Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Green Coconut Vendor over the Beach

A Green Coconut Vendor over the Beach
Coconut vendors chop out the juice pretty fast right? Have you ever tried taking the water or pulp out of a coconut? It requires some practice actually. Make it a habit to drink coconut water instead of bottled carbonated drinks or synthetic fruit flavored juices when you're outside your home. It may not be so chilled, but it'll be the right thing for your body. Best thing about coconut water is, despite its richness with potassium, antioxidants and other micro-nutrients, it contains surprisingly low levels of carbohydrates, calories and fat. It's interesting to know, during World war II, coconut water was used as a substitute for intravenous saline!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Little Shadows over the Sunny Beach

Little Shadows over the Sunny Beach
Sometimes unusual angles enhance beauty of an otherwise simple composition. Guess what I was doing. Well, I was resting under the soothing shade of a fishing boat kept over the sand, after getting tired of walking miles on the sun loving beaches of Goa. It was exactly midday time, and now you know what those wooden sticks over the top of the frame are... don't you? 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sunset from the Viper Island

Sunset from the Viper Island
This sunset silhouette over the Viper Island, a small member island of the Andaman and Nicobar groups, may look picturesque and peaceful but its history speaks somewhat different. It is the very island near Port Blair where Indian political prisoners used to be barred and executed by the British before the Cellular Jail was built. Presently, otherwise uninhabited, this Viper Island is a tourist spot to be visited on a cruise boat. The ruins of the sinful gallows atop a hillock may incite pain in your heart and interest to revisit those pages of history which narrated all about the Indian struggle for independence.   

The Grass-cutter Girl at Adina Mosque

The Grass-cutter Girl at Adina Mosque
How old would she be? Less than ten right? Well, she clips off grass and bushes from the lawn before the Adina Mosque of Maldah so that tourists can visit the mosque unhindered. In our country, Child Labour Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. I'm struggling to fool myself with the notion that a sickle in a child's hand can't be hazardous at all. Shame on Indian Government and shame on us!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Green Sea from Ross Island

Green Sea from Ross Island
I haven't been to picturesque coastal places outside India but owing to the greatness of Internet I've seen so many popular beaches abroad. I used to miss the greenish blue shade of crystal clear sea water till I visited Andaman. Once I explored Andaman I lost my longing for foreign seashores as it offered me everything I could dream of, oh off course except the covert prayer that beaches of Goa did answer. This shot was taken from Ross Island, a member of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a tourist destination 2 kilometers east of Port Blair, under the authority of Indian Navy and easily accessible by boats from the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex of Port Blair. Dead tree trunk lying over the sand usually makes up for the lack of primary subject or a rich foreground in the frame. The coconut trunk played the savior in this photo despite the over-exposure by the midday sun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Zebra Couple from Kolkata Zoo

The Zebra Couple from Kolkata Zoo
I find zebras highly photogenic, just like giraffes and elephants. The residence of this zebra couple is Kolkata Zoo, which is not a very animal-friendly habitat (yes, unfortunately!). Did you know that like human fingerprints, stripes of zebras come in different patterns which are unique to each individual? If you thought those stripes over zebra are whimsical ornamentation by nature then it is high time you must know that stripes on zebras serve the purpose of camouflage! If you like this zebra photo I'll post more of them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Their Happy Hours on the Beach

Their Happy Hours on the Beach
Post sunset silhouettes of these two children playing with the waves on the secluded beach of Sagardwip are among my favorite beach photographs. There are many photos in my collection for the same, but I chose these two among them, as I feel, they together narrate a beautiful photo story of two kids, probably siblings, sister with her younger brother, still full with life after the day and clearly not bothered of the falling darkness over the beach unlike adults who had mostly abandoned the beach as the sun left. They continued their playful attitude with darkening waves and ignored my movements with the camera as if I was a ghost, till it got dark enough and I had to remind them "time to return home kids". Located on an island in the Sunderbans, Gangasagar is an able tourist charmer with its pristine beach on the estuary of river Ganges. The island of Gangasar, also called Sagardwip is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage sites in India, with countless pilgrims from all over the subcontinent flocking in the the month of January at the confluence of river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal for a holy dip, followed by rituals at old Kapil Muni Temple on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. Its popularity in India is comparable to the Kumbh Mela that is held every three years!
Their Happy Hours on the Beach

