Thursday, 24 December 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Monsoon Trek to Tada
If I have to comment on the experience in short, I would quote Andy - "WE SURVIVED!!"
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Friday, 4 September 2009
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Jaipur - The Pink City
It has been quite some time since I visited my team in Noida. So I decided to visit them in the last week of July and informed them that I am coming there for a week. Since I am visiting them after over a year, we all decided that we make full use of the trip and decided to go on a tour the following weekend. After exploring all the options, the team decided on Jaipur – The Pink City.
After completing our work on 31st July, we started on the early morning of Aug 1st (as early as 1:30am). Shalabh had managed to hire a Tempo Traveler for a very good deal, while Himanshu managed the entire trip very well.
We stopped at McDonalds, Manesar, around 3:30 am and packed some burgers and sandwiches to keep our stomachs from growling. Most of us had dinner quite early in the evening and some of them did not have dinner at all. None of us had the idea of sleeping and all were on our own talking with each other. Surbhi tried her best to get everyone involved in Antakshari, but few of the more notorious fellows (including me) were interested in ghost stories. The talking, chatting and fun continued on till we reached Rajasthan border. We had to stop there to pay the inter-state permit charges. We utilized this time to have some refreshments, as it will be taking about 15 minutes. We had some tea in the roadside tea shop and then continued our journey further. We traveled for about 2 hours, when we decided to halt for a while for the driver to get some refreshments. He was feeling very tired and sleepy. I utilized this time by shooting some birds that I found there.
After a halt of about 10 minutes, we proceeded on our journey and reached Hotel Shika in Jaipur at around 09:30 hours. It was decided that we will freshen up, have breakfast and start for sightseeing ASAP. It was already 10:30 before we settled in and relaxed. So did not have much time to start.
I should take a moment (or may be a paragraph?) to mention something about this hotel. It is relatively new, about 2 years old. Right opposite to the hotel was the Deer Park, which has a herd of spotted deers. There were lots of birds around that area as the park looked big from the hotel and also seemed to have lots of trees. So it was obvious that there will be birds. Occasionally I also heard the scream of a peacock or peahen.
This means there is enough to motivate me to get ahead of others. I freshened up and got ready in about 15 minutes, finished off my breakfast and started off to the park. Taran and Nikhil also had finished their breakfast and started with me. We went across the road to the park and entered in. We realized that the area where the deers were freely roaming around was locked and fenced, but can get a very good view from within the park or from the adjoining road. Within 15 to 20 minutes we were called back by Shalabh and Himanshu as everyone were ready and we had to leave, if we had to cover some places.
It was about 11:15 when we started from the hotel. Our first destination was Amber Fort, built by Maan Singh, the Commander-in-Chief of Akbar. It was a 500 years old fort adjoined by Jaigarh Fort. The Amber Fort was so huge that the moment I saw it, I became doubtful whether we will be able to explore the entire place in the 2 hours time that we planned. We explored as much as possible. We did not have a proper guide to show us around and describe the various places within the fort. So we just went through the place and were admiring the Moghul arts and architecture of those times.
Around 2:00 we realized that it is getting late and had to leave if we have to visit other places. Since it was already past noon, we thought of skipping Jaigarh Fort (bad decision I guess) and head to Nahargarh Fort. By the time we reached there, it was around 4:00pm and everyone were famished.
We saw a board for Cafeteria while reaching the Nahargarh Fort and decided that we first have lunch and then proceed to sightseeing. To our disappointment we found that the lunch time is over. There was another restaurant nearby but that too was closed since it was too late. The only option we had was a lime juice. Due to the heat and hunger we just thought of having whatever is available.
We really did not have enough time to explore the place since it was already 4:30pm. We decided to move back to Jaipur to have lunch as there is no place where we can have lunch there. We went back and on the way caught a glimpse of the beautiful Jal Mahal. Stopped for a while to click some photographs and headed back to Jaipur. We had food in a restaurant (a very late lunch) and proceeded to the old city. We stopped in front of the Hawa Mahal only to realize that it has just been closed for the day.
