Black panther captivates visitors on this Pune farm
Engineer-turned-botanist, 67, creates stunning 120x80-foot artwork on 5-acre farm in Dhonje with variety of paddy crops
A retired mechanical engineer from Pune has found an exceptional way to contribute towards animal conservation efforts. The 67-year-old Punebased engineer-turnedbotanist has created the image of a leaping black panther, an endangered species, on his five-acre farm in Dhonje, near Pune.
The entire artwork is harvestable rice crop, with the panther image growing black rice, Najar Bhat, which is famous in Karnataka.
“The black panther is an endangered animal and I want to draw attention towards its conservation. If we don’t act now, the animal will only exist in books and in children’s stories,” said Shrikant Ingalhalikar, a resident of Sinhagad. Year the art form emerged in Japan
He said he took up agriculture post retirement, and while researching on ways to use his farmland, he chanced upon Japanese paddy field art. The art form originated in Inakadate village of north Japan where farmers still plant rice with their hands.
In 1993, the Inakadate farmers found out that their paddy growing tradition had completed 2,000 years. To celebrate this, the rice growers invented ‘Tambo Ata’ or Paddy Art, which is now a huge tourist draw in the village. Ingalhalikar said, “I spotted this art form on the internet and became deeply inspired by it. I decided to replicate this on my own farm and I now grow Indrayani rice and black rice varities. I started working on the art form last year, when I made a 120x80 feet Lord Ganesha image. The panther art work, too, is the same size.”
Creating the artwork is a back-breaking job, Ingalhalikar said. “This form of art takes a lot of time and effort. I have to get a bird’s eye view of the patch that I want the artwork on and then get the images printed and transferred in the space through paddy. It takes a week to complete the design and planting process, and then a month for the artwork to show up. I will harvest the black panther artwork in three months.”
Shrikant Ingalhalikar’s Ganesha artwork last year; (right) the black panther artwork that can be viewed on the farm till December