Weekly Photo Challenge: Awakening

We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning, we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night, we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. – John O’Donohue

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Is it just me or did you too find it creepy that I chose the above picture for this week’s prompt – ‘Awakening‘? After all, it is Friday the 13th!

 

Did you know: Paraskavedekatriaphobia – A morbid, irrational fear of the date ‘Friday the 13th.’

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To travel is to live

Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in this world.

My first memory of travel is that of the visit to my maternal grandmother’s place. Four hours of journey and four hours of non-stop eating – my mum calls me a chakki because I never stopped eating while on the bus. My maternal grandmother’s house was in Hassan. Back then, there were not many buses from Bangalore to Hassan, and not to forget, there were no AC or Deluxe buses. It was a normal red bus with hard seats! Our travel bag was always filled with chips and cream biscuits.

The bus used to stop at a place called Bellur Cross for tea/coffee and we used to get down to refill our travel bag with more goodies. There was a peanut seller from whom we used to buy peanuts. He would shout “kadalekaai”Β  (meaning peanuts) and come near our bus – after all, he knew that we would always buy “kadalekaai” from him. What I still remember about this guy is that I visited the place after a gap of 5 years and he still recognized me!

Traveling on vacations brings back a lot of childhood memories. Packed tiffin boxes, packets of chips and biscuits, non-stop munching all the way, that was one awesome childhood! As time passed by, I was busy with school – studying for the boards is no piece of cake and I was longing to go on a tour. That is when we decided to go on a South India tour. I can say that it was my first group tour. We went to all places down South – from Kanyakumari to Ooty to Gurvayur to Kodaikanal.

Every travel has some memorable incident that one would never forget. It was 2007 and it had been just two years since the Indian Ocean Tsunami. We were on the Vivekananda Memorial in Kanyakumari when all of a sudden there was a storm warning and we were asked to evacuate the premises. For those who do not know, Vivekananda Memorial is on an island-of-sorts and one has to travel from the mainland by boat. Ours was the last boat to leave the memorial, we had employees from the memorial on our boat. The boat was anchored and everybody got in. The sea was so rough that it was lashing at our boat like an angry devil. And all of a sudden our boat went whoosh! It almost toppled! I remember everybody screaming. Though I do not know to swim, I wasn’t scared. Maybe I was still fascinated by the word ‘tsunami’ back then.

My next tour was in 2011 when I visited Hampi and other archaeological places in Karnataka. Two days in Hampi and I was mesmerized by the sandstone structures! Apart from Hampi, our tour included UNESCO heritage sites Pattadkal and Aihole. And it goes without saying that this tour also had quite a few memorable experiences from our hotel room buzzing with honeybees to monkeys having a blast on the roof of our bus!

 

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Stone chariot @ Hampi

 

You all know how stressful life can get, especially when one starts to work and there are deadlines to complete. This is when I decided to go on short tours. There are a lot of places in and around Bangalore and my cousins and I decided to visit each one of them, once in three months or so.

Our first such trip was Belur-Halebeedu group of temples in Hassan. A week before our trip, I googled all the places to visit around Hassan. I ended up making a long list. So much to see in two days! We visited a temple in Belvadi ( the sun rays fall directly on the diety once in a year – on 21st of March), the temples of Belur and Halebeedu, Gorur dam, and Shravanabelagola! Apart from these places, we also took a quick tour of Hassan city (since my cousins and I were born in Hassan) and visited the famous Hassanamba temple.

 

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Belvadi Temple

 

Our next trip was to Wayanad. This trip brings back a lot of memories. Our driver lost his way and we were going round and round until 6 in the evening (we left Bangalore at 7 in the morning!) Finally we reached our hotel – it was on a hilltop. The place was beautiful, and it had just rained so everything looked so green and fresh. Our hotel was situated near the famous temple of Thirunelli. The next day we went on a safari hoping to catch a glimpse of the elephants, leopard, and deer. But all we saw was elephant dung! If not the elephant then I can at least click a picture of its dung!!!

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How ironic is this – on our way back home, we saw a deer on the National Highway!

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Then came a seven-day tour to Kerala – from boat riding in the backwaters of Alleppy to ropeway ride across the Malampuzha dam, I did it all! I saw a beautiful sunrise at Munnar and sunset at Kochi. Banana chips, appam and stew to hot-crispy vadas – this was one of the best trips ever!

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Sunrise at Munnar
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Sunset at Kochi

 

My next trip was to Talakaadu (the place is full of sand, although there are no beaches around!), somanathapura, Mysuru, and Bylaakuppe. This was again a two-day trip. I was amazed at how much one could travel in a span of two days!

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Then there were a lot of small tours – a trip to thirthalli, Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram and a temple tour in Maharashtra to mention a few. This was followed by my first ever trip to North India – Kashmir. I was awestruck by its beauty! Heaven on Earth is what I would call it.

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Shortly after this tour, I fell sick and I could not travel much. Finally, after a gap of two years, I decided to go to Goa – the land of beaches, temples, and churches! My four days in Goa included a visit to all the temples, churches, a couple of beaches and not to forget – shopping at Anjuna Flea Market!!

 

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Ruins of St. Augustine Church, Goa

 

From giggling honeymooners, naughty kids to retirees, I have met them all on my trips. It is so comforting to know that there are many, who like us, love to travel and wish to see the world. Traveling has taught me quite a few lessons in life. From controlling hunger to an adventure of a lifetime ( we were on our way to Gokak falls near Belgaum and the road was submerged under water! River on both sides and we did not know what to do. Finally, a huge truck went ahead and we followed the truck. It was so scary because there was water everywhere and our car was half submerged!), travel has made me a stronger and better person.

