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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Enjoy your private moments at South Goa’s Cola Beach

The name ‘Goa’ is pretty much present in every traveller’s head. And in all probability it is significantly high on their travel bucket list. And it is for this very reason that it is difficult to find places for a private holiday in Goa.

The quiet and very pretty Cola Beach 
However, in spite of the burgeoning tourist population, there are still a lot of places and beaches that are unknown and still retain the pristine and solitary look. Cola beach is one such destination that is tucked between two hills of South Goa.

Very remote Cola Beach 
Cola beach is situated at a short drive from Palolem Beach, the most popular of South Goa’s beaches. In terms of the geographical layout, the Agonda Beach is located north of Palolem and the Cola beach is situated north of Agonda.

Cola beach and its own small river 
The last mile access is through a mud road and then a steep descent onto the beach. The beach with its untouched golden sands greets you as you begin this descent. But, the real specialty of this beach is a small river that joins the sea right in the middle of this beach.

Cola Beach - an ideal place for a beach holiday in South Goa 
And this is what I call double bonanza or a heady mix of the salt water and the fresh water. The tourists holidaying at Cola beach get to enjoy both these worlds. You can do kayaking or swimming in the small river and if you feel adventurous, you can hit the vast seas.

Huts facing the river and the sea at Cola beach 
The beach is safe for swimming. But, even then a couple of lifeguards are always present during the day to prevent any mishaps. The most popular sport here is beach volleyball, which is played right between the river and the sea. One wrong shot and you need to jump into the river to fetch the ball and the other wrong shot can send you into the Arabian Sea.

Lifeguard tower 
In terms of accommodation, there are two niche resorts that offer a mix of tented accommodation, log huts, beach facing cottages and river facing cottages. And all this is located under the shade of swaying casuarinas and coconut trees. For food, the resorts dish out the local catch in continental and local cuisine. And, if you feel like partying, the clubs of Palolem Beach and the more famous ones of North Goa are not too far away.

The freshwater side of Cola Beach 
Cola Beach is ideal for spending a private and blissful holiday. Don’t miss the special sunset here or the early morning swims with the dolphins. Overall, it forms a great holiday package.

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Guest Post: How Fast Food Chains differ from India to USA: Comparison of the Top Four

If you think that fast food in America is the same as it may be overseas, then you’ve got another thing coming. Some of the most popular US fast food chains have been diligently expanding to India over the past 20 years, as it is one of the fastest growing nations, and also is touted as the most explosively expanding fast food market in the world; even more so, surprisingly, than China. So if you find yourself walking down the cultured streets of India and you decide to grab a quick meal at a fast food chain – that you immediately recognize from having frequented it before when in the US – a few things about the menu items may take on a different look and appeal. And no, we’re not talking about the difference in currency, but rather the ingredients and actual design of the menu items at fast food restaurants in India.

KFC: Touted as the most present American fast food restaurant in India, KFC offers an entirely different flavour of their website for this region, which features animated people dining at an Indian KFC location. clip_image002 You’ll notice a few minor differences than you would in the US. For instance, they offer the “Veg Zinger,” a popular sandwich that is entirely made from veggies and NOT chicken. The “Box Master” is also unique, a snack wrap that features a “succulent fillet of Hot ‘n’ Crispy chicken, spicy hash brown, fresh veggies, pepper, mayo & cheese - all wrapped in a warm toasted tortilla.” Then there are special “Krushers” flavoured soft drinks, which according to KFC, come in “More Drool, More Munch. More Slurp. More Lick and More Bite Krushers.” The most notably different menu item entry on the Indian KFC is their “Hot Wings.” The product description proclaims that they are “India’s No. 1 fully masaaledar snack … Chicken wings smitten with lip smacking lemon chilli flavour.”

