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Masinagudi – The forest and wild life

Masinagudi is a town located near the famous hill station Ooty in Tamilnadu, India. The Mudumalai National park is located near Masinagudi. There are numerous resorts for night stay and wild life safari is very famous. If we have luck we can see tiger, Leopard and wild elephants. The resorts occupying the wild life habitat have been vacated in recent times by the forest department. This has helped in increasing the tiger count in the National park. There are around 400 tigers in the forest now. The wild animals like elephants and tiger require larger eco-system to sustain life as they multiply. They mark their territory of 10kms in the case of Tigers. The Elephants can walk as long as 150 kms a day in search of food all though they usually walk 25 km/day on average.

We stayed in a homestay in Mavanalla 10 kms away from Mudumalai. We reached there for a night’s stay. There was a visiting wild elephant named Renovdo by the locals. As we went in the first week of August 2019 the place was very dry without greenery and water. This elephant has started hunting the residential areas for food. In the nights it gets into the homestays breaking the fence and eats all the trees and potted plants that are available. The day before we reached there it had uprooted the cement slabs in the neighboring homestay destroying the place. Our host showed us the video of that. We were awestruck thinking what if the elephant comes to this homestay tonight. The homestay had a bulb at the front, beyond 2 meters we couldn’t see anything. It was a very remote place and pitch dark. Now and then the maid there would go with a torch in hand and check if the elephant is standing nearby. I got to know that the giant elephants do not make any noise or vibration when they walk. Even if they come close to us and stand we will not realize unless we see them. Because their foot is god designed to be so soft, and they have a way of walking tiptoed. Nature’s beautiful creation indeed!

The hosts at the homestay were very nice people. We ate for dinner some Chapathi and Dhaal. Simple but hot and well made. The dining table was placed in open space with pitch dark greenery at our sides. Many cats were walking around the dining with dim lighting. Having dinner there was thrilling. The Homestay owner told us a lot of stories about wild dogs and Leopard that ate their pet dogs. I heard about the wild dogs for the first time there. The locals say the wild dogs, when they come in packs are the most dangerous that even the elephants and tigers move away from them when they are caught single. Worst thing is the wild dogs will not even spare the bones. Imagine a death without evidence! But this is not the case when a tiger or a leopard hunts. They leave back portions of meat and bones.

We occupied a room at the ground level which had a large full size glass window facing the building entrance. The thought of the wild animals breaking the glass and entering our room was a real nightmare. I was so happy to see the sunrise that I got up at 6 AM in the morning. This never happens usually when I am at my home. There were so many varieties of birds humming in the morning welcoming the sunlight. I came out of my room and saw how the place looks in the morning. It was indeed energy giving. The sunlight, the birds and fresh breath of the environment was so alluring. All my fear swept away and I was envying how lucky this homestay owners are to have such a beautiful home in the wilds.

In the morning we had a simple breakfast of Idlies (The traditional south Indian food) and left for the jungle safari. Our first target was to see a Tiger atleast. So we headed straight to Bandipur crossing Tamilnadu border. But on the way the sight was little disappointing because a recent forest fire had burnt many trees on our way. We would have seen atleast 300 deer all our way. Finally we reached the Bandipur Safari starting point. We bought our tickets and sat on the trekking van. We saw Bison, deer and Wild elephant. The forest smells of eucalyptus and other green plants. I just loved the oxygen levels in the forest zone. Kept deep breathing and enjoying the scents.

From there we rushed to Mudumalai for safari. The Safari at both Bandipur and Mudumalai closes by 6pm giving privacy for the animals. During nights the animals sit on the roads and enjoy their space. But there are some guys who take people on unauthorized safaris at night which are unsafe. We are accountable for our safety in those rides. The Animals can be spotted at late evenings and early mornings near the water resources, or where the deers are seen as they come to hunt. The singa val kurangu (Lion tail monkeys) sitting on the trees gives signal to the deers about the tiger or leopard arriving. We saw that where ever a herd of deer stand two or more deer don’t graze at all. They stay vigilant like our soldiers looking at different directions for any predator. Nature has all the knowledge and training. We have to just learn from them.

The wild animals don’t come near humans easily. They hate bikers, they chase bikes. Wild elephants sometimes chase vehicles. In the forest zone it’s strictly prohibited to stop vehicle on the road. We have to keep moving. Also the forest department fines anyone who stops the vehicle.

