This is the official website of the Arunachala Greening, I will refine this site as an historical record of my perspective on the greening process.
Green House in Arunachala
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I am Apeetha Arunagiri and i continue to work towards restoring a healthy ecosystem for all sentient beings in the area surrounding Arunachala – the sacred Mountain in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. A recent revolution in my perspective presents considerable potential for a more pervasive sustainable contribution towards a healthier ecology by focusing entirely on community understanding and involvement in the plain surrounding the mountain through presentation of films clarifying those issues surrounding ClimateChange.
Arunachala means ‘Fire Mountain’ in Sanskrit. In the fourth century a shrine newly created at the eastern foot of this mountain was the companion to an earlier shrine on the north-west in Adianamalai; the former eventually grew into the largest temple complex in all of India – Tajulingam Arunachaleshwar, revered internationally as one of the five main Shiva temples. Tiruvannamalai town gradually spread to surround this temple complex but since being designated District Headquarters two decades ago, it faces ever-increasing population growth fueled primarily by tourism, pilgrimage and burgeoning religious institutions. The Thiruvachakam – an ancient Tamil religious and literary work of great repute, refers to Arunachala as a hill where animals – including elephants – lived in large numbers. Such a rich forested habitat can only be imagined now since centuries of unsustainable agricultural practices and unrelenting demand for fuel and fodder had – by the mid-eighties, entirely denuded this area. The majestic mountain rising in the center of a plain accentuated the environmental degradation for all to see.
The indigenous vegetation of this area is of dry deciduous forest that rustles with the dry crackle of seed-pods of spring and bursts forth the confident new green bloom in mid summer despite temperatures in the forties sustained for several months. An intimate acquaintance with a nearby beloved dry deciduous forest can be found on the Sonagiristories blog under the title Swansong to an Old Forest:
Degradation Depreciation Degeneration.
A handful of friends and I formally began introducing awareness of the ecosystem in the community in the early eighties with performances of puppet theater in schools and the employment of a small group of planters. Michael Layward from England contributed his masterful puppeteering skills and Dev Gogoi, Kasivishwanathan, Paneer, Joy from Lucky Radios in town, Anandhi, Priya, Shanka, Palani and Small Murugan were among the team involved with Madhan, Giri and Jayaraman and friends providing encouragement and critical comments as rehearsal audiences.
Before long the nursery was upgraded from my daughter and my residence on the roof of the Chemistry Professor’s house to a plot on ashram land and eventually into the Big Temple compound while the administration of the project was upgraded to a Registered Society with Executive members – all professional men, mainly brahmana caste. These two friendly photos below were taken about fifteen years ago when the nursery was in the outer prakaram of the Sri Arunachalaeswar temple compound.
Early in 2011, we began planting on barren flat lands, public lands surrounding the mountain. Shadow puppet workshops were conducted at the Tiruvananmalai Village Schools – which has a strong ecological orientation. I have confidence that with the encouragement of the staff of this wonderful school the children will become proficient in spreading environmental awareness in their area; this is the very best way to influence a community in a healthy direction. Two of the principal staff members of the school provided a Michael and I with an eager audience when they were boys. Below you’ll find the images of land transformed into garden
Details and Projections
The following is a list of the trees were cultivated in our nursery:
Hardwikya Binata(Acahan), Dalbergia Sisoo (Kattu Vagai), Ptercarpus Marsupium (Iyalwagai), Delonex Elata (Mayil Kondrai), Tamerindus Indica (Puliya Maram), Azaradica Indica (Veppa Maram), Derica Indica (Punga Maram), Cassia Nilotica (Sara Kondrai), Casia Siamia (Manjal Kondrai), Agle Marmelous (Vilva Maram), Mimusop Elengi (Magila Maram), Albezia Amara (Thuringi Maram), Maduka Indica (Illuppai), Writia Tinctoria (Veppalai), Milingtonia Hortensis.
. The incoming funds diminished over the years so substantially that twenty planters in 2003 reduced to two last year, and even that on half the local demanded wage, used simply to maintain the nursery of approximately ten thousand saplings. Whenever possible we always employed seasonal workers for the planting season only. The permanent planting group was actively engaged in preparation activities for the most of each year since only two months could be relied upon as planting season:
Preparation and maintenance of nursery site:
- Collection, cleaning, sorting, drying, preparing and storing of seeds
- Preparation of compost: phosphobacteria, vermiculture, collection of leaf mould, cow manure and collection/cultivation of nitrogen-fixing plants
- preparation of seed beds and clay nurturing pots
Preparation of plantation site:
- digging of plantation pits
- preparation of mulch
- preparation of protection against predators
- creating rainwater catchment channels.
Preparation of surrounding populace:
- preparation of audio-visual resources
- creating community awareness and support
- networking with community interest groups and other like-minded organizations.
Undertaking courses/workshops to extend one’s own experience.