Satpura national park, MP – A visit to Forsyth Lodge

This past weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Satpura national park in Madhya Pradesh and stay at Forsyth Lodge, where a few of us bloggers were invited for #TheForsythExperience. I had immediately jumped at this opportunity when it had presented itself. Visiting a previously unvisited state/place was not something I was going to pass on, especially when its a national park area we’re talking about. After having visited few of the Jungle Lodges and Resorts properties in Karnataka, I knew that any of the national parks would be beautiful. After the visit, I can say that “beautiful” is so much of an understatement.

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Glorious sunset at Gudibande

Images and story about my visit to Gudibande last weekend. We witnessed a glorious sunset by the lake side and also had some fun painting light thereafter.

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Belum Caves and Gandikota

Having read about these places far too many times in the recent past, we planned a visit to Belum caves and Gandikota in mid November.

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Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli

The Lakshmi devi temple at Doddagaddavalli, is yet another, among a few of the lesser known Hoysala temples, situated near Hassan (wiki page). This temple was built during the 12th century when the ruler of the land was Vishnuvardhana. The temple is situated ~16 Kms from Hassan, off the highway to Belur. Below is the map with directions from Hassan. This temple is said to be one of the older Hoysala temples. One difference that is immediately noticeable from the famous temples at Belur and Halebid, is that this temple is not built on an elevated platform. The temple has four towers/shrines and hence is of a Chatushkoota construction. There are correspondingly four deities inside the temple. Of the four towers, 3 are undecorated, just following a pyramidal stack of layers with a kalasha  at their top. The fourth pillar has ornate carvings and underneath this pillar, inside the temple, is the garbhagudi of the main deity of Lakshmi devi. Pooja is still done within this temple, during morning hours. There is a pond situated behind the temple and the gate that stood between us and the path to the pond was locked. There seemed no other (easy) access to the pond from the road either. The view from the other side of this gate would have been a good one (sigh). We had to be contented with viewing the temple from within the premises, with ~7 feet stone walls on all four sides. The temple is a protected monument of national importance under the archeological survey of India, and the temple is relatively well maintained. Being a not-so-popular place, there is no huge throngs of tourists here, and that is a good thing. The interested traveler can spend quality time at this jewel of a Hoysala...

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Bucheshwara Temple, Koravangla

The Bucheshwara temple at Koravangla is a lesser known Hoysala temple. Situated about 12 KM from Hassan, and over 900 years old, the temple is at the edge of the Koravangla village.

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A short visit to Savandurga and nearby

Savandurga is a hill located about 60km from Bangalore. We took a different approach to get to a good vantage point. From here, the huge facade of the Savandurga hill was visible.

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Radha Kunj

A small lake situated behind the Art of living property off Kanakapura road, is just ~25 KM from Bangalore. Radha kunj is the name of a private garden, owned by Art of living. Beside the garden is a little lake, which is quite beautiful and serene. A narrow bund across the lake is west-facing and offers a clean view of sunsets. We went there on a particularly cloudy day – with the sun playing hide ‘n seek. Being so close to Bangalore, I expected the lake to be crowded and dirty. But I was pleasantly surprised to find hardly any people there and it was relatively clean. One or two people who were there, were enjoying a peaceful, quiet time by the lake. Here are a few images:...

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Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta in Karnataka is a hill which is part of the Bandipur national forest area (“Betta” is the Kannada word for hill). The hill top is usually covered with fog almost through out the year. The nearest town is Gundlupet (situated 20 KMs away). The usual recommended time to visit the hill is early mornings. I had visited the hill back in 2013 in the morning. We wanted to try something different, so we planned to be there for sunset. The forest checkpost, at the foot of the hill, only allows entry to visitors till 4 PM. We reached there about 10 minutes before that and managed to get through. There are restrictions in place atop the hill, for visitors. The only areas that the visitors are allowed in, is the Gopalaswamy temple (Lord Krishna). There’s fencing around the temple, to disallow visitors to venture out into the grasslands. The weather was not ideal – it was getting cloudy and the hill top was covered in dense fog. There was not much to photograph on that particular day. Here are a few images I took: The grey skies overpowering the colours – a tinge of the orange evening sky and the lush green grasslands. I also captured some time-lapse footage from this very location. The mist skimming through the grasslands and trees make for a dreamy scene. A freshly plowed agricultural field with cloud-kissed hills in the background. After 6 PM, it started to pour like anything and we took a good 7 hours to get back to...