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Beguni Maker

The Beguni Maker
'Beguni' is the one of the most popular cum delicious local term for Bengali brinjal fritter and one of the most desirable evening snacks among Bengalis. I'm not talking of those modern lots who prefer placing an order over phone to pizza shop and tip the pizza boy. 'Beguni' holds its value for those Bengalis who grew up in warm (read it 'sabeki bangali') neighborhood, with a snacks (beguni and aloo chop only) vendor at the corner, most adorably addressed as 'kaka' or 'dada' by his loyal customers who usually had ample time to analyze national issues, football matches and some P.N.P.C. Unfortunately the number of such archetype beguni-makers have dwindled to such an extent that you have to scan for kilometers of bylanes in tinsel towns and rural Bengal to find one dim lit beguni maker's shop among thousand fast-food stalls. Someday try a couple of begunis with a katori of puffed rice and a green chilli to check if my lament is all baseless.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Himalayan Transport

The Himalayan Transport
Yes, yaks and mountain buffaloes are their only vehicles in villages above 3000 meters. They carry rations to gas cylinders and cover a distance of 20-40 kilometers in a day quite easily to move from their village to the nearest town for refilling, at that unearthly high altitude! Mostly these hanging metal bridges which sway freely with the afternoon mountain breeze are their only connection to the civilization. But as I said 'civilization' don't misunderstand them as illiterate. When I had asked the man in golden jacket "where's your village?" in Nepali, all I heard was a short clear reply in lucid English- "Behind those mountains, there lies our village"! The river below the bridge is Kali Gandaki and the location is lower Mustang, Nepal. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nizamat Imambara of Murshidabad

Nizamat Imambara of Murshidabad
Nizamat Imambara of Murshidabad is the largest (about 207 meters) imambara of Bengal, built in 1847, exactly opposite to the Hazarduari Palace, by Nawab Nazim Mansur Ali Khan. The mammoth construction was wrapped up in a period of just six to seven months! This rectangular building of Nizamat Imambara is divided into three equal blocks, each with a large quadrangle. The central quadrangle which is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India contains in the center the single-domed Medina on a square platform and surrounded on all sides by spacious prayer halls and an upper balcony covered with the ornamental stained glasses in front. Although the Hazarduari Palace steals the show before conventional tourists, I'm quite sure that an avid traveler would find this massive white monument equally interesting.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Boy Waiting for the Sunrise

Boy Waiting for the Sunrise
This pre-sunrise photo was captured at Bakkhali beach, one of the popular weekend holiday destinations of West Bengal. Barely getting rid of my sleep, when I could drag myself up to the beach with my camera and tripod, there was only few sleeping cattle over the cold sand, a timid patrolling dog and this little gentleman patiently waiting for the daybreak! I tried to crack conversation with my only co-tourist but he seemed a greater introvert than me. Anyway, the kid was so still in his squatting posture that I could set my tripod at half dozen locations before I could settle with the perfect angle I was looking for. If you're looking for a beach retreat, the tinsel seaside town of Bakkhali with a seven kilometers long walkable beach line can be a good option.

Foreign Tourists exploring Incredible India

Foreign Tourists exploring Incredible India
India ranks third among countries with the fastest growing tourism industries in the world. Before I put my request or message, it is worthy to mention few facts taken from wiki. It was calculated that tourism industry generated about 6.4 trillion INR, supported 39.5 million jobs in 2012 and it was estimated that tourism would grow at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023. What a positive sign indeed! But I'm sure these statistics would have been better if we're more tourist-friendly. I'm not talking of all, so please don't take my words otherwise. Leaving those horrific stories of newspaper, in many occasions I have found foreign female tourists are being badly ogled, commented or insisted for photography. I never acted like Sunny Deol and slapped those culprits but at times I tried to intervene and dilute the ongoing drama. So, please ensure that foreign tourists who visit us to explore our incredible India return home with only pleasant memories and respectable image of cooperative Indians. Don't just watch the TV Ad "Atithi Devo Bhava" and clap with hollow pride, put it in some action.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Life Under the Shadow of Faded Royalty