McDonald’s: The same can be seen if you visit Mickey-Dees in India, one of the first things that you will notice is that a restaurant that made its name selling 100% ground beef patties in the US has managed to create a demanding market for its chicken patties in India. clip_image004 Under the “Spicy Delights” page, different variations of their spicy chicken patty are offered in snack wraps, sandwiches and salads that mimic their US counterparts, but that are void entirely of bovine, and which feature elaborate regional veggie toppings and sauces. A quick rundown of their online menu purports that you would be hard pressed to find anything made from beef on the menu whatsoever. In fact, the only variation in sandwiches that can be found is the classic “Filet-O-Fish” sandwich, which is nearly identical to the one offered at US locations.

clip_image006Pizza Hut: The pies tell a different story. If you check out the Pizza Hut India website, you’ll notice it has a slightly different interface, but that notably, the pies feature different toppings. There’s no pepperoni advertised, or beef, or bacon, as bovine is considered a sacred animal by many persons in this expanding nation, and many favour chicken dishes over pork, or have religious beliefs that prohibit them from eating pig products. What you will see are eloquently designed and delicious all-vegetable and cheese pizzas – and some with chicken, too – that feature an elaborate culinary concoction of different regional veggies, such as: sweet corn kernels, red peppers, baby corn, tomatoes, jalapenos, tikka, capsicum and red paprika. Overall, this is quite a different variant than the American Pizza Hut counterpart, and something you won’t find on the US menu, either.

Dunkin Donuts (coming soon): The US donut and coffee conglomerate has officially announced on their website that they will be opening 100s of locations in India over the next 15 years. While there is not an offering yet as to how their menu would differ, one has a good mind to think that there will be some classic regional variations, and perhaps even some spicy treats and different kinds of drinks than what they currently offer in the US. According to a late February (2011) press release that was issued by the company, they plan to “develop, sub-franchise, and operate more than 500 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants throughout India over the next 15 years.” The first locations are expected to start peddling the doughy snacks as early as 2012.

About the Author of this post: Erica Gustafson is a freelance writer and consultant for Expedia. She is an avid traveller who loves the taste of life and embarking on new journeys in new countries.

Note: All images included in the articles have either been purchased by the author and the author owns rights to them or they are free pictures from an open source picture host.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guest Post: Bizarre Cuisine Served at Airports Around the World

Ever had a long layover and wanted a meal or even just a snack before your next flight? Some airports offer restaurants with fine dining and elegant meals that you can enjoy before your long journey so you won’t have to endure those uncomfortable hunger pains during your flight. Those same airports can also offer some of the most bizarre and possibly disgusting or greatest tasting food you have ever seen or tasted.

Picture walking into the food court of the Chiang Mai Airport looking for a delicious breakfast before your flight and being offered some scrumptious fried maggots! Yes, maggots. These tasty fried treats are something you can purchase to munch on to satisfy your morning hunger.

clip_image002
As weird and disgusting as this may sound maggots are actually a great source of protein and carbohydrates. So, despite being fried, they are actually good for you. They are also very commonly eaten in countries such as China, along with many other critters.


The Chiang Mai Airport is not the only airport that serves insects as a tasty snack. In fact, Typhoon restaurant located in the Santa Monica, California Airport has a section of their menu titled “Insects.” The section of the menu includes items such as:

Singapore-Style Scorpions served on shrimp toast. clip_image004
Despite the horrifying appearance, scorpions are actually considered a delicacy throughout several locations in the world. In parts of Southeast Asia these little delicacies are skewered or fried and in Singapore they are served on slices of battered fish. In China scorpions are fried and served as a traditional dish from Shangdong, China. Shangdong is more commonly known in Chinese as Lu Cuisine, which is one of the eight culinary traditions of China. Shangdong is ranked among the four most influential of these. 

Taiwanese Crickets – crickets served over a Taiwanese stir fry with raw garlic, chilli pepper, and Asian basil. clip_image006
Eating a cricket may not sound very appetizing; however it sure is a nutritional meal. According to The Food Insects News Letter, a single cricket contains 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5grams of fat, 75.8mg of calcium, and 9.5mg of iron. Crickets are also a very common food eaten in certain parts of the world. People from Kwara State, Nigeria, and other parts of West Africa have been known to eat crickets and many other insects. The crickets are collected from soil tunnels and then roasted over the fire for a delicious meal. Of course the guts are removed before the feast. Crickets are also commonly eaten in Taiwan, as the title of the dish states. Crickets, along with caterpillars are stir-fried or sautéed and served as a delicacy in Taiwan. 

