Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cricket Mania

Good time for Indians to re-think about the blind craze for Cricket and about the time we spent on watching cricket and going behind the player fan clubs and all. Nice time for Indians to go ahead and think about serious sports.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lived Together

Lived together for from birth, even death cannot separate them. Location is Pulpally Forest in Wayanad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Solar Eclipse - 19th March 2007

I got up at 6:00am to watch the rare occasion. I was in Hyderabad with my elder brother staying with him and his family in HAL quarters. My brother’s wife was preparing morning tea when I got up. I brushed my teeth, made my camera ready and went to the terrace of the building to watch and take photograph of the eclipse. Solar eclipse started little bit earlier than sun rise, countries to the east of India would have seen the eclipse from the start. While I was taking snaps, my brother came up his cup of morning tea, and another for me. We had tea, watched sun the eclipse, had a good chat and took some snaps. I couldn’t continue since the cells of my camera got depleted.

Conservative beliefs about the eclipse

Two days before, while I was in Bangalore, I read in Times of India about the eclipse timing. I was always fascinated about the solar activities and all other astronomical events. So I read the news to the end. I was ashamed to read the second paragraph of the news. Who ever wrote the article (I forgot) authentically stated not to have food at the time of eclipse. On the day of eclipse (Sunday, 19th of March) some one told that the reason for not having food during eclipse is that some poisonous gas forms in food during eclipse, and people are supposed to have food only after eclipse and after having a bath. Yes I agree taking a bath is always good for health. But the relation between the eclipse and the bath was not explained. If an eclipse produces poisonous gas, then the same is applicable for every new moon day, since trajectory of moon and sun is very near. During every sun set, earth is eclipsing sun from our sight, does it have more effect.

Of course there is a lot of effect of the increased gravitational pull during new moon and full moon days. It is reflected in the life cycle of many creatures, the tides happening in the sea etc. But it is ridiculous to predict the future life in terms of stars which we see after many thousand years, yes the light from the stars reach our eyes after thousands of years. The star itself may not exist at the time of the birth of a child, only the light which emitted thousand of years back creates the image of the star in our eyes. But still people believe that the same light can predict the future than the light from the sun, which is billions of time stronger, as well as have a big gravitational pull on each.

Gravitational pull or push will be almost 95% or more for every new moon or full moon when compared to a lunar eclipse or solar eclipse. The discussion will go on for ever; people will be always looking for a reason to attach all the bad things happening in his/her own life, instead of looking into the actual reason of a failure. It is interesting how astrologers change their predictions according to the era to earn food. Once, in India or at least in Kerala, society believed that traveling overseas is against religion. But now astrologers started predicting the happy event of a foreign journey for everybody.

I believe that when time goes forward, all religions will continuously evolve which was happening always in the past, and good beliefs and practices will be separated from the bad. But the percentage ratio of good and bad people will remain the same. Hope I have not hurt any religious feelings.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mother’s love

Photos are taken from sweet home at Payyampally. The first picture shows the close-up picture of the bird. The second picture shows the bird and its nest zoomed out. The third picture shows the nest of the bird. The bird and the nest were at a height of 4-5 meters, so I could not take a picture with the eggs of the bird. I am not sure whether the nest is still in its construction state or whether eggs are there or eggs are already hatched since I could not see the inner side of the nest.

Colors of Nature

Photographs are taken from my sweet home at Payyampally, Wayanad.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Trek to Edakkal Caves

A distant view of the hill and an inner view of Edakkal Cave

Even though I belong to Wayanad, I had not visited Edakkal Caves. I decided that not to miss it any more and set out towards Edakkal Caves in bike along with Mr. George Panattu. (“Baby Chettan”) We reached Edakkal Caves which is very near to Ambalavayal around 2:30pm.

Inside the caves formed in-between the rocks ancient petroglyphs which dates back 4000-5000 years back are visible. The name Edakkal means in-between in Malayalam. Yes, the caves are formed by the “in-between” space of those gigantic rocks. Those alphabets and symbols seen on the cave walls are identified to be part of the Neolithic age. (4000Bc to 1700bc)

The alphabets sculptured on the inner walls of the cave

From the parking lots provided for tourist vehicles, a height of 300 feet need to be trekked up to reach the caves. The road which takes the tourists to the caves is well built but the slope is too much. There are commutation facilities provided in Mahindra Jeep by the locale people. We decided to walk up and enjoy the surroundings. On the way we sited many cottages and hotels mainly aimed at tourists.

