Life through pinhole

My journey through life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chennai... Mahabalipuram... Pondicherry

I know that many of you may not like the idea to go to Chennai and have a blast over some long weekend.
I am writing about our Chennai trip (Aug 2004) after around 3-4 years. Now i don't have complete records for this trip. So it is important to have everything documented :) ok enough of policy "Gyan".
I guess it was month of August. Kudos... it was 4-6 sep 2004. Thanks to digital photographs from Anand. I had recently joined ST Microelectronics in Bangalore. All know bachelor's life :) The life was very cool i must say. we used to find some new places around Bengaluru to explore on weekends. sometimes new hotel for having breakfast / lunch / dinner. And then for that we had to do some homework :) yes, reading reviews about places. shortlisting and then preparation and planning.

So on one such weekend i don't know how this thought came to my mind that I should visit Chennai. i went ahead and did booking for the bus to Chennai through some agent (i think SM travels?) on airport road. just for myself! i don't mind going to any place alone to enjoy its beauty:) then i called Anand and asked him whether he would be interested for Chennai tour. he was reluctant saying it might be very hot over there. i said come on, lets go.... he agreed. he also loves traveling. we had many such trips i will write about those in coming days. :) i went back to the travel agent and had one more booking done.

Ok... here i must tell you an interesting thing about Bangalore shop boards. here are some examples:
Yes Bee tailors, Kay Em travels.
The founder of the English alphabets must be banging his/her head after seeing such things. Why do they want to waste so much of paint :)

Surprisingly the movie in the journey was a Dharmendra movie Ghazab (don't ask me whether the spelling is correct or not, taken from Google). I saw it... The road it really nice and must have been recently constructed.

We reached Chennai around 5:30 - 6:00 in the morning. to our luck, it was cloudy and pleasant :) what more do you wish after a reaching your destination.

the bus dropped us in some junction. i don't remember it. anyway we went to a 'chai tapari' in that junction. had a nice hot tea and refreshed ourselves.
now the task at our hand was to search for a place to stay. some hotel or a lodge. we searched by walking in nearby areas and sometime by auto :) we even tried for a hostel, but no luck. finally we reached to Adyar layout (i think somebody suggested us to go there). the hotel was also named Adyar :) we booked a room over there. need to take a shower now. not exactly a shower :) we asked for some hot water and we got it. good ;)
during the bath i realised that my hair have become rough. second sign of chennai ;) hard water. first one is humidity :)

That days evening we went to Chennai's nice and clean beach (isn't it?) Elliot's Beach. This is really near a nice posh residential area, Besant Nagar. So we enjoyed some sea water. i tried to swim :) You just can't beat the sea anyway. waves were pushing me down to the sea-bed. it was a nice experience. our belongings were on the bank which included my analog Nikon N65 SLR. so i was worried. and not going much deeper in the water.
it was a nice sun set... we took some snaps. the funny thing was the small crabs which kept coming out of their small nests (holes) and walked sideways. i was ready with my SLR pointed to their holes and started picking them when they peeked through them. let me check if i have some photo... will update it here after scanning.

Who could have thought about Psunami here just after few months from our visit. It was really sad :( very sad... myriads might have lost their shelter and .....
Were we lucky? or those who lost something over there unlucky?

so lets plan our trip now. our main targets were:
1) mahabalipuram (later we realised that its called MamallaPuram)
2) Pondicherry
need to search for some transport.

We decided to go by bus to Pondi. there are frequent buses to Pondi. after enquiring with some locals we went to a bus stop. from there we got a bus. we reached Pondi around afternoon.

This was a french colony earlier so you can see the French traces here. some of the boards on the roads still have directions/information written in french.

