Oct 2, 2018

Neelakurunji, Nilgiri Tahr and Eravikulam National Park

Neelakurinji Nilgiri Tahr Eravikulam Munnar Kerala
Nilgiri Tahr ont he slopes with Neelakurinji bloom int he foreground

"Earth laughs in flowers" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

And her this laugh takes twelve years to bloom! Well, I am talking about Neelakurinji- a flower endemic to Southern Western Ghats which blooms every twelve years. Like many others I too was very curious to witness this enigmatic beauty of the rolling hills of Munnar carpeted with bluish purple flowers. Sometimes reality bites! Well, I saw the blooms but no carpets, more tourists in bright colored clothes than flowers! The recent torrential rains, floods might have to be blamed for the damage to the soil, shrubs and the buds. 

Jun 26, 2018

Kedartal- A trekker's D-R-E-A-M!

Kedartal Mt Thalaysagar Mt Bhrigupanth Uttarakhand Himalayan trekking
Kedartal with views of Mt Thalaysagar and Mt Bhrigupanth

Kedartal, as the name indicates its Lord Shiva's lake. The legend says Shiva created this lake as a contribution to River Bhagirathi. The lake is believed to be the origin of Kedar Ganga, a tributary to Bhagirathi which joins the river at Gangotri. But, in that landscape you happen to see Kedar Ganga originating from a glacier which feeds the lake too!

Feb 12, 2018

The Chadar Trek and ME!!

Chadar Frozen River Trek Zanskar Leh Ladakh
The formidable River

Chadar trek was on my list since 2013. I used to read blogs and envy people. This year somehow I made it happen in the fear that this amazingly wonderful and breathtakingly beautiful trek might become a history in a couple years! I was so excited about trekking this winter highway that I went silent :) The flight from Delhi to Leh was packed with trekkers. The cold desert of Ladakh invited everyone with wide open hands.

Feb 9, 2018

Chadar Trek- Few things you need to know!

Ice walk on Chadar Trek Zanskar River Leh Ladakh India

Well, Chadar is a very popular trek and you will find tons of information on web. But, surprisingly people are not prepared enough for the trail. Most of the times trekkers underestimate nature and overestimate themselves. All is well that ends well. If not, no one is to be blamed but ourselves!! With my own experience I would like to say few things ...

Nov 26, 2017

Himalayas, trekking and trekking Operators- Your opinion??

Singalila Pass Trek All Dara Sikkim India
Frosty All Dara campsite early morning- 1KM away from Sandakphu

Lately, I have started trekking in Himalayas regularly. When in USA I did all my treks DIY style. Driving to trailhead, carrying the pack, tent, sleeping bag, food, stove, fuel everything on my own! Well, that is a different world. Trekking with an operator is kind of new to me. Just like booking a package tour. Sounds like 'Sahib style', where everything is done by others and I have to just walk. Tents ready by the time we reach the campsite of the day, hot chai and snacks, hot water, hot tasty breakfast and dinner, yummy desserts, basic medical check up, kind and attentive staff to listen to all the fuss! Sounds great huh?

Nov 24, 2017

Is it wise to trek in high altitudes during periods?

Goecha La Trek Tshoka Campsite Sikkim India
Campsite at Tshoka

Well, just got back from the beautiful state of Sikkim. The ever popular Goecha La trek was in my to-do list for a long time. Finally, done with it. With few regrets, complaints and inconveniences. And loads of beautiful memories. The Himalayas rock! Trekking rocks! Travel is life!

Jan 8, 2017

Happy New Year 2017! And the past year of Birding and Trekking!

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year 2017!

May the year bring lots of happiness, peace and fun to all of us!
May we travel a lot!
May we get cheap air tickets and the train tickets whenever we want!
May we get packages that included everything we want to do!
May we get best compatible travel partners for our expense sharing journeys!
May we get ...

Common Sandpiper Sunderbans National Park West Bengal India
Common Sandpipers in action at Sunderbans National Park West Bengal
Check out the entire GALLERY

Oct 27, 2016

Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi- The Bird Paradise!

Bathing beauty at Old Magazine House in Ganeshgudi Karnataka India
Bathing Beauty- White rumped Shama at Old Magazine House Ganeshgudi

A peaceful place where one can relax body and mind, little birds sing for you! Do you love birds? Just birds? No craze for tigers, no rushing safaris! Only colorful little winged wonders- birds and butterflies. The place is Old Magazine House in Ganeshgudi, Karnataka, India.

Sep 25, 2016

Finally a peek into the mighty Himalayas ...

