Sunday, May 8, 2016

Bhadra - a memoir

It was early April when Sahana and myself decided to do a trip to Bhadra. Rajesh from Dandeli.com had invited me to enjoy a holiday via his their new venture.

My Dandeli trip in the past was on their invitation to the place and we had enjoyed that trip a lot. This time though his invitation had come last year itself, I was postponing the plan due to other engagements. Finally we decided to enroll this invitation and asked the guys at http://www.thekarnatakatourism.com/ to do the booking at River Tern Resort at Bhadra. The hassle-free and easy booking got us a cottage at the River Tern Resort.




I had heard a lot of stories of River Tern Resort at Bhadra. Everyone who went there were fully happy with the location of the property. Our high expectation from all those accounts were completely fulfilled when we arrived at the place. The location of the property is really amazing, with the backwater from the dam visible right from the balcony of every cottage. The cottages are also maintained neat and very clean, as per the standards of other top JLR properties.





As it was noon when we reached the place we decided to take some rest before we start the evening activity - a boat safari to the river tern island and its surroundings.

This place is famous for one event that happens annually - the breeding colony of huge number of river terns on an island inside the back water. I had seen the documentary of the same by Amoghavarsha where this phenomena was explained with some amazing visuals.




The boat safari started at around 3:45pm. With a moderate crowd in the boat we headed straight towards the river tern island. The wind was heavy and the captain had some tough time in controlling the boat. After the initial turbulence the boat got stabilized and as we approached the island the scale of their breeding colony started becoming visible. Their number was huge and they had completely occupied the island, almost every inch of it.




 It was an amazing site to be able to watch their courtship behavior where the male bird brings a fish to the female and many times female rejects it (only God knows why! :) ). Undisturbed by the rejection the male tries again with some other female until his luck turns towards him! All of these were happening in front of our eyes, though one has to watch carefully among the cacophony of thousands of other birds. It was a wonderful time we spent near the island.







Beyond the river tern island the boat safari takes you along the edges of the forest. Sightings of chittals and wild boars are pretty common and if one is lucky then a tiger may appear out of the woods near the water. We were not that lucky :).








Nevertheless we were lucky in another form. We sighted an Osprey that allowed us to approach very close. Being a sensitive bird, Osprey normally flies off when approached towards it. But for a change this fella was daring! We enjoyed his company until the sun went down behind him.













The safari ended at around 6:30pm and it was almost dark by the time we reached the shore. By the time we reached the room, the sun set was over but the sky was showing all the signs of a dramatic after-glow. We rushed to the bank of the backwater area and the whole scene was turning orange and pink towards the West and bluish dark towards the South. The sky had two prominent tones and I made some images before the orange turned into magenta glow. The drama in the sky was there for about 15 min and we both enjoyed each and every minute of it.







Night was spent watching the documentary 'Sahyadri' on a projected screen at Gol Ghar (the dining area of JLR). After a nice dinner it was time to head back to room. Next day morning was planned for forest safari inside Bhadra Tiger Reserve.




Bhadra region has some of the best protected forests in the state. Almost everyone who have had the jungle safari experience had expressed their joy of seeing a wonderful forest.






















Though the wildlife sighting is not as high as that of Kabini and Bandipur, the bird life is more rich compared to other parts. Throughout the safari we saw some interesting birds - White Bellied Woodpecker (largest woodpecker of South India), Malabar Pied Hornbill, Hill Myna, Malabar Parakeet, Turtle Dove, Racket Tailed Drongo Malabar Whistling Thrush, Orange Headed GroundThrush, Chestnut Shouldered Petronia, White Rumped Shama are mainly noted. We did see few groups of Chittals, a lone Sambar deer and few Wild Boars during the safari.




By the time we were back to the resort it was almost time to leave! After a nice breakfast we packed our bags and decided to spend some time for water sports. At JLR Bhadra they do have facilities for water sports such as Kayaking, swimming, water Trampoline etc. During the hot day time it is a welcome relief any day to be in water. We did the same and spent some good time being in water.




After coming back from the water sports area we went out to have a look of the entire resort. The cottages are distributed across two hills, both facing the backwater. It takes around 20-30 minutes to see the entire property by foot. It was a good walk around the area and we did see some active and interesting bird life right inside the property. There were very active Golden Orioles right beside the Gol Ghar and few cottages. They were interested in a fruiting tree that was bearing the fruits just then. Some Jungle Babblers too had joined the party. We spent few minutes there watching these birds feeding on the fruits before we went ahead to explore other parts of the resort.



It was around 12:00 noon when we decided to start back to Bangalore. Overall it was a refreshing trip to a wonderful part of Karnataka that we had never been before. the hospitality was great and so was the place. It was with a firm thought of coming back to this place again in the future, we started our return journey towards the concrete jungle of Bangalore.


