Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mangarbani Sacred Grove

See our videos on the plight of Mangarbani and the fight to save it

International Day of Biodiversity - Story of Mangarbani

Aravaliscapes-Mangarbani Sacred Grove, Aravalis

5km to the side of Gurgaon -Faridabad four lane road, driving through a thick forest of Vilayati Kekar trees interpersed with construction sites, you enter Mangarbani village (wrongly spelt Manger at the direction board on the main road).

The Art and Craft Hotel raises a few eyebrows just before we enter the village.  Builders are already in possession of Dream plans to convert the ancient village of Mangarbani into a "Tourist Paradise", the Hotel is probably waiting for those Dreams to take wings.

 Entrance to Mangarbani

At this sleepy village of about 300 hamlets we ask our way to the Bani.  As we reach Bani, the three soldiers from Mangarbani village who started the fight to save Mangarbani against seemingly odd barriers,  greet us.  We, a few friends who learnt about Mangarbani through the film "The Lost Forest",  had decided to devote the Sunday Morning to see the forest for ourselves. 

"Heavenly'" " So cool'" "Longest tailed peacock" "Beautiful bird sounds"  remarks kept coming as we walked. The residents pitched in with their knowledge of the Bani.  The first and last rule of the Bani " Do not pluck or cut anything from the Bani.  If you graze your animals inside, you raise the wrath of  Gudanya Baba  whose Samadhi in a cave is worshipped by the villagers.

 Broken Kadamb branch-Remove it at your peril!

 Here is an excerpt from the magazine "Down To Earth"

---What sets the Bani apart from the surrounding vegetation is that 95 per cent of it comprises a slow growing tree called Dhau (Anogeissus pendula). The tree has a unique feature. If it is nibbled by cattle, it spreads out on the ground or over rocks like thick prostrate undergrowth. If left undisturbed, it grows into a middle-sized tree. The 13-meter-tall dhaus in Mangar Bani testify to the forest’s antiquity, points out Pradip Krishen, the author of Trees of Delhi. ......

Sacred grove of Dhau trees seen from temple top

We saw Desi papri trees, Vat  and Dhok trees , Seetaphal trees and Kadamb trees which were fruiting and Dhau, the endemic tree of the area which were sprouting all over after the rains.

 Fruit of Kadamb tree

Sweet fruit of Seeta Phal tree

Dhau sprouting through rocks

Take the Dhau outside Mangarbani and they refuse to grow.  The Dhau is believed to be one large organism in Managrbani which propagates through root grown saplings only.  Untouched by the British ( The British never discovered this village tucked away in the interior, according to locals) and the Forest Department, Vilayati Keekar is absent in the village.  No bougainvillas and no lantana bushes are seen anywhere.      The Forest has remained natural as it was 3000 years ago.  A Natural Museum worth presrving for the next generation!

Under the shade of ancient trees

Mangarbani, a serene forest

Besides the Bani being the Preserve of fauna and flora endemic to the Aravalis (probably the only patch in Rajasthan-Haryana-Delhi, where Aravalis have survived in their original glory), this unspoilt forest is most likely responsible for water recharging and safeguarding water veins underground.  Destroy this vegetation cover, build on it and we could end up blocking/destroying any number of water veins under those impenetrable rock-systems.  
Gurgaon and Faridabad have seen Surajkund, Badkhal and Dumdama lakes disappear within the last 25-30 years, once vegetation in Aravalis was destroyed and hilllsides dug up for minerals/stones for construction and/or levelled for putting up buildings. The ban by the Supreme Court on all mining cant restore those water bodies, they are gone for ever.
Will the Gurgaon-Faridabad-Delhi residents let the unspoilt Aravalis in and around Manger Bani disappear? They could be destroying the most important water-recharge System/Preserve that could have sustained the coming generations by providing much needed elixir of life 'WATER'


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Indian biodiversity talks said...

well, great post and thanks for sharing news about the lesser known place.

But what do you think about the tourism potential of the place? I have always been skeptical about eco-tourism projects that pop up around such places these days.
if the local community is not well aware about the chances of the pristine and ancient green patch getting disturbed by any such attempts, tourism project may harm the place deeply.

Hope Manger Bani survives the false notion of development which sweeps away the remaining patches of greenery in the country.

AS Dhillon said...

nice post
Only the babas and Gods can save the forests in India!

Susan Sharma said...

Thanks, Dhillon.
I have written a photolog on Morni Hills at

Wonder if the stone crushers are all legal?


Dr.Susan Sharma said...

Posted by Shashi Kant Sharma on January 24, 2013 at the link

It is'nt just about sustainable living.
Saving Greens is necessary for our very survival - be it the essential for species survival bio-diversity, the 'basic' water of life, life-regenerating climate (weather cycles) or the beautyof nature which heals minds and brings smiles to the most harried amongst us. Every little bit that any one does will help
Good News is that some Institutions are working to make a difference
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) have added their weight to save the Aravalis in and around Gurgaon-Faribadabad belt.
As reported in the Times of India of January 25, 2013, NGT have passed an order prohibiting non-Forest Activity in three villages in the Gurgaon-Faridabad belt. These are Kot, Mangar, Roz-ka-Gujjar and Sikandarpur (of Marble Market and Wine shops fame)
Some of us have been agitated about the Aravalis being sold off to developers by fobbing off the transaction as a step for developing tourism...........This was a move for destroying the Mangar Forests - a 500 acre grove of the Dhau Tree held sacred by the locals. The effort of the people there is comparable with the Chipko movement of yore in Uttrakhand. A group of 5-6 residents of Mangar Bani literally moved mountains to create awareness about their forest and what that sylvan surrounding was doing to sustain the Gurgaon-Faridabad belt By the way the sale of Forest land was happening in the garb of 'consolidation of land' (misuse of that policy was reported when the Haryana IAS Officedr Khemka was in the news)

Anil said...

Mangarbani truly is one of the most beautiful forests in and around Delhi. The area around it is great for trekking. The entire belt on the Gurgaon to Faridabad road is an environmental treasure trove that needs to be preserved

Unknown said...

Very informative indeed , your piece helped us a lot in bringing up a multimedia documentary on the issue of Mangar Bani.Your good work is appreciated.

Dr.Susan Sharma said...

Please read the Haryana Government notification about Mangar (17 May 2012)here

Dr.Susan Sharma said...

Christmas Day 2013-Bad news on Mangar reported by TOI

The rape of Mangarbani has begun!

Dr.Susan Sharma said...

The link is

Dr.Susan Sharma said...

Environmental activists have alleged large-scale felling of trees in the Aravalis, particularly in Mangar and Roz Ka Gujjar, as the Haryana government pushes hard to get its revised sub-regional plan approved by the NCR Planning Board. The activists allege the ploy behind clearing of forests is to project that many areas in this region have no vegetation. Read more at

Dr.Susan Sharma said...

More bad news for Mangar See newspaper reports

Here is the report in The Hindu. Please note that when you click on the url, you reach the Home page of "The Hindu". Write birdwatchers in the seach filed of the home page and then you reach the story

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Dr.Susan Sharma said...

Villagers just protected a sacred forest outside India’s polluted capital

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