So we decided to stroll in the bazaar. The place is famous for handicrafts and textiles. You can get colourful and good Rajasthani materials, but you will have to be very cautious about the prices. One thing that caught our eyes was a man calling out people to take photographs from his camera. He had his camera in the roadside platform. He did not have any studios. We were reluctant initially but when we realized that it is a 150 year old camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, we could not resist. The developing and printing was done then and there in the open platform and the photos are ready in about 10 minutes. All that he charges for this is Rs.20. A few people decided to take photos with that camera and I decided to take a snap of the oldest camera known to be working (at least for me). We then shopped for over an hour and decided to go to the much awaited Chowki Dhaan.
Chowki Dhaan is a resort. Not the luxurious one on the sea shores that most of us are used to. But this is more of a village than a resort which shows the visitors how the traditional Rajasthan will look like. No glaring lights, no jarring music, no techie gadgets and giant roller coasters that will make it look like a theme park. It is just the traditional village. The light sources are from 40 or 60 watts bulbs that is surrounded by thatched baskets acting as lamp shades.
Inspite of all these, the place certainly an entertainer for any age group. The activities start around 6:30pm and go on until 11:30pm. There are lots of activities like Rajasthani folk dance, magic shows, dances and shows with themes etc. The most attractive of all is the puppet show. Though the shows does not last more than 15 minutes, it is worth a watch. The last part of the Chowki Dhaan visit was the dinner. Again everything served in the traditional way. Food served in leafs and not plates, water and buttermilk served in earthen cups and not glasses. It has been quite some time since we had such delicious food. Food was served by hospitable people and they keep serving till you get tired of eating. Even the great Taranjeet was defeated in this and had to confess that he cannot have anymore. If you are famished and not had food for a long time, this is the place to go. J
With that we returned back to our hotel in the heart of Jaipur city. Most of us were unable to sleep and decided to hunt the coffee day in the ground floor of the hotel. Though there weren’t anyone the shopkeepers let us in and spend a while there. The next day being Friendship Day, we decided to wait till mid night to wish each other. At midnight the Coffee Day guys offered us a big chocolate cake. Nothing more was needed to celebrate the Friendship Day. We spent some time chatting and making fun of each other and around 1:00am we decided to retire.
The plan for next day was to start by around 10:00am from the hotel and head straight to Delhi. As usual I got up and got ready before everyone. I had packed my bag the previous day itself, so did not have to worry about packing. Once ready I again set off to the deer park opposite to the hotel. This time I had lots of time to explore the park. It was really a beautiful place, well maintained with lots of trees and plants. The park, apart from deer, houses lots of birds. I even spotted a peahen somewhere in between the shrubs, but was not lucky enough to get even a single decent photograph of the shy bird. It is a huge park and I was just wandering there over half an hour and took a few photographs. After about 40 or 45 minutes I returned back to the hotel to join everyone for the breakfast and started our journey back to the capital. We stopped just twice on the way, once for fixing a flat tyre and once for having lunch in Haryana border.
Though we did not get to visit all the places we intended to, it was a very useful tour for all of us. Though we had interactions everyday over the phone, it was really good to meet everyone personally after over a year. The major agenda of meeting the people after a longtime was served successfully and there could not have been a better way to accomplish this. Hats off the Himanshu who has been organizing the entire tour and for making sure that everything went as per the liking of everyone.
As far as the tour to Jaipur is concerned, I did not expect there would be so much to see there. Hope I will get one more chance to visit the beautiful place, but it will certainly be more planned and for a longer duration.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Rajesh, Karthik Yadav (I better get the last name of some people as there were couple of them), myself and Ansar were in the lead car. We were driving at an enjoyable leisurely pace on the beautiful Chennai Bangalore highway. People who know me would have already guessed that by now my camera shutters would have started warming up. Yes, after crossing the first toll gate, I clicked a couple of shots on the run experimenting with different White Balance (let me try to use some jargons, after all it is a photography trip) and making use of the early morning light, just before sunrise.
After the breakfast, we proceeded to Ponneri, a village in the foothills of Yelagiri. This is the rendezvous point for the Chennai Super Kings and the Bangalore Royal Challengers (Still not out of IPL). When we called Ravi Ghosh, who has been coordinating the team from Bangalore to know their whereabouts, we were told that they had just crossed Krishnagiri and that a bike had a flat tyre so it might take some time for them to reach the point.
