Chapter in the country. Traces of Hindusium still survive

2:  Review of Literature

Around the world sacred forests represent a
traditional form of community conservation. There is a wide variation in the
size of sacred forests. Some of them are small fragments of forests, while
others are more extensive, spanning several hectares. These forests are
scattered all over the world. They have biological significance in relation to
the preservation of biodiversity of the world. Sacred forests have been
reported by different researchers from different parts of world like Bachmann
(1992) from West Africa, Molyneaux (1995) from Nigeria, Schaaf (1998) from
Ghanna, Zamam (1998) from Afghanistan, Withanage (1998) from Srilanka and
Gongorin (1998) from Mangolia. Priority needs to be given to strengthen
traditional systems of conservation of natural resources. Various research Papers
from India (Gadgil and Vartak 1975, 1976; Chandrakanth and Romm 1991; Daniels
et al. 1993; Ramakrishnan 1996; Bharuch 1999; Ramanujam and Cyril 2003;
Upadhaya et al. 2003; Ghate et al. 2004), and Africa (Lebbie and Guries 1995;
Lebbie and Freudenberger 1996; Millar et al. 1999; Mgumai and Oba 2003)
demonstrate the biological saliency and utility of sacred areas for
biodiversity conservation. Numerous papers on the role of indigenous cultures
and beliefs in the sacred landscapes of southwest China have been published in
recent years (e.g., Li et al. 1996; Pei and Luo 2000; Xie et al. 2000; Zhang
2000). A study by Liu et al. (2002) demonstrates that restoration of holy hills
by Bai villagers in Xishuangbanna has increased plant biodiversity there. Byers
et al. (2001) show that sacred forests have persisted longer than non-sacred
forests in Zimbabwe, while Godbole (1996) found similar results in India. These
forests have widely been recorded from many pockets in Asia and Africa (Frazer,
1980) also in Ugunda the chieftaincy of the Wanyamwezi and in central Tanzania
eight sacred forests have been reported, representing burial sites that varied
from 6-300 years old, these were inventorized to compare plant species richness
and taxonomic diversity with those of forest plots in a state managed forest
reserve.Sacred forests in the Sierra Leone were assessed for their value to
local herbalists and traditional medicinal practitioners of the Kppa Mende
people. Herbalists (tufablaa) collecting in 23 sacred forests were interviewed
regarding theirknowledge of medicinal plants. Sacred forests are also found in Australia,
Asia, Europe, Africa and America. Their existence has been reported in Nigeria,
Turkey, Ghana, Japan and Syria (Hughes and Chandran, 1997). In Ghana, Abiriw
sacred forest was introduced for showing faunal species diversity and
abundance, in the eastern region of Ghana. Bowe (2009) has described the
history of ancient Greece and mentioned about the sacred forests present in the
country. Traces of Hindusium still survive in the Bali island of Indonesia. All
temples, irrespective of size, are associated with sacred forests. A forest at
“Sangesh Holy Forest” in Bali is a spectacular patch of tall and dense
Dipterocarps. However, the size and quality have declined over the years,
mainly due to encroachments (Vannucci, 1995). Numerous areas within this
landscape are considered ‘sacred by the indigenous Tibetans of the region. In
India, these sacred forests exist under different names as Sarna or Dev in
Madhya Pradesh, Orans in Rajashthan, Sarnas in Bihar and Devrai or Devrahati in
Maharashtra. These forests occur in variety of habitats from scrub forests of
Thar desert, maintained by Bishnois, to rain forests of Kerala in Western
Ghats. Himanchal Pradesh in the North and of Kerala in the south is
specifically known for their large number of sacred forests. India has the
