Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jamnagar - The naturalist's haven

Ever since I had read about a marine sanctuary near Jamnagar, was very keen on visiting it. While trawling the internet for more information, also realised that it is a birders’ heaven. That got my brother-in-law (Nandan) all excited and soon we planned a trip to this wondrous city
more known for its oil refineries than the abundance of natural beauty. The most convenient flight out of Mumbai was to Rajkot (100kms from Jamnagar) on a Friday evening. We had another nature lover and a good friend in Jamnagar, Prasad, who, though he could not be present to host us personally, guided us with all the necessary information including accommodation, travel and destination guides. Armed with all this we set out on this trip full of excitement on exploring the natural treasures of Jamnagar. We had made our booking in Hotel President in Jamnagar whose owner was a keen naturalist himself! He arranged for a taxi to pick us from Rajkot airport to drop us in the Hotel at Jamnagar. After finishing our checking in formalities, Mr. Mushtaq, the owner of the Hotel briefed us about the Marine Parks and the famous Khijidiya bird sanctuary. Apparently, the Pirotan island Marine sanctuary would open for the public only in November and we were a month too early for that. However he said, there is the Narara Marine sanctuary which is about 60 KMS from Jamnagar for doing the Coral Walk without sailing to the Islands. Most people do the coral walking at Narara only, as not every one can reach Jamnagar on the favorable dates. For visiting these Marine Sanctuaries you will need permission from the Forest Department. You may write to Mr.Mushtaq of Hotel President for assistance. We had called for the cab early since we were told that we could sight plenty of birds on the way to Narara if were early enough. Now, I was an absolute novice at birding. Apart from the common crow and house sparrow, could not identify any other. But Nandan was all agog and confident that I would soon become an avid birder. And so the journey began in right earnest with Nandan occupying the front seat as the spotter. And he sure did a great job in assisting me and identifying and guiding me to the best position to get good pictures.
The babbler
Finally we reached Narara and met our official guide who informed us that we would go for the walk in the Marine Park in an hour with the onset of low tide. We decided to use that time in exploring the lush mangroves where we would surely find something interesting. And we did. We returned to the office in an hour and were offered tea which was refreshing indeed and then
Our guide
with the hot sun blazing down on us we started chasing the tide into the sea.
Wooly crab
Sea anemone
Sea cucumber
On the way we were warned that we might not be able to sight much as the season for maximum sightings begins in November. Due to this we ended up sighting more birds than marine life in the Marine Sanctuary. After a couple of hours, we headed back to Jamnagar, had lunch on the way, and the taxi driver showed us some local sights of Jamnagar.
Lake Lakhota
Khambaliya Gate - Protected monument
Bhuj Kothi
Bal Hanuman temple where "SriRam Jairam' is being chanted continuously for years and is in the Guiness book of World records
Jadeja's palace
Next morning was slotted for the famous Khijadiya bird sanctuary whuich is about 15kms from Jamnagar. Again we asked for an early pick up from the Hotel to catch the early birds on the way. Met our official guide just on the outskirts of the sanctuary who was extremely busy in preparing for the Global Ornithologists’ and Bird Watchers’ Conference slated for 25th November to 27th
November, hence instructed our taxi driver the paths to be taken for the three watch towers in the sanctuary. Spent the entire morning gallivanting in the park, spotting and clicking birds. In the evening we drove around to Dhinchada which is again about 10kms from Jamnagar and did some bird spotting and clicking. Our return flight from Rajkot was in the evening so we did some shopping in the morning and
Tie and dye material famous in Jamnagar
post lunch checked out and took the taxi back to Rajkot. Now was not surprised by the amount of birds that we again spotted and clicked on the way back! Jamnagar is indeed a naturalist’s delight! Schedule of Global Ornithologists’ and Bird Watchers’ Conference Thursday, 25, November -2010 Friday, 26, November -2010 Saturday, 27, November -2010
The varied transports of Jamnagar
Milk man
Camel cart
Jamnagar is easily accessible by road/rail/air. Accomodation to suit all pockets available.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mumbai Darshan

A couple of weeks back got a call from Nokia representative asking me to try out their latest offering the N8 smartphone. The Nokia N8 introduces a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash, HD-quality video recording, film editing software and Dolby surround sound. All in a beautiful, aluminium design. We decided to do a Mumbai darshan titled N8 Urban spree to test out this gadget. All images on this post have been taken with the Nokia N8. Started out from Cafe Mondegar behind the Taj Mahal Hotel and rode in the quintessential Premier Padmini ‘Kaali Peeli’ taxi.
Our ride Chunky jewelery on sale outside Cafe Mondegar Drumming up a sale Busy street outside Cafe Mondegar Victoria The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation headquarters. Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus Excitement on Fashion street Olde Mumbai
Dhobi ghat
At Mahalaxmi after capturing some Dhobi ghat pics we decided to travel by the lifeline of Mumbai – the local train.
Mahalaxmi railway station
In the train Lower Parel railway station
Got off at Parel and walked through the full of life streets till the High Street Phoenix shopping
Barber shop Spoilt for choice! Cat walk? Tuition classes Chicken shop Chawl Chaiwallah Chaatwallah Cycle repairshop Footwear repairs Fresh juice Will sharpen Hot wadas A gully A florist On a high! Omelet paav Care for a read? Roasting peanuts Our pilot Parel Worli seaface
complex and then back on the road again till Cafe Coffee Day in Bandra. It is a great camera and gives good images even in low light. You can do most photo processing in the camera and upload it directly to your social networks. Great for street photography as it is not intimidating. I liked it. Have not been paid for this review. For more on