Friday, December 14, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day ten (Simlipal National park)

We were up at 5.30 am expecting to get a permit organized to enter the Simlipal national park but no such luck. The forest officer refused to let any of the vehicles in because the rain last evening had made the roads unmotarable. Waited around till 9.00 am hoping better weather would change our luck. Finally we gave up and decided to drive around the periphery of the park to get a sense of the place and see the surrounding villages. The 270 odd kms stretch kept us entralled for the rest of the day. The weather was perfect and the rural terrain charming. Lotus/ Lily ponds all along the way,  a small mountain range, couple of stretches of dense forest, little chicks following their mother around, cute little duckies and tribal folk. There was a lot to see and and a lot to experience.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day nine ( Around Bitarkanika and drive to Baripada)

An update on day seven and eight before getting on with day nine:
Day Seven :Dec 11,2012 (around Bhubaneshwar and onward to Chandbali)
Visited the Mukhteswar, Parasurameshwar and Raja Rani temples and Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. It's hard to believe that the temples belong to the 7th to 10th centuries. Still beautifully preserved, it's heartening to see the trouble taken by the A.S.I and the state government to preserve them, also it makes you wonder why Orissa is not considered as much a tourist destination as say for instance Kerala. Driving around Orissa is a revelation of sorts. Did not expect to see such large tracts of land under cultivation. Reached Chandbali before sunset (winter sun sets around 5.00 pm in these parts).
Day Eight:Dec 12, 2012 (Hublighati, Gahirmata and Dangmal)
Lovely weather for a long boat ride, which was close to seven hours to Hublighati. A 3 km walk through Hublighati to reach the beach stretch at Gahirmata that is home to oliver ridly turtles during february - march when they come to nest. All we got to see was a dead turtle and some crabs that were making merry under it. But a walk through the trail in between the mangroves was enjoyable and solved the mystery as to how deep the mangroves around the Baitrani river is. Ended the day with a night halt at the forest lodge at Dangmal. Have to say that I was constantly worried about encountering snakes,  but did not step on any reptiles. Not even the monitor lizards that are to be found in plenty on the island. Yes yes before i forget, the entire river stretch is infested with crocadiles of all sizes but we did not come face to face with any. Just observed them from a safe distance during the boat ride.
Day Nine: Dec 13, 2012
Crossed the river from Dangmal to Bitarkanika forest range. A six kilometer walk inside the range led to the hunting tower used by the erstwhile king and a bird spotting tower. We were a little too late to catch the thousands of migratory birds that apparently visit this spot and breed. They leave once the young are ready to fly. We'll hopefully catch them at their next stop at Chilka. After noon we started the drive to Baripada some 170 kms away. It was 48 kms of pure hell up to Bhadrak but once we got on to NH 5 the ride got a lot better and we reached our destination at around 6.30. Some unseasonal rain accompanied by thunder and lightning did disrupt our smooth ride for a while but we did okay.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day six (Konark and back to Bhubaneshwar)

Woke up at sunrise to visit the sun temple again for some better shots of the temple. Then we had a rather uncertain drive through the heavy winter fog to the Balukhand Konark Sanctuary. The road inside the sanctuary led to an isolated but beautiful beach with forest cover for almost the entire stretch and a little back water where we spent a while spotting and photographing birds. We did not come across any other wildlife but for some noisy monkeys. By noon we were driving back to Bhubaneshwar. We took a longer route back  through the villages this time and enjoyed the beautiful, lush and bountiful Odisha country side. It was a pleasant change from the dry bland landscape of neighbouring Chattisgarh.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day five ( Puri & Konark)

