Monday, December 31, 2012

Three male Tigers electrocuted around Bandhavgarh in Nov Dec a

It is pity that we don't find any proper record of Tigers outside of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.Tiger which died near Khitauli was actually carrying a cow when he hit the live wire and fell on it. Position of his mouth was still close to cow's neck, His face,belly and hind portion were completely burnt. In my opinion it was a simple accident. Tiger was male.

Second incident happened near Shahdol where poachers laid out the electric trap for Wild Boar and they got the Tiger.
This was also male Tiger.

In a very similar incident another male Tiger was electrocuted near Katni.
This was a very beautiful young male Tiger.
Why all these male Tigers were roaming so far away from the forest? This is the question I am being asked quite a few times in last few weeks. My answer is No they were in perfect jungle. Tiger near Katni was hardly 5-6 km away in crow flight from Katni town. He must have been surviving on cattle and he must had a huge territory. That's why his cattle kills were never reported from one area or he was never treated as menace by villagers.
There are quite a few Tigers reported around Shahdol. That area have good forest and prey base for Tigers include Cattle. 
Male Tiger that died in Khitauli was between two ranges of Bandhavgarh so that must have born and brought up in some part of Bandhavgarh.
What I understood from these three cases is that male are moved out of park area and they are moving far away from surrounding area of park. This shows that hardly any space left for more male Tigers around here.
What ever the case but I don't want to see any more dead Tigers here. Hope 2013 will give us better hope of their survival than this year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kabir Panth Pilgrimage in Bandhavgarh India

Wednesday was rightly chosen for this pilgrimage this year. There were much more pilgrims than last year. I have my own doubts on me writing them as pilgrims because Kabir never wanted to start his own sect. I am still not able to get the right figure for today's pilgrims entered the park but in any case they were far more than last year. Last year figure was only below 15 thousand. One thing I could not understood that why this was advertised as Bandhavgarh Yatra by them. 

Today morning Shashi aka Bamera male walked in to Chakradhara meadow and finally found the resting place in Charanganga just after Jamunia junction. He stayed there till 10 AM holding the pilgrimage at Tala entry gate. Forest officers  (Mr Sharma and Mr Mishra)did a remarkable job in controlling the crowd although they had to face quite a few adverse remarks in the process but they never lost their cool.

Guides volunteered their services in controlling the crowd from breaking the bamboo stick and using shortcuts in hills. Last time few people slipped and injured themselves in using the slippery shortcuts.
Best thing happened this year was that whole crowd was stopped near Banyan tree at main entrance near river.

Pilgrimage started at 10 AM and people were stopped entering the park at mid day. People who could not reach Sheshshaiyya by 1300 hours were not allowed to proceed further. At about 1430 they were asked to start their return journey.

Some people have faith that they should have a bath before starting the pilgrimage. Morning was cold. They forced themselves to complete the rituals and some even did not let their underwear get wet. It was the biggest crowd gathering what the Tala village has seen in last few decades. One who could afford were sleeping in hotels with comfort, others found the rooms in village houses and rest spent the night under open sky near fire.

I hope few villagers has got the idea of having a one or two room in their houses for Tourists to gain some extra income. They should start Home Stay type accommodation. 
Forest department has to clear the rubbish in next few days from the park and villagers has to face the stinky smell for a week. Park Director himself was in the park till dark making sure that no one was left behind.     

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Lakshmi got killed in Bandhavgarh??

