Impressions from the Goa Bird Festival 2018 – Part 2

We had bird watching walks on Goa’s trails in the morning and evenings to spot birds. They say it’s forest trails and maybe it is because it had quite some stuff like we spotted leopard waste, sloth bear waste. There were tarantula spider webs, giant malabar squirrels, baby scorpions, besides trees around and they(the guides) said most of the trees are beautiful Goa Native trees. Lagoon monkey too made appearance. There were streams in few spots and lots of bird sounds there about.

Birders were all engrossed in checking out birds, they had notebook, pen, binoculous and camera. When they saw a bird and heard a sound of the bird, they recorded the time, place, appearance and I guess picture of the bird too. Listening to bird sounds is required for a birder to do, by this they identify the birds, know the location and where to look for them. We should be silent when on bird trails , however, it’s not possible, we tend to speak to others – “did you see that?”, “it’s a white breasted something something bird” or “green headed something something tailed bird” and there will be discussions on it. However, this was good, to know about birds and share the knowledge and experience.

We learned that we need patience to spot the birds because they are not visible many times. It was said that when sun is out, birds are visible. Our guides were those who do some nice work in the wildlife domain, and have lots of experience exploring wildlife and it was nice listening to them. It was they who told that the poop on ground was of a leopard etc . There was even a owl pellet. These are stuff spit by owls, owls do spit some of what they ate and could not digest , this becomes a pellet, it’s pretty interesting and some owl expert said that when they do this poor things are vulnerable it seems.

Some interesting trees too were there. However, my most enjoyable walk was at the last day evening more on that sometime(that walk resembled a forest and we returned when it was getting dark).

Though many species of lizards, frogs, birds are extinct in the Western Ghats, it’s good that there is still some varietiful stuff in Goa. Could not take bird photos, because I am not a avid bird creature but when I get a good binocular which is a must would be a birder, I can hear loads of bird sounds near my home that has trees still for now, gives me lots of pleasantness. I remember Anil Kumble’s wildlife tip – he said you can take photo of the binoculus view in your phone camera if you don’t have a powerful camera yet but a good binoculous one should atleast have for that. More coming up there is still the sea exploration for sea birds… It’s nice to checkout the Ocean, keeps one grounded, amazed and nice things to check the horizon and stuff. Goodday

PS – This was written in 2018, soon few months later I got a binoculars(: …not using it much, but do to see birds when I go to tour, its been long time since I went on tour, anyway.

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Time at last year’s Goa bird Festival – Jan 2018 (Part 1)

2018 Jan went to Goa for the Goa Bird festival which took place at  Catigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Luckily I found a really affordable place of stay inside the sanctuary only, in Nature’s Harmony else would have found it difficult to reach the Santuary in the mornings for bird walks they conduct. This was just my 2nd time as a solo traveller to a completely new place, reporting to a hotel but I had no troubles atall(:

The credit for this mostly goes to the owner of Nature’s Harmony, as he already solved this logistic problem I had of how to reach the santuary. As far as I could see there was no direct train to Goa, if there was it was going to Margoa and you can expect these trains to be full all the time!! So, that really kind uncle owner told me to book a train ticket to Karwar and board a bus  from Karwar to Goa where enroute there is Catigao Wildlife Sanctuary. I had to walk a lot from the main highway road into the Santuary to reach the hotel, but it’s ok, else I should have got down at the next stop from there would have had to take auto or tuk-Tuk, that would have cost me 200 to 500 bucks and I did not want to spend much money, was short of it.

I could see travelling inside the bus that I was  passing through some hotspots of Karwar, but I knew this lovely stretch of road would have been more greener and beautiful earlier. Here and there the road was being modified with widening measures for which trees would have been uprooted, some sand mining stuff was happening, this was not nice ): . All these made the scene I saw outside a little dull, as Western Ghats region was a treasure trove of nature, beauty and with many trees off, because of development, that region is not as wonderous today as it was earlier.

 

That day took a while to settle at the hotel and refresh, the canteen over at the Santuary had just tea to serve in the evening and night had to wait for dinner till late which I must mention was pretty poor and overcharged. I remember paying 80 bucks for rice and watery dal and some bland side dish. However, I got to interact with interesting people already(: , these conversations were really lively because I can discuss about things I cannot discuss with other people in the CIty. It ranged about how Sankey Tank in Bangalore is not good for birds and birders are angry because concrete is put around the lake, we need mud and clay around the lake for birds to stand!!! , it’s not constructed in a bird friendly way and it is like artificial. I got to hear about bird calls and efforts of this person to spread awareness to children by conducting workshops on birds.