We then had a more elaborate introduction with each other and did not waste a minute to start warming up (the cameras of course, it is going to be a very tiring day for the shutters). We spread out on the nearby field and started experimenting what little we know about shooting (with cameras).
Since it was already around 1:00pm, we decided to have lunch in a small eat-out just opposite to the Tourist Information Centre. Ansar quickly enquired if food is available. We had a good lunch there and in-between had the opportunity to picture a few birds. We started from the eat-out around 2:00pm to Mangalam village, which is in the base of Swamimalai. We dumped all our bags (it was already dumped into cars in Guindy itself) carried only our cameras and started the trek uphill. Ansar stayed back at the base to check with the villagers for a night stay. Karthik Yadav and Nachu joined him, in case they had to roam around looking for a camping site.
We decided to back into the town as there was no way of getting any food in Mangalam village. The town in about 5 km from the village, so had to take our cars and bikes. We had a good dinner at Hotel Hills in Yelagiri and requested them to make arrangements for the next day’s breakfast. We returned back to the base at around 10:30 and spread out our sleeping gears. Myself, Rajesh, Ansar, Karthik and Nachu decided to play cards for some time, while others had already called it a day. We played until about midnight and then went to sleep.
People who know me would have already guessed, yes I was one of those who chose to go on bird watching and was fairly successful.
Rithwik, John, Abdul and Venu had woken up early and had started for the bird watch by around 7:00am. We were a bit lazy and started around 7:30. We were fairly successful in spotting some birds. Again there were lots of colourful butterflies, which I am sure John and Samyak would have loved to click. By the time we caught up with Rithwik and others in the YMCA campus, it was around 9:30am. We just then received some angry calls from Samyak and Ravi asking us to head back straight to Hotel Hills in the town for the breakfast. By the time we reached there, almost everyone had finished their breakfast.
We had a quick breakfast by which time Samyak and Ravi were debating whether to go into the Nature Park or the Nature trail just next to the Tourist Information Centre. I suggested that we take the Nature Trail, as I had been there 3 months back and know that place houses lots of butterflies, birds and views that we can photograph. When we reached the end of the road and were about to park the vehicles and get into the trail, we saw the pavement in which we were about to park (this is the place we parked our vehicles before entering the trail, when I was here 3 months back), was leading to a resort. It was cut off from the road and had been laid out in a very calm beautiful place. We immediately changed plans and went into the resort and sought the permission to use their premises for some theory session. The owner was very hospitable and more than willing to let us use the space. We found a huge tree with shade for the session.
Samyak started the session with some most used jargons and technical aspects of photography. Soon he was joined by Rithwik and John and they too shared their tremendous knowledge and experience with all of us. We discussed about framing or composition, Aperture, Shutter, ISO and how these three are inter-related, exposures, metering, white balance, bracketing, shooting landscapes, portraits, shooting in low light etc. it was a very interactive session with everyone participating, unsurprisingly. The session went on from 11:00am to about 01:30pm. By the time Ansar had again pitched in and had organized for the lunch in the resort itself. After the session people wandered off to try out what they had learnt. Some within the resort itself and some outside. People were given time till 2:45 to experiment and then to be back for lunch. I checked the accounts, tallied it and then set off into a field next to the resort all alone in search of more birds.
For more photos click here
Thursday, 4 June 2009
This particularly may not be my travel experience as a single blog is not enough to describe my experience in Kodai.
14. Mannavanur Lake - Not the usually visited place. But a very popular shooting location. You have to travel about 20km from Kodaikanal. This place offers excellent view of the lake and you can relax at this place for a while. Be sure to carry some snacks / food along, as you may not get anything to eat until you return back to Kodaikanal
15. Poomparai Murugan Temple - Enroute to Mannavar is the Poomparai village. All the major "English vegetables" like potato, carrot etc are cultivate here and transported to all part of the state. This is the major source of these vegetables for entire Tamilnadu. But that is not the only speciality of the place. The Poomparai Murugan Temple, a very less known temple, but quite an old one. This is about 3000 years old and the actual deity is sculpted out of "Nava pashanam", just like the Palani Murugan and sculpted by none other than Bhogar! This temple is a small one and currently under the administration of Palani Murugan Temple. If you have planned a trip to Mannavanur, do visit this temple!