Thai Silk Worm Pupae stir fried and served with hot and spicy dipping sauce.
Silk worm is another commonly eaten item is many countries around the world. China for instance serves silkworm pupae in many fancy restaurants. It is served with both the spicy dipping sauce shown here as well as a side of sesame seeds and salt. The Typhoon restaurant has been in the business of serving Pan Asian cuisine for over 18 years. The menu at Typhoon doesn’t just feature insects. There are over 70 dishes from the Pacific Rim to choose from.

The Changi Airport in Singapore houses a restaurant with a unique style. No insects are served here, however there are some rather distinctive desserts offered from Chinta Manis including:

Chendol Agar Agar - Made from Chendol and red beans in jelly form with a delicate layer of agar agar. To Americans this dessert would definitely sound bizarre. However, chendol is a very popular dessert in Asia, Thailand, and Singapore. It is made from coconut milk, thin green pandan flavoured noodles and palm sugar. Agar agar is a vegetarian gelatin substitute produced from a variety of seaweed vegetation.

Kueh Dadar – This is an egg delicate crepe with grated coconut and filled with palm sugar. This dessert is commonly referred to as coconut pancake rolls. Rightly so because it basically caramelized grated coconut filling inside a pandan flavour pancake skin. This is a very common dessert served in Malaysia, and can be homemade easily as well.

Durian Salat – This dish is made from fresh durian flesh with a base layer of steamed glutinous rice and coconut. Durian is a tropical fruit that is rarely seen outside of Southeast Asia. It is native to Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It resembles a coconut and it is infamous for its distinctive stinky smell. However, it is a sweet tasting fruit nonetheless. The durian is fruit of several tree species genus Durio and Malvacea family. It is widely known in Southeast Asia as the “King of Fruits.”

The desserts served at Chinta Manis are truly unique to Americans; however in Asia the ingredients used to put together these tasty treats are pretty common. Not all bizarre and strange food has to look or taste as bad as it may look.

About the Author of this post: Erica Gustafson is a freelance writer and consultant for Expedia. Erica loves to write about her experiences to other countries, people she has met and monuments she has visited.

Note: All images included in the articles have either been purchased by the author and the author owns rights to them or they are free pictures from an open source picture host.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tea Estates of Ginigathhena, Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is the first and most popular name when people think of the tea estates of Sri Lanka. The tea from the estates of Nuwara Eliya might be the best in the country, but the tea estates and tropical forests of Ginigathhena are possibly the most beautiful.

Lovely Tea Estates of Ginigathhena 
In fact, the landscape is so vividly green that you would want to spend the rest of eternity here if you are a nature lover and/or a landscape photographer. Winding roads weave their way about the tea gardens. Waterfalls can be seen at nearly every turn. The green forests seem to grow as dense as they can and as tall too.

Dense Tropical Forests of Ginigathhena 
And in terms of the people, the Sri Lankans are possibly one of the most hospitable. Even the culture in the central highlands is unique with a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Even Tamil, the South Indian language is quite popular here. In fact, it is the 2nd most popular language in Ginigathhena.

Tea Estates and a waterfall 
So, if you are planning a holiday to Sri Lanka, don’t give the tea estates of Ginigathhena a miss. And as with all international travel, do remember to buy yourself a reliable travel insurance plan along with your other travel checklists. Such reliable travel insurance plans allow you to have a totally relaxed holiday.

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Shettihalli Rosary Church Ruins near Hassan, Karnataka

When the waters of the Hemavathy rise, the Shettihalli Church drowns in it and when the waters recede, the Shettihalli church ruins strike a start contrast to the vividly coloured landscape. That is what makes Shettihalli so special as it offers glamour all the year round.

