Around a year and a half ago, I happened to visit Amodagarh near Seoni district approximately 22 kilometers away from the district headquarters. A rocky terrain with little streams passing through the hills, surrounded with swathes of bamboo, Mahua and deciduous trees, this spot is believed to be the original locale of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book – the hypothetical cradle of Mogli, according to local narratives that have evolved over the years.
Mogli’s little den in the Satpuras
Seoni district known for its breathtaking, picturesque beauty and landscape is most famously known for Pench National Park, housing the Pench Tiger Reserve. tourists, wildlife researchers and photographers from all across the world visit this region from October through May – the peak season when one is fortunate enough to catch rare and mysterious glimpses of nature. Tiger, spotted deer, bison, peacocks and a variety of birds, along with beautiful uncommon flora such as the Ghost Tree, Palash, Kevati, Sagon and Bamboo together contribute to the natural capital of this region. It is believed that these woods in and around Pench, offer the scenic landscape of the Jungle Book stories penned by Kipling, who refers to Seoni’s jungle as Seeonee at various instances in his tales.
One might reminisce fondly the different characters from the Jungle Book– Mogli’s brothers (Akdu, Pakdu), Chameli – the Mother wolf, and Leela, who were the protégés of ‘Sarpanch’ who chaired the sabhas of Seeonee’s wolf pack. It is fascinating to take note of Kipling’s prophetic imagination back then which today translates into concepts of decentralized governance in India’s villages characterized by gram panchayats and gram sabhas. Kurai, one of Seoni’s eight blocks that houses Pench National Park, is one among the numerous rural peripheries of the country where gram sabhas led by sarpanches precede the ‘need for development discourse’ as mandated by participatory approaches to development. The stony and cragged rocks through which water flows in the trenches canopied with rich vegetation- Amodagarh, is believed to have been a common hideout of Mogli and his gang.
Ethnographic beliefs and popular culture
Through his stories, Kipling tried to convey the moral essence underpinning the utopian significance of harmony between nature, wildlife and human beings. The Hindi adaptation promoted by NFDC continued…