Monday, August 28, 2017

Release a baby turtle in Bali and feel the euphoria

All travel experiences leave you with memories to cherish forever. The memory that would remain etched in my mind is my recent trip to Bali where I contributed (Atleast I think so) to the marine life by releasing a baby turtle in the ocean. That joyous feeling cannot be expressed in words. The crowd cheers, the waves lash and the babies slowly make their first plunge. When those little things crawl towards the water and the enormous ocean waves take them in, it feels like a moment of euphoria. This is Bali Sea Turtle Society in Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia. 

As a part of the mission to save marine life, the Sea Turtle Society has taken this wonderful initiative to breed turtles. What could be so noble than this? The society is a group of activists and marine life specialists who have recognized turtles as very important part of aquatic life. They breed turtles in controlled environment, protect the eggs and conserve the baby turtles. The little ones are sheltered in one place till they are few days old and ready to be released in water. Tourists are encouraged to participate in the release activity that happens every day at Kuta Beach at 4 pm. This is a free activity for everyone. 

I had visited the Bali Sea Turtle Society a day in advance to have a glimpse and speak to the people who organize it. 

Bali Sea Turtle Society

Looking at the little turtles will only bring you a smile.  There were birth dates and release dates mentioned on the flags in the giant container housing a thousand baby turtles.  

The gentleman of the organizing board asked us to visit the place next day at 4 pm.
While we made it to the beach the next on time, a huge crowd had gathered around the society office. So much is the popularity of this event, that tourists and locals thong the place in thousands each day.

It was 16th August, a day prior to Indonesian Independence Day, which locals celebrated with road shows and stage events. A huge space for celebration was allocated close toe Turtle Society and the turtle releasing event got delayed by an hour waiting for the chief guest to arrive. Little turtles swam in large tubs waiting to be released in the ocean.


Every participant was given a container to hold the baby turtle and was asked to wait till the organizer signalled.
Eager to jump out the container

As the checkered flag was waved, we let the little ones tumble out of our container on the beach. 

Turtle's first crawl on the beach

Leaving footprints on sands of time

Watching them crawl towards water is a feeling that goes beyond verbal expression. My turtle was hyperactive, waiting to hit the water as soon as it was placed in the container. It pecked my palm a number of times as if asking me to let it go. Watching him make it to the water was sheer ecstasy as my eyes welled up with joy.

The first plunge into the sea

Turtle feels the sea water 

Some made it steadily to the water while some crawled slowly.  Few stopped after some distance, and we assumed they died. But they hadn’t! The organizer picked them and placed them closer to water. Their little limbs moved and the crowd broke into cheers! This was indeed one of the best experiences I had.                  

Out of the 1200 baby turtles released that day, only few would survive. Inspite of the low chances and high risk, apparently that is the only way to protect the precious marine life and Bali is doing a great job at it. I pride in contributing to the environment with this little step and appreciate the sensitivity that Bali Sea Turtle Society has shown for marine life. 
When in Bali, this activity is a must-do.  

Find them on Facebook-

Website where you fan help them and read more about them.
Tweet to them at @BaliSeaTurtle


Friday, August 4, 2017

Its "Monsoon" Palace even in summers

Sajjangarh zoo and palace entry gates are adjacent to each other. Since the zoo excursion had been tiring, we were contemplating whether or not to visit Monsoon Palace. At last, we agreed as there was no point in missing a location after going that far!  

Monsoon Palace, also known as Sajjangarh Palace

Sajjangarh Palace is located atop Bansdara Mountain of the Aravalli range at a height of 3100 feet. It was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1884 to watch the monsoon clouds, hence it is also known as Monsoon Palace. It was a summer retreat for the kings in those times. As the legend goes, the Maharana built it at the top of the hill to get a view of his ancestral home Chittaurgarh. The palace is now under the control of the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan and has been recently opened to the public. The palace offers panoramic view of the city and beautiful surroundings. 

O did I mention, Monsoon palace featured in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy as the residence of Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince?  

View of Monsoon Palace from the Zoo

The access road to the palace is curvy, steep and prone to accident. Be careful while driving and brace yourself if in car.
Advisable to take a ride in the jeep or hire a local driver for the risky road.

As you hop out of the vehicle in the parking area, you might see the place swarming with Langurs. Harmless most of the times, they only attack if they find you threatening them.

Walk through this beautiful park to reach the palace
The walk-way towards the palace

City's bird eye view prior to the Palace entrance
The main entrance to palace premises

A flight of stairs takes you to the vacant palace’s ground floor, now full of hoardings, indicating the flora and fauna around. Half the palace was under renovation. 

Monson Palace's ground floor area
The exit door of the ground floor leads you to a vast space from where the surrounding forests, mountains and civilization is viewed. The canvas is mesmerizing indeed. Green and serene, anybody would love the view. 

This is what takes your breath away at Monsoon Palace

Due to its location on hill top, the palace is windy and remains cool even in the scorching heat. 

How the palace looks like from the other side of ground floor

After touring the ground floor premises, we ascended to the first floor of the palace. Sun shines generously, filling in the balcony with bright warm light. Couple sneak in the quiet corners to steal some private moments. In our presence a langur appeared from one window and disappeared through the other. Oh I forgot to tell you, the palace is their home now. 


Balcony of first floor

The second floor was relatively vacant as it was under renovation. Still the place gave us good photo opportunity. 

Fateh Sagar Lake - View from second floor of the palace
More the height, better the bird's eye view

If maintained properly, Sajjangarh palace is indeed exquisite. After paying Rs 140 each (Ticket cost Rs 50 and Jeep fare Rs 90), Monsoon Palace turned out to be a bit disappointing. Blame it on the location or the ruined aesthetics, the palace needs lot of renovation and restoration.

 Advisable- Wear shoes or comfy flats. You gotta walk a lot here.

Entry ticket to palace- Rs 50 each
You can drive to the palace in your own vehicle. 
Parking chargesRs 100 for cars, Rs 30 for two wheelers
Or else hop onto the jeeps ferrying to the palace at Rs 90 for each seat.