-by Ajinkya Shahane
Wardha, a district at the heart of India just next to Nagpur is popular for its Ashrams
- established by Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. It is home to large swathes of grasslands and forests. Estimates say the Arvi plains of the region are home to about 400 hectares of grass-lands. These grasslands have sheltered several pas-toral communities and animals for centuries.
Did you know that the Gazetteer of 1906 declared the Arvi plains of Wardha as ‘The Denmark of Vidarbha’? The plains supplied milk to the entire district! Who could have inspired such a comparision?! It would have to have been the Nand Gaolis!
The Nand Gaoli is a pastoral community of the region, known to be expert rearers of the Gaolao Cow and the Nagpuri Buffalo. The nutritious grasses of these lands have nurtured the animal, kept them healthy, and the milk flowing. It was literally a river that used to flow each day – 2.5 lakh litres of milk to be precise!
The full bodied milk was an excellent source of white butter which used to be exported to far away lands. Manchester in the United Kingdom was also a proud consumer of this butter! The Nand Gaoli herders used to store the butter in large tanks which used to be brimming with liquid butter. The story goes that often a buffalo calf would tumble into these tanks as they jumped around