On All Things - big & small...

Rama Warrier's Blog

Author: Rama Warrier (Page 1 of 2)

Common Nawab

Thumboormuzhi Gardens

Thumboormuzhi is a check-dam built across Chalakkudy River for irrigation purpose. This is midway between Chalakkudy and the famous Athirappilly waterfalls. Thumboormuzhi areas provides an ideal habitat for butterflies. Thumboormuzhi Butterfly garden by the side of Chalakkudy river is worth a visit irrespective of whether you are a butterfly watcher or just someone who loves nature.

Garden is spread over multiple levels on a sloping landscape sandwiched between Athirappilly road and Chalakkudy river. Different host plants have been planted to attract various species of butterflies. The park also has some recreational facilities for children.

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December dawned in Wayanad with the news of the tiger, which had kept the region on the boil, being eliminated by the task force. People were rejoicing and television channels reporting that Wayanad would sleep peacefully for the first time in two weeks. The twelve year old tiger had strayed into the plantations of Wayanad two weeks earlier and picked on domestic cattle. There was a huge outcry about the failure of Government to safeguard the life and property of citizens. Political parties were on the road blocking National Highway. People were venting their anger with dead cattle displayed on the roads. The administration sprang into action and declared that the animal will be shot, if needed. A combined team of Karnataka and Kerala forest officials tried to tranquilize the animal and eventually shot it dead. The administration gave an explanation that all efforts were made to take the animal alive, but circumstances warranted the extreme step. There is a raging debate whether ‘death penalty’ for a ‘cattle lifter’ is an excessive punishment. The slain tiger did not harm any human being nor showed any inclination to turn a man-eater.

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Singanallur nature walk

Urban bio-diversity is typically underestimated everywhere. We fail to notice it most of the time, mainly due to the fact that we are pre-occupied. Or we simply do not have the time to look around.

Singanallur is a typical polluted urban lake in the South Indian city of Coimbatore. It has a boathouse which looks abandoned – may be there were no takers for boating in a not so great environment. I checked with a Coimbatore birding enthusiast Gokul Ram about birding spots in the city and he directed me to Singanallur – a lake on Trichy road. I had to meet with a few puzzled glances when leaving early in the morning as Singanallur does not have the reputation of an interesting spot.

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A short trip to Thattekkad

The excitement was palpable when the Nature India trip to Thattekkad/Munnar kick started with the team packing itself into three SUVs at Kochi airport. It was a bright and sunny January morning. The 45km drive from the airport to Thattekkad is a scenic one. There are winding roads and rich vegetation on either side. The route passes through Kaladi (the birthplace of Adi Shankara) and the small town of Kothamangalam. The day we were travelling, it was festival time in a local church and there were colourful processions on the way. It did not delay our progress in any way and we were in Jungle Bird Homestay well in time for lunch. This was our home for the next three days. Gireesh Chandran, Sudha and Sandhya were our hosts, guides and caretakers.

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Should you take a group tour or plan one for yourself?

When we decided to tour Europe, the question of opting for one of the standard tours or planning one on our own came up. We opted to plan things ourselves.

What made us take this call?

  • The most critical factor was that we felt that if planned well, we could do it cheaper than a standard package
  • The next factor was the ability to decide exactly how many days / how much to time should be spent at a location
  • Most European location would have much more to see than what time you could afford to spend there. So making a choice of what to see is very important. In a package one hardly has a choice.
  • The most irritating aspect of a group tour is that you are as fast as the slowest team member. Also the departure and break times are decided based on the general requirements – may not be what you want
  • We were covering only Schengen countries, so visa was simple
  • Our past experience with package tours has not been great!

Is it very difficult to plan a tour?

Not really. It certainly requires some time and dedication from your side. A bit of familiarity with the geography that you are touring would be a great asset. The following are essential if you are proposing to plan a trip yourself.

  • Skill and inclination to pick-up and read tons & tons of material on the internet to figure out which places are worth a visit – you can certainly do a good job if you have specific interests, as standard tours are designed using a ‘typical tourist’ in mind
  • Comfort of using Internet for booking hotels, train tickets, bus tickets and making other reservations. Language is usually not a big issue as popular websites offer English as a choice. Else, you could use integrator/intermediaries who offer online booking on their website. These intermediaries, in some cases, may have a charge.
  • Using information on places of interest and size of museums and palaces to plan the number of days required for each place.
  • Sufficient time for planning and making reservations

What is on the flipside of the ‘do it yourself’ plan?

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Birding on Jog – Sagar Road

We spent a day and two nights at ‘stay@matthuga’, a homestay, to visit Jog falls and the old temples near Sagar. Birding was an added bonus. On two mornings we had the opportunity to bird near Talavata – a village about 20km away from Sagar on NH 206 where the homestay is located. It is about 10km before Jog falls. I had read in a few places that localities near Jog have a lot of bird activity. But, with no specific clue on where to go, I decided to find out if there were any water bodies around – there was one about a kilometre and a half towards Sagar, on the left side of the highway.

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On the Sea Eagle’s trail

Devbagh which literally means ‘Celestial Garden’ was the destination we picked for a stop-over during our Coastal Karnataka trip. I had heard about the pristine beauty of the Devbagh Resort from earlier visitors.

Karwar, a small town near the Karnataka-Goa border looks very rustic. It is known to have been a part of the vibrant trade network during the colonial era. Karwar raised the waves of creativity in the mind of a young Tagore inspiring him to put pen on paper and author Prakritir Pratishodha – story of a Sanayasi and a young girl.

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stay@matthuga – a lovely homestay

I was looking for a decent accommodation near Jog falls for a family trip. There were not many options available. The choice finally was stay@matthuga – a homestay near Jog falls. There were mixed reviews on the net, but it looked suitable for our needs.

We landed at matthuga late in the evening after spending time at Jog falls. We were greeted by some sunbirds and bulbuls. The small garden in front of the building looked beautiful in the evening sun. It was very quiet, but for the bird activity. The first impression was good.

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Naturalist Training Program – some random thoughts

I have always had a fascination for nature and the immense variety it offers. Usually the enjoyment that I derive is superficial – a state of ‘ignorant bliss’. It isn’t all that bad, I should say. But the desire to understand more has always been there. May be that would give me a better appreciation of the ways of nature. It was that search which led me to the Naturalist Training Program (NTP) run by Jungle Lodges. I was quick on the trigger to respond to the invite. Later on, I found out that it was good that I did so, for most participants had tried multiple times before getting a slot which goes on a ‘first come first served’ basis !

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1001 pantings you must see before you die

An amazing collection

I am no connoisseur of paintings, yet it gives me great pleasure in wandering through art galleries. So it was natural that I found the title “1001 paintings you must see before you die” attractive.

What jumps at you from the front cover is the gory severed head of Medusa with her mouth wide open in a “silent, but dramatic scream and her shocked eyes”. But as they say, judge not a book by its cover. What follows inside is a real treat. (The Head of Medusa, Caravaggio 1598)

It is a brilliant collection of extra-ordinary paintings from all around the world. They are spread across various museums, galleries, walls, ceilings and private collections. An opportunity to see them all together is one which should not be missed.

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