My 6 Insane Reasons To Love The Monsoons

Rain is possibly the best season by far that occurs throughout the year. I don’t remember waiting for any festival or event as eagerly as I wait for the first refreshing showers. The grey clouds and moist breeze never fail to fill me with enthusiasm. How I wish it rained all year! I believe rain has the power to not only dissolve all my worries but also fill in my body and mind with new joy and vigor. It is indeed the perfect time to get lost in the world of warm coffee, lush green surroundings and books! 

You might also like to read- How I Spent 10 Rainy Days in a Rainforest

I am penning this as I watch numerous raindrops fall from a large cloud on a gloomy rainy day. The leaves, branches and my hair waving happily in the strong, cold wind. So I decided to share my 6 reasons to love the rains-

Rain Love 1- No matter where you live, rain comes like a blessing. It cleans up all the surroundings and makes it look green and refreshing all over again. It is indeed a time for the earth to take a bath! 

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Love this subtle contrast of grey and green when it rains in the Western Ghats!

Rain Love 2- Water facilitates life. It comes with no surprise that cuckoos and hornbills sing loudly in the rains to find a mate to start the process of avian coitus. Most birders are out with their rain-gear chasing these birds. 

A pair of Malabar Pied Hornbill on a very rainy day!
A pair of Malabar Pied Hornbill enjoy each other’s company on a rainy day in Manipal.

Rain Love 3- Nature awakes from its slumber to add seven colors to the green backdrop. It is the time to enjoy the glimpses of a Rainbow straight out of your window! 

VIBGYOR- My favorite spectrum of colors right outside my window in Kausani!
VIBGYOR- My favorite spectrum of colors right outside my window in Kausani.

Rain Love 4- The colors are not only restricted to the sky. They take to the ground as well. A variety of flowers bloom in their glory to compete with the rainbow above 

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I absolutely love this yellow blanket of smiling flowers on the outskirts of Dharwad.

Rain Love 5- Tiny frogs now erupt out of their coves. Amphibians are one among my favorite living creatures on earth. They claim their right on almost all freshwater streams, trees, bushes and farm houses.

Tiny Raorchestus tuberohumerus made my night when I spotted it in coffee plantations of Coorg!
This tiny made my night in Coorg!

Also read- Frogs of Hampi 

Rain Love 6- My warm coffee just smells and tastes better in the cold breeze, moist air and grey surroundings! Especially with a piece of chocolate on the side 😉 

Coffee, mountains and clouds, what more shall I ask for?
Coffee, mountains and clouds, what more shall I ask for?

In a country like India, monsoons bring a new ray of hope and happiness. Water, as we all will know, is more than just a fluid for life. Sir Ralf Kaiser of the University of Hawaii said ‘Water is the protective cradle that carries the building blocks of life’. Right from the beginning of monsoon to the last shower, there is new life everywhere. Smaller creatures like Alates now show up, the birds rejoice more and share happy songs, the trees grow faster and I just take a rejuvenating walk in the rain. Most other animalia just like me are celebrating these smaller joys of life all over again!

Enjoying the overcast on a lonely beach!
Enjoying the overcast on a lonely beach!

I am more of a dark rainy day person. How about you? Tell me all about which seasons you prefer, in the comments below 🙂 

PS: Show love by helping me fund my travel.

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Not Just a Tourist, Here’s My 9 Step Guide To Become An Eco-Tourist Today!

Eco tourism is critical. We have far left behind the years when this was simply ‘important’- today it is critical. Today each one of us must contribute towards nature. Nature has all the resources to satisfy man’s need. Although humans have become increasingly greedy (our ‘needs’ remain the same, our ‘wants’ spiral out of control), we need, we want but no one gives back. No one replenishes what they take.
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Let me explain biodiversity in the simplest way- the variety of life on earth that exists where each and every species is given equal importance. Homo Sapiens understand the importance of Gender Equality, they promote equal rights for both sexes and give equal importance to both men and women. We know that genders are interdependent. Men can’t live without women and visa versa. Similarly in an ecosystem, species of plants and animals live with each other. Not to forget man also forms a part of an ecosystem. Why then are different species of plants and animals not afforded the same importance, why is the perception of importance between species so skewed?

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This photo was clicked on the outskirts of Bangalore at Hessarghatta lake bed and grassland. The habitat is rich in biodiversity but has suffered extensive damage due to over-enthusiastic travellers, unethical photographers, overgrazing cattle and off-roading and motor biking activities by locals and tourists.

Various human activities have triggered an increase in the population of invasive species which make the survival of other species difficult. This directly hampers the food chain along with the habitat and leads to vulnerable existences in the ecosystem. Today mother earth is screaming for protection and man is single-handedly responsible for having put her in such a trouble. There is still time to put a full stop to this destruction by those responsible for this vulnerable position we find ourselves in. You might like to question me- why should I conserve. To them I say go- back to school and read your 8th Std science textbooks once more.