A travel savvy lady from Mumbai also joined. I really admired how she was, packing thing in one bag for a 3 day festival and took the oppurtunity to understand how she reached the Santuary. She got down on the main stop and came to Santuary from Tuk-Tuk easily. Travellers have on the go way of functioning, where by I stressed a lot in figuring out things. She even had her ticket booked for return journey to Mumbai at the last minute making use of the services of a friend(: , where by I planned ahead in having my return ticket all booked and ready.

 

I already decided, that I wanted to be in the Ocean tour in the last day where we would be taken to the sea to spot sea birds. The next 3 days, in the mornings and evenings we were taken around for bird walks on various trails around Goa. All that and more in the next write up.  

Stay tune…

 

Here are some pictures from the Goa bird festival.

Insights on improving society from Goonj Conversations 2019

It was in 2016 that I got to know GOONJ because heard Anshu, the starter of this social enterprise speak at Volcon, a volunteering conference. Many of his values were striking, it put forth that ultimately one volunteers to improve and change something in society. However, only last year I was completely impressed knowing the full extent of work Goonj do in various fields, their approach has been completely unique and even kind of revolutionary. The opportunity to know their work in the societal improvement front came up thanks to Goonj’s program they have been holding every year, inviting public where Anshu and other Goonj people share their learnings from their 20 years of work on ground making life better for those deprived.

Their approach in sorting a issue employed innovation but it’s all based on some values. One of their values is emphasizing on Dignity rather charity. Whatever we give as donation, it should be respecting the other, so give clean clothes and other items, plus recognize that people who are not dressed well also have skills.

Goonj team in all these years have gone to villages, took their time to understand the issues the village people face and addressed many of them using the skills of these very people who face issues. They need a road, Goonj takes care of the materials and the local people themselves build roads. Similarly with this fundamental approach people have built themselves wells, a bathing space , bridge etc . People skills are a currency too, not just money. In return for all the labour the people put they got want they needed to live their lives in less suffering.

A must mention, is Goonj’s solution on the menstrual front, where women had no access to good period products. At the time when talking about menstruation was taboo and sustainable menstruation was not heard about much here about in 2005, Goonj came up with the MyPad initiative, where cloth pads were designed using cotton cloths that Goonj received through donation. Thanks, to that now women have re-useable cloth pads, that they wash , dry in sunlight and reuse. Plus, this has given employment to loads of women, doing a lot of good to them in their lives.

Goonj also facilitated construction and creation of trauma free schools whose construction was done with the help of the kids and their parents. All these schools also have a open space where vegetable produce are grown to feed the entire school(: … Delightful stuff…

This year, Anshu told us that we must realise that our country requires all of us to do something to address things like poverty, water scarcity, depleting air quality and so many issues on which we probably don’t care or pay attention to. It’s a complex picture to digest, but many people die because they don’t have blankets, food, this number is actually more than war veterans who die fighting war or  the population who die in calamities. Also, recognize that we owe something for the education we got or the food we eat because both of this is subsidized for us. Farmers sell their produce at low rate and the education we get at universities is subsidised by Government as land acquired is almost free for those Universities. On the other hand Government school education quality has declined and poor people are forced to send their kids to Private schools.

Therefore, we should all do something to cause a positive change, because after all the amazing work Goonj has done to improve lives of people, same problems still exist. We can replicate Goonj’s approach in solving a issue, forming teams and doing action that causes change because we all want a country that’s inclusive, safe, prosperous, healthy with lovely environment.

A testimony to the innovation Goonj does can be seen by these products from Goonj stall. A bag with loads of cloth pads, bags, purses, mobile pouches and more made from reusable cloth. The bag I bought was made from discarded jeans and I took something I never intended too(: and I love it . This is Goonj kee Gullak, it was given free of cost and the idea is whatever change or small amount of money that we want to put there, we put it and after it fills up we deliver it to Goonj(: . I never have money to donate and would never have thought of going to Goonj office somewhere far, but this I can afford to do and go to Goonj office in my City when my Goonj kee Gullak is full. I know even if Goonj is far, there is the suburban train that I would love to use, remembering that Citizens Group Citizens for Bengaluru have been campaigning, demanding and voicing out for suburban trains to authorities so we Citizens can use it for our commuting convenience.

It is very interesting that all print work Goonj do, they are all on papers taken from used notes books that are reused, blank paper sides are used while the other used side of the paper is crossed. Goonj’s upfront boldness springs from their values formed from witnessing the harsh truth and reality prevalent in our country.

There was also a stall that had chits, it told you to undertake a positive action like two chits I have seen people read out – one told to convince some amount of people to donate blood and another one told one to organize sessions on mental health for near by people who maybe in need of it, once you commit then you tie a ribbon conveying that you would do it!!

