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Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur

Also known as Keoladeo Bird Park, this bird haven is located in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district. Spread over an area of 28.73 km²...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tourism destroyed the place- Dalhousie diaries

My first trip to Dalhousie in April 2014 had left me enthralled and excited about Himachal Pradesh. The natural unspoiled beauty and pleasant weather made me fall in love with the place and planted a thought in my head about exploring it more. And there after much convincing and complaining from husband who had never been to Dalhousie, I agreed to visit the place again in 2018.

While the valley was snow covered back then in 2014, it was dry and warm in 2018. Effects of global warming surely! The locals told us about scanty snow fall this year, that too in late December. We had packed woolens but could wear none, owing to high temperature and absence of snow. More resorts, hotels and guest houses have mushroomed, and the hills have lost more green cover. Coming years Dalhousie might bear a deserted brown look.


Upon entering Khajjiar, it seemed we entered a gas chamber. The narrow roads smelled of diesel and petrol. Well, since there are no buses plying on the roads, tourists depend on taxi/personal vehicles hence causing more pollution. We cannot blame anybody else but our own. The good part was the pasture land looked the same. The tall pine trees and green patch of land were of much respite. Husband was disappointed to see no sheep grazing around. He had high expectations from Khajjiar as from what he had seen in my pictures from 2104. Better luck next time hubby.

How to reach Khajjiar- Khajjiar is 22 km from Dalhousie bus terminal. Hire a cab or rent a bike. The main attraction is the pasture land with a little pond in the centre, few eating joints at one corner, an ancient temple and activities like paragliding/ horse riding. The Govt. Guest House is not easily available for booking. Recommended to make your stay arrangements in Dalhousie or in a resort midway of Dalhousie-Khajjiar route.


This was my visit to Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, as I was totally fascinated by the beauty of the place from the Bollywood flick Lootera. The quiet vicinity of the protected forest is known for the thick green expanse and tranquillity. The thought of capturing Himalayan birds and fauna through lenses was the motivation for hubby’s visit. As the taxi wheeled in through the narrow roads of the sun kissed yellow and luscious green hilly slopes, there popped out the glazing green beer bottles, plastic wrappers and soft drink bottles. We seethed in anger but kept quiet.

The main premises of the sanctuary houses the forest guest house where Lootera was filmed. It is breathtaking and is a perfect writer’s retreat. The main guest house is surrounded by private guest houses and eating joints. More the population, more the pollution. Needless to mention, the number of tress were chopped to build those hotels and restaurants. The place was supposed to calm us but we could not turn a blind eye to the disasters there.

How to reach Kalatop-
Kalatop is 8.5 km from Dalhousie and XX km from Dainkund.You can visit both the places (Sancuary and Dainkund) in one day. If you plan to stay in Kalatop, make your booking in advance. Since the Forest Rest House is rarely available, you can settle with other resorts in the same vicinity. Oh by the way, we tried looking for the tree we saw in movie Lootera. The locals surprised us with the fact that the tree on screen was artificial, especially made to order for the movie.


Dainkund was equally disappointing. Plastic waste is a huge turn off for us and we lose our focus on enjoying the trip. We start collecting the waste, going off the track and cursing those who litter.  When will public be civilized or get mature enough? Plus our authorities has no efficient way of safe garbage disposal.  Anyway, next came the weather. While in 2014 I had witnessed heavy snowfall, 2018 was warm, dry and no snow.

                                               Snow covered Dainkund in 2014

Same time of the year in 2018
To add to the misery was my knee injury which restrained me from hiking up the peak. Hubby enjoyed the hike alone, taking pictures wherever he could and soaking in the sun. As God answered his prayers, he spotted some snow in a secluded spot. Ofcourse he was happy and the hike seemed worth to him. Small joys to concrete jungle dwellers you see :) (I hail from Uttarakhand and not Delhi, so don’t get me wrong). While returning to the base, we resumed collecting plastic waste on the way. Once a conscious citizen, always a conscious citizen I guess.

How to reach Dainkund- Merely 12 km from Dalhouse is the Dainkund peak which has an Airforce base station and is on vigilance all the time. The 2km uphill trek is easy. Advised to wear flats or sports shoes. Heels would not work here. You are required to park your vehicles at the dedicated spot and walk up to the entrance of the trek gate which is less than 500 meters. In case you have senior citizens with you or those with joint pain/injury do not go up there.

