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.

 

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Largest monolithic Nandi at Lepakshi

Granite Nandi at Lepakshi
Granite Nandi at Lepakshi

The monolithic granite Nandi (Bull) is believed to be the largest in India. Built during the Vijayanagar period(14th C CE) it is part of a large temple complex. The exquisite carvings of bell garland, jewellery etc. stand out beside the size.

It is 4.5 Mtrs high and 8.25 Mtrs long. The Thanjavur Big Temple Nandi is smaller.

Boatmen on the Yamuna

Boatmen in the Yamuna
Boatmen on the Yamuna

The scene behind the Taj Mahal on an early Monday morning.

Just a few yards from the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. A labour of love built about 500 years ago by the Emperor of India in memory of his favourite wife. Took 20,000 artisans 22 years to build. Attracts millions of visitors every year.

All these mean nothing to these poor boatmen for whom it is just another day at work.

 

Dhaba

Dhaba Jim Corbett - Ranikhet road
Dhaba Jim Corbett – Ranikhet road

Driving around in Uttarakhand or anywhere in North India, you can be assured of tasty treat of hot parathas in the wayside eateries for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Though the taste is not uniform, you can be sure it is palatable and wholesome. Dahi and pickles are the standard accompaniments. You can get a variety of vegetable curries too.

This is a dhaba we stopped at soon after leaving the tony resorts of Jim Corbett National park for Kausani, via Ranikhet. The fact that we were hungry made us ignore the ambiance and enjoy the food.

 

Amma Veedu

Amma veedu seen form another amma veedu

Amma veedu seen from another amma veedu

Amma veedus are the palatial houses where the minor queens or the consorts of the Travancore king used to stay. There are still a few  amma veedus in the West Fort area of Trivandrum. One of these has been tastefully converted into a fine dining restaurant.

The house in the image is opposite that restaurant, taken from its second-floor window.