Peace and Pine cones

9E015D49-F827-40BA-800F-A9930C814D13Mannavanur lake , not so far away from Kodaikanal .

The eco huts at the entrance looked pretty and look how they adorn their simple walls …..

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Towards Ross Island

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Our first stop after reaching Port Blair was Ross Island . An island that has deer , peacocks , a variety of birds and squirrels, all responding to Anuradha , a lady who has spent decades roaming the island during the day , spending time with the animals , calling them by name , feeding them and educating tourists about life on the island back when it used to be the capital of the Andamans .

Now under the control of the Indian Navy , traveling to this island is subject to  weather conditions and boats sailing out of the Rajiv Gandhi water complex towards Ross Island need to wait until the Navy officials give them a go .

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The picture above is one I took as we waited for our clearance . The changing colours of that water – magical !

Matheran : To growing older , travelling more and singing again !

Asia’s only auto mobile free hill station , sleepy Matheran ( Forest on the Forehead ) seemed to be a good option to bring in my birthday.  Walking without any finality of destination , meeting rabbits on the way , the chatter of monkeys and langurs sounding like a choir of bass and contralto singers and fallen leaves which felt like forgotten post- it reminders of letting go and moving on , I enjoyed every bit of it .

A few things I fell in love with as I ambled ….

This colour , the pattern .

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Furry friends

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Surprises on leaves

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And this forlorn fellow ….

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Song on loop , for the vibes of this place and the person who made it all happen …. A world of our own by The Seekers.

Close the doors, light the lights.
We’re stayin’ home tonight,
Far away from the bustle and the bright city lights.
Let them all fade away.
Just leave us alone.
And we’ll live in a world of our own.

We’ll build a world of our own
That no one else can share.
All our sorrows we’ll leave far behind us there.
And I know you will find
There’ll be peace of mind
When we live in a world of our own.

Igatpuri

A959B86B-1B2B-46C0-BDAF-3C3667EEEAFEWhere troubles melt like lemon drops , that’s exactly what I felt here. Hills , mist , fields , drizzle , rolling thunder and no ‘ to do list’. Igatpuri , my kind of place .

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EED8632F-53E6-4186-92EB-15302866F165Stop , sit , stare and try to remember what you came here to forget 🙂

 

Rabdentse Ruins , Pelling

As I was reading a list of lesser known destinations to visit in India , a picture of  Rabdentse ruins brought back some wonderful memories of my last day in Pelling , Sikkm. It has been two years since my visit to the ruins of the former capital of the kingdom of Sikkim .Most of the people we spoke to said there wasn’t much to see , but I had made up my mind and nothing could dampen my spirits . I remember the drizzle in the forest , the mushrooms , the fronds , ferns , muddy puddles and the exhaustion as we walked towards the ruins.

I have posted a few pictures of the wondrous forest trail earlier , but never quite got to posting about the ruins. So I thought it best to do it today. Better late than never. The walk through the magical forest was the highlight for me , even better than walking around the ruins

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I wish the ones who told me there wasn’t much to see , knew what they were missing.

Rabdentse tells the story of Sikkim’s glory during the Chogyal rule . Hidden inside a dense forest , overshadowed by the beauty of the majestic Kanchenjunga which attracts most people to Pelling ,the walls of Rabdenstse are more than just stubs . Rabdenstse remained the capital of Sikkim for 123 years and saw six Kings rule the kingdom.

The first structure that welcomes visitors is a Chorten – a stupa .DSC_0892DSC_0895.JPG

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Ruins of the palace , not much remains of what once must have been a grand residence of the king . The ruins are divided into the Northern and Southern wings , one used to be the living quarters of the royal family and the other was where the King met with commoners.

The Southern wing , the stone throne and perhaps the place where  people would have an audience with the king  . It didn’t  look like a throne from a distance , but one of the workers there pointed it out to me. The Marble stone you see is believed to be carried to the site by a single person.

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Remains of the living quarters . They sure knew how to find ‘ a room with a view’.

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Three stone chortens looked fairly preserved . This is the place where the highest officials would pass important judgments . Am not sure what the significance of the stone slab is , but a closer look revealed this .

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It is also believed that prayers were offered by the royal family at this site everyday. These three stones looked like stoic testimonies to all the grandeur , faith and fervour that this palace and its residents embodied.

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A final look at the ruins , before I left .

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Some ruins proclaim the building was beautiful. These do , no ?

Malshej Ghat : Not just a monsoon destination

If all you want is rolling mist , the trill of birds , green pastures with cattle grazing and if you have a high tolerance for volatile weather , then Malshej is perfect . Most websites suggest a trip to Malshej after the initial monsoon spell has washed the rugged Sahyadris clean and the benevolent mountains ( that is what Sahyadris are called ) wear their prettiest greens .

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Driving towards Malshej

July is when tourists throng to Malshej to take a dip in one of the innumerable waterfalls that bring this place to life . Since we were travelling with our 16 month old , we thought it better to travel before the peak monsoon season and landed there in the second week of June .

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Thankfully , when most places have long lists of things to do and things to see , Malshej is an exception. Do what you want , see what is there to see – the broken ranges , the dark clouds looming over them , trees dancing in the breeze ( it can get extremely windy ) , drive down to the dam at Pimpalgaon ( about 5 km away from MTDC , Malshej ) , sit and feel at peace . These are things that I did , am sure you will find your own sights to see and experiences to have once you get there .

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Towards the lake . The narow road to get to the lake .

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The white particles you see , strewn over the rocky shore, are mollusc shells .

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Walking around
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I had my Heidi moment

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The place behind MTDC , the view from my room.

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On the last evening there ,  I saw one of my favourite images – an old couple walking hand in hand to enjoy a few quiet moments with the mountains. It made me feel happy and hopeful 🙂

For me , Malshej was not about the magic of monsoon , but about my little girl watching the majesty of the mountains in awe , her clapping when she saw a bird fly by and  her giggling when the breeze made her curls tickle her cheeks !

 

 

Thread Garden , Ooty

The dimly lit room, which has exhibits of Anthony Joseph’s labour of love, is a treat for those who love art , craft and stories . “No machinery , no needles” , he says proudly . I was lucky to meet the man behind the unique technique that he calls four dimensional hand wound embroidery.

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A journey that began in 1988 continues with as much zest and his nimble fingers have found help over the years in 50 pairs of gifted hands that have supported him and matched his passion and perfection in creating each piece .Each artisan goes through three years of training in the time consuming technique .

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Lots of research , canvas , threads , glue and wires have gone into making this garden what it is today. More than a hundred varieties of flowers are on display here at the thread garden and one can take home a keepsake from the little store outside .

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Located near Ooty lake , this one is an absolute delight .

Emerald lake , Ooty

The closest I might ever get to the Emerald city in the Wizard of OZ – the emerald lake , Ooty !

In the silent valley surrounded by tea gardens , emerald lake is another pristine place in the Nilgiris. It is an extension  of the Avalanche lake , I was told .

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This is as close as we could get. The access to the lake had been shut for a few days owing to some maintenance work near the dam.