Friday, January 12, 2018

Migratory Gulls at Patratu

The Patratu dam is again, at a distance of about 40 kms from Ranchi, just like the other places and waterfalls. Except that it is on a different road, the road to Ramgarh. The dam was built in the early sixties and the reservoir serves the Thermal Power Station as well as the cantonment at Ramgarh but that apart, it has also been attracting migratory birds.
The road to Patratu goes over two sets of hills and looks like this 

Rowing boats are available for hire with the boatman. They have formed a small cooperative which runs about 40 boats. Wearing life jackets is mandatory for the waters are more than 80 feet deep, as our boatman informed me. We saw groups of people feeding the migratory gulls with crunchy bites but that is definitely not the right thing to do and the administration should do more about it!

There were hundreds of these beautiful birds and I could not help wondering about the thousands of miles they must have crossed. The reservoir lake formed by the dam is also used for cultivation of fish and we noticed fish as well, with sudden plops on the placid surface.

Bandhan Mahto, our boatman. He lives nearby. It is only during the season, from October to March, that he makes a good living as he said, but with plans of a waterfront resort in the air, he was quite optimistic. And yes, all earnings were pooled together and shared together.

Saw an island in the far distance but did not go that far. Next time, surely and I wish you would come along too, to explore the island and find more species of these wonderful migratory birds!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sita Falls and Jonha Falls, Ranchi

Along the Ranchi to Purulia Road for about 35 kms and then, a small road turns right, running through rural hamlets. The air is so clear and fresh and the winter sun feels great now that the north winds have started blowing in from the foothills of the Himalayas. After some time, there comes a fork in the road, announcing Sita Falls to the left for about 5 kms and Jonha to the right, 1 km. We take the road to Sita Falls, full of ups and downs and sharp, hairpin bends. The road is totally deserted. And then, down some very steep steps to Sita Falls 

Sita Falls, Ranchi
We could not tarry here because time was running out. Off to Jonha falls, which is on the Gunga nala where it meets the Rarhu river and then, flows on as Goutamdhara. It is so called since Goutam Buddha is said to have bathed here and done penances sitting in a little cave overlooking the confluence of the streams.

The Rarhu rivulet, seen while descending the stairs

The Gunga nala, just before the falls. The surroundings were so peaceful, with only the sound of rushing water and I wish you were here!

The Jonha Falls 

Jonha Falls, Ranchi

The waters looked so cool, fresh and inviting! Ready for a dip?

And the Buddha cave, which has been buttressed by some cement work. A local inhabitant, selling cucumbers and soaked gram, served with rock salt and green chillies. 

This little girl had sold whatever little she had but for some reason, she looked quite lost in herself

The Jonha falls have this strange effect on you, making you wistful for no particular reason. Turning back every now and then, looking down at the falling waters in an incredibly beautiful setting. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Far away tonight, but
Let me not miss you

Let me be a stranger again

So that I may find you,

In thunder, lightning
And in blazing rain

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brown Shrike in Ranchi

For a few days now, I been hearing a screech screech chirping from a little birdie in the trees. Yesterday suddenly, I could get a clear view and took some pictures. 

From the shape of the beak, it looked like a shrike, but so little! And the bandit mask around the eyes is there as well, though a bit faded and the white brow above. So this is probably the brown shrike, and I noticed this bird for the first time! 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dasham Falls

The Dasham Falls ( literally meaning sound of falling water) are exactly 43 kms from our place in Ranchi. Situated on the Kanchi river, it is a popular tourist destination during the winter months, when the water is very clear. During the rains, the water is a bit muddy and with the advent of winter, the water turns clearer.  

The spray drenches you completely as you approach the falls.  Water rises very quickly during the rains and the current is very strong, and several youngsters have been washed away in the past.

The surrounding land is claimed by the Mundari people, one of the original tribes of the Chhota Nagpur plateau. This stone tablet tells us of their claims and lawsuits filed. Maoist guerillas are also active in the region, although they do not bother tourists in general. I found some of these women selling forest mushrooms and bamboo shoots which sell for a lot more in Ranchi city. 

In case you feel hungry, you can place an order for red hot chicken curry and rice which would be ready in about an hour. Free range chicken of course! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Monsoon breaking

The monsoon season is here and how! Incessant rains for five days in Ranchi and Bankura, leading to water-logging in the streets and the rivers in spate. Release of huge volumes of water from the dams of the DVC (Damodar Valley Corporation) which in turn, floods the town of Bankura. 

We have all known the rains, the rhymes and the pitter patter and the magic of the bounty from the skies. Indians know the rains to be season of malhar. The raga Miyan Ki Malhar is known to be a creation of Tansen, a courtier and the foremost exponent of Indian classical music during the times of emperor Akbar in the 17th century. Legend has it that once the raga is sung correctly and fervently, the skies would darken and the clouds rumble, bringing down the heat after the hot and torrid summertime. The sudden rush of cool wind through the thick foliage of the jamun tree. Rains and the sound of distant thunder. 

The rain
has stilled tonight

But it was only yesterday
that the rain was pelting down

In sheets, and an angry,
howling wind

Fuming, raging
Rattling the window panes

Distraught, in despair
Tugging, tearing

at heartstrings;
And now

The wind has stilled
and so has the rain

Even though the sky
is lit up in a sullen glow

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nesting birds

It's time to move once again, this time to eastern India. Couldn't help but notice the nesting birds in and around our place in Faridabad, quite like the time was to move from Gurgaon. 

It was a certain heaviness in the otherwise sleek yellow footed green pigeon that caught my attention at first 

Finally, I could locate its nest on the top branches of an oleander bush, well covered by the flowering creeper Madhumalati. Can you see the bird peeking out?

This was probably not a very good location, and I saw it after a few days inside the deodar tree. 

Looked in retrospect, a little perturbed by the attention it was getting from me, now appearing to question my motives, now appearing to fluff up its chest in a show of valor  

Yellow footed green pigeon, Faridabad
Meanwhile, the neem tree (margosa) was in flower like never before, and the ground below was a carpet of  white with fallen flowers 

And so was the krishnachura tree or gulmohar 

The deodar tree harbored another nest, that of the oriental white eye. 

Oriental white eye, Faridabad
The woven nest was quite small, smaller than a teacup! 

Left the bird to its own devices, for we must keep our distance from them during nesting activities.

And so, while these birds carry on with their nesting, it's time to move my nest once again.

In the mood for smooth jazz today, so here is Lily: Lily was here by Candy Dulfer and Dave Stewart