This is a place to relax. even the tourism department had advertised in the same way. the ads on the way to Pondicherry were very nice and creative. something like "this is a place where time stops".

we directly went to the beach. well actually its not a beach. i think its Mahatma Gandhi road. there is a government office bulding just opposite to the sea shore. Lucky people :) so i was jealous of them for their sea view working place.

the police has a different uniform here. Anand has taken a photo, check this. thanks Anand! he very well know which photo to take and by which angel :)
Gandhi statue gandhiji is standing right up there on a pedestal near the rough and rocky Pondicherry beach.

we have shot sea-waves, fishermen and horizon.
It was a little cloudy weather. We ate something in the hotel near the MG road. it was ok. i guess juice and some chat.
Then i called home to my brother and mother.

Arobindo Ashram:
nothing much here except peace, calmness :) for some its more than enough. nobody does chit-chat here. everybody is silent. the atmosphere here is serene.
While returning we again took a bus from main bus stand. You can actually explore pondicherry by walking (if you have enough time). We couldn't go to Auroville. Supposed to be best for architecture. Some day.....
Return journey was rainy and now we realized that the wind sheild is just a thick leather like material (not a glass one) which you can unfold when needed. In this rain its not helping much to avoid the water and wind gushing towards us :) very funny. we were somewhat wet :D

We are back to our base camp, Chennai, again after our day's travel.

Next day, next target. We booked a taxi from Chennai for Mahabalipuram. We did some bargain. So that we can enjoy the route. And it was a good decision.
route to Mahabalipuram from chennai can be termed as "scenic route" :) well you see the Bay of bengal on your left side and the road itself is called East Coast Road. Buses are named as ECR. the beaches are plenty on this route. you just need to take a little deviation go to your left and you hit the beach.

There is a nice crocodile park on the way to Mahabalipuram. we couldn't stop here, rather we didn't know and we didn't have any plan for this. we had to go to Pondicherry.

This is the sculpture which we have been seeing in our history text books in secondary school. And now i guess its in world heritage list. Proud to be Indian!
Don't forget the butter ball. :)

Sea-shore temple:
I don't remember what this temple. This is also a nice temple nearest to beach. you come out of the temple and the "Athang Sagar" (vast sea) welcomes you! As if eager to hug you. every wave is a different one... looks different. so i have shot many pics of the waves here. people were enjoying the waves and playing in water. there were some horse rides. i have taken some nice snaps here. need to scan them. you won't believe i have a shelf full of photo albums. most of them are from birding trips around Bangalore.

While coming back we saw a boating rides at the backwaters. we took a ride there. :) There were resorts offering water sports also. and there were quite a few of them.
It really feels nice to drive "among water"... you have sea on one side and backwater on other side of this East Coast Road. Wow... Imagine a sunrise / sunset here. Amazing :D

and i think this is our last day at the Chennai. No i want to call it Madras at least once in my blog. :) Marina Beach is like a "Jatraa" / Habba / Festival. There are so many people around in the evening, many a stalls, hawkers. Crowd always has its own mindset, gusto. and we enjoyed it. We saw the MGR memorial.

So we wished Chennai a "Good Bye" and started our journey back to Bengaluru!

(Some of the photos are from Anand's camera)

Do visit Chennai once :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kokare Bellur

16 Nov 2008
It was Sunday morning and i was just going through newspaper. had thought in my mind that i have to go out somewhere today...i saw a picture of Painted storks giving signs of winter visitors :) It was a nice thing... Suddenly i decided to go to Kokare Bellur. it was around 9 in the morning. need to hurry up... should have started quite early in morning... but this was a last minute plan.
It wasn't that i was going to Kokkare Bellur for first time. Me and Anand had been there quite some time back when we used to go for Bird Watching every weekend. I need to get back that thing. :) hahahaha

Okie.. im ready. shall i take the water bottle or anything to eat... nya.... don't increase the luggage :) what about breakfast. no... no.... and this will also be a chance to eat Tatte Idli at Bidadi :) I generally don't miss this while on Mysore road. the cook also didn't come today.

it looked to be a cool morning as it rained earlier night. so i was happy that i don't have to tan myself. warmth in the air. i would have loved it more had it been utterly chilled morning :) afterall winter has started.

