July, 2010 Archives

Chennai Through My Lens – Night Photographs

This photographs were taken during my visit to Chennai earlier this year. I would like to roam around the city during night time and you would get a lot of photographing opportunities. Particularly if you are interested in Night Photography and test your skills on Manual settings. Here are the few click where I tested my skills and all the photographs were taken handheld and that’s the reason for minimal exposure.

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Weekend travel to Almora-Kausani-Baijnath-Jageshwar-Nainital (May ’09)

This trip happened all of a sudden after my trip from New York during first week of May. One of my close friend from Chennai visited me (didn’t know it would be the last time we would be spending time together as he passed away in another few months) and we planned for a short trip. He is supposed to arrive on Friday night and we had sometime before we pick him up in airport. So we went for a tamil movie released recently in Gurgaon and went him to pick up around 10 pm. As usual the flight delayed and he arrived at 11.00 PM and we reached our residence in Faridabad at 12.00 AM.

We planned to start around 4 am, so that we wouldn’t need to rush but my friend had other plans. I brought one of his favorite drink from US and after normal chat with my family I persuaded my family members to have a nap we went to balcony and started speaking while he started having his drink. It went on till 2 am and I was feeling tired and he has no plans of sleeping that night (would never forget that night in my life). I told him to take some rest and went on to sleep for an hour. At four I woke and got ready and we all five got ready around 5 am.

We started from home around 5.15 and as I am feeling fresh started riding fast on the not so crowded roads. Road after Bareilly was not so good and couldn’t drive much faster. But negotiated that stretch and quickly caught the uphill road to Kathgodam. The first views of Himalaya peak was too good and you can see that some 7 km before Almora. Reached Kausani around 4 PM and visited Anasakthi Ashram. View of Trishul peak from the Ashram was too good. Spent some time lazing around the ashram and started to move towards Bageshwar.

At Bageshwar you would be welcomed by a group of temples called ‘Baijnath Group of Temples’. Offered our prayers to Lord Shiva and spent some quality time there watching sunset. After that went to Almora and booked an hotel on the mall road itself and retired for the day.

Next day we woke up a bit early and decided to checkout Jageshwar. The drive to Jageshwar was quite beautiful with clean roads combined with early morning freshness. Like Bageshwar, here also one will find a group of temples each consists of idols of Lord Shiva and others. It is one of the beautiful architecture and to an extend maintained well. Offered prayers and took some photographs and returned to Almora to rejoin with sleeping friends.

Then all of us got ready and had breakfast in the hotel itself and started towards Nainital our next destination. The drive from Almora to Nainital was a relaxed one and enroute we spotted a sign board indicating an waterfall just couple of kms away from the main road. We decided to checkout the place and it turned out to be a quiet and beautiful place. The waterfall was located some 100ft below the road level and the path leading towards the waterfall was quiet steep.

There was no one around except the security personal and we spent couple of hours drenching ourselves on the small waterfall with the chillness we needed at that time. We left the place with some hesitation as no one like to leave the place so early. But then we had the return Delhi the same night so took photographs and left the place and started our journey towards Nainital.

Reached Nainital around 3 PM, by the time we reached Nainital everyone felt hungry and had lunch near bus stand. Then went for a boating at Naini Lake spent some good time and started our journey towards Delhi. Rest of the journey was uneventful as we all are exhausted and reached Delhi around mid night.

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Monsoon Magic

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In search of snow – Delhi – Mandi – Jalori pass – Ani – Narkanda – Shimla – Delhi – (Jan ’10) – Part II

As planned we managed to start at 5.50 and headed towards Jalori Pass. While nearing Jalori, we saw some drizzling, initially thought it must be rain but then realized it’s snow showers. We stopped by a qualis near Jalori and he asked us if we have some water as his radiator got boiled. We had a bottle of water then offered him After that headed towards Jalori. At jalori took few pics with the use of tripod as it was very dark.

We have no heart to leave Jalori as it just started snowing. But then we had high hopes that we might get some snow in Narkanda. So we proceeded towards Narkanda via Ani. Road till kanag was bad and then it got better and better with the distance. While nearing Narkanda there was slight drizzle, and then when we entered Narkanda it started snowing. Our prayers got answered as it just started snowing this time around it was a bit heavy. Stopped for sometime and enjoyed fresh snow and headed towards Hatu peak.

The climb to Hatu peak was steep and when travelled about some 2 km we saw snow all around. Needless to say we were pretty much excited and felt really lucky to be there. As we proceeded further we got bit worried about the conditions as we saw patches of snow on the road itself which made driving bit difficult, add to that there was not a single soul there. It was exciting as well as bit worrying.

