Little Known Destinations

Kannoru in Sharawathi Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

 
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Sunlight penetrates in tiny patches just enough to give the seeds a chance  to sprout but not to grow, creepers as thick as my waist having spiraled  round its victim tree, blooms on touching the sunlight, on the canopy above and  gripping its victim more securely into a death embrace. Birds whose whistling and cacophony  keeps your neck stretched backwards drives you mad with the impossibility of  sighting them within the lush green layer or rather floors of leaves. Welcome  to the Evergreen forests of Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary!


The sanctuary covers the Sharavathi Valley Region, near the western border of  Karnataka. It is spread over an area of 431 Kms and is nourished by the  Sharavathi River.


Me, Guru and Ananth visited this amazing secret world one weekend. A rather  bumpy ride that almost broke our backs, being unfortunate to get the last 3 seats on the KSRTC bus, headed towards Linganamakki, left a red eyed tousled  trio embark at Kargal that is around 5kms from Jog. Gangadhar, our guide who had  arranged our stay, collected us and dropped us at Kanooru, a tiny village with  hardly 8-10 families. Being enthusiast Birders and wary of wild crowds from  Bangalore we kept away from the main group to explore the Kanooru forests.


Filling up with the idlis we filed out into  the jungle. Having been cautioned with many a thrilling tale of leeches, I  fell into a state of anxiety, this being my very first experience of leeches.  I almost had exaggerated them into centipede sizes swarming all over, biting  into you and slowly leaking out your blood, while you howl with pain. (I know  I was reading too much into horror movies!).


I was laughed at my attempts to wear the shoes and socks and a tucked in cargo's into my ankle length army shoes, nothing could possibly prevent the  crawlies! Well I had my last laugh! Take my advise, Ankle length shoes with  the ends of your pants tucked into them does protect you from leech bites! So  I can safely say not even a single one could feast on my blood!



Dharma, our guide took us along a path that steadily went down until it opened  up into the stream that eventually joins Sharavathi. Having had enough of  leeches we (read Guru and Ananth :)) decided its safer to trek along the  stream. The most arduous length was when we has to climb up a vertical cliff  to get to the other side, our nimble guide swung himself up and helped us all. Ananth had a hard time climbing up ;).


The guys while  engaged in a luxurious river bath and our guide prepared fire to cook our  lunch  I went to explore upstream and catch some nap.


One of the many irritating thing about being a gal and that too a gal  engaged in wildlife conservation is that not only your team thinks twice  before taking you along and take manifold precautions and planning before  they embark on the trip, that can generally dampen the whole wild experience,  but it also means you cannot participate in things like jumping into the  river and swim wild like monkey. :( .


Anyway the time I spent upstream, was one of the highlights of my trip, it  gave me some time on my own to soak in the beauty of that place. A constantly  tumbling water in the stream. An eerie silence of no-activity that sometimes  is interrupted by a flutter of wings and sometimes a distant call of some  unknown bird. The dance of the light on the water splashing sliver of silvery  ribbons. Some wonderfully coloured butterflies and beetles hovering over the  stream lazily. A scene of content and perfect solitude.


On a glance it might seem that the Sharavathi Valley is devoid of wildlife,  that's just an illusion. The denizens of these forests above all prefer to come out during the times the sun is down. And being there at dawn or dusk still does not increase your chances of catching a glimpse of these shy creatures,  they possess another weapon - camouflage not to mention the dense foliage  that completely renders them invisible to an untrained eye. The sanctuary is  a refuge of the endangered Lion-tailed macaque. Other mammals include tiger,  leopard (black panther), wild dog, jackal, sloth bear, spotted deer, sambar,  barking deer, mouse deer, wild pig, common langur, bonnet macaque, Malabar  giant squirrel, giant flying squirrel, porcupine, otter and pangolin.

Reptiles include king cobra, python, rat snake, crocodile and monitor lizard. Some of the avian species found in the sanctuary include three species of  hornbill, paradise flycatcher,fairy blue bird, malabar whistling thrush,  blue-throated barbet and Indian lories and lorikeets. There are many  butterflies in the sanctuary.



Amidst growing concerns by Dharmanna that we might not be able to leave the  forests before dusk, Guru pointed out to the little and only torch we had amidst us and said we will bank on it. How could we hurry? when at every turn the scene grew more beautiful than the previous and dusk brought home, birds near stream and gave us the opportunity to see them. The last mile brought us to a lovely waterfall. This time again the guys had the time of their lives splashing around the fall and faithfully reminding me what a unique experience I have missed.  During this time I discovered to my dismay that mosquitoes are not the only  insects that syringe you for your blood! There are insects that are much  larger with much bigger stingers!


Night brought ten thousand fire-flies! OK some hundreds then.. All good-naturedly blinking from the trees surrounding the house, And as we fell asleep on the porch chatting about this and that I fell into a deep sleep  wondering why the fire-flies have abandoned us at cities as everything else that was a part of our childhood , like the multitude of butterflies and  sparrows, the little beauties of nature.