Started the day relatively early at 6.30 am with a short drive to Puri, just 55 kms from Bhubaneshwar and a visit to the famous Jagannath Temple. Though we were keen on a darshan of the main idols, we were reluctant to hire one of the pandas who hang around the temple. One attempt was not fruitful, so we caved in and paid one over enthusiastic panda Rs 150 to take us close to the dieties. He literally hugged and draged us through the immense crowd. The attitude of 'almost' all the priests in the temple were so utterly crass and commercial and  would have succeded in spoiling a good pleasant day, if not for the fact that we decided to keep our tempers in check and just take in the architecture and grandeur of the historic structures. Some of the priests even shoved devotees who refused to pay them and denied them even a spoonful of the thirtham. Then we did the unthinkable ( 'for us') and actually went shopping. Picked up a few miniature replicas of the temple idols and had breakfast at Grand Hotel which served up large portions of tasty idlies, vadas and dosas at minimal cost.
On our way to Korark we came across the Balukhand Sanctury which seemed interesting but unfortunately remains closed on Sunday. Checked into the surprisingly clean and well maintained Yathri Nivas, near the Konark Sun Temple,  run by the Orissa State Development Corporation and caught a quick nap before  proceeding to the Sun temple.  We reached  the temple just as the sun was setting at around 5.15 pm. Too early for sunset?  Yes the sun sets at  around 5 in these parts during the winter months. The magnificient structure is beautiful and well worth a visit.  We are planning to get up at sunrise to get another look ar this beautiful structure. Retired after dinner at the 'Original Marwadi Hotel'.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day four (Bhubaneshwar)

Relaxed morning. Breakfast at Genguram sweets at Ashok Nagar a little distance from the guest house. Some organised sightseeing with Anoop's collegues which included a visit to the Lingaraja temple and a buddhist temple at Dauli giri hills. The Lingaraja temple architechture is beautiful and would have made for some good photography, but unfortunately cameras are not allowed into the temple premises. Of course we had to endure the usual rush and confusion which is unfortunately considered norm at most popular Indian temples and the unscrupulous and greedy priests. Though I have to admit that the old structure with a long history did inspire faith even admist all the cacaphony while the brand new perfectly proportioned buddhist pagoda or shanthi stupa built by the Japanese in the 1970's at the site of the Kalinga war, on the other hand did not inspire any faith, just merely photographic opportunity.
Finally we did get to the 'wedding' which was held at the Mayfair Lagoon. The hotel was quite nice, the ceremony detailed and the food good but neither Anoop nor I are either good at socialising nor are we very good with social graces, so we 'endured' 4 to 5 hours of following the baraat and all the formalities. We decided to retire early. Tomorrow the plan is to visit Puri and Konark.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day three (en route to Bhubaneshwar)

Mahalakshmi Sweets
7 Dec 2012 : Started from Raipur at around 7.15 am. The highway stretch into Odisha was patchy but since we encountered only minimal traffic we had a reasonably good run. The terrain in Chattisgarh is mostly uninteresting, with hardly any cultivation and not much in terms of development. Large tracts of land which appeared fertile but unused with some random shrubs and other non fruit yeilding trees seemed to be the norm around here. But it was heartening to see the large forest reserve areas. We stopped for a break at Mahalakshmi Sweets, Dosas, idlies and medhu vada were the popular fast selling items on the menu here. The humble South Indian breakfast items were definitely growing ever so popular even in such remote corners of the country.
Entering Odisha at 3.15 pm we were pleasantly surprised at the four lane well laid roads and frequent petrol stations that greeted us. However this did not last long. We soon encountered patchy roads, potholes and unmarked speed breakers. The frequency and the design of the speed breakers had us confounded. They seemed designed more to cause accidents than to prevent speeding. We shook and jumped and the car shook and jumped and so did every individual item in our baggage. While thus going our merry way we did take time to glance at the lush green surroundings. Small mountain ranges, forest reserves and large healthy trees. If only the roads were a little better!!
The sun set at around 5.00 pm and the roads were pitch dark. This slowed us down considerably and we reached Bhubaneshwar only by 7.00 pm, totally exhausted and looking forward to a good night's rest.
Checked into the guest house arranged for us by the groom to be.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day two (en route to Bhuvaneshwar)