Life Under the Shadow of Faded Royalty
Life under the shadow of faded royalty- yes, this is the exact thought that took over my mind as I saw a common man just like me, in sweaty shirt and half eroded slippers riding a rickety bicycle under the stony arches of vestigial history! This is the inside view of the Large Gateway, one of the fine arched entrances to the temple town of Bishnupur. The structure built with dressed laterite blocks was more popularly known as 'Pathar Darwaja' (Gateway of Stone). It was the northern entrance to the ancient fort of Bishnupur built by Malla King Birsingha in the second half of seventeenth century. It had double storied galleries flanking the central passage for accommodating troops and there were also arrow-slits for the archer and the gunman. As of now, occasionally a traveler like me or a group stops by this trail of history and click few photos to document the trip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Fisherman at Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour

A Fisherman at Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour
Visakhapatnam, or the port city of Andhra Pradesh, more popularly known as Vizag, houses a big and busy fishing harbor which contributes extensively to the fishing industry of our country, and along with that, it provides livelihood to thousands of poor people of Andhra. The fishing harbor of Vizag imports more than 500 tonnes of fishes and prawns with annual turnover of around Rs 1 Crore! If you're not much allergic to the fishy smell, give a visit and you'll meet many of such busy workers unloading, packing or slicing salt water fishes.

A Himalayan Monastery

A Himalayan Monastery
This shot was taken at Jomsom, the unspoilt headquarter of Mustang district of Nepal, located at an elevation of 2800 meters. Mighty peaks of Dhaulagiri smeared with snow form its breathtaking backdrop. You'll be never tired of photographing the little town, off course as long as you're not affected by the mountain sickness. Although I've titled it "A Himalayan Monastery" I'm not sure whether it was really a monastery or a commercial center under construction. To me it resembled more like a monastery. Anyway who cares, it's the beauty that enslaves us.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Colorful Boats over Phewa Lake

Colorful Boats over Phewa Lake
Phewa Lake is the second largest lake in Nepal and center of tourist attraction of the beautiful city of Pokhara. Phewa lake is also photographer's paradise. On a clear and less windy day, you can capture mesmerizing reflections of snowy peaks of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri or Machhapuchhre over the blue surface of Phewa! Yes, as you can see, I wasn't that lucky but still I was happy with the hunt. Innumerable colorful wooden boats waiting for tourists, floating over the lake whole day, give an element of warmth to this already charming landscape. By the way, I'm posting this photo on request of my blogger friend Siddharth Muzumdar.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hazarduari Palace of Murshidabad in black and white

Hazarduari Palace of Murshidabad in blackand white
As the name 'Hazarduari' suggests, this palace of thousand doors by the bank of River Bhagirathi, built in 19th century during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah, is presently under the authority of Archaeological Survey of India and houses a museum displaying the collections of Nawabs consisting of furnitures, oil paintings, arms, statues, rare books and manuscripts. Hazarduari, the lone monument that has drawn Murshidabad into historical cum tourist map of India, is a good example of Indo-European architecture, strongly reminiscent of Italian style, as evident from its huge flight of stairs at the front, colossal pillars and the facade of the building! Hazarduari palace was used holding the durbar, other official works of the Nawabs and also for the residence of high ranking British officials. The Durbar hall with its lofty dome adorned with fine stucco ornamentation, is the most attractive feature of this monument. I must mention that I read somewhere, out of thousand doors, only 100 are real doors. I thought "black and white" will do proper justice to its historical aura but never mind, I'll post a color photograph of this Hazarduari palace in a couple of days where you can see the garden surrounding it and also the clock tower of the Nizamat campus.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Elephants sharing the Highway

Elephants sharing the Highway
In one of my motorcycle trips I found these massive domesticated elephants sharing the state highway along with buses and two wheelers. The exact location I do not remember but it was somewhere near Bishnupur, the temple town of Bankura district. The mahouts weren't pleased to see me photographing their license-free transport. But I couldn't afford to miss this frame. After all, it is only in India where you'll find animals sharing highways with motor vehicles! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Qutub Minar is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

Qutub Minar is an UNESCO World Heritage Site
With its mammoth height of 72.5 meters, Qutub Minar boasts of being the highest stone tower of India and perfect example of a Minar to exist anywhere till date! The foundations of this famous Qutub/Qutb/Qutab Minar were laid by Qutbuddin Aibak of the Mamluk dynasty towards the end of the 12th century. The construction was interrupted at the first storey by his death and the remaining three storeys were completed in matching material and style by his successor Altamash in 1230 AD. However in 1368 the massive Qutub Minar was unfortunately damaged by lightning which was generously repaired by Firuz Shah Tughluq. Similar lightning damage had affected the Minar in subsequent period when Sikandar Lodi had taken initiatives to repair the structure. If you're an Indian be proud to see Qutub Minar in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Did you know this is the first monument of India to introduce e-ticketing facility for its visitors?

