Post Alert: Slightly long post, but honest to God, you won’t regret it.
V is for Valiant & Victorious Ride
12 February, 2017, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, Gurugram, New Delhi Capital Region, India
I’m an avid cyclist. A passion that I engage in it with as much ardor as writing. Though I wish I would ride more often, and have a time set aside each day to cycle, just like the way I have for writing. Well, hopefully someday soon that thought will turn that into a reality.
The ravines of Chambal at some point of time were the famous playground for India’s most notorious bandits (dacoits). Pan Singh Tomar, Phoolan Devi, Man Singh to name just a few. Thankfully not anymore. Though I wonder what it would be to go back in time and have an adventure of sorts with them! Getting back to my Upstream & Upbeat story, on an early pre-Easter morning we crossed those dreaded Chambal ravines of the past, for a boat safari on the pristine Chambal river. We had no idea that this idyllic river would be teeming with such a wide array of birds, mammals and reptiles.
The sun was rising in the far east, it’s orange golden glow kissing our faces like a pixie’s fairy dust. The DH, 8-year-old and I clamoured into a motor boat along with our guide, Bacchu Singh and the amiable looking boat man. Bacchu Singh had an eye for detail. It was just unbelievable at times. He would spot a tiny turtle sitting atop a rock, by the banks of the river when the rest of us had to crane our necks and strain our eyes for a long time before we could even find it. The binoculars helped though.
But our first tryst by the river was with a “friendly” crocodile. Crocodiles can be pretty aggressive, as you all know but the moment this one saw us it peaked its head to catch a glimpse of us and then disappeared into the recesses of the river. The boat made it’s way upstream as we saw a pair of Skimmers that are critically endangered migratory birds. There was an army of Rudy Sail Ducks that migrate from Europe each summer. Lapwings, Eurasian Thicknee, and many others too. The binoculars did a good job, as the moment the boat would steer closer to the winged wonders, they would fly off.
The sheer numbers of the coy, long snout Gharials (of the crocodile family) that are native to India, after they became extinct in Burma, Bhutan and Pakistan was fascinating. Though they are critically endangered. We were lucky to spot more than 15 of these Gharials, including one baby. They lay basking in the morning sun, by the banks. Some of them were as long as 13-14 feet. The male recognised by a bulbous knob at the end of it’s elongated snout, seemed a lot more people savvy though. Gharials are extremely shy and do not attack humans, unlike crocs. We observed these reptiles silently with an utter sense of delight. But the moment the boat came closer, they would jump into the river.
Our river safari was turning out to be quite an adventure. We hadn’t expected so many sightings. We continued to sail upstream and our moods were more than just upbeat. But by 8 AM we were ravenous not just for more sightings, but also for some breakfast. Bacchu Sigh pulled out the immaculately packed breakfast boxes, provided by the Chambal Safari Lodge where we were staying. The breakfast was a big sumptuous spread of cheese sandwiches, muffins, boiled egg, banana and some steaming hot coffee and tea. We relished our food amidst the silence and beauty of the Chambal river; and once we were done,we were ready to take on the river again!
The best, as they say was left for the end. We waited to spot the Gangetic River Dolphins. With bated breath we quietly sat in the boat, and after about 10 minutes Bacchu Singh pointed to a ripple in the river. It was a mother and a baby duo somersaulting. Though they were barely visible as they came up for a fraction of a second, but it was exciting enough. The Gangetic Dolphins are generally blind and catch their prey by emitting an ultrasonic sound which reaches the prey. The dolphin then registers this image in its mind and subsequently catches its prey.
It was almost 9 AM. The sun was now staring back at us with all its might, asking us to return; leaving the creatures to enjoy their peaceful time. We headed back downstream but not without spotting a few more Gharials, water birds and yes, another Crocodile.
Chambal river is pretty well maintained and it’s gives me a sense of relief to see how the ecological balance is being maintained, and the fauna are thriving in this little paradise. All the negative news we read about endangered species and the slowly dwindling wild life, here is one place which is being conserved and maintained. I’m going back there again, sooner than the soonest.
Buh-Bye to the bandits and Hola to the wildlife at Chambal !!
Footnote: Unfortunately the quality of pictures that I shot did not turn out as well on my iPhone6. Therefore had to borrow pictures online. Another reminder to start using the DSLR, for the next destination!
My theme for this year’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is Travel Epiphanies that are my very own tales of adventure and revelation. I will be writing 26 posts throughout the month of April. You can read my theme here.
Kerala was a destination that I was anxiously waiting to visit and experience for a very, very long time. So when we visited God’s own Country last year, we not only fell heads over heels in love with this breathtaking paradise, but I along with the 8-year-old wanted to leave the big, bad city and move here lock, stock and barrel. DH are you listening?! Sigh!