A Shettihalli moment 
Shettihalli is a small village situated on the banks of the Gorur-Hemavathy reservoir, about 25 kilometres from Hassan in Karnataka. In its hey days and prior to the construction of the reservoir at Gorur, Shettihalli used to be a very rich agricultural hamlet that was known for its sunflower fields.

Shettihalli Church Ruins and its surrounding vibrant colours from the Gorur Hemavathy Reservoir Bed 
Today, it is lies in a mystical self with hardly a soul around. This Rosary Church was built at Shettihalli by French missionaries in the mid 19th century. Today, the church lies in in varying states of ruin.

Shettihalli Church Ruins 
During the monsoons and when the reservoir is near to its brim, the Shettihalli church is nearly submerged except for its top most spire. And during the dry season, one can actually walk in and around the church as the reservoir recedes quite a bit.

Shettihalli landscape 
It was the dry season of the year when I was there. The church was set amidst very picturesque landscape. Its brown and yellow colours contrasted splendidly against the green and the blue of the landscape. In fact, the church can be seen from a distance towering from the banks of the Hemavathy reservoir.

Shettihalli Church Ruins 
This place is not well known. In fact, I had heard about it only once and that too from true travellers. I was fortunate to be a part of a group of expert travellers who led me here. Apart from its idyllic setting, this place is fantastic for birding too. During my 2 hours here, I spotted a grey heron, Indian pond heron, painted stork, little cormorant, many egrets, lots of river tern and many Brahminy kites.

Hemavathy Reservoir Mudflats against the Shettihalli church 
This location is also ideal for landscape photography. The rich colour and hues that this place offers is eye candy for any one with a wide angle lens. For those not keen on birding or photography, the Shettihalli church and nearabouts offer a great break from the fast paced life of the city and that too in nature in its purest form.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Early Morning Birding Moment at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

It was dawn and about 15 minutes were left for the sun to rise. Five decade old Land Rovers and Isuzu jeeps were chugging their way into the Yala National Park (also known as Ruhuna National Park) in the south eastern coastal belt of Sri Lanka. Me and my friends were sitting in these jeeps watching the countryside go by, when all of a sudden all the jeeps stopped to capture this pristine early morning birding moment.

Painted Stork and Peacock during dawn at Yala National Park 
This birding moment comprised of a painted stork and a peacock sitting next to each other on a deserted tree branch. The bright colours of the painted stork shone even in the murky early morning weather and it was this moment that set the right precedent for the rest of our wildlife safari at Yala National Park, which is a very special place.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Bird Photography–Indian Pond Heron, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The Yala National Park in South-East Sri Lanka is a great place for birding and for bird photography. Its diverse vegetation and marshlands attract all kinds of birds. One of the more common ones is the Indian Pond Heron, which can always be seen searching for its next prey.

Indian Pond Heron 
This is a bird that looks white in flight and its brown colour camouflages well with the brown soil at ground level. It can usually be seen near all water bodies, both freshwater and saltwater. When it is in flight, it resembles an egret except for its slim and long legs.

The Indian Pond Heron - Looking for its next prey 
These are photos that I shot one morning during a jungle safari at Yala National Park.

Sharp Features of an Indian Pond Heron

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hoysala Village Resort - Relive the Hoysala Days!

The Hoysala Village Resort is a great place to stay at if you are headed towards the Hoysala Kingdom of Belur and Halebid in Karnataka, India. It is a resort that is completely rustic in design, but still manages to offer luxury to its customers. The entire place represents architecture of the past, each from different locations of the state. It portrays the rich Hoysala culture through paintings, accessories and craft that adorns all the rooms.

The Hoysala Village Resort is situated about 7 kilometres from Hassan on the Hassan-Belur highway. It is conveniently located at about 15 kilometres from Belur and about 30 kilometres from Halebid. It also offers easy access to a lot of interesting places that are situated nearby like Chickmagalur, Shettihalli, Hemavathi Reservoir, etc.