The next morning after waiting for Gangadhar who was to be our guide for the day, for quite a while we decided to do with our little buddy Yogaraj.  Trekking on the outskirts of the forest we came across this one particular  tree that seem to have attracted a lot of our avian friends, I saw my first  fairy blue bird. We decided to spend our morning on the roof of the fall to  which my friends seemed to very partial and indeed it was worth all the admiration. A clear view of the valley below sheltered by a fruiting tree on  whose many branches housed several other creepers like a curtain to this  awesome world. Some where down a Malabar whistling thrush was on with its singing routine, I could just imagine him going up and down his favourite tree  whistling away to lure his lady love. You have to hear one at its performance and feel one's heart fill with joy as it goes on. You could  easily mistake him to be some amateur boy whistling away in the forests, not  without reason the Malabar whistling thrush is also called whistling school  boy!



After a long time of resting in that blessed place we returned back for a  round of breakfast. We soon again crashed into the forests, this time journeying through the open fields to visit the hornbill's nest. A hornbill has a very curious behavior about nesting. It nests in the tree holes. During  the time the female hornbill has to lay egg she sheds her feathers (pulls it out on her own!) and makes herself comfortable in the tree hole her mate has  found and which she has approved and then shuts herself in by sealing the hole with mud and grit, leaving just a tiny slit through which the male regularly drops in food.


We spent a major part of our afternoon next to a natural swimming pool, with the guys again splashing and posing and exploring upstream around while I spent  time sleeping and listening to music. Just to keep Yoga from getting bored I  challenged him on who could keep their head-down-first into water for long. Needless to say he won ! The way back was quite a bit of journey, crossing  the deep pool over a fallen tree trunk, I did that one on all hands and legs!  jumping over rocks to keep my shoes dry which I gave up on the last stretch  jumping into the pool thenceforth at every opportunity..


As we trekked back Ananth kept our lungs tickling endlessly by slipping over  the dry and wet rocks alike in spectacular fashion. Yoga kept his eyes  tuned on him just so he woudn miss the next one coming. So much for the  really costly woodland shoes and the really cheap hawaii chappals that he alternated between! My favourite one was the last fall when while wading  across the knee length water he fell on his *** with his camera and binocs  held high above his head with a very surprised look on his face! Wish I had a  snap of that! This much I must say to his credit, he took all the jokes aimed  at him good-naturedly :).



The last of our adventure in the Kanooru forest winded up on a half done bridge over a stream that was hardly a trickle that summer afternoon.


After a hasty lunch we returned back to Kargal on an auto whose driver  insisted us on showing the secret submerged tunnel that opened up into Linganmakki. For me it was the thrill of seeing the swallows mud house  underneath the bridge that made the detour worthwhile.



With a lot of time to kill before the return bus to Bangalore from Sagar at 10pm we had a pit stop at Jog Falls. Despite the disappointment of the front  view wiped clean of all trees by a concrete corridor giving a naked fall, The Jog falls by itself is still is a marvel and a beauty to behold. A vertical drop of nearly 900 ft Jog Falls still remains a spectacular sight with multitude of  swifts hovering around it. As we three sat there looking at it for a real  long time I felt a sense of companionship, like some perfect understanding  passed between us unspoken about what lay ahead of us. A commitment to do everything possible to protect the forests of this land. Although I speak  here for myself  I am sure we all are of the same opinion.

Little Known Destinations

A night at Rasimanal Watchtower

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

 
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The last of the ground survey by KANS winded up at Rasimanal. Here is an account of the most wonderful time of my life..


Rasimanal Forest Guest house is around 2 hours drive from Anchetty. The narrow roads sneak up the hills and at one point gave a awe inspiring view of the valley. Tiny villages with hardly around 100-150 families have sprung up all along the way.


I tasted the most refreshing coffee and tea at a tea shop on the way that boasted a very interesting water heater, though I would say it was simply the lower part of water filter set up on a stove! The swooshing movement of mixing up the beverage with milk and water by the owner was worth filming!


 We waited at the last hamlet for the forest guard (who incidentally never turned up) for the guest house keys. When the waiting became intolerable a few of us started walking along the jungle path for birding, a few of the locals began telling me no to go any further as elephants frequented the path beyond the farm.  I would have loved to see some. As fate could have its last laugh I was again denied the elephant encounters. The heat of the afternoon gave way to the soothing evening breeze and my troop giving up the hope of the guest house keys collected the rest of the wandering gang and started moving towards RasiManal. Rasimanal belongs to the Anchetty range and here the Cauvery and Dodhalla meet up and continue their way into Tamil Nadu. With the pre-monsoon showers Cauvery had indeed swollen and was gushing away noisily.