highest concentration of sacred forests in the world. Estimates suggest that
there might be between 100 000 and 150 000 sacred forests around the country
(Malhotra et al., 2007). In India, 13,720 sacred forests have been reported so
far, in 19 states. In south India, about 2000 forests occur in Kerala
(Rajendraprasad, 1995), 1600 in Maharashtra (Deshmukh et al.,1998), 800 in
Andhra Pradesh (Anon, 1998) and 448 in Tamil Nadu (Amrithlingam, 1998). Many
other researchers have also contributed to the addition of sacred forests in
India. Elwin, 1950; Risley, 1981; Vartak and Gadgil, 1981; Adhikary, 1984; Hughes,
1984; Gadgil, 1985; Vartak et al., 1987; Patnaik, 1992; Roy, 1997; Meher-Homji,
1997; Raman, 1997; Nair et al.,1997; Kadamban, 1998; Khurana, 1998;Tiwari et
al., 1998; Kothari et al., 1998; Kadamban, 1998; Ramanujam and Kadamban, 1998,
Ramanujam, 2000; Ramanujam and Cyril, 2002; Swamy, et al., 2003; Tambat et al.,
2005; Vasan and Kumar, 2006; and Singh 2012,  have contributed to the biodiversity of sacred
forests in India. Plant worship in India is very ancient. Significantly these
plants are used in different ceremonies and their role in festivals has been
worked out (Bhatla et al., 1984). Cultural and ecological dimensions of sacred forests
in India were described by Malhotra et al., (2001). Kumar (2009), has mentioned
conservation strategies of biodiversity in Konkan region of Coastal
Maharashtra. Much work was done by various scientists and practitioners on
sacred forests in  especially in the
Northern and Western parts. Kanayakumari District is one of the richest
phytogeographical regions in Tamil Nadu. Floristic work in the sacred forest in
Pudukottai district was done by Britto et al., (2001). He described about 176
genera and 260 species. Again, Britto et al., (2001) presents the flora of a
sacred forest in Vamban in Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu. The study area
comprises of 63 families having 175 genera in and 224 species.  Ownership of the forests and the belief of
the people on local deities “living” inside the forest are two decisive factors,
which decide the conservation of the sacred forests in Kerala. A total 761
sacred forests has described by Induchoodan (1988, 1996) in the Western Ghats
and the coastal plains of Kerala. Surveys of sacred forests of Kerala by
Ramachandran (1993) indicated rich diversity of endemism in terms of
biodiversity. These forests can be regarded as the treasure houses of endemic
and rare species (Chandrashekhara and Sanker, 1998). Sociobiological aspects of
sacred forests of different ecological zones of Tamil Nadu were investigated by
Oliver et al.,1997. M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai (MSSRF), has
launched a community biodiversity Programme, which incorporates documentation
of the sacred forests in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Nanditha, 1996). Kalam
(1996) traces the way Devara Kadus sacred forests, in Kodagu district of
Karnataka, have been affected since the latter half of the last century.
Kushalappa and Bhagwat (2001) and Kushalappa (2001) have been working on
the conservation and management of sacred forests of Kodagu, Karnataka in South
India. In year 2003, Bhandari & Chandrashekar, worked in the sacred forests
of Dakshina Khannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka state. They have given a
list of some species of plants found in the sacred forests of Dakshina Kannada
and Udupi districts which are endemic to Peninsular India and Western Ghats of
India. The institution of sacred forests in the state is recognized by various
names like Jahera, Thakuramma, etc. Malhotra and Das (1997) and Malhotra et al.
(1998) report 322 sacred forests from Semiliguda block of Korapat district.