Travel Tit bits from travellors

Few weeks back, took the time to listen to travel stories from travellers, event was hosted by Plan The Unplanned, the company takes people on tours from trekking to Himalayan tours. The speakers on stage were – biker Tejaswi Chittar, Chandana Rao who inspires others to travel spreading travel stories of people through Travelories and Captain Neptune who is a sailor. Travellers always have interesting stories out of their experiences, they motivate you to travel to see that side of the world that you don’t know about and that does change your perspective about the world and you as well. Ultimately, it makes you really interesting as you would have so many stories to share, besides those photos as well.

So, a travel junkie can style his own lifestyle making earnings from blogs, videos, photos and they may even get sponsored to travel, if you spread the word about the destination and other things. Blogging is a great way to make money, but your blog should have interesting content and writing about your travel experiences surely makes for a engaging content for readers.

Now, here are some points on travel, take it as travel tit bits and perspectives from various travellers, this also includes some learnings from cyclist traveller Rakesh and one more cyclist, Dominic Franks. The latter, addressed a session in Bangalore Literature Fest last year, as he wrote a book, ‘Nautanki Diaries’ about his cycle ride from Bangalore to Delhi. He went on that cycle trip to go to the Common Wealth Games taking place at Delhi.

When you travel, it’s not just about visiting places, it’s also about tasting new food, experiencing culture, meeting all kinds of people and managing yourself, it’s a way to rediscover you. It opens up your mind, broadens your perspective, you experience adventure. When you go around to eat, it’s good to come out and ask the locals where is the best food available in the place. So you eat the cuisine that’s special or authentic in that particular place.

Travel gives you varied food experiences. I have heard many cooks on TV shows say that they had tasted a dish on a Dhaba while travelling on the highway, and it made them want to try out that dish at home. Also, it may not be possible to eat in posh restaurants while travelling especially on budget, be open to eat on local eateries, as long as food is fresh and hot, you won’t get sick. Try not to buy bottled water as well, many restaurants have RO water, filter water, fill it up there carrying your own water bottle (that’s preferable not a disposable plastic bottle). Never be shy, be outspoken, it would come in handy to ask for tips, start conversations, and ofcourse we all need to go toilet sometime, ask for restroom, be open to use public toilets as well, though restaurants, eateries should have restroom.

Next, accomodation. For us tourist travellers, we plan in advance, book rooms for stay, all this costs money. However, we can always try for free accomodation. One way is to use Couch surfing – https://www.couchsurfing.com/ , it connects you with people who would host you at their house all for free. People who use it, swear it’s safe and a great way to make friends and travel at low budget. Other ways include keep asking your friends if they know of anyone who can accommodate you for free and generally it works, that’s what these travellers said. Since travellers have stories, people are really willing to keep them over for the day. There are youth hostels as well, that accommodate you on low budget but there are people who can bargain to have their stay and fooding free there as well!! (:

Chandana Rao, managed to solo explore all of Tamil Nadu at a cost of 1800 Rs for 10 days. She gave a tip that you can market yourself and barter your skills for free stay. Your skills can vary from putting a link of the stay establishment in your blog post that has many followers to anything that would be useful for the owner of the stay establishment. For ex, Chandana Rao got free stay at a youth hostel in exchange for which she just went to the bus stand and brought few tourists looking for a place to stay as customers for the youth hostel. Through this she earned her free stay, bringing new customers for the youth hostel. She managed to barter her skills and get free stay at a 6 star hotel as well!!
So being outspoken may help.

Other travellers like Rider Rakesh are humble souls as they have cycled and interacted with so many kinds of people including the poor ones, he would be happy if he gets a small space for him to sleep that’s all. Since he was cycling propagating the message of Ride for Gender Freedom (RFGF), he generally captures support and someone would gladly give him food and place to stay. RFGF campaign had Rakesh traverse 27,000 kms throughout in his cycle for the cause of freeing Gender from violence and discrimination. He addressed people on roads, streets, offices, colleges, schools and many other establishments telling them to throw their patriarchal belief systems that see women poorly and help women folk live freely doing what they what, because it’s their right. This also at times involved people to take a oath to stand up against any instance they encounter that’s attacking women’s right, safety, dignity etc.

Many travellers say temples are good places to stay, and sometimes food there as temple prasada is free. If you are planning to tent camp, do it in a safe place, inside temples or bus stand shelters where your surrounded by local people and take permission for it. I really don’t know if solo travel ladies should do this, if they are alone(in India), but if your having company, its ok I guess , however please make sure that area is safe for tenting, it should be sheltered, and not home to stray dogs, though cyclist Rakesh once said he shared his sleeping area with another dog creature which also laid on the footpath somewhere near him. Looks like some travellers make friends with animals as well in their travels!!