The tigers hunt humans if they turn man eaters. They hunt humans for the salt and taste they like. Leopards and lions don’t hunt humans. They only attack. The bear does not hunt. It eats fruits and worms. It attacks humans but not dangerous. The Bison is most dangerous. No animal can hunt it. It’s very strong and throws away humans to long distance with its head.

We watched for elephant dung on the way. If it looks wet then elephant is around and has just passed through that way. When elephant is out of sight we can only find them with their smell. Each animal has a smell. The Irula Tribal people are experts in handling these animals. They can train elephants with great skill. The Irula ladies were cutting the bushes on the road side at the stretch in which we are prohibited to get down from the vehicle. The men were boldly walking on the road for some forest duty. The forest department have employed many of the local tribal people in government services there. Because they know the forest. It’s their homeland.

The trip was full of adrenaline rushes and longing to see the wild animals upfront. We felt love and sympathy for wild animals. Thankfully the following week i.e. second week of August 2019 there was heavy spells of rain in the forest never before in history. God saved these animals is what I thought. Because they don’t have the luxury of the domestic animals to which we feed food and water from alternate sources.

Featured

Mahabaleshwar – Nature art!

Mahabaleshwar is a place full of strawberry farms and scenic view. Any one who glances through these photos can easily remember Rajinikanth Sivaji movie “Balleilakka song” location, “Wai” is near Mahabaleshwar. The valley is exotic ! with the beautiful colours of blues, greens and tans blending and melting us at the first glance.

There are many view points around the spot. What touched my heart is the Arthur seat, named in memory of Sir Arthur after his wife and son drowned in the Savitri river.

Among the other view points not to be missed is the needles hole view point.

The hot pot “Chaai” (mud pot tea) is amazing after the stroll. We can also have some fun time with the monkeys there:

The strawberry garden is a must visit and what’s awesome is the fresh strawberry ice-cream. Slurp!!!

The Mahabaleshwar temple and panchganga temple are landmark spots. The Panchganga temple have five rivers flowing in the same place. Its wonder to see and the place is a bliss to visit, even if you are not a temple person.

Now we have finished our tour to Mahabaleshwar, the cream of strawberry still feels in my tongue 🙂 yummm! Strawberry Jam is very famous there.

Watch out for the next touring location very soon 🙂

Munnar and Eravikulam National Park

Munnar (three rivers) is the point at which three rivers meet namely, Muthirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala rivers. Munnar is a very new city found in the British rule. The weather condition is very conducive for tea plantation. The population here is built based on the tea estate. Many workers from Madurai and other parts of Tamilnadu have migrated here to work in the tea plantation. The Tamil speaking community is high in this part of Kerala. Never forget to have masala tea here in the tea shops! It’s a must try, with the spices of Kerala.

The Tea County Munnar is a classy place to stay at the Centre of the city. But we stayed in a Homestay as we booked accommodation on arrival at a homestay very much near Tea County Munnar. Hotel Gurubhavan and Sangeetha hotel are best non-vegetarian and Vegetarian hotels we ate on all days. Both are to either side of Tea County.

Four days required to visit all places in Munnar. The Eravikulam National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary are the main highlights. The Tea plantation and the antique museum are a must visit. There we get to see the Film on the evolution of Munnar as a city. Its very informative documentary.

There are many waterfalls in Munnar. We visited the Viripara waterfalls which is 20kms away from Munnar city. It’s a small fall, good to bath. Entry fee is there.

The Eravikulam National Park is the habitat for the largely extinct species Nilgiri Tahr or Varaiaadu. This is a species of wild goat, very shy and timid in nature. These are protected here with great care. We are not supposed to touch or go near them. The forest officials accompany us in the visit. The entry ticket is to be taken. After that we will traverse half the distance by bus. Remaining distance we have to walk around 1 km uphill on a steep road. On the way we met a lot of Nilgiri Tahr freely playing around in herds. We were lucky so spot many of them on our visit. It was nice foggy weather and extremely chill winds on the day we visited.

Visit to Tata tea museum was a different experience. We could see the antique calculators, printers, telephones all used in olden days well preserved. The Documentary movie on how the tea plantations developed in Munnar is very informative. We can buy quality tea here. Leave tea is my choice. The Tea dust is little cheaper but gives more colour to tea. The leaf tea is costly but has a great fragrance. We also saw how the tea leaves are processed to get dry tea powder that are sold in shops. The entire place smells of Tea and fresh green leaves.

