180 million years ago…

Once upon a time there was a big forest that had very big trees – more than 13.4 m high and 90 cm diameter. It was a time when the mighty Himalayas was not there to guard the northern frontiers of Indian subcontinent, when the Indian subcontinent was floating in the southern hemisphere…. And then ….. the trees and the forest turned into stone, not by curse of any sorcerer but by a process called petrification…..and 180 million years passed. The place where there was a huge forest is now a barren land covered by stones. But a closer look at the stones tell us a different story. The story of AKAL wood fossil park.

Our earth is 4800 million years old. Microscopic life forms first appeared 3800-3100 million years ago. The trees of Akal park were there in Jurassic period of mesozoic era. One can only imagine how the forest was submerged under water and how it re-emerged. Perhaps the movement of the land masses forming Gondwana from Pangaea and later movement of the Indian sub-continent have flooded this forest, covered the forests with sands, and then gradual petrification turned them into fossils that we see today!

We had planned to travel from Jaisalmer to Mount Abu, which was expected to take 8-10 hours. And I had planed to stop at Kiradu on the way which would mean an additional two hours or so.The person at the reception of Moomal Hotel said that Akal Wood Fossil Park remains open from 10 am to 5 pm.  I had but given up all hope of visiting this place. No way we could afford to start late just to visit this place.

We started from Jaisalmer, after a hearty breakfast at Riddi Siddhi Restaurant, a little after quarter past eight. The road to Barmer was quite and pleasant. We could soon see windmills of Suzlon wind park rotating and generating electricity. I was looking at the windmills and thinking about Don Quixote’s adventure when all of a sudden, Hassanji turned the car and honked in front of a gate. I could now see the wood fossil park. I said the park opens at ten. Hassanji pointed towards the signpost which said open from 8 am to 6 pm. I looked at my watch, it was nine. That meant we were going to the wood fossil park. I was so excited I came out from the car. Just beyond the gate I could see two emu waiting to greet us.

Welcoming emus of Akal Wood Fossil Park
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I don’t mind you buying tickets. The bird was really close to me.

After getting the tickets the caretaker gave us directions to reach to the fossils. We reached one of the spots where the fossils of the trees was kept. The wood fossil park was 21 hectares in size. And the road condition is not good. So moving in between spots is not easy even with a car. The fossils are generally caged to prevent theft.

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Wood fossils looking just like real wood

But then some were lying around also, to be discovered (and not carried away as menhir or souvenirs).

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Are you a fossil too?
Sands of Time

And all of a sudden we became aware that the whole park was alive 180 million years ago. Every simple stone that we were treading on could be a fossil that once lived on earth. A feeling of awe and humility came over me as a realization of how small we are in the sands of time.