Monday, June 11, 2018

Most Enticing place of Bali- Goa Gajah



Bali has an enticing, rich cultural history that has been the source of attraction for everyone. The place never fails to surprise you. One such place in the paradise island is Goa Gajah.


Located in the heart of Ubud, just three kilometers away from sacred monkey forest, Goa Gajah got its name from the elephant carving at the entrance of the cave. Gajah or elephant, is the primary carving besides other demon looking figures.  The cave is said to date back since 11th century.
The dim lit cave houses the idols of Lord Shiva, and Ganesha. Rest of the complex has both Hindu and Buddhist imagery.






Spread over a large area in an untouched, lush green forest, Goa Gajah besides the iconic cave has a cemetery, Buddhist temples, gorgeous gardens, sacred pools, a tiny waterfall, colorful flea market and religious structures resembling Hindu architecture.  I loved the well maintained garden. 

The garden
Tiny waterfall

Sacred Pool
Sacred Pool


Looked like a cemetery to me

The path to Buddhist temple is a long stairway dotted with bright hued flowers.




A huge Banayn Tree which I suppose is a century old, got my attention.The humongous tree has its magnificent roots spread across a large diameter and the arial roots resemble a lifestyle sized harp. Sheer brilliance of nature. And a noteworthy thing is the respect people have for nature. No deforestation or harm to flora is allowed in Bali. I salute their spirit and love for the Earth’s natural wonders.  






Goa Gajah is a vast area to cover on foot. Advisable to wear flats or sports shoes and avoid heels. Also, not wheelchair friendly.


Entry tickets- 15000 IDR
Rule- Like all sacred places in Bali, Goa Gajah too follows the rule of covering legs strictly. Sarongs are available free of cost in case you are not dressed as per the custom. They asked me to tie a scarf around a waist since I was dressed in full length pants.
Parking available- Yes
Total time to spend- 1-2 hours
Did you know- Goa Gajah was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on October 19, 1995, in the cultural category?



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Monday, June 4, 2018

Uluwatu Temple-The Unspoiled Beauty




Bali is one of the most gorgeous tourist destinations which offers everything from pristine beaches and night life to lush forests and ancient monuments. One among them is the Uluwatu temple, popularly known as the cliff temple due to its location on 70 meters high cliff and surrounded by the vast expanse of blue ocean.

The temple atop a cliff is visible from quite a distance and the mesmerizing blue water of the ocean lashing against the cliff's base is a sight to behold!



Located in South Kuta of Badung Regency, Uluwatu temple's existence dates back to the 11th century. The temple is dedicated to Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa who is the supreme God of Indonesian Hinduism. Like all temples in Bali, this one too prohibits entry to tourists inside main shrine, though the surrounding area is accessible to everyone.


The rule- One is supposed to cover their legs or else entry would be prohibited. They provide sarongs at the entrance point and you have to tie it around your waist. The rule would not apply to visitors wearing full length pants/skirts.



The cliff on right and the cloudy weather
Visitors can walk from one corner to the other soaking in the historic beauty or glancing at the blue-green shades of the vast ocean. The sky too changes its color from powdery blue to grayish. As the clouds play hide and seek, the breezy winds turned into light shower of rain during my visit.



 There are multiple shrines and small temples inside the premises which visitors can see from outside only. The beautiful Indonesian architecture will sweep you away. Balinese sculptures and wall carvings which bear a close resemblance to Indian architecture immediately get your attention.




The surroundings are dense forests thronged by monkeys. Leaving them alone gives you high chances of not being harmed or attacked. We were lucky to not to be attacked by any.


Basically you can sneak peak into the little clusters of temples, spend time sun bathing and taking in the breezy air, capturing the beauty through your lenses and take home a bagful of memories. Since a lot of walking and mounting stairs is involved wear comfortable footwear and loose airy fabric.

        

The highlight of the temple is the Kecak dance which is performed during sunset at the ampitheater. This is a traditional dance depicting the story of Ramayana enacted by a troupe of 75 male dancers in elaborate costumes. The entry to the dance show costs 60-70,000 IDR. I had to skip the show because I did not wait till evening.