The market places, Subhash Chowk and Gandhi Chowk, are polluted like any metro city. It feels disgusting to see what humans have done to the planet. The smoke choke and plastic dump are examples of sheer ignorance/recklessness that will lead to disaster. Thankfully vehicles are not allowed inside the narrow lanes of the markets, else it would be difficult to breathe.

This post also made it to the home page in Indiblogger among the top blog posts list.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bali Bird Park

Your trip to Bali would not be complete without visiting the beautiful Bird Park. Located in Batubulan of Gianyar region, Bali Bird Park is a gorgeous bird paradise. The little expensive ticket price had initially made me reluctant to visit the place. After I finished the park trip, I realized I would have regretted giving this park a miss. 

Home to more than 1000 birds with 250 species, the conservation park is spread in a large area with lush green and colorful flora. 
The main entrance

Welcomed at the entrance gate
For nature lovers like me, hearing the term "birds in captivity" makes us anxious. Like others, I too had assumed the birds to be in a poor state and being ill treated for breeding. But the wrong perception changed the moment I stepped in to witness the well fed, well bred , healthy, happy birds. The ticket price was worth it. The money is wisely used in protecting, breeding and looking after the avifauna. 

Pelican feeding 

We were lucky to reach bang on time when the show started. This point onward, all I experienced was happiness and positive vibes. 

A great learning for kids

The "grandfather" bird-  Lesser Adjutant

The calm macaw birds


Rhinoceros Hornbill


When eagles, owls or large hunting birds are brought out and their hunting skills are shown to the public, one couldn't help but feel awed. The trained staff skillfully handle these large birds as they are unleashed to grab their prey or fly in the air.

Komodo Dragon, one of the oldest and the deadliest reptiles alive on this plant. The Indonesian Government is trying to protect the species which are left in few at present. The park has a space for these dragons and the prey show is organized every Tuesday. More of these reptiles are in the dragon park, opposite to the bird park gate for which you need to buy separate entry tickets.

Komodo Dragon who just woke up from his afternoon nap


The section for rain forest birds was totally exciting. It felt like heaven. The well fed birds walk or fly around fearlessly. Some are shy while others would look into the camera and pose.


The most dangerous bird on this planet- The southern cassowary. It is the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird. These omnivorous birds feed mostly on fruits. The otherwise shy and calm birds can prove to be fatal when provoked and inflict injury, strong enough to cause deep wounds.
Southern cassowary or double-wattled cassowary
Southern cassowary or double-wattled cassowary

Northern or single wattled cassowary

There were many birds whose pictures I was unable to capture. The visit to the park was one amazing experience for me.
Location Batubulan, on the road to Ubud, Just 20 minutes away from Sanur or 40 minutes drive from Kuta.
Ticket price- Approximately 1800 INR per person (385000 IDR). Details  mentioned here  
For all shows and exhibits visit http://www.balibirdpark.com/

Bali Bird Park is doing a commendable job in managing the birds and the vicinity. The staff is well trained in handling the birds with care. Needless to mention, they are extremely polite and friendly with guests, ready to answer any question or offer help. 

The coming generations may not be able to see several extinct birds. The park management is making every effort to protect them. By visiting the park, one not only gains knowledge about these species but also contributes towards the maintenance of this paradise.  Do visit this beautiful place in Bali. It would be totally worthy and not disappointing at all. 

Last but not the least, this post made it to the top post of Indiblogger's Home Page. 
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur

Also known as Keoladeo Bird Park, this bird haven is located in Rajasthan's Bharatpur district. Spread over an area of 28.73 km², the sanctuary is also a World Heritage Site. Locally known as Ghana, the wetland park is one of the richest bird areas in the world and is known for nesting of resident birds and visiting migratory birds including the rare Siberian cranes. Home to around 300 species of birds and lot of flora, the place is full of happy chirps and hues. From Kingfisher to eagle, peacocks to herons, you can feast your eyes with these beauties.

