona was the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas and later fought the Mahabharata war from Kauravas side. 

4. Krishna broke his promise

 

Shri Krishna challenging Bhishma in the war of Kurukshetra
Mahabharata
Before the battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna promised that he will not pickup any weapon.On other hand, Grandsire Bhishma promised Duryodhana that he will fight like a lion and will kill Arjuna or will make Lord Krishna breaking his promise. There was an intense battle between Arjuna and Bhisma and Arjun being powerful still was no match for Bhisma. When Bhisma shot arrow which cut Arjuna armour and his gandiva bow. Arjuna was helpless before the wrath of Grand sire. As Bhisma was about to kill Arjuna with his arrow Lord Krishna could not tolerate his devotees plight and he immediately threw down the chariot rein and jumped off the chariot onto the battle field and lifted a chariot wheel and charged Bhisma determined to send him to death. Arjuna tried to stop Lord krishna but Lord says that in order to protect my devotee, I must break my own promise.


5. How Shri Krishna ended up on Pandavas side in Mahabharata war

Duryodhana and Arjuna both went to Dwarka to meet Krishna in order to seek his support for Mahabharata. Duryodhana was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Duryodhan and Arjuna entered Krishna’s bedroom. Duryodhana who was first to enter the room sat on a seat at the head of the bed on which Krishna was asleep. Arjuna went to the foot of the bed and stood there with hand folded. When Krishna got up he saw Arjuna first who was standing at his foot. Duryodhana said that as he came first so it was fair that Krishna should join Kauravas.
Duryodhan, Arjun and Shri Krishna
Duryodhan, Arjun and Shri Krishna
On this, Krishna smiled and said as he saw Arjuna first when he got up so it is also fair that he should help both Kauravas as well as Pandavas. So on one hand was his famous Narayani army, and on other hand was he himself alone and shall not yield any weapon. Then he added that dharma demands that the younger should have the first choice. So Arjuna was given the first chance, he fell at the feet of Lord Krishna with tears in his eyes he chose him. Duryodhana was very happy with the decision. Shri Krishna later became the Arjuna’s sarathi during the war of Mahabharat.

6. Yudhishthir firm adherence to truth

Yudhisthir was very well known for his firm adherence to truth. But, in the battle of Mahabharata, Drona, who was Kauravas commander was killing thousands of Pandavas warriors Krishna made a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama has died, so that Drona would give up his arms and could be killed easily.

Bhima kills Ashwaththama, the elephant
Bhima kills Ashwaththama, the elephant

The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwaththama and loudly proclaimed that Ashwaththama was dead. Drona approached Yudhisthir for confirmation because he was the only person who could tell him the truth.Yudhisthir who could not make himself tell a lie inspite of the fact that if Drona would continue fighting pandavas and the cause of dharma would have been lost. Yudhisthir added ‘praha kunjara ha’ which means he is not sure whether man of elephant has died. Krishna knowing this that Yudhisthir would be unable to tell lie, had all the warrior beat war drum and cymbals to make as much noise as possible so that the words ‘praha kunjara ha’ were lost. Drona was disheartened and laid down his weapons. He was later killed by Dhristadyumna.

After speaking this half lie, Yudhisthir feet and chariot descended to the ground.

7. End of Jayadrath

krishna and arjun

Jayadrath was granted a boon by Lord Shiva to hold the pandavas brother at bay for one day in battle – except for Arjun who was protected by Lord Krishna. In Mahabharat war, Jayadradth was fighting from Kauravas side, he using his boon to stop Pandavas from entering the near-impenetrable chakra viyuh battle formation. When Arjun son Abhimanyu enters the formation he was trapped inside and brutally killed. Arjuna vows to kill Jaydradth the very next day and if he failed he would kill himself. Arjuna killed an entire akshauhini during the day’s battle. At a climatic moment the sun had nearly set and thousands of warrior still separates Arjuna and Jayadrath. Seeing his friend’s plight, Lord Krishna send his Sudarshan chakra to mask the sun creating a solar eclipse thus faking a sunset. The Kauravas warriors rejoiced over Arjun defeat and his imminent suicide exposing Jaydradth from his hiding for a crucial moment. Upon the Lord’s urging Arjun shot a powerful arrow that decapitation Jaydradth. Jaydradth father was a sinful king he had pre cursed the killer of his son that anyone who caused Jaydrath’s head to fall on ground would suffer by having his own head exploded. When Arjun recapitulated Jaydrath he faced death but Lord Krishna intervened he asked Arjuna to shoot his arrow that would carry Jaydradth’s head to his father’s lap when he was sitting meditating in his ashram. Arjuna did the same and shot 3 arrows which carried Jaydrath’s falling head to his father’s lap. when he got up after meditation he didn’t see the head in his lap but caused it to fall on the ground so his head exploded as a result.

 

Jayadratha killed by Arjuna
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Further reading:

Unknown fact about Draupadi – Why she had five husbands

Seven little known facts from the Mahabharata(2)

Seven little known facts about Karna from the Mahabharata

Pandavas exile – seven little known facts from the Mahabharata (3)

Seven unknown facts about Karna

When incarnation of Lord Vishnu could not defeat his bhakta

Books

An excellent book by none other than Anant Pai from Amar Chitra Katha. Third one is dedicated to the battle of Kurukshetra.