Komik village Spiti Valley Himachal Pradesh

Couple of months ago (though I am blogging about it now) I went trekking in Himachal Pradesh. The plan was to bird watch all along the path. And I added 70 new pics to my GALLERY. Yey! Okay, where did I go? First part was to trek up to Kareri Lake in the cradle of Dauladhars mainly looking for birds. And the second part was to reach Kaza and trek to 5 villages of Spiti Valley. Ohh! reaching Kaza-the base camp, itself was an adventure for the solo-first-timer with not much of info. The thrid part was, birding and wildlife viewing in the mountains of Kibber- Huff huff! Kareri Lake, though not too high above 10,000ft, was a refreshing trek amidst thick forest and boulders higher up. So more of bird life too. Big hairy Himalayan langurs were so beautiful. Their hair thick-long-straight-silky naturally worth considering for an expensive shampoo advertisement. And heeeee! spotted and photographed the shy Himalayan Monal. Thanks to my guide Arvind Sharma based in McLeodganj who is not only patient with his clients but also is a bird expert in Kangra Valley.

Mar 30, 2016

Roti and Rice, are they so different?

Roti and Rice

For the last 30 years or so I am traveling to North and Western Indian states and always I travel in Indian Railways. Every time I meet people from different parts of India. And every time people talk about the differences in the cultures, food, clothes etc. Most of them feeling superior than South Indians. I ignore such talks. Couple of months ago I heard a woman from one of the Western States whining relentlessly about the difficulties she is facing in Chennai. Her problem was that people of Tamil Nadu are dark in color, they wear lungi, even rich people! They eat rice, idly and Dosa sitting on the floor, they eat with hands. They always speak tamil. They don't have rich culture like North or Western states of India. Really? I am not from Chennai, still I don't agree.

Mar 13, 2016

The ancient Seat of Learning- Nalanda

Temple-3 ruins at Nalanda Bihar India
The icon of Nalanda Temple-3

The private mini bus was jam-packed to the last step. I could only see through the window, the outside world looked big and green. The sights of rural Bihar were not much different from that of Uttar Pradesh. I was heading south from Patna towards Nalanda to visit the ruins of Mahavihara of ancient Kingdom Magadha. 90KM south of the capital city Patna, this place of importance is much visited by tourists as well as Buddhist and Jain pilgrims. From the minibus I was the only one to get off. I was surprised to see the ruins crowded with tourists, probably because it was a Sunday. In comparison, ruins at Vaishali were deserted and devoid of tourists!

Feb 16, 2016

1200 birds of India

Oriental White Eye at Khijadia Bird Sanctuary Jamnagar Gujarat India
Oriental White Eye at Khijdia Bird Sanctuary Gujarat
(CLICK HERE for the entire Photo Gallery)

A decade-and-a-half ago I was a bird enthusiast. It was my passion to identify birds. I even bought a then expensive zoom lens. But, soon I started with trekking and there was nothing else I thought of doing on weekends. When trekking I got the craze of waterfalls and then the waterfalls photography. I enjoyed watching wildlife including birds on the way though. Exclusive birding trips were long forgotten. Binoculars and zoom lens were left deep inside the closet. With the world travel and backpacking India trips I left behind the heavy camera gear and taking bird pictures was a forgotten story. I bought a high end point-and-shoot camera instead. Now, my trekking trips are stopped due to some mysterious illness. Recently, I was lazily browsing nothing in particular and found some articles on birds interesting. I was shocked to know many species of birds in India have found their place in the endangered list. It is very sad to know the very common birds are going uncommon. That info kind of rekindled the passion for birds in me! Thought if I don't see them now then I may not see them anytime later!

Jan 20, 2016

The relic stupa at Vaishali and the Asoka pilar at Kolhua

Relic Stupa in Vaishali Bihar
Canopy over Relic Stupa

To move in and around Patna city you will have to catch private buses and there is a separate stand for private buses- Mitapur. I got off from the shared autorikshaw and was nervous to see the dusty place with hundreds of old battered buses parked. It is insanely crowded place with bus drivers screaming to get passengers into their buses. I got into one of those numerous buses which would drop me near Vaishali. The bus driver and front seat passengers were kind enough to ask me the purpose of my visit so that they can drop me at the nearest cross road to my destination. After passing some green pastures of rice fields, banana groves I reached the outskirts of Vaishali. The bus stopped on the highway and I had to walk about a KM and half to reach the places of interest. There were no autorikshaws or cycle-rikshaws near the bus stop. One of the very few people sitting in the small tea stall there asked me what was I doing there. I told him about my interest. He stopped a passing motorcyclist and ordered him to drop me at the Relic Stupa! I was hesitant but the person insisted on taking a ride instead of walking all the way.

Jan 16, 2016

Backpacking India Part IV- In search of 1200 birds of India!