Some Do's and Dont's
  1. Avoid wearing loud perfumes or deodorants. These disturb the birds.
  2. Loud noise scares the birds. Refrain making loud noise or playing music.
  3. The park is a no vehicle zone. Park your cars in the parking area at a flat rate of Rs 100.
  4. Do not jump into the rivers. Unknown depth, water snakes/insects and diseases do not give a warning before striking. 
  5. Do not disturb or hit any fauna. Doing so attracts heavy penalty. 
  6. Be responsible. Do not litter the park. 

Prepare yourself
  1. Carry food and water. Choices are limited in canteens. 
  2. Keep yourself hydrated irrespective the weather.
  3. Wear good sports shoes and comfy apparels. 
  4. Carry woolen caps and wear sufficient warm clothes if visiting during winters.
  5. Sunglasses, hats, caps and cotton apparels are recommended for summer visit. 
  6. Best time to visit - Morning 

There are several modes of transport inside the sanctuary:
  1. Battery operated carts for large groups
  2. Bicycles for individuals at Rs 50 per hour.
  3. Rickshaw to ferry 2-3 people at Rs 150 per hour.

You can hire a nature guide at an extra cost.

Always hire a rickshaw which is authorized by the forest authority. They have a small board fixed on the rickshaw. Generally they are trained and have more knowledge of birds than anyone else. The local rickshaws also are allowed to ferry passengers but they do not have any sign board or marking. Unfortunately we hired a local one who knew nothing about the park.

The rates are non-negotiable as they are fixed by the forest authorities. However, if you hire a rickshaw for the whole day, you end up paying more than 1500 rupees least realizing that the rickshaw puller was stationery and waiting while all the physical labor was yours. If your rickshaw-driver is helpful and shares his knowledge of birds, the price is actually worth it. Since our driver was blank and not ready to help sighting birds, we paid him for one hour and abandoned the ride. Though he got angry and almost picked up a fight, yet stopping the ride was at our rightful discretion.

The route inside- 

Siberian cranes are found at the water bodies and all bird watchers or film makers huddle up near the river banks. The rickshaw driver would wait for you at one dedicated spot and ferry you further when you want.

The distance from the entrance gate to the waiting spot is around 4.2 km. (We walked this distance while returning since we follow a fitness schedule everyday and love walking. You can keep your rickshaw waiting if you don't want to walk).

Bicycles are hence better any day. The downside- You will have no assistance unless you hire a nature guide and might be cumbersome if you are carrying heavy gadgets/gears.

Read my post on Sajjangarh Zoological Park in Udaipur which I toured on cycle.  

What to see-

Even if you don't own a fancy DSLR you can still visit this sanctuary. Your eyes can capture better than a camera. Let the lack of camera not deter your trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. If birds excite you and nature attracts you, this is the ultimate place.

Bharatpur Sanctuary is a heaven for migratory birds across the globe. Especially known for Siberian Crane who fly thousands of miles from a different continent in winters, the park sees huge footfall from December to February.

Go up the watch towers to see birds and nests closely. I spotted bats from one of the towers that foggy morning.
Bats- View from the watch tower

 Tot Tit bird

The park also has a museum Salim Ali Visitor Interpretation Centre built in the honor of Dr. Salim Ali. who was passionate for birds. It was under his able leadership the Keoladeo National Park Ecology Project was launched in 1980, to which he was the principal investigator till his death.

How to reach Bharatpur-

By Car- 
From Mathura- Drive via  Bharatpur-Mathura Road for 40 km. .Keep following the sign boards on the straight road. There are barely any turns except in the last 15 minutes of the journey as you enter the town Bharatpur.
From Delhi- Drive for 230 km via Taj Yamuna Expressway. The highway is well maintained and your journey will be butter smooth.
From Jaipur- Drive for 183 Km  via NH 11.
From Agra - Drive for 53 Km via Bichpuri Road.

By Train-
There are lot of trains avaialble from Delhi to Bharatpur Junction. Browse for the most suitable train here https://indiarailinfo.com/search/ndls-new-delhi-to-bte-bharatpur-junction/664/0/982. You can search for trains from your city.

From the railway station, you can hire a local cab or vehicle for the bird sanctuary which is barely 6 km away.

By Air-
There are no regular flights from other major cities of India to Bharatpur. Nearest airport is Kheria Airport in Agra  located 49 km away.