A tree on the hill side which is very small but will age very old, trees grows like bonsai in hill top.

Once we reached the ticket counter, the path towards the caves situated at some more height of the hill seems turned to be difficult to climb up. We had to go through small passages though the rocks, which almost looked like a cave. Finally we reached the caves which had the inner space of a big auditorium. We took some pictures of the cave as a whole as well as the ancient alphabets on the rock walls.

Another tree in hill slope

There was a telescope provided by the tourism department where each visitor needs to pay 3 rupees to look through it. A very close view of Ambalavayal and Sulthan Bathery can be enjoyed through the device since it is situated in such a high altitude. We got the information that the peak of the hill is a 1000 feet still higher.

Some more pictures from the slope of the hill

We decided to climb further up to get a picturesque view of Wayanad. The height of the hill when compared to Chembra Peak was very less, but the risk involved in climbing was very high. If we had miss-stepped on leg at any point, it would be fatal. We reached the top of the peak by climbing up one hour, and we took photos in between. A big rain cloud formed over the top of the hill and we were afraid of being caught in the rain, storm and thunder but it did not happen.

The telescope fixed near the caves

Climbing down the hill turned to be a little bit scarier, but we reached back near the caves within another 45 minutes. All over, Edakkal caves trek was an interesting journey. It is a very good tourist location. The view of Wayanad from the top of the hill along with the soothing effect of the wind from the valley seemed to be more interesting than the caves itself.

A picture from the top of the hill and me refreshing after climbing up the hill

Rock Mines in Ambalavayal

Like what I described in my previous post, Ambalavayal is a place with lots of rock quarries. When some one dig some where in the soil of Ambalavayal they will find rock beneath a layer of soil. The number of rock quarries boomed up drastically during the past one or two decades. Rock is an essential material for the construction of the building. But when rock quarries are permitted, there should be some regulations which take care of the natural disasters which can build up due to these mines.

In the first picture, you can see a rock mine, and the second picture is a zoomed out view of the same. The picture is taken from Edakkal caves. You can see that a major part of the rock is already carved out. After a few more years, you won’t even see the hill there. The two other Rock Mountains which you can see on either side of the quarry in the zoomed out picture may also get destructed very soon. Wav!!! Earth will be smooth and more round in the future, making a friction free rotation in the space.


You can see the theruva grass in the first picture. “Theruva Thailam” – the oil made out of Theruva is one of the main ingredients of Amruthanjan. The burning effect of Amruthanjan comes from this oil. The second picture is a zoomed in view of the tree on a rock, which you can see in the first picture behind the Theruva grass. The photographs are taken on the way to Edakkal caves. The place Ambalavayal is full of rocks, rock quarries and Rock Mountains as you see in the above pictures.

Bamboo Blossom Again

Last year onwards I have seen bamboo blossoms in many parts of Wayanad. I have already posted an article about the same; read here --> Bamboo Blossom

Bamboo - the tallest grass - flowers only once in its life time, and there after it will get dry and destroyed like all other grass. I am not pretty much sure about the life time of bamboos, but it varies. Around one and half years ago, I spotted bamboo flowers and seeds from Meppadi while I was about to trek in Chembra peak.

Now most of the bamboos from Pulpally and Sulthan Bathery forest ranges are bloomed. Understanding the natural balance maintained by the eco system due to the self destruction of bamboo after flowering is a difficult process. When we consider a short span of time like one or two years, the flowering of bamboo is a threat to the nature. A lot of wild animals, especially elephants depend upon bamboo for their foods, and when the bamboo blooms, the bamboo forest gets disappeared all of a sudden the next year. This causes famine and draught for the wild animals.

But I am sure some other kind of much more lengthier natural process will be running behind the scene which accounts for some other kind of natural balance for a longer span of time. The seeds produced out of bamboo are good for making different kinds of dishes; yes it can replace the paddy. Apart from the food that can be made out of it, it can also used in lots of Ayurvedic medicines. I have seen the locale people clearing the surroundings of bamboo so that they can get the seeds which fall from bamboo the next day.

Not only for humans, the seeds very much liked by the elephants. It is a feast year for the elephants when it blooms. There is a high possibility of seeing a big herd of wild animals feeding on the bamboo when it is bloomed. Bamboo stem as it is can be used for a variety of purpose like construction of shelters and houses, but the strange thing is that once it is bloomed, the stem is good for nothing. The stem will get decayed very soon – the exact opposite phenomenon of animal teeth getting decayed while it is alive, but remains for thousands of years when it is died.