Map courtesy: Internet

Well, I am back after taking a long break from blogging. Many reasons for the break! First, I was sick with every bone and every joint in my body severely complaining :( After taking rest for a couple of months I was fed up of the walls around me. I fed up of liking, sharing, commenting the FB posts on Intolerant India, life inspirations, profile and cover pictures etc. I had never thought I would some day take interest in being active on Facebook. After suffering all the frustrations of being stuck in between four walls I decided go out no matter what! And I went travelling resisting the pain. Felt great indeed! I feel partly my pain is evaporated!

Nov 16, 2015

Kumrahar ruins of Patna- an insight to ancient Pataliputra

Kali Ghat Patna Bihar
Kali Ghat

I started from Varanasi railway station in an express train in the morning hoping to reach Patna by afternoon. Well, I was happy traveling in the 'almost empty' second AC compartment. My co-passenger was an eighty+ years old man. The train was an hour late at the starting point itself but still it would reach before dark I thought. I was traveling to the state of Bihar for the first time. Knowing the history and reputation for safety of Bihar I was wondering whether to tell my Mother about my trip or not. I didn't tell.

Aug 29, 2015

Khushinagar, where Buddha bid final adieu to the mortal world

Japanese monk at Mahaparinirvana temple Khushinagar Uttar Pradesh India
Monk enjoying a walk at peaceful vihara around Mahaparinirvana Temple

After my visit to Ayodhya- the glorious land of Lord Sri Ramachandra, I left for Gorkapur from where I could catch a bus to Khushinagar. It was a journey in the cold, with a grey sky looming over. Khushinagar is 53KM from Gorakhpur. From Gorakhpur I got into a private tempo which was overloaded. Every inch of space inside was packed with people. And hence the frigid morning breeze didn't bother me much. The tempo had boom boxes and the driver had some Indian pop music, specifically an 'item' song (rural Indian cabaret) on for his and the passengers' entertainment. The shrilled voice of the singer was barely audible from those cheap and loud boxes. I got off at the main road and started walking towards the small town yet important Buddhist pilgrimage center. I was unaware of the unexpected experiences I might bump into.

Aug 13, 2015

The remains of Ayodhya, The Ram Janmabhoomi

Picture courtesy- Google

This post is a part of my Backpacking India series. It is really amazing to learn the difference in experiencing the places from what we see in the news, books and the reality. It is just an attempt to narrate my personal experience of journey through the most revered Hindu divine destination, one of the seven sacred cities and the place which is center of disputes- Ayodhya, where Lord Rama was born.

Aug 8, 2015

The Imambaras of Lucknow

Bara Imambra Lucknow
Asifi Mosque in the same complex as Bada Imambara. People easily get an idea that this imposing mosque is the bada imambara.
This post is from my last backpacking journey through the states of India. Lately, I haven't been updating my blog for several reasons. I traveled from Allahabad to Lucknow in a "Delux" bus which broke down in between and I had to board another bus after waiting for half-an-hour on the roadside. It was a good start- I reached the city with no other difficulties. Lucknow is a busy city. This city of Nawabs is the capital of the Uttart Pradesh, a part of the Heritage Arc, and is home for many historical monuments, most popular being the Bada Imambara. The city is also synonymous with the chickan embroidery work popular as luckhanvi chickan

Aug 4, 2015

Back from another roadtrip!

Road trip USA June 2015 Utah Colorado Wyoming Idaho
June 2015 Road trip map

Well, I haven't been posting much (or say nothing?) on my blog recently. Not that I have stopped blogging but I have been distracted with other activities! I had to be with my mother and had to wind up things back in USA, then I went on a 15 days long road trip across Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho! The trip was kind of on an impulse! My lovely niece paid and booked my tickets and my kind cousin provided me the accommodation in USA.

May 18, 2015

Prayaga or Triveni Sangam where the three rivers meet!

Triveni Sangam Prayag Allahabad Uttar Pradesh
Boat queue for Triveni Sangam

Second oldest city of India after Varanasi- Prayaga is another holy city. One of the four theerthas (sacred places) Prayaga or Triveni Sangam is just 83KM from Varanasi. Triveni Sangam is the meeting point of three sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati (subterranean). One of the four places where the popular Kumbh-mela is held every 12 years sangam is believed to have soul cleansing powers hence a sacred bathing place. Also called as Theertharaja (king of holy places) Prayaga is the birth place of Soma (Moon), Varuna (God of rain) and Daksha Prajapati (Son of Brahma). The city has a long history dating back Vedic period as the location where Brahma performed a sacrifice and hence the name Prayaga. Mahrishi Ved Vyas wrote Siva Puarana here in this place.