Kulkarni et al., (1993) give a floristic account of a sacred forest near
village Bijadihi Distt Orissa. Besides, a sacred pool in Orissa has also been
described. In all the studied villages, the communities, irrespective of
ethnicity, language, religion, age or gender observed traditional values and
have been ethnic in maintaining the biological and cultural integrity of the sacred
sites. Burman (1992) and Kumbhojkar (1996) have compared the social
significance of the sacred forests among the tribes of Mahastra such as Mahadeo
Kolis and the Kunbis. An inventory of the sacred forests of Devrais of the
Maharashtra was prepared and detailed information on the location, area and
associated deity is available for 233 forests from the districts of Thana, Jalgaon,
Kolaba, Satara, Pune, Kolhapur, Bhandara, Yewatmal, and Chandrapur (Gadgil and
Vartak, 1981). The ten sacred forests situated along the North-Western Ghats in
Maharashtra viz. Ajiwali, Baneshwar, Marleshwar, Kassarde, Mangaon, Shirgaon, Rasape
(Ramkhand), Taleran, Tungi and Tiwadi representing various forest types, have
been studied by Kosambi in 1962, Gadgil & Vatak, 1973,  1981. In 1996, Godbole, described the role of
tribals in the preservation of sacred forests. Documentation of the floristic diversity
of sacred forests has been also done by Bor (1942), Upadhye et al., (1987),
Kumbhojkar and Vartak (1988). Kulkarni et al., (1993), Chandrakant (1997) has
described importance in relation to natural resource bases and cultural values
in the sacred sites of Parinche valley of Pune District of Maharashtra. Vartak
et al., (1996) described sacred site as a sanctuary for lofty trees and lianas
from Western Ghats. Sharma and Kulkarni (1980) have given the floristic
composition of Dev Raies (sacred forests) in Kolhapur district and have
discussed the peculiarities and importance of their preservation and
conservation since these contain relict vegetation of once predominant
evergreen or semi-evergreen type of vegetation. Samati and Gogoi (2007) have
described the sacred sites of Meghalaya. According to the forest department
state of Meghalaya, sacred forests cover an approximate area of 1000 in
the state. Biological and cultural diversity within the tribals communities
associated with the sacred forests of Meghalaya, 12 new sacred forests from
Khasi Hills were described by Tiwari et al., (1999). Vascular plants diversity
in the three sacred forests of Jaintia Hills in northeast India described by
Jamir and Pandey (2003). About 108 families having 250 genera and 395 species
were described from these forests. There are numerous sacred forests along the
hill ranges of Garo and Khasi hill districts (Brandis, 1897). The paper ends
with a review of the value of traditional conservation mechanisms, such as
sacred forests, in a modern conserved area conservation system. Malhotra (1990)
has discussed a distinction between safety forest patches and supply forest
patches in traditional land use practices of Mizoram. Jeeva (2005) has described
the traditional knowledge and biodiversity conservation in the sacred forests
of Meghalaya. In 1993, Chandran has described the sacred forests one of the
finest instances of traditional conservation practices.  Chandran again (1997) selected Uttara
khannada and adjoining areas in Karnataka State towards the centre of South
India’s West Coast for the studies of sacred sites. He described that the
dedication of the forests is to local deities who were not, and in many cases
still are not, the characteristic gods of Hindu devotion such as Ganapati, Shiva,
Vishnu, Lakshmi, Parvati etc., but prebrahmin deities, mostly indistinct beings
that may be represented an conically. Gokhale 2001, has described the Kans
sacred sites in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Conservation
and management of sacred forests of Kodagu, Karnatakahas been done by
Kushalappa and Bhagwat (2001). Chandrasekhar and
Sanker (1998) have studied the management and ecology of sacred forests in
Kerala. The three Kavu in Kerala such as S. N.
