Thursday, May 30, 2013 By

Moonsoon Magic at Swapnagandha Valley,Goa

"Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby."

By Langston Hughes
 It’s all about for “love of rain”,for “love of nature". Being born romantic,I adore monsoon and loves to re-tune myself with dancing droplets of monsoon.The last September when I escaped to shower splashed “Swapnagandha” valley,Chorla Ghats,Goa,I reawakened from mundane of daily life.
swapnagandha valley
Swapnagandha Valley,Chorla ghat,Goa
Goa, is not about only for sea,sand and sunshine.Strikingly scenic "Swapnagandha" portrays a completely different facet of Goa,the road less traveled.It took us almost three and half hours from Goa Airport to reach this still undisturbed wilderness,nestled in the cosy crook of Chorla Ghat (ghat means hilly terrain).The valley unfolds its virgin beauty with blushing wild flowers,fresh shadows of green,gushing waterfalls,mist covered mountains,a lake in the lap of mountain with various wild animals in the surrounding forest.What else do you require to soak in nature,to be caressed by the shower,to smell scent of damp earth,to watch melancholy of sky?

Wildernest Nature Resort,Chorla Ghat,Goa:Staying amidst wilderness in a true sense:

We had stayed in waterfall view cottage of “Wildernest Nature Resort” surrounded with unspoiled virgin forest,waterfalls and wildlife.and for two days we simply did nothing,though experienced so many things.Whole front wall of the room is made of glass and that will make your day from sunrise to sunset.


The best thing of that nature resort that they have not destroyed a single tree of the jungle and wildlife,though they are fully equipped with all the modern amenities like a bar,a restaurant and nice swimming pool. But restaurant had some set buffet menu which is very unique in taste as well as designed keeping in mind one's health.In the night time also no flashy lights,only bamboo lights in the area,more than 100% Eco-freindly resort.I salute the whole 'wildernest' team who made this possible.The Amazing view of twin waterfalls in the backdrop of green mountains will surely blow away your mind,compensate your every penny you spend.

The Jungle BAR inside "Wildernest Nature Resort",Goa,Chorla Ghats
The night was little frightening with hissing sounds of reptiles and hooting of owls.The next day morning I wake up along with the bird-song.Found some monkeys sitting innocently on my jungle machan balcony(machan means wooden floor\balcony on top of trees adjacent to the room).
The weather was always cloudy,blissfully romantic.Lazily clouds and the dense fog covered the valley,waterfalls started disappearing from the vision &I was kissed by the rain standing amidst misty cloud.Magic spell of monsoon started to spread its charm inside the virgin valley "Swpnagandha" and I was the silent spectator of "CELEBRATION OF LIFE".

How to Reach Swapnagandha Valley,Chorla Ghat,Goa:

By Air:100 KM from Goa Airport.Ask for pick up from the resort.
By Road:Chorla ghat is almost 50-60 Km away from Panaji,Goa.You can hire a cab from Goa.

Where to Stay At Swapnagandha Valley,Chorla Ghat,Goa:

Undoubtedly "Wildernest Nature Resort”Don't forget to do a advance room booking or at least do some availability inquiry before reaching to the resort as there is no other option in the middle of the jungle.

Season To Visit Swapnagandha Valley,Chorla Ghat,Goa

It totally depends upon you.If you want to go for hiking,nature trail,forest walk and lot of outdoor activities then avoid monsoon (June to September).But if you don't want to follow best practices all the time,try your luck in monsoon.

Related Article About Goa

 GOA in Rains- A Romantic Gateway 

Picture Courtesy:Mr Gourab Mukherjee  and rights reserved to this blog.

Monday, May 27, 2013 By

Winter Sojourn Of Migrating Birds,Chilika,Orissa

Do you love to observe flights of those colorful wings?Or the movements or the chirping sounds of those feathered beauties?Yes I am talking about birds,one of the most beautiful creature of the nature.Chilika lake along coastal area of Orissa is largest wintering ground of millions of migratory birds including pink flamingos in Indian subcontinent and a true paradise for bird-watchers.
Fisher Man's Boat is getting ready to sail  in vast Chilika
So when one of our close friend  invited us to his hometown(Bhubaneswar,Orissa) to bless the new couple,instantly I accepted the invitation with a broad smile and behind the scene my travel-freak mind started preparation for exotic Chilika Lake. India's biggest inland saline water lake spread over 1,100 square kilometers,dotted with numerous islands and finally merges with Bay Of Bengal.The lagoon also,hosts the rare Irrawaddy dolphin as well as an unique ecosystem. I am sure you will be captivated by the incredible view of lagoon’s cobalt blue water encircled by the hills.The water of this lagoon ripples dreamily,periodically dancing with the gentle breeze from across the Bay of Bengal.So Chilika has much to offer for an ardent lover of a nature.
Chilika Lake in his own rhythm
Birding tour at Chilika:

Winter is the loveliest time to visit Chilika.As this time of the year only thousands of migratory birds flying in from the Caspian Sea,Baikal Lake,remote parts of Russia,Mongolia,Ladakh,Siberia,Iran,Iraq,Afghanistan,Himalayas to this lagoon to feel the warmth of Chilika and make it their winter habitat. The numerous islands dotted with some romantic name like Honeymoon Island,Nalban Island,Birds island along Chilika are basically wintering grounds for the birds.Nalban "a weed covered island in local language" is the core area of the Chilika Lake wetland and declared as Bird Sanctuary.You need permission from the forest department to venture in Nalban.The island gets merged in rainy season.