The Spices and Ayurvedic Garden is a very informative place. We get to know about so many spices. They have ayurvedic solution for so many health ailments. These Ayurvedic medicines have no side-effects and can be tried as its completely natural herbal solution. The clove, cinnamon, pepper, fragrant Oud and so many plants are found here as exhibit. Chocolate plantation and very delicious homemade chocolates also available here.

Kerala handloom is another place to visit. Nice Kerala sarees of all price ranges are handmade here. The half white saree with golden Jari I bought there goes well for all formal occasions. It’s a memory I preserve of Munnar.

The Elephant safari at Carmelagiri is another highlight and a must try. We can feed the elephants here with a basket of fruits which they sell there. The Elephants are very well trained and friendly. The ride cost is high, around Rs.500. But the money goes towards feeding the elephants. They eat around 100 kg food per day mostly sugarcane and bamboo.

Elephant Safari

The Echo point in just after the elephant ride place. Here boating service is there. We need to shout so that our voice Echo’s from the mountains at the opposite range. Its a very relaxing place.

One of the evenings we ended at Pothamedu viewpoint watching the beautiful sunset. A walk through the tea estate near by for nearly an hour was the most peaceful moments. The scenery is very beautiful misty and mystic.

Sign board at Eravikulam National Park

This sign board brings in us a deep thought about nature preservation. The Nilagiri Tahr are preserved here with great Love. All we can do is walk silently without disturbing their peace.

Avalanche, Ooty

Avalanche is located 20 kms away from Ooty. It has lush green forest and wildlife which is a must visit if you get a chance to visit Ooty in Tamilnadu, India. The Upper Bhavani Dam, Emerald Lake and the Sholas are the places to visit in Avalanche.

The Upper Bhavani is located in a forest zone. It’s managed by the Government Forest department. Jeep safari is available inside the forest zone. They take us on an off-road ride to the origin of Bhavani River. At the starting point of the water stream there is a Deity, Bhavani Amman temple. The scenic view from the temple is very beautiful and gives lot of peace to the heart. In the sounds of the water stream and the splashing drizzles on our face, a silent prayer is soul touching.  I was sitting near this stream for a long time observing the waters. This is the main source of water flowing into Bhavani Sagar Dam.

Upper Bhavani

The Upper Bhavani Lake is another beautiful landscape often covered by mist. The colour of the lake and the ambience kept changing every moment with the climate and sunlight. Sometimes the water looked deep blue, in minutes it looked aqua green. Mesmerizingly magical beautiful place I must say.  

Upper Bhavani Lake

On the way back from the forest zone we saw Foxes standing on the road. We were travelling in an open Jeep. We waited there for 15 mins until the Foxes crossed the road. The Forester who drove the jeep said the foxes have just finished hunting nearby. It was a thrilling, lovely wild experience.

Foxes at Avalanche
The Foxes and the metal rod is the Jeep antenna

 The Emerald Lake which is green in colour is another attraction. All through the way to Avalanche we can see this emerald lake stretched to a large area surrounded by hills. The colour is unique. There was a check dam on the way where we walked over it and took photos.

Emerald Lake
Check Dam

The Sholas are the evergreen forest, at a height of 1500 meters found in the valley, glens and hollows surrounded by grassland. They come under the broader class of Tropical Montane Forest. These trees have average height of 10 to 20 m due to wind. They are short and bushy with many lateral branches. They are also called cauliflower trees due to their appearance. These trees cause good rain and are useful in maintaining river streams. There was a small water stream on road near the viewpoint.

The Cauliflower Trees
The Sholas view point

Avalanche was less crowded than Ooty and a lovely place for nature lovers. The week next after our visit there was a landslide and heavy rains in Avalanche. The roads had to be repaired. The wild animals needed the rain so much because the place was dry when we visited. The tourist guide cum driver who took us to Avalanche said you visited at the right time. Emerald Memories!  

Kamakhya Temple and Umananda temple

KAMAKHYA TEMPLE

Kamakhya temple is located in Nilachal hills in Gawahati, Assam. I visited this temple on the first day after landing from flight at Gawahati. The temple closes usually by 5.30 pm. The travel up the Nilachal hills is a 20 mins drive. The road up the hills is a forest zone with many bends. It felt like breathing fresh air and an inner calling to raise up to see the lady of might sitting on top. I reached the temple watching the sun clock saying 4 pm after a long one-hour drive.