Lakshmi, was the daughter of Pyari from her second litter born in April 2002. She formed her territory next to her mother in a thin long strip of forest from Judwani - Jamunia to Chorbehra - Dhobiakhol - Thauni with some part of Chakradhara meadow. Chakradhara was owned by her mother so they had a very quite understanding about the area they posses. There is no record of any fight between them was ever recorded.
At one time when Pyari and Durga's movement were restricted in to a small area of their territory, Lakshmi claimed a good chunk of forest from their territories.
Lakshmi never had good prey base in her area. Often she use to leap over the fence to look for some easy prey in village area. In one of these outings she got her hind leg caught in fence and pulled the muscle very badly. After this incident she was never able to put her weight on this leg and limped for rest of her life.
Once her mother left the area and a new young tigress came in she started facing more challenge in her territory. By this time she herself was finding it difficult to feed her cubs or feed herself regularly on natural prey. Park authorities knew this fact very well. So they started feeding her on live bait. Tourism drivers knew this fact very well. Sometime when they were under heavy pressure of finding a tiger for their tourists some of them sneak to Judwani to have a quick glimpse of tigers. Often Lakshmi with her cubs was sitting near Judwani pool with a gifted meal.
When this new tigress started exploring the area she found this spot too where she could see Lakshmi enjoying her meals. She must have imagined this area as a very rich in prey base without knowing that all these meals are not earned by Lakshmi but gifted.
She started chasing Lakshmi. 
Most of their encounters took place in Chorbehra. Lakshmi could have come out as winner if she would have had the strength to hold herself for few more minutes on her hind legs. She got a very good grip on the face of this intruder tigress but because she was almost disabled from her one hind leg she may not had the power to hold the fatal grip for long enough to win the battle. Without getting herself injured Lakshmi injured her very badly on the face. One of Lakshmi's right top canine almost punctured her left eye. A big wound near the eye and another canine wound on right nostril made her bleed for months. Luckily no maggots were formed in these two open wounds.
Fierce fighting on few occasions set their rivalry strong. Now this intruder was always looking for Lakshmi. Lakshmi started keeping her cubs away from Judwani Chorbehra area. She found a safe and secluded pool before Thauni near main road Siddhbaba but hunger often brought her back to Judwani for free meal.
On one of these occasions when she came to check the free meal instead she found the intruder on road. She ran towards hill for safety but not for long. She was attacked from the back and that evening the intruder win the battle for good.
Cannibalism is reported in tigers. Most of Lakshmi's body was eaten by this intruder. Domestic cats eat their dead babies or first time mother cat often eats their babies in confusion or pain. A small piece of Lakshmi's hind leg portion ascertain her identity.
Intruder is now known as Vijaya means Victorious.   


    










    

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vijya's cubs

Our first sighting of Vijya's cubs was on 17th December.
Some tourists saw them in the morning around Badi Gufa. As usual we entered the park late. We were not in a hurry so we were literally going very slow. We checked Gopalpur where not a single Lapwing was sighted. We did not met any other jeep in the park so far. Jungle looked very quite. No alarm call of any sort. It was Kay who called first Tiger, and there we saw a cub running crossing the road about 200 meters away from us. 

When we stopped she suddenly said there is another one drinking. Now we had enough time to park at appropriate place. The cub who ran away was V2 and his other sibling V1 was busy drinking from a smallest dirty puddle. When we checked this puddle there was hardly a liter water was left. He drank for about solid ten minutes then stroll back slowly in the forest to join his other siblings.

Two days later we were visiting Magadhi zone when Premlal Guide brought some pictures of these cubs to be uploaded on Tiger Nation. We had another entry ticket for Tala zone for 21st Dec morning As per our allocated route we were suppose to reach Sheshshaiyya in the last lag of our route. Jeeps met us at Rampur hill told us the story of another good sighting of these cubs at Sheshshaiyya. Another jeep at Ganesh Pahadi showed us the spot at Sheshshaiyya. 

We found these cubs walking on hill slope. V2 who ran away on other day was playing with his sister today.

They were sitting very close to the road so other jeeps a head of us on road had better view of these cubs playing.
At last word reached to the forest department about these cubs near the road so Rapid Action Vehicle came for their rescue?? 














  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tiger electrocuted in Majhgawan Shahdol.

