Dandeli, Karnataka

Dandeli is a town located on the Western Ghats region in Karnataka. The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest in Karnataka and houses tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, bears, and deer amongst other mammals, several varieties of reptiles and over 250 different birds. The Kali river flows through Dandeli adding to the scenic beauty of this space. I spent my time here at the Dandeli Mist Jungle Stay. They offer three types of accommodation – tree-houses, luxury cottages and tribal cottages. Every meal provided was an excellent buffet of local dishes. We were taken on night safaris and to various view points around Dandeli. Every moment spent here was one with a view. I’m so glad I found another beautiful location so close to home. ❤

Gajlaxmi Palace, Dhenkanal, Odisha

As you approach Dhenkanal on National Highway 42 it is almost impossible to visually locate Gajlaxmi Palace. The Palace is the home of the Dhenkanal royal family and is quietly tucked away on Megha Hill overlooking vast stretches of forests. Jitendra Singh Deo and his wife Navneeta welcomed me into their home with warmth and generosity.

After a wonderful home cooked lunch we headed out to visit a small artisan village. This village comprised of no more than 50 homes with all its residents working on the craft of Dhokra. Dhokra is a non-ferrous metal casting method that uses the lost-wax casting technique.

The next morning we went on a nature walk that took us through another small village and around the royal family’s property.

Tragically I had to leave soon after. I missed out visiting the Joronda Temples, the Satakosia Sanctuary and so much more. Can’t wait to go back…

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Odisha

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are one of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters in India which were built to provided dry shelter for meditation and prayer. These caves are located about 6 kms away from Bhubaneswar in Odisha. They are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Udayagiri has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. The caves have plain interiors, but their facades are encrusted with sculptures depicting auspicious objects worshipped by Jains, court scenes, royal processions, hunting expeditions and scenes of daily life.

A quick tour of the Indian Museum, Kolkata

The Indian Museum is the largest an oldest museum in India. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta. The museum has 6 sections namely Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. I only had an hour to spend here and the following are a images of a few of the galleries I managed to explore.

Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha

On the 22nd of February I headed to Bhitarkanika National Park which is located in the Kendrapara district of Odisha. It is placed at the delta of the Brahmani – Baitarani rivers and is an estuary. This sanctuary is spread over 672 sq.km. The flora of the area comprises of 82 species of mangroves and the fauna includes saltwater crocodiles, king cobras, pythons, spotted deer, sambar, otters, dolphins and over 200 species of resident and migratory birds. During my time here I saw many crocodiles, 3 different kinds of kingfishers, a few egrets and other birds along with a few spotted deer.

That night I stayed in the heart of Dangmal Village at the Bhitarkanika Nature Camp located about 300 meters from the main entrance into the sanctuary. I had an amazing host who cooked great food and was extremely helpful in every way possible. I stayed in a Swiss tent for the night and planned my dive to Calcutta for the next day.

Chilika Lake, Odisha

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With a nice cold, foggy start to the morning I headed to Chilika Lake, Odisha from Borra caves On the 21st of February. The journey was less than 400km in total. Initially I drove through a ghat section that had beautiful roads all the way to Odisha courtesy of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.

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2015-01-21 08_Fotor..While driving around the country I have always come across situations in which people lose their patience and it has always left me wondering where everyone was in such a rush to get to. Right before entering Odisha a few of us on the highway were stopped at a railway crossing for about 11 minutes. People in larger vehicles had no option but to wait but most of those on bikes kept ducking under the barricade with their vehicles to get to the other side. Being in the ghats we did not have much of a visual of the train tracks as they curved with the mountains. Sometimes I really feel like telling all these people that being safe is so much better than being impatient.

2015-01-20 15.32.20As I entered Odisha there was a complete scenic change. From the hills and mountains of northern Andhra Pradesh to the flat plains of Odisha. I passed by so many water bodies, so many rice fields, and so many Toddy palm trees. This state seemed to be so wonderfully lush and green.

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2015-01-20 15_FotorI reached Chilika Lake just in time for a quick coffee and then begun my exploration of the space.

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_DSC0589_FotorChilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon which is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha. It covers an area of over 1,100 kmsq making it the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in the world. The lake has a vast range of fish making it an ideal place for small fishermen villages to flourish all around it. Chilika Lake also has the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent, sometime hosting over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Tragically I managed to lose over 100 pictures I took here due to some technical difficulties so I am unable to give you a full visual of my experience here.

_DSC0592_FotorOTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.) provides a range of rooms and cottages located by the lake starting from Rs.800 a night. Their development at this location is called Panthanivas Barkul. It is extremely clean and is safe for everyone.

