Today I’m featuring mysterious Ghost Tree from the Pench National Park in India, don’t tell me you are not intrigued! I know, I was!
Abby is the travel chronicler at The Winged Fork Blog where she writes about her quirky and crazy adventures in travel and food.
Photo Story: Ghost Tree in the Pench National Park
On the day before our tiger safari in the Pench National Park, we heard the story of the ghost trees in the park.
Stories of how travellers in the night would see something glowing in the pale moonlight and walk towards it, only to find this tree shining eerily with the spirits of those long past. Sitting around the campfire at the bush dinner that story seemed to take on a life of its own.
The next morning, however, was different. The deciduous Pench Forest is filled with many tall trees and among them the pale ghost trees. They didn’t look scary though. They looked quite lovely. Now maybe if we’d done a night safari, they might have looked otherwise.
Thankfully for us though (or not) the park closes to the public after 6 pm and doesn’t allow night safaris.
No chance of secretly hiding away in the park either to find out about the trees unless I wanted to encounter Collarwali or Raiyyakasa or any of the other resident Bengal tigers.
Being the land Kipling wrote about in the Jungle Book, maybe I could have seen Sherkhan’s ghost too?
Our forest guide spent quite some time spotting ghost trees for us, almost as much time as we spent spotting tigers, deer, and birds. Most of the trees in Pench Forest are really tall, as are the ghost trees that grow up to 15 metres in height.
Central India is home to many of these pale-coloured trees that have scared villagers into believing they’re ghosts because of their whitish appearance in the moonlight.
For six months every year, the ghost trees go dormant, lose their chlorophyll and shed their bark. Their pinkish white appearance has earned them the local name bhootiya in the Marathi language, which means ghostly. It’s also known as a karaya or kulu tree.
The ghost tree can’t be truly ghostly tough, since it finds use as a binder and emulsifier in foods, and also as a cosmetic and laxative. The nuts are roasted and eaten. Locals believe the tree has aphrodisiacal properties as well. Scientifically unproven yet, but open to testing if you’re up for it. ;)
Pench National Park is in Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh in India. It derives its name from the Pench River that flows through the park from north to south dividing the park into almost equal western and eastern halves, the well-forested areas of Seoni and Chhindwara districts respectively. It was declared a sanctuary in 1965 but raised to the status of national park in 1975. In 1992, it was established as a tiger reserve.
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