Originating from the Western Ghats, the Pavana river flows through the cities of Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune. The Pavana Dam near to Lonavala (Read my trip to Lonavla and Rajmachi) is constructed on this river. The backwater of this dam is a beautiful destination for a weekend picnic. And here is where I met the king.
A large number of dams and reservoirs here contribute to the lifeline for the people around. The rainwater is harvested and distributed. Thus benefiting and supporting humans and all other life forms. As also for the Peafowls. Their preferred habitat is airy forests with waterbodies near.
But we did not expect such close encounter. It was a quick bite break on our biking track by the Pavana. The dirt track lined with flame-of-forest (Butea monosperma), powder-puff (Calliandra) and red silk cotton (Bombax malabaricum) trees took us to the open restaurant overlooking the Pavana backwaters.
Resting on the wooden chairs and sipping on the cold beverage we could hear screams of the Peafowl nearby. While the owners of the water sports rides were lazing around. Some were even having a fun practice session with the water scooter racing them creating a frothing trail behind.
The screams were approaching closer. We could not stay calm. Our inquisitiveness forced us to gulp the food and drink to get out soon in search of the screamer. And yes, His Majesty was there. It was pecking food from a bird feed placed in the ground within the boundary of bushy hedges.
Tiptoed we went closer. A full grown peacock with its glorious hues was in a feeding frenzy. It did not notice our approach. Hiding behind the hedge we were admiring this vibrant beauty. This excited male then spread out the train which extended around its body. It was a sparkling show of myriad colours.
Peacocks are mostly popular because of their intricate plumage and vibrant hues. The head and the body is of iridescent blue and green plumage. The peacock’s tail is also known as the train. The tail feathers are made of highly elongated upper tail coverts with eyespot pattern. These circular spots comprise of blue, green, gold and red coloured feathers. The crest atop its head is reminiscent of a crown… thus, ‘His Majesty’.
The peahens are of a plain dull greyish brown colour which in turn helps them to blend in the surrounding and avoid predators and protect their eggs. Now this guy was in search of a mate. Spreading its train in majestic grandeur it kept on making shrill screams marking his presence among the ladies. A ladybird far away was reciprocating his calls. The call was approaching in this direction, though the peahen was not visible.
I was missing my camera, which I left back at home. The mobile camera was my only option to capture this precious moment. I was sneaking around the bush and capturing this guy in the move. Then I decided to get closer, with the cover of the nearest bush, so as not to disturb the bird.
To my amazement, it detected the slightest movement in the bush. It marched straight towards me and gave a fast, strong, thrusting peck on my focused mobile. His Majesty was visibly irritated. I retracted back, not to bother the bird. Thankfully, I found my phone was undamaged even after the thrust and drop.
After a few shots by the bank of the rivulet, we were to return when we spotted few horsemen with their stallions. They were well built with shiny hairs. Although the owners were not very happy to get then clicked without going for a ride. So had to store them only in the frame of mind.
The peahen did not come. The peacock sat alone, on a fence nearby and kept entertaining those passing by. The keeper of the area says that this peacock used to come to this area along with its harem of peahens in search of food on a regular basis. So these kind-hearted humans decided to feed them daily. Peafowls are the omnivorous ground feeder. They are provided grains in stainless steel utensils on the ground daily.
This has turned into a habit for the birds. Now they are a regular visitor. We were not fortunate as the partners of this bird did not show up that day. But this was a remarkable experience indeed. And my first ever sight of a peacock with its extended train.
“The Peacock, Pavo cristatus, is the national bird of India. It is a symbol of grace, joy, beauty and love. The significance of peacock is attached to cultures of India. In Hinduism, the image of the god of thunder, rains and war, Indra, was depicted in the form of a peacock. In south India, the peacock is considered as a ‘vahana’ or vehicle of lord Muruga. The figure of the peacock is painted in various Islamic religious buildings. In Christianity, the peacock was also known as the symbol of the ‘Resurrection’.”
As per an article in TOI: “In 1963, the peacock was declared the National Bird of India because of its rich religious and legendary involvement in Indian traditions. The criteria for this choice were many. The bird must be well-distributed within the country so it could be truly ‘national’. It must be recognisable to the common man. It must lend itself to a formal depiction, i.e. abstract depiction on government publications, etc. It must not be confused with the bird emblem of any other nation. It should be associated with Indian myths and legends. The peacock fit the bill.”
Thus, this majestic bird with a crown of its head is seated on the throne of our Nation as a National Bird.