A tiger was electrocuted by few young man in Majhgawan forest near Shahdol. They never intended to kill a Tiger. They just laid an electric trap for wild boar or some deer. They put a live wire about more than 200 meter long on ground connected to 11 KV line. When they heard some short circuit noise they thought they got the wild boar. When they saw their bounty they were shocked and scared. They collected the wire and rolled him over in near by  nallah. Later in the day they discussed the matter with other close associates who happen to be their relatives. Some one suggested them about the money they can fetch by selling the skin so next night they came back again to skin it. 
Crows and vultures found the carcass. Most of the organs and intestine were eaten by them. Blue bottle and other flies laid their eggs so maggots started eating the flesh.
This Tiger has a very different stripe pattern than what we see in Bandhavgarh. Majority of Tiger population in Bandhavgarh is from Sita's bloodline and this tiger is different. This is a good news as far as the genetics are concerned. This different bloodline will be very helpful in future if they mix up with Sita's bloodline. 
   

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gautam, The Dominant Male Elephant of Bandhavgarh

Nayar Mahavat along with his family, Kuttappan and Gautam elephant reached Itarsi on 1st August 1971. Nayar Chachi remembers the day too. It was sunday when we reached Itarsi Hoshangabad and then to Bori. Kuttappan was a young man and so the Gautam. Kuttappan thinks "he must be around 18 yrs of age when we reached Bori." By this he is around 60 yrs of age. 
Nayar was the mahavat and Kuttappan as chara cutter when Gautam reached Bori in August 1971. Nayar Chachi says Gautam still listens to me. I was his chara cutter. I cooked his food and fed him. Chara cutter use to just bring him from the forest put the hauda and give him a nice scrubby bath in river. Chachi dont like today's chara cutter. " They have spoiled my elephant. Look at his tusk?? Now they looks yellow. No one cleans the mud from his tows or between from his tusk and lip. He looks dirty. He should be given a proper scrub with stone at the time of bath. Yes Gautam does not looks fit to his age. 

Kuttappan became the Mahavat on Gautam after Nayar's death. This was a great loss for Gautam because now he lost the soft touch of his caretaker Chachi. Chachi was a non paid chara cutter of Gautam. She was never paid any money but because that was the elephant her husband use to ride she took care of him. 
When I was posted in White Tiger I remember Chachi coming up to the fence to call Gautam for food. Gautam use to run hobbling. I saw Gautam obeying all sort of verbal commands. Nayar use to tackle him well. Gautam use to almost stand on his hind legs to reach top of the tree.
Lata, Tara, Toofan and Anarkali consist his harem. He was the sole male here as Shivaji was the young male in Kanha. Dev Bahadur was getting old and so it's Mahavat Imamuddin. This made Shivaji to become a dominant male there.
First elephant calf from captive elephants in M.P. National Parks was born in Bandhavgarh in year 1983. Gautam sired it. In fact no one had any clue about the pregnancy. Female was working till last evening. When chara cutters went to bring the elephants back in the morning they found an extra body there. Chara cutter ran straight to inform Tala Ranger (Late Ashutosh Dubey) with this extra ordinary news. We saw Bandhavgaj suckling surrounded by all the females.
Bandhavgaj did not survive long. He died of poor medication. Badhaini, Sundargaj, Vanraj, Siddhnath, Sudarshini and Ashtam are the few elephants that were born here. Gautam sire them all. 
Gautam lived with Nayar family for good twenty years of his life. He became use to of TLC rendered by Chachi. Then suddenly he was given to Kuttappan. 
Kuttappan was good but all other jobs that were done by Chachi were missing from Gautam's life. Gautam lost his old master.
One day Gautam was ferrying tourists in a Tiger show. Suddenly Kuttappan dropped his Ankush. He got off to collect the Ankush but now Gautam refused to get him climb back on his back.
Kuttappan decided to take him back to Bathan camp on foot from Mahaman pool. We thought this could be risky. So Kay and me followed Gautam in our good old Greeny. 
Now when I think about this I feel it as one of my most foolish mistakes.
If Gautam turns on Kuttappan we were not in a position to help him?
And if he turns back on us Kuttappan was not in a position to help us, neither I was in a position to reverse my vehicle that fast.
Some where near Badhaini junction we found Phool Singh coming on Siddh Nath. He put his elephant next to Gautam only then Kuttappan could jump on his elephant.
Gautam is a very short tempered male. I think they all are.
Once I saw Kuttappan riding Siddh Nath in Chorbehra. While I was talking to Kuttappan about tiger presence in the area, Siddhnath sniffed my both hands, found empty, lost his temper and by the time I or Kuttappan could think off what he is doing he threw me over the Gypsy.
I was put on the back seat of Gypsy, almost unconscious.
Later on doctors found four fractured ribs. Those few months were very painful. But I learned my lesson to never feed an elephant with tit bits. Even if you want to feed him then let the mahavat feed him.
Every time Sundargaj comes close to any jeep his trunk starts exploring all the bags. Some tourists lost their lens and once I lost a bean bag.
Gautam is still a dominant male here even in the presence of Sundargaj and Vanraj. Last month one night he hobbled all the way from Amanallah to Charanganga to hit Indrajeet. 
Gautam is in his prime age. At present he is in Mast. Few days back he chased jeeps at the gate. Ultimately jeeps has to enter the park from forest rest house. Yesterday afternoon we saw him in Bhitri. He is in mast, and wants to be left in the company of elephants he likes. 