Bamboo blossom is not a threat to the nature, but the sufferings undergone by nature for a better tomorrow with greener bamboo forests.

History repeats itself, bamboo flowering => Nick Balmer's Article

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reservation - The Ant and the Grasshopper

The content is from a forward mail I received recently. The last sentence is particularly interesting.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter. Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance). Opposition MP's stage a walkout.Left parties call for "Bharat Bandh" in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the 'Grasshopper Rath'.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]", with effect from the beginning of the winter.

Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Govt Services.

The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.

rundhati Roy calls it "a triumph of justice". Lalu calls it 'Socialistic Justice'. CPM calls it the 'revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden' Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later...The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi billion dollar company in silicon valley.100s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India...

Wildlife from Thirunelli

Begur wildlife sanctuary is a well protected place providing a safe place for the wild animals to lead a human-interference-free life. If you travel through any one of the way which goes around this wild life sanctuary, there is a high probability of spotting a wild animal on the way. Along with the pleasure of seeing a wild animal in its nature habitat, there is always the danger of them attacking you too.

I got these pictures as well as the pictures posted in two recent posts, while bike rides towards Thirunelli and Nagarhola. “Inji-Baby chettan” gave me company during these rides. In the above picture of the elephant you can spot a swollen region on his back. It is an injury; the after effect of a gun attack of poachers. Like I have already mentioned, the laws need to be implemented in a better way, so that wild animals as well as their habitat are well protected from humans and cattle.

A bouquet from nature

The climate is very dry, still the jungle seems to be beautiful, most of the trees are bloomed, one more month later, all will shed their leaves preparing for the boiling summer. I got this picture of the bunch of flower on the way to Gonikuppa from Kartikulam. Some trees are decorated with vivid colors of the flowers while some others turns the color of the leaves it self.

Reflections Reloaded

The picture is taken from the top of a small bridge on the way to Thirunelli from Kartikulam, just before reaching the junction where the road diverts to Thirunelli and Nagarhola (Thetroad). I was on a bike road along with “Baby Chettan” to Thirunelli and the nearby forest areas. My actual plan was to trek to Pakshipathalam, but permission for trekking towards Pakshipathalam was denied because of forest fire.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Chethalayam Waterfalls - Sulthan Bathery

On the way to Sulthan Bathery from Pulpally, I have seen the sign board of Chethalayam waterfalls many times. In hope of seeing a beautiful waterfall, I reached this place, which is very near to Sulthan Bathery, but inside the jungle. I was pretty disappointed on reaching this place. There was no much water left in the month of March. A very small stream gushed down on the rocks.

My advice: Don’t go there, it is not so great.

I believe that the waterfall may be much more beautiful to be viewed during the monsoon season. But visiting a waterfall during a monsoon season possesses a lot of dangers. More over the 2 kilometers walk through the forest during the rainy season can get you a lot of leach bites. Any way the 2 kilometer distance from the main road towards Chethalayam falls through the forest is very nice, with lot of grass lands in between filled with very big mango trees and a lot of other trees.

The above picture is of a big tree very near to the waterfalls. It may be a few hundred years old.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Grievance by a KSRTC Customer

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation is doing a good job compared to many other states in India by providing adequate bus facilities. Still there can be some bitter experience for passengers, as well as for the staffs from passengers. Let me describe my bitter experience with Karnataka State RTC.

The irony is that, I faced the bitter experience just after reading a set of rules and regulations for the bus drivers and conductors of Karnataka State RTC displayed for the public. I went through the golden rules which helps the customer to have a comfortable journey as well as helps in the making the brand name of KSRTC; while I was standing in the queue to get a ticket in a Mysore – Bangalore bus from Mysore KSRTC bus stand. I got into the bus at 7:30pm of 4th March 2007 and the bus reached Bangalore almost by 10:00 Pm. When the bus reached near RV College of Engineering, I requested the drive to provide a stop. But he refused to do the same, arguing that there is no stop at there. He may be right. But I have seen in many KSRTC bus a written sign board saying that “on request bus stop will be provided in city limits at night time for long route buses”. I pleaded saying that I am not good in Kannada, and if I get down at Bangalore satellite town bus stand, then I have to catch an auto and come back and it will cost double or more the actual fare.