To reach- Being a cliff area driving on the elevated roads is an uphill task. Roughly its at a distance of 20 km from Kuta beach. Population gets scanty and forests are more prominent as you head close to Uluwatu. Hire a bike, map your GPS and park in the Uluwatu Temple parking area.




The parking area




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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tourism destroyed the place- Dalhousie diaries




My first trip to Dalhousie in April 2014 had left me enthralled and excited about Himachal Pradesh. The natural unspoiled beauty and pleasant weather made me fall in love with the place and planted a thought in my head about exploring it more. And there after much convincing and complaining from husband who had never been to Dalhousie, I agreed to visit the place again in 2018.

While the valley was snow covered back then in 2014, it was dry and warm in 2018. Effects of global warming surely! The locals told us about scanty snow fall this year, that too in late December. We had packed woolens but could wear none, owing to high temperature and absence of snow. More resorts, hotels and guest houses have mushroomed, and the hills have lost more green cover. Coming years Dalhousie might bear a deserted brown look.

KHAJJIAR


Upon entering Khajjiar, it seemed we entered a gas chamber. The narrow roads smelled of diesel and petrol. Well, since there are no buses plying on the roads, tourists depend on taxi/personal vehicles hence causing more pollution. We cannot blame anybody else but our own. The good part was the pasture land looked the same. The tall pine trees and green patch of land were of much respite. Husband was disappointed to see no sheep grazing around. He had high expectations from Khajjiar as from what he had seen in my pictures from 2104. Better luck next time hubby.



How to reach Khajjiar- Khajjiar is 22 km from Dalhousie bus terminal. Hire a cab or rent a bike. The main attraction is the pasture land with a little pond in the centre, few eating joints at one corner, an ancient temple and activities like paragliding/ horse riding. The Govt. Guest House is not easily available for booking. Recommended to make your stay arrangements in Dalhousie or in a resort midway of Dalhousie-Khajjiar route.


KALATOP 


This was my visit to Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, as I was totally fascinated by the beauty of the place from the Bollywood flick Lootera. The quiet vicinity of the protected forest is known for the thick green expanse and tranquillity. The thought of capturing Himalayan birds and fauna through lenses was the motivation for hubby’s visit. As the taxi wheeled in through the narrow roads of the sun kissed yellow and luscious green hilly slopes, there popped out the glazing green beer bottles, plastic wrappers and soft drink bottles. We seethed in anger but kept quiet.




The main premises of the sanctuary houses the forest guest house where Lootera was filmed. It is breathtaking and is a perfect writer’s retreat. The main guest house is surrounded by private guest houses and eating joints. More the population, more the pollution. Needless to mention, the number of tress were chopped to build those hotels and restaurants. The place was supposed to calm us but we could not turn a blind eye to the disasters there.



How to reach Kalatop-
Kalatop is 8.5 km from Dalhousie and XX km from Dainkund.You can visit both the places (Sancuary and Dainkund) in one day. If you plan to stay in Kalatop, make your booking in advance. Since the Forest Rest House is rarely available, you can settle with other resorts in the same vicinity. Oh by the way, we tried looking for the tree we saw in movie Lootera. The locals surprised us with the fact that the tree on screen was artificial, especially made to order for the movie.


DAINKUND



Dainkund was equally disappointing. Plastic waste is a huge turn off for us and we lose our focus on enjoying the trip. We start collecting the waste, going off the track and cursing those who litter.  When will public be civilized or get mature enough? Plus our authorities has no efficient way of safe garbage disposal.  Anyway, next came the weather. While in 2014 I had witnessed heavy snowfall, 2018 was warm, dry and no snow.


                                               Snow covered Dainkund in 2014


Same time of the year in 2018
To add to the misery was my knee injury which restrained me from hiking up the peak. Hubby enjoyed the hike alone, taking pictures wherever he could and soaking in the sun. As God answered his prayers, he spotted some snow in a secluded spot. Ofcourse he was happy and the hike seemed worth to him. Small joys to concrete jungle dwellers you see :) (I hail from Uttarakhand and not Delhi, so don’t get me wrong). While returning to the base, we resumed collecting plastic waste on the way. Once a conscious citizen, always a conscious citizen I guess.


