Tirupati and Tirumala

The holy trip to Tirupati was a 2 day weekend tour from Friday night to Monday morning. We started our journey from Bangalore at 10 pm reaching Tirupati by 4 am. It was a picnic time more than a pilgrimage since we were venturing out of Bangalore for the first time. Adding to the fun was the fact that it was an all friends outing for the next 2 complete days.

Day 1:
Once we reached Tirupati early morning we had to take tickets for entering the temple which is on a hilltop. The ticket has slot timings allotted to a devotee. It is only during this time that we can visit the shrine. Also there is a limit of tickets which can be issued to prevent the temple from getting overcrowded. Lord Balaji is the second richest god after Vatican and the security in this temple is high. We purchased ticket for darshan from base and got the slot time of Sunday evening. Since we had more than a day, we were to cover all the temples at the base of hill that day. The next day we would see some more temples and then drive up the hill. After getting tickets we boarded the coach again to reach the hotel where had to stay. It was a decent room but without AC. The climate in that region was hot and humid and difficult to sustain without AC.

We managed to upgrade our rooms and slept for some time. We then got ready to visit all temples in the planned package tour itinerary. We covered 4 temples in that area whose architecture just amazed me with beautiful carving on the exterior. The temples stand tall visible from quite a distance made up of rock boulders or stones. This makes the temple floors get quite hot to walk on when the sun is in its full fury. The humidity inside the temple also increases with rising temperatures.

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Half moon in january 2010

Thought of sharing one more of the individual moon shots I took over the month of Jan 2010. The moon was giving great poses for shooting it and I would not let that pass through without a capture. Below is one image of the half moon captured during my run to create a moon transition series entry.

Half moon in January 2010
Half moon in January 2010

Bird photos at Ranganthittu

Ranganthittu Bird sanctuary is in Mandya district on way to Mysore from Bangalore.

It was my first bird photography experience with BWS group and I was also testing my new Canon 100-400L IS lens to be used on my future trip to African Safari.

Crocodile with open mouth waiting for breakfast at Ranganthittu
Crocodile with open mouth waiting for breakfast at Ranganthittu

I had always read about the excitement and joy of chasing birds through the viewfinder and finally capturing them onto memory cards. I lived all those moments of happiness and accomplishment at Ranganthittu. It is a dream place to capture birds in their full glory.

The number of birds that are available at this place is huge and they seem to get less disturbed with human co-existence and close approach to their habitats. A boat ride takes one very close to them to frame the birds majestically. There are moments when one can get confused as there are subjects to be shot in 360 views.

It was a learning experience of framing the birds and allowing the photos to breathe and hence stand out. Personally I am quite impressed with this place and the lens. It was also about carrying the camera lens combination around neck for almost 6 hours straight.

The collection of photos can be found at the following link:

CLICK HERE for GALLERY

Some of the birds we saw were storks, egret, spoonbill, pelican, cormorant, fly catcher, kingfisher, river tern.

We had taken boat rides at 2 times of the day, one is morning around 11 am and another one around 4:30 pm to give us good variations in the lighting conditions. Both the sessions provided us with good opportunities to shoot birds and learn about their species.

Apart from the boat rides, one can walk around the sanctuary islands and still capture birds in flight and on distant trees. A long telephoto lens seems a must in such situations. Also I agree with the common saying that for bird photography any lens focal length seems less.

We reached back home around 9pm with gigs of photos only to be processed in the coming days and finally posting them here.

Feedback is welcome.

2010 full moon transitions

The month of January in 2010 witnessed brightest moon of the year ahead. Statistically the moon was 30% brighter than any other full moon day. The size also was 14% bigger.

Homo sapien and other species on planet earth saw this astronomical phenomenon on January 30th. I did not want to miss the series of shapes which led to the moon being far brighter and bigger.

Below image gives you an idea of the transition of moon in the 2 weeks prior to it achieving the full size.

Photos of different moon size in Jan 2010
Full Moon transition in January 2010

The image has been scaled heavily to accommodate in this region which is a series of 9 individual photos. If you would like to own a non-copyrighted image of any individual moon shape and size or the biggest version, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to give you a good offer once I get to know its intended usage.

Ranganthittu birds photography

What a weekend it was, seeing different varieties of egrets, Blue Jay and many other birds fly pass around me and offering me catwalk model shots.

The 2 days of Saturday and Sunday were spent in the beautiful gardens of Lalbagh and Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary in Mandya district near Mysore. This is nesting time for birds in Ranganthittu and they were readying to find warmth to lay their eggs.

Crocodile with open mouth waiting for breakfast at Ranganthittu
Crocodile with open mouth waiting for breakfast at Ranganthittu

This was my first outing to a birding photography tour and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The subjects were available in plenty. I just needed to be patient and wait for the right moment before hitting the trigger. I would recommend the place of Ranganthittu to all photographers if they intend to capture some motion shots of birds.

