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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Matter of Perspective- Duke's Nose/ Nag Phani

I wrote about names of directions yesterday. Other names have fascinated me since childhood.

Phantom, the ghost who walks, was a popular comic-book hero in my childhood. He lived in a skull shaped cave, which added quite another dimension to the story. There was also an account in my textbook that dealt with rocks. It was a letter from the well-known Socialist, N. G. Gore to his daughter. 

In this letter N G Gore told his daughter about a rock formation between Mumbai and Pune near Khandala mountains. My mother had pointed it out to me many times as we traveled every vacation in a State Transport bus from Mumbai to Kolhapur via Pune. As Mr. Gore wrote, the rock was known by its English name Duke's nose, but the locals know it as "Nag Phani" नाग फणी or  Cobra's head. I recall looking at the rock many times and wondering why it was called by either name. From the road, it definitely did not look like the Duke's or anyone's nose unless you were looking up his nostrils. Imagining the cobra was a bit difficult too. But, what the heck. People call rocks by any name they choose, I thought. Recently I surfed for pictures of Duke's nose. See for yourself how trekkers and holiday-makers see the Duke's nose or Nag Phani. Feel free to search more if you would like. 

Duke's Nose or Nag Phani from close - Mumbai-Pune Road.
 In 1991 or so, I was walking in Khandala near the Kune Church in the evening and there it was! The Duke's nose! The royal features of the Duke are unmistakable. I am almost sure that no one else has published this perspective of the Duke's nose until now. If that is true, it is absurdly strange!! 


Duke's un-mistakable Nose from near Kune Church- 2007 Madhav Chavan
I took this picture in 2007 but over the years I have taken dozens of my friends and relations to see it for themselves. Why is it that no-one else has uploaded this perspective of the rock? Perhaps they are always so close to the rock that they miss this perspective completely.

If you compare the pictures, the ones available on the net until now are taken from very close to the main rock. These pictures are probably appropriate for the Cobra's Head, the local name. I do not have any evidence, but it seems to me that some Englishman may have taken a look at the whole formation from where I stood and called it Duke's Nose. There is no reason why any sane person standing close to the rock would call it the Duke's Nose and there seems to be no other place from where it would look so much like the Duke's Nose.


If I must make a familiar serious point - when you are close to something, things have one look. If you step away, they take quite another shape. It helps to change perspectives.

I have a similar story about another rock formation in South India- Kudremukh- the horse-head. Now that you have seen the Duke's Nose- don't you think the Kudremukh must look different and more like a horse's head from another perspective?

1 comment:

  1. That's true. When Manisha Vengurlekar and I were travelling with you to Pune. You all the way took down route that Church to show us Duke's Nose!

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