I spent the last weekend at the Hoysala Village Resort and was amazed by its dense greenery. The entire area of the resort would be lesser than 20 acres, but every bit of it has been tastefully designed and built. There are cottages, superior cottages, suites and penthouse suites in terms of accommodation. All these accommodations are surrounded by different breeds of trees all marked and named for the tourist’s reference. And because of this varied green cover, one can see a lot of the avifauna species. Parakeets, bulbuls, munias and mynas can be spotted almost everywhere on the property. In fact, this place is perfect for bird lovers.

There is a tree house situated on top of a jack fruit tree that is very popular with the kids that come here. And equally popular is the swimming pool that is situated right in the heart of the property. In terms of entertainment, there are indoor sports options along with a gym, though more facilities are being developed here.

The great thing about this resort and its management is the immense employment opportunities that they create for the locals. Each local artisan is allowed to showcase his craft here. They have potters, stone-smiths, magicians and others whose exquisite local talents are brought to the fore here. In terms of food, they offer a mix of local, Indian and International cuisine both in buffet and Alacarte options. The food quality is very impressive here and equally impressive is the quality of service. Everyone seems to have a smile on their faces here. And that according to me is the best trait of this place. The resort does its little bit for the environment too through a waste management system and a water recycling plant that provides water for their trees and plants.

I would definitely recommend this place with two thumbs up if you are looking at high quality accommodation for your Hoysala holiday. And if you are from the UK and looking to visit this Hoysala Kingdom, then you should look up flights to India from the UK for great travel options.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Upcoming Travel: Bloggers Trip to Hoysala Kingdom

The blogger trips have always been cherished by me irrespective of the destination. It is because these blogger trips put you in the company of like-minded and interesting characters. This time around the destination is the Hoysala Kingdom of Karnataka. And this weekend trip is sponsored by the Hoysala Village Resort, a luxury resort that is situated close to Belur and Halebid.

During this trip, I will be in the company of travel writers, bloggers and photographers. I know some of them from before while the others will be new faces. But, I am equally excited to meet everyone in this group. The group includes Lakshmi Sharath, Arun Bhat, Shrinidhi Hande, Neelima Vallingi, Sandeep Unnimadhavan, Prashanth HN, Perumal Venkatesan and Radha Rangarajan.

I am so eager to meet this group and am super excited to pay a visit to Karnataka’s rich Hoysala history. More on this trip once I am back on Sunday night.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Sunrise Moment from the Airavateswara Temple, Darasuram

It was a pleasant morning and I was standing inside the Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram. The Airavateswara temple is part of the Great Living Chola Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated on the way from Thanjavur to Kumbakonam. This temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century.

Sunrise moment at Airavateeswara Temple Entrance

I had just finished one round of this intricately carved temple when I saw this fantastic sunrise moment from the main entrance door of the temple. The clouds just seemed to add to the magic.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Photography Tour of Kanha National Park–Join me on this wildlife trip

My close friend and fellow travel writer and photographer Arun Bhat is organizing a photography tour to Kanha National Park from the 4th to the 8th of June. This tour is organized by Darter Photography Tours. This will be a great trip for folks who are interested in wildlife, bird and nature photography and wish to spot the elusive royal bengal tiger. I will be going on this trip. Let me know if you wish to join. I might be able to get you a good deal!!

 
Details are given below. All photographs are copyright of Darter Photography Tours.

Dates – June 04 to 08, 2011 The vast sal forests of Kanha National Park are home to a great variety of wildlife – big and small. From big cats like the Tiger and the Leopard to hunting packs of Dholes (or Wild Dogs) to the very-localized Barasinghas to the vast congregations of Gaurs, these forests can throw surprises at every corner.

 
Kanha’s open secret lies in the vast grasslands within the park. These beautiful meadows become a widescreen theatre, showcasing Deer locking horns in a fight to supremacy, Peafowls dancing to attract mates, Barasighas grazing in small herds and, if we are lucky enough, a Tiger hunting its meal.