PS- By the way this post made it to Indiblogger home page in the "Popular post of the day" list.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cut the paani, save the Earth

How many of us recognize the legend Rajendra Singh? Also known as the 'Water Man of India', Rajendra Singh has helped revive water table in the dry region of Rajasthan and contributed towards water conservation through several methods of rain water harvesting. Decorated with Magsaysay Award, he was instrumental in bringing water back to over 1,000 villages and revived five rivers in Rajasthan, Arvari, Ruparel, Sarsa, Bhagani and Jahajwali.  If Rajendra Singh could do it, why cant we? His foresightedness has helped villagers survive drought. When are we going to do something about the receding water table and shortage of drinking water?

An initiative by Livpure #CuttingPaani has created a buzz everywhere which aims to create awareness on cutting down water wastage for the larger good. The video conveys it nicely.

Not only in restaurants or homes, one can practice this at their workplace as well. Take a look at the video showing the same. 

Current situation of water: Grim

-Water table is fast depleting and drinking water is NOT infinite.

-2015 saw Cape Town the worst effected with drought. Possibility of Day Zero was declared in January 2018 when the municipality would be forced to shut down the water supply and residents would rely on water collection points for drinking water with a cap of 25 litres for each household.   

-Mexico, Jakarta, Sao Paulo are struggling with scarce supply of water. 

Future situation of water: Grimmer

-Human's increasing demands for freshwater and protecting the eco system will be perhaps the biggest challenges to meet in coming few years.

-Melbourne, Australia may run out of water by the end of the decade.

-Water stress is increasing in India, China and Sub Saharan Africa. Bangalore is next on the list to be hit by severe water crisis. 

Best ways to save water and the grim situation:

1- Cut down wastage of water

-Use wet cloth or sponge to clean your car. Using water through hosepipe to wash cars wastes approximately 20-30 liters of precious water. Hubby bought a portable car washer that uses less than 1 liter of water. The water scarcity news badly effected him and he stopped using the car washer machine. He switched to microfiber cloth to clean wipe his car. pledging to zero water wastage. He feels proud about it and I appreciate his little effort towards saving water for the planet.

-Always carry a water bottle. This will avoid wastage of water in glass and will prevent you from buying plastic water bottles while travelling. 

-Turn the taps off when not in use. Every 5 minutes of running tap water drains out 4-5 liters of water. 

-Mop, don't wash. Husband was visibly disturbed after the water crisis of Cape Town did the rounds in news channels. He pulled up his socks and decided to contribute with the smallest things he could. For instance, he instructed the maid to mop the backyard and porch instead of throwing water and wiping. After all every drop counts.  

-Practice half flush- Using half the water for flush will help save 2-3 liters of water in one go. Small efforts only go a long way.

-Do not leave tap open while washing utensils. Infact washing utensils under running tap accounts for a huge wastage. If utensils are stacked together and rinsed with water from a tub,an individual will contribute saving 9-10 liters of water everyday. 

2. Reuse water 

-Birds die thirsty in the scorching summer. Reuse the left over disposable water in earthen water bowls for birds. You can use it for your pet's water bowl too. Even better, I collect water in a bottle to spray on leaves of trees in my garden/colony.  

-Use the unused drinking water from glass for plants/trees. They need it the most during summers.
Pic courtesy: http://remax-pueblo-co.com

-The above picture has been very popular on social media. This arrangement will direct used water to the flush tank. A two-in-one benefit straightaway!

- The water used for mopping the floor can be put to use by sweeping the terrace or staircase.  

3. Rainwater Harvesting 
Photo credit: Wikipedia
This is an age old practice that can stock millions of gallons of water. Careful and smart ways of water conservation can save us from drought like situation. Communities/ residential associations should come together to adopt rainwater harvesting.  

4. Protect trees

Depleting water table and other climatic changes run in a vicious cycle. Increasing population has led to deforestation and that further adds to global warming and shortage of water. How about doing your bit by planting trees around you? You can start with an occasion like birthday or anniversary and plant saplings. In next twenty years, you would be proud of your contribution with some fresh air to the environment and home to birds/rodents. Save the old trees. No body should encourage wood chopping or felling of trees. Remember, more trees means less CO2 emission and more oxygen.