Now he has gone very slow. It doesn't mean that he has become old? No, it's the mahavat who has made him lethargic. Now they use him in training the other elephant like this wild elephant. who is chained with his hind legs to follow him in the jungle.

Gautam is another elephant with character. 
We wish him a good life with lots of TLC, which is rare to find in Mahavats world now.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A lot is being said about this Tiger who died in Khitauli range.
What I could make out from that scene and from those two dead bodies is that this male Tiger killed the cow some where close to road or for him that place was not peaceful enough to eat the meal so he was dragging this cow to a safer place and in the process he hit the live wire with 11 Thousand volt current. This shock was good enough to put him down instantly so his body fell on wire. He could not change his position or there is no sign of struggle. He died instantly. His face was burnt instantly and when he fell on wire his stomach and hind portion must have burnt in quite some time. In my photograph one can see the burnt stumps of his ribs. Every single organ in his stomach was burnt. I showed his burnt malehood to Mr Khare from WPSI and Mr Pushpendra Dwivedi, Journalist from Umaria. we are sure that it was a male Tiger. We tried to identify him but failed. In our opinion he was a male tiger that was born in Khitauli Magadhi area in last 8-10 years. 
No one raised any question about the loose hanging electric wire??
Both the animals body were laying there since more than 36 hours as we could see the similar size maggots on both.
A tragic end to a beautiful Tiger and poor farmer lost the compensation money for his cattle.     

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Indrajeet died day before yesterday.

In last one month every time I entered the park I saw poor Indrajeet tied to a tree near Charanganga. He looks sad, slow in his actions and restless. On 22nd afternoon I saw whole team of forest officials around him. Presence of Water tanker raised few questions in my mind. What is happening?? Are they tranquilizing him and needs water to keep him cool? Gypsy has a ladder and some pipe in it.
I asked vet and he said no he is constipated so we are treating him.
My reply was even if you leave him alone I think he will die in a month or fortnight. I see him loosing weight constantly since last one month.
Conversation ends.
Yesterday morning at 0500 AM,  Hariom, my younger brother told me that Indrajeet is dead.
All those memories of seeing all those Tigers from Indrajeets back came in my mind. best was with gordon 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

T.B Infested deer in Bandhavgarh

This is not the first time when I have photographed deer infested with T.B. in Bandhavgarh. I have seen Sambhar, Spotted deer, Wild Boar and Barking Deer in similar condition.
Don't want to write much about this because it will be just a repeat of my some other blog.
This picture was taken near Muram Pit on Rajbehra road near Badhaini hill. More than a mile away from entrance gate in crow flight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Indrajeet.