It also appears that cyclists and bikers explore places more indepthly, they meet other bikers and bond over. So, maybe you can start biking or cycling to a near by place first and get a hang of it. It is a great way to reach out small eateries en route, meet locals etc. Almost all travellers say language is no barrier, human beings can communicate with one another without knowing the language, there is some human to human connection. So, never hesitate to go to a place because of language difference.

Also to all travelers (which includes the touristy folks), when you go to any place, be it jungle, or public place, never litter. One can understand, you may at times buy bottled water, for at small places clean water that’s drinkable maybe a question mark, but don’t throw it on the road. You can carry those chip packets with you until you find a dustbin. Looks, like at remote places where there are free flowing rivers and waterfalls, you can drink water from there directly. I am still very surprised that such wild, divine, nature rich places still exist in India as after irresponsible tourism driven by commercialization, greenery declination and garbage accumulation along with river degradation has resulted. However, Captain Neptune showed clips of the birth place of Cauvery with lovely water that’s drinkable flowing there!! (I hope that place is still sacred now, I heard tourists and visitors damaging that eco space, but flowing river water is clean and safe to drink for ever)

Be flexible if you really want to travel a lot. Either you should be able to take a long leave from your job to travel, or work while you travel carrying laptop. Many travellers say they prefer exploring places and experiencing their adventure so they don’t want to spend money on comforts paying for accomodation. For touristy travellers,who need comfort, try to stay at home stays where you can connect with hosting people rather than staying at a isolated room at a lodge. Human touch makes your stay experience that much more nicer(:…

Blend with the locals. Lady travellers say when they are at traditional places they dress up appropriately, so not to attract attention and this is a great way to be blend with the locals. Be open and connect with people with casual conversations, so you get local insider tips on where to eat, what all places to explore etc. That way you get help as well in a new place and learn a lot of things, your all in the real practical world and it’s like getting knowledge, wisdom through your experience rather than studying.

Stop the fear from hindering your travel adventure plans. When you bike or cycle to another place, there is always the chance there may be a puncture or repair, but making it the reason to abandon your adventure not cool. Learn basic repair techniques. You might meet bad elements but don’t sweat over that thought. Over thinking is never good. That being said, you should be careful of course, when you sense there is danger or something not right through your intuition, be cautious and trust in yourself!! Mostly, it’s in our hands to behave responsibly, at times not disclose too many details to utter strangers and maybe don’t venture to unknown spots at night.

It is important you make conversations with people around, it may come in handy. Chandana, when she finds someone is staring at her, she goes to them and introduces herself and asks them what places she can site see, their attention gets diverted. When she was at Danuskoti, a few guys were following her, she told them, she was not alone, her family was there doing puja but she was just pacing about bored of the puja and they left her alone. So, taking out these kind of tips from your sleeve should help. With people connect, you can get your way. Many times through means of casual conversations, Chandana managed getting help to know the place and experience it.

We all know people say that travel helps you make new friends and after travel using couchsurfing many people say now they got friends on every part of the world, so they can travel there and stay happily. However, even RJ jaisy said, you can unexpectedly meet your life partner as well, that’s exactly what happened with Chandana, she found her soul life partner companion through her travels. Soon in a historical 9th century old monument somewhere that is surrounded by nature, she’s going to get married ‘traveler style’ rather than the conventional way of marrying on a boring hall on which you spend so much money to book.
All this aside, travel literally does change lives, rewarding you with people associations!!

Somethings in life many things are unplaned and impromptu experiences and in travel there are so many such experiences which makes it exciting, interesting and instills varied perspective into our lives. It definitely makes you independent as you wander, explore, learn, understand and spend time with yourself properly without distractions of TV, internet. You don’t need to plan so much, just a basic sketch should do with a idea formed on how to go, the place to stay, places to see (from a touristy perspective) and simple packing of what’s needed, then your ready to just go!!

That’s all folks… There may be so much more stuff gained from travelling, but only a real and avid traveller can write on that with passion that comes from their conviction. I end by saying that recently on news, PM Modiji mentioned that when he was young every year he used to go alone and stay at a jungle for 5 days and it helped him introspect on himself and life. So, he too recommends solo travelling and staying in the wilderness maybe even though all these authorities don’t care about greenery, lakes, rivers and on supporting people who work to conserve Nature, but I am not judging on all their double standards, its fruitless to do so.

Freeing Pollutant filters(trees) from concentrate

A new kind of green activity took place on Sunday, 25th March, when Save Green volunteers set about to free trees in and around Jeevan Bima Nagar and Indira Nagar from concrete that’s cemented in many trees around Bangalore. The aim was to ensure trees get some open soil so that water can percolate to the soil and these giant green pollutant filters (the trees) get water from the soil as they take it from underground through their strong roots.
 
