With its far-ranging topography and geographical diversity, each of the four corners of India have something unique to offer to those who love to travel and explore.
From the trans-Himalayan belt and Deccan plateau to the green mountains in the Northeast and the sultry coastline of the South, natural wonders are out there right in front of your eyes!
Rahioli is one such location in Gujarat, and its prehistoric facts and facets would fascinate even the most cynical of individuals, for this sleepy little village has witnessed some of the most primordial species to have ever existed on the planet!
Yes, we are talking about Dinosaurs!
Situated about 90 kms from Ahmedabad, Rahioli was once part of the erstwhile princely state of Balasinor, but even then what remained unearthed for aeons was a vast expanse spanning 72 acres of a hilly and flatland mix of terrain that held great, unfathomable secrets to itself.
Until 1981. That year, when the Geological Survey of India (GSI) conducted a routine study of sedimentary rock formations in the region, the team chanced upon numerous dinosaur fossils and bones. What’s more, they found that this treasure trove of untouched fossils dated back to the Upper Cretaceous period (Maastrichtian), and were roughly about 77.1-66 million years old.
However, the most phenomenal of all discoveries that made Rahioli shine brightly in the radar of palaeontologists and dinosaur researchers was the presence of thousands of fossilised dinosaur eggs preserved perfectly in the Lameta sedimentary layer, along the river of Narmada.
Now, imagine the wonder of a young child who accidentally comes across this haul of ancient dinosaur eggs while taking her cows for grazing across the flatlands next to her humble dwelling.
The Adventures of Padma and A Blue Dinosaur is a book by noted children’s author Vaishali Shroff, which, as the names suggests, takes one through a gripping adventure undertaken by a young girl named Padma, her grandmother Labhuben and dinosaur expert ‘Rock’ uncle to the ‘Kingdom of Jabalpuriya’ along with a blue dinosaur!
Along with vivid and descriptive illustrations by Suvidha Mistry, the book doesn’t just capture Padma’s adventures along the banks of the Narmada, river, but also provides in-depth details and curiosity-arousing facts about the dinosaurs discovered along the riverine basin, like Rahiolisaurus gujaratensis, Rajasaurus narmadensis, Titanosaurus indicus, Indosaurus matleyi, Jainosaurus septentrionalis, Isisaurus colberti, to name a few.
Interestingly, the idea came to the author, when she embarked upon a road trip to the Balasinor Dinosaur Fossil Park in Rahioli, with her husband and children in December 2016.
“As my kids went about discovering facts and details about Indian dinosaurs, Padma and her adventures found its way into my mind, and I ended up typing the entire fictional story on my phone the same day. This was originally a short story, but after I’d put it out for publishing, I was contacted by Harper Collins last year for a commissioned work on Indian dinosaurs, more like an encyclopaedia, since these were sparsely documented for public knowledge,” says Vaishali to The Better India.
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However, Vaishali had better plans, and after discussions with the folks at the publishing house, she managed to put together a draft that was a blend of fiction and non-fiction. “The original story that I had conceptualised sitting on a rock at Rahioli forms the fictional part of the book and the rest gives one deep insight about the ancient beings that once roamed along the Narmada Basin many million years ago,” she explains.
The book also contains invaluable inputs from Dr Ashok Sahni and Suresh Srivastava, two renowned palaeontologists, as well as an exclusive interview with none other than Aaliya Sultana Babi, the Dinosaur Princess of India.
You can read more about her here.
Making a fantastic read for not just children but adults—the extensive information pieced together by Vaishali on the possibly unknown prehistoric beings from India is quite intriguing. This book is available at all online book purchasing websites like Amazon and Flipkart.
So, if you love dinosaurs and adventures, hop aboard for some amazingly intriguing quests that Padma goes on accompanied by a ‘Bluethingosaurus’ and trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
Representing India as an author for an Asia-wide reader series published by Oxford University Press-Asia Education, Vaishali has also authored other books for children like the multilingual Raindrops (which has been recommended by the NCERT and CBSE), Ari by Tulika Publishers, and The Missing Bat by Pratham Books. You can check out all her books here.
You can also write to her at email@example.com.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)