Forest department of M.P. bought Indrajeet from Sonpur animal fair. His purchase is recorded on some documentary. When he reached Kanha National Park he was limping with one of his hind leg. He was kept in Kisli under Sabir Mahavat. Who traied him well. My friend Ramchandran's, who was Range officer Kisli at that time, son Vinod use to call him langdi haathi. Then Vinod was about two or three yrs old. At that age he became expert in changing the jeep gear while I drive. 
Indrajeet spent few years in Kisli and I think that was the best time of his life. In late 80's he was sent to Bandhavgarh. None of the good Mahavat's were free to take charge of him so he was given to some new characutters. He never liked them. He lost his Master who use to love him and take him for bath in river. I saw him obeying each and every verbal command in those days. Sabir and his chara cutter never even used a stick to trained him. And here in Bandhavgarh, Chara cutter used spear to make him obey the command. I have seen poor Indrajeet lying in river and spear put right next to his head in sand. He never liked these Mahavat's here. Quite a few times he chased his chara cutter and Mahavat. At one time we were thinking that Sultan will make a very good Mahavat in coming times but suddenly one day he resigned from the job. Sultan was chased by Indrajeet. Then and there he decided that this is not a safe job. Today he works for some lodge.
As I mentioned in my previous blog that after reaching here he lost his Master, family, friends, status and all that TLC that he became use to in Kanha. Here he was hated by other dominant male elephant. All the females never supported him. He lived here a very frustrated life. Few years back some idiot cut his tusk raw. He was in pain. Imagine the pain with maggots deep in the tusk almost close to his eye. Almost for a year he was tied to a tree and food was thrown to him. Tourists were not allowed to go near him or to that camp. After almost three years still his tusk cavity is filled with some medicine and sealed with plaster of paris. At present he is in Mad or Mast. Now even the Mahavat can't go near him. I am just told that chara cutter still throws Roti towards him. He is tied to a tree in Charanganga.    
I wish an early death to this elephant. I think that is the best for him. He never had a happy life here in Bandhavgarh. Once an elephant was required in Pench so the then Director decided to transfer Indrajeet. Within few months he himself got transferred to Pench. He saw Indrajeet there and sent a report that this is an useless elephant so should be sent back to Bandhavgarh. Poor Indrajeet again landed back in Bandhavgarh.
He literally killed Chanchal Pyari. A tiger Show was going on at Judwani junction on Barua Nala Road. All other females use to prefer Gautam for the job and only Chanchal Pyari never went to Gautam. He tried on her many times but she never allowed him. That day Shuklu was riding on Chanchal Pyari and Mantu on Indrajeet. All the mahavats use to take their elephant away from Indrajeet. Shuklu did the same. But today Indrajeet was thinking different. Tourist were coming back on Indrjeet back after seeing the Tiger, Shuklu was putting Chanchal Pyari next to a jeep to take the next load of tourist for Tiger Show. Suddenly Indrajeet pushed Chanchal Pyari. She tried to control herself from falling over on jeep but she pushed the jeep so badly that that jeep never came back on road again. I was sitting on front seat thinking if I survive I will have to collect some mince meat from back seat. Luckily we all survived but Chanchal Pyari got badly injured internally. Mantu was shocked. He used Ankush to control Indrajeet but he didn't listen to him. Mantu somehow got his tourists off and took Indrajeet back to camp. Chanchal Pyari was in late 40's and died as virgin.
Later he started stroking Badhaini. It was fun to watch him. He use to take so much care of Badhaini that other female elephants became jealous of her. Once Toofaan charged on Badhaini only because Indrajeet gave her some tree bark.
I will write more on this story later. Today Deewali demands more attention then anything else.       

