Jun 29, 2019

crow harassing a duck at Lalbagh tank

March 3, 2019
During my visits to Lalbagh, most of the pictures are shot near the pond because of the waterbirds. Its common to see ducks floating around; purple swamphens, herons and pond herons are usually found searching food along the edge of the pond; then you can see cormorants perched on trees, floating in water, diving and swimming underwater; lastly you can see kites diving and grabbing fish out of water. Sometimes you get to see water snakes and tortoises. Usually these creatures mind their own business. Finally, we have the crows which are hassling almost every other bird, especially the kites, purple swamphens and ducks.

Since I was carrying my camera, I could capture few moments of a crow harassing a duck in water. I must have seen the crow dive down, peck and claw at the duck couple of times before I pulled out my camera. Here are few selected pictures from a series of 40 odd shots.

The first one shows the crow approaching the pair of ducks, its targeting only one duck..

The crow managed to claw the duck's rear end.

The crow flies off for few seconds.

Returns for another attack. I'll let the pictures do the talking..

The duck stayed underwater long enough for the crow to give up.. for the day.

The duck surfaces and shakes off water from its wings. The posture makes it look like its celebrating the end of the raid.


Jun 22, 2019

drive through Bandipur and Mudumalai forest

The last time I visited Bandipur was in 2010 or 2011. I'd tagged along with Satish, Shoba and Shefali, stayed at one of the jungle resorts. The most memorable part of that trip was the nine hour trek through the forest covered slopes of Madhumalai hill range. At one point we (trek guide and I) were less than 10 kms from Ooty. Talking about Ooty, I'd never been there!

Feb 12, 2019
The destination of this journey was Ooty, not on vacation, heading to a site for inspection. We'd started from Bengaluru early, it was around 9-30 when we entered the forest area. The road was in good condition, ride was super smooth. Forest department boards welcomed travelers and cautioned them about dos and don'ts; respect wildlife, no stopping vehicles, no honking, no selfies, do not feed animals, and so on. Yes, people need to be reminded else they'll make this another shopping street.

Morning light cast long shadows across the road, oh what a sight!

Bandipur forest is popular for wildlife, especially elephants, bison, tigers and deer. With such a big forest, there are other easily noticeable creatures such as peacock, leopard, bear, monkeys, langur and so on. Hoping to see elephants, I was looking far into the jungle but there was a surprise.. a small shelter made of granite slabs. I requested our cab driver to stop to get a decent shot. If not for the forest boards, I would have gone closer to it.

Anyway, here's a cropped version of the picture. This stone structure has the looks of a prehistoric megalithic tomb, similar to the ones seen at Rajan-KollurHire Benkal and Aihole. I've heard that such structures have been found across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh. This particular tomb must be 3' to 4' high, its capstone must be 6' diameter. Such an elegant looking thing it is. Hope the forest department continues to protect it. I wonder how many more are present in these forests.

A while later, a lone male elephant was sunning lazily. We slowed for a quick shot and moved on. Happy to have seen the handsome beast.

Next were a herd of deer grazing, not bothered about the passing traffic. They are used to the presence of vehicles. As a child, I'd seen and felt velvety deer horns and tough skin. Such lovely animals, what a sight they are.

Another herd was resting, probably they had had their morning meal already. All are grownup males, I think.

A lonely little one calling out for its mother.

Another herd of grownup males. The one leading has the longest horns, probably he's the leader of this group.

A young elephant shying away from the sight of humans and their dreadful machines.

By now, having traveled for an hour or so, we had entered Madhumalai forest. Saw plenty of deer and felt these weren't really wild deer.. on the verge of domestication. These two look like they are posing for a picture.

The last picture here was a grownup caught in an unpleasant act. I think this is a rainwater harvest pit and someone has dumped trash into it. The deer was trying to grab something, like a cow in our towns and cities. Sad isn't it.

I wish these animals move deeper into the jungle, away from human contact.

Jun 15, 2019

hero-stones of Chinnenahalli

..continued from quick stop at Madhugiri.

February 27, 2019
Anil, Nag and I were out on a day trip. Anil had some work at his village Thippagondanahalli. We arrived later than planned, agenda disrupted. We came to Chinnenahalli in search of a person Anil had to meet. As we waited in a tea shop in front of the government school, I noticed the neighboring temple. Tired of siting, I ventured into the temple premises to check out the cement sculptures atop the building. Normally we see Nandi but this seems like a goat, isn't it. Going by the hump behind the neck, it must be a bull but its snout makes its a goat :)

That's the temple facade, the pillars are ancient, probably 500 years old. Village people had kept this place clean, flowering plants taken care of.

The temple's walls are plain, simple structure it is. However, the temple premises has lot of open space which is used for village gatherings during festivals.

Opposite the temple is a Banyan tree with a rectangular platform where idols of Sarpadeva are kept. This is where I noticed a hero-stone camouflaged in the shadows. With e closer look around I found four of them. Hero-stones are basically memorial to warriors who had sacrificed their lives, in a battle or during some life-saving act.

This stone is the largest of four. It depicts a well built warrior wielding his sword and staff. The image on the left is a depiction of the warrior departing this world. Or, it could be showing two warriors.

The second hero-stone shows an archer holding a bow and an arrow. Going by his attire, he seems to be a prince as well. The accompanying female other character is  offering an object to the warrior. The detailing of the sculpture is interesting.. hair tied into a bun on the head, jewelry, footwear, hand clasping the arrow shaft and the arrow head. There's something special about this sculpture.

