Hanging from branches, rattling in the November breeze you see them everywhere. They look like terracotta horses. Closely resembling a stick figure stallion your 4-year old would draw - a cylinder for a body, stick like legs with a protruding giraffe-like head. Terracotta horses on a limestone hill, pieces of clay with messages saddled on them.
Faith makes people do strange things.
The limestone cave I gazed up at during my visit to the bizarre Panchmahal region of eastern Gujarat was carved out of a soaring rock formation by a Tribal prince tens of centuries ago. I began to claw my way up the volcanic limestone rock past more horses and jumping langurs. There were few footholds, and the surface was so soft it often crumbled under my sneakers. Somehow, after a few scares, I managed to make my way to the top.
The view of the ancient valley was spectacular, in the distance I saw Gujarat's only world heritage sight Pavagadh rise over the landscape.
There can be few places where the strangeness of nature is more striking. Volcanic eruptions millions of years ago covered Pavagadh with a soft form of lava known as tufa. Over the eons, wind, rain and rivers eroded the tufa in amazing ways, creating a series of deep valleys bordered by steep, gently undulating cliffs. Most unusual of all, they created the fairy chimneys, tall cones of tufa and volcanic ash that are topped by protective slabs of hard basalt. They resemble crudely cut columns with hats, and some of the hats look as if they have been precariously placed by some gargantuan prankster, and could fall off at any moment.
A landscape for terracotta horses riding into the heavens and the hope someone gets their little message in a bottle.