Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some Must Visit Blogs of fellow travellers

As you know,
I'm one of the finalists for the travel contest.

Still waiting anxiously for the results, in the meanwhile I browsed some blogs of my fellow Contestants and each one of them has some really interesting work posted. Either travel descriptions or breathtaking photographs.

So here go some links to their blogs, in no particular order.

# I've been a fan of Akshay's work since a long time. I've linked to his photo features on my Whazzupmumbai blog very often.

# Harshad runs his own trekking company & has covered a lot of Shivaji's forts around Bombay and Pune. I don't understand most of the technical specs of cameras that he talks about, but his photographs are BRILLIANT. Some of his pictures of butterflies (if you have ever tried to photograph even one, you will know how difficult it is) are going to be published in books written by naturalists Isaac Kehimkar & Krushnamegh Kunte
Browse through Harshads blogs :
Through His ViewFinder
Trek blogs of his various outings in the Sahyadris and Himalayas, along with photographs

# Sahil's picture on the site, doesn't do him justice. He hardly uses any words on his Blog : Myopic Endeavour preferring his pictures to do the talking. He's a really interesting person & so much fun to talk to.

# Mridula has been travelling & blogging about her travels since over a year. On her blog, she says "For me travel is a form of escape, from my daily routine" I think she has put so eloquently, what we all feel. She is a consistent trekker and her blog has lots of stories, tips & pictures which tell the tale. Wish I could have met her, but that will have to wait till I take a trip to Delhi.

# Altaf has a different take on life ...the way he sees it. He's currently in Kaintholi on a Global Xchange program & living like a local so he has some really interesting stories to tell.

# Sheetal blogs on Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax where she blogs about the happenings in the twin cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad. My Ex-City

# Divya blogs at Chronicus Skepticus Currently a Visual Merchandiser, who's also been a copywriter, a visualiser (at the same time), a web-designer, an editor, and a (garment) production manager.

# Rahul is the poetic soul among the finalists. Do visit his blog to read some of his original works of fiction.

# Apurv is the current editor of PaGaLGuY.com, a highly popular website most MBA aspirants would be aware of. Read his take on things at What Blog Men!

Gautam & Simona do not have blogs that I know of.

It was fun meeting 8 of the other contestants. (2 from Delhi & 1 came in later that evening) There were some excellent & passionate photographers amongst the group and when Harshad, Sahil, Akshay & Gautham spoke about lenses it was a foreign language to the rest of us. But we did share a lot of interesting stories about unusual places to travel, great photo ops, where & what to eat & a lot of other stuff like that. Most of us met each other for the first time, but we all had fun because of the kindred fellowship of travellers.

We ended with a fun lunch at Kobe's on Hill Road

Now all fingers crossed for the results. May the best man/woman win.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ok Tata Bye Bye

I'm so excited.

I've been shortlisted for a travel contest. Which involves travelling
& Blogging. Hardly ever been selected for anything earlier :)

Check out the contest and my profile on
(Yes they have spelt my name wrong in the link, trying to get them to correct it)

The final selection is next week. I'm not sure how they will do it. But have a vague feeling that they may do so based on popularity of the contestant & ability to draw viewers.

Requesting you to please view my profile & drop me a comment, even if its just to say "All the best, Kim" or "Don't think u should go" But please comment.

Hope there's a lot of you looking for something to do on a slow Friday afternoon.

Please, please, pretty please. :)

http://kimelody.blogspot.com - the XL Blog

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Photo Feature on Ratnagiri (Maharashtra)

Who hasn't heard of Ratnagiri ?

Famed for its Alphonso/Hapus Mangoes....

The drive from Mumbai (Bombay) was 8 hours long with a couple of breaks along the way, but the scenery more than made up for the long journey. I hear the train journey has some beautiful views too.

We stayed at the wonderful "Kokanes Kohinoor Samudra Resort"
Located on the Ratnagiri - Pawas Coastal Highway, its away from the city, situated on a cliff, sprawling over 2 kilometres from end-to-end, it has the most brilliant view from every room in the multiple buildings.

