Monday, November 16, 2015

Trek to Rudranath Temple(Day2), Uttarakhand, India.

Initially, I was very disappointed with the photographs. Modern technology is advanced yet was unable to capture the actual colour, contrasts, experience and feeling of awe about the place. Hope through these photographs you will be able to experience the journey.

I woke up at 5 in the morning, with a hangover of the previous days's climb, lack of oxygen did not help either.
I was staring at nothing less than the  Mighty and Majestic Himalayas!! I did not want to think about the hardships, they didn't matter much. For not every time you get to see the clouds below you nor do you get the opportunity to look down at the birds soaring below. You are abode the Himalayas!! Sanskrit word, meaning Him-snow, alaya-home or home of  snow.

Sunrise behind the Himalayas-Clouds floating on the grass atop the mountains at Panar Bugyal.

Golden glow on the 'Chaukhamba' peak 

It took us almost 7 hours to reach Rudranath. It is almost at a similar height as Panar Bugayal, though I had to climb uphill and down hill. Rudranath Temple is located at the edge of the mountain below.Yet again was too tired by the time we reached the temple.
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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Trek to Rudranath Temple(Day1), Uttarakhand, India.

Rudranath is a temple dedicated to God Shiva which is located in the Garhwal Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand, India. The name "Rudranath", literally means, "Him who is Angry." This natural rock temple is situated within a dense forest of rhododendron dwarfs and Alpine pastures located at 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) above sea level. The mountain cave of Rudranath was modified into the temple we see today. Rudranath is sometimes considered as the toughest Panch Kedar temple to reach.
This trip didn't have the luxury of planning,it was a quick decision to visit the Himalayas along with my fellow trekker Praveen who is a lead and conducts such treks to the Himalayan range.
When I looked up on the internet about treks to Rudranath, I was really not very sure if I could make it to the top as I have never trekked before. But looking at the images of the landscapes I felt I had to go and give it my best, just had to take the chance! I walked about 14 Km in Dubai just to test my fitness, also started walking  long distances to keep fit for about 2/3 weeks. Though deep within I knew this was hardly a challenge what I would face in the real world of a Himalayan trek.
The day was not far, after a three hour night flight to Delhi, and a five and half hours morning train to Haridwar, I met up with fellow trekker and lead Praveen. Then another eight hours of travel by road. Amidst torrential rains towards the end of the journey, nature popped a surprise. In the dark winding uphill terrain  on the mountains we saw a leopard climb down the hill and crossed the road in front of us, within an elapsed time of maybe less than 5 sec when it was in view. We couldn't believe our luck! Though we couldn't frame the animal in our cameras we were nevertheless delighted to say the least. The master of camouflage was right in front of us. 
We kept talking about the animal until we finally reached Gopeswar where we were putting up for the night.
A view of the town of Gopeshwar.
The next morning we drove down to the starting point of the trek, which started around 9am after a quick breakfast. Gradual climb through the local villages was relaxing and  a warm up for the day. Once we climbed above the human habitation, we found ourselves walking through forests, though not very dense. One had to be careful with loose rocks and boulders. Couple of hours later we came to a clearing, took a few shots, as below:
By lunch time we reached this clearing, which hid this luxury super speciality local restaurant !! Tucked away in the foothill of the mountain we had to climb. Host, Chef, waiter were all in one, one man managing the operation. Food was very simple- fresh locally grown. We enjoyed the food in the open air and provided much needed break from our trek. Took a few shots while waiting for the food. 
Very soon we were trekking through dense Himalayan forests, infested by shy Himalayan wild black bears. With only a camera to defend ourselves. This trek took us past stream and some waterfalls. With end in mind we did not stop to absorb only occasionally for a few shots.

By about 4 pm, we had reached a level where vegetation was thinning- no more tall tress and oxygen was thinning, so was out energy. The trek had become very steep. Only rocks and dominating edge of the mountain. I was walking like a zombie to say the least. At around 6pm we could see the golden Himalayas under the setting sun. Alas! was too drained to even pull out my camera from my back. Survival was priority for someone who was not used to low oxygen. Every step of the climb was a mammoth task at that stage in twilight and end of the climb not in sight.  By  6:45pm we scaled the mountain and reach a point called Panar Bugyal ( which had only grasses). Too drained to even talk to Praveen at that stage. We had the majestic Himalayas in sight. A sense of achievement was kicking in. Below shot of the Himalayas was taken in slight moonlight and stars. It was heavenly !!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Visiting friends in Pune,Maharashtra. India

As usual we are in and out of bloggerland....lazy at times, busy at times...travelling at times but finally we are here with our blog after a very long time!
This was our first visit to Pune in the western state of Maharashtra, India for a short one week trip visiting close friends. Getting away from the terribly HOT(49 degree Celsius) and humid weather was a big relief!!
On our way we were greeted by pleasant weather where the monsoon clouds romanced the mountains amidst the greens, a welcome change from the desert heat.
Our drive from Mumbai to Pune was about three and a half hours. Once we were at our friends place we just lazed around for the rest of the day - catching up after years...
The next day we planned a trip to Tamhini Ghat, located on the crest of the Western Ghat mountain ranges.Tamhini Ghat is noted for its surroundings comprising scenic waterfalls, lakes and dense woods specially during the monsoon season. 
Our friend had already hired a car and so we were off around 11 a.m really excited and the weather was sunny and warmed our spirits!!
As the GPS indicated, we had arrived at the Tamhini Ghat where we stopped and this is what we saw...
Took a few more shots only to realize that this was not the Tamhini Ghat we were looking for. On checking with local people we found the actual ghat was around 90 odd Kms from this location. Technology had failed us for some reason. So off we went searching for the real Tamhini...
Enroute we were glad to witness the fog...the heavy downpour of rains and excited kids wanting to get wet in the rain...something we miss in Dubai.
Some shots captured on the way...