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Satoddi falls

Some of the most beautiful places are the ones which have least access to human population. Sathodi falls is a prime example of this. Sathodi (Satoddi) falls is a picturesque waterfall situated near Yellapur in north Karnataka. The access to the waterfalls is via rough roads cutting through thick vegetation, the last few kilometers of which are unmetalled and bumpy. After this, one has to walk a good kilometer or so through muddy walkways surrounded by lush greenery. Having visited this just after monsoons, the whole surroundings were damp and the greens looked at their saturated best. Once we get through all the bad roads and the long walk, its like a wonderland out there. We visited the waterfall a day after some heavy rains (mostly thanks to the cyclone Hudhud – the effects of which were seen here too), the water had a muddy look to it. This was different from some of the images we had seen earlier on the internet. The green surroundings and the brown water presented a pretty compelling picture in front of us. While no amount of words or images would do justice to the pristine beauty of this place, I present two images below.   This image brings out a sense of serenity and calmness of the surroundings. One cannot fathom the roar of the falling waters in this image. I used a wide-angle lens with a 10-stop ND filter and an exposure of 25 seconds to achieve this look. I also used a vertical portrait orientation for this image to use the rocks leading up to the waterfall as a foreground.   This image though, shows a more ferocious side of the waterfall. The surroundings are haphazard and the water behind them is ferocious. I used a telephoto lens and a faster shutter speed for this. The image tries to convey this idea I had – but I could have had a better composition than...

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Madagadakere, Chikmagalur

Madagadakere is a large lake situated about 35KMs from Chikmagalur in Karnataka. This beautiful lake, is not frequented by tourists and hence the surroundings are clean and pristine. Visit to this lake early in the morning and you’ll have a chance to view a large variety of birds. The lake itself is surrounded by hills on 3 of its sides and makes for a pretty spectacular sight. The lake is situated pretty close to Ayyana kere, which is more popular. Just to give you an idea of the scale of this lake, here’s an image of the lake with people walking nearby. This gives a sense of how big the lake is. We parked cars on lush green grass fields beside the lake. I was told that all these fields get filled with water during the monsoons. Boy, wouldn’t that be a sight to behold… 🙂...

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Short trip to Shimoga

Last week, I did a short trip to Shimoga and surrounding areas. The outing was planned rather late and did not have much planning behind it. The idea was to make Shimoga the base and visit nearby areas. We reached Shimoga by noon on the first day. We took the longer route of (Bangalore – Tumkur – Chitradurga (NH-4) – Channagiri – Holehonnur – Shimoga (NH-13)) – Longer by about 30KMs, still takes as much time or lesser than the usual NH-206 route. After lunch and some rest, we headed towards Tirthahalli (NH-13). We went through a patch of Shettihalli forest reserve en route. There suddenly was a thick canopy of trees which blocked much of the harsh mid-afternoon sunlight that was beating down upon us. Made a note to stop along this stretch on the way back when the light would be more ideal. After this, we crossed Tunga upper level dam project – this was blocked for visitors – one could just look at the dam in a distance. Nonetheless, we continued on. We eventually crossed Tirthahalli and reached Kavishaila – the rock monument erected near the erstwhile home of Rashtrakavi Kuvempu. The sun was still harsh, and even in peak winter, the heat was discouraging. We spent some time exploring around the place before we headed back. We needed to be near the forest reserve by sunset and before it got dark. On the way back, we stopped at several places. The road was smooth but curvy, and along the way, tightly hugs the small villages, lakes, trees, right beside it. To the people living here, these are mundane being ever-present so near to them. For us nature loving city-dwellers, these prove to be places so serene and calm that we easily get excited. While I had stopped beside a small lake near a village and taking photographs of the same, I overheard 2 boys passing us on bicycles talking in Kannada – “Kasa tumbiro nam oor keryaag yen ayte anta ivru photo tegitavre!” (“What’s there in this waste-filled lake of our village that these people are taking photos of it!”). All I could do was to turn back at them and grin widely 🙂 We saw a lot of destroyed...

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Desktop Wallpaper – January 2014

A very happy new year – wishing you all the best for 2014. Here’s the first wallpaper for the new year. I tweaked the layout a bit. Hope you like it. This is a long exposure shot from Lalbagh on a cold winter morning.