You could feel it in the air that you were about to witness the unexpected. As is usual to me I floated away.. day dreaming wide awake. Wild Jasmine shrubs also called Kadu Mallige in Kannada littered the forest grounds profusely.. Its scent rose in spirals and set the scene of ancient Indian lore, For some reason I began to recount the tale of Shakuntala, that that lovely maiden must have sometime run around here with those wild flowers in her ear lobes..


We spotted a pair green imperial pigeon, my very first. Indeed a very beautiful bird found reportedly in the Western Ghats.The forest guard who accompanied us in the jeep prepared us for the sight of a half cooked elephant! Apparently during one of the beats last week they found a dead elephant , and had gathered dry twigs and set fire to the corpse. We found it alright, smelling it, meters away!




Finally we reached Rasimanal, my eyes all hooked at the Watchtower that guaranteed a bird's view of the valley with Cauvery just a few feet away. I accompanied the group that was hurrying to set the camera traps. We set a pair on the banks of the Cauvery around a kilometer or two from the watch tower. There were these huge trees with white bark and roots that almost seemed like skeletons hugging the loose boulders and keeping them in place reminding me of the Angkor Vat temples in Cambodia. I am guessing they were  Dhindilu or dhindal , Scientific name Anogeissus latifolia belonging to the family Combretaceae




The Camera traps are motion detectors. When an animal crosses its range of detection, it sets off the camera that normally sleeps during inactivity. If I am not wrong the camera is active only for a period of 5 seconds in a minute. After a lot of circus to hold the camera facing the stretch that seemed to have seen a lot of animal activity we rushed back to the watch tower as it was getting dark and the time for the elephants and the nocturnal animals to come to the river bed. As we crashed back we almost lost our way. Its really a wonder how the forests guards can make out the way even during night. I can easily get lost on the back streets of my house! We were still discussing the camera traps when flash-flash something eerily silver seems to  have floated past and my heart simply jumped into my mouth.. On a closer look however they turned out to be trees whose bark had a lustrous silver sheen, I am not sure what they are called though.


Night fall brought a  lot of surprises including Mr. Thillai god-bless-him who brought food and beverages (U know ...) During the time the whole troop devoured the fish curry and idlis I sat at the foot of the tower facing the river and the forests listening to light music and watching the greatest drama ever unroll, Nature unleashing its power.


As minutes trickled by dark clouds began gathering at the horizon that until now did not even have the white clouds , wind that ever so gently lifted tufts of my hair began to blow in real earnest almost pinning me to my side. The entire forests quivered in unease as the unrelenting winds grew in strength and a thunderstorm began to brew and very soon lightning forked the skies and a series of ear-splitting thunders rolled almost making you shiver at its intensity and cower in fear. For almost a hour this continued with no sign of relenting and giving way to rain, and we gathered on the watchtower's roof almost scared to stand at full height for fearing the lightning strike us!


And then with a whispering that grew louder than the howling wind it began to rain. Some of us staggered into the jeep some into the safe sanctuary of the watch tower and the rest of us filed on the side of the watch tower that provided at least little bit of shade from the onslaught of the rain. We shivered and laughed enjoying the whole scene like little children enjoying ice-cream.. We talked into sleeping all the adventures we have had every time peeking at the river bed for the sight of the crocs. The over crowded watch tower that day welcome eight of us tightly packed with me, the only girl in the group asleep facing everyone's feet!



Just imagine a perfect morning, a vast blue flushed sky , a mighty river with sandy bed and dark smooth stones jutting into her and you bend down to wash your face with the cool water. I wished my every morning would start that way! Me, Guru and Somyajit walked across for about 2 hours birding and we were lucky to see the Crested Hawk Eagle, a pair of otters who almost sauntered very close by finally beating a hasty retreat realizing our presence.



I almost ran back to the watchtower remembering Thillai's promise for a tasty Maggie for breakfast. Guru made a watery albeit tasty maggie noodles scorching Thillai's shiny vessel with black soot from the make-shift stove we made using half dry twigs and some bricks.


And there ends my most memorable day so far, rested between those soft hills and those dark angry clouds for ever.

Little Known Destinations

Daroji Bear Sanctuary

Posted by Susan Sharma on April 04, 2008

 
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Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Karnataka






As we entered Hampi, the ancient city of Vijayanagar, scattered with the ruins of bygone splendour in granite stone, WILDLIFE was far from my thoughts. Still, a simple board announcing "Daroji Bear sanctuary just 15 km from here" caught my eye. We asked our guide if it was worth the trip. "sure," he said," be there between four and five in the evening and you are sure to see the sloth bears”. I looked at the watch. It was 11 am. After walking through the Vitthala and Virupaksha temples during the day we can hope to make it to the sanctuary before dark since we had hired a vehicle for the day.