A train traverses through the mountain range, quite oblivious of its pristine surroundings...
It was already dusk by the time we took this last pic and had a long way to drive back. So even if we never really got to Tamhini Ghat we thoroughly enjoyed our trip with the beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, rains, local food. A real balm for our parched souls...and above all in company of close friends. Kids made up their own jingle every time it poured. It was really about the journey not the destination.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Birds and butterflies of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Our last day in Bera,Rajasthan,India and with no sightings of leopards we were happy to at least get a few shots of these birds :)
Red rumped swallows.

Indian Robin - male.
Indian Robin - male.

These two were arguing :)
After breakfast we bid our friends goodbye and set out for Udaipur for our night stay as we had an early morning flight to catch. After almost a five hour drive we checked into our hotel and after a cup of coffee went for a walk and saw these beauties.
This little squirrel was really cute.

Red-wattled Lapwing.

Brahminy Starling.

White Wagtail.

Not sure about this one's ID.

Baya Weaver.
While in Bera we had the opportunity to interact with Yuwaraj Gurjar ( also part of the DCP team)a very well known  and passionate nature lover and internationally acclaimed Wildlife Photographer and who is in love with butterflies. He has even created an android app called "I Love Butterflies" which helps one identify and learn more about these winged beauties. Diya and Hiya have fondly named him "Butterfly Uncle" and their interest in butterflies have grown along with mine...Here are a few shots in Bera.

Common Gull.

Common Gull.
Grass Jewel- India's tiniest butterfly with partial wings open.

Common Grass Yellow - mating pair.

Common Gull.


Plain Tiger.

Small Salmon Arab.

Plain Tiger.
Common Grass Yellow.
Our stay in Udaipur ends here but fond memories linger...
As the year ends wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a fantastic year ahead!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Leopards at Bera, Rajasthan, India.


Hello Blogger friends!!!
Sorry for the long absence from bloggerland as too many things have happened in the past year and half but hopefully we will be more regular now.
We have since relocated to Dubai(UAE) few months back. Desperate for a break, we managed to team up with Dr. Caesar Sengupta's Photography (DCP) team, a bunch of wildlife photograpers for a Leapord Bera Expedition in India. It turned out to be an awesome experience!!
Bera is a small village situated in the Aravali region of Rajasthan in India. Here leopards (Panthera pardus) roam freely.
Jawai Dam located close by, is one of the largest man made dams of Western Rajasthan, built by the Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. It is also a Marsh Crocodile Sanctuary. In spite of the hostile terrain and extreme climates, Bera is an abode for various ungulates, including the “Neel Gai” or Blue Bull.
After a change of flight and a drive of few hours we reached Leopard Liar Resort, Bera.
We freshened up and met the rest of the team. Post lunch we set out on our evening safari at 4:30 pm. We travelled about 22kms and reached the spot where the leopards are usually sighted, a hilly slope. We took up positions on top of a small hill facing the slope. The photographers were all excited and ready with their gears. We were to maintain pin drop silence as leopards are shy and alert animals. My job was to keep Diya and Hiya quiet and after a little while we saw one of the leopards emerge from its hide...

All cameras go click click click...and then appears another leopard...
Nothing can get better than have a few shots of them together in the wild...


Gradually the light faded and Diya with her point and shoot captures this lovely sunset...
The leopards disappear into the dark and we all set off back to the resort. After a lovely dinner under the open sky and twinkling stars we retire for the night exhausted but still talking of the leopards.

The kids are too tired so I decide to let them sleep and Arun is up for the morning safari leaving at 5:30 and I try to get back to sleep but my mind is to busy with thoughts of the leopards. We wait impatiently for the group to return but when they return they are very leopards...

War zone- when the Leopard acts too pricey and does not show up. The camera bodies get separated from the tele and get attached to wide angles to reflect the shooters' plight.
A camel herd passing by gives some respite to the thirsty photographers.
So after breakfast I get to capture a few pretty butterflies in the garden which I will share in the next post. Had our lunch and chit chat about our wildlife experiences so far. Time flies and we get ready for our evening safari, this time to a different location called Perwa, 25 km away from the resort. As we reach we are greeted by the leopard,  ambient light is however not conducive and the leopard too is far away but we just manage a few shots before it gets too dark to photograph...

We get back to the resort and have our dinner enjoying the chilly night  and put the kids to bed early, as we all wanted to make it for the last morning safari.
We are all ready by 5:30 a.m and set out for the safari but we were not lucky and did not sight any leopards...just a few morning shots and a few birds we will share later.

A local !

Since no leopards were sighted we finally decide to pose for a team pic.We returned back to the resort a little disappointed but happy to have spent sometime amidst nature and after breakfast we bid adieu to our friends.A lifetime experience and a satisfying one too.