After traveling another couple of kms we witnessed a frozen pond. It was an amazing experience to there at that time. Didn’t stop there as I thought of reaching Hatu Peak ASAP. But nature has other ideas as we traveled another km we saw snow has covered almost entire region. No visibility of roads as it was covered by heavy snow. I tried to my car little further into the snow and started feeling the car was out of my control and dropped the idea of taking risk.

Hence our search for snow ended there and we took photographs and enjoyed the snow for 15 mins and started our descend towards Narkanda. On our way back stopped at the frozen pond for small photo shoot.

Drive from Narkanda to Delhi was not that much exciting except some heavy rains near Shimla, and we reached home around 12.30 AM.

3rd Day Photographs

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In search of snow – Delhi – Mandi – Jalori pass – Ani – Narkanda – Shimla – Delhi – (Jan ’10) – Part I

This trip was planned as we got a long weekend and the destination decided was ‘Jalori Pass’. Initially we wanted to visit Tirthan Valley but couldn’t get an accommodation and hence tried in Shringi Vatika and luckily got the accommodation. So we booked over the phone.

Unusually this time couple of my collegues wanted join us and it was decided we would be taking two cars and the total head count came to 9. As usual the day before there were lot of confusions like people backing off, joining in and again backing off and it went on till 10 PM. Finally we 5 of us decided to start.

We planned to start around 3AM but as usual got late and we were able to start only around 4.30. Early morning start means heavy fog/smog. It was a pleasant drive till Ambala. When we entered Ambala, the visibility nearly comes down to less than 5mtrs. It was difficult to drive on those conditions. But after sometime got used to it and crossed that section.

After some nonstop driving we felt hungry and stopped somewhere on the roadside Dhaba. From then onwards it was some continuous driving and we reached Aut tunnel around 4.30 PM. We took the route to Ghiyagi just before the tunnel and traveled towards Shringi Vatika. Enroute we spotted some beautiful houses located on the hill side, but due to bad light couldn’t take pictures.

We reached Ghiyagi at 5.45 where we planned to stay for the night. We were so tired and felt very cold as the temperature was below zero. Immediately we sat near the bonfire and made ourselves little bit warm and then had some delicious veg/egg pakora.

There was some discussion going on between the friends about going to Jalori by Car. Couple in Shringi Vatika advised not to travel by car as the roads are in very bad condition. Also she suggested to return by the same way and not to go via Narkanda as it was not safe. Friends who joined us for the trip got scared and tried convincing me to visit Jalori by Bus and also return via the same route. I didn’t say anything and finished our dinner and went for sleep.

The temperature was freezing cold and 3 layers of woolen doesn’t seems to be enough. Somehow managed and slept off. In the morning woke up around 6 AM and decided to checkout Jalori pass alone without telling anyone. So took the car and went to Jalori pass and the route seemed ok to me. It was not good but one has to be very careful while driving as the road was full of gravel and dangerous curves. Had to be content with first gear for some 15km as the road was very steep and curvy.

Reached Jalori in 45 mins and the views are spectacular. No one was around the place and enjoyed some quiet moments there. After five minutes one of the dhaba owner opened his shop and inquired about my travel. Then took some photographs and came down to the hotel.

It’s now time to shoot some pictures of the little beautiful waterfall just located at the back of the hotel. By the time I finished my photography, the couple inquired me where I have gone that much early. I told them that I went to Jalori and came back. He was surprised and appreciated me. Then I woke my friends up and told them we will be going to Jalori by car. Everyone got ready around 9 and we had some delicious onion/aloo parathas for breakfast. Mr. Manoharlal the owner of Shringi Vatika said he will join us for the trek and we all started at 10.15 AM and reached Jalori pass at 11.00 AM. Lazed around for sometime, took photographs and had a chit chat about the trek ahead.

We started our trek around 11.15 AM and thought it would be an easy outing. Also, we have been told its 4km one way. All 5 started the trek and within a km 2 of them including my wife stayed behind. So, the remaining 3 started walking towards the lake. The trekking route was beautiful and have some good views of the places around. We took 2.5 hrs to reach the lake and as expected the lake was frozen. We spent some 30mts around the lake taking pictures and walking a little bit above the temple to find fresh snow.

We completed the trek in 5.5 hrs in total and I am sure the trek was around 6-7km one way. Then descended to Jalori and had a small walk near the hotel. Atmosphere changed dramatically and it was freezing cold. Kept bonfire near the hotel and warmed for quite sometime and had delicious dinner once again and went for sleep. Next day was quite hectic as we had plans to visit Narkanda on our return journey to Delhi.

To be continued in Part II.

