Photo Essay: Atlanta- A City of Trees and Nature Preserve by Gopal Lahiri

To be without trees is like to be without our roots.

Gopal Lahiri

Georgia is a state where nature preserve is well-known and the major city Atlanta is truly a city of trees. There is a dreamlike quiet that always falls on the city. In my recent sojourn to this city, I realise that to the fullest. That’s when not duck out of the cold, I love walking around the townhouses in the neighbourhoods even on a cold winter morning, taking my time looking into the treelines, be fully content with hands in my pockets and light nature music on my headphone.  A hundred feet tree is a very common sight. Pine, Cedar, Birch, Maple, Oak, Elm, Alder trees are lined up all around inviting you to a world of calm and peace. And then those you can find the blossoming trees not now but only in the spring, Eastern Red Bud, Cherry Blossom, Crabapple, Dogwood trees and the like.

As they say, the true meaning of life is to plant trees and make it survive while the trees dig deep roots into our whole being. Both deciduous and evergreen trees are at plenty here in the Georgia state. Coming from a tropical country, I can now feel the essence of these green and grey environs in the winter. Blue skies are magical here even in cold days and drip blue in your mental space. If you walk around the suburbs, you can find nature trails, wild flowers, creek, rocky land and a variety of wildlife as well. Stone mountain is a monolithic structure. You can get lost in the wilderness of Pine trees with large leaves Long leaf, Hickory, Mockernut and so many others. 

As I walk around the Morgan Falls in Sandy Spring, I feel awestruck. The first hydroelectric power for the city of Atlanta comes from this power plant way back in 1904 and is still functional. Morgan Falls Dam is important because of its architecture and its association with the early development of hydroelectric engineering and for S. Morgan Smith, who is famous for inventing the water turbine. The natural habitat for many plants and animal species is preserved around Bull Sluice Lake. Fishing and boating are common here while the ducks swim across all out perhaps with holiday cheer and chirp. The nearby riverside park is a wonderful recreation place in the wild and I amble around under mellow light, defying chill all around. Twilight glow in the chilly December evenings here is something to be adored, not feared. The location of Chittahooche river was formed some 350 million years ago along the Brevard Fault. Near the bend of the river was a ford and the river channel narrowed between rocky cliffs on either side and created strong rapids called Blue Slice.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is a treasure trove and home to hundres of species and thousands of animals across its seven major galleries. It is stated that more than 11 million US gallons of fresh and salt water house them. After Singapore and China, this is the third largest aquarium in the world. All the xhibits are a must see. River Scout, Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager, Tropical Diver, Georgia Explorer, Shark Gallery are among the major exhibits. The popular live Dolphin Show and Californian Sea lions show are spectacular and breath-taking. 4D theatre is a not-to-be missed attraction and enthrals all ages of the onlookers. My visit in December coincides with the Christmas time and the celebration inside is palpable. You can stroll around at your own pace, takeing photos and selfies or learn the histories of the Marine life from the scholars who are at the exhibit halls to explain you. If you get tired, sip coffees or juices, bite snacks or spend your times at the elegant souvenir shop and feel a part of the merriment. 

The other attractions like Coca-Cola and CNN-Studio tours or Centennial Olympic Park pale into insignificance compared to this majestic aquarium. Atlantic Festival of lights- the drive-thru light show experience is amazing during Christmas and also Atlanta-Botanical Garden light show is glittering. With colourful displays, beautiful twinkling lights and skate under the stars, the dullness of the winter evaporate in no time and you feel delighted to be there. Winter is a beautiful time in Atlanta as this city in very hot during summer months. The colder months are pleasant here with rarely snow fall moments. Still when your hands feel numb during some windy days, you can duck in a café and defrost yourself or visit any restaurants to taste some snacks with local flavour. Light displays are add-on during Christmas time in everyone’s yard and on the side- walks as well. If you come to Atlanta for holidaying, do visit in the winter.

Gopal Lahiri

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