I had heard about Wildlife SOS rescuing dancing bears and releasing them in rescue centres. May be this was one of them, I thought to myself. We reached the sanctuary in the evening, after driving through barren stone covered landscape for the most part. We drove through the sanctuary gate into an expanse of more granite blobs and keekar trees. Well placed sign boards throughout the sanctuary (the sign boards were there on the road along the drive to Daroji too) made sure we reached the watch tower by 5.30 pm or so.

To our surprise, there were a few tourists including a forest guard already there waiting for the bears to come out of their stone caves and descend to the tree and stone top where platefuls of jaggery had been placed by the guards to lure them. The bears are wild and are the residents of this area since time immemorial. Besides sloth bears, leopards, wild boar ( the symbol of both Chalukia and Vijayanagara dynasty) and peacocks are easily seen, the forest guard said. The peafowl were already tasting the food on the trees. Wild boars cannot climb the trees but a couple of them patiently waited for the bears, hoping for crumbs falling to the ground, no doubt.

Everyone was quiet and the only sounds were those of the partridges, which could be seen scampering about. ‘There he is’, muffled cries went out. A huge black figure had come out and was on his hind legs searching for something on a high rock cleft. ‘There is some food there too’-the guard informed. Soon three more bears emerged from under the rocks-huge hefty and black -very unlike the craggy bears one remembered from childhood-the bears, which danced for the kalandahar.

One huge bear climbed the tree and started eating. Peafowl and boars in attendance on the ground. One could watch the magnificent creatures through some powerful binoculars. They were too far away for my still camera to capture them.

I remembered seeing sloth bears in Ranthambore a few years back. I had also seen them in Corbett National Park during a visit nearly 25 years ago. ( See a snap of the bear which came to Dhikala below). From those days the sloth bears have reduced steadily in numbers due to poaching and habitat destruction that the forest department found it necessary to protect the species in an exclusive sanctuary. The sanctuary was formed in the year 1994.

The rock-strewn hillocks that stretch between Daroji of Sandur taluk and Ramasagar of Hospet Taluk in Bellary district have been the abode of Indian Sloth Bear (Melursus ursimus) since ages. In October 1994, the Government of Karnataka declared 5,587.30 hectares of Bilikallu reserve forest as Daroji Bear Sanctuary.

It is estimated that about 120 Sloth Bears are living in this sanctuary, apart from Leopards, Hyena, Jackals, Wild Boars, Porcupine, Pangolins, Star Tortoise, Monitor Lizard, Mongoose, Pea Fowls, Partridges, Painted Spur Hen, Quails etc. About 90 species of birds, and 27 species of butterflies have also been identified in this sanctuary in a preliminary survey.

Here is a link to the youtube video showing sloth bear from Ranthambore


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ9QxZ7hS5U


The bear which came to Dhikala 25 years ago!

 

Little Known Destinations

Mandakini Magpie Bird Watcher’s Camp

Posted by Govind on September 08, 2007

 
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The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watcher’s Camp!

Even as some of us sit in Delhi and discuss the intricacies of ecotourism and how it’s different from tourism, there are people all over this country who are practicing the former – in the real sense of the word (‘eco’-tourism). One such person is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’.

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi bird watcher mandakini magpie

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi

One such person is Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi who runs a bird watching camp christened, ‘The Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp’. The camp is located in Kakragad on the bank of River Mandakini en route to Sri Kedarnath, a few hours drive from Rudraprayag.

 

Devbhumi Uttranchal/Uttrakhand Magpie Bird watcher camp billboard

The Camp

Mr. Negi is a wonderful person who is not only dedicated towards his work but also has in-depth knowledge about birds and the Himalayas. He has been running this camp for the past seven years which is wonderfully exemplified by his experience and expertise.

Apart from bird watching, Mr. Negi also takes interest in collecting good books on orinthology. He even has a good collection of abandoned bird nests and also of some classic books on bird identification, wildlife and Himalayan Biodiversity. Lately, he has also started making a herbarium of those plant species in which the birds make their nest or feed.

 

nest collection by Mr. Negi

Nest Collection

 

Ecotourism!

 

 

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi may not know the difference between Tourism and Ecotourism.

He may not have even heard of ecotourism.

But how he runs his bird watchers camp can be a basic case study of ‘ecotourism in the Himalayas’.

 

 

tent houses at the mandakini magpie bird watchers camp

 

Tent houses

He runs his camp all himself with some help from other people of the area. The tent houses are well maintained and are very inviting with names like ‘Woodpecker Tent, Sparrow Tent, etc!

In his camp, very little of ‘transmitted’ electricity is used. He has solar lanterns which are extensively used instead of the regular electricity.

Solar lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Mandakini Magpie Birdwatchers camp

Solar Lanterns at Mr. Negi’s Camp

 

All in all, a visit to the Mandakini Magpie Bird Watchers Camp is a must for every bird watcher, nature lover or for anyone who wants a lesson or two in Ecotourism!

Mr. Yashpal Singh Negi can be contacted at the following number: 09412909399

 

Little Known Destinations

Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary - A pictorial travelogue!