The town of Ratnagiri is pretty small & so easy to navigate after driving around in Mumbai.
We first headed towards the Thibaw Palace - which was built for the exiled King & Queen of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1910-11. They lived here until they died. This would be a familiar name for those who have read "Amitav Ghosh's - The Glass Palace"

It has also been partly converted into a museum. The museum is rather pitiful as it has only 4 rooms. One on the ground floor which has some old sculptures salvaged from the Ratnadurg Fort. The 3 rooms on the first floor have some old, badly damaged copper vessels, old photographs and the last room is an attempt to recreate the grandeur of the palace. The sad part of it is that, although the furniture is still solid (being made of Burma Teak) the furnishings are terrible. Synthetic bright curtains drag your attention away from the intricate light fixtures.

These 4 rooms and 2 used for offices are currently the only usable rooms in the palace. there are plans to renovate & strengthen the remaining buildings. Hopefully it will be sensibly done.

A short drive away is the scenic Thibaw Point

Do stop here for some wonderful views and to click some really outstanding pictures.

If you are already hungry, a quick drive away is Hotel Amantran which serves up the most amazing Malvani food. At approximately Rs.65/- for a Non-vegetarian thali, you can't beat the price either. The food is much better than the Mahesh's, Gajalees & Highway Gomatak's. Its that great. And the sea food is absolutely fresh & comes from relatively unpolluted waters.

Then take a slightly longer drive to the Ratnadurg Fort. Start with a visit to the Bhagwati Mandir

On the way to the Fort, if you pass throught the city you will see the Majestic Shivaji on a Rearing Horse.

The Ratnadurg Fort itself has a lot of crags, nooks & corners. There are brilliant views to be seen from certain vantage points. But be careful & look out for crumbling rocks.

You will be able to see the Lighthouse in the distance. If you are so inclined you can even travel upto it.

Another sight is the Ratnagiri Cement Factory and Jetty

If The Indian Freedom Struggle and its fighters interests you, Ratnagiri is the birthplace of both Sri Lokmanya Tilak & Veer Savarkar. Both their houses are within a few feet of each other within the city.

Sri Lokmanya Tilak's Janmasthan has been converted into a museum in his honor. It is open through the day. The house has been preserved as it is. And its a pleasure to walk barefoot on the cowdung smeared natural flooring. His topi & a few clothes are also on display within the museum.

Sri Veer Savarkar's house has been turned into a kind of library which is only open between 4 & 6 pm.

Round up the day with a nice quiet evening on the beach, Ratnagiri is famed as the "Black and White Beaches Some beaches in the area have black sand and the others have white. The tide here is quite reliable and you can bathe in these waters.

There are a lot more temples and other places to explore in Ratnagiri if you are so inclined. you can also make a lot of short excursions to nearby places like Ganapatipule, Pawas, Dapoli, Guhagar, Karde, Murud and Ladghar

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm desicritic of the day

Hey all loyal readers. I'm desicritics "Desicritic Of The Day" today.

Read all my articles on Desicritics.org

Look out for a post on Alibagh & Murud Janjeera some time soon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A perfect bite...: Harvest Festivals around India

Rushina, writes some lovely articles about food.

Check out the one about A perfect bite...: Harvest Festivals around India

She has included some easy to prepare recipes too.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Olive Ridley Turtles & Irrawady Dolphins

I am just back from a short but hectic trip to Rushikulya rookery and Chilika lake in Orissa. Vasant J. Sheth Memorial Foundation, the NGO wihich I work for, has sponsored a Sea Turtle Interpretation Centre at Rushikulya beach, near village Purnabandha in Ganjam district of Orissa. Rushikulya is one of the largest sea turtle rookery in the country apart from Gahirmatha and Devi river mouth in Orissa. Our Foundation supports the efforts of the local conservation group Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee which has been doing excellent work in protecting the sea turtle nests, eggs and hatchlings since many years. Mr. Rabindranath Sahu and other volunteers of this group are instrumental in the protection work.