On the way to Kamakhya temple

It is the most important Hindu temple in India with feminine energy. It was in my visit list for a long time. It is a must visit place for women as the mother goddess Shakthi’s Vagina is said to have fallen at this place. Its an important Shakthi Temple. The Goddess is said to menstruate every year and the Brahmaputra River turns red. When I visit temples, I look for the soul, I walk-in as though I am meeting a friend with an open mind. It’s a curiosity to know and feel the place.

Double dose of Covid vaccination was a mandatory to visit the temple. They give a ticket for entry of the temple. As I walked the path to the entrance of the temple people interrupted me to leave footwear in their shop. I kept walking till the last shop where there is a footwear stand and removed footwear there. One person who looked like a pandit said, “you have come late, you can’t see the goddess if you go by the queue”. He offered to take me through another entrance. But I preferred to go by the queue. Who cares if I can’t see the deity? Ride through the Nilachal hills and spending time in the temple premise is all I came for. As he said there was a huge queue. I thoroughly enjoyed the waiting time watching Monkeys and birds. The place has Dove, Pigeons and Geese. The waiting time was pleasing.

To my luck the temple was open till 7.30 pm in the evening as it was a special day of Ekadhasi. To my surprise there was no physical form of the goddess and only some water to touch and pray.  I prayed and walked out confused and I was pulled again inside the main Shrine by the crowd. This time somehow, I cried. I felt the divine and her blessings! I had a super Dharshan of the deity and left the place by Uber. Cab services Uber and Ola are available for the temple. In the night all shops are closed and there is no accommodation near the temple is what a shopkeeper told me. Buses ply to the temple frequently.

UMANANDA TEMPLE

Visiting Kamakhya temple should be combined with Umananda temple. Its like visiting the couple Shiva and Parvathi together. The name “Umananda” means the one who gives Happiness to Uma (other name for Goddess Kamakhya). Umananda temple is located on a hillock called the Peacock Island in the middle of the Brahmaputra River. We need to reach there by cruise.

Other bank view from Umananda temple

Watching the Sunset in Brahmaputra River by Cruise is very famous in Gawahati. It was my second day evening at Guwahati after visiting Pobitora in the morning. I landed in the banks of Brahmaputra River and walked on the river side for nearly 1 km enjoying the water view. The riverbank is very lively to walk around with lot of park area and well-planned pavement. I combined the temple visit and Cruise trip by taking the government cruise service which has a ticket of Rs.20. It took some time for me to find the ticketing place. I took the 3pm cruise which is the last trip for the day. In the night the boating will be stopped in the river.

Government Cruise service entrance
Cruise

Here I go in the cruise to the other bank enjoying the Brahmaputra waters after an hour long walk. To reach the temple we must climb few steps uphill. The Shrine of lord shiva looks same as Kamakhya Devi shrine with a large dome. There are Hanuman, Lord Ganesh and Sita Ram deities in the temple. If feels divine to look at the Sunset in the Brahmaputra River from the temple. The cruise that we travelled will wait for us for the return trip. On the return trip in the cruise for the first time in life, I saw the Sun and the Moon in the sky at the same horizon. A thought came to my mind that the Sun and the Moon take turns to be with us and we are never alone as long us either one of them are with us.  

Sun and Moon

Our days and nights are taken care! we just keep moving on, doing, learning and listening. For the eyes that are always watching computer screens, phone screen, TV screen, insta, watsapp, facebook and what not in search of people to ward off timely loneliness, the Sun and the Moon are eye openers. Keeping close to nature makes life very lively and interesting. Found the light at the end of the tunnel for rest of life!  Our time is measured by these two, the Sun and the Moon and so are the moments of life!

Bhrahmaputra and Sun from Umananda temple

Reached the other back of the river in the cruise feeling enlightened and happy! It was a happy evening! This enlightenment helped me a lot in the Meghalaya visit on the following week with absolutely no network in some places and no electricity in other places.  Life is to be loved and lived to the fullest every moment without fear. We need light to shoo away darkness. Natures lights are a plenty! The Sun, Moon, Stars, Fire and Fireflies, all enlighten the Soul!

Sunset

Delighting Waterfalls of Meghalaya

Nohkalikai Falls

Nohkalikai Falls looks tallest flowing from a great height into an aqua pool of blue waters. Surrounded by the Sohra East Khasi hills, it feels exuberant to watch the falls in bright sunlight. We can’t go near the falls. It’s just for view. Rainbow is visible behind the waterfalls. The falls is named after a lady Kalikai who ended her life in the waterfalls.  The rains of Cherrapunji feeds this waterfall throughout the year.

