Thursday, October 30, 2008

Weekend @ Kabini...

There are times in life when there are lots of tasks to be attended and heart in heart one feels, that one needs a break to get perked up again. This is exactly what happened to me, when in the midst of lot of activities, I had the opportunity to visit Kabini and spend a day there in the Jungle Lodges and Resort.

Jungle Lodges Kabini

Kabini is a river in Karnataka that passes through a picturesque terrain before joining the Kaveri near Mysore. The Kabini Jungle Lodges and Resort (KJLR) has been rated among the top five wildlife resorts in the world by Tatler's way back in 1995 but I am not sure if it still retains that ranking today.


Situated at a distance of 220 kilometers from Bangalore, a drive to reach this place in five to six hours by road is the most preferred option for most of the visitors. More so this place is close to the Nagarhole Wildlife Sanctuary, Wayanadu Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park and the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, parts of which are visible during the river ride inside the jungle.

We reached KJLR by 2:00 in the afternoon. At the reception we were apprised about the rules and regulations of the resort and some simple guidelines to follow during our stay for a day there. The KJLR has colonial style architecture and can accommodate around 50 people, so advance booking for this place during the peak season is must. There are around 14 colonial style double rooms with modern amenities, 10 twin-bedded cottages and 6 tented cottages.

Tent @ Jungle Lodges

The accommodation is very comforting and satisfying but for those people who are used to TV and air conditioners, sorry, one won't get either of the two at KJLR. Personally I too feel that its incongruous and such luxuries shouldn’t find place in a jungle resort. It's a complete eco-friendly resort and noise of any form be it load music or partying late night is strictly prohibited here.

My cottage

Food during lunch, breakfast and dinner is served in buffet style in the common dining area called the Ghol Ghar that overlooks River Kabini. I really enjoyed the food, that I had here, which mainly comprised of Indian dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Even breakfast was filling and there was a rich variety such as bread, omelette, fruit juice, dosa, idli, vaada, upma, etc along with the regular entremetses.

Leave the food part, let's get into the real action now. The first day after lunch, we took some rest in the hammocks before we started for our wildlife safari at 4:00 P.M. in the evening. The initial half an hour drive of our safari was through a small village, which is situated on the periphery of the forest. Once we entered the heart of the forest, our guide, a naturalist instructed us to be as silent as possible. So all that one could hear was the sound of engine and the tyres ruckling down the jungle road. The undefiled smell of the forest was all around us. As we drove in the open jeep, we could feel the crisp evening wind on our faces, something similar to the cool effect one gets on having a mouth freshener.

Since that day was cloudy and there were early signs of rain, spotting elephants was out of question. Suddenly our vehicle came to a jerky stop because our guide had spotted a leopard camouflaged in the branches of a tree about 200 meters from the road.


We saw lots of wild dogs, bisons, sambhars, crested hawk eagles and herds of spotted deers. Our guide told us that a pack of seven or eight wild dogs can shoot down a tiger in few seconds, even though these creatures appear to be so harmless.

Jungle Dog

The best part of the safari was when we were about to return, it started raining cats and dogs. The rain drops were striking us like tiny boulders with great force. We were in the middle of the jungle, and it was twilight by now, and because of the rain, there was practically no visibility. Since I was in an open jeep, I wanted to enjoy the rain, but before doing so made sure that my camera was safe in my kitbag.

That day at night, had a wholesome dinner and spent some time with my friends before hitting the bed. Early morning, I woke up by 5:00 A.M. and was able to capture the nature in its true colors. I didn’t use any filters or any post-processing for this photograph. It was taken just like any other snap, and the end result was this.


At 8:00 A.M. we started for our 3 hour boat ride and it offered to me the perfect setting for taking some landscape shots while on the boat.


I spotted some birds in the middle of the river, right in the bowels of the jungle.

Made for Each Other

Our guide gave us tons of information anytime we spotted a new bird. We had even spotted a crocodile very near to this congregation of tree trunks egressing from the surface of the water like forks. But probably, it was the sound of the motor engine, that disturbed the crocodile and it disappeared inside the colored water like a shot.


The journey was refreshing and all, I could see around was water, lush greenery and some birds chirping in the air. At that moment our boat rider, diverted our vessel and paved our way towards a bamboo jungle adjacent to the river bed, where tigers come to have water at night. We even saw the carcass of a spotted deer that was killed by a tiger, the previous day night.