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Heritage Trip to Rajasthan – Shekhawati Havelis (Dec ’09)

It’s been a while we visited Rajasthan and planned for a visit on Christmas weekend. Don’t have complete three days as we have booked ticket for ODI match in Delhi. So have two days in hand and can’t go far away places like Jaisalmer.

Hence planned to explore ‘North-Eastern Rajasthan’. A trip towards ‘Mandawa’ and the surrounding places looked promising with the major attraction being ‘Havelis’. Wondering about what an ‘Haveli’ is, they are residence of merchants and the walls of the residence are painted with beautiful pictures.

The main towns in this area are Jhunjhunu, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh and Mandawa. Each place has Haveli’s and one has to spend couple of hours on each Haveli’s. A visit to Mandawa is a must and sunrise from the Mandawa resort is simply beautiful.

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Delhi to Chennai – A journey with passion (Oct ’08)

The idea came to our mind when I started driving the then new car more often to Himalayas. So, I thought of trying it on plains. It was during the ‘Diwali’ time we decided to do this drive. Did a lot of research on the road conditions, road maps & other necessary things for a long journey. We decided to take on the GQ route as the road will be excellent for about 85% travel.

Day 1 – Faridabad – Delhi – Jaipur – Udaipur – Ahmedabad – Vadodara – Baroda – Surat – Vapi – 1350 kms – 21 hrs

It’s all started on Octeber 24, 2008 @ 2.30 AM. The idea was to avoid the traffic in Delhi, but got stuck in Faridabad itself after bit of struggle reached Nehru place @ 3 and filled up the tank and headed towards Jaipur. The ride was pleasant and we are very much excited about this travel. Crossed Jaipur @ 6.15, Kishangarh @ 7.35 and refulled here. First stop at Bilwara for breakfast around 8.45 and had a very good organic food. After relaxing a little bit started our journey towards Udaipur. Then I started felling little dizzy and took a short nap between 10 to 10.30 and headed our way to Udaipur. One of the best road starts from Jaipur – Udaipur via Chittorgarh. We crossed Udaipur at 12.30 and refuelled tank again after crossing Udaipur.

We stopped for lunch on the highway towards Ahmedabad around 13.45 and the food was spicy enough to bring tears in my eyes 🙁 and didn’t finish it and had a cold drink. Continued our journey from 14.30. Our plan was to reach Vapi a city near Mumbai but it seemed to be a herculian task (knowing that we have to cross the bad stretch Borada – Surat). Reached Gandhinagar around 4 pm and headed towards National Expressway 1, which connects Ahmedabad and Vadodara. We entered the NE1 at 4.25 and exited at 5.10 and the total distance covered is 75km, not bad at all. Touched maximum speed here 150kmph in this road but the allowed speed is 100. You need to be very careful as cops will be standing watching your speed (I come to know about this only after crossing NE2 where a friend of mine tipped this info).

We reached Baruchi around 5pm and did a mistake by taking a wrong route and have to travel 60 kms in all to reach Baruchi again. So, the toughest part of this trip is awaiting us. We started from Baruchi at 6 pm and it was hell to drive on this road. We did a lot of offroading, sneaking between big trailers and after a lot of energy loss we reached Surat with little damage to the bottom of the car and little scratches on the side doors – courtesy pot holes & uphill turns with lots of gravel & a Santro. It took 3 hrs 45 mins to cross 75 kms and indeed it was a very bad stretch.

Here we have to make a decision to stay at Surat and start our journey next day or travel till Vapi as planned. We decided on the later and continued our journey and reached Vapi at 12 midnight. Had dinner enroute to Vapi and the food was good. After reaching Vapi, We found a hotel on the hightway itself, Hotel Easy Retreat and retired for the day. Oh man it was a great day indeed.

Day 2 – Vapi – Mumbai – Pune – Hubli – Bangalore – Chennai – 1575 kms – 22.30 hrs

Second day journey started at 7 AM from Vapi and we headed towards Pune. We bypassed Mumbai, courtesy a friend of mine from Internet community. It is very difficult to find the routes but managed to be on track most of the time and reached another pleasant road NE2. We reached there at 10 and it was a pleasure to drive on this road and would love to do it again. The road has got its own charm – beautiful greeneries, tunnels, curvy roads, uphills and a food plaza. We stopped there for a our breakfast and I would recommend people to try out this place. We had breakfast at dosa plaza, where they offer as many varities as 110 different dosa’s.