Cheers,
Ash


I would encourage all to visit - http://www.thekarnatakatourism.com/ for any bookings and reservations. They have theme based tour plans too.

Here is the link to the JLR Bhadra that I enjoyed: http://www.thekarnatakatourism.com/eco-resorts/river-tern-lodge.php


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kabini - Another face of the leopard land!

The term Kabini, among the wildlife photography community in India is so much synonymous with the enigmatic cat found in its forest that it is called as the leopard land. There are so many leopard images from this forest - some iconic and many stereotypic. Finding a leopard sitting on the fallen tree or walking along the jeep track or crossing the road or occasionally on the branches of some high trees or some sublime moments like getting down from the tree in a truly cat fashion and many more images are made to death in these forests of Nagarahole National Park.

Leopards and tigers are main attractions for thousands of tourists who visit this National Park all through the year. I was there too, for the first time! Though sighting a leopard or a tiger was a small wish in the heart but that was not the only thing I had wished to see. Sahana and myself were there to enjoy the forest. Hence not sighting a single leopard or a tiger in the evening safari didn't make much difference to our enthusiasm.

But what we enjoyed the most was something that not many people would like to opt for when they are at Kabini and especially when they are there for photography. We took the boat safari the next morning and we both later convinced that it was the best decision that we made on last night.

Things slow down a lot when you are on a boat and that helps a lot to look for compositions in nature. Absolute lack of crowd in the boat was another boon for us and later we realised that it is the case most of the time. But I really feel sad for the people who go back without enjoying the boat safari.

The dead trees, the reflections in still water, the mild blue sky and sparse clouds of the winter, the occasional ripples and the way it distorts the reality of the reflection, the lone Osprey and the lone Fish eagle, calm and cold breeze of the morning and as a bonus for us - huge congregation of Bar Headed Geese! I just loved the setting throughout.

A lovely morning very well spent on the waters of the river Kabini.  



































Cheers,
Ash

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A dawn in the outskirts of Bangalore

"SRS Betta" (!!) a new place for me, was selected by Dinesh for the next day morning shoot. The name first sounded weird and a the possibility of any distant linkage of this name with the popular SRS Travels (a transportation company) flashed through my mind! It was only the next day morning I got to know the name of the place when Dinesh told me - Shri Revanna Siddeshwara Betta.

It was about 5:40 am when we arrived at the place and the sky was still deep blue with some bright stars shining. The East was giving an indication of changing the sky colour soon by bringing in the Sun. Horizon was slowly turning pink.

The place offers very good opportunity for landscape photographers. The two rocky hills stand prominently in the otherwise plane landscape. The nearby lake provides a nice opportunity to get some reflections of those hills, on a ripple-less morning.




As we were making images around the lake the Sun broke out of the horizon. The light was soft and of the kind of typical winter Sunrise.






























Saturday, November 14, 2015

~ M A H A B A L I P U R A M ~ Under the silent storm!

Tamil Nadu is getting completely soaked by the recent series of deep depressions in the Bay of Bengal. The satellite images showing the swirl of cloud are painting a really horrifying picture of very heavy rains in the east coast of India. As I am writing this blog there is another warning standing in the parts of southern coast of Tamil Nadu for tomorrow and day after!

Me and my family has seen the beginning of these pouring times in Chennai and we missed the fury of the cyclone by a whisker! All hell started to break loose the day after we left Chennai. On the last day of our stay (Nov 8th, 2015) it had given us a hint about the days to come! Oct - Nov being a regular rainy season in Tamil Nadu (due to reverse monsoon) we thought that it would be a regular rain with a bit more duration and slightly heavy clouds! But the story was different! A dangerous storm was silently brewing in the sky above us and we were happily enjoying our city sight-seeing and visits to popular tourist destinations thinking that they are regular cloud movements!

Mahabalipuram was one of the places where we spent our Saturday (Nov 7th, 2015) morning. The sky was cloudy and it was drizzling intermittently at times. The low moving, rain bearing clouds are always a treat for the photographer, which fills the sky nicely with shades while shooting the temple architecture! I was happy because the clouds were hiding the harsh sun behind them and the light was pretty even. It drizzled a bit while we were watching the main shore temple complex and then again a bit of drizzle while we were at the place of "Pancha Ratha" (complex of five chariots). Though the intensity was a bit high we thought that it is just a momentarily shower and did not take it seriously. But when we head back to the car to proceed to Arjuna's Penance then the fury started! It went on to about 20 odd minutes and at the end we had to abandon the idea of going inside the complex of Arjuna's Penance and started to head back to Chennai. What we saw there was a pre-cursor for the days to come!

Here are some of the images which I made that morning at Mahabalipuram.
(Click on the images to see them bigger - recommended!)
































While I pray for the safety of all in Tamil Nadu during these tough times you enjoy these images.


Cheers,
Ash