My bike's odometer reading was 35904... (i hadn't read it till i hit the inner ring road). henceforth i will keep showing you the last 2 digits from the odometer. this can be helpful for first time Kokkare Bellur tourists.

04 started from home in new thippasandra,
i knew that i had whole of today to enjoy myself, so i can travel at leisurely pace enjoying everything. which route to take. i have to go to KR market flyover... hmm then lets go to Richmond Road. I like this kind of roads in Bangalore... with less traffic. folks at Bangalore pls sleep for some more time till i hit the mysore road ;)

12 reached richmond circle,
So this is richmond road... now go straight towards the Hudson Circle, Unity Buildings and here comes the flyover...

17 it was end of KR market flyover,
This one is very nice. "Unche Log Unchi Pasand". (I like the double quotes than single quotes) On this flyover you feel as if you are driving in the air. ohh see on your right... thats the KR Market. I had come her with Chetan for buying flowers. you come early morning and you get very nice flowers of all type at very low prices. imagine the orchid 5-6 stems at 30 rupees. And thats a nice Masjid.

I couldn't take photos while driving. it would have given a nice photo-travelogue. i wanted to reach to my destination first. as if i was eager to welcome those winter visitors.

Hmmm it seems RajRajeshwari temple is undergoing some renovation. checkout on your left. Now you are actually on Mysore road. And on your left is the world famour "Mysore road Nile River". it has provided a sound ecology for my fishes (are they dead yet?), black kite (remember the Pirates of Caribbean... they look like so). Are you feeling like doing white water rafting? Please don't.

Ohh wow Govt of Karnataka has done a great job of putting our fabourite site (Kokkare Bellur) on milestone. a photo of this board would ad life to my blog... (next time).

wroom....wroom...wroom enjoy folks.
Smokey ... Somebody stop me.

46 Bidadi,
be on your right.... breakfast time Tatte Idli, Wada and Chai :) wonly 28. somehow im feeling that its not the same quality which i ate about 2 years back when i had gone for Rock climbing in Ramnagaram.

This city / village has a history about its name. will tell you some day.
Aren't you feeling like ..."Yeh banda bahut pakayega". Don't worry now you can't escape. ;)

64 Kaveri fishing camp left deviation,
Wow nice .... i should take a deviation here. Alas.....

69.6 Kanva reservoir right deviation (8km)
remember folks we had been here. samazane wale ko ishara kafi hai. its a nice place. please do take time out and visit it once. very calm. serene ... Please don't disturb it.
And the temple. My friend, Sandeep, told me that people going on trip on this road always visit this temple.

77 Channapatna,
Wooden toys anybody. twenty rupees... twenty rupees... twenty rupees...
No. its me making the noise. May be next time i can buy so many good toys.

91.5 (pls don't raise the eyebrows for decimal point) left deviation my my destination Kokare Bellur,
our destination is around the corner.... nice Kachcha road (mud road). its not completely tar road. but its okay.
lift please .... woke.. hop on. Yen hesaru? Asok. Asok got down at some village on the way.
wait whats that.... hmm rose ringed parakeet. shhhh.... let me take out my camera..... pls don't fly. oops ... it has gone inside the branches. move on...
wait.... shhhh. there is something. wow... it blue faced malkoha. my first ever sighting.
click ... click ... click ...
There is a drongo also. Check the list at the end.

97 right turn for Kokare Bellur,
well this is also a small cement milestone telling you take right turn for Kokkare Bellur. The path now will be very nice as you can see a tank bund on your left. Yup thats a big lake... on your right are lush green paddy fields.
Last time when we came here we saw blue tailed bee eater. This time also they were waiting for the birdwatcher on the same trees. having a glimpse of them i moved on...

i had crossed 36000 km reading for my bike Yooo......
celebrations !!!

