Sunday, October 30, 2011

Phool - I

Since long I have been thinking of having a morning stroll in my society compound , clicking and appreciating the beautiful flowers that are grown in my society garden. But due to office on weekdays and laziness on weekends I never get the time to get up early morning and go down.

So last Saturday since I slept early on Friday night, I got awake around 7 and seeing the pleasant weather outside I decided that today is the day. Although as Winters are approaching, most of the trees have started shedding their leaves and flowers but still some of them were laden with some beautiful flowers.

I wanted to write about them last saturday only but wanted to first know the name of all the flowers that I have clicked so that its more easy for people to remember. But alas its very difficult to search names when you only have their photos and I guess that is something that Facebook, Google etc software giants should really come up with next.

Nevertheless sharing the pictures ,some with names and some with their search still on for identification.

Hope you all will like them.

First up the FireCracker Flower or Crossandra infundibuliformis. If you enlarge this photo by clicking on it you will see that the flower has a yellow color at center and red petals which gives an impression of burning cracker with red  flames coming out of it. 

Next up is one of the most common flower that we see in India, Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea is a vine tree bearing bunches of pink flowers.

Next is another common flower whose name I could not found :(

MahaStri once told me its name but I don't remember. You can find this flower in every nook and corner of India, in most of the parks and lawns.

Next, Violet Wild Petunia.... Nice violety flower.

Another one which although small but had a very uncharacteristic petal shape. One prolong search it seems its another variety of Crown of the Thorns (Botanical name Euphorbia milii)

And ofcourse how can you not have Roses....

There were many more flowers that I clicked whose name I could not yet find out, so just sharing some of them

This was an interesting flower with needle like petals. Now I know they are Red Powder Puff flower or Calliandra haematocephala.

I could not click the below Amaltas flower well as it was on roadside outside our society and the flowers too were at quite an height.

This one is called Jatropha Integerrima or Spicy Jatropha.

There were few more but their photos din't come well.

I am hoping to soon update the post with the names of the flower that I have not mentioned yet.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vertical Limit...

Just while surfing through the videos on the National Geographic site , I came across a movie which was created by the National Geography, titled "The Wildest Dream - Conquest of Everest".

Everest , the highest peak in the world, in itself is a fascinating subject but when the same subject is narrated with a life revolving story then it makes viewing more scintillating.

The Wildest Dream depicts the story of George Mallory, the world famous British mountaineer, who was one of the first person to make a conquest of  Mt. Everest and on his third attempt to scale the mountain died there itself. Now some people believe that he was successfully in reaching the summit and died while descending thus crediting him to be the first person to have reached Mt. Everest somewhat 30 years before it was officially registered to have been scaled. But there is no definite proof of his achievement as the last time they were seen was when they were just few hundred meters away from the tip. His dead body too was found just 12 years back in 1999, 75 years after they died, when an exploration team "Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition', especially sent to search for their remains tumbled on George Mallory's body. His climbing partner, Andrew Sandy Irvine, who was quite young and was an expert with oxygen cylinders, is yet to be found.

The person who found his body , Conrad Anker, who himself is a famous mountaineer, then decided to retrace the last steps of Mallory and Irvine in exactly the same gear and techniques as being sported by Mallory and Irvine and thus was produced the movie the Wildest Dream. Conrad got himself made the same set of clothes and shoes as he found on Mallory's body and started to trek using the same route along with his climbing partner Leo Houlding. The most interesting of the trek was climbing the "Second Step" cliff which is toughest part in the ascent of Mount Everest. In 1960's the Chinese got a metal ladder erected there for the ease of ascent but when Mallory and Irvine have climbed the same in 1924 (this part is disputed that they were successful in climbing it and thus have reached the summit) there was no ladder , so Anker and Leo too first removed the ladder and then climbed the same naturally.

Mallory on being asked once in New York that "Why Mount Everest ?", famously replied "Because its there." In the same way when Leo was doubting that " Why I am risking my whole life to climb Mount Everest? Will I get a pot of gold at the top?", Anker commented that its for the glory, for the thrill , for the passion, for the madness. These statements made me realized that yes the foremost thing about adventure sports is the thrill and the passion. The passion of doing something remarkable.  Just after watching this movie I got so excited that I started watching "Vertical Limit" another fascinating adventure movie about conquest of K2.

I have never been attracted by Mountains, I mean yes the photographer in me will love to click them but was never attracted towards trekking them. And believe me climbing a snow covered peak? which in view itself looks physically so challenging? ..Definitely not my cup of Tea :)

Seeing all these movies attracted me towards these picturesque locations and if not to trek but at least to capture these places on camera, I am really excited to at least visit them once.

These movie also motivated me to write about my only grilling trek so far , that I took in August this year, on my vacation to Malaysia and Bali with my friends. And about which I was planning to write since so long :(.

I thought instead of writing about the whole trip, I will rather write one by one on the places that I visited on this trip but as you know somehow at times I just din't feel like making that effort :(.

Anyways better late than never. :) So one thing that was on our list of places to visit in Bali was the volcanic mountain of Batur in Kintamani. Although we thought of it as an active Volcano (its indeed an active Volcano which last erupted in 2000) but we were hoping more for lava spitting , boiling kind but what we found was ash smoking, steam bath environment.

Mt. Batur as seen from the Lake.

Mt Batur is 1717m (5633 ft) high mountain, having a giant crater at the center and a beautiful Batur lake at its foot. The trek is close to 2 mile and honestly can be considered as one of the moderate climb and definitely a strenuous one which will require a level of physical fitness.

