Thursday, January 26, 2012

Multnomah Falls - Portland

I don't know how I missed publishing some of these pictures I took probably an year back during my trip to US during the Fall. Two things I regret before I publish my pics are these pics can never make justification for the beauty of the place as I was not even aware of how to use my SLR properly and the second it kept raining most of the time and with low lighting pics were not the kind I wanted.

It was around half an hour drive from my hotel, I remember it was a lousy day started raining right from the morning but it was even more depressing to sit in room watching TV. Also it gets really cold during these seasons and with having just one jacket during the trip it would be worse to get it wet in rain and suffer at least 2-3 days going out or to office.

I picked up Deepak and Karthik headed towards Multnomah falls after our breakfast the drive along the river was amazing but unlike India I really missed stopping my car at all the places I wanted to. Some of these roads on the mountains were kind of 2 lanes and we are not suppose to stop cars at non designated areas. But the forest area during the fall was filled with vibrant colors and the cool form of purest oxygen entering your lungs can only experienced rather than expressed over a blog.

There was a hiking trail till the top of the water fall, it was still continuing into the forest but as it started drizzling we didn't take the risk of getting ourselves drenched in the cold weather. But it was surprising to see, from above it is just a small stream inside a forest but when it falls down it does look spectacular. 

If ever I get opportunity to travel again during Fall I promise to get some better pictures to give you a feel of the beauty surrounding this place.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Bandipur - Madumalai

Like every year I had shutdown break from office during the last week of December. I thought of taking a break and spend some time relaxing at home rather than travelling, which is hardly the case with me when I am holidaying. Also after a couple of trips during the last week of December I don't feel good travelling,with tourists flooding to almost all places and spoiling the beauty by not being sensible enough, and also it's very expensive.  I did however spend some time exploring some places around Mysore.

I wanted to do some birding and also some photography early morning at Himavad Gopalswamy betta and started around 5am from Mysore not knowing that now the entry at the check post is restricted between 8:30am to 4:30pm only. What a waste, I felt the beauty of this place can only be enjoyed either early in the morning or in the evening. Only reason for this restriction I could think off was the temple attracts lots of people and this temple being inside the protected area there is a high possibility of human - animal face off. Also since this comes under elephant corridor with large herds of elephants being observed consistently.
Being so early to the spot I didn't wanted to waste my time till 8:30 and started driving towards Bandipur national park giving Himavad Gopalswamy betta a miss. I was there at Bandipur national park at around 7:45. Cost per head is Rs300 for a safari. You can also contact the forest office in Mysore if you want to stay here.

After being to so many safaris across different places, going for a safari in this government vehicle which is in fact a  bus is not worth especially if you are interested in photography. Reason I can think of is you will not find a passionate crowd who respect and understand where they are and what is expected out of them. I think it was inefficiency also from the forest department team not to educate the crowd of what is expected once inside the forest before the safari starts. Rather than a safari trying to hear the warning calls or calls of birds this was just a bumpy ride for an hour with idiotic people passing stupid comments sitting next to you. I felt even though jungle lodges are very expensive at least the safari's are worth.

After wasting my money on the safari, I started driving towards Ooty. I felt after Bandipur area, which extends to Madumalai forest from where Tamilnadu starts they have created nice buffer zones so that you might be lucky to watch wildlife while driving on road. Even though I enjoyed the drive till Ooty a lot, I would say Ooty was very disappointing. Probably one of the worst tourist place I have visited for a long long time. Was totally over crowded, very badly maintained with plastics and garbage every where. The thought just came to my mind that such a beautiful place how it would have been maintained if it was outside India. However there might be some resorts or home stays which might be exception, but then downtown a definite no.

I took a different route which is a bit far but then lot more scenic while returning back. Got to drive around lots of tea estates and also lots of Nilgiri plantations. It was perfect drive which I enjoyed the most. Spent lots of time driving around Madumalai and also Bandipur. Of all odds was hoping for a luck, so that I get to see a tiger cross the road, but even after spending the entire evening my luck ran out. The evening lighting was perfect for photo shooting as well. However like always was very disappointing with the way people behave inside a national park. Things I observed and which was very irritating was 
a) Driving at high speeds inside the national park
b) Honking badly even when they see some animals around and scare them out.
c) Getting down from vehicle to photograph wild animals like elephants
d) Using flash in their camera while photographing wild animals
e) Throwing garbage/plastics out of their vehicles inside the protected area
f) Feeding wild animals like langoors/monkeys
g) Getting down from vehicle and having a family picnic by having food and throwing out the waste inside the forest.

I find lots of boards from forest department warning about these above mentioned points probably we need lot more stricter enforcement. 

Contact Details: If you are interested in staying in Bandipur at Government guest house contact
The Chief Conservator of Forests
Project Tiger
Aranya Bhavan, Ahokapuram
Mysore - 570008
ph: 0821 - 2480902
Room rent is around 1000 to 1500Rs for Indian nationals. They also have Dormitory for 10 and 20 beds with Rs750 and Rs1500 respectively.