Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari - the Old Palace

Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari - the Old Palace
Time could affect the building but not its watchful sentinel! Now you know why it's named 'Singhaduar'
If you're into historical monuments and love exploring rural Bengal, Mahishadal Rajbari (palace) can be your next travel destination. The town Mahishadal is well connected by road with Kolkata (through NH6-NH41-SH4) and though options are limited it has got a railway station too in case you're a train buff. Do not get disheartened by these photos of the dilapidated palace. In this post I'm showing you the old Mahishadal Rajbari which tourists do not usually mind skipping. Somehow, ruined architectures attract me and thus this palace called 'Singhaduar' stole the space of ClickingPhotos even before the gorgeous Mahishadal Rajbari which houses a small museum presently.
Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari - the Old Palace
Reflection of the gateway to the Singhaduar Palace on a pond.
Little bit of history for you- Somewhere in the mid-sixteenth century a brahmin merchant from northern India, Janardan Upaddhay  came to this region of Medinipur through river route and bought the Zamindari from the local bankrupt landlord. His ancestors had ruled the region unhindered till India got her independence and they had constructed three grand palaces in total, of which two are now remaining. This one is the older and abandoned palace which was built in the era of Nawabs!
Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari - the Old Palace
Marbles look like they have been laid merely a couple of years back!
All the doors of this 'Singhaduar' palace are locked and you can only view it externally. If you are a lover of monuments, cattle grazing and pooping on its courtyard may make your heart heavy. Fern, mosses and other plants growing from its walls are determined to crumble it in a decade or two. So, I guess it'll be a good idea to visit the Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari till it stands erect to tell us its tales of golden days. Oh, please do not forget to visit back as I'll be posting photos of the new palace (Phulbagh Rajbari) where movies are shot till date in a consistent basis.
Mahishadal Singhaduar Rajbari - the Old Palace
Outside a Shiva Temple near the Palace. Miniature watchtower like structures stole my attention.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Glimpses of Nandankanan Zoological Park

Glimpses of Nandankanan Zoological Park
The Giraffe in a sub-enclosure at Nandankanan Zoologcal Park. I find giraffes always photogenic!
Nandankanan Zoological Park was always in my wishlist. It is not that this was my first visit to Nandankanan, but on all previous occasions my visits were too short to mention. My past visits were part of the Golden Triangle of Odisha day trips and this zoo cum botanical garden used to be the last stopover for the day each and every time. Who can preserve energy till then, after eight hours of bus journey and brushing half a dozen of monuments/temples along the 150 kilometers route? So, this time my visit to Nandankanan was exclusive and devoid of distractions (as per my planned itinerary). The jealous weather couldn't see me strolling happily amidst wildlife with my cameras and hence the drizzle had to continue the whole day! Anyway I made it from Puri and spent the day there despite the monotonous raindrops and muddy paths. It was a flop show but at least I did put up a show.
Glimpses of Nandankanan Zoological Park
This Asiatic One-horned Rhino of Nandankanan is not as small as he looks in the photo.
If you're a backpacker like me and do not intend to spend two grands on a reserved cab from Puri, your best bet would be the passenger train that leaves Puri in the morning and would drop you at a small station named Barang in less than 2.5 hours. From Barang station take a shared auto rickshaw and get down at the main gate of Nandankanan in 5 minutes... quite a convenient and undoubtedly the cheapest option! Well, the alternate option can be faster but little more expensive. Avail those AC-nonstop buses plying between Puri-Bhubaneswar and surprisingly they take only an hour. From the bus terminus of Bhubaneswar, either take those small buses for Nandankanan or reserve an auto. If you're game for the train journey you'll be happy to know that there's a return train for Puri from Barang in the late afternoon which allows you to explore Nandankanan in your own sweet pace. My first adversity was the rain and second one was the real killer- In a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, photography without a telephoto lens is not fruitful. My point and shoot camera batteries betrayed and all I had was the 18-55 mm lens of my DSLR which was never enough to reach distant animals/birds. But again, there's always a next time...
Glimpses of Nandankanan Zoological Park
The tired, old Lion which we spotted from the safari bus. Bus safari was the stupidest decision!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Puri Sand Art Festival 2015