This was a bold attempt and perhaps never attempted by a group of ordinary individuals before. Save Green, unlike many green groups do more than just plantation drives, they remove posters, lights rolls, nails from trees with their Poster Free Trees. As they do the latter, they spread awareness to nearby vendors, shop owners, house owners to care for the tree/sapling near them, they inform the entities who staple/nail posters on trees to not to so again. When the entities again do postering on trees, action is pursued where they are even taken to the police since it’s illegal to nail posters on trees in tree law. They go to store owners and tell them to remove the light tubes that’s bound on trees and the nice thing is that when store owners have done that, they personally go and thank the store owner(:
 
Well, back to their new task they undertook of freeing the trees from concrete. The Save Green volunteers had come for this task at ICICI, 10 main road Jevan Bima Nagar and equipments to break the concrete were there waiting – rods and a hammer. Permission for the task was already acquired from necessary officials – Mayor, Corporator and others so all were set for action time. To inaugurate this event, the Corporator was invited and plan was to have the Corporator break a bit of concrete from a tree but the Corporator did not turn up, so the volunteers them selves inaugurated the event by breaking the granite plastered on a tree. This was equivalent to breaking of a coconut for setting about to go about their noble task of saving green for the day. Care was taken on doing this carefully, as bits and pieces of rock can hit and hurt volunteers, rods may hit them as well. It was seen that the broken concrete/stones were cleared, for this it was carried on a plastic sack and then debris was thrown on the side.
 
Hemant was planning on such a event for a while, it was to be something different to highlight another aspect of tree problem that needs to be addressed. Ideally, there is supposed to be a Conservator of Forest officer in the area somewhere to look after trees, or atleast to free trees from concrete, but it’s only a few green conscious Citizens who are worried after the trees and we really want to do something, but most times we are helpless. The Corporator along with forest Department officer could have easily removed the concrete from trees using their resources, instead they just leave a group of individuals to labour breaking concrete from trees. This group did have a good time doing their physical task as they were just passionate about the well being of trees but they faced opposition from few individuals. One person came about and told them they are doing this for “fame”, to post pictures and videos in FB and earn likes, another person came about and told that they are contributing to garbage by depositing debris on road and another person came running and said stop fiddling with the tree since its his tree and it takes care of his house as because of that tree he uses no AC.
 
However, Save Green Group were patient and polite and went about their task. Most volunteers that day, came from far areas, one came all the way from Channapatna, one from Silk Board and another from Marathahalli, they were committed to spend their time and efforts in Saving Green in the chosen area and not get offended by negative comments.
 
Hemant guided them in the task, ensuring that volunteers removed just little concrete from trees and then expose the trees to some open soil. If they in enthusiasm tried breaking concrete in wider radius, he could be heard saying, “Enough, tree only will fall, rest let the forest Dept do”, “Enough, don’t be Subhash Chandra Bose”, “See that’s drain there don’t break concrete there and free drains” . It was nice to see the group had a mature approach for this task, as they when they did the job they took care that they caused no inconvenience and harm to trees or people.
 
After this task for which their already did a lot of roaming, concrete hitting and clearing, the volunteers mustered energy to go about pursuing their usual tasks of removing posters from trees, removing decorative light rolls from trees. Most of the trees were clear from staple marks because the group have been monitoring them for posters. Offenders were regularly warned to post no posters on trees. Store owners, restaurant owners were approached to tell them light rolls are harmful for trees and it should be removed, and volunteers removed light rolls and they thanked a store owner who listened to them and removed light roll from the tree that was front of his store.
 
On the way 2 trees were found damaged with its hollow gone, and it was noted that they needed to be removed as they posed a danger to people. Spots where saplings can be planted were also noted, and a eye for the previous planted saplings were also kept.
 
From this group, others should be inspired to do tree conservation activities in their respective regions. Hemant says, others can team up and check on trees in their areas and take action. Do it regularly even once a month atleast, trees will be freed from posters, offenders won’t do them again and trees can be saved from lots of harm!! … A tree needs so less maintenance and care, just ensure it’s free to get water, sunlight and has good rich soil, we will all be in more green spaces and be healthier that way, if we act right now. Otherwise, just stay and welcome the coming concreate City with heat, no water but please don’t complain/whine if you can’t act!! Goodday.
 