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Video

Wei Sawdong Falls

Wei Sawdong waterfalls is the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever witnessed. The Nokalikai and Wei Sawdong falls are both located near Sohra. We finished seeing both in Half-a-days’ time. The layer of slated rocks and the turquoise green water pool is a delight to an artistic eye. This waterfall is called Sawdong meaning Square as the falls has a square shape. There is a trek route to reach near the falls to have a dip in the pool, but very difficult one. To view the falls, we need to trek for some 300 meters halfway. It’s a little steep trek with lot of trees to grip if we slip in the trail. The trekking is worth the strain to view the paradise.

Krang Shuri Falls

The Krang Shuri falls is a must visit for swimming enthusiasts. We reached this waterfall from Dawki which is 30 kms away. The falls has a perfect blue water pool to swim. Reaching the waterfalls and back is like a target race for swimmers. Life jacket is a must and available on rental as the depth is more. There is also entry fee to the falls. It looks like a twin falls, both flowing at equal width. It takes a 1 km trek to reach the falls down a fleet of steps in the greens. Feels very refreshing to walk the path watching the surrounding mountain. While we were in the falls two young bikers brought their bikes up to the tip of the falls onto the rocks. The pathway to the waterfalls is so friendly to navigate. In Meghalaya, Krang Shuri is a must visit place.

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Video

Phe Phe Falls

Visiting the Phe Phe falls was made very interesting as we stayed in a Hut for one night. The place had only some 10 huts and a master kitchen. No electricity at the Hut. Only bulbs would glow with Generators. Except for the bulbs at the Hut the outside area was pitch dark. The temperature was 9 degrees. No heater provision. We had campfire for the night and very delicious Chicken to eat for the night. The only cozy place in the accommodation was the kitchen as it was very warm. I slept at the floor of the hut with bed and quilt. In the morning the quilt was squeezy wet and I got puffy eyes despite layering with many winter clothes and wearing double socks. Sleep was almost a big no no in the cold and numbness.

Hut we stayed in
campfire

In the early morning we watched the sunrise and moon on either side. It was divine! Life so close to nature. The Hut stay near the dry grassland and river atmosphere without internet connectivity, or any modern luxury is a must try once in lifetime experience. The falls is located near Shkentalang in Meghalaya.

Sunrise
Moon on top in the morning

In the morning we went on a boat to the other side of the river. Then walked for half an hour in a grassland to see the top of the waterfalls. As the sun was rising all the numbness in the body got reduced and finally, I started sweating around 8 am, thank God! Back to life. The waterfall is good for photoshoot. We took some snaps and returned walking and by boat crossing the river to our Huts. This was the last day spent at Meghalaya. I came back home with loads of memories and a heap of life changing experience.

We crossed this rivulet to see phe phe falls by boat, photo taken early morning from the Hut.
Phe Phe Falls

MAWKDOK DYMPEP VALLEY ZIPLINE, Meghalaya

After the hectic 3 days trek in Nongriat (1 day to trek downhill and reach Serene Homestay, 1 day to trek to Rainbow falls, next day saw double decker bridge in morning sunrise and left the Homestay and came uphill) we reached the Mawkdok Dympep Valley. It was a foggy layer of mountains. The valley is located between Shillong and Sohra. The place was so cold even in the afternoon. This place has the best zipline and longest zipline around 230 meters. We trailed this distance twice. There is a waterfall in the middle of the valley which we should see while zipping. All the fear will evaporate in the urge to view the waterfalls.

First Short zipline to and fro
The Second long zipline to and fro
All ziplines put together

There are four ziplines and if we are struck in the middle the in-charge people wait ready to help us reach the other end. The hand brake is something interesting. A leather pad attached to gloves should be used as a stopper. Pressing the gloves hard along the line will slow down the move and bring us to halt. They charge Rs.1000 for the four ziplines which I felt was very reasonable. We need to do a small trek to comeback to reach the other starting point from the longest zipline. Its stones laid in between the forest and feels so fresh and cool to walk uphill. From there we come back to starting point viewing the waterfalls.