Migratory Birds at Chilika Lake,Orissa

A white bellied Sea Eagle,Chilika
Watching rare dolphins near Satpada:
Satapada on Chilika is home for Irrawaddy dolphin and dolphins can be seen their.There are also ample opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and boating.Sailing in Chilika while sun is setting down is an dream like experience.Water shines and last rays of setting sun looks lovely .The lake with the golden ray of setting sun started looking like a painting,a moment to cherish for lifetime.

A moment to cherish forever ,Sunset at Chilika

Where To Stay: We had booked Orissa Tourism Development Corporation cottage,Panthanivas beforehand. OTDC has lake facing,very well maintained, big AC rooms.The service was quite decent; regardless the cottages are spread over a large area.OTDC had also arranged all our island tours,boating arrangements.I feel OTDC hotels are best bet to adore the beauty of Chilika.Food is also excellent.The evening was quite relaxing inside OTDC's lake facing balcony with some chilled beers and fish, prawn fries.We knew that we can get succulent sea foods, fresh fish, prawns, crabs etc at Chilika as Chilika is an ecosystem with huge fishery resource.The cool zephyr(with salt water smell) coming from the lagoon took away all our exhaustion.
Related Post : 
Musing By The Sea,Konarak,Orissa
Konarak Sun Temple -A World Heritage Site

Sun Rise in Chilika Lake,Orissa,India

Picture Courtesy:Mr Gourab Mukherjee and rights reserved to this blog.

Friday, May 24, 2013 By

UNESCO World Heritage Site,Sundarban,WestBengal

"I traveled miles, for many a year,
 I spent a lot in lands afar,
 I’ve gone to see the mountains, the oceans I’ve been to view.
 But I haven’t seen with these eyes
 Just two steps from my home lies
 On a sheaf of paddy grain, a glistening drop of dew."
--A Poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore(Translated in English)

But its so true for me and for many of us.
Sundarbans is not far away from Kolkata,but whenever we have tried to fix a weekend destination we never thought of it.We had started by car from Science City,Kolkata & and it took almost 2 hours to reach Godkhali jetty. After reaching Godkhali we onboarded to our river cruiser arranged by our tour operator as there is no direct option to reach Sundarban by land.Next 2 hours sailing by launch through the various rivers was a lifetime experience and then we were overwhelmed by the vast expanse of blue water,greenaries of mangrove forest,quietness of the surroundings,only the engine sound of the cruiser. It lies at the mouth of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India,forming the seaward fringe of the delta. God has painted Sundarban with shades of blue and green in winter and it changes color depending upon the season.

Sailing by a motor driven boat
The best part of traveling inside Sundarban is you have to travel by boat\river cruiser through various rivers,numerous canals.No road journey.Even you are not allowed to embark in the river bank.
Flora and Fauna: The mangrove forest is also unique by its nature. The Sundarban's flora is characterized by the abundance of sundari, gewa, goran,hental and keora  all of which occur prominently throughout the area.At the time of high tide  these trees gets submerged into salty water.Famous Royal Bengal Tiger prefers to hide themselves inside hental forests.As the leaves are yellowish green, it is very difficult to spot the royal bengal tiger inside hental jungle.According to the 2011 tiger census, the Sundarbans have about 270 tigers.

The Sundarbans provides a rich wildlife habitat. The core area of the forest is not allowed for visit by tourists,so chances of spotting tiger is very less.It's all about luck. We have seen many fresh pug-marks in the river banks, but not the big wild cat.Except the big cat, there has deer, wild pigs,bat,fox,sajaru(Hedgehog),wild cock,monkey,turtle,snake,crocodile,dolphin and many other animals.In the winter there is high probability of sighting of crocodiles taking sun bath on the muddy salt water riverbanks and we spotted few of them.So Sundarban is the most beautiful and dangerous too.

A Big Monitor Lizard in Sundarban

A verity of birds are also available there – shamuk-khol, kingfisher, pankouri,tiya(parakeet) are populous among them.

Flocks of birds inside a narrow canal of Sundarban

Weather: Best time to visit to Sundarban is winter.We found very pleasant weather in January. We have spent hours after hours in boat cruise.Rainy season should be avoidable at any cost as this time all rivers are over flooded and there is almost situation of flood.Summer is also hot and not ideal for open air boat cruise.These area also heavily affected by cyclonic storm time to time.

