Showing posts with label National Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Park. Show all posts

Road Trippers Club Expedition to Neelakurinji Blooming at Kodaikanal

Neelakurinji Blooming 2018
Neelakurinji Bloom
August 2018 was the much awaited month for witnessing the rare Neelakurinji mass blooming that occurs once in 12 years in most of the areas of Kerala.  Last year we visited the Hills of Sandur to witness the rare Neelakurinji bloom, though in a small scale. This year around, we were sure it was going to be on a grand scale as we were planning to visit Munnar which is home to the largest mass  blooming of Neelakurinji. However, I received a message on whats-app one evening about a road-trip being planned to Munnar during the long weekend for witnessing this rarity and decided to tag along. But as the blossoming season was hit by the unexpected spell of rains across the state of Kerala, Munnar was distressed and as days passed by, the situation only deteriorated due to the continuing heavy rains leading to the floods all across the state. Also the news coming in from Kerala was not very encouraging to continue our drive to Munnar, and hence the team at RTC relocated the destination to Kodaikanal.
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As the D-Day arrived, the members of the team began their journeys mostly from Mumbai, while a few started their drives from Hyderabad and Bangalore. We reached Kodaikanal on the 16th evening as per the plan after visiting a few beautiful temples in Tamil Nadu, built during the Chola period.  After a good night's rest at Kodai, we were all ready the next morning  to go in search of the bloom. We all drove down to Vattakanal and much to my shock, this place was already crowded. After all the hustle and bustle of parking our vehicles, we were all set to start our trek. However, we were still unsure of the occurrence of Neelakurinji blooming on the hills there. Though the feedback after an initial inquiry about the bloom was not much encouraging, yet we all decided to continue our trek down and see what lies ahead.

View of Kodaikanal from Vattakanal

Mountains and More Mountains
Towering Heights
Eagerly Walking Down
We reached the first view point named the mountain view, from where the sight of Kodaikanal was breathtaking. While I inquired with a local regarding the Neelakurinji bloom, he replied in the affirmative directing us to the next view point. With much enthusiasm, we continued to descend and proceeded further to reach the Dolphin's nose view point (named so due to the shape of this rock) and lo! There it was! Blooms of the beautiful Neelakurinji!. This light purple colored flowers bloom once in 12 years and grow only at an altitude between 1300 meters to 2400 meters above MSL. The patches of Neelakurinji blooms here seemed much stressed and disturbed owing to the crowd movement and irresponsible plucking of the flowers by flocking crowds. We stopped by the echo rock point and rested for a while. As we continued our walk further down, we could spot more pockets of the Neelakurinji bloom. When we inquired about where the path would lead us to, we were informed that this route would end in Munnar in about 16 km. At this point we decided to halt our descent and head back.
Dolphin Nose Kodaikanal
Dolphin Nose
Cyanotis tuberosa
Neelakurinji Mass blooming At Dolphin Nose
We Trekked Till the Last

 The climb up was a bit tiring and uneventful. We regrouped at the start point of the trek,while a few  headed to the parking lot to bring up their vehicles. One of our vehicles halted up slope and due to the terrain and the narrow space available for driving, it was tricky to either go back down to the parking or come up. However, a good Samaritan came to our rescue and with the combined efforts of RTC, the vehicle was driven up slope and we moved ahead. The evening was enjoyable and to top it up, the wild Gaurs visited the resort and spent quite sometime alongside. The entire experience was a wonderful one! It was great meeting like minded road trippers from various parts of India. Kudos to the entire team for having completed this expedition successfully! Read more about the drive here. If you wish to join us on such drives, kindly visit the website of Road Trippers Club for more information and  be a part of many such fabulous drives across India. We are very thankful to Vineet and the RTC team for tagging us along for this drive and ensuring that we witness the rare phenomenon of Neelakurinji blooms.
Experience and Curiosity
Young Explorer
Clouds Kissing the Mountains
Wild Gaur with Cow

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MP Diaries - Vultures of Orchha, One of the very few Vulture Sanctuaries in India