2015-01-21 17.08.36I stayed in the room at the top left of this construction and this was my view –

2015-01-21 16_FotorAfter a long highly productive day I watched a beautiful sunset and got a great nights rest.

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Borra Caves, Andhra Pradesh

Borra Caves are located about 90 kms north of Visakhapatnam in the Ananthagiri hill range of the Eastern ghats, located at Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh. These limestone caves were discovered in 1807 by the British geologist William King. Borra Caves are naturally formed and are believed to be over 150 million years old. Small streams flowing down the Ananthagiri hill range towards River Gosthani are what have formed these caves over the years. The humic acid in the water reacts with the calcium carbonate in the limestone and dissolves the minerals causing the rocks to gradually break.

The main entrance of Borra Caves is located at an altitude of 705 meters above MSL while the interior goes down to 625 meters above MSL. The total length of these caves are about 200 meters, but you can walk around exploring over 350 meters of the space. Surrounding these caves are breath taking hilly terrains that are covered in forests filled with a vast population of wild fauna.

This cave is one of its kind in India and is open to tourists between 10am and 5.30 pm everyday.

Tate Modern – Poetry and Dream exhibit

The  Tate Modern is located near the millennium Bridge in London. On a beautiful Monday morning I headed there with a new friend. We decided to explore the free Poetry and Dream exhibit they had going on.

The fist piece of art that caught my eye was Salvador Dali’s. He was a prominent Spanish Catalan Surrealist painter. It felt amazing to be so close to artwork that I had studied in college.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus – 1937
Oil paint on canvas
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According to Greek mythology Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a lake. Unable to embrace the watery image, he pined away, and the gods immortalized him as a flower. Dali shows this metamorphosis by doubling a crouching figure by the lake with a hand clutching an egg, from which the narcissus flower sprouts.

Pablo Picasso is another artist who I had studied in college. He too was Spanish. Throughout his life, Picasso reworked the theme of the female nude. I find that he was very literal when it came to naming his paintings.

Nude Woman with Necklace – 1968
Oil paint on canvas
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In his 80’s, Picasso revised the traditional idea of beauty with particular violence, subjecting the body to repeated assaults of paint. Here the woman is presented as a raw, sexualized arrangement of orifices, breasts and cumbersome limbs. The face is that of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque.

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair – 1932
Oil paint on canvas
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This work belongs to a sequence of portraits that Picasso made of Marie-Therese Walter. Here he presents her as a series of sensuous curves. The face is a double image: the right side can also be seen as the face of her lover kissing her on the lips.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust – 1932
Oil paint on canvas
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This is another painting of Marie-Therese Walter. Picasso first met her in January 1927, but kept their relationship a secret. This vibrant blue and lilac canvas is more than 5 feet tall.

Weeping Woman – 1937
Oil paint on canvas
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One of the biggest horrors of the Spanish Civil War was the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the German air force. Picasso responded to the massacre by painting the vast mural ‘Guernica’. This painting is based on one of the figures in the mural: a weeping woman holding her child. The woman’s features are based on Picasso’s lover Dora Maar.

The works of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin caught my attention next. I find their attention to detail simply spectacular! Brodsky and Utkin are Russian artists who came together to combine architecture with fine art. They became part of an informal movement known as the ‘Paper Architects’, who produced elaborate and impossible designs. They got their inspiration from a variety of architectural, literary and visual sources, from classical mythology to science fiction.

The Bridge – 1987/90
Etching on paper
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Intelligent Market – 1987/90
Etching on paper
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Villa Nautilus – 1990
Etching on paper
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Glass Tower – 1984/90
Etching on paper
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Dorothea Margaret Tanning was an American artist. Her early works were influenced by Surrealism. Tanning’s paintings suggest hidden and indescribable forces at work in our daily world, challanging our beliefs and expectations.

Some Roses and Their Phantoms – 1952
Oil paint on canvas
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In this painting everything is in a state of metamorphosis. Some roses and an insect have become half-organic and half-metalic. A phantom rose appears to grow through the white table cloth.

This next piece captivated me instantly. I found myself frozen in front of it just trying to take in every detail.I love the use of colours all over. Eileen Agar was a British painter and photographer associated with the Surrealist movement.

The Autobiography of an Embryo – 1933/34
Oil paint on canvas
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Agar saw reproduction as an important component of the female imagination. In this work she evoked the development of an embryo. Each of the four sections mixes symbols of life and death, and images of marine plants and animals. As these elements are embedded within the dense layers of the painting, they seem to suggest memories of collective experiences that the embryo carries into the world. A Greco-Roman influence is evident in the abstract shapes and patterns of this painting.