6 Dec 2012: Started at 9.30 am from Amravathi. The stretch from Amravathi to Nagpur was beautiful. The terrain was drastically different from the dry and arid landscape of the previous day. The 150 kms upto Nagpur were a breeze, but the next 100 kms including one on the 'great' eastern highway was a nightmare. We came accross an overturned truck, a dead pig, bad roads and heavy traffic. Thankfully the rest of the distance from Shahpur to Raipur was a lot better. We lunched at hotel Sai prasad at Shahpur in a surprisingly picturesque location considering the highway is more often littered with dabbas and some pretty ordinary joints. We crossed over to Chattisgarh at around 3.10pm. Surprised at the number of tolls and the heavy tolling here. Maharashtra was a lot cheaper. Checked into Hotel Grand Arjun at around 6.00 pm within the city limits but considering that we are on a tight schedule to reach Bhuvaneshwar to attend a wedding on the 8th we had no time to check out the sights. So far we have skirted the big cities and stuck to the highway, reserving all the sightseeing for the return journey.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip, Day one (en route to Bhuvaneshwar)

5 Dec 2012: Started early morning at 5.15 am from Mumbai.NH3 was a dream drive. We did good and reached Dhule well within our target time of 10.00am. Breakfast at 'desh videsh' was pretty good and priced reasonably. Hereon upto Bhuvaneshwar we have no choice but to get on to NH 6. Though the road is pretty decent, it's a two lane and negotiating heavy duty trucks all the way is tiresome. Another break at around 4.00 p.m just after Akola for some grub and we were in a hurry to get to Nagpur but ran out of steam after a couple of hours and we decided to call it a day at Amaravati. Gauri inn Amaravati does not meet my hygeine standards but there is not much else on offer. Need to get a good night's sleep before proceeding, more importantly hubby needs to relax cause he's driven close to 700 odd kms today.
Did I mention that there is loud music being played outside our bedroom window and fire crackers shooting out in all directions accompanying a wedding celebration at the hotel.
Here is hoping that we are too tired to pay heed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Odisha (Orissa) Road Trip

Just one more day left of the daily drill. Yeah!
So another trip this year. Plan is to start early on wednesday, the 5th of December. Earlier attempts to start that early in the morning have always failed. Hope to document this trip from day one, with all relavent and some :) trivial details.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

doodle time

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Work in Progress

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sketching excercise No.1

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The cannon ball tree

This sight that met me when I walked into my grandmother’s house in Kerala last week had me worried. I thought a hurricane had hit it selectively.
The 70 year old cannon ball tree or nagalinga pushpam tree (originally a native of South America) sheds its leaves three times annually. I am told the mighty tree sheds all its leaves over a period of one week. A part of all my memories of summer vacations while growing up, the tree was planted by my grandmother in her front yard around the time she had her first child. Grandma now in her nineties reminisced about her trip to Madurai all those years back where she saw the tree for the first time and decided that she wanted to have one at home.

A closer view

The view of the top of the tree.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

an update on my previous post

The child welfare people came home today, collected available information, and are following up to intervene if required. I am impressed at their immediate response.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the little bee catchers

Yes, the photograph is wanting. Badly focused and bad lighting, but you cannot miss the innocence and the camaraderie between the two lads. The little one is Shahrukh Khan and the older one is Akshay Kumar. They proudly informed me that they had a brother Salman Khan. You are wondering now what these celebrities were doing in my house and together (the real ones are no longer on the best of terms, if page 3 gossip is to be believed). They are the little bee catchers. They came to ask me to shut my window because some neighbour had engaged their services. I asked them if they got stung often, but they were nonchalant and informed me that they had been trained well by their parents.

Now the question, I have often asked myself. Should I call the child welfare helpline and report? Will the authorities or NGO’s or whoever take some action? I don’t know and I am hesitating. Frankly I don’t have any idea what exactly will be done to help these children. I don’t want to experiment without knowing the consequences. Will they be taken away from their parents? Will the parents get into trouble? I don’t know. But halfway through writing this post, I decided that I could not ignore the issue either and decided to write a mail to and inform them. I am a little wary. I don’t want to meddle if no good will come of it, but I am hoping for the best.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

in a lighter vein

He tries, but he just cannot get it right, he says,

Vadaphone for Vodaphone
Standard Chartered is esstandardchatarjee
Microsoft me heat kar dhoo – He means can I heat it in the Microwave
Sanghvi madam unfortunately is Sandwich madam

I cannot help but laugh, to which he says...mai tho unpad adhmi hu, madam aap kyuo hasthe ho.