Indian Vultures Perched on Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha
Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1994 along the river Betwa with the main objective of conserving the critically endangered species of Vultures. Vultures are listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.  Sadly, the vulture population declined in the 1990's due to unregulated use of the toxic diclofenac in cattle.  As per vulture census conducted here in the year 2013, 125 vultures have been found belonging to 4 different species. While having a casual interaction with one of the forest guards here, we were informed that the current estimate of vultures is close to about 400 and is definitely showing an upward trend with every passing year, which is good news! While the task of working towards increasing vulture population remains challenging owing to its slow breeding rate (a female vulture lays a single egg per every breeding season), it is worthwhile noticing that much awareness is being spread around this region about the importance of vultures and their role played in balancing the environment. Bundelkhand region has many breeding sites where vultures have found a safe home for themselves. There are a few sanctuaries across India for protection and conservation of vultures, one such is found in the Ramanagar district of Karnataka.
Hey There! What's Up??
Alright...I  Know I'm Handsome!
How Many Pictures Are You Taking My Friend!?
Hoping This Is The Last One!
Enough is Enough!

More details on Orchha in the next post.

MP Diaries: National Chambal Sanctuary, Home to Endangered Gharial

On day 11 of our road trip to Madhya Pradesh, we decided to visit the Chambal Sanctuary after reading about it being home to the critically endangered Gharial, Red Crowned Roof Turtle and  the Indian Skimmer. Though the fog continued to be deterrent, we decided to visit there and check it out. We reached Chambal with a lot of hope of sighting the Gharial and Indian skimmer, but the forest guard here informed us initially during our discussion that spotting a Gharial in such weather is next to impossible, though we had great chances of spotting the beautiful Indian Skimmer. We decided to continue with our boat safari, hoping to spot some good water birds. River Chambal flows across 3 states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and the entire region is declared as a national sanctuary. There are many spots along the river managed independently by the state forest department. This is considered to be the longest river national sanctuary in India and also the cleanest. The entire area around this river until recently (2007) was under the control of the infamous dacoits of Chambal, including the popular bandit queen Phoolan Devi, which is probably one of reasons that this region has remained pristine. The boat safari was unique and we spotted many birds such as the Indian Skimmer, River Lapwing, Red Wattled Lapwing, Gulls, Bar Headed Geese, Sociable Lapwing, Crab Plover, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Owls, Montagu Harrier,  Ruddy Shelduck (Brahminy Duck), Little Ringed Plover, Thick Knee and many more. We also got an opportunity of spotting a few Red Crowned Roof Turtle. 
 Bar Headed Geese
Welcomed by Bar Headed Geese 
First Look of the Indian Skimmers 
Indian Skimmers
Aah! Orangeeee!!!
Green Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper 
Rajaghat Bridge
Foggy Day 
Red Wattled Lapwing
Red Wattled Lapwing 
River Lapwing 
Indian Skimmers
Resting after a Flight 
Indian Skimmers
Indian Skimmers in Flight 
Red Crowned Roof Turtle
Red Crowned Roof Turtle 
National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh 
Brahminy Duck 
Great Thick Knee 
How to reach Chambal:  Travel on Gwalior - Agra Highway, about 60 km from Gwalior and 70 km from Agra. This is the northern most point of Madhya Pradesh, bordering Rajasthan. There is a small setup by Madhya Pradesh forest department for the benefit of tourists. 
Entry Fee:  A. Rs 100/- per head for Indians and Rs 600/- per head for Foreigners, entry for kids below 12 years is free, while the others are charged full.
B. Boat ride - There are 3 slabs, though the price is not fixed, it may vary as per the prevailing rules of the forest department and availability of boats; wearing a life jacket is compulsory. Package includes the guide fee.   
    1. 3 km one way - Rs.1750/- per boat for the entire trip 
    2. 5 km one way - Rs.2050/- per boat for the entire trip
    3. 8 km one way - Rs.2750/- per boat for the entire trip  
Accommodation: There is no accommodation here, though there are a few lodges in the near by town of Dholpur (Rajasthan). Better option would be to stay in Gwalior/Agra and cover it as a day trip. 
Where to eat: There are no places to eat in the vicinity of this national park, Dholpur is the closest town with many options. Kindly plan accordingly. 
PS: A new page has been added to our blog, which has a collection of our Vlogs. Click here to view.