Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mussoorie - Loved at the first sight!

Delhi to Mussoorie is an approximately 6 hours drive (considering the fact that there is no traffic in Delhi and you do not stop in Haridwar, that comes in between!). But that seldom happens. We all love to stop at Haridwar, pray and play at the ghats of Ganga river!
So, as we neared Haridwar, there were two options - the photographer in me wanted to stay back near the river in Haridwar to watch the most famous Ganga Arti, which happens at 6 00 PM in the evening and the second option was to visit Mansa Devi temple at the top of the hill in Haridwar, while crossing the shopping area and getting in to the ropeway! 1 out of 8 is not a majority (by simple Math!) and hence we ended up in going to Mansa Devi temple, not that I was complaining but I missed taking out some pics of Ganga Arti (instead got some powerful blessings :-))!
Seen here below - the people waiting for the Arti to begin and the Ganga temple lit in the night!
Mussoorie is a relaxed, laid-back hill station in the foot hills of Shaiwalik ranges of Himalayas located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The nearest city is Dehradoon, a city famous for its winters and schools (all rich and famous kids must have studied there at least once!). It is wise to stay back in Doon and travel to Mussoorie (just 30 minutes away!) than staying in Mussoorie.
I was visiting Mussoorie, for the second time, after 8 years. The peace and tranquility were undisturbed since my last visit!
Way to Mussoorie from Dehradoon, the valley is beautiful and is covered with lush flora. 
My first visit to Mussoorie was the first time I had ever seen mountains. Himalayas are magnificent and while Mussoorie might not be the best example to show that, it is not the least. Green and lush mountains, Brown and barren mountains and white snow covered mountains are a captivating sight to tourists all round the year.
If you are someone who has not seen mountains ever, Mussoorie is a perfect start. Layered housing and Step cultivation are something to ponder on, how mankind survives in any place!
One can either trek or take a ropeway to go to the top of the hill. Nothing enchanting, but the views of the mountains are more clearer and I am told, when it snows, the open ground on the top is filled with waiting-to-see-the-snow-eagerly people! They have bon fires in the nights, and if you are an Indian who knows the good old classic songs, just sit in there, enjoy spicy chat (Indian junk snack) and some spicy masala chai! For once, you will forget the time and be lost in moments..
Off seasons are always the best times to visit any hill station, primarily to avoid the crowds and it just feels great walking lonely in mountains and woods. I am a hiker and every time I am in woods, I constantly hear the trees, the leaves, the wind,  all singing to me. Every time, it's the first time.
A similar hike can be taken down the hill and we go to the botanical gardens, with lush greenery and a green house to its credit.
The way to the green house has a picturesque waterfall, which acts a studio background for portrait shots. Kempty falls are another great falls which are located some 30 minutes away from Mussoorie and I miss seeing it every time. I am told that the waterfalls are losing their charm to the stupendous crowds which visit the falls in summer and monsoons, but, someday, I should still be able to see it. 
This ended another trip in the great October vacation. Prior to the Mussoorie trip, we visited Bali, however, Bali should never be a short blog post, for it is indescribable. Hence, I finished Mussoorie first. For a weekend trip, to forget the stress and just be lost in nature's beauty, Mussoorie is one ideal destination one should take in. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Enroute Hyderabad via Abu Dhabi

My journey in 2009 with Emirates was a good one, so this time when we chose Abu Dhabi, I sensed a photogenic airport. And the better part was, we neared Abu Dhabi just after twilight, so I could see a little sunset too (my favorite part) from the window. While I was hoping to see something like a beautifully lit skyline, nothing was visible that was striking. So, a glimpse at the sunset was all about it. 
The plane landed at International Terminal 1 and the break was for 4 hours. I wanted to sleep off.. somewhere.. just anywhere, in fact. 
The pathway to go to your next gate for boarding is a nice one.. good enough for those who like colors and like to see some patterns. 
The international terminal has been done tastefully, and that is for the eyes to see. I am not sure if the colors or the design symbolizes anything, but the sepal-like structure is surely eye-catchy. 
A blog I read recently, said the perfect way to travel was in a train and not in buses and planes. I so agree to that. Sitting in an airport, as you look around, all you will find is buried faces. They are buried in laptops, books, ipads etc etc. There is no time and space for strangers unlike in trains (I have experienced traveling in train for approximately 30 hours from Chennai to Delhi and believe me, by the time you get down, you know the complete family history of the person sitting next to you, sometimes you also have common friends and relatives!!) But airports are not like that. So we SHOULD have a camera or a book or a laptop to keep you awake. 
As in the rest of the world, there were some American food chains, clothing stores and a coffee joint. And after a cup of coffee, we started off to our gate to catch another flight to Hyderabad. 
I was going to Hyderabad for the first time since 2000 and second time in life. The Rajiv Gandhi international airport is not a very old one. It looks and feels new. Incidentally, the day we arrived, the AP govt. was promoting tourism in Andhra and there were enough activities to keep oneself busy. 