How to reach Dainkund- Merely 12 km from Dalhouse is the Dainkund peak which has an Airforce base station and is on vigilance all the time. The 2km uphill trek is easy. Advised to wear flats or sports shoes. Heels would not work here. You are required to park your vehicles at the dedicated spot and walk up to the entrance of the trek gate which is less than 500 meters. In case you have senior citizens with you or those with joint pain/injury do not go up there.


The market places, Subhash Chowk and Gandhi Chowk, are polluted like any metro city. It feels disgusting to see what humans have done to the planet. The smoke choke and plastic dump are examples of sheer ignorance/recklessness that will lead to disaster. Thankfully vehicles are not allowed inside the narrow lanes of the markets, else it would be difficult to breathe.


This post also made it to the home page in Indiblogger among the top blog posts list.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bali Bird Park

Your trip to Bali would not be complete without visiting the beautiful Bird Park. Located in Batubulan of Gianyar region, Bali Bird Park is a gorgeous bird paradise. The little expensive ticket price had initially made me reluctant to visit the place. After I finished the park trip, I realized I would have regretted giving this park a miss. 


Home to more than 1000 birds with 250 species, the conservation park is spread in a large area with lush green and colorful flora. 
The main entrance

Welcomed at the entrance gate
For nature lovers like me, hearing the term "birds in captivity" makes us anxious. Like others, I too had assumed the birds to be in a poor state and being ill treated for breeding. But the wrong perception changed the moment I stepped in to witness the well fed, well bred , healthy, happy birds. The ticket price was worth it. The money is wisely used in protecting, breeding and looking after the avifauna. 

Pelican feeding 

We were lucky to reach bang on time when the show started. This point onward, all I experienced was happiness and positive vibes. 



A great learning for kids

The "grandfather" bird-  Lesser Adjutant






AT THE GUYU GUYU CORNER
The calm macaw birds






GETTING CLOSE

Rhinoceros Hornbill







BASIC INSTINCT- BIRDS OF PREY

When eagles, owls or large hunting birds are brought out and their hunting skills are shown to the public, one couldn't help but feel awed. The trained staff skillfully handle these large birds as they are unleashed to grab their prey or fly in the air.








DRAGON
Komodo Dragon, one of the oldest and the deadliest reptiles alive on this plant. The Indonesian Government is trying to protect the species which are left in few at present. The park has a space for these dragons and the prey show is organized every Tuesday. More of these reptiles are in the dragon park, opposite to the bird park gate for which you need to buy separate entry tickets.

Komodo Dragon who just woke up from his afternoon nap

THE RAINFOREST BIRDS

The section for rain forest birds was totally exciting. It felt like heaven. The well fed birds walk or fly around fearlessly. Some are shy while others would look into the camera and pose.






LORY FEEDING









CASSOWARY
The most dangerous bird on this planet- The southern cassowary. It is the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird. These omnivorous birds feed mostly on fruits. The otherwise shy and calm birds can prove to be fatal when provoked and inflict injury, strong enough to cause deep wounds.
Southern cassowary or double-wattled cassowary
Southern cassowary or double-wattled cassowary

Northern or single wattled cassowary


There were many birds whose pictures I was unable to capture. The visit to the park was one amazing experience for me.
Location Batubulan, on the road to Ubud, Just 20 minutes away from Sanur or 40 minutes drive from Kuta.
Ticket price- Approximately 1800 INR per person (385000 IDR). Details  mentioned here  
For all shows and exhibits visit http://www.balibirdpark.com/


Bali Bird Park is doing a commendable job in managing the birds and the vicinity. The staff is well trained in handling the birds with care. Needless to mention, they are extremely polite and friendly with guests, ready to answer any question or offer help. 

The coming generations may not be able to see several extinct birds. The park management is making every effort to protect them. By visiting the park, one not only gains knowledge about these species but also contributes towards the maintenance of this paradise.  Do visit this beautiful place in Bali. It would be totally worthy and not disappointing at all. 

Last but not the least, this post made it to the top post of Indiblogger's Home Page. 
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