Friday, February 26, 2016

Vaalpaarai Trip - A Meeting With The Gaurs (Indian Bison)!

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This is sort of second part of our Vaalpaarai trip.  First part is here! We started very early in the morning from our Monica Bungalow.  The hotel has got a 'Naturalist', Mr.Sachin who took us around the Briar Tea Estate.  He is a natural 'nature lover'.  He gets excited while talking about birds and animals, which suited me and my son, who are mad about them as well.  We saw many birds, Macaque monkeys which are found only here, in the Western Ghats, Elephants, flying peacocks (really, four of them flew in a line in front of our eyes...they flew away when we realized what we saw,  with our mouth open, really, so no photos, they are just in our mind...unforgettable visual!) and Gaurs!

Gaurs are called Indian Bisons! They are quite huge with big eyes and they look straight at OUR eyes without moving a bit! They have got lovely satiny coats.  The Gaur herd we saw had a couple of babies (calves) with them and so they were extra cautious.  I can still visualise it at the way they were glaring at us...dare you come near us, I thought they were saying!

Wiki says: 'In India, the population was estimated to be 12,000–22,000 in the mid-1990s. The Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in southern India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of gaur, in particular in the Wayanad-Nagarahole-Mudumalai-Bandipur  complex.' But now, they are enlisted in the endangered species list, here, in India and other places.

 Now, have a look at these beautiful animals:


The one who is standing on the left never diverted his eyes from us until we left the area! He was very very handsome! I feel that their beauty is not captured in the camera fully! They looked more beautiful, esp. their coat, when we saw them there in the early morning sunlight!

Nearly fully grown male and a young one....Is he warning/challenging me to come near him?!Look at his mouth with a piece of grass hanging!
Ears and horns look as if they are painted!

Click on the pictures to have a good view!

Hope their population increases! Feel very sorry for these animals...no enough food or water for them to survive...  Another 10-15 years and we might not see them anymore.

We saw Lion-tailed Macaque monkeys who live only in the Western ghat area, esp. here in this area.  A post will be here exclusively for them next week.



It is here! Click on this link pl.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vaalpaarai Trip - Athirappally/Athirappilly Water Falls

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Athirappally falls.  It is called the Niagara of South India!

We had been to this Athirappally falls two weeks back.  They call it as Athirappilly Falls also.

We had a wedding in the family and we planned to visit Vaalpaarai with some relatives to just relax after the wedding.  We did just that!

9 of us travelled to Coimbatore from Chennai by train.  We had booked the Briar Tea Estate bungalow (Monica Bungalow) a couple of months earlier.  The Hotel people had sent a van to the station and we were driven through 40 hairpin bends (via scenic Pollaachchi) to the Bungalow at Vaalpaarai.   

We crossed 40 narrow hairpin bends like this to reach our Bungalow. (Wiki picture)
We were the only occupants in the bungalow which is situated among ancient trees at the Briar Tea Estate.   We had very good vegetarian food...the chef was too good!
 
View from the veranda of our Bungalow!

Another view!

We roamed about in the Tea Estate one evening and saw tea and coffee plants on the slopes of the hills.  We had been to Munnar, a few years back and had stayed in a Tea Estate bungalow over there too.  But this Bungalow is too good.  Huge clean rooms, good food, courteous staff.  Then, we were taken to this Athirappally falls, which was 80 Kms. away.  The hotel staff packed lunch for us! We started early in the morning after breakfast.  Located on the west-flowing Chalakkudy river near the Vazhachal Forest Division and the Sholayar ranges, this 24-metre (80 ft) waterfall is situated in Athirappilly/Athirappally Panchayath, Chalakkudy Taluk in Trissur Dist., Kerala.

We reached Vazhachchal and entered the forest-like area to reach the falls.  We had to walk for around 15 to 20 mts. on uneven pathway.  It was quite tough for us.  Some of our people stayed back at the entrance.  Esp. the path near the falls was really really tough...climbing the rocks and hopping...but it was worth the effort! When we reached the open area, what a scene! Out of this world! And it was not monsoon season! Still, the water flow was quite good! We didn't go very near to the fall but could experience the water spray on us! It was difficult for us to return from the view.  But it was getting late.  We had to turn back reluctantly!

Now, to a few more pictures of the beautiful waterfall!

Click on the picture to view properly!

80 ft. high waterfall!

 

We had to hop through rocks like this to go near the falls, even to view it!
Wiki says that many film makers used this place for filming their songs.  A few of Mani Rathnam's film songs were picturised here like this one and the next one!


We are planning to visit this place once again during monsoon to experience the full feel of this beautiful waterfall!


P.S.: The second part of our Vaalpaarai trip is here!

The Third part is here!
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Religion!

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A technician came home yesterday to service our water purifier gadget. He finished his work and while he was leaving, I asked for his name. He said 'Latheef, I am a muslim' and was looking at me. It took sometime to understand that he was waiting for my reaction after saying that he was a muslim. I just said 'it is OK. There is no need to say that you are a muslim. Your work was good'. He left. 

Later I was wondering how many muslim youth must be feeling like him...reluctant to utter their names. It is not going to change in the future. 

Until a few years back we never felt threatened by them.  We were shopping in 'Bhaai kadai'...bhaai means muslim in colloquial Tamil language (muslim's small shops which sold provisions).   We were addressing them as 'bhaai' and talked to them normally.  I had a muslim neighbour long back.  They were Hyderabad muslims.  Very educated family.  They were very close to me.  I learnt to pronounce urdu words properly from the lady! But even for them it was very difficult to shift to a new house when their landlord asked them to vacate the current house since he was retiring and wanted to come and stay in his house in Chennai from Kerala.  Later on he had to go to court to vacate them.  These people got a stay order.  They never left the house for a few more years.  It was an independent house with lot of space around in a prominent area. Then I lost touch with them.  

A neighbour of mine here, is reluctant to let out her flat for muslims fearing problems in the future.   

Can muslims, normal, soft natured muslims, be comfortable to live here or anywhere else without people looking at them in a 'different' way?  Sometimes I feel sorry for them, esp. for people whose children go to normal schools and are intelligent/educated.


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