As our school bus manoeuvred its way through the outskirts of Pune, our heads turned to look at the reservoir that provides water to our city. Khadakwasla Dam, brimming with water and surrounded by greenery, was our first visual of a local ecosystem.

Thereafter, our adventure enthusiasts, Mr Anirudh, Mr Monish, Mr Prateik and Ms Neha guided us towards the foothills of Sinhagad Fort, where we began our learning hike!!

We set out to explore nature, with our eager eyes searching for what the surroundings had in store for us. Mr Anirudh pointed out to a tree that boasts of having one of the strongest trunks, which makes it the perfect choice for furniture. This teak tree stood humbly, with its foliage and delicate efflorescence bending down upon us.

As we walked ahead, we encountered a swallow, building a mud nest on one of the beams of the local temple. It was a display of their patience and the sustainable use of resources.

Our hike continued with a quick crash course on making whistles with thick leaves, taking off the husk of rice, and rubbing leaves on our hands to get a rich brown tinge appear on the palms!

Into the forest, our next stop was the local forest deity, which symbolised how this forest was a sacred grove, a Devrai. This religious practice and belief symbolises the dedication of the locals to protect and preserve their natural habitat.

Inching deeper into the forest, we came upon an open ground, where we met some tiny camouflaged frog species and some small crabs as well! We learnt about the defence mechanism of these frogs, that blended so well with the soil – it was hard to spot them!

Spotting the funnel web of a spider helped us comprehend the way in which spiders lure their prey into the web and a slight vibration alerts them of their next meal!

Mr Prateik also stumbled upon the pugmarks of a civet, and he showed how they can be identified by the five digits of their hind leg.

With a quick refill of water and a snack, we walked our way back to the bus, but not before a quick musical session by Mr Anirudh and Mr Monish, who effortlessly impersonated a Barbett, a Swallow, and a Cricket!!!

While boarding our bus to return to school, our minds were brimming with glimpses of the lush green paddy fields, the simple rustic lives of the locals, the numerous ways in which biotic and abiotic factors coexist, and organisms are interdependent. The lines of inquiry of our unit were evident throughout this field trip, and we saw how we truly share our planet. A place where there is balance and harmony, and where the rule of nature stands paramount!

Ms. Michelle and Ms. Nidhi