I didn't realize how time passed and we were back to the resort after an unforgettable river ride.

For those of you who want to pamper themselves with a traditional massage, the KJLR has facilities for an Ayurvedic massage center, run by a family from Kerala. I went there and checked the prices and those were very decent. By this time, it was 12:00 P.M. in the noon and the custodians of the resort informed us that it was time to check out because the cleaning has to be done before another gang of visitors come by 2:00 P.M. in the afternoon.

Ayurvedic Center @ Kabini

If someone asks me, Kabini is a good weekend getaway for nature lovers and KJLR is a perfect place to stay in cottages in sylvan surroundings. The rates are not very high too, considering that it includes food, stay, jungle safari and river ride.

Complete album is here.

Warning: The carcass pic may be disturbing for few readers.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diwali Wishes...


May this festival of lights, light up your life.
May the glow of the divas usher in good times for you and your family.
Live upto your dreams and keep moving...

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Diwali.

More about Diwali here.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Click Maadi...

They all line up, from the eldest to the youngest for the breakfast served in a buffet format in a resort. I was standing at one corner and could see some perfect frames in my viewfinder. Just then I could feel someone pulling my t-shirt.

'Hurry up, Dhruv. Have your breakfast soon' a mid aged lady's voice says.

'Mama is calling, but can you take a nice pic of myself and my brother, Dhruv', the individual who had pulled my t-shirt says this.

I turn back and see, Shruti.

The brother and sister, immediately link arms and the sister who is elder between the two hugs his brother. I took a picture and immediately both the kids, unlink and rush to see how both of them appear in the photograph.

Shruti says, 'See, I am looking nice' but Dhruv see you have something on your face.


Post 2000, was the period when the online social networks, the nets of relationship that grow using high-tech socially engineered websites took the world by storm. Starting from Orkut, to Linkedin to Flickr to MySpace to Facebook, each of these sites serve a purpose, but stands unfaltering on the concept of networking. In each of these cases, the webs grow from conversations among people who share common interests, yet who differ in other ways such as living halfway across other side of the globe. All this is fine.

I don't know and even some may even laugh at it but I consider a camera, a tool of networking aside from its exclusive purpose of capturing and storing experiences, panoramas, cycloramas, etc. I met Shruti and Dhruv through my camera and till date have met many others within India and abroad through the small window of my viewfinder. There is always the lure of the unknown, something new.

The pic below is one of a Panditji, whom I had met in a solitary and unfrequented temple on a hill, where the mobile signals fail and there is no internet connection. It was pretty dull and foggy that day and this person, came forward and told me if I could take a snap of his.


My reply, sure, why not. After I took the picture, Panditji, saw his image on the view finder, and was impressed. He rushed inside the temple and came out with a small chit of paper, in which he had written the address of the temple, of which he is the owner and the steward. He asked me if I could send him a hard copy of his photograph.

Similarly, sometime back I had mentioned about an incident, when I was offered a yard long dosa for free.

(Note: The gentleman who prepared the foot-long dosa that you see in the pic, didn't charge me a single penny because he liked the pic that I took for him. I requested him and told him that this was not fair as he deserved his due, but he smiled and asked if he could meddle with my camera for a while. So this post is for that humble soul.)

So what are you waiting for, start clicking pictures. It may be your style of social networking and who knows, you can come with a new big bang idea that challenges Mark Zuckerberg dude.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Want to be a part of it? M.I.L.K. ....

Yesterday, while reading on the internet, I read about a contest that would excite many people who often wish to capture the best moments of life and otherwise in their lenses.

The contest titled M.I.L.K.(Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship) is open to any photographer and that’s the best part of it.

To give a small background about this contest, it goes like this. In 1999, British publisher Hodder Headline (now Hachette Livre) held a global photographic competition called M.I.L.K., inspired by the 1950s landmark photographic exhibition, 'The Family of Man'. The main motive behind this event was to offer an open platform for photographers and search for unique and geographically diverse images on the themes of friendship, family and love.

The results were praise worthy as it turned out to be not only one of the richest photographic collections in history, but also one of the most significant, drawing participation from 17,000 professional and amateur photographers in 164 countries. In total over 40,000 images were received by M.I.L.K., including at least four Pulitzer Prize winners. The 300 winning images were chosen by the Chief Judge, Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt, and were the basis for three books entitled Family, Friendship and Love and an international touring exhibition launched at New York's Grand Central Terminal in 2001.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original M.I.L.K. competition, M.I.L.K. Licensing (now a subsidiary of PQ Blackwell), again in association with Elliott Erwitt, is conducting a new competition, this year. It is based on the on the themes of friends, families, lovers and laughter to create a new collection of 150 images from across the world.