There are so many places in India to see and many more around the world. One life is not enough to visit all these places! I might not have seen the World, but my love for travel and exploration has taken me to some of the best archaeological marvels and scenic places on earth.Β  πŸ™‚

 

Post submitted for Indiblogger’s #SayYesToTheWorld

 

A new hobby in the making

I love nature. I like to observe things – be it animals, birds, insects, human beings or non-living things. Mother nature has a lot to offer and all we have to do is observe.

Different stages of a leaf on a tree, flowers from bud to bloom, migratory birds and changes in season and many more.

You all know about the bud-to-bloom project that I did last summer. Come May and I have planned to do it again – photographing fireball lilies.

I have been doing a lot of flower photography from past four years and it is time to move on. I must say that flower photography is no piece of cake, one has to click from the right angle (not the mathematical ‘right angle’!) and wait in lines to click pictures (when you are at a flower show). But the easiest part is, there is no perfect timing. Be it early morning or late evening, the flowers are always ready to pose for a photograph.

Now, coming to my new hobby, let me give you a hint: it needs a lot of patience! I have already posted something about this new hobby of mine. The post was titled ‘birds in the backyard.‘ Until a couple of months ago, the only birds that I knew by sight included ravens, bulbuls, and kites. Sparrows are very rare these days so I wouldn’t include them in the list of birds that I have recently seen.

There is a bird sanctuary at a distance of around 100kms from Bangalore – Rangantittu. It is one of the most famous bird sanctuaries and boasts of a wide variety of birds, especially migratory birds in the season of winter (Oct-Jan). I have been making plans to visit the sanctuary once, hopefully, I will, this year!

Meanwhile, our backyard is no less of a bird sanctuary. We might not have migratory birds from Siberia, but we do have a set of colorful birds. I have been doing bird watching for two months now. Apart from being patient enough to wait for the birds, I also have to deal with occasional headaches (due to waiting in the hot sun.) But it is worth the…err headache?! I have managed to click quite a number of ‘passable’ pictures of birds. Using the zoom lens was not easy in the beginning but now I am getting used to it.

I wake up in the morning listening to the chirping of bulbuls and barbets. They are amongst the early-risers. Sometimes I hear the kootroo-koortroo of barbets as early as 4 in the morning. The bulbuls start their song by 5-5.30 and this is followed by a couple of mynas and an occasional bahaminy kite. Last but not the least – the loudest of the lot – sunbirds. They are so tiny, yet so loud!

 

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Red-whiskered Bulbul

 

 

Looks like it is also the season of Koels – I get to hear a lot of kooo-kooo. Over the months, I have learned to differentiate their cries. The other day, I heard a cry similar to that of a bahaminy kite. And my intuition said that it was an Oriole. I have seen an Oriole around here before so I rushed out and my intuition was right! I saw not one, but two bright-yellow colored orioles! Although one was shy enough to hide behind the leaves, the other did not mind my presence.

The picture below is that of a male Oriole. Females are dull yellow in color. This morning, I saw a female oriole chasing a koel. This is the second time that I have seen Orioles chasing Koel. It is a well-known fact that Koels lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Maybe the Orioles are possessive about their young un’s!

 

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Indian Golden Oriole (male)

 

Today was my “bird day”. What I mistook to be a barbet turned out to be a bee-eater! I couldn’t believe that there was a bee-eater in our backyard!! I have painted a bee-eater before (You can see itΒ here) but seeing a live one made my day!

 

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Green bee-eater

 

My friend says that our backyard is a magnet for beautiful birds. Maybe, it is. πŸ™‚

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

I love sunsets. I would describe a sunset as “a phenomenon where a hungry invisible monster gobbles a huge ball of fire.”

I love sunrises too. But here’s the thing – I always miss sunrises. They happen way too quickly.

Almost a decade ago, on my trip to South India, we were told that Kanyakumari is one of the best places to view a sunrise. So there we were, standing by the seaside, at around 5.30 in the morning to view the sunrise. Oh boy, that was the best sunrise ever! I was young back then and dad wouldn’t let me use his precious camera so I was just an observer. I saw a huge ball of fire rising from the ocean and within seconds, it just went from under-the-sea to high-up-in-the-sky.

Years later, I was again on a trip to South India, in the state of Kerala to be precise. Munnar, apart from being famous for tea estates and spice gardens, is also known for beautiful sunrises.

I was a bit sad because our hotel was behind the hills and I knew that I would miss the sunrise. And yet, I stood on the balcony with a camera in my hand, waiting for the sunrise.

I might not have seen the huge ball of fire, but I saw something else and I captured it on my camera. Purple and orange sky with a silhouette of the hills, this picture is the best photograph that I have clicked to date.

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Before joining WordPress, I was on a photo-sharing site called ViewBug. The above picture was judged as the best picture on ViewBug. πŸ™‚

Sometime in 2016, I visited Goa – the land of beaches, churches, temples and delicious food. Goa is also known for scenic sunsets. But we were there at the wrong time. Although it was February, the weather was gloomy and cloudy. I wouldn’t call this the best sunset I have ever watched, but it wasn’t bad either.

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The sun looked hazy and blurred. Looks like the sun was under the weather. πŸ˜‰

I am not a fan of photoshop. I like my photos ‘au-naturel’ as they call it. While I was checking my archives for pictures of sunsets I came across this photo that I had clicked in Kochi. (I visited Munnar on the same trip)

Just for fun, I was trying out filter-effects when I came across ‘cinematic’. I think ‘cinematic’ does justice to the photo below. It makes the scene more romantic perhaps?

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Or, does it remind you of Gulliver’s travels?