'WOW' is only expression I had on my face after being witness to the mass nesting (arribada in local language) of Olive Ridley Turtles . All the sunburns I got due to excessive road travelling on a two-wheeler in 42 deg. C was all worth it. From Feb 16th to Feb 24th, more than 1,40,000 Olive Ridleys have layed eggs on the Rushikulya beach. As I stood on the beach at night, turtles came out from the sea, crawling apparently with great efforts, reaching beyond the hightide mark and digging the pits with their flippers to lay a clutch of around 120 eggs. All this in a span of 60-min. The experience of watching these giant 60-kg creatures sitting right next to them was simply awesome. The mornings I spent on motorised dinghi (a small boat) watching the turtles swimming in the sea, occasionally coming up on the surface to breathe and then diving back in to the emerald green waters. The entire episode was right out of a National Geographic film!

I also spent a couple of days in Chilika lake, the largest brackish water lagoon along in the country and a Ramsar Site. Though didn't get enough time for birding, could manage just about two boat rounds in the lake. The round at Satapada was a memorable one since I saw around 7-8 Irrawady Dolphins playfully swimming in the lake, occasionally jumping and blowing air with 'puffff' sound.

The mass hatching will take place sometime in the first week of April 2006. Those who can plan a trip here may do so during this period.

Best wishes,
Kedar Gore
Goregaon (E),

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Virapuram - an amazing village of Painted Storks!

We were on a trip to Lepakshi yesterday (25 February 2006), a little known temple in Andhra Pradesh just along the border of Karnataka. We approached the place from Bangalore-Bellary highway, turned westwards on Hindupur Road after Bagepally, which took us to Lepakshi village and the temple. Total distance from Bangalore is 120 km. It is a beautiful temple complex (Vijayanagara period i.e. 14 to 16 century AD) with sculptures and fresco painting, and also the largest monolithic Nandi bull. Incidently, the Shiva (Virabhadreshawar) temple is dedicated to Jatayu, the legendary bird (perhaps a Vulture) from Ramayan.

As we were turning on Hindupur road after Bagepally, a sculpture at the junction attracted our attention. It is a beautiful sculpture of a Painted Storks pair on a nest with egg / chick. While photogrphing the sculpture, we discovered that it was showing a direction to the village called Virapuram (13km from the junction) which is supposed to have a large colony of Painted Storks. That shifted our attention from our main destination of Lepakshi and we decided to visit this Painted Storks village first. After proceeding for about 3 km, we found another beautiful sculpture of Painted Storks, at the junction directing us to Virapuram. Virapuram village is located at the base of a rocky/bouldary hill range. There are a few waterbodies nearby and we could see large number of Painted Storks flying in the sky. It was not difficult to locate the village and the colonies of Painted Storks. The villagers were very happy to tell us about the Painted Storks and lead us to the groves of T

The entire village landscape is dominated by Painted Storks. They are nesting on almost all trees - big and small. Mainly on Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) and Ashwattha (Ficua religiosa) trees. We counted 46 nests on one big Ashwattha tree and 27 nests on one small Tamarind tree. On an average there should be about 40 nests per a big tree, and there are over 30 such trees in the village. Our very rough estimate (on lower side) tells us that there are over 1200 active nests in the village at present. The eggs seem to have been laid in most of the nests and the birds are incubating them. A few birds are still making the nests. The chicks should be out around end March / April. The birds are well habituated of human presence and they seem to be not bothered of anyone. They seem to be confident about their safety in this village.

This was an amazing experience for us. We had never heard about this village of Painted Storks before. This is very similar to Kokarebellur of Pelicans. We wish to know more about this colony and its history/records etc. from the naturalists in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and also from the AP - forest dept.

We do not know who had erected those Painted Storks sculptures. We really appreciate and commend that effort. The sculptures are bigger than life size and they are very beautiful, proportionate, realistic and located at vantage positions. Whosover is the artist, deserves credit for her artistic abilities and also for the love of nature.

Best wishes
Prof. Ulhas Rane