My Time at Melkote

Just to refresh, made a solo visit to Melkote last week. I wanted a place that’s nearby and peaceful, reading about Melkote in two blogs, I thought Melkote made the cut. Though I wanted to go solo, I knew I would have time in my hands when I am not exploring, so decided to bring on my laptop Gayletrix with me, I have a toggle so can work, with some internet connection. Looks, like Melkote is extremely nearby, so if you can drive down by scooter or car, it’s reachable in 3 and a half hours or less and you can be back in the city as well in the same day.
The little place is a village, at first sight it looked boring, there was doubt on weather I would get something decent to eat and I need not have had such a doubt. Straight away, when it comes to food at Melkote, Subbanna Mess rocks!! … Ordered for meals (which in most darshinis not very alluring food), however meals at Subbanna Mess was tasty. And to add to that, there was a charm in which the meals were served on a star shaped leaf, Bharmin style. The kuttu, curry, other side dishes, their puliogere and sweet pongal was delicious. My good time at Melkote started with the tasty food at Melkote. I have heard the Mess owner, whose photo you can see there posing with PM Kumaraswamy insisting that the food served should be of best quality, I also heard him say that something must be done for the coffee they serve, he is unhappy with the chikori content, however for me the coffee there is a pretty nice one.
After that I went to my room booked at Melukote Ahobila Yatri Nivas and worked on Gayletrix. The room is ok, spacious, decent, but I had to clean the cummond seat with water and baby wipes(keep them handy). Also, one or 2 mosquitos were stuck there, luckily for piece of mind I had odomas, though option was there to kill those mosquitoes buying some insect killer from nearby shop. I also found that guests made a lot of noise there but I turned music on and did some work to kill time in the afternoons and some time at night. I had to have the door slightly a jar because internet from toggle was otherwise not working, I am so glad there was atleast one plug point for charging purposes. Two nights out of 3, I did not sleep that well, first day I did not like the blankets provided, I was itching pretty badly, second night when I got a bed sheet I slept well, 3rd night, I did not like the bed sheet so I decided to head to Bangalore as soon as possible in the first possible bus available at 4:30 am. But I guess the room was otherwise ok, to freshen up and work, I really not sure about the bedsheets and blankets.
Evenings were the best time after 4:30pm, as weather cools up to being pleasant at 5pm. First day I headed to Raya Gopura. It’s a lovely place for nature admirers, rocks and boulders, scenic views of hills, birds hopping, tree shades here and there, it was perfect. A whole evening can go there with Nature, also nice to climb up some boulders here and there as if your warming up to do a trek!! After this I found a tea shop opposite that cute establishment of Melukote police station and had tea. Did some work on Gayletrix, and for dinner I understood its best to eat bananas or chips, as at night Melukote is a very sleepy town,mostly there was one eating joint that was open, only men were around there eating. Overall, even then was ok.
Second day, I missed out on getting up early to head to Dhanushkoti, its almost an hour of walk on a area that’s filled with mild forest like garden and is mostly secluded. Getting up at 7 am and heading to walk at 7:20 am was a slightly warm affair that got hot. I walked halfway through the road reaching rock garden point whose entrance was signified by a pink rock arch and spent time relaxing. Even in the hot weather, cool breeze touched here and there, lime stone rocks there were really cool though .Atmosphere was fresh, so many resting points with chairs and rocks here and there. Spotted some chemelion kind of looking lizards and at times walked about on boulders checking out spots further away. Birds were there plenty, it was a happy place. Then, breakfast at Subbanna Mess, luckily they had coffee and though the owner says it has too much chikory content, it was good coffee, breakfast was ok. For the dosa they provided, tomato cutney was nice.
Evenings again exploration time after spending afternoon working. This time headed to well Yoga Narasimha temple. It was written everywhere that you have to climb 300 stairs and of late I got leg and shoulder pain, and as usual very doubthful of my fitness level, even though my vitamin deficiency weakness has gone away for a while. It turned out that I headed to a spot where generally cars climb up and from there, only 150 stairs are there to climb. The surroundings were charming, Kayani well one side, one temple structure a little up and small birds flying hither and thither. After relaxing watching others go up, I went up with a tulasi mala that I had to buy from a girl in return for her caring for my slippers(:, she runs a small shop selling temple stuff and toffees along with kids younger than her. The climb was fine, not exhausting, it was slightly heart pumping but it was nice, rock steps and nice enough views around to see. Monkeys were common so mostly people just passed it without a bother even if they were on the way. After the climb, checked the view, went ahead following others to the temple but I had no interest in seeing the diety, the lord had enough disciples crowding about, later brought prasada(just to taste it), it was some banana on some dosa kind of delicacy (not really tasty), the dosa stuff was not crisp. A monkey was stalking others eating prasada, so I hid myself behind a pillar and in few more minutes would have had to give up my half eaten prasada to monkey, if that pujari did not drive that monkey away on time.