Given above is the copy of the complaint I lodged against the driver of the bus. My address and signature is hidden for security reasons. I noted down the registration number while getting down, the name of the bus driver was not displayed in his badge. The rules I read from Mysore also said that the staffs of KSRTC are supposed to wear their badges which displays their name. The station master received my complaint and acknowledged it. (You can see the seal and signature in blue on the above picture.) Now let me wait and see whether they will take any actions.

The driver was not ready to hear me and he stopped the bus only at satellite bus stand – on the way to majestic. Later I had to catch an auto which cost me 100 Rupees for just 7 kilometers apart from the problem of arguing with the rickshaw driver to fix a fare. (I guess most of my readers are aware of the pain of getting a rickshaw to the wanted destination in a reasonable fare)

An elephant tale from Cherkkara Estate - Talapuzha

How many elephants are there in the pictures above? Is it only two or three? Even I thought same. Later we found that it is a herd of elephants. They were 8 in numbers including the new born baby. My friend; P K Rajesh sir called me up and said that there are elephants in the forest next to Cherkkara tea estate near Thalapuzha. Mr. Rajesh is staying very next to this tea estate along with his brother who is a staff member of this estate.

Mr. Rajesh asked me not to miss this opportunity since he knows I am crazy about photography, trekking and all. He too loves trekking and mountaineering. I went to the place along with Mr. Bennison who is doing business in Mananthavady. Mr. Bestson who is working in L&T InfoTech – Mysore and younger brother of Bennison also joined us. We three reached Mr. Rajesh’s house and he prepared tea for all of us. Later we set towards Kurisumala – the mountain nearby the Cherkkara estate where elephants freely roam around.

On the way we got information from people working in the estate that those wild elephants are there very near to the estate, and we need not climb the mountain. I had been to the top of Kurisumala twice, once with Mr. Rajesh and once along with my friend Ahammed Shameer; my engineering classmate and who owns WWW.OPENHAT.ORG

Click and enlarge the picture to see the baby elephant behind the legs of the big elelphants

We walked carefully into the tea estate. To adjacent hills formed a small stream in between, the hill which walked through belonged to the tea estate and the hill opposite belonged to the forest. We took each step so silently so that we won’t end up all of a sudden in front of an elephant. We dared to walk and go since we were pretty sure that we will be able to spot an elephant from a safe distance from the tea estate. We found the tree branches on both sides of the stream crushed and understood that we are very near to the elephants. After walking twenty minutes we started hearing sounds of branches of trees breaking. Yes, we spotted the elephant herd in the thick forest. Initially we thought that there were only two or three, but later found out that it consisted of 8 elephants including the new born baby.

We did not actually spot the baby elephant, but the employees of the estate told us that the elephant herd was there since last two weeks, after the birth of the baby elephant. The baby elephant was well protected surrounded by other elephants and the thick forest. In order to see the baby, we had to go very near to the herd which amounts high risk. Elephants turn to be much more dangerous when there is a baby elephant among the herd. We gave up the plan of going further near.

But later when we reached back and transferred the images to a PC and viewed it in full size, we saw the baby elephant between the other in the picture above. Yes, what those staff members told is true, there was a baby elephant. Just one hour before we reached the location, the herd was on top of Kurisumala and we could have taken better pictures if the animals were still there. But some people who went up to the mountain frightened the animals by shouting and drum sounds, the elephants came down and hided in the thick forest.

Mr. Rajesh watching the elephants mazing on the other hill; the elphants can be only seen when the picture is taken zoomed in

Elephant passages which lengths hundreds of kilometers and spans over one or two districts are now blocked to a great amount by human interference. These passages are very much needed for the survival of these gigantic animals. When human population exploded, these forests are partitioned and the land in between are now converted to farm lands and residential areas. More over, humans cut roads through these forests and later they built up electric fences on both sides of the forest roads. As a result once again the elephant passages got cut shortened.

Elephants started entering the farm lands and plantations which belonged to the jungle once. Humans prevented it by digging trenches around the forest. Now it is better to say that these animals are caged in small forests. One other danger these animals are facing are humans allowing the cattle to enter the forest and feed on the forest grass. Cattle feed on these grasses on such a way that it won’t be grown again the next year. More over lot of germs spreading diseases get spread from these cattle through their mouth to the grass and then to the wild animals who feeds on the grass. Hope the government will make the law more animal friendly before these creatures become extinct.