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Of unforgettable and the forgotten wonders

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The Hoysala period temple at Mosale village, near Hassan City, west of Hassan - Mysore state highway in Karnataka. India is a land of immense creativity. From the pre-Islamic India temples of Khajuraho (Central India) to the last of Mughal era structures of Safdarjung tomb (Delhi), through ages, even a small period of peace in a kingdom/ region resulted in architectural master pieces. Even the British invested considerable resources in building the  Viceroy's House - the present day Rashtrapati Bhavan (President of India's house). But there are so many architectural and geological wonders in India that  it is simply impossible for the Governments (state and central/ federal) alone to maintain these. While the Governments use their meagre resources to take care of the famous ones, the less fortunate ones remain hidden, at the mercy of time and often, vandals. Click on image above to read details on it .  While in Canada , we went on a trip to study &

My fascination for Central India's forests

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A view of Central Indian forests from train, on the Delhi - Bangalore (Bengaluru) journey As a high school student, in late 80s, I had a keen interest in geography, particularly the different states of India. One state that marvelled me, because of its size and the amount of forests it had, was Madhya Pradesh (MP). During one of those years, I accessed a full spread map of Madhya Pradesh tourism. I don't remember if it was of my father or I got it as a supplement in one of the national dialies. But, I remember going through it keenly and reading its notes on the state's different parks and sanctuaries. In 1993-94, I bought a TTK book-map on India's wildlife, one of the best ever produced, to date. The book map showed the location of various PAs (protected areas) in MP. The map increased my curiosity of the state further, particularly the cluster of PAs at the junction of south-eastern MP (now Chattisgarh), northern Andhra Pradesh and eastern Maharashtra. The

Achanakmar: Beyond the tiger show - the hidden treasures of central Chattisgarh

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A quiet road running through Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Central India's Chattisgarh state The state of Chattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh a few years ago. The state is rich in forests and minerals. Thou gh the state has been in news of late due to naxalism - organised political violence, the central and northern parts of the state still make for a safe destination for tourists. Inherting the tourist infrastructure of the Madhya Pradesh Government, Chattisgarh still has many pretty and picturesque rest houses amidst natural scenery. The famous Kanha Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh, is not to be seen in isolation. For, it is connected with many other tiger reserves through forested corridors. These corridors are critical for the tigers of the whole of Central India's Satpura Maikal landscape (SML) as they allow the big cats to freely move and disperse to the more safe and prey-loaded parks. Among these tiger reserves is Achanakmar. The forests of Achanakma

Kanha Tiger Reserve: When the jackals came calling in Kipling's Mowghli-land

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Souvenirs at a shop near a entrance gate of Kanha Tiger Reserve Rudyard Kipling is said to have written 'The Jungle Book' based on his stay in India and his imagination of the Central Indian forests. His story 'Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack' is based on the jungles around Seoni town, that include Pench Tiger Reserve. I visited the well-known Kanha Tiger Reserve in Central India from the 19 to 24 of this month to attend a WWF-India meeting and also to see our work there. Flying in to Jabalpur from Delhi on Monday, we drove through the beautiful forests of Satpura - Maikal landscape. The forests are of teak as one drives from Jabalpur on the highway to Raipur City (Chattisgarh), through Jabalpur and Mandla territorial divisions. The teak slowly gives way to sal as one crosses the Narmada River at Mandla Town. About 40 km south-east of Mandla is Kanha Tiger Reserve... View Larger Map During the week we managed to get into the park a couple of

Heights of Kargil's natural beauty: Panzi La, near roof of the world

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'Penzi La'  or  'Pensi La' , at 14,000 feet, is the highest point along the Kargil - Padum road in India's Jammu and Kashmir state. The word ' La ' in Ladakhi language means pass. The pass overlooks the  Drang-drung  glacier. Here are some scenes from the route The route ascends up and one runs into many glaciers. The scenic drive from Rangdum to Penzi La takes about an hour. View Larger Map Buddhist prayer flags form the foreground to a panoramic vista of the landscape around Penzi La. Cattle grazing amidst glaciers and snow-capped peaks around Penzi La. Looking back at the road from Rangdum from Penzi La, surrounded by towering glaciers and barren mountain bases.   View of the Drang-drung glacier through the vehicle's wind shield. Approaching the Drang-drung glacier. Drang-drung is the most formidable of all the glaciers along the Kargil - Padum road journey. The melting ice feeds the Indus river t

Unseen beauty of Kargil District: Rangdum's landscape and wildlife

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Rangdum is a small hamlet inhabited by a handful of Ladhaki families. The place lies along the Kargil - Padum road and is a favourite halting place for many who travel along the road. Located, as it is, near glaciers the temperatures are freezing at night even in summer. Access to the place by road is blocked in winter due to the snow. A rock formation near Rangdum. The Himalayas are considered to be relatively young mountains . According to plate tectonics theory, they were formed by the clash of the Indo-Australian plate with the Eurasian plate. Early morning view of the glaciers and peaks surrounding the Rangdum tourist bungalow Rangdum offers sweeping views of the tall valleys and peaks. The area around Rangdum thrives with wildlife. The area is rich in birdlife like this horned lark . Among the many birds that breed in the meadows around Rangdum are the yellowheaded wagtail . The longtailed marmots (top first image of this post) are the most visible wildl

Nun Kun glacier and Rangdum: The drive to glacier country

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Green pastures besides the road to Parkachik village from Tangole village. Beyond Parkachik village, the road ascends steeply into glacier country. View Larger Map Grazing in a sub-alpine meadow near Parkachik village. This is also the site of sub-alpine camping by Dept of Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir Government. The mouth of Nun-Kun glacier lies along the road Kargil - Padum main road. The glacier water empties into Suru River. The steep, rugged road to Ragdum beyond Parkachik glacier. Melting glaciers feed a stream of River Suru beyond the Parkachik village and mouth of Nun Kun glacier. Beyond Shafat Glacier the valley gets wider and one can see sweeping views of the mountains. A view of Shafat glacier. Grazing horses besides the road on the drive up to Rangdum. Along the way, the road passes through many beautiful sub-alpine meadows. The road is narrow at many places and cuts through boulders. Wide valley and tall cliff