Here’s why you must conserve:

–  Rain-forests are responsible for a stable climate; heard of global warming? Destruction of rainforests is a major contributor!

– Most resources and raw materials that we use today for medicinal or industrial purpose come from the forests

– The ozone layer is still intact, thanks to forests, else we’d be dying of skin cancer

– Studies say that pollution and temperature rise shall destroy all the coral reefs in the next 20-40 years

– The earth’s biological treasures are thrashed and scientists are calling it the 6th mass extinction event

– Thanks to birds that today we can fly Mumbai-Delhi and overseas in no time. Nature is highly inspirational

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The Small Pratincole clicked at Malyadi Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka

The reasons for conservation are infinite. If I sit back and start writing it would take me a lifetime- suffices to say, if we don’t conserve mother nature, mother nature will not sustain us. There are many ways by which you can do your bit for nature. I would want you to focus on your roles towards conservation via eco-tourism, one of the fun ways of conserving and helping nature. The tourism that we are exploring today isn’t about living in luxury resorts, throwing waste on streets and in lakes, travelling in AC cars, feeding wild animals, habitat destruction and disturbing the entire balance of the ecosystem. We are talking about responsible tourism where you trek, cycle, live with local tribes, experience the real jungle, learn and conserve. Promising yourself to do all that it takes to protect nature- that’s what makes you a responsible eco-tourist.

So if you are planning on becoming an Eco-Tourist in India here are a few points to remember:

  1. Read and collect Info: Read as much as you can about the place you’re travelling to- before you go there. Read about all the wildlife found in that ecosystem, distance to maintain from these animals and activities to do without causing disturbances to that habitat.

    Preparation is the Key!

     

  2. Don’t encourage ill practices: Clicking pictures with wild animals or throwing stones to see them react, unruly behavior with local communities, feeding animals, off-roading on open spaces and grasslands

    I came across this Rhesus Macaque baby near the Shivapuri National Park in Nepal. I am totally against petting wild animals. Most of these locals end up earning money when people pose with their pets. Encouraging these poor villagers for petting wild animals is a very common mistake done by most travellers who are not yet eco-travellers!

     

  3. Avoid plastic: Avoiding plastic as much as you can is a good practice in day to day life. According to a recent study, 5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating on the world’s ocean weighing about 269,000 tonnes. India ranks 12th on the list of twenty worst marine polluter countries. While on your eco-tour try to reuse your plastic bottle or replace them by steel bottles. Plastic is one the biggest pollution problems in natural spaces and cities.
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    Plastic is one of the biggest problem!

     

  4. Follow the “Leave Only Footprints Approach”: While you explore jungles try and bring back the smallest of your waste. Dispose wherever it is possible to reuse/recycle or is the most appropriate place.
    Leave Only Footprints!

     

  5. Stay on the trail when you go on treks within the wild: This is beneficial for both you and the wild animals. You can easily find your way back without disturbing the animals or invading in their personal space.
    Follow the trail- always!

     

  6. Avoid smoking: This is good for your lungs and the earth’s lungs- the forests. Umpteen times cigarettes thrown in dry deciduous forests have triggered uncontrollable forest fires. Forest fires are the single most important cause of destruction of many species at once. It is imperative that we take all necessary precautions to prevent such avoidable disasters. Also cigarette butts take about two to twenty-five years to biodegrade, if ingested by wildlife animals or marine life it’s often fatal for them.
    Pic credits: pixabay.com
    Avoid smoking; if not please dispose your cigarette butts carefully!

     

  7. Learn to be ethical in the forests. Photographs are one of the essentials in a traveler’s diary. Learn photography ethics or simply talk to the experts to get an idea of how to click wildlife without disturbing them. Here are some links to help you:
    http://www.digicamhelp.com/how-to/nature/wildlife-photography-ethics/
    http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/nature-photography-ethics-and-conservation-issues/

    I personally like distant photography. This photograph speaks so much about the animal’s habitat. Isn’t it better to capture and witness a Wild Elephant family enjoying at their home. Clicked at Anamalai Tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu.

     

  8. Get involved with organisations who promote eco-tourism in India: You can choose to work and be an active part of non- govt organisations. I would like to list a few names here- bigger organisations like WWF-India and BNHS run tours and events, but also many other independent naturalist and researchers do occasional tours for limited number of people. You must keep an eye on the blog or my facebook page for more info on this-
    Spending time with local communities!
    Spending time with local communities in Hampi and learning about their culture closely!