The simplicity, the surreal beauty of this land, the unending lush landscapes, the reinvigorating salty sea breeze, the food-every gourmet’s delight, the petty women – oiled hair (in coconut oil of course), secured in a plait or bun, adorned with the fragrant jasmines and their gentle demeanour, the mundu (a kind of sarong, clustered above the knees) clad men, the dreamy backwaters, the creative dance forms, the musical performances, the grand houseboat, the spice plantations, the magnificent temples, the abundant flora and fauna; you name it and Kerala has it.
My quest for spiritualism is undying. I have been in the spiritual path ever since I can remember. As a kid I used to pray each morning before I left for school, decorating the alter with fresh flowers. Since I studied in a convent school and a convent college too, Jesus was in my life too as one of my saviour’s. This along with Hanuman ji, and the Hanuman challisa that I diligently recited to overcome fear of exams, ghosts or any such thing. Over the years I tried my hand at various healing and spiritual practises like Reiki and Isha Yoga which were extremely beneficial. I still continue to practise Reiki. But I needed one such practise that would change my life forever. Not that the above didn’t; they did in their own ways.
The DH and I took a memorable sojourn to the Western Ghats, in Karnataka last year. It was monsoons and the weather was wet; and nature was at its lush best. (This is before we drove down to Goa through the wondrous Western Ghats. You could read about our Goa adventures at Gobsmacked in Goa.) Dandeli has a fascinating forest cover in the midst of which lies the River Kali. Our getaway lay cradled by the banks of this serene river. Right after we reached the Hornbill Resort we dumped our luggage in our interesting tent house and went and sat by the banks of Kali, becoming one with the tranquility around it.
2014 and beyond, Nirvana Courtyard, Nirvana Country, Gurugram, NCR, India,
We all have our cosy nook don’t we? A place away from home that we sometimes like to get away to and unwind. Well, I have mine right next door, in my neighbourhood. It’s my go-to-place when I’m bogged down with home management, need a solitary break, or want to write or work – away from the confines of my home (basically a change in place helps those creative juices flow you see). It’s my cubby hole that invigorates and cheers me up. So I take quite a few journeys to this little café of “mine”, on my bicycle, in the car or through a languorous or sometimes brisk walk. This quintessential little café is called Madison and Pike, located in Nirvana Courtyard, Gurugram.
Singapore, as you know is a stunning island country. A paradise for families. It’s curated, refreshing columns of green, pristine roads and alleys, simple-soft spoken, down-to-earth population, the lip smacking cuisine; all adds up to a residents delight. Life is so much more easy paced. Much like it is by a countryside, I would say. It has everything that a city has to offer yet it has an old world, simple charm. So it wasn’t surprising that we fell in love instantly with Clark Quay, East Coast Park, Orchard etc and of course Simei where we lived.
I LOVE sunsets and sunrises. Well who doesn’t? They leave me spell-bound, contemplative and grateful. Opal sunsets and Ochre sunrises transport me to a world beyond the scheduled grind of life. Though they come and go each day, yes that too as per routine; but each sunset and sunrise is distinctively different from the other. Every time I lay my eyes on the transiting colours of the sky that encapsulates the setting sun, I gape at the unique spectacle. This holds true for the ochre sunrise each morning, as well. The lustrous new morning sky takes a back seat when the massive ball of orange rises from it’s slumber and washes the earth with it’s golden, healing glow. I have been blessed to witness some wondrous sunsets and sunrises during my travels and right here at home, or when I’m journeying around my city.
15 April, 2017, Bah, Chambal, District Agra, Uttar Pradesh
This was possibly the most adventurous Easter weekend I’ve ever had.
We just returned this evening and I look back incredulously and marvel at the arm loads of memories I have carried back, of my rendezvous with the different creatures of the wild. That too in a matter two days! Something I’ve never witnessed in my entire life.
These beautiful beasts of the wild included over 50 species of birds, the deadly Crocs, the timid, vegetarian Gharials, the gorgeous Back Bucks made famous by our Indian actor Salman Khan (when he was penalised for hunting one a few years back), “I’ll-stare-you-back-in-the-eye”- Nilgais, the coy Gangetic Dolphin, the strong and silent Tortoises and the intriguing Asian Palm civet.
October 2006, Panglao Island, Bohol, Central Visayas, The Philippines
Our vacation to Bohol is one experience that we will continue to cherish the most. It was our first holiday destination in the gorgeous Philippines, where we lived from 2006-2007. Bohol is an island province in the Central Visayas region, consisting of the island itself and 75 minor surrounding islands. We took a short flight to Tagbilaran, Bohol’s capital city, from Manila. The fresh balmy tropical breeze started seducing us or was it just me; the moment we landed. I love the tropics. I thrive in that weather just like the nature there does. My hair and skin feel healthier, and I’m far more energetic. The humidity doesn’t bother me as much. The option of jumping into the sea is the cherry on the cake.