The third stone shows one warrior offering Namaskar. This warrior is attired slightly different, instead of kachche, he's wrapped the panchi around his hips and thighs. He's wearing heavy jewelry but there are no weapons at all. His face shows a serene expression.

The fourth stone is half buried in dirt and leaves. This seems to be the smallest of the four. The posture is similar to the previous warrior. The facial features have faded slightly. With this ends the historical research here.

The banyan tree and coconut leaves have created a nice scene. Going by the number of rings seen on the sawed off stub, this branch was about 20 years old, so the tree could be of the same age or more.

While Anil was busy with a meeting, as I was looking around, Nag had just ended a phone call. The village school had just closed for the day and students leaving the place. Nag quietly watched students while he was unaware of being watched :) BTW, villagers here usually rear cows and sell milk to dairies through collection points.

Chinnenahalli is a small village situated at a point where two groups of hill converge. One half of the village has a large rock formation on which few houses have been built. The green-colored house did not require any foundation work. I walked up the rock to get a better view of the surroundings.

The hill seen here is Midigeshi, its an historically important place, it was a power center. At the base of the hill is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara and on the hill are ruins of fort and temples in Vijayanagra architecture.

On the northeastern side of the village is this rock hill. Check out the number of standing stones here, all of them seem to be leaning at one angle.

Panning to the left, the other side of the hill comes into view. Beautiful rock formations these are.

As I was shooting this hill, Nag and Anil hailed me. Anil's work was done and we were leaving.. our next destination was Thippagondanahalli and then to Seebi Narasimha Devasthana off Sira-Tumkur highway.

Jun 8, 2019

quick stop at Madhugiri fort

A trip to Thippagondanahalli near Madhugiri was in the air for a month or so before it was confirmed on the phone by Anil. The plan was that Anil, Nag and I assemble at Basavangudi around 10-30 AM, reach Thippagondanahalli by noon, where Anil had to meet some of his acquaintances, then Nag had to visit Seebi Narasimha temple on the way back home.

February 27, 2019
The plan was to leave around 10-30 from Anil's place but then it was 12-30 when Nag reached Anil's place. Traffic was moderate, we passed Nelamangala and stopped for lunch around 2-00 pm. At Dobbaspet, we turned off the highway towards Madhugiri. Last time I drove on this road was 2010, it was a single lane road ridden with potholes. Now it was a wide two-lane carpet linking Bangalore and Bellary via Pavagada. The present being a designer age, buses are no exception. I must have seen at least a dozen buses covered in psychedelic graphics, serious competition on our highways.

We made good time, thanks to Nag's superb driving tactics. Soon Madhugiri hill comes into view as we approach Keregala Palya. The name of this village is interesting- keregala means ponds.and palya means big hamlet or small village. Together it means hamlet of ponds. Of course, the name would have come into being several centuries ago.

The hyperbolic cap of Madhugiri hill as seen from the northeastern side. The summit is 1348 feet above the town's ground level, as high as a 135-floor building. I'd climbed this towering monolith on Dec 30 2011, it was a rainy day, after passing the halfway mark up the hill, all we saw was a screen of mist. I missed the view of the plains from up there :( Anyway, it was an experience of a kind.

We might have been out of Madhugiri if not for Anil's need for an ATM. Two ATMs were not functional and the third one had a long line. Nag suggested we could do a quick fort visit while Anil waited at the ATM. Not a good time to take pictures with sunlight glaring down on the hill. However, what a sight the hill, boulders and the walls create. The fort area is occupied by few government buildings. Also within the fort are temples and a mantapa.

An ancient temple, probably dedicated to Rama or Venkateshwara.

Going by the look of the building, it seems to be built by British engineers. Probably this is was the prison office. This is not the only such building.

One of the gateways and a bastion in the background.

A stone's throw from the temple is this Mantapa with a courtyard in the center. The Mantapa has been restored a few years ago but it is still in poor condition.

The ancient pillars in Vijayanagara architecture. Probably this is the temple's lodge. Check out the terracotta tiles.. they could have used granite slabs instead.

Another view of the mantapa and its pillars.

This is a place for people waiting to get their work done at government offices situated within these fort walls. Across the street is Madhugiri additional magistrate court, the building has an interesting facade.
So that's the magistrate's court building. A wide staircase, an arched veranda and tiled roof. The huge ficus must be at least a century old.

A closer look. The two painted standing blocks are ancient sculptures planted like Dwarapalas. Truly a classic building. Wondering who gave permission to put this boxy structure in the foreground.

There's one surprise item here- a Shivalinga pedestal. To describe it correctly, it seems like a pedestal on a pedestal.

Some crazy nut painted is blue, the color that's used to paint milling machines and lathes. People!! Anyway, let's turn attention to the sculpture. It does seem like a double pedestal, the hole at the top was meant for the Linga and its missing. What do you say?

Another view of the pedestal with the great ficus in the background. A coconut tree within the premises has made its presence felt in a wonderful way.

All the while, Anil had a successful transaction. Time to head back towards our destination. That's the arched entrance of Madhugiri Kote. In the background is the neighbouring hill, the little white structure at the top must Basavanna Devasthana.

Heading towards Thippagondanahalli and Chinnenahalli, the latter is about 3 km before Midigeshi.