     

  9. Make Donations: Everyone must make it a point to donate to conservation efforts! If you do not like ecotourism and wish to travel with all your luxuries and disturb nature- then it’s even more imperative to donate to causes that support conservation. Everyone needs to support the cause 🙂
    Here are a few links to help you: https://www.snowleopard.org/shop/index.php?main_page=donate
    http://support.wwfindia.org/index.php?link=1&source=WWF_WEB Pic credits: Pixabay.com

Also just thought of telling you; I have been working independently to support local communities, our natural habitat and smaller home-stays through my travel and blogging across India, any help to my travel fund will be highly appreciated!

So will you become an ecotourist today and forever? Let me know in the comments below.

PS: This article was first published on Holidify.com

 

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Frogs Of Hampi: You Must Check Them Out During Your Visit To The Heritage Town!

Hampi, a UNESCO heritage site is not only rich in its heritage but also unique in its wildlife. The town is slightly touristy and has numerous temples which makes it a very famous tourist spot. In my search to find lesser known places, I ended up staying in the north of Hampi (across the Tungabhadra River) in Sanapur. Sanapur has pristine, undisturbed habitats which are a home for numerous frogs, birds and reptiles. Especially in the rainy season, the paddy fields, adjoining granite monoliths and the mud houses of farmers become a paradise for frogs and toads to breed. If you happen to be in Hampi, anytime during the months of June to September, you will definitely get to see a number of frogs here-

I am in love with these paddyfields, just outside my homestay!
I am in love with these paddyfields, just outside my homestay!

Here are all the frogs that I saw during my visit to Hampi-

The Sri Lankan Painted Frog (Kaloula taprobanica)

This colorful and distinctive frog is about 5 to 6 cms in length. It is stocky with short legs. It is possible to come across this frog in moist places, smaller puddles and near fields. Occasionally, it is possible to find this in your courtyard or your bathroom.

I found him jump below my hammock when I was reading a book in dim light very close to paddyfields at Rambo Homestay

This colorful frog is such a poser!
This colorful frog is such a poser!

Variegata Ramanella (Ramanella variegata)

This frog looks like a tiny birthday balloon with its distinctive fine yellow spots. I am not sure what this loner was doing in my bathroom. But it probably swum through the sewer opening, jumped through the door or was just planning to say “hi” to me. Did you know that this frog has a very large distribution and if you are observant enough, you might just find it in almost any damp places, protected forests, rivers, fields, etc. There are eight species of Ramanella out of which six appear in peninsular India.

Tiny, spotted beauty in your bathroom!
Tiny, spotted beauty in my bathroom!

Common Indian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)

The toad has to make it to my list wherever I go in India. They can be found almost everywhere, a toad, could most likely be. In monsoons, a walk around your own home in a sparkling city can reveal at least one toad. These are super easy to identify- just look for a “V” above the snout with warty skin and dull color.

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That “V” = Common Indian Toad

Common Indian Tree Frog (Polypedates maculatus)

This is apparently a very common frog. It is possible to find one almost anywhere and everywhere, given its distinctive call. It is distributed throughout India as per resources. My frog expert friends tell me- “You should know where to look for this frog”. It lives in the trees and shrubs about 3 to 4 feet above the ground. Occasionally, it climbs down on rocks near puddles and fields and you might be lucky like me to find one.

Chilling on the rock!
Chilling on the rock!

Burrowing frog (Sphaerotheca species)

I came across this species of frog while taking a night stroll. The tiny frogs of this genus have a specialized digging apparatus on their feet. A really funny incident happened when I spotted this one. I was walking on the road and the frog jumped over someone’s feet who was pissing by the side. I am sure I weirded out this man but still managed clicking this one awkward shot in all the smelly area. So now you know where to get this digging frog!

Little digging frog
Little digging frog.

I love these little, slimy creatures. How about you- have you visited Hampi yet?

If not, pack your bags this monsoon for the much needed weekend break and stay at my favorite Homestay to see all the frogs in one go! 

PS: Heartfelt thanks to all my wonderful frog loving friends who helped me with the frog identities and information. For more check the inspiration section!

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Travel lessons- Find your soul, what are you?

The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India
The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India

The sea is so gorgeous. When you stand in front of it, it shows you what space you occupy in this huge world. You’re a tiny speck lost in yourself, difficult to find and constantly fighting with the numerous external and internal factors. Who knows what you are, who you are? No one, but you yourself will find the answer one day.

Some say you must meditate, maintain relationships, listen to your parents, follow your elders/mentors, explore and travel to get there, to lead a happy life. But I doubt! I don’t think anyone can answer it for you.

No one but you will know whether you need meditation, exploration or a relationship! It just takes one moment, one thought, to realize and find your soul. Although when will that thought trigger, no one knows. It isn’t age dependent or time dependent. It just happens, like you fall in love but it is still a mystery.