Puram Kavu, Ollur Kavu, and Iringole Kavu were studied by them. Biodiversity and conservation potential of various
sacred forests were also studied in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, Visalakshi
(1995), Cherrapunji and adjoining areas in North-Eastern India ( Khiewtam and
Ramakrishnan, 1989), Orans (sacred forests) of two villages-Peepasar and
Khejarli in Nagaur and Jodhpur districts Jha et al., (1998), cultural aspects
of a sacred forest of Sitabari in Rajasthan Basin (1999). The landscape analysis of biodiversity management in a typical Shekhala
village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan and land use pattern, human and cattle
populations in the village have also been provided by Singh and Saxena (1998). Over 800 sacred forests in 23 districts of Andhra
Pradesh were recorded by WWF survey. The forests
around the temple town of Tirupati are the home of several endemics. Villages in Baster have two kinds of sacred forests,
namely, Devgudi and Gaondevi. The Chhotanagpur part of the state showing the predominance
of Sarana or Jahera kind of sacred forests plotted all over the state (Patnaik
and Pandey, 1998; Pandey, 2000). In Assam 40
sacred forests were recorded from the Karbi and Anglong districts while in Haflong
district sacred forests of the Dimasa tribe are called Madaico (Deb, 1995).  In Arunanchal
Pradesh the sacred forests are attached to Buddist monasteries called Gumpa
forests areas (GFAS), which are managed by Larnas. In
Mizoram, Mizo tribals have safety reserves and supply reserves around their
villages. These safety forests are a continuation of the sacred forests of the
prechristian period. They also have bamboo reserves called mnwmund in Sailkal
region of northeastern mizoram (Malhotra, 1990; Gokhale et al., 1998). Arora,
2006 describe the Tholung sacred landscape of North Sikkim. In Himachal Pradesh, sacred forests are also known
as Dev Vans (Forests of Gods). The traditionally managed sacred forests were
reported from Mandi, Shimla, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti. According
to maps of forest Survey of India, in Lahaul and Spiti the forests are useful
in maintaining the natural source of water in adverse environmental conditions
(Chhatre et al., 1998). Almost all the major
deities in the Uttarakhand and Himachal state have their own forests and hence
the state can be called as a land of deities (Sharma, 2000). In spite of
documentation and floristic diversity of sacred forest, many researchers have
also work on the ethnobotany of the important plants which are used by the
local inhabitants to cure various diseases like leucorrhoea, urinary problem, headache,
digestive problem, hepatic-disorder, brain tonic, bronchial problems, wounds, tonic,
arthritis, asthma, etc., (Lebbie and Guries, 1995). Many
rare and threatened plants are also described from the different pockets of
sacred forests (Gadgil, 1995). A climbing legume Kunstleria keralensis reported from a sacred forest in Kerala,
found only in that sacred forest (Mohanan and Nair, 1981). Belpharistemma
membranifolia, Buchanania lanceolata
and Syzygium travuncoricum are rare
species found only in some sacred forests of Kerala (Nair and Mohanan, 1995).
Sukumaran and Raj (2008) have reported a rare and endangered medicinal plant Petiveria alliacea from the sacred forests
of Kanyakumari district in the southern Western Ghats, which was a new distributional
record for India.

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Sacred forest in Uttarakhand

needs to be given to strengthen cultural systems of conservation of natural
resources in Uttarakhand.  Husain, et al.
(2010) have described the floristic diversity of Haat Kali sacred grove from
Gangolihat tehsil, in 2010 Singh, et al.(2010) have gave the importance of
ethnobotanical plants and their conservation by taking example of Nakuleshwar
and Thal Ke dhar sacred groves of Pithoragrah district. Agnihotri, et al. (2009),
have documented Nakuleshwar sacred grove from Pithoragarh district. There are
many tribal and non-tribal communities present in the district such as Bhotias,
Tharus, Rajis, Boxa and non-tribal communities such as Bhandari, Bora, Chuphal,
Rawal, etc. inhabit the area of Pithoragarh district.  Sacred groves in Kumaon
Himalaya are rich in biodiversity and a number of groves are present in every
village or a group of few villages having own deity, often surrounded by a
forest patch considered as sacred (Bisht and Ghildiyal, 2007). Earlier, reports
on Nakuleshwar, Haat Kali, Malya Nath and Patal Bhuvenshwar sacred groves
(Singh et al., 2010a, 2010b, 2011, 2012, 2013; Singh, 2011 and Upreti et al
2017) limited their studies with conservation of biodiversity and some
ethnobotanical uses of plant species.  