After zipping we had lunch at Mawkdok Maggi Shop just opposite to the zipline point. They have all junk foods both veg and non-veg with a parking area. Eating hot-hot food in that chillness was like heaven. From there we moved on to Mawlynnong village for night stay.

My zipline ride

LIVING ROOT BRIDGE & RAINBOW FALLS

The desire to go to Meghalaya was enthralled by the intention to see the Living Root Bridges. Where building bridges are a necessity for peace and prosperity across the world, the natural bridge fascinated me to the core. The idea of building bridges with the roots shows our Indian ethnicity and how our ancestors were resourceful with minimalism and lived close to nature embracing its blessings. In the sunlit morning I saw the root bridge with sunrays penetrating every nodule and reaching my eyes. It was a divine blessing and felt like paradise on earth.

Double Decker Root Bridge in morning sunlight

The Khasi tribes are skilled in making these root bridges and there are 100 such root bridges connecting the villages of Meghalaya. The Double Root Bridge of Nongriat kept motivating me all through the tough trekking trails of Nongriat some 3500 steps down a deep valley. It takes 3 to 4 hours trekking from Tyrna, Nongriat to reach the Double Decker Root Bridge. Around 3 to 4 kms walk through a fleet of steps crossing two villages in the valley, an iron bridge crossing the river flow walking through the pebble stones and rocky terrains. We started Nongriat trek around 3pm in the afternoon and reached “Serene Home Stay” after sunset around 6pm in the evening. This homestay is the one with good food and room facility among all other homestays in the vicinity. Because whomever I met in the trek seemed to stay in the same place.

View from Iron bridge on the way

The Root bridge is just a few steps away from the homestay. I could visit the root bridge both in the evening and the next day morning. Seeing the root bridge in early morning sunrise is a delight I didn’t want to miss! That was all I went to the place for walking with my cramped foot. In Nongriat trek I felt the uphill climb on return journey to be easy, because by that time my foot cramp got relaxed and I got used to walking better. Learned to trek better after trekking to the rainbow falls in the morning which is another 3 km away from double root bridge. It takes another 3 hours of trek. The rainbow falls and the “Swimming Pool” are not to be missed beautiful eternal places with blue waters.

Natural Swimming pool
Rainbow Falls – Spot the rainbow yourself behind the falls

The turquoise blue and the rainbow formation behind the waterfalls portray natures beauty at its best! You can have bath in this place though the water is too chill. Its good for a dip. I preferred a highland rock near the waterfalls to enjoy the drizzles from the waterfalls and to have closer look at the rainbow. The waterfall was so calling! that I jumped and rolled between the rocks forgetting my foot cramp to reach to nearest point. Because I did not want to miss the best opportunity in the lifetime! Was not sure if I will visit the same place again ever trekking all the way. Embracing nature makes us realise how small we are in this universe. Time teaches how small the world is that we can reach any place if we have the desire and will!

Happiest moment near the Rainbow waterfalls

Maggi noodles and Chai (tea) at the stall near Rainbow falls is nice and a one stop shop before and after waterfalls visit. After trek and after feeling the chillness of the waterfalls you end up so hungry. This shop owner has built a restroom also in the woods behind. Near the double root bridge there is a shop, I bought Mango drink from there during evening visit. Nothing like sitting alone in an unknown land, watching natures beauty, the double root bridge and sipping “Maaza” and listening to music of flowing waters. From rainbow falls to Serene Homestay I trekked all alone just to enjoy the chirping birds and oxygen in the dense forest. This trekking ground is absolutely safe for Solo travelers. All we need is a torch if sunsets. Some reptiles could be moving in the bushes, but the local people walk up and down everyday carrying goods and Bay leaves through the path. So it’s a man used path. The place has heaps of Bay leaves fallen on the walking path. Imagine walking on a carpet of fragrant Bay leaves!

Double Root Bridge in the evening

Mawsmai Cave, Meghalaya

Mawsmai Cave is located near Sohra, Meghalaya. It’s a very long cave of which 150 meters is allowed for visitors. It’s well-lit with flashlights all the way and very safe to move inside. Not recommended for people with breathing difficulty and elders. The cave has artistic limestone formations fossilized by the water stream that runs through over ages. As we walk by, we can see the water seeping through the caves in many places.

Some places in the cave are narrow. We need to squeeze inside the holes. Good shoes are must as the lower surface is very rocky and uneven. I sprained my leg by jumping between the rocky stones as in the dark the floor was not visible. This was my first cave spelunking experience. I did not know the dos and don’ts. So learnt it the hard way!