Posted by Govind on September 07, 2007

 
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Travelogue: A Visit to the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary!

Location: District Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand

Visited in: Feb-March, 2007

While words may fail...pictures never! 

1. Sonprayag Township: The Base Camp. While it is difficult to find a place to step a foot during the warm season (of the Sri Kedarnath yatra), the town is lazy and ghostly during the rest of the year.

2. Sonprayag: Concfluence of Songanga (on the left) and Mandakini (seen in the middle) Rivers 

3. Entry bridge to the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary - just above Sonprayag.

4. Gaurikund: The last motorable town en route to Sri Kedarnath. Steps lead to the entry-gate of the 14 Km. trek to Sri Kedarnath.

5. and 6. Poly-bag menace at Gaurikund

   

7. To Sri Kedarnath

8. and 9. An interesting fungus and the HIMALAYAN TAHR!!

      

10. and 11. Leopard Pug marks..apparently not alone!! (Verified by Dr. Sinha of the WII)

             

 

 

 

 

 

12. Jangal Chatti

13. Nature is kind enough to the wildlife - to prevent people from going above Jangal Chatti (owing to avalanches, snow, etc.) Am glad it is! So, the best view of Sri Kedarnath that I got.

14. Back to Sonprayag - to make the long journey back home.

15 . A View of the Chaukhamba peak several kilometers away from where it is (zoomed into focus)! Just a reminder of the glorious glory of the Himalayas. Reminded me of a poem I had read long back in my Hindi class.."Giriraj Himalaya ka Bharat se kuch aisa hi naata hai...."

P.S. The above was a University of Delhi Research trip. Unless one has a permission (at times not even then), it is not possible to go beyond Gaurikund during off-season.

The images can be used for any socially useful purpose after proper citation.

Little Known Destinations

Aravali Biodiversity Park

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 25, 2007

 
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Nature does not protest, it adapts!







Nature does not protest, it adapts!

The Delhi bird Group organized a Sunday morning walk in the Aravali Biodiversity Park, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Here are some thoughts from the walk.

The Aravali Bio diversity Park is formed out of degraded land reclaimed from the business house of Scindias who had a mining lease for the 2.3 sq.km area. This means that anything that can be plundered out of the forest/earth including mica, sand and water have all been taken out.

So instead of the sprawling forest the ridge was once, we have land pockmarked by pits and hillocks with "Vilayati Keekar" growing all over, thanks to the areal seeding done by the forest department.

2004- Enter the DDA and Delhi University. The pits are cemented (with biodegradable slurry) to encourage rainwater retention. Native trees are planted under a systematic planting program to slowly remove the "Vilayati Keekar", which being an exotic species do not harbour native insects or birds.

June 2007 - A group of nature lovers take a walk in the Park. Dr. M.Shah Hussain along with Dr.Yasir lead the walk.

Coppersmith! little cormorant in flight! Koyal! Parakeets! The birders are excited at almost every turn.

As we walked on, Indian Robin, Red Vented Bulbul, White Eared Bulbul, Purple sunbird, common Mynas, Wren Warbler and some flying Black kites become common sightings during the trail. Plain tiger butterflies and blue pansy flitted about in the area
where native vegetation has started taking root.

At least a couple of peacocks showed up close; though the morning was pierced by their calls often.

Every now and and then a thundering sound of planes taking off from the airport nearby kept reminding us we are not far from an international airport.

As we reached the periphery of the park, a bevy of peahens took off into the air. Monsoon is expected in a week, and all of them must be having eggs about to be hatched or just hatched chicks. A group of over 30 walkers would have set the alarm calls for them. They have chosen the nursery space carefully-slightly higher ground with thick bushes so that rainwater will not harm them.

Do peahens also tend to remain close to each other while raising the young? So that they can forage by turn may be? Do peahen mothers care for peachicks not their own?

At the end of the walk, one was amazed at the manner in which nature adapted. The mining pits are now small water holes attracting water cocks and cormorants-Cementing the areas with bio degradable materials -the little bit of egging on by the CEMDE, Delhi University (Center for Environment Management & Degraded Ecosystem), is rejuvenating the forest.

Selective planting of native species like Berry, Jamun,Khiorni, Guava and Anar trees etc. are automatically collecting around them the natural biotic creatures-birds, butterflies, ferrals.

Nature does not protest but adapts!

Photographs in order of appearing
1.The soil is rich in Mica
2.Walkers in single file
3.Dr. Husain
4.Bird watcher
5. Natural lake

See photographs of som eof the birds and butterflies at DelhiBird
by clicking here
http://tinyurl.com/2t5mfy
[Open in new window]

Little Known Destinations

Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 19, 2007

 
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Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur, April, 2007 

-Partha Praim Pal

 

It has been long time since we both (Kirti and myself) took a break from Delhi on religious reasons . As some of you are aware we had been blessed by a daughter some five months back – we undertook a visit to Chintpurni, Chamunda, Kangra Devi and Jwala ji along with Vanya (our daughter).

