ELIE RECLUS : Great Minds

Elie Reclus ( 1827-1904) was a French Ethnographer who studied what were then called Primitive Cultures. He was an anarchist.

Reclus, it was said,  ‘does not belong to any people in particular, but to all humanity… He belonged to all humanity firstly because of the ideas he had always preached and practiced, ideas which are superior to all racial and national prejudices, and secondly through this quality of sincere savant, for science, worthy of the appellation, science which has no other aim but the honest search for truth, has no party and knows no frontiers’.

Reclus toured the Nilgiris in 1895 and wrote an account titled,        ‘The Mountaineers of the Neilgherries’. Describing the land after the monsoon rains he wrote,

“After the rain season the atmosphere seems deliciously pure and transparent; vegetation starts into fresh life, the grass shoots up, brilliantly tinted flowers glow amongst the ferns, creeping plants run riot over the trees. The precipitous mountains stand up like walls, seamed with deep gullies. At their base are bamboo thickets and an impenetrable jungle, covert of the tiger, bear, and wild boar. The swamps are succeeded by the prairie, and beyond it lies the forest. Above, perpendicular rocks; below, the plateau, swelling into shady hill-sides, which are furrowed with narrow valleys, the beds of limpid streams. The traveler journeys through parks and woodlands, by paths bordered with mulberry and eglantine, over prairies scoured by buffaloes; suddenly he finds himself at the edge of the plateau. A vast plain stretches away into the distance. Alternating patches of forest and cultivated and tint it with green and yellow and violet. Here and there it is picked out with White by those human hives, the towns. The azure sea bounds it to the west; in the south rise the faint blue Cardamums The eye is satiated with soft brightness, as it broods over the wide expanse, pierces the aerial depths, dwells upon an innumerable variety of forms, colours, movements. At eventide the divine splendour that fills the heavens breaks into dazzling colours.. gold, orange, crimson, scarlet, vermilion, slowly melting into clouds of purple and rose. And when the sun is swallowed in ocean, earth, weary of radiance, drunken with light, draws a veil of transparent shadow over her voluptuous limbs, envelops herself in silence. The atmosphere grows strangely limpid, the stars seem more brilliant than elsewhere; the constellations rise like swarms of fire-flies, and the infinite universe stands revealed”

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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