5. Solar Power 

Solar power is used to produce electricity and reduces the pressure on hydro electricity. More the use of solar power, lesser the use of water and lesser the electricity bills. Even if a single solar panel can produce electricity for tubelights or fans of household, imagine the reduction in use of water for electricity production. Streetlights these days use solar power. Cochin has world's first fully solar powered airport. The project costed 620 million rupees. Kolkata's international airport, is planning to build a solar plant covering around 70 acres land that would reduce its electricity bill by one third. While cost is a detrimental factor, it can be countered with mass use of solar panels on larger scale.

Every drop of water counts and saving each drop will save the planet. What are we leaving behind for the coming generations to see? Drought, floods, melting glaciers, no forests, dying fauna? Saving water will help living beings survive. Its a necessity and lets not waste it.
Mere words will not help. Our actions will help save water.  I took the first step by pledging to save water. Have you signed the petition by Livpure yet? Sign the pledge now  if you haven't. Sign it here  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Celebrate everyday in Kuta (Bali): 5 reasons to visit

Paradise Island Bali is a superb amalgam of tradition and modern that encompasses happening beaches, beautiful nature, temples, great food and rich cultural heritage. You would find a variety of everything from one stretch of Bali to the other. While Northern Bali is a quiet and less touristy place, South Bali on the other hand is quite happening and lively. Among all the places of South Bali province, Kuta is the most popular and well known destination, which pops up in your Google search when you start to research about Bali. Those visiting Bali or have visited already, here are the top five reasons Kuta gives you to visit. 

1. For the most gorgeous sunset

Amid the crowd of sporty surfers, picnic lovers and lazy beach bums, you cannot miss the golden sun cooling off in the sea, painting the sky in vibrant hues. Watching sunset at Kuta beach is extremely relaxing and calming experience. The uncomplicated thing of nature might just make you feel spiritual, next to making you feel happy. For me this was one of the best places to watch the evening sky. Of course husband had a great time experimenting with his lenses. See his marvellous captures here.

2. Release baby turtles

In order to save marine life, Bali Sea Turtle Society has initiated a noble cause. They conserve turtle eggs, let them hatch and release the baby turtles everyday. This activity happens on Kuta beach at 4pm daily wherein visitors participate for free and help release baby turtles in  water. This was one of the best activities I participated in Bali. It not only feels good but also brings you close to nature. Read more about this activity in my blog post here.

3. Happening nightlife

With the hottest restaurants, trendy clubs and super cool eating joints, Kuta is the hub of happening night life. Scrumptious food and drinks, music, and relaxed people in partying mood are the best things about Kuta. The hotels or clubs facing sea make the best location to sway with the beats. It is so mood lifting and stress busting. Even if you are a quiet non-party person, you would love the energy in the air.You might even witness public events like I saw the independence day show. 

Balinese celebrating Indonesian independence at Kuta  

4. Vibrant Kuta market

From lip smacking food and relaxing massage parlous to colorful shops selling pieces of art, Kuta market has it all.  Buddha in different forms, carnival masks, gorgeous wall decors, cute fridge magnets, comfy summer clothes and lot of other things compel one to indulge in retail therapy. I was quite attracted to the accessories shop selling neck pieces and artificial jewelry. You can spend time gorging on local delicacies or ice creams in the lanes. The best part is the presence of Indian restaurants. There are MANY! Those who prefer Indian food or vegetarian options can go for Gateway of India, whose owner is Indian and has seen many Indian celebs visiting this place, including band of boys. Kuta Market is uptown, lively and reminds me of Delhi’s Janpath minus the screaming vendors. Kuta vibes are too good to be missed.

5. Do nothing and relax at the beach 

Had a tiring day and don’t feel like doing anything? Want to spend some me-time with a bottle of your favorite beer by the beach while you cool breeze kiss your face? Or simply want your feet to relax with a massage while sipping coconut water?  Kuta is the place for you. During our 6 days of vacation in Bali, we frequented to Kuta beach almost every day besides walking through the crowded lanes of Kuta market and enjoying the activities. We felt a strong connection with the place. 

Voted as the most visited and top destination to travel, Bali wins your heart instantly.Every part of Bali has something new to show. Do let me know what has been your experience in Bali, especially Kuta.

P.S- This trip of mine happened in August 2017. The post made it to Indiblogger home page in the list of popular blog posts.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

You can also read my post on Nusa Dua here, another beautiful South Bali province.