 
In the evenings, the waterholes in the grasslands where some water has still remained in the summer months attract a large assembly of animals walking in for a drink, where we can easily spot more than hundred mammals in single location. Get ready to travel with Darter Photography to this theatre of nature where each day brings you new sightings, activities and excitement.



Birdlife in the park is not to be forgotten too. Crested Serpent Eagles and Crested Hawk-Eagles can be seen hunting for prey. We will keep an eye for incredibly colourful Indian Pittas that are common in the park, but come out only in the evening hours. Racket-tailed Drongos with their long beautiful tails and Indian Rollers flying around colourfully offer many photographic opportunities. Spotting the golden eyes of the otherwise camouflaged Spotted and Jungle Owlets adds to the thrill.

 
The tour includes
• Seven safaris in the park
• Sessions on photographing wildlife – technicals, aesthetics and ways to approach the subjects
• Expert assistance on field in getting best images • Daily image reviews and feedback at the end of every day’s shoot
• On field assistance in identifying birds and in understanding wildlife in the park.

 
All through the tour, constant guidance from Darter Photography Expert will help you get the best out of your trip to the wilderness. Please note that while chances of sighting mammals and birds are fairly high, we cannot give you any assurance. Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary at the end of this post for more details.

Is this tour for you?
His Majesty’s Court is ideal for you if you have an interest in watching and photographing wildlife – from mighty tigers to herds of barasinghas to beautiful birds. Our photography expert will get you prepared for photographing wildlife and will assist you in every step of making good photographs.

 
Accommodation
We will be staying in air-conditioned rooms, on twin-sharing basis, at Kanha Village Eco-Resort.

Tour Cost
The tour cost is Rs.19,500/- per person.

The cost includes
• Transport from Nagpur to Kanha and back in air-conditioned vehicle
• Accommodation at Kanha Village Eco-Resort
• All meals during the stay (starting with dinner on check-in date and ending with breakfast on check-out date)
• Jeep Safaris
• Session on wildlife photography, on-field assistance and image reviews

The cost does not include
• Transport to Nagpur from your hometown and back
• Additional food and beverages ordered at the resort
• Tips and anything else that is not part of the includes list above

Book this tour
Contact us to book the tour.
Email: register@darter.in
Ph: 9880006460 (Arun) / 97400 83260 (Shreeram)

Do visit Darter’s facebook page to stay updated on our tours and workshops. Like all our tours, ‘His Majesty’s Court’ will have a limited number of participants. Decide early to make sure you get a good deal on the airfares too.

 
Accompanying Darter Photography Expert: Shreeram M V
Shreeram is a passionate naturalist and a professional wildlife photographer with an experience of working as a naturalist with Jungle Lodges. His wildlife images are widely acclaimed have found place in glossy desktop calendars and wall hangings. He has the experience of photographing wildlife across multiple habitats across India – from the rainforests to the high-altitude deserts to grasslands to coasts. He comes with vast expertise in wildlife photography, having photographed hundreds of species of birds and mammals from places as far as mountains of Ladakh to seashores of South India. See some of his works at http://www.visualquotient.net/

What our guests say
“Thanks for the patience of Arun and Shreeram has, they were able to extract quality pictures from us.” – Darshan (Bangalore) “I guess this was the best learning I ever had.” – Madhu Chandan (Bangalore)

Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 – June 04
We will arrive at Nagpur, where the cabs will be waiting to take us to Kanha. We reach the resort in the evening. Your lead photographer will brief you on what to expect during the days in the park. We will retire after dinner, ready to wake up early for the next morning’s jeep safari.

 
Day 2 – June 05
Our exploration of the forest begins today, as we get ready to head to the park as early as 6am. Tiger sightings happen regularly and almost everyday in Kanha – so expect those beautiful moments to be yours anytime, any day. The drivers are well experienced to track tigers and maximize our chances of sightings. But tigers are not the only wildlife we will be after. We will drive slowly, looking at every animal and every bird, trying to capture them all in different mood and light. We return to the resort at 11am. Later, after lunch, the lead photographer will take you through a session on wildlife photography, on the best ways to shoot, the compositions, approaching the subjects and everything you need to know about making best wildlife images. We will head out again for the evening safari at 4pm. The sunset happens much after six in summer in these parts, so we will have enough light to shoot till 6.30pm. Every evening, we will sit together in a casual session with the lead photographer, exchange notes on our sightings, seeing images we have shot and get feedbacks from the lead photographer. The lead photographer will give you his inputs on the images and helps you to capture better images as the days progress.

