There is something about the mystery of hills and the forests where every corner has a story to tell. I was brought up in the small hill town of ‘Nahan’ at the edge of Shivaliks, not very far from Delhi. Surrounded by lush green hill slopes I have memories of plenty of afternoons spent playing truant from school trying to climb mango trees that abounded in the forest surrounding the town, or doing target shooting at temptingly hanging fruit with stony missiles and return home with bag full of raw mangoes with added anxiety to keep them hidden from prying eyes.
The legend has it that there are 9 Lakh mango trees in the forest surrounding Nahan that have apparently sprung wild. Though this may or may not be true at a point of time, even now there are more than enough of these souvenirs. As a child I often wondered as to who might have planted them. The answer was learnt at the knee of my grandmother in the form of a story that is part of the folklore of Nahan town.
It is said that sometime long long ago there was a holy man living in the temple of the deity called ‘Kalisthan’ at Nahan. He used to meditate the whole day and his disciples used to go about town to get alms for the ashram. The holy man was very fond of the mango pickle and therefore disciples used to regularly ask for mango pickle from the ladies of the town. One day a harassed old lady around town asked one of the disciple, that if their teacher was so fond of the pickle, why did he not grow his own tree and ask his good for nothing disciples to make pickle for him. The disciple narrated the incident to the teacher, who in turn vowed to eat pickle only from his own tree. It is set that he sat about with his ‘kamandal’ and sprinkled holy water in the whole of the forest around town and wherever a droplet fell a mango tree sprung up. I am sure these gave the holy man and the townsfolk a lot of joy in those days as they gave me in my truant school days.
The Other Home invites you to spend a weekend in this magical mango garden around four hours of Delhi. The other attractions of the area are the remains of dinosaurs in Asia’s only Dinosaur zoo at ‘Suketi’, a historic ‘Gurudwara’ where Guru Govind Singh ji stayed for about 6 months at Nahan, a historical temple of Devi ‘Balasundari’ at ‘Trilokpur’, Himachal’s biggest lake, a lion safari and the legend of Lord Parsuram at ‘Renuka along with a war memorial dedicated to Anglo-gurkha wars at ‘Jetak’. The joy of the place essentially is in long pleasant forest walks, mild weather, pleasant/gentle folks and legends of the yore.