The rock surface was super chill and very smooth to touch. The cave is very clean and there are steps to walk in many places. Better to carry a torch or mobile phone with torch with us as there could be power shutdown inside the cave. No doubt the sages prefer caves for meditation. The cave has peace enthralling ambience with pin drop silence. The flashy heat of sunrays can’t reach inside the cave making it have conducive temperature all day. Was feeling happy to sit inside the cave for some time, the best natural seat formed by nature for ages. It’s a delight to watch the limestone formation of slated layers and pillars. The Symmetry at some places in the cave surface are mesmerizing. It’s like natures art painted in black and grey.

Finally, we came out of the cave and there was sunlight at the end of the tunnel. There is thick green forest outside the cave. The place is full of trees, shrubs and chirping birds. Overall, a very pleasing experience!

A red colour bird spotted in the greenery

Mawlynnong village Meghalaya, the cleanest village of Asia

A beautiful morning at the Mawlynnong village, the cleanest village of Asia. After going there, I realized it’s not only clean, but every house has such beautiful home gardens with flowers of all colours. Felt so much of positive energy in the resident’s lifestyle. The roads are the cleanest that it’s hard to spot dust. Bamboo dustbins are placed everywhere. This village attracts a lot of tourists because of its cleanliness.

Tea vending machines shop and sunrise bliss

The village is in Meghalaya very much near the India- Bangladesh border. They have a Bamboo watch tower. Entry ticket is Rs.20. We can see Dawki, India-Bangladesh border, Umngot river from the tower. I couldn’t get the Umngot river view photo as it was very long shot. From the tower we can see the playground of Mawlynnong village. I saw some children practicing football in the morning. The entire village view is visible from the bamboo watch tower. Below are the photos from the tower in all four directions.

We stayed one night at Mawlynnong. I could catchup the morning sunrise at Mawlynnong village. It was like sunshine and cleanliness hitched together. Weather was very chill until full sunrise. Needed winter clothes. We visited in February just before start of summer. We stayed in Harud Wahduid homestay.

Morning started with a hot tea from a vending machine store. Then I walked around the village. In hardly 20 minutes I reached the village entry point and came back to the homestay. We should walk around the village to get the flavor of the place. With lots of bamboo plantation and gardens the village looks surreal.

The village has an ancient church more that 100 years old, the church of the Epiphany. There is a water stream running through the village which is branch of Umngot river. I got to walk on an over bridge above that stream.

They have very organized parking lot for vehicles. Next to the parking lot is the shopping area where we get all kinds of local crafts mainly made of bamboo. They have Bamboo water bottles, teacup, hand made purse, bamboo mirror, bamboo hairclips and also home decors made of bamboo. Below is the picture of shop area and parking lot. All empty and closed as I walked around 7 am. We shopped here before leaving. I got a bamboo mirror, some hair sticks and tea cup.

I also spent some time with the children there. They shy away from strangers. They were playing hopscotch on the roads and swinging in the play area nearby. I just asked one of those little girls if I can buy her goodies from the local shop just next to play area. All the kids rushed to the shopkeeper and picked what they wanted. I just paid the perk for all their smiles. This was during the waiting time, before we left the village loading luggage in the vehicle. All we got was their big smiley bye byes as we left the place.  

A cute cat sleeping in sunlight that caught my attention
Garden in front of residence, every house is like this.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – Rhinos and Elephant Safari

Rhinos in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary, Guwahati, Assam, India

Pobitora wildlife sanctuary is located at 50 kms from Guwahati. They have a rich population of about hundred One-horned Rhinos in a relatively small space compared to Kaziranga national park. Kaziranga is about 200 kms from Guwahati which needs night stay to take early morning jungle safari. I had only half a day’s time, so I chose Pobitora. On Feb 13th, Sunday early morning around 5.30 am we started from Guwahati to Pobitora. It was a foggy morning and road visibility was for only 5 meters. The sides of the road were completely white with fog. Nothing was visible. It was such a pleasure ride in chillness!  