While getting down the stairs went into a rock spot and I went there and admired the view the spot offered. Squirrels and birds and orange sun and nice views were all very nice. Sometime a go while climbing up saw monkeys check out a drinking water tap and tumbler, it’s dysfunctional. After a while climbing down the stairs, brought bananas for the night and headed to room.
Next day morning, again was disappointed that I did not step out earlier than I did before 6:20 am, by 7:30 it gets hot and a long walk to Dhanushkoti was overdue. I walked the forest garden, again trees and birds and complete solitude, as no one was about. After rock garden, there were rock chairs and chairs and one pillar structure around. All were nice places to sit and take in all the nice cool atmosphere. I saw moon full in the morning and a peacock on the way. The walk was wonderful though long. Danushkothi was a point which involved climbing up stairs again and again there was nature’s garden with top of the hill kind of atmosphere. At a interesting looking point, some winding stairs let to the Danushkothi spot, its a rock which had a gap which legend has it that Lord Rama hit that rock spot with his arrow and some water was flowing. After all this, sucked in Nature resting and going here and there. It was only after this I saw another soul, till now that place was all having only me. Generally, people come here through car or scooter, but walking in the early mornings nothing like it!!
That day I tried venturing out of Melkote to Melkote Wolf Reserve(Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary), but the auto fellows did not know about it and also said it’s better I don’t go there would get stuck, it’s a remote area with only ghats stuff around. Right, I left the idea, all I did was enquire about the bus that I can take to head to Mandya the next day morning, I was told there was a direct bus to Bangalore at 4:30 am , 6:30 am and 9:30 am. I had a train booked from Mandya to Bangalore, but in the end, I just packed and headed off to the 4:30 morning bus, I felt let’s get back home early, escape heat and traffic. Near by some kms away there was Hemagiri falls, Thonnur Lake, but I felt I was fine at Melkote. The former, is a good sight to visit as there is talk of damming the river, Cauvery again , read in news.
Evening this time, I headed to Yoga Narasimha temple (checking ground level) , there is a huge kalyani there. However was disappointed as it did not look clean. There was also plastic stuff in many spots, I found many plastics in various wonderful Dhanushkoti forest garden spots and even spots at Raya Gopura, mostly drinking bottles and one or two broken glass beer bottles. After this I had nothing to do. I ventured to another spot which went down, I looked like it lead to a farmland, but did not go too much down. Besides, goat waste, everything else was nice with trees around, it would have been nice to walk down too. I ventured to walk the rock garder again, Danushkoti area, and came back, as after 6pm, things got dim and eerie, even then it was a nice walk, orange sun disappeared , spotted a peacock far away, nice Nature noises, insects mostly. There were birds as well, morning when I walked I checked out some plants, and I saw one beans plant as the vegetable I plucked looked and felt like green beans.
Tea was there, had it, got bananas for the night. In my mind I thought maybe I would stay till my checkout time in the room that was till 10am in the morning, I had a train from Mandya to catch at 12pm. But since I was itching in the room just got up freshened up and caught the 4:30 morning bus. It turned out well since the bus stop was really nearby. The bus windows were nicely closed so no cold air for discomfort. Even this early bus got filled up by 5:17am within an hour as passengers began standing. In 3 hours time, bus hit Bangalore., things was suffocating as usual seeing the concrete stuff and divided road because of metro. This was the case till Satellite bus stand. Atleast, there was no traffic a tall. Then caught bus to Majestic and from there bus to home was possible as there was no crowd surprising at bus stand and bus lthat head home.
Overall, Melkote was a nice tiny place with gems of Nature here and there. Definitely, a great place to chill, if you have your own vehicle you can visit the Sanctuary, the Hemigiri falls and Thonoor lake, they all would offer solitude. Experiencing complete solitude, with not one single person at the Danushkoti rock garder walk was a unique experience, generally the world is overcrowded though sometimes was a bit frightened and I had shown a complete disinclination to converse with 2 souls who came there , happy they were not bad elements and let me go about my business. Lots and lots of spots where you can be by yourself in Melkote, it’s definitely a great place for Nature lovers and people who just want to chill. Very simple people and lifestyle. I had to buy a 2 litre biseleri bottle because the water of Subbana Mess though I drink it since it looked clean, don’t know how they purify it. Water is taken from a big aluminium drum vessel through a small vessel, I have seen woman pouring water from plastic waist pot to the drum, but I don’t know how that water is got.
So, I also ended up creating one plastic waste, but well could not avoid it. However, I crushed and threw the bottle in the dustbin available at the hotel room before heading back to my City).
Here are the two blogs I read before heading to Melkote –

