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Drive to Sonmarg, the 'Golden Meadow' from Gagangir village

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Of the many famous 'margs' (meadows) of Kashmir valley, Sonamarg (or Sonmarg) is among the best known. 'Sona' refers to gold. Since we were here in July much of the grass was still green and was yet to turn golden. But the place still provided a 'being in heaven' feeling. You can feel the tall mountains getting closer and surrounding you as you near Sonmarg. Click here  to see the above map on googlemaps.com Fresh crystal clear streams gush out through the mountain passages The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Government tourism boards remind me of the neat, clear and boldly printed boards for tourists in Europe and US/ Canada. The air was clean and pure. The place neat and clean. No rubbish or garbage strewn. The feel was truly  heavenly. A view from the hotel opposite the Thajiwas glacier The inviting meadows...straight out of a school book illustration of a fairyland The meadows on the way to the glacier are popular with

Glimpses of Kashmir valley's beauty- Drive from Srinagar to Gagangir Village (near Sonmarg)

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One of the biggest advantages of visiting a tourist destination high up the mountains is the clean air and the minimal presence of dust. The tall mountains with streams flowing down in the valleys between them add to the beauty. Throw in near clean skies in the back drop, paste the slopes green with hundreds of thousands of trees, crown the mountain peaks with pure white snow, dot the entire landscape with pretty little villages and prettier people...you end up having the vale of Kashmir.  The beauty of Kashmir valley elevates photography to another level. I had my share of indulgence when I flew into Srinagar and drove to Sonmarg hill station on the way to Kargil town via Zo Jilla pass. This was in June last year (2009) when I was there to witness WWF-India's Snow Leopard work. Fortunately I took time off on the weekend to process some of the images. Below are the ones of my drive from Srinagar to Sonmarg, which is a part of the Srinagar - Leh national highway. Some

From Jog falls to the 'green seas' of south-east Asia

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A forest stream flowing near Makutta in a remote corner of Karnataka's Western Ghats near the Kerala state border I fell in love with rain-forests the first time I saw them on the drive to Jog Falls in Western Ghats. This was in early 1983, with my immediate family. These continue to awe me. The most recent being in south-east Asia. First impression, always the best I t was spring (early-April) of 1983. I guess I was in Grade 3  or 3rd Standard as we call it in Karnataka. I was visiting North Karnataka in a hired Ambi (Hindustan's Ambassador brand car) with my parents, my extremely naughty elder bro and kid sis. I had an aunt living with her Doc hubby and kids in Hubli, Dharwar District. We drove to Hubli, from hometown Tumkur, on the Bangalore - Mumbai National Highway 4. Those were the days when we crossed more trees than trucks through the drive. I still remember the neatly lined, fruit-bearing avenue trees. There were Jamun trees till near Kalambella village befo

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