The Entire City – 1934
Oil paint on canvas
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Max Ernst was a prolific German artist. This painting of his depicts a crumbling city under a ring-shaped moon. The ruined cityscape was created using a technique Ernst called ‘ grattage’ (scraping). It involved placing the canvas over planks of wood or other textured surfaces, then scraping paint across it. This technique was one amongst many that Surrealist artists explores as a way of letting a chance element into their works.

Lastly we walked into a room covered with posters from the soviet union.

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I cant wait to see what they have on display the next time I visit! 😀

 

Yummy street food

Ramadan (more commonly known as Ramzan) is a month long Islamic festival that celebrates when Prophet Muhammad was blessed with the spiritual knowledge of Islam that formed the Quran. During this month muslims worldwide fast from dawn to dusk. It is said that a person is to spend his time performing the spiritual practices of the Quran in order to free themselves from worldly yearning and create a stronger platform between man and god. After 30 days of fasting the month of Ramadan concludes in Eid. The biggest reason this festival has become so popular is because of the food that fills the streets post dusk. After fasting for almost 12 hours no one would settle for average tasting food. There are rows of stalls filled with a wide spread of meats, rices, savories, soups and sweets located all around Bangalore. As the evening progresses into night the air fills up with smoke. So many flavorful smells. My favorite thing to do is to go from stall to stall tasting all the different kebabs. Other than the usual chicken, mutton and beef kebabs this time I tried emu. It had a similar texture to mutton but was much less fatty. So glad to be living in this beautiful yummy country!

IMG_6047Chicken kebabs, mutton liver kebabs and mutton chops.

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Melt in your mouth mutton kebabs

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IMG_6157_FotorBeef kebabs

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Yummy Emu meat 😀

IMG_6048Pathar ka gosht (meat cooked on stone)

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A wide range of seafood kebabs.IMG_6159_FotorBeef cooked on a slab of stone.

Balmuri Falls, Karnataka

Balmuri Falls is located on a portion of the Cauvery river that flows wide over a rocky bed in Karnataka near Mysore. This spot is less than a 150 km drive from Bangalore. It is not really a waterfall, but a long wall that was built in order to slow down the flow of water so that the numerous irrigation canals emanating from this spot can get a constant supply of water. When this dam is full water overflows in a neat long cascade resulting in the ‘falls’.

This was our first stop.

IMG_0646_FotorAs this spot turned out to be over crowded we decided to head up river and find a more secluded spot but before we headed on we decided to jump into the dam first.

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We then found the perfect spot less than a kilometer away where we had all the privacy we wanted…

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After playing around, hanging from some branches and watching the sunset we headed back to Bangalore. It was the perfect day trip 😀

 

A day by the river

As the sun began to rise we slowly started to notice how beautiful this location was. With each passing minute my heart slowed down. I had reached a state of tranquility. I never thought we would be able to find such secluded place in a country with over a billion people. A place with no one to judge you and no one to restrict you. A place where I could be myself. Every hour or so we moved down the river to a different set of boulders. Each location had its own charm. We climbed onto as many boulders as we could. Once we were up there if we ever needed a change of scenery all we had to do was turn around. As the sun rose higher in the sky we found a sparrows nest. Surrounded by over a 100 sparrows I sat in awe. Not once did I feel like I did not belong. Looking up I realised it was almost noon. We had lost track of time. None of us wanted to leave but we needed to eat. After a quick lunch break we decided to go back. It was impossible to stay away. This time I decided to take my kitten (Chips) along. With a few bottles of beer and lots of water we returned. Chips was so amused everything. She climbed through every nook and cranny I allowed her to. We sat on the boulders together listening to music and taking in the scenery. I wished this day would never end.      We remained there till the sun set and decided to head back before it got too dark. I could not have asked for a better day. I felt fulfilled. Cant wait to go back…

10600km around India – Week 5 Part 2 – Kaas Valley, Maharashtra

Our last stop before heading back to Bangalore was at Kaas Valley, located near Satara, Maharashtra. ImageImageImageImageImage

32 days later we were finally home. I can’t wait to do this trip again!

10600km around India – Week 5 Part 1 – Rajasthan

After a good nights rest we headed on to Jaipur, Rajasthan. Our first stop was at the Jal Mahal (meaning water palace)-

Image We then continued on to Amer Fort. We had intended on staying here for just a couple of hours but once inside we lost track of time.

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The view of Maota Lake and Garden from Amer Fort.

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We then visited a weaving center near by and got to see the artisans at work. As evening approached we wandered back into the city just to find ourselves in the middle of a large procession on elephants, camels and horses…

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This state has so much to offer. Cant wait to go back…