This completed our first part of the journey and we were on a break (from traveling) for about 2 weeks (but that was far more busier time, as we were getting married!)

The October 2011 Vacation

The plan was simple. We started thinking about it in March and finalized it in June 2011. One month. Go to India (Andhra Pradesh) and get married. From then on, all we will do is travel. We will see various places in Andhra and then go to BALI and then come back to India, head to Delhi and go to Mussoorie, stopping in Haridwar for some time in between, then back to Delhi and return back to US.

You know what to photograph in the places where you plan to go, but it is the journey that leaves you with unimagined moments, places and people to look at, and then these journeys become more memorable than the destination itself!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Candy-land - My perfect childhood home!

I had to be there... I had obviously never seen anything like that. I spoke about the exhibit area in the Botanical garden in Fort Wayne, Indiana. So, in the Christmas time, I decided to revisit them again, and boy! I was in for a big surprise - The Candy land.
The lollipops hanging upwards!
I did not ever see any candy like this, but this one looked more like a dressed-for-some-party Christmas tree!
This candy took me to my Tom and Jerry days, there were nights when I would not sleep without watching T&J! May be I should restart it!
A house supported by candy bars and the roof lined by colorful round candies - Don't you just want to live there? It was my perfect childhood home 
A house made of sweets with gardens growing ice creams, lollipops, wall made of gums and decorated with colored Christmas trees.. I am not kidding...It was my dream, may I had imagined things like Dairy Milk Chocolates or others, but I definitely wanted a house like that!
The candy bar slides in my garden, where I could hang, slide or simply eat them off :)))

I had spent about an hour or so in the exhibit, but the expressions of the kids who came to visit the candy-land was more gratifying than finally seeing my dream childhood house in shape. And once you are there, do visit the child in you, trying to reach out and bring back some good old memories of childhood!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory - Fort Wayne, Indiana

My favorite stop for photo shooting in Fort Wayne is the Botanical gardens. I had never seen a concept like this before (not that it din't exist, but I just din't visit any before!). The best part in this garden is that every season, they have a different display, providing a plethora of photo-ops. 
Entrance of the gardens
The colors and flowers in this garden always just make me happy - pinks, reds, oranges, yellows. 
The pinks and reds in the garden
Other beautiful colors in the garden. 

The exhibit area of the Botanical gardens keep changing through out the year (and I keep going every season :)) The first time I was there, it was a Greek display, which unfortunately did not impress me much...

Moving to the central room, this one is the best and my most favorite room - The tropical forest! The scent of bamboos just make you forget the rest of the world for some time! But, it could as well be called a hell for the humidity that this room carries (fortunately, I am not annoyed by humidity as much).
The tropical rain forest in the Botanical Gardens
The last section of the garden is the dry arid desert area. The thing that totally took me by surprise was that I had never seen how do cacti flowers look. This was the first time (so many firsts already!) I saw them and wow... they are pretty.. But I am yet to find out if in the hot sun, their vivid colors retain??

If you are a photo enthusiast like me, then all I can say is, if you have not been here before, go now, its not too late! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crazy Shots of Mad Warsaw Rain

It rained and rained like crazy 2 days ago. I was in an instant experimental mode and tried capturing the madness, while learning some lessons. Lesson 1 - Enough is enough, no photography here after without a tripod. Lesson 2 - There is a long way to go! 

Calm before the storm - the only sane shot I have!

Dance Drama - should it be called?
I cannot do without at least one B/W shot!

Hopefully, the next time it rains, I can carry on more experimentation :)