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Showing posts from 2015

Kutch: the invisible wilderness

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The salt-sprinkled chocolate browns of the estuarine mudflats are criss-crossed by the prints of carbon-black tyres. The wind is crisp, and the recurring whoop-whoop-whoop of the enormous ghostly wind turbines is ubiquitous, occasionally punctuated by sounds of trucks that trod on the pathless mudflats to reach the nearest salt port. On this truck-trodden path, we look for signs of a particular bird that blends well with the grey-brown landscape, the MacQueen’s Bustard, a rare winter migrant. It is nowhere to be found, but along sparse grasses, pale green in colour, are tracks of various birds imprinted on a layer of fine, seemingly frozen crust of sand. One of which belongs to this bird. The smaller tracks belong to, we think, Desert Warblers; those small, hypersensitive brown birds seen probing the grass strands for tiny morsels during early winters. The largest of all, the three-toed prints, belong to the Common Crane, we acknowledge without a doubt. We saw them graze in a small f…

Hampi: Written in Stone

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The rotund rock formations can take the form of the most bizarre shapes when viewed through a layer of hot air rising from the sandy gravel on the banks of Tungabhadra. We stood at the northern bank of the river, on an island called Virupapuragadde, awaiting the ferry that would take us to the ruins of the capital of the Vijayanagara Kingdom, Hampi. It was hot, and Laxmi, the sacred elephant of the Virupaksha temple, was being bathed by her mahout as a horde of tourists photographed her from all sides. Under a stony pillared mandapa built five hundred years ago on the bank of the river sat women who offered their hair in grief, as an honour to the departed.
On the eastern side of the bank children jumped into the river from boulders resembling elephant humps, and played in the quieter regions of the rive as River Terns glided overhead, scouring the waters for fish. A day earlier, we arrived on the northern shore of Tungabhadra through banana and sugarcane crops planted on rich black …

Barefoot Notes: Of Fleeting Glimpses and Lingering Thoughts

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We rode on the most slumber-inducing roads of Kanha Tiger Reserve, cloaked in ancient Sal trees from above and clasped from below by an ephemeral mattress of post-monsoon understory herbs. The stillness of the night lingered on as if it would never let the sun rise over this piece of land, and a pale mist clung to the undergrowth until the warmth of the sun scattered it into bits and pieces. The mist that arose from the crystal waters of Sonder Lake formed communities of rising mist, and slowly drifted landwards, from where they rose higher and mingled into an azure sky.
This was a new day. The park was thrown open for tourists after three months of quiescence, and like a newborn baby bird covered in a protective cover of its down feathers, it looked back at us with its thousand and more eyes, in the shape and form of birds, mammals, lizards, and insects, as we arrived in olive-green gypsies to witness this rebirth.
The ground was wet from the previous evening’s rain, and the grass t…