Puri Sand Art Festival 2015
The creator of this beautiful sand mermaid had a modest demand of ten bucks per click.
For common minds like us, sand represents anything but not permanence and we do not approve the idea of spending time on something whose product won't last long enough. Well, sand sculptors or sand artists of Odisha thankfully do not think on our line. Have you heard of Sudarshan Patnaik, the world acclaimed sand artist from Odisha who was recently awarded the 'Padma Shri' by our Govt? In Odisha there are hundreds of talented yet unrecognized sand artists, some of whom sculpt over tourist beaches and thrive on dimes collected from tourists. I've been hearing of Sand Festival since many years but it is only this time that my travel dates perfectly synchronized with the then ongoing Sand Art Festival of Puri!
Puri Sand Art Festival 2015
Crab repellent needs to be sprayed periodically to keep these sand arts intact.
Somewhere in the middle of the Swargadwar Beach I saw an enclosure with a hoarding "Sand Art Festival 2015". There was an entry fee and separate fee for the camera. Although the number of sand sculptures exhibited inside were quite less, I wasn't disappointed as the whole thing was new to me, i.e. I was delighted enough by the mere thought of viewing sand arts. One of those sand sculptures was being maintained and another guy was continuously spraying crab repellent on each and every show pieces to preserve their integrity against beach crabs.
Puri Sand Art Festival 2015
Among three of these sand arts, I liked the Lord Buddha's replica most.
After I came out, I noticed a round gathering. On close inspection there was a mermaid made up of sand (the first photograph). The artist was stopping anyone trying to steal a quick snap of his creation. No, he didn't have a problem with photography provided you paid him ten bucks as humble donation. I readily contributed and stored his sand work in my camera memory. I have heard that sand art festivals are organized in Goa as well. So, may be Goa (for the second time) someday, in search of many more surprisingly beautiful sand arts...
Puri Sand Art Festival 2015
Maintenance work of sand arts on progress...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chandrabhaga Beachscape - I am not Afraid

Chandrabhaga Beachscape - I am not Afraid
Chandrabhaga beach is a must-stopover for tourists visiting Sun Temple of Konark from Puri. As I said in my previous posts, we did the reverse journey on an auto rickshaw under the whimsical leaky sky. A fifteen minutes ride took us to Chandrabhaga beach and I tell you, December rain is not the most enticing thing an amateur travel photographer would loof for on an otherwise colorful beach. You got to save your head, your camera and at the same time modulate your urges to get few quick clicks. I missed an umbrella but settled on clicking shots of few tourist kids who seemed to be least bothered by the drizzle (unlike me!). In Puri and its nearby regions, like Chandrabhaga, the waves are always huge, grumbling and carry a grayish brown hue which make it look more fearful and unpredictable. But my ever moving subjects- the playful siblings gave a damn to the snobby sea at the background. Please suggest if I could come up with a better caption for these photos than "I am not Afraid". See you friends with more travel clicks.
Chandrabhaga Beachscape - I am not Afraid

Friday, January 16, 2015

Puri Beachscape - Camels in Exile

Puri Beachscape - Camels in Exile
"You like those waves but I find them all clowns of a flop circus", the camel says.
The main tourist beach of Puri (Odisha) is the most renowned and hatefully crowded Swargadwar Beach. I might sound a biased critic but the only thing I find great about Puri is its easy reachability from my hometown and the wild sea. Rest everything, according to me is nothing better than mundane- the beach is packed with insanely loud tourists (pardon my arrogance), the sand is too coarse, certainly not very comfortable to walk on, craps and plastics are all around (blame it on tourists as well as the Government, who is not ready to handle tourists after good many decades!) and even the marine drive is too narrow to tackle the dense traffic as well as wandering tourists during peak seasons. But then again, if you manage to find a relatively calmer place on the beach and stare at the raging sea, foamy fuming waves won't fail to entertain you even for a second!
Puri Beachscape - Camels in Exile
"I'm your curiosity but you're my monotony", the camel sighs.
People travel to a tourist destination for additional sources of entertainment, is understandable. But, if you're an animal lover, or simply a sensitive human being, camels loitering around the Swargadwar beach and being used for beach safari might make you feel that those ill fated desert animals are in exile. Being a guy from plain, I find it extremely difficult to stay in a place where it snows. Leave aside frosty terrain, I can't even tolerate very hot and humid places such as Vishakhapatnam. I wish I could communicate with those beach camels and empathize with their frustrations. It may be my delusion that I find nothing but dissatisfaction deep into their tired eyes. Perhaps they miss their arid land, thorny bushes and the desert moon. On the other hand, salty sea breeze over the years might have dressed their wounds and dissolved those scars of missing the homeland. Am I being stupidly poetic? Ah yes, never mind, please visit back to checkout more photographs of Puri beachscape.
Puri Beachscape - Camels in Exile
Two beach sellers from different species exchanging professional glances!