This is how trees are in danger in your City!!

1. I) Non – maintenance of trees …

– Concrete on roots of trees – weakens trees with no chance of water to enter the roots of the trees. Without water and nourishment, trees weaken and fall eventually.
Thesedays, Garbage too is dumped on tree roots, tree gets ignored, it dries receiving no water while garbage is all around it. So it eventually dries and dies.

II) Harming of trees

– Construction work done by inserting rods on trees. This weakens them as well, making them vulnerable to fall.

– Ad Mafia stapling, screwing posters on trees. The posters block the skin of tree and it prevents oxygen from entering that part of tree, as a bacteria, fungi, lizards and beetles start colonizing the closed tree portion and they are nicely protected by the poster. Eventually, the. tree would get diseased and die.

– Pruning of trees. This causes harms to trees, carelessly tied electric wires on trees, cutting of branches, all harm trees, most often the tree size is reduced and it’s natural beauty is spoiled.

III) Purposeful cutting of trees

– Authorities cutting it for infrastructural projects – road widening, metro or for indirectly catering to the wood/ timber mafia.

– Cutting of trees by other people for construction work and other reasons with vested commercial interest selling wood of trees (tree mafia)

IV) Killing of Trees

– People are known to have killed trees by putting acid on its roots for having billboards more visible by removing trees which they perceive as a obstruction.

So, yeah the remaining trees in your Bangalore City are in Danger and crying for help, ofcourse this City was once a garden City and now you may have already forgotten that.

Anyway, because of all the above tree ufriendly stuff mentioned, you may suddenly find on a windy day with just slight rains, these weakened trees are falling posing a danger to human life!! As a consequence, people would encourage tree cutting, thinking its dangerous, possibility is there, even if its a very dark thought!!

2. Well, you should you have trees apart from it getting weak and falling on you(: ( ha..ha…dark humour), let’s get less serious.

I) Fresh air, oxygen and healthy habitat. This would make being outdoors a pleasure for exercise, to hangout, cycle or have people get togethers. Add to this Bangalore is at a elevated height of about 290 metres from sea level, so with higher elevation, the City’s atmosphere’s oxygen requirements are higher.

II) Pollution control – Touch the leaf of a tree, you can feel some fine particles, they are dust particles. You can even see them, as the particles stick to you when you touch them with wet fingers. This means that the trees have trapped the particulate matter that would have otherwise gone into your lungs when you breath.. Trees are fighto filters.

III) Cool Climate and Shade – Any place that has a lot of trees has lower temperatures.When you walk under a road that has a canopy of trees, you are protected from the harmful sun as well. No wonder, 2 wheelers are seen stopping under trees to check their phone, talk and rest.

IV) Ground Water . Since tree roots take in water, the water goes underground and fills up the water table, from which people get water for their borewells and houses..

V) Trees are required for rains – Trees also throw water vapours to the air and atmosphere, this process is called evapotranspiration. So they are,rain enablers.

VI) Strong native trees can even prevent flooding, it does the function of storm water drains of drawing water to the ground and prevents water leakage on land. This underground extra water, go to lakes, rivers and eventually to the sea.

VII) For birds, butterflies, squirrels . Besides the fresh air, natural bird sounds and lots of other creatures come around when trees are there. Nature unravels it’s beauty and marvels for all to enjoy.

It may be unproved, but trees are sweet for the spiritual soul, and most tree activities mentioned above are child friendly and it’s a good way to have a outdoor life spending quality time with family and people of the locality and more.

3. What can we do to conserve trees?

I) We can monitor trees in the vicinity and accordingly take action, this can be done if there are tree teams in every ward area. If this is there, we can check if – trees have open soil and is free from concrete, they are not harmed by nails, rods, posters. Teams can have contact with required authority for assistance as well, be it forest official, BBMP or any other authority. For this tree awareness has to be done, to form tree teams. Teams can also do sapling plantation activities using native variety saplings.

II) People got to know that they have the right to ask tree cutters, if they got BBMP permission to cut trees, otherwise it’s illegal cutting. If it’s illegal cutting reports can be made to concerned officers – http://bbmp.gov.in/documents/10180/511964/Staff+details.pdf/5a73ad91-5455-4fe7-b797-1ff441e42b5b

III) When authorities do tree cutting(legal cutting), people have the right to raise their voices demanding that no tree can be cut without public consultation. If tree cutting has been done, it has to be compensated by tree re-plantation. Authorities have to do their homework doing a environmental study on their projects that involve tree cutting before progressing to cut off trees. They must use the guidance of a expert in that, and that report has to be made public.

IV) Tree surveys and mapping are a good idea to have in every ward as well. So, every tree is accounted for, good tree population is important for human population to live a healthy life after all. After this, birding and other cool outdoor activities would automatically happen. They are healthy and low cost recreation every person is entitled to have. Why should they go to a park that’s ar, for simple recreational activities?.

V) There are acts made to protect trees dating t – One is Karnataka Tree Protection Act(KTP Act) dating to 1970’s and in the tree protection laws most things mentioned above find mention. Good idea to know little about it and quote it as well, when any tree harming activity is done.

More power to every one – Bangalore needs each one of us to be tree activists urgently.