We reached Chintpurni on 14th evening. Next morning I woke up very early more due to people’s voice walking in the street – All eager to do a darshan early morning being Basaikhi weekend .Not expecting any bird life in that cacophony of people ,Radio, Stereo and of course Mandir mike – I moved out of the Dharamshala with heavy feet and heart with my Binoculars hanging on my neck .

Indian Wild Life Club


Just 200 mtrs from the Dharamshala, I hit upon a dirt road, which took me to semi jungle kind of a habitat, which lifted my spirit. There was a sudden expectancy in the air . Nearly 15 pairs of Asian paradise flycatcher with their long white tail fleeting around with few just couple of meters away.  A pair of Blue rock thrush, Flocks of Plum headed Parakeet and Common Rose finches, Ten odd golden orioles and quite a few more species were sighted within span of hour. Only regret being I didn’t listen to Kirti’s advice of carrying the camera for the walk.

 

Indian Wild Life Club

16th afternoon we reached Paragpur our destination for next two days. We stayed in a resort called “Judge’s Court” basically a Pre independence Haveli turned into Welcome heritage resort . As expected luxury at its best mixed with old royal eloquence. Paradise flycatcher once again was the highlight of the little birding I did around the property, not to miss the Grey Hornbill’s fight for nest with the Rose ringed parakeet who ultimately lost all the three juveniles to aggressive Hornbill, omnipresent brown headed, Blue throated barbet, tiptoeing Grey wagtail, various warblers, various Myna & starlings,  huge flocks of Common Rose finches etc.

 

Indian Wild Life Club

17th was again an out and out  religious day with three of us visiting the balance temples as mentioned above.  Except an odd sighting of Egyptian vulture and Himalayan Griffon at Kangra fort area, no birding.   Down with a severe headache due to excessive heat,  I didn’t have the strength to do any birding that day , though we reached the hotel by 5pm.
18th morning was the D day marked for my morning birding at Maharana Pratap Sagar wetland which is 20 odd kms from the hotel.  Armed with my camera and binoculars ably supported by driver Daler Singh we reached the destination early morning.  Initial scanning of the area was very disappointing though villagers informed us in advance that all migratory ducks have flown back.

I was awe struck by the huge water body. Initial disappointment gave away to some relief when I saw a Little Ringed plover feeding at the edge of the water.

 Indian Wild Life Club


Gradually one after the other species came tumbling out as if they were hidden in some closet – only favouring the brave who can fight the ever rising temperature which was getting unbearable with every minute, though cold draft from the Sagar did help me to stay there for nearly two hours . Whether it was terns, wagtails, larks, pipits, Blue tailed Beeaters, Bar headed geese,  First winter Palas Gull, Eurasion wigeon, Small pratincole, Lapwings and of course my only two lifer of the trip Richard Pipit and Eurasian Skylark,  I enjoyed every bit of the two hour of birding.
 I cannot wait to visit the birding paradise again. 
(Text and photographs--Partha Pratim Pal )

Little Known Destinations

5 Guys, a Black Scorpio, and a place called Doddamakkali

Posted by Bijesh on April 30, 2007

 
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Distance from Bangalore: 125 Kms
Suitable for: A weekend outing close to nature.
Activities: Joy fishing, Coracle ride, River side / Mountain trekking.

One thing which stands vivid in your memory above all will be the hospitality of the staff. Kudos to the team…

So what if it’s not the season time…so what if the greenery has given ways to the golden dry color spread across….so what if the sun was brawny enough to boil the cauvery water…WE HAD A BLASTING TIME…..

With no mobile phones or televisions to bother you, it’s an absolute cutoff from the outside world. (Infact, to know who won the world cup cricket, we had to wait and ask a visitor who checked in the next day.).Winding road which goes down to the JLR resort is an attraction by itself. We, 5 guys in a black Scorpio, reached the place by 1.30 Afternoon. Major attraction of this place is off course fishing. Along with professional anglers, even the amateurs can try their luck in joy fishing. Since it’s the “catch and release” policy which is followed, no worries on damaging the eco system of the river too…

Coracle ride on cauvery is not to be missed. Go round and round and click as much photos as you can…. Be sure you are abiding to the rules and regulations. Major one being the usage of life jackets which are provided by JLR. Staff will not let you in to the water with out the same.

Let me upload few pics for you all.

A word of caution: It’s a tough n rough terrain, so if you are off to this place in your “lovely lady” kinda vehicle, you’re gonna regret. Road will budge only in front of toughies like a Scorpio or a Jeep. Especially the last few kilometers of downhill windings.

 

Little Known Destinations

Wayanad

Posted by Bijesh on April 13, 2007

 
Forum Post

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wayanad







Unruffled nature…… Undisturbed peace of mind……Untouched natural beauty...If this is what you are searching for to have an ideal breakaway from the normal frantic schedules….Then here it is….. It’s Wayanad for you.