The photographers would be judged on the basis of these simple requirements.

• The Images that celebrate friendship, family and love.
• Images that tell stories and convey real emotion.
• Images that evoke a humorous response.
• Technical quality.

The contest is open till the 31st Dec'08. Ah ha that's a long way to go. And with the season of festivities and togetherness just starting, think Dusshera, think Diwali, think Thanksgiving, think Christmas, the canvas is just open to paint each one's own composition on the themes that celebrate friendship, family and love.

The contest offers $125,000 as prize money, with the winner getting $50,000 as cash prize. In the end the top 150 pictures would be included in the coming up publication of 'Fresh M.I.L.K.: Friends, Families, Lovers & Laugher', which is scheduled to be printed in autumn 2009. All featured photographers will retain copyright on their images in exchange for granting M.I.L.K. a non-exclusive license.

For more information, regarding how/where to submit the images online, FAQs and other details check the site here.


Does this pic, celebrate friendship, family and love? You decide. But let me try out some other compositions using my frames for this contest and wish you do too. All the best.

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(This pic was taken when the mother had left the puppies for a while in search of some food and I made sure to click this without disturbing their natural moods.)

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Friday, October 03, 2008


It was long since, I last went to Nandi Hills, one of the most tranquil locations, situated about 60 kms. from Bangalore city. Since Oct'2nd was going to be a leave from work, some of my friends who are die-hard shutterbugs had planned for a visit to this place, early in the morning. One of my friends, Sd took the initiative of driving four others, to this place by 4AM. For Sd, this is not something new, when he was in the US for his post graduation about ten years ago, he used to drive all the desis to the University from the airport, when they came to the campus for the first time. Even though Sd today manages his own industrial establishment and is a proud father of two kids, the long drive bug is still ingrained in his blood. That's why people say, old habits can't die the easy way.

Nandi Bull

We were all fortunate that the weather was just the way as we had anticipated. Dense fog embraced the entire atmosphere and there was absolutely zero visibility. Clouds were swimming past our vehicle as we ascended the terrain, gazing the tips of the trees. The wild flowers and the leaves had flexed under the weight of the water droplets. It was as if, the elements of the nature had just returned from a 'sauna' bath.

The term 'sauna' bath reminds me of my days in the Finnish city of Helsinki, where I used to stay in a place just by the side of a lake in Espoo. To the best of my knowledge, the concept of 'sauna' bath has its roots in Finnish culture. I used to walk across the woods daily in the midst of fog, murkiness in the air to reach my work destination. I had voluntarily, declined to the car that was offered to me, so that I could walk thorough the woods.

No more digression and lets get back to Nandi Hills.

And the structure remains....

The beauty of going to this place early morning is that, one can expect the unexpected role-plays that nature can perform. At one point, the clouds were just above us, thinning and thickening, providing a shifting mysterious view of the landscape. Trust me there were moments when the camera lens was set for a shot but then the clouds, traveled and the entire composition was distorted.


And then hardly, we had crossed 200 meters and the time gap would be about 20 minutes that we got to see first rays of the sun kissing the macrocosm. This is what is called 'equality', equal distribution of rays to one and all, birds, animals, human beings, and come to think of it, anything and everything.

Ah ha...fresh rays

Don't you think that these days, in our day-to-day lives, confidence and optimism have given way to fear, uncertainty and gloom? Am, I making a confused and an empty statement here?

Let's take the example of how the global financial market was severely wounded in the last ten days. Just as these two individuals are gulped by the clouds and their presence from the perspective of visibility is one of blurred outlines, similarly Wall Street giants such as Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and few others got lost in the financial market haze.

Lost in the clouds

I promised that I won't digress from the topic but I did....... and agree, agree, agree that's my bad.

One sincere request to all the visitors to Nandi Hills. Keep this place neat and clean and don't make a mess out of beer bottles, plastic bottles and polythene bags. Isn't it nice that when you reach there, you can literally feel few words through the human senses: freshness, unflappability, zero-pollution (both noise and environment), tranquility and ................. pressing click-click button for the next photograph?


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(All the pics were shot between 5 A.M. and 7 A.M.)

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