Staying and Food: Sundarban is not that kind of place for luxury hotels at per international standards.There are few hotels which provides decent accommodation and local cuisine.Hospitality is not that great kind of / or to be boast of. You won't find any restaurants or shopping centers.Its basically rural area surrounded by various rivers, canals, streams and dense forests.West Bengal Govt has some jungle lodges and that are also very basic levels.We have stayed at Suranjan Holiday Resort  basically it was a package tour of 3days, 2 nights. It was value for money.Sundarban Tiger Camp is also a good option .

A luxury cruiser M. V. Paramhamsa with excellent accommodation, bar, gym, lounge, sky deck sails every Friday for the world's largest Mangrove Forest "Sunderbans" from Kolkata, Millenium Park jetty.I think this is the most convenient way for the outsiders.

Early Morning at Sundarban

Lifestyle of the local people:Without describing the local people,I feel the write up is incomplete.Economic condition of the local people mainly villagers and fisherman are not good. First of all due to salty water,farm land is few and the human habitats gets heavily affected due to frequent attack of flood and cyclonic storms. Main livelihood is catching fish,collecting honey,cutting of jungle woods.Tiger attacks are frequent in the Sundarbans. Between 100 and 250 people are killed per year. We have listened many horrified stories of the man eaters.Basically local poor fisherman,honey collectors and wood cutters are the primary victim. Snake bite is also very high in these area.Many folk heroes,gods and goddesses specific to the Sunderbans like Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai are famous.

Wayand,Kerala:Way to Pristine Nature

It's summer and Kerala in summer means too hot and humid.So most of the tourist avoid this destination. And here lies the trick to avoid cacophony of tourist crowd.The 'God's Own Country' has much to offer in summer also.“Wayanad” on the lofty Western Ghats is strikingly scenic,and is known for its romantic scenarios, picturesque hill stations,sprawling spice plantations,parrot green tea gardens,luxuriant forest and lakes.Wayanad is still a virgin paradise.
From Mysore we headed towards Kalpetta in Wayanad district,Kerala.This road journey from Mysore to Kalpetta has two benefits.First one travel through awesome "Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary" where  herds of wild elephants,and a lot of other wildlife sighting is very common.Second road condition is very good,it is as smooth as butter.
Mysore -->Gundulpet-->Sultan Bathrey-->Kalpetta (Approx 140 KM)

Road To Wayanad,Kerala

Destination weather, specifically when it is hot summer in India,the most important thing to consider which can make your travel a wonderful and who can become the spoilsport of your journey.At end of the April we have found misty early mornings with cool breeze coming from the hill,little hot mid afternoon but yes it is tolerable and very much pleasant evening.One thing if you are planning for Wayanad in summer then try to stay at some higher region like Vythri hills, Banasura hills or inside tea\coffee plantation where weather is more pleasant.

Early Morning from Planet Green Plantation Resort,Kalpetta

Stay Cool: There are many places in Wayanad to stay from budget to very higher range,from tree house accommodation to earthen luxury suite,form luxurious tent to homely home stays. Depending upon our budget and close to cool nature,we have chosen Planet Green Plantation Resort,Kalpetta which is more of a home stay than a hotel,where personal caring of the owner and resort's stuff is really appreciable.In the early morning we used to have a cup of coffee\tea in the balcony and soak in serene,calm nature. And after two days we were completely rejuvenated and refreshed.

Summer Destination,Wayanad,Kerala

Things to do in Wayanad in Summer: 

Early Morning Elephant Safari: Wayanad wild life sanctuaries where elephants roam freely and tigers are sighted occasionally.Various species of deer,monkeys,birds etc also live here.Elephant rides are arranged by the Forest Department  from early morning  to evening 5PM.

Visit to Banasura Dam in late afternoon: Banasura Sagar Dam is situated 21 km from the town of Kalpetta and is built on the tributary of the Kabani River. It is starting point of the trekking of the Banasura hills. Speed Boat ride is available in the dam and enjoy that experience at the cost of 500Rs per boat. It is worth to spend sometime here.

Banasura Sagar Dam,Wayanad

Visit To Pookot Lake: A fresh water lake nestled among green brunches of Wayanad hills. Little crowded.

An evening in Pokoot Lake

Lakkadi View Point: We reached at the view point at the end of our sightseeing tour and I feel,this point should not be a miss.Once you reach top of Lakkidi, you can have a bird's eye view of the deep green valley, and the beautiful winding ghat roads.

Zooming in from Lakkidi View point,Wayanad

Visit To Kuruvadweep:  If you have time you can give it a try. But I like the unique way of crossing the river to reach the island. Basically it is vast delta on Kabani river away from city,surrounded with lush green trees and small small streams,monkeys,various species of birds.I find the place heavily crowded at the end of April by local people and which ultimately destroyed the serenity and beauty of the place.

Unique way of Crossing the Kabani River

There are many more places like Menumetty Waterfalls(no water in summer), Edekkal caves but we gave those a miss and opt to relax in our balcony where clouds and mist spreads the chill and eyes rest in green peace