Days 3 & 4 – June 06 and 07 In the subsequent days, we will head to the jungles in the mornings and evening every day, capturing wildlife in different moods, moments and activities. The lead photographer will be with you assisting in identification and sightings of wildlife, giving some insights to their behavior and helping you make interesting compositions. After a few safaris, you will see that your memory card is filled with some images and moments that you will cherish for a long time to come. Hopefully, we will have some good sightings of tigers and plenty of other mammals and birds. Evenings are dedicated to casual get together with the group, discussing images and opportunities from the day as the lead photographer give you his feedback and suggestions on the day’s images.

Day 5 – June 08 We will head out for the morning safari as usual and perhaps come back a little earlier to get ready for the journey back to Nagpur. By now, you will have spent some beautiful moments with wildlife at their home, be it watching langurs play with their babies, tigers walking majestically across your jeep, wild dogs in their small groups, peafowls dancing, or whistling teals swimming in the calm waters. A lot of them will be permanently captured in your cameras as you take the cab back to Nagpur on your way home.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

St. Clair’s Falls - Thalawakele, Sri Lanka

The St. Clair’s Falls is a very scenic waterfall that it situated on the Colombo – Nuwara Eliya route. This waterfall borders the St.Clair’s tea estates. In fact, it plunges right at the bottom of these tea estates.

St. Clair's Falls 
The entire tea estate offers different fantastic views of this waterfall, the fast mountain stream and the stunning valley downstream. Additionally, there are brilliant designated and non-designated view points of this waterfall that fall on the route to Nuwara Eliya. All these spots are located at close distance to each other.

St. Clair's Falls surrounded by tea estates 
It was nearing sunset time when I first saw this waterfall from the St. Clair’s tea estate. The entire place oozed beauty. The soft glow of the evening sun just accentuated this nature’s bounty.

St. Clair's Waterfall 
In fact, this is a very popular spot with local and international tourists. They get to enjoy the tea estates, the waterfall, the surrounding valley, the great sunshine and pleasant weather and all these with a hot cup of tea in their hand.

An evening shot of the valley at Thalawakele

The St. Clair’s waterfall  is situated at Thalawakele, which is small hill station located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Bird Photography: Changeable Hawk Eagle from Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

I was lucky to get some brilliant mammal, reptile and bird photographs during my recent wildlife safari trip to Yala National Park that is located in South Eastern Sri Lanka. One of the more special ones out of the lot was this Changeable Hawk Eagle that posed a long while for me.

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 6 
And the best part was that this bird was pretty close range. Hence, I got some super sharp close up shots. In my mind, it is the eyes of the raptors that make them so special. It is their eyes that make them spot their prey miles away and it is these pair of eyes that can be quite scary and pretty at the same time.

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 3 
I was happy that I got good shots of the eyes of this Changeable Hawk Eagle. I am sure that you will enjoy them too.

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 2 
Below are some more close-up and full body shots of the Changeable Hawk Eagle.

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 5
Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 7

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 1

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 4

Changeable Hawk Eagle at Yala National Park - 9

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Portrait: Cute Baby from Horton Plains, Sri Lanka!

My fingers and eyes were aching after a 20 minute photo shoot session of the Sri Lankan Sambar Deer at Horton Plains, but when I was done, my eyes fell on this cute kid and invariably my hand went back to my camera.

Cute Kid at Horton Plains in Monochrome 
This toddler seemed to be enjoying the clean and green surroundings and seemed to be quite contented being in someone’s arms without making a ruckus.

Cute Baby at Horton Plains 
His poker face in the brilliant natural light and the colour surrounding him also added to the charm in the frame.

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