And whether you have the guts to let that thought run your life defines whether you sail successfully like what a ship is suppose to do or are tied to the shore, which is also what some ships do.

The choice is yours of course!

PS: Show love in the comments, by sharing this with your friends and by helping me fund my travel.

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Snippets from Gokarna: India’s Best Kept Secret Beach?

Since I moved to Manipal in 2012, I have explored more beaches than ever before! I have always loved the sea because I believe, it lets you find your soul. For further clarity you might like to take  Travel Lessons- Find your soul, what are you, by my favorite teacher- The Sea!

Ever since I developed a beautiful relationship with the ocean, I have been on a voyage to discover pristine, undisturbed beach destinations from Gujarat in the North-west, to Kerala in the South-west. I have explored Puducherry in 2015, on the East coast and have been to West Bengal in 2008 but never have I come across something as unique as Gokarna. Gokarna is that place where your body and mind get the much deserved break from the daily hustle and bustle of life! So whenever I feel like relaxing in the arms of wavy blue waters- Gokarna it is with no second thought!

I pen this as my flight takes off and flies over the Indian Ocean. So here’s a soulful photo journey of this secret beach in India-

The beaches are clean and gorgeous unlike anywhere else in the country

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The food here drives me crazy. Soulful western food prepared by the locals is a must have on Kudle beach (think scrambled eggs, sausages and pancakes!)

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I loved my stay at the organic shacks made up of bamboo and hay. And as I was ready for anything which comes my way thanks to all the products I bought at top10bestpro.com I was simply worry free. If you happen to go to Gokarna, you must stay in these shacks and not the cemented hotels that are now coming up and promote unsustainable tourism!

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Om beach is famous for its spiritual significance and Lord Shiva’s temple. Also it has the famous Namaste Cafe (Although I personally don’t like this place- neither their food nor service is as good as claimed on the internet). I’d rather trek to Kudle and eat the inexpensive, delicious meals made by the locals!

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The best place to visit with your friends, if you already have great buddies who travel, else you could be just lucky enough to find a whole new gang!

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The trek from the Kudle beach to the Om Beach is a must try- because you might lose your way and end up at beautiful locations, like this-

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The whole town can be covered by foot, at least that’s what I did when I was travelling. I bumped into an adorable pair of Tawny-bellied Babblers who were busy setting up their house. 

Unfortunately I couldn’t capture both in one frame 🙂

Unfortunately I couldn't capture both in one frame :)

There are numerous small treks to explore- This trek to the abandoned ruins of the  Kudle Fort is one of my favorites. It gives you a beautiful view of the horizon where the sea kisses the sky and you’d desperately want to fly, if you’re not flying already!

All this with a handful of tourists, no plastic in the sea, no black oily extracts on the beach- just some gorgeous birds and frogs to welcome you. Now this is what I call a “paradise beach destination”. Gokarna’s Kudle beach is by far my favorite beach in India. And I strongly believe that it is probably one of the most well kept secret beaches.

Will you travel eco-friendly in Gokarna? If you’ve already traveled, what are some of your fond memories from this little pristine beach town?

Would love to hear from you! 🙂 

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Spooky Memories From Bisle Rainforest Within The Western Ghats Of India

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Rain hug- that’s my way of showing love!

I love the monsoons. Unlike most people who complain of the rains as messy, dirty or a season of inactive gloomy life, I set out on explorations to discover the hidden world unknown.

You must let the rain kiss you, let it beat upon your head and let it sing you a lullaby to discover new life springing out of everywhere!

1. I spent ten rainy days in a rain-forest, take a glimpse into that world beyond ours!I set out in my car and drove three hours straight. With constant lactic acid build up, there was a need to stretch. Finding a place was really difficult so I stopped by the side!

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 2. One more hour of driving and I was off into the wild.

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 3. With every turn, the forest grew greener and darker. Although I loved each turn as I cuddled in nature’s lap

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 4. There is simply nothing as beautiful as listening to showers and soaking in your own thoughts

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 5. With all that love the clouds went hard on me, I took shelter and promised I won’t leave all night

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 6. After a peaceful sleep, I woke up to a dark morning

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 7. Went out to discover hidden life on an unknown path, although I knew it was safe because it was GREEN!

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 8. As I walked I came across smaller beings bustling with life, creatures no one usually marvels at! And probably this little blood sucker is enough to keep people away from the rain forests

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9. Wait, there is more to life!

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 10. By far he is my favorite, I spent hours watching him hunt frogs and swim in the water

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So when I looked deep inside, the clouds smiled at me. We had developed a great relationship after spending 9 drenched days cuddled together.

On the tenth day the sun came up to bid me farewell!

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PS: Any help to my travel fund will be highly appreciated!
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