We were 5 guys in the herd and the intension was to hit the road to a serene world. And we found one…. Though little bit skeptical bout going in to the forest during off season, we decided to take a chance. And believe me; we never regretted the decision through out the journey.


We started from Bangalore by 6.30AM in a Silver Tavera and yes the journey was fun (With the new Bangalore Mysore highway in place, we saved few hours also.).Good part of the journey was that on the way we had to cross Bandipur forest . Drizzle added to the fun as we stopped on the way to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere, And we were really hoping to see a tusker. But naaaah…It was just silent wilderness.

After crossing the border to Kerala, after a few stretches of winding roads which deserves a special mention for the quality and maintenance, we saw the board on the left side of the road which read Jungle Park resort.

We took the kachha road and as we moved on, on either sides we could see only greenery, greenery of the forest with leaves drenched in the rain. Cool breeze running allover gave us a boost both for our tired body n soul. As we moved on, we could see a gushing stream right in front, crossing the so called kachha road.

Driver was hesitant but took the vehicle ahead through the same. We stopped the vehicle and had a nice time splashing the cold water on our face n body. We took some photographs and again started moving towards our destination, Jungle park resorts.

We were surprised to see the mist which covered the entire visibility at times. We stopped again to take photographs of the mystique nature and then moved on to reach Jungle part resort by 11 O Clock. Even at that time the fog was pretty strong in the jungle and it was marvelous to see huge trees in the background with misty fog all over the place.














We were welcomed by hot cup of Chai by the caring staff and the cottage key was handed over। Our cottage was slightly far from the main building, inside the forest, which added to the thrill n fun। We became nomadic inside the forest with our camera and the handy cam, pretty much nothing to do other than capturing the beauty of nature to the maximum।

After a good homely lunch, we again moved out, this time with a guide, deep into the jungle. Only issue was the Leaches all over as it was rainy season, but with the after shave lotions and deo sprays, we won over the leaches.

Though we had plans of visiting all the tourist spots nearby, like the pakshipathalam and bhoothathaankettu, we decided not to move out anywhere and to be inside the jungle only for the whole day. 120 Feet tall treetop house built for tourist by jungle Park resorts was a major attraction

No words can explain the raw beauty of the jungle in Wayanad and we went on clicking our cameras till the evening.

At night after the dinner, we had a nice time inside the cottage where the power supply stops at 10.30PM. Being in the middle of the jungle with no telephones or televisions to distract was an experience by itself.
The next day we packed our bags to the next destination Mysore। The beauty of the Wayanad forest will remain ever green within our hearts and hey, we recommend this wonderland for all you jungle lovers. Be there, experience and then you will know what I meant. Hope these few photographs will help you in imagining at least 10% of the fun n frolic we had during our stay.

Little Known Destinations

The Frog Temple at Oyal and SArus Congregration

Posted by Vikrant Nath on March 14, 2007

 
Forum Post

 *BACKGROUND*

It was but the Fifth Day of the Seventh Year of the Third Millennium. The bright sun on a cold and windy winter morning was divine. The past fortnight at Dudhwa National Park had been completely packed and hectic. And as I drove past the sunny Lakhimpur town, National Environment Science Camp 2006-07 was finally over. Karavan Heritage and Nature Society had hosted this Camp for several school students from all over the country. The Camp had been a resounding success.

* Just around twelve kilometers from Lakhimpur, en route to Sitapur, lies the village of Mohamdabad. It was here at the jheel near this village that I sighted this huge congregation of Sarus Cranes. I The Sarus is one of the most enchanting sights of the countryside. A fleeting moment of a real life experience of the wild transcends endless hours of the best wildlife movies or watching animals in captivity. And if you have ever seen the Sarus dance during their courtship, believe me; your life has been worth living. I counted around 9 pairs that day.  I bid farewell to my feathered pals and set off with a resolution that I shall be back here very soon.

*VISITING THE WETLAND ONCE AGAIN* 8:00 AM. 16^th February 2007. The meter gauge passenger train is chugging past the beautiful railway station of Oel. This place is unbelievable.  It evokes the romanticism and innocence of a lost age. 