In recent years, some important contributions on sacred groves of
Uttarakhand have been made by many workers. Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) have
provided a list of 22 sacred plant species in the Central Himalayan region, and
reported results of a detailed study of Hariyali sacred grove in Chamoli
district of Uttarakhand. The area of the sacred grove covered is about 5.5 km2.
Fifteen villages around Hariyali with 6,000 inhabitants of Brahmin, Rajput and
Scheduled castes participate in different rituals performed at the grove. They
gives detailed of the myth of Hariyali Devi, rituals, taboos and folklores,
socio-economic and ecological role of the grove, as well as phytosociological
attributes of the grove and none sacred forest. Bisth and Ghildiyal (2007) have
described the role of sacred forests for biodiversity conservation in Himalayan
region of Uttarakhand. A preliminary floristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacred
forest in Garhwal Himalaya (Pauri Garhwal district) have revealed that sacred
forest have a rich plant biodiversity. Socio-cultural and ethnobotanical values
of a sacred forest of Thal Kedhar in Central Himalaya of Kumaon were elaborated
by Negi (2005). He has described that the sacred forests of Thal kedhar harbours
an important ethnobotanical plants which play enhances the floristic diversity
of the forest. Haat Kali sacred forest, Nakuleshwar and Thalkedar sacred sites
from Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand reported by Singh  et al., (2010).

 Rawal and
Dhar (2001) have described Chiplakedar sacred grove in Askot Wild life
Sanctuary, Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Bisth and Ghildiyal (2007) have
described the role of sacred groves for biodiversity conservation in
Uttarakhand Himalaya.  A preliminary
floristic study at the Tarkeshwar sacred grove in Garhwal Himalaya (Pauri
Garhwal district) have revealed that this grove have a rich biodiversity. A
grove represented about 343 species representing 256 genera from 107 families.
Again, Ghildiyal et al., (2008) have worked on floristic account in Tarkeshwar
sacred grove which is situated just besides Kotdwara-Rikhnikhal, Kotdwar. This
is about 600 years old possesses 372 species of both flowering and
non-flowering plants.  Agnihotri et al.,
(2009) have located Nakuleshwar sacred grove in Thal Kedar hills from
Pithoragarh district at an altitude of 1530 m. Singh  et al., (2010) have reported Haat Kali sacred
grove from Gangolihat, Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand. Further ethnobotanical
studies was done on Nakuleshwar and Thalkedar sacred groves by Singh et al.,
2010. Finally, number of sacred groves are present in Pithoragrah district and
are still to be explored from the area. In recent years, some important
contributions on sacred forests of Uttarakhand have been made by many workers.
Sinha and Maikhuri (1998) have provided a list of 22 sacred plant species in
the Central Himalayan region, and reported results of a detailed study of
Hariyali sacred forest in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Singh et al 2012 also
described various sacred forests in pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. They gives detailed of the rituals, taboos and
folklores, socio-economic and ecological role of the forest, as well as
phytosociological attributes of the forest and none sacred forest. There are some well known sacred forest patches
which truly represent the wealth of a religion based conservation traditions as
reported by Adhikari and Adhikari (2007), Bisht et al. (2007), Anthwal et al.
(2010), Angihotri et al. (2010 and 2012). It is very difficult to document the
exact number of sacred sites in Uttarakhand, however, efforts made by some
authors like Sinha and Maikhuri (1998), Bisht et al. (2007) 32 sacred groves
and 128 sacred groves by Negi (2010). Various sacred dorests from gangolihaat
were also recorded by Gokhale et al. (2011), Pala et al. (2012), Singh et al.
(2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and Upreti et al 2016, 2017. Socieoeconomic,
ethnobotanical and religious studies of various sacred plants from groves were
done by various workers in kumaun region of Uttarakhand (Jain in 1991, Pande et
al, in 2006, and Upreti al 2017). Singh 2011 also recorded religious plants
from haat kalika sacred grove, Hukra devi and other sacred groves from
Pithoragarh district of Kumaun region. The study was undertaken to document and
give its floristic diversity of important sacred groves of Pithoragarh district
for the present research work.