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Experiments with 10-stop ND filter – Part 1

The blog title seems as though I’m starting a series of blog posts – well, I hope to. For now, this was the first time I took my B+W 10-stop ND filter out for a spin. Having never used such a filter, it was purely an experimental outing to Lalbagh to try and learn to use the filter well. Using a filter this dark means you cannot put the filter on and then start to compose and focus. So, each shot involves the following (at least, this is what I followed): Compose and focus the shot without the filter on (need a tripod), in Aperture or Shutter-Priority mode – note down the aperture and shutter speed. Put filter on, Turn off auto-focus on lens/camera, Switch to manual mode. Set aperture to what you noted above. Use an app like Nd-Calc, input the shutter speed noted above to derive the shutter speed necessary with the 10-stop filter on – typically you’ll need the “bulb” mode. Use a shutter-release cable/IR remote to expose the shot for the necessary time duration. For a new shot, one would need to remove the filter and repeat the steps above. With so much involved for each shot, it kinda forces me to think and plan my shots more. Its good to slow down now and then. The long exposures needed with the filter on, gives you an opportunity to actually look at your surroundings and enjoy them better than if you’d gone on a shooting spree 🙂 Here are a few images from today morning. With winter at its peak, the skies were very clear with no clouds whatsoever. ND filters are better used when there are dynamic elements in an image – moving clouds, streaming water, etc. In this sense, today (this season) was not an ideal outing – hence the hope for better representative images in the next part(s) 🙂...

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Avani, Kolar – Gaya of South India

Avani, Kolar – A slice of mythology and architecture, Gaya of South India Avani is a small village situated about 30 kms from Kolar, Karnataka (Map link). It is known for the Sita temple atop a boulder-ed hillock, but is not a place frequented by tourists. This makes it a nice offbeat location, close to Bangalore, ideal for a day outing. Those who are interested in exploring a historical place seeped in mythology and architecture will not be disappointed. Avani is also known as the “Gaya of south India” and has a big temple complex with ancient temples of “Ramalingeshwara”,”Lakshmanalingeshwara”, “Bharatalingeshwara” and “Shatrughnalingeshwara”, dating back to the period of the Nolambas and Cholas. Local mythology has it that Sita gave birth to Lava and Kusha in this region. Also, its said that Sita eventually entered mother earth as she was said to be the daughter of mother earth. The temple complex is well maintained and is one of the protected monuments under Archeological Survey of India. There are boards containing information at each of the temples within the complex. Here are a few images from the temple complex.     A little further down the road from the temple, you’ll come across a Sringeri matha. Further down is the path to climb the hillock that takes you to the Sita temple. The initial look at the hillock looks imposing and daunting, but the path is rough-paved with rock-cut steps and at places is marked with helpful direction marks. Along the way, one can see stacks of rocks clumped together in places. There is a belief that unmarried women wishing for a good husband, married women wishing for a baby, if they make a stack of rocks for worship, their wishes come true. At the top of the hillock is the Sita temple. Here are a few images from the climb I did.        ...

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Laksha Deepotsava

Laksha Deepotsava – Lamps, Decorations and Festivities at Jayarama Seva Mandali, Jayanagar, Bangalore Laksha Deepotsava is celebrated on the last new moon day (Amavasya) of Karthika maasa of the Hindu calendar. Laksha means lakh(s). Lakhs of oil lamps (Deepas) are lit on this evening around temple premises. Following are a few images taken near the premises of Sri Jayarama Seva Mandali temple at Jayanagar, Bangalore during Laksha Deepotsava, 2013.     This guy drew this amazing Rangoli art in under 5 minutes! Hats off. Sadly, as can be seen from his appeal below his art, these guys do not seem to get the encouragement they deserve 🙁 Spoke to him for a while – a humble, down-to-earth person – his name is Jogi Nagappa. And art is his passion and livelihood. He can be found at the NR Colony Raghavendra math in Bangalore.  ...

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Desktop Wallpaper – December 2013

I digged up this image from my trip to Ladakh last year. This is the river Shyok, flowing through the Nubra valley. The typical desert climate of Ladakh region is evident in the image. The blue river flowing through the arid high altitude desert makes for a unique scene that is quite common in the Ladakh region elsewhere too – Rivers Indus and Zanskar, for instance. Click on the image for a larger resolution that could be saved as a desktop...

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