*NARMADESHWAR SHIV TEMPLE AT OEL* I begin my brief trek to the Narmadeshwar Mandir, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is the auspicious occasion of Shivratri today.  The temple, popularly referred to the as the Medhak Mandir (Frog Temple), stirred my imagination a few years ago, when a friend told me about it. I catch a glimpse of the huge dome shaped roof of the temple. It seems quite impressive. I soon reach the gates of the temple. The beauty of earthy brown color of the brick temple is unmatched even by marble or red sandstone. A small but devout crowd has gathered for worship. I, too, collect a pooja ki thali and step in the temple compound. This temple is awe-striking. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful and possibly one of the oldest living extant temples in Uttar Pradesh. I have seen far more impressive temples than this. But this temple has a unique identity that distinguishes it from any other temple anywhere. The garb-griha (the sanctum) of the temple has been constructed over a frog shaped structure. It seems as though a frog is bearing the weight of the temple on its back. The sanctum, located at least 20 feet above the ground level, is accessed by means of steps on all four sides. . Even after many hundred years, the sanctum walls partially retain the old vibrant colors and floral designs. The devotees have thronged around the Shiva-Linga.  The place is pulsating with divine energy. The ambience is both somber and festive. After a while, I offer my obeisance to the Deity and climb down the steps of the temple. The main temple along with the four surrounding minor temples presents a grand sight. The frog structure and bas-relief sculptures upon the walls appear quite puzzling. The sculptures even though crude make an interesting study. I try to locate a spot where I can capture the beauty of the entire structure in totality. It is a futile effort. I end with many images of the temple. Full of admiration, I am eager to gather more information about its history and heritage. Luckily, I meet the Rajguru (the Royal Priest) of the temple.

*HISTORY AND HERITAGE OF THE TEMPLE*

He tells me that this temple has been built by the magnanimous Royal Family of the Oel Estate. The temple, according to him, is Four Hundred Years old. An ancestor of the Royal family found the Shiva-Ling in the holy waters of the River Narmada. It was consecrated and the temple was raised here. This temple is an invaluable possession of the Family; who refuse to part with it even in the most pressing circumstances. Another very interesting aspect, the Rajguru tells me, is that this is originally a Tantric Temple (like the famous Khajuraho temples). The sculptures on the temple represent the Tantric symbols. In fact the Frog itself is a Tantric symbol. Vedic practices have long replaced the Tantric traditions. I find all this fascinating and wonder why this great heritage is shrouded in oblivion!

VISITING THE MOHAMDABAD JHEEL AFTER A MONTH*

It takes me around half an hour to reach there to reach the jheel. There water seems to have receded somewhat. I look for exact spot where I had sighted the Sarus congregation. But this time not a single Sarus is to be seen. “Hard luck,” I mumble to myself, “perhaps I should have reached here earlier.” But I am not disappointed. I decide to wait for some more time resting underneath the roadside Arjun tree. A Collared Bush-Chat catches my attention. I like her acrobatic sorties from one reed to another. I also sight some drongos, lapwings and kingfishers. Relaxing lazily underneath a tree shade near a placid lakeside, on a nice sunny day, is a regal pleasure. I partake my share, but soon realize that I have my royal duties to attend to tomorrow. And I’d better reach the Oel railway station well in time to board the return train to Lucknow. I have hardly walked a 100 meters that I notice four large birds hovering high up in the sky. Their flight indicates that they are preparing to land. I focus my binoculars. . I am eager to see them land. With their wide wings outstretched and thin long legs pointing towards the earth, they use the air current to encircle the spot they want to land. Though high above the ground, their gradual descent has begun. The afternoon sun pinches my vision, but how can I ever forgo the sheer joy of this sight! The four paratroopers are now in descent. With every passing moment, they appear larger and larger. And then the touchdown; that is what is called perfect landing. They run a distance, strictly observing the laws of motion. The birds settle on the jheel and immediately get down to business. Of the four, one bird simply vanishes somewhere. The other three scamper for food. I shake my head in disbelief. They are Sarus!  Now I am simply thrilled. While I observe the Sarus, a few lads ferrying sugarcane on a bullock-cart observe me. They enquire about my pursuit. They tell me that their village jheel is home to many Sarus Cranes. I ask them if they can take me to the jheel.

*THE SARUS CONGREGRATION*

Yet again I savor the delights of rural India, as the bullock-cart rocks ahead to Gajnipur. Upon arrival at the village and during the walk to the jheel, I am joined by many more escorts. My escorts bombard me with a variety questions. They, finally, conclude that I am a government official making a count of the State Bird of U.P. They emphasize that I must mention Gajnipur in my report. They opine that this might help in the development of their village. Before long, I reach the edge of the village jheel. I wonder if this is the Shangri-La that the Tibetan mystics talked about. Before my mortal eyes, I behold a large congregation of Sarus, lined as though in a queue. I take a deep breath. This is no dream. A journey that began more than a month back has been fulfilled. *I count twenty-eight Sarus in the queue. Another pair is seen on another side of the jheel; that makes it thirty. Plus the four at the Mohamdabad jheel, makes it thirty-four in all. Wonderful!** * The villagers tell me that the Sarus is unmolested in this village. People respect the Sarus and do not harm the bird. I laud their attitude. They feel happy. I tell them I’ll be back. I take a final look. The grace and beauty of the birds leaves me spell bound. I retrace my steps wondering whether the Sarus can survive the rapacious encroachment of its habitat by the ever expanding sugarcane farms and sugar mills in this region.

 

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