“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
– Kahlil Gibran
I don’t exactly recall when I discovered my love for trees. Maybe I was always meant to
love them. I still remember being fascinated by their beauty as a child and that
fascination exists till date.
When I purchased the Singinawa Jungle Lodge two years back, one of my first missions
was to re-green the property. The rich natural habitat of the area had been affected by
the presence of the Lodge till then and I felt that it was my responsibility to restore it
back to its original state to the maximum extent. Singinawa was to be an eco-lodge and
an epitome of sustainable tourism. Since then, tens of thousands of trees have been
planted at the Lodge. The effort has been a lot of constant hard work but also one of the
most rewarding projects ever. With every visit, I see more and more progress being
I love discovering new trees during my walks in Singinawa. The canopies of giants, little
pools of light where the rays of the sun managed to find gaps within their leafy branches,
shade paths across the place. There is so much to look at. The Ghost tree stretches its
pale body into the sky while the Mahua releases the intoxicating aroma of its flowers,
from which the locals produce a delectable wine. The Palash is rightly called the Flame
of the Forest, bright red flowers adorning its branches like a thousand rubies. Sal trees
stand upright in their groves like custodians of the forest, ornamented by their blossoms.
Pradip Krishen, in the foreword of Peter Wohlleben’s book, writes that Sal trees die when
planted alone due to loneliness without the company of others of its kind. The book,
called ‘The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries
from a Secret World’, is an absolutely wonderful read. It presents trees as interactive
entities that can feel things the same way as any mobile organism. I could relate to it
because I have always considered them to have distinct personalities. Some are more
sombre, like majestic war veterans with many stories of their life experiences, while
others are more flamboyant, branches dancing at the slightest breeze. Singinawa’s trees
are thoroughly enjoyed by its wild inhabitants who used them for shelter and food.
Congregations of langurs feast on juicy mangoes while Grey Hornbills and other birds
make a meal of Doomar or fig tree fruits. Some trees consider imitation the sincerest
form of flattery, like the Kachnar whose leaves look like camel’s hooves.
Singinawa also plays host to some stunning varieties of orchids. The Checkered Vanda is one of them. It favors Mango and Terminalia trees, and blooms between March and August. It is believed to be a cure-all and the juice from the compressed plants is often sold as medicine. This has seriously depleted its numbers and we, through our efforts, have successfully managed to give it a good home and protection at Singinawa. Due to the resemblance of the Vanda’s flowers to a devil’s face, it is sometimes referred to as Rakshas or Demon in Goa. Quite unfair, I think. Flowering plants are found in abundance at the Lodge and spring fills the place with vibrancy and redolence. There are bursts of color everywhere. The cool breeze carries with it such exotic fragrances that I can’t help but carry a smile on my face as I walk through.
We haven’t forgotten to take care of some of our most delicate residents, the butterflies. The larvae of many species can be seen in the host plants at the butterfly habitat. I find it so exciting to find previously unnoticed ones. It just proves that, like the guests at the Lodge, they too enjoy their stay at Singinawa. Whoever is spreading our fame via word of mouth among them, thank you. Maybe it’s one of the Oak Blues or perhaps the Baronets, sipping nectar from the nearby flowers quite nonchalantly.
It has been such a pleasure to pursue my passion for conservation and re-greening at Singinawa. I hope to launch many ventures along these lines in the future. Looking forward to a greener tomorrow!
MD, Singinawa Jungle Lodge