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shashi

After our one game drive in the park on 8th we had another chance to visit the park with our guests. Somehow I dont like to visit Khitauli or Magadhi so often. As Mr Booby Nowis said Sighting in Magadhi are not photographable. I agree with him. Driver's behaviour in Magadhi is very bad. I dont know what they learned in Driver training or they completely ignores the rules. In next few months vehicle nos will be reduced more then it will be even more calm in the jungle. Now jungle looks same as it was 10 yrs back with ten vehicles, + 5 off course, in the afternoon.
Chakradhara is still not sorted. Remval of Sacred munja or elephant grass is not the solution. As we have seen it in past few years that Chakradhara lost its moisture. So to keep the area moist my suggestion is to have broad and long fire lines in the meadow and this will give the same effect as one gets from periodic burning or uprooting of Elephant grass. Spotted deer numbers has gone down in Chakradhara. It could be because of poor habitat and they had to disburse in forest areas.
Absence of Serpent and Changeable Hawk Eagle also proves that there is something wrong in the meadow. Grasses are too tall and coarse.
Why, all of a sudden, there are so many sightings of Leopard??
Tiger population has not gone down but because Tigers in Chakradhara and Banbehi are basically surviving on cattle so spend long time away from their territory that's why Leopards got a chance to recover/survive. Otherwise Leopards always lived under the pressure of Tiger's. We hear more alarm calls for Leopard than for Tiger.
Sanjay, our Driver, is getting better and better year by year. His sighting of Hare in Chakradhara was great. We all would have missed it. Probably he saw him moving.

But in a similar case Kay's sighting of Sirkeer Malkoha was equally good. All what we could see in the bush was two white spots, under tail of Malkoha.
Somehow there are many Amla/Aonla tree, full of fruits, in the  Jungle. Looks like Ranger has done a good job this year. Villagers didn't got the chance to pick it raw for local market. Monkey's are enjoying Aonla. I have just posted a video of this on youtube and on Tiger Nation.

There were some good Sambhar and monkey sightings but nothing unusual. Vulture numbers has gone down more. If last year they were below 100 then this year they are, looks like, about 50.  So far I have not seen more than three vultures sitting on tree near Bathan. Last year there use to be more than a dozen.
I am still not happy with the guides. Most of them told me that Sheshshaiyya is closed. How it can be?? Sheshshaiyya is a landmark for Bandhavgarh National Park. Yesterday again I was told by guide that Sheshshaiyya is closed then I asked the Director and his reply was "never".
God knows how many tourists in last three weeks has left the park without visiting Vishnu statue.
I am amazed that all the hoteliers are worried only about the vehicle nos in the park but none of them has so far approached to the park authorities about fort visit. Fort is still out of Tourist Zone. Looks like everyone is worried about their business but none cares about the tourists. Present Route system is worst. Half of the roads are closed, putting more pressure on roads, increasing silt. I asked Park authorities about fort visit and it will be start from day after tomorrow.
We had three had game drives without a glimpse or any good sign of a Tiger. Yesterday afternoon when we were hardly a kilometer away from the gate we saw the jeep a head of us reversing and asking us to reverse. Bamera is coming was the only hint Pinku gave. We also reversed. We parked our jeeps at Judwani junction. we knew if he has gone in he may come out on this footpath. Noise of leaves cracking and twigs/branches breaking can be heard from more than 100 meter. First noise of leaf breaking made our head turns to each other like confirming or asking Did you hear it?? I stand up to hear it better. We knew that he is coming but "where" is the question.
I put my camera ready for action focusing on footpath. I knew if he is coming he will appear on this footpath later or sooner. Pinku saw him first or he shouted first. That was enough to put camera's in action. It was 17.15 when we saw him first. Anyone shooting on 800 ISO had very little chance of getting a picture. I was four times than that. He came, walked pass us to show us his bum end.

But no, he wanted to oblige us more so he goes straight to a bamboo bush and start sniffing.This he did only because we did not followed him down the road and gave him a chance to do what he feel like to do. Most of the drivers are Tourist / Photographer don't do that. They just push their vehicle right up to his bum. That's why you see funny ears of a Tiger. One ear facing front and other one at back. At this moment a driver of third jeep wants his vehicle to move for better position. This showed his in-experience in the jungle and greediness of the tourists who were asking him to move. Unfortunately I had to shout to stop him from causing a disturbance to the tiger.