Monday, January 12, 2015

There is always a First Time

There is always a First Time
Siblings surveying by the bank of River Kushabhadra, down the Ramachandi Temple (Stage 1)
There is always a first time for everything and our reactions to those "first time" encounters, although quite diverse, fall in a definite pattern. We elders cleverly mask our expressions most of the times while experiencing such "first time" events but children do not bother to conceal their facial canvases. Rather than posting travel photos like a regular travel blogger, I decided to stay back with my photo blogger's tag and pick out photos from my travel collection based on a specific theme. Frankly speaking, today's theme "There is always a First Time" was the product of retrospection, unlike what I used to do previously. First I had selected these three children photographs from my Puri/Konark travel collection and then scratched my scalp to coin a theme that would link them. Please let me know if I could do justice to the theme.
There is always a First Time
A kid trying to blow his inflatable flute at Swargadwar Beach, Puri (Stage 2)
I think our reactions to any "first time" thing can be broadly dissected into three stages :-

Stage 1- This is the stage of uncertainty, unbalanced desire, risk calculation and repeated self rationalization.

Stage 2- Once we proceed to this second stage, we start to act. Apprehension of the outcome makes us shaky but the bias born out of multiple levels of self rationalization right at Stage 1, keeps the momentum high. We keep dreaming and aspiring all throughout this stage.

Stage 3- This is the final stage and indeed the most variable one. Mental state varies from extreme joy to severe disappointment. Sometimes we simply feel a state of "zero gravity"!

Today's photo discourse ends here and just to remind you once again, many more travel photos of Puri and Konark are waiting inside my portable drive, screaming to get posted!
There is always a First Time
The little girl spotting wildlife from the safari bus in Nandankanan Zoological Park (Stage 3)

Konark to Puri Rainy Rickshaw Ride

Konark to Puri Rainy Rickshaw Ride
Konark to Puri, the modest 35 kilometers road on NH203, brushes the boundary of foamy sea, few beaches, runs through a wildlife sanctuary and doesn't even miss to include a river on its way! There are small buses plying in this route which take roughly one hour to cover the distance. Being a backpacker I leave no opportunities to avail public transport but it was not the ideal day. The enthusiasm for our Konark/Puri trip was already bleached by the overnight rain (the last night I had to actually take few night shots of the illuminated Sun Temple under an umbrella borrowed from the hotel guy) and the weather forecast for following two days did it best to dampen our flickering hope. It seemed the only smart option to reserve an auto rickshaw from Konark to Puri at a stupidly steep rate, to keep up with our itinerary and also to give a damn (futile show off!) to the incessant rain.
Konark to Puri Rainy Rickshaw Ride
A long auto-rickshaw ride has its own charm- you get to see lesser in comparison to a cab, yet you get to sense the surrounding way more! Non-sarcastically speaking, we sipped rain, chilly wind and vivid landscape (rich color of nature definitely comes out after a shower) like a cocktail, through torn hoods of our speeding rickshaw. Most of the travelers/tourists make it a point to halt at Chandrabhaga Beach on this route but only a hand few would know that there's another fantastic tourist spot located somewhere in the midway- the confluence of Kushabhadra River with sea. I'll blog about that confluence and the Ramachandi temple in a separate photo post. Many more trip photos are on their way... so, please visit back. 
Konark to Puri Rainy Rickshaw Ride
[N.B. - As the battery of my beloved P&S camera betrayed and passed onto a permanent coma as soon as I reached Konark, all these Konark/Puri trip photos had to be captured with the DSLR. So, these were not shot with a point and shoot camera. All subsequent photo posts with tags Puri or Konark shall be DSLR shots only. Pardon my circumstantial poverty.]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cuckoos consume half of our garden Papayas

Cuckoos consume half of our garden Papayas
Adult Cuckoos (Asian Koel) feed mostly on fruits; the scientific term is 'Frugivorus' 
This is the 101th photo post of ClickingPhotos and my first blog post of 2015! Hope 2015 started smoothly (never mind, I'm not so comfortable with words like 'rocking') for you. Valentine's Day, being merely a month away I guess it's not the appropriate time to wish you all a belated happy new year (Sigh.. pardon my inability to turn up in the middle). Although I have some trip photos ready, I felt like starting the year with avian pictures. This is definitely a complain (to whom it may concern)- red eyed cuckoos are biggest consumers/looters of our garden papayas. What I hate most is, they leave ripe papayas half eaten, as if I'm suppose to take the remaining as divine 'Prasad'. Cuckoos sitting on papaya stalks look photogenic but for the owner of those trees they're quite villainous. I took these shots from the bathroom. I really have no idea why the cuckoo is looking more bluish than it actually was (It is not due to my image-editing for sure)! Probably next photo post shall have few of my travel photos. See you friends.
Cuckoos consume half of our garden Papayas
Male cuckoos are glossy bluish black, have crimson irises and famous for their song Koo-Ooo.