This little village in Karnataka shares a unique relationship with visiting guests! Read on to find out more!
If you glanced at the map of Karnataka, Kokkare Bellur will probably not be the first place you set your eyes on. Hidden a few kilometers before Mandya, close to the meandering Kaveri River, a little haven has been coexisting with almost three hundred different kinds of birds for many, many years.
Only two hours away from the bustling city of Bengaluru rests this sleepy little hamlet called Kokkare Bellur. Large Tamarind and Ficus trees embroider this quintessentially South Indian village, whose winged daughters rather than sugarcane and rice crops caught my attention.
The importance of being a Stork
Possibly for the last five hundred years, Kokkare Bellur has been home to nesting Painted Storks.
‘Kokkare’ translates to stork in Kannada, the local language, and the town has embraced these beautiful birds in every possible way. Considered bearers of good fortune and blessings of monsoon, these birds are eagerly awaited every year and share a unique bond with the village folk.
According to Indian tradition, when pregnant women are getting close to their delivery, they often go back to their maternal home to give birth and nurse their newborns. The people of the village apply the same sentiment to the painted storks, who make Kokkare Bellur their home during their breeding season; from October to the onset of the next monsoon in July.
Delicately painted wings and things!
Painted storks are large birds, primarily white with accents of grey, black and a delicious burst of pink. Their wings give them their name – a visual delight of black wings with delicate stripes of white. A shimmery green glow on their long, black feathers and the orange-reddish beak and head, all make for a gorgeous looking bird. They build nests on the Tamarind and Ficus trees of the village, without worrying about humans living in close proximity to their homes of twigs. It is not rare to see the villagers keeping food near the trees for the birds to feed on. Their fecal matter is rich in potassium and phosphorous which the villagers use as manure for their crops.
Living in quiet harmony
The villagers of Kokkare Bellur and enthusiasts from neighboring cities come together to help in conservation of this near endangered species. New saplings of tamarind trees are planted every year and hatchlings fallen out of nests are rescued and cared for. It is also fascinating to see that fireworks are avoided, if not completely abandoned during festivals, for the comfort of these feathered friends.
Only in a few villages is such a unique bond seen. They’re setting a wonderful example in this ever urbanizing world, creating a safe haven for these graceful birds and increasing their vanishing numbers. A certified ‘Must Visit Place’ on your next road trip!
Edited by Dominic D’Cruz