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Friday, 02 December 2011 15:17

Wonderful and green – Bambous Virieux

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The South-East, like the South-West, consists of a lot of villages and beautiful spots that provide tourists or visitors scope for endless fun and frolic. The villages, to begin with, though timid and shy at times because of the grey and ever angry sea that looks at them, it is their strength as well as their weakness in that at times tourist or visitors feel discouraged and despondent to explore them.
On the other hand the rugged and inhospitable nature of the coast arouses the avid desire to face them and explore the surroundings and at the end of the day the ego and adventurous spirit is fully satisfied. 

A cluster of villages on the south eastern coast on the way to Mahebourg tempts the traveller by their very appellation: names like Riviere des Creoles, Ferney, well known for its historical importance, Le Bois des Amourettes, a typical fishing village, Old Grand Port and Bambous Virieux. The latter has gained importance because of its strategic importance and soon it will fall a prey to the covetous eyes of promoters for development. Bambous Virieux, a name that sounds exotic, is a small village nestled along the south-eastern coast between Anse Jonchee and Pointe du Diable.

The villagers indulge in collecting sea shells and selling them, boat building and onion cultivation. Fishing no doubt takes some of the villagers’ time as fish fetch a good price and readily find buyers. These activities give a special attraction to the village. The women and men as well wearing boots and sometimes overcoats ans broad rimmed straw hats are seen since early morning at low tide busy collecting shells. Sometimes they come across some very beautiful ones that bring them much money.

Virieux family
They also paint the corals or the shells. They try their hands at making coral laces and other devices that really delight the passers-by. It is also very beneficial to ramble along the beach and among the onion plantations. The onion leaves, their odour coupled with the iodine smell of the seawater acts as a balm that restores health especially to asthmatic patients. It is a pleasant exercise too. The sandy soil of Bambous Virieux, conducive to the growth of onion has seen this plant stretching far and wide and is one of the highlights of the area.

Bambous Virieux has got its name from the Virieux family who owned land in the locality. The head of the family, Jean Marie Virieux [1766-1845] was Attorney General during both the French and British administration. Bambous Virieux is also a fishing village and many inhabitants derive a living from fishing. A regular sight is of many men waist deep in water waiting for hours and hours with rod and line to catch a fish that they take for dinner or supper. The lucky ones even sell the surplus to villagers or passers by.

Bambous Virieux by virtue of its strategic location is an ideal starting place for excursions inland and to islets in the vicinity. These islets though considered as little oases are yet rich in character. They have developed into real tourist sites and environmental sanctuaries. Ilot Mariane, Ile aux Fouquets and Ile de la Passe, Ilot Vacoas is sandwitched between Ile de la Passe and ile aux Fouquets. A little further north-east of Mahebourg lie Marianne Island and Ile aux Fous. They belong to that group of islands that are impregnated with history. They bear testimony to the battle of Grand Port, the only naval victory the French scored against the British.

They also witnessed major events during the first and the second world wars for the British made active use of them against the enemy that was looming in the Indian Ocean. They had played important roles because of their strategic position. These islets have the great power to conserve because of their uniqueness. Ile de la Passe will enable the historian to reconstruct the battle of Grand Port and determine the merits and demerits of the protagonists. These spots therefore lend themselves to useful intellectual and strategic exercises.

Costal indian villages
The islands also house some very rare species of fauna and flora that wild life foundation is trying hard to save from extinction. From the islands, excellent views of the Grand Port Range with its undulating slopes and ridges present a picturesque landscape. Excursions inland, too, can be undertaken, with activities like mountain climbing, hiking, bicycle riding, and squad safari till the mountain foot.

From the mountain views of Lion Mountain, Montagne Bambous and the magic spectacle with woods, sugar plantation, onion plantation, little dinghies swaying from side to side are just sheer visual delights. On the way the kestrels, other birds and animals like the deer and the boar can be seen. Butterflies, exotic flowers and the flame that redden the road with red flowers at the approach of the New Year. The whole nature revels along with the villagers and the visitors.

Bambous Virieux is reminiscent of some coastal Indian villages that have the double advantage of having a natural picturesque landscape and the beautiful panoramic view that its surroundings unfold. Hence a visit is gratifying not from visual point of view but also the culinary art that is at its zenith with mouth watering of fresh fish  like vieille and cordonier being fried. Nobody can stand the temptation of eating one or two slices with hot bread and ‘piments confits’. Visit the village and you’ll get value for trouble taken.

Jwala Kallee

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