05 Rendzevous Kokare Bellur
ok i am here.... its about 12 now. but i am not yet feeling hungry.
this is the main circle of the village. and you can see now the pelicans on the big tamarind tree on the right side of the road.
i went to the main road of the village (left turn). i couldn't see the boy who was selling tender coconut last time. but his shop was still there i guess. it was closed.
there were no painted storks... where are they. im i late for the season?
lets find the place where we spent more time picturing the storks and pelicans... i took a right turn from the main road and went straight inside. i couldn't see the place i was searching for. There was this elderly man sitting on the dirt road taking some rest after a day's work. i took 2 pictures of him without his knowledge. :) His name is ChikkaThimmayya, a local farmer. Check him out.

Then 2 other men came on cycles. we had a chat. one of the man had his son working in Bangalore.
They told me that this is not yet the peak season. they asked me to come in January. i have to come back here to witness the moment when the whole village will be having more population of birds than the villagers. and i would love doing that :)

Here they come....
the pelicans were taking flights over me high up in the sky. its nice to watch them fly in circles. and move up. i was taking their photos. i need to improve me photography skills. :(

Then i parked my bike below a tree and started roaming in the village for photographing the birds. You can see the pelicans everywhere. they were making noises by their long beaks. villagers don't get annoyed by that and they help the birds in some way.

i need to move on. i thought of exploring more on the other side of the main road in the village. but there were not many birds.
But, yes, there is a pond just beside the road. i think this will provide me a nice ecology for shooting and watching. its a small pond. there are some baya weaver's nest on the other end of the pond.

"baby you gonna move your body high ...." that's my sweet heart calling... some sweet chat. ;)

there was a green bee eater and king fisher who were having a competition to catch their prey faster.

wait.... there is something moving. Ab aayega maja. yup, you guessed it right. the snake. may be it was a bronze or checkered keelback. (Note: Yes, it is confirmed from an expert - Adesh Shivkar - that it is a checkered keelback)

Then i took photos of some dragonflies. Some more pics:

Then I started return journey. It was quite hot afternoon...
I stopped at the same place where i saw blue faced malkoha. and he was there :) This time there was an eurasian golden oriole.

While returning i met Vyankatesh, a local farmer. Who has around 4 acres of land. and he has Bananas and Raagi (i guess) in it :) It was a harvest time. He explained me how to ripen the raw bananas. This is yellakki banana. it tastes so sweet. i like it.

Check this Raagi cleaning. In marathi we call it Ufanani. Natural way of removing the chaff:
I thought of buying the fresh Raagi there itself :)

So here is the birdlist for the day:
Blue faced malkoha (bird of the day),
black drongo,
house sparrow,
house crow,
jungle crow,
wire tailed swallow,
blue tailed bee eater,
small green bee eater,
little cormorant,
Common coot,
Red whiskered bulbul,
Common Myna,
Rose ringed parakeet,
Keelback snake?
Eurasian Golden Oriole,
Spot billed pelican,
black ibis,
black kite,
brahmini kite,
cattle egret,
medium egret,
indian roller,
Indian robin,
while returning black shouldered kite,
white breasted kingfisher,
purple rumped sunbird,
red vented bulbul,
un id tern?,
pond heron,
red wattled lapwing,
spotted dove,
blue rock pigeon,
ashy prinia,

I was feeling too much hungry while returning to stopped at Kamath Lokaruchi. So what do you have in the menu... Okay bring Raagi masala dosa. It tasted very nice and it didn't have much of the butter/oil which we generally get in any *.Sagar kind of hotel.
Some more to eat.
Now i am full :)

I gave lift to Sudarshan who works for Kamath hotels. He is a nice, simple guy.
I have to do some shopping in Jaya Nagar Shopping complex area. I reached back around 6pm to home.

that's all folks...
See you next time with some more trips.

Till then good bye!
Keep travelling.... safe journey!