68 Years of enjoying Freedom

68 Years of enjoying Freedom
Wishing Happy 68th Independence Day to all my Indian friends, brothers and sisters! Well, you may be wondering what's the relation of that monkey in the photograph with 15th August 2014... right? OK, cutting it short, this was the expression I got from the monkey as I drove him away from the guava tree of our garden. I understand it completely that he's a poor victim of deforestation and I tell you honestly I got no problem if he can eat up half of our guavas from the garden. Problem is, these monkeys waste a lot of fruits by throwing onto the ground half-eaten, which is not only wastage in true sense but also leaves a lot of cleaning work for us! Third thing is they mercilessly pooh over our courtyard after episodes of overeating and it has been several occasions when I had to throw those dried-sticky excreta with the help of a disposable glove. Forget those shitty events. The only reason I chose this monkey photo for my humble Independence Day greetings is- I found a big, big, really big similarity of my facial contour with this monkey's one in 90% cases when I visit Government offices with some unavoidable necessity. I mostly come out of Govt. places with this monkey's expression that clearly depicts my 68 years of enjoying freedom. Jai Hind! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our teenager Boatman from Pokhara

Our teenager Boatman from Pokhara
This young, smiling gentleman gave us a boat-ride over the Phewa Lake at Pokhara, Nepal. Although not evident from this shot, usually Phewa Lake offers excellent panorama of spectacular Annapurna ranges at the background and innumerable colorful boats, as essential components of foreground ornamenting the water body! In this photo I was happy to capture the unconditional positive energy flow radiated by the smiling expression of this Pokhara boy even at the end of the day when he should be exhausted theoretically. On a different note, this type of low-waist jeans and colored canvas shoes are very popular among youths of Nepal.     

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trinkets for Sale in Durbar Square

Trinkets for Sale in Durbar Square
Colorful metal trinkets are one of those 'must buys' if you're shopping in Kathmandu. They've an unique Nepali aroma in their design. These trinkets look classy due to the artificial antique touch local manufacturers put in their making! Anyway, bargain wisely and you'll be rewarded with some stylish accessories at a dirt cheap price from the streets of Kathmandu. In curio shops they'll be pricey for sure, and similar things if you buy online, you may have to part with a fortune in the name of added certificate of authentication which is nothing but marketing gimmick. I took this shot somewhere at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, Kathmandu.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cuckoo hiding behind Papaya stalks

Cuckoo hiding behind Papaya stalks
Look at the glow over its eyes at the sight of monsoon! In my home, luckily I hear cuckoo's symphony till now due to abundant greenery around. Things are fast changing though. Every three months I see a new building standing somewhere in my surrounding area, killing the patches of green which were there before. So, I fear within coming few years I'll lose such beautiful sight as this and my papaya trees may stand alone on their own without a single bird to fill their branches. To avoid those gloomy thoughts, I could only freeze the moment when the singing cuckoo hid its half-wet feathers behind papaya stalks.

The Princess on an Elephant Ride

The Princess on an Elephant Ride
If this huge tusker scares you, look at the little girl on the rider's seat! I was amazed at the confidence with which this local Tamil girl was riding the massive elephant in Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu. It really seemed that the princess of the jungle came out on her royal carriage to give us a lucky visit from a distance. Don't know much about others but I must admit, I was highly obliged by her graceful presence. Don't ignore the elephant in this photograph. It really had mammoth tusks!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Resting Canoe

The Resting Canoe
I found this simple, yet beautiful canoe, resting on a stream by the Mahindra Park at Tikapur, Western Nepal. The stream was pretty shallow. I tried to board the idle canoe but found the apparently simple task quite arduous due to lack of stability of the poor wooden thing over the gently flowing stream. I've realized boat photos come out mostly nice provided you click them under proper lighting condition. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Busy Miss from Nepal

The Busy Miss from Nepal
Can you guess what this busy Miss was doing? No, she's neither upset, nor meditating. This cute moody little girl was busy playing some game in her father's mobile phone. I came across this angel while I was trekking at Myagdi, Nepal. I too was waiting for the public transport which was not so frequent there. Suddenly I noticed this prospective co-passenger, totally absorbed in the virtual world of video games, which let me to capture few shots of her without slightest disturbance. Really, kids can be much more focused than us! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dhimsa Dance by Tribal Women at Araku Valley