Pobitora has early morning elephant safari and jeep safari. Elephant safari should be booked in advance as the availability on the spot becomes difficult. Also, we must be there well before time, ones the elephants start moving we will lose our chance to ride. I booked for elephant safari 3 days in advance in a site nexplore and paid Rs.850 per ticket. If we buy ticket in the sanctuary its Rs.400 only. The sanctuary has wild bull, boar and the Rhinos in a pine forest will grassland and the trip is for one hour. They have a herd of 15 elephants that marches together.  Some elephants have 2 seats, and some have 3 seats. We got a 3-seater. There is a beautiful lake with a hanging bridge that we must cross to reach the elephant ride area. The bridge is beautiful location for photography especially in the morning fog the railing of the bridge made a beautiful black and white pattern.

The Rhinos in Pobitora are single horned. The Unicornis is a symbol of good luck! Seeing one is said to bring focus in life. I was lucky to see many. They are regarded as symbol of freedom, magic, purity, innocence and healing. The Rhinoceros are the most ancient species that dates back to 11 million years and so are the Elephants. Watching Rhinoceros on Elephant ride in a forest zone was out of the mundane world experience! Especially on a foggy morning! There were marsh lands and ponds with lots of migratory birds. The water had a white misty layer above for like one feet. It looked like heaven as the water layer had a cloudy layer above and the sunrays penetrating the mist formed rainbow just above the water and there were these beautiful white feathered migratory birds. The birds chirping was a musical delight to the ears with early morning sunrays penetrating the fog like the piano keys.

Our ride started around 7 am and went on for one hour. The Elephant we travelled on is named Shankar and he is 35 years old. Very lovely guy! took us very safe all through the ride. We were talking to Shankar all through the ride patting him. His driver knew Assamese, I had a friend to speak to him in the Assamese language to know about Shankar. In our entire ride there was a baby elephant that accompanied us with its mother Elephant who was on duty carrying passengers on Safari. Babies accompanying mother to office when at work happened there also. He would nimble between the herd of elephants to find his mother and get lost in between to eat the grass. Then comes running again to find his mother. It was an awesome show.

The Rhinos are very soft and shy beings. They are vegetarians and eat the grasses in the land. They need cold climate to survive. Mostly they remain solitary or with the baby Rhino. They make cute noises and when elephants approach them, they move away from our direction making it difficult to photograph front pose. They have very cute black eyes and grey body. Their sharp single horn looks straight above pointed to sky. When they look at us with the horn in centre of the symmetric face, all our focus goes into the Horn.  We spotted almost eight of them. Then we saw some wild Boars which was difficult to photograph due to high grass. As the sun was rising the fog faded and the trees of the forest was clearly visible. It was a pleasure ride altogether away from the routine life. My heart kept beating wishing for more time in the forest along with Shankar breathing pure air, hearing the birds and watching the calmest Rhinos hiding between the tan-coloured dry grass. Shankar was eating grass and breaking the tree branches all the way halting in between ride having his breakfast. We didn’t feel guilty we are burdening him at the back as he had his feast all way and was walking with joy!

After completing Elephant ride we had some wild berries from the forest tree. It tasted sweet, juicy and chill making good starter before breakfast.

At the entrance there was a tea shop where the hand weaving machine was present, a scarf was being weaved when we went.

Scarf hand weaving

After the sunrise the lake view was green and merry. The hanging bridge is called Haduk and The lake is called Garanga Beel.

Umiam lake and Elephant falls

Umian lake is located near Shillong. The lake is part of Umiam dam, the first Dam constructed for Hydel power generation in north-east India and is operational since 1965. The lake has serenity imbibed as we visited in the afternoon time the sun rays was glittering like flutters of fireflies. The lake has a park attached with play area for children. The place has boating and other water sports. We just viewed the lake and moved on to next location.

Elephant falls is three-layer waterfalls located near Shillong. It was named by the British as the rock looked like elephant. But in an earthquake in 1897 the shape of the rock got collapsed. We need to walk down few steps to visit the second and the third falls. But the picturesque view is worth the climb. Best place for photography. The rock walls had mosses making the place look greener and chill. It was pleasant experience hearing the musical falls.

The night we stayed in Sohra at Laiaiker Inn. It was a comfortable stay. Sohra was little cold at night but tolerable. We walked across the streets in night for dinner in Sohra. In the morning the tea shops open late, but I was lucky to find one shop open earlier and had Tea with biscuit. The people speak English very well. Easy to interact with vendors. There was a beautiful old lady who wore a sling bag stylishly and served me Tea.  In the morning children were walking to school in different uniforms. It was a pleasing sight. Just opposite to Laiaiker Inn there is a huge Football structure on a building which belongs to the ministry of earth sciences. Its remarkable landmark.