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!

During my painful resting days I was reading many books and internet articles on whatever possible. One of them was about 'disappearing sparrows' and suddenly got the desire to free myself from the confinement. I got the urge of photographing 1200 (approximate) birds of India. I packed my camera gear and left. The heavy camera gear was very painful to carry, but I carried it anyway. The whole trip was based on cheap state transport of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The entry fees, permits, car rentals to the national parks and bird sanctuaries were very expensive though. Well, nothing stopped me. I went on as if it was my last trip on this beautiful earth. I went looking for winter migratory birds in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

I started from Vadodara as usual, took a train to Dwarka, the westernmost point in Saurashtra area of Gujarat. Felt very peaceful visiting the magnificent temple of Dwarakadheesh. Headed southwards along the coast to Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. Counted as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the post independence, gorgeous temple of Somnath on the sea shore made me exuberant. I went for some action on the calm beaches of Diu. Climbed down the steps of dark and steep step wells of Junagarh. I was lucky enough to sight magnificent yet lazy bunch of lioness's in Gir National Park. Could photograph a pair of mating octopuses in the Marine National Park near Jamnagar. Due to lack of rains this year, the Khijdia Bird Sanctuary of Jamnagar was disappointing, though I could get good pictures of few tiny endemic birds. The flamingos and white pelicans eluded me!

Seems like Prime Minister Modi Ji's statement "Kutch nahin dekha to kuch nahin dekha" (if you haven't seen Kucth then you haven't seen anything) has made a great impact on people! Reaching Bhuj on Christmas day was overwhelming. With all the hotels in Bhuj fully booked I had to stay in a cheap guest house in the not-so-nice outskirts of the city. White Desert or the Great Rann of Kutch was mesmerizing! Trip to the westernmost point of India, 60 miles from Indo-Pakistan border- Koteshwar, Narayan Sarovar, Chinkara Wildlife Sanctuary, and short chat with the Border Security Force was memorable. I wasn't so impressed with plastic strewn beach of Mandvi. Trip to the remote Dhola Vira was adventurous and also I happened to see a flock of Greater Flamingos. At last, the state bird of Gujarat made its appearance! I am so grateful to the couple who gave me a ride back from that remote place. Well, I sighted Lesser Flamingo chicks on the way back. Sighted and photographed the endangered Blackbuck in Velavdar National Park near Bhavnagar. Climbed 3,500 steps up to the Jain temples of Palitana. By then as you can understand I was exhausted and I skipped the Little Rann of Kutch trip. It was time for some break before I headed to Rajasthan.

(Map courtesy- Internet)

After having a great break for few days eating idly-sambar-dosa-curd-rice to my heart's content at my sister's place in Vadodara I left for Sawai Madhopur in a train. Essentially to Ranthambore National Park to sight that big cat. Shooted some more species of birds at Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur. Siberian Rubythroat was catch of the day! Saras Crane didn't show up anywhere in the park. Made a short day trip to Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh. Couldn't continue more in Rajasthan State transport with severe dysentery. Almost all trains were running almost 4 hours late due to winter fog they said. Rajasthan tour in mid-winter was also bleeding out my pocket heavily, the reason is all westerners pour in during the months of December and January. So decided to cut short the trip and returned home with the pictures of 100 bird species. To say I will photograph all 1200 birds would be very ambitious for a solo woman but, I will try as much possible! Will share the bird pictures soon!

Well, I started with a shoestring budget which went quite well in Gujarat except for the wildlife and birding tours. Carrying a professional camera with a long lens into the sanctuaries will attract rupees 200- 300 along with the heavy entry fees. Since I had carried the heavy zoom lenses I had to cut down on other weight. Carrying two backpacks was not possible for me, so carried a small handbag instead. A pair of shoes, a set of change of clothes, a sweater with hood, and minimum toiletries in it. Rajasthan was very expensive and my budget seemed unreasonably low there. Next time, I am planning to reduce some more weight by shedding a couple of lenses. Lesson learnt in this trip- Living with only two sets of clothes!

Look forward to my entries on the destinations and experiences in these western states. I promise I will post them frequently. I will also post most of the pending articles of previous trip to eastern and southern states. And, I will definitely visit your blogs which I haven't done in months!

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Related articles-
Why do I travel SOLO?
Sometimes I dislike traveling!
Backpacking India III- A Classic Pilgrimage!
Backpacking India Part II- A Parallel Journey
Stories from Backpacking India

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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Happy New Year! Nice to hear from you again. Hope 2016 brings you health and inspiration and joy.

    1. Thank you! And a very happy new year to you too!

  2. HAPPY NEW YEAR. I hope your health improves in 2016. Glad you managed to go on this interesting trip.

    1. Thank you! And a very happy new year to you too!

  3. Nice acount of your journey. Look forward to the frames.


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