Saturday, December 26, 2015

Trek to Rudranath Temple(Day3), Uttarakhand, India.

Rudranath temple was the ultimate destination. Most of the way was cloudy with shot bursts of sunlight peeping through. Reached there by 4pm (day 3).

Few shots on the way before reaching the temple. Temple is a dot in the centre of the frame below. Though we could get a clear shot only the next day  (scroll down/see later)

About 100 meters downhill from the temple was a small hut where we decide to rest . We had Maggi
(instant noodles) and a cup of tea to satiate our  hunger, in fact that was the only thing on the menu. What followed next was not expected- torrential rains!!

In the cold and rains we climbed up the temple to offer Aarti (Hindu prayers ritual) later that evening. The five minute climb seemed endless with the cold and torrential downpour. After the prayers caught up with the priest and his assistant, they said the idol is worshipped only for a few months in that location as it is bitterly cold and difficult to survive in winters. The idol is transported every year to another temple downhill to Gopeshwar (where we started the trek). The priest presented us two Brahma Kamal's (Lotus flowers, native to the Himalayan region).

The torrential downpour continued overnight. At night we feared the hut would give-in to the strong wind and rains. Luckily it held its own. Eventually the rains stopped next day around 8am. The sky was clear, fresh and were awed by the beauty of the place. I would like to repeat again, the views are no match for the experience on the ground.


Rudranath Temple from a distance.


View from the temple.
Rudranath temple.

Eventually time had come to leave this beautiful place.  Few pics on the way back.

Later in the evening  we reached back to Panar Bugyal.

A view of Alaknanda river in the centre of the frame below.  Along with another river Bhagirathi, confluence of the two rivers form the mighty Ganga river (one of the largest rivers in India). A journey of 2500 KMs (1600 Miles) starts here before it meets the sea.

Climbing down to the base camp, the next day, was treacherous with loose rocks and slippery terrain. Knees and ankles could feel the pressure.  The only casualty of the trip was my 3 day old pair of hiking boots with glue giving way and the boot turning into a soft pulp compared to its initial rocky stature when bought. Eventually the trip ended. An experience of a lifetime. A special word of  thanks to Praveen Purohit for making this a success.

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!