Dhimsa Dance by Tribal Women at Araku Valley
Dhimsa/Dimsa is a special variety of tribal dance popular among ethnic groups at Araku Valley, the hilly tourist hub of Andhra Pradesh. I had enjoyed this Dhimsa dance by tribal women in a day trip to Araku Valley from Visakhapatnam, conducted by AP tourism. After our lunch this dance was organized by APTDC team on the hotel lawn as a part of recreation cum rest, before our trip to Borrah caves. It was captured with a 2 mega-pixel cellphone camera.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Baby Elephant Peeing

Baby Elephant Peeing
I was fortunate to witness this royal show when I visited Nandankanan Zoological Park (at Bhubaneswar, Odisha) in 2008. I had been clicking my entire trip with the 'still' feature of sony handycam I had back then. But the security at the park entrance had problem with my camcorder, i.e. they weren't ready to believe I didn't have a cassette even inside that to record video which made it at par to any still digital camera. I too was not willing at all to pay for the exorbitant video camera ticket as I wasn't shooting any clip. So, I settled with my 2 mega-pixel phone camera and this is the result in front of you- the baby elephant peeing! Since 2008 I've shared it in different social networks and was at times asked, "How long did you have to wait to see him pee?" Well, it was a luck by chance. Later when I read in some journal that an adult elephant can pee up to 10 liters and that too in 20-25 seconds, I thanked my luck that it was only a calf. Yes you're thinking it right, otherwise I needed a raincoat to click this photo. Too much of text for a photo... I'll better be back with more elephant photos, see you.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wooden Bankura Horse waiting for the Sun God

Wooden Bankura Horse
The loyal creature waiting for his master, the Sun God.
This is a wooden Bankura Horse (Bankura is a district in West Bengal), about one meter tall, pure black in color, adorning a corner of our otherwise dull staircase. Terracotta horses of Bankura rank among top handicrafts of Bengal since ages and the wooden alternative to this form came at a later date. Bankura horses have typical long ornamented necks, long erect ears, large jaws, raised eyebrows and short limbs. If you ever happen to visit Bankura region, explore any handicraft shop and you'll find many of them in varying sizes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Good old Yashica MF-2 Super DX in black and white

Good old Yashica MF-2 Super DX in black and white
My old, much adored point and shooter mate- Yashica MF-2 Super DX Kyocera still stands tall with its fixed focus Yashica 38mm 1:3.8 lens! I remember buying film rolls mostly of Kodak, Fujifilm or Konica. In a single roll my Yashica could capture around 33-35 photos and 2 AA batteries were usually enough for the purpose. I owe her for the love of photography I developed since my tender boyhood. Doesn't she look elegant in black and white?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Black-rumped Flameback Woodpecker feeding on our Coconut tree

A Black rumped Flameback Woodpecker feeding on our Coconut tree
In a winter afternoon I spotted this black-rumped flameback searching for its prey beneath the bark of one of our old coconut trees in the garden. This is the most common variety of woodpeckers found in the urban areas of Indian subcontinent. It is also called the lesser golden-backed woodpecker and easily identifiable by its black rump, white underparts, black throat with fine white dots, golden back, red crown and crest. The falling sun had beautifully but unfortunately lit the other side of this tree and the extensive zooming caused some loss of details. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

On the Way from Jomsom to Muktinath

On the Way from Jomsom to Muktinath
I got a glimpse of this little picturesque village down the valley, ornamenting the beautiful panorama of rugged mountains at the background, on my trekking route from Jomsom to Muktinath, Nepal. If you happen to be a crazy trekker/traveler you may read my travel story of mystic Mustang.

A Giraffe at Kolkata Zoo

A Giraffe at Kolkata Zoo
I met this tall gentleman in a visit to Kolkata Zoo. I couldn't put my lens inside the fence, so, the blurred portion you can see in the middle of this giraffe's face is nothing but a wire of the fence which is out of focus. To check other animal photographs of my zoo trip you may visit my old post.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lucknow Bara Imambara on a Rainy Day

Lucknow Bara Imambara on a Rainy Day
I had captured this reflection of the prayer hall of Bara Imambara of Lucknow on little accumulated rainwater in one of my city outings in a rainy day. The wind was too much for the stagnant water to be still, so a clear reflection couldn’t be captured. For more photos of Lucknow Bara Imambara please visit my other blog.