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

Musings

Far away tonight, but
Let me not miss you

Let me be a stranger again

So that I may find you,
Anew

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



Saturday, June 17, 2017

An hour at the Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

This is the only sanctuary in the Delhi area as I learnt. Many times, while going to Delhi via Surajkund, I have noticed the signboard and I really regret not being able to visit earlier and at leisure. Chaps from the BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) run the place, and its education officers accompany every group. On certain Sundays, visitors are allowed access to a lake deep inside the 21 sq km sanctuary, which sounded like a birding hotspot, apart from being the abode of wild jackals. And blackbuck, that exquisitely beautiful antelope of which so few remain in the wild



Since we were rather late, past 4 p.m, we were allowed access only to the butterfly garden and the beginnings of nature trails. Mr Ahmed accompanied us after our names were registered and the entry fees paid


Immediately thereafter, we spotted the pied crested cuckoo perched on a tree

Pied Crested Cuckoo, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary
The bird appeared to lead us on into the sanctuary and allowed us to take a few pictures


Mr Ahmed pointed out the long tailed shrike to us. Among the shadows, it was difficult to get clear pictures

Long tailed Shrike, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary
We were not allowed further ingress into the forest as it was already 5 p.m. Spotted a nilgai (blue bull) and huge peacocks from a distance and then suddenly, what appeared to be a piece of rock turned out to be an Indian Stone Curlew, quiet and still

Indian Stone Curlew, Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

Also saw the oriental white eye, the indian silverbill, the ashy prinia and the oriental magpie robin, common birds seen in the Delhi area.

The magpie robin was perched strategically, singing its heart out 


In case you are interested, you are welcome to visit the website of the Conservation Education Centre of the Asola Bhatti Sanctuary here 

And here is a whiteboard displayed at the entrance to the CEC, announcing recent sightings. Interestingly, leopard pugmarks as well!