Even if you are not a photographic enthusiast, it is a good place for a family picnic with a boat ride.

The advantage of going to this place is that the birds seem to be comfortable with human presence very close to them. The sanctuary is made up of multiple islands which can be navigated using wildlife department authorized boats. The boatmen are very knowledgeable about birds, their behaviors and day-to-day activities. This in turn help us in getting very close for close shots.

The surprise awaiting us were the sight of crocodiles seen basking on the rocks around this lake sanctuary. Per the boatmen, they are non aggressive but then we were told to take precaution by not going very near to them and disturbing them. The population of crocodiles is around 40-50 in that area.

Good time for bird sighting is from November to January yearly. By end of February, the birds are expected to lay their eggs and then offering some more rare glimpses of their young ones. An opportunity not to be missed in this area.

More selection at fotoflock – Burj Khalifa

One more time, an image shot by me of the World’s tallest building, Burj Khaleej aka Burj Dubai has been chosen under the theme of “Buildings and Structures”.

The link to image is at fotoflock.com/index.php/photogallery/shooter/4367

The image was shot in January 2009 when the work for completing the building was in full swing. I can still recollect the day when I was roaming in Downtown Burj area, this area was worked upon by many workers and laborers. On that day, the colorful fountains were being fitted getting ready to dance to music tunes on the launch day in January 2010.

Kemmangundi chikmagloor photos

The western ghats section are a trekkers paradise giving untouched and breathtaking views of landscape and green cover. The city of Kemmangundi Chikmagloor provide good trails from a day to several days. The destinations could just a waterfall or a hill top or just a refreshing walk through the woods.

Our journey started with a trek to Hebbe falls on the first day which was followed by a simple trek to Baba Budangiri peak in Mulayangiri mountain range. See the photos below for a first hand experience of the trail.

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Shivanasamudram photos

Shivanasamudram or Shivasamudram is a place where one of the beautiful waterfalls can be seen in full flow. It is a good place for picnic around the garden city of Bangalore. The place is located around 120km towards Mysore and the drive is comfortable except for small patched on the state highway.

The waterfalls are known as Gaganchukki and Barachukki which look quite magnificent post monsoon in the months after August/September.

The falls of Barachukki can be seen from road level but to reach the base one has to climb down tiring steep stairs. The water can be heard falling on rocks making it difficult to enter the waters. Incase there is less rainfalls, then you can even get into a coracle boat and get a joy ride. The place of Gaganachukki is even more beautiful with water gushing in front of you and reaching the base.

At Gaganchukki, one reached at the top of waterfalls with a large flat area good to just sit down relaxing watching the water gush down. The view is panoramic at both the places and worth a visit. Both these places are located around 2 km apart and make a beautiful day’s outing.

Enjoy some of the pictures from the gallery link below.

GALLERY VIEW LINK

Somanathpur day trip

Somanathpura temple entrance

A day trip to the heritage site of Somanathapura. It is famous for an artistic temple with intricate carvings symbolic of Hoysala dynasty architecture which once ruled this region. The stone work is very fine and treat to watch built by General Somanatha of the hoysala.

Starting at around 7 am we reached the temple by 11:00 am taking approximately 4 hours to reach the place with 2 stops on way for fuel and breakfast. The breakfast was at Kamath yatri niwas which has become quite famous amongst travelers from Bangalore to Mysore. A traditional south Indian cuisine on offer, it was the first time I was visiting this place and found nothing extraordinary.

After continuing further on Mysore highway, a state highway 33 starts and we took that road to reach Malavalli police station on a round about. A right turn from that place sent us closer to Somanathapura. The road condition deteriorates within the last 7 km. the sign boards are present throughout and you will not miss them as they have a stone pole with a yellow sign board signifying tourist location distance information.

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www.travelgrove.com services review

www.travelgrove.com is a website catering to your travel needs. It is a meta search engine site offering competitive deals on various bookings for hotels, flights, cruise liners, vacation packages and likes. There is an ocean of travel related information and services on offer for your needs. The highlight of the services seem to be concentrated on flights as the homepage is bursting to give you best deals from one city to another.

The economical flight are not limited to US and finds option for you to fly at cheap rates to London as well. The results are displayed in an easy to comprehend tabular manner before making the purchase. The site allows for membership accounts which enable them to participate in community interacting with other travelers. Destination reviews can be found in one of the sections of the website.  The deals section has some well thought out categories for a traveler’s need and quick information.

www.travelgrove.com
www.travelgrove.com

Apart from the travel related information and good quality search results, the site boasts of good Page Rank and Alexa rank but that seems less important to travelers but helps them stand out when you need to punch in your credit card details. It gives a sense of secure feeling to an individual when doing a truncation on this site.

From a user experience perspective, a new user might feel overwhelmed with a lot of information upfront right on the homepage. The flashy ad might be distracting on times when you are reading on a review or following some article.

**This was a paid review**

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