As we had explored a lot on net and trip advisor about the time it will take, the difficulty level etc , so we decided that we will start around 3-4 AM from our hotel in Nusa Dua and since it is around 85 Kms from Nusa Dua, we should be there by 5:30-6 AM and then we will reach the top by 7AM. The main attraction of Mt. Batur apart from the volcano is the sun rise. So being at the eastern side of earth and expecting to see Sun rise at 7 ?? We were gravely wrong.

So that night after reaching hotel we started exploring for how to get guide (you are not allowed to climb it without a Guide even if you have been to Mt. Everest) and getting directions for the same. So there we came to know that for a successful trip we will have to start around 2 from here , start trekking around 4 am and then only we will reach the top around 6 to catch the sun rise. Since it was already 12:30-1 , we decided that there is no point in sleeping. Luckily we also got a driver as earlier it was my friend who was driving the rented car, so all of us decided that we will sleep while we are travelling. Having done something similar (less sleep) on my last trek to Vaishno Devi, I knew it is going to be tough.

We were 6 people, 2 couples and me and my another male friend who was un married. We reached the foot (read base camp :)) around 4- 4:15 and the moment we stepped out from the car, it was freezing cold and no body (bad trip advisor) mentioned that. And since we were in beach city, most of us were wearing shorts :D. Luckily some of us had extra shirts to change latter and we quickly pulled them too on the tee we were already wearing. Thus we started on our trek.

The first clear glimpse from Batur, we are more than half way.

It was pitch dark and we only had our torch and guide to guide us and apart from that we had no idea where we were walking. And while coming down later when the sun was out we only found how treacherous it was.

Unfortunately one of our female mate got sick due to the exhaustion and she and her husband and the other couple has to stop at the middle (from where they could still see the sun rise). And me and my other single friend and the Guide continued.

Mt Abang as seen from Mt Batur. Just on its back is Mt Agung the highest peak of Bali.(actually the top almost merge in this photo.)
As it was pitch dark ,we could only get the glimpse of the top and the torches of the parties ahead us were twinkling ahead thus telling us how much more trek is left. Honestly it was tough climb but not tiring . The difficult part was the path on which we were climbing which was quite steep and full of loose rocks and it was difficult to get your footing right. So after around 2 hours we reached the place where the crater was , somewhat below the tip of the mountain and the moment he said we have reached , I felt like shouting out loud that we did it and we congratulated each other.

I forgot the name of the mountain that you can see in this photo. Its too an active Volcano.

Then we sat down to relax. The view was simply beautiful. We could see the clouds parked on the south, yes parked, actually it seemed that clouds has stopped themselves there itself as if waiting for the sun to rise and letting us having an unblocked view of the same. 

Sun rise from Batur

Soon everybody started shouting that the sun is rising and we all turned towards it and wow it was beautiful and damn the photographer in me, I somehow feel I missed watching it with my naked eye as they were glued to the view finder of my camera :(.

One thing you learn from such occasions is that either you should have a remote controlled camera which you can just trigger and let it click on its own while you enjoy the serene beauty or you go to the same place twice , once with the camera and second without :)

Loved the sun rays on the mountain...

Nevertheless , once the sun was fully risen ,it started to become hot. After sitting there for  a while , we proceed to see the crater. Honestly having hoped for burning lava, I was utterly disappointed . The crater was indeed a huge one with a long history of eruptions. We could see smoke coming out from its walls and at one place hot steam was coming and when we went there our whole face started sweating, that somewhat reduced the disappointment.

You can see the smoke coming out.

Huge Crater 

On the southern side of mountain we could see large lava rock belts and although we were hoping to get down from there but our guide took us via the same route which we used for ascent.

Lava Rocks... You can also see the parked clouds

Thats what we climbed on :)

The trek down was somewhat easy as now there was enough light and we could see our steps but on seeing the terrain that we took, we really felt that man thank god we were made to climb in pitch dark because if we had seen what were climbing on then it would have been difficult to motivate us to continue.

Half of the climb was actually covered with Eucalyptus trees and the sun rays coming through them was really looking beautiful.

Looking back at what we conquered :)

All in all I was happy  (and now I can somewhat relate to the thrill people feel on climbing something).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Durga Puja 2011

Its that time of the year which every Bengali eagerly look forward to.....

Durga Puja is the festival which coincides with Navratra and according to Hindu Mythology is slated as the time when Maa Durga visits her maternal home with her friends Devi Saraswati and Devi Lakshmi and her two sons God Karthikey and God Ganesha.

So on this occasion , numerous pandals are created at various places mainly temples depicting the idols of the five God and Goddesses. And over the period of 4 days i.e. from 6th day of Navratra to Dusherra these pandals are eptimome of various spiritual, cultural and culinary activities.

So over the week I will try to share some typical moments that we experience during this festival.

Although the festival officially starts from today but this year me and my folks started visiting the pandals a day prior as on the fifth day itself the idols are placed at the pandals but the Pujas etc are started from 6th evening onwards.

So just sharing some pictures that I clicked yesterday..

C R Park  Mela Ground

C R Park - Shiv Mandir

C R Park k-Block
C R Park Durga Puja Samity

These idols are not decorated or started to worshipped thats why you don't see any flowers etc .

So will post those too when I visit these places again ..till then Happy Durga Puja and Happy Navratra :)