I don't know how I was the only one who was shooting in my jeep Kay said that she couldn't see him when he was sniffing the bush. About a meter horizontal distance can make the difference in the jeep.
He stretched his neck, almost in a straight line to his fore legs. He was very interested or confused with the smell on bamboo leaves. He sniffed for quite a long period. I was expecting him to turn around and spray but he left without spraying the bush.Sighting of few seconds looks like of many minutes.
 When he was walking away towards Judwani we decided to reach gate in time. We had 5 more minutes to stay but in that excitement no one looked at the watch. Only Kay reminded us when she got dust in the eyes.
Next morning we were following his pug marks everywhere in the jungle. His pug marks were seen in Barua nala, Ghorademon, Badi Gufa, Chakradhara and he was literally seen at Banbehi and went towards Madoli camp. Shashi still proving his name.
Indrajeet is in mast or something wrong with him. This elephant had a very miserable life. He was bought from Sonpur in a very early tender age. He spent few years with a very good Mahavat in Kanha. When he developed a good rapport with his master and accepted in the family of local elephants there he was transferred to Bandhavgarh. He lost his love ones. He lost his Master. Came to a place who use to treat him with spears. He lost his dignity and status. Initially he was a discarded member of the elephant family here. Gautam was always the dominant male here. He never let him feel independent soul. At one time he was the most frustrated and temperamental elephant in Bandhavgarh. Badhaini use to comfort him. But before that he tried on Chanchal Pyari. She was virgin never liked the company of any male for that reason. One day Indrajeet pushed her so hard that she fell on a jeep, full of Foreign Tourist and unfortunately I was leading the group, got up but never recovered and died within a month.
Indrajeet looks thinner than Sundargaj or Gautam. I hope he is alright. He is a very good elephant. After Sabir in Kanha he never had a TLC from any other Mahavat here. Most of the Mahavat now are basically characutter or you can grade them below than that. Forest department never looked after their elephants properly either. Mahavats are used as a driver. They never developed a rapport with the animal they are with.
                   

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Visit to Forest of Betul area in M.P.

This was a long pending visit since last one year. I reached Betul early in the morning and within hours I was deep in the forest.
I was following the few names mentioned by Late Sh Jamshed Butt in his book but I couldn't find any except Padhar.
I travelled about 200 km in 2 days time and stayed on the bank of Moran river without hearing a single alarm call of any sort.
Most of the area I saw was a young forest. Some of the area were under teak and bamboo plantation. These are one of the best plantations ever I have seen in my life. Here I saw that how villagers are mis using the Forest Act. Now they just makes a tree guard in middle of the forest and through some Mango seeds in it later they erect a temporary hutment in the name of protecting the plants to claim the land for farming later on.
  Only animal sign that I could find along the Moran river were Flying Squirral, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Blue Bull, Jackal, and Hyena. I never thought that wildlife density will be so poor here.
Staying in a small hutment was fun. Never realised that there was no electricity. Had a sound sleep of more than 8 hours and by 0530 in the morning I was out to check the mist.
Butterfly density along Moran river was very good. I saw more than 30 no's of Lemon Pansy within an area of 1000 sq ft feeding on wild flowers. Except Grey Pansy all the other pansy butterflies were seen. Yellow Pansy was lowest in number. Plenty of swifts and Bob but I didn't photograph any. For Swifts and Bob identification one should have open and close wing photograph otherwise even the experts will comments "swiftly can't say which swift is this". 
  Lime butterfly was seen in good numbers roosting in middle of forest. There was no citrus tree around so they must be breeding on some other tree specie in the forest. Other butterfly I was happy to photograph was Painted Lady. She was seen in different sizes means scarcity of larval host plant.
   We saw a sign Kodaroti on NH 59. Instantly I became curious to know about this KODAROTI. It is a village about 4.5 km from main road. At one time this village did not had any irrigation facility and villagers were solely dependent on monsoon rain to grow the crops. Only crop they could grow was Kodo, a kind of rice. They use to cook it as rice and use to make the chapati of it by mixing some wheat flour. I don't understand this. To me it looks completely impossible but I am writing here what I heard. So that is how it got it's name Kodaroti.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First visit of the season to Khitauli zone, Bandhavgarh.

