Temple on Film

Pachaimalai temple
Pachaimalai temple

The Mahayuga Kali hilltop temple on Pachaimalai, a hillock near Tambaram Sanatorium. One has to climb 150 steps to reach this shrine.  The view is worth the effort. The temple had just received the first coat of white paint and it presented an ethereal sight against the morning sky.

Shot in Nikon D7000 Tamron lens 18-200 at 56 mm 1/320 sec f/5.0

Lightroom Old School Film B&W preset.

 

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Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary

A nice weekend outing near Chennai

Many of us lament that unlike Delhi, Bangalore or even Trivandrum Chennai has fewer options for weekend outings near the city.

On closer examination, I find several options ex-Chennai which are not well known or well presented by the authorities and enthusiasts.

One such is the Nelapattu bird sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh which is a little over hundred kilometres from Chennai.

Along with 3 NRI friends (birders &  photographers), I visited this place recently and was happy with the experience.

From Chennai hit the Madhavaram roundabout and take the Calcutta Highway.  Getting into the Andhra Pradesh border you cross Tada and Sullurpeta.  Just after the toll booth, take a right turn under the flyover. There is a railway line to cross after which you take a left turn into a village road. One kilometre down this road you can see the gate of the Sanctuary on the left.

The Sanctuary is open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

Entry ticket for adults is Rs. 25. Camera Rs.100 Binoculars Rs.50. Car parking Rs.100.

The car can go inside up to the tourist Centre parking lot. On the way, we could see a Deer Park and a few cottages under construction. The Sanctuary has an area of about 400 hectares In the middle is water body which with its trees form the centre for the Birds to flock and roost.

There is a well-designed path about 500 mtrs long encircling the pond with convenient viewing Towers.

Being a weekday there were hardly any other visitors and we had the entire area to ourselves. I can imagine the crowd during weekends with school children, picnickers, tourists and others besides serious enthusiasts.

The Sanctuary is famous as the largest Pelicanary. Besides pelicans, there are several aquatic birds including open-billed storks, ibises, herons, and egrets. {see photographs}

A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A pelican in flight
A pelican in flight

Even in February, it was quite warm and we carried our own water. The centre had provided mineral water bubble tops at various places. And there were signs of a small canteen and a tuck shop.

 

Nalepattu.jpg
List of birds at Nalapattu Bird Sanctuary

 

The Calcutta Highway (GNT) is fairly good but be prepared for speed breakers, barricades, and traffic indiscipline., There aren’t many options by way of restaurants on the way unlike the Chennai-Trichy and Chennai-Bengaluru highways. If you are fussy about food, better carry with you as we senior citizens did. We supplemented it with some snacks on the way.

The staff at the centre were very friendly and ready with information. Being the first week of February there were lots of birds. A few weeks later, it may not be the case.

We got quite a lot of good frames and were overall happy with the experience.

On the way back we went into the Sriharikota Road through the Sullurpet town hoping to see more birds especially flamingos but we were disappointed. We just had a glimpse of the Sriharikota Gate and some egrets and herons in the receding backwaters and saline marshland. Pulicat Bird Sanctuary Information Centre which was partially closed informed us that we were too late as the birds left in January.

 

Monk at Chele La Pass

Monk at Chele La Pass
Monk at Chele La Pass

Chele Le pass is the highest point in Bhutan at 4000 mtrs. Yet it is easily accessible by a motorable road. We, a group of senior citizens, went near the peak in a van and trekked a few yards. Though we avoided the highest point we had a very good view.

A number of monks were also there enjoying the scenery. Here a lone monk walks through the ubiquitous prayer flags.

Digitalization

A wall painting on the way to Baijnath
A wall painting on the way to Baijnath

With demonetization and the consequent shortage of currency in the market, the debate on digital money has been revived. We hear about how petty traders have switched to digital money.

The above scene was captured from a running car using a Lumix point and shoot on the road to Baijnath from Kausani, Uttarakhand, a week before the demonetization.        The M-Pesa ad juxtaposed against the old tailor quietly reading the newspaper tells its own story.

Incidentally, M-Pesa has been a great success in Africa where it has captured quite a large percentage of the bottom of the pyramid. A positive move towards financial inclusion.