After having breakfast, we headed towards Pune and the ride was smooth and reached Pune around 12.15 PM and traveled towards Hubli. This is another excellent road in the GQ and you can maintain a steady speed of 100+. Lots of greeneries, beautiful looooooonnnng road. Drove non-stop and reached Hubli at 5 PM and Haveri @ 17.30 PM. The road between Haveri and Chittardurga is not so good (infact no road at all at some stretches) and with little difficulty reached Chittardurga at 20.15. There we had a light dinner and started our journey towards Bangalore. Reached Bangalore at 11.30 and I am literally have no energy to proceed further but kept the spirit and drove till Chennai and reached at 5.30 AM.

The long tiring journey came to an end.

Some Numbers:

Total distance traveled – 2925
Total driving hours – 44
No. of toll booths – 43
Rs. spent on toll alone – Rs.1300/-
Fuel – 225 Ltrs
States covered – 7 (Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu)

P.S. We came back from Chennai-Delhi on the same route in 3 days

Kasauli – Quiet Weekend Getaway (Jul ’09)

If you would like to spend your weekend in quiet place then ‘Kasauli’ is your best choice. Kasauli is located 303 kms from Delhi and one has to take a branch road in Kalka – Shimla road. We went there last year expecting some rain but disappointed as there was not even a sign of thunderstorm. Nevertheless, the place was quite serene and a beautiful place to spend your time by watching the sunrise/sunset and nature walks around.

The main attractions in Kasauli are ‘Monkey Point’, ‘Christ Church’ & ‘Sanawar’ one of the best schools in the country.

‘Monkey Point’ is located 4km from the bus stand. A small temple is situated on top of the hill and the climb to the temple is quite steep. Once can have a look at River Sutlej from the top. Since this temple is located in cantonment area, camera’s, electronic items are not allowed. Christ church is located very close to bus stand and still looks beautiful.

Don’t miss out the night view of ‘Chandigarh City’, ‘Sunrise’ & ‘Sunset’.

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DSLR Experiments – Close-up lens

This shot was taken using a close-up lens set I bought from e-Bay. Haven’t experimented much with these items. From my experience I would say it’s not a bad idea to shoot macro with these close-up lens.

Weekend Trip to Virgin Hills – Landsdowne (Oct ’09)

It’s been a while we went out for an outing and this time I was planning to do it on bike. Decided on the destination and it has to be Lansdowne for its virgin beauty. But problem arose when we find there was no hotel room available for stay as ours was planned in last minute. After googling for some time, got hold of an hotel named OAK Grove Inn. We checked with the owner Col. Rawat and fortunately rooms are available. He also gave directions how to reach the place as we need to take diversion before reaching Lansdowne.

Finalised on the stay, we started packing things and it turned out to be a Lansheadache as all our earlier trips done in car. I haven’t prepared my bike for touring also, so no saddle bags. Got the cruiser box, and it was half packed with air pump and an spare rear tube. But somehow packed things for two days stay (2 sets of dresses, laptop, 2 camera etc.,).

We started from Faridabad around 5.40 AM, filled up tank and headed towards Meerut. To me it was a long awaited trip and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Road conditions are pretty good except some bad patches here and there. It was one of the beautiful roads to drive till Lansdowne. We took Delhi – Meerut – Mawana – Besuna – Ramraj – Meerapur. Here we stopped for breakfast at Monty Millions. I think it was the best restaurant enroute to Lansdowne. Food served here was good and worth the money.

From here we have to go to Bijnor via Kiratpur, but we somehow missed the road and took ‘Kotwali’. Then realised the mistake and joined the correct road at Najibabad. From Najibabad the road looks good and once you reach Kotdwara the drive through the hills was an awesome experience. Excellent weather and cool wind will keep you fresh. We didn’t go to Lansdowne as we have to go to Jaiharikhal where OAK Grove Inn located.

Reached the hotel at 1.00 PM and what a location it turned out to be. The owners, Colonel Rawat and his wife, live in a house adjacent to the hotel. We met them and had a little chat and got into the room. The room was neat and clean with wonderful view of mountains. They maintain a wonderful garden and you can see a variety of flowers planted around the hotel & their home. There was an wonderful terrace made of wood which was amazing and you can sit there and watch the little village down that place and beautiful scenery in front of your eyes.

After resting for few hours we headed to see sunset point but unfortunately before we reach sun went down. So had a coffee at Tiffin Top and retired for the day.

Next couple of days we visited the main attractions in Lansdowne. There are very few places to hang around. Don’t miss a chance to watch sunset from Santoshi Mata Mandir, its an awesome experience.

Major Attractiions:

Bhulla Tal
Shiva Temple
St. Mary’s Church
Santoshi Mata Mandir
St. John’s Church
A river near Satpuli – 25kms from Lansdowne

Highly recommended and an ideal place to spend your weekend holiday peacefully.

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