This was our first visit to Khitauli this season. Online booking has made a hell of a difference in choosing the park visit. We saw that hardly anybody is going to Khitauli so we decided to book an entry for morning. By the time we reached at Garhpuri entry gate few vehicles were already in. This was due to the sighting of a Leopard with cub and Tigress in Damdama yesterday. Gateman told us that she was near Damdama this morning. 
Jungle was green with thick undergrowth. Khitauli jungle is similar to Tala range 30 yrs back.
We didn't see any Tiger or Leopard but did hear few alarm calls. Some very frisky Bluebull and Sambar were seen.
Spotted Deer size in Khitauli looks bigger than Tala range animal.
Best sighting of the day in Khitauli was a flock of Black Ibis at Majholi pond. 
    

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Leopard on road.

In that chaotic Tala zone of Bandhavgarh finding a peaceful spot was completely impossible.
We entered late only to avoid the dust and racing drivers. Most of the tourists don't stop for small things and if you are trying to photograph a monkey or spotted deer in early morning light then get ready to cover in dust because these drivers will pass you from either side of the road without taking any note of your subject. All the deers in Chakradhjara were grazing in the area where grasses were uprooted and new shoots were available to graze. To bring back the old magic of Chakradhara meadow it need to have long and wide strips of Fireline to be cut as was the case in 90's. Deers use to graze in these firelines and tigers use to watch their prey from tall grass. Sometimes Lesser Adjutant use to join Spotted Deer herd in these firelines. Serpent Eagles were always perched around these firelines. Sight of Black wing Kite hovering for rodents is rarity now. In my opinion grasses in Chakradhara are unpalatable and too tall for a good deer habitat.
50 jeeps in the park and with new route system one don't have any chance to watch any animal in peace. Just to avoid the crowd we decided to visit Sheshshaiyya first. It's a wonderful place. Calm and quite. Some butterflies and birds always keeps you busy there. Khirki and Chua were also quite but many jeeps gathered at Damna. Here monkey alarm calls were coming from both side of the road. Within few minutes I realised that these alarm calls are not going to produce any result. There were few more jeeps waiting before Andhiyari jhiriya camp but we kept on moving. When we were coming back from Hardiya Sanjay Driver and Tejbhan Guide both shouted Tiger Tiger. I said look it carefully it's a Leopard. Yes it was a Leopard about 100 meters away from us strolling across the road. He glanced at us before disappearing in the forest.

I will say it was a good sighting although it did not produced any good picture.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wakeeta.

On our first day in the park we did not see any tiger and none were seen for the next two days. How the tigers are so elusive in Bandhavgarh?
We entered the park again today. I accompany three guests who are staying with us at the moment. They were thinking all sorts of stories about the Tiger. They never saw one in the wild before.
Kalicharan served the coffee a few minutes before schedule time only because I asked him to do so because almost everyone was awake by 5.15 AM. Sanjay was gone to check the entry ticket. I got out with my tools by 0600 AM, Elisabeth and Stine were waiting anxiously but Till Nafe was still watching the minute details of make up. 
We start in time to reach the entry gate. Last night we heard that carrying capacity is being increased to 48 vehicles in a day, still a rumour going on about 110 vehicles. I have no idea how this rumour started and how they can push it to that high.
Only six vehicles at the gate, rest must have been still sorting their entry tickets.
Nice crisp and cool air, trees and grasses alongside road are shiny green, no trace of dust yet. We didn't see any animal until we reached Chakradhara. Two good herd of spotted deer were grazing on either side of the road.
Pugmarks of a male tiger were seen going towards Jamunia and Chorbehra.This male Tiger came from Ghodademon road and walk all the way to chorbehra and beyond. Vijaya was moving with her cubs in Chakradhara to Gopalpur to Badi Gufa and cut short to Kila rd to bottom of Sheshshaiyya. We thought to take that chance of Sheshshaiyya, if we see a tiger well and good otherwise we will see the Sheshshaiyya, one of the most important monument in Bandhavgarh.
We herd few Barking Deer alarm calls coming from kila road. So she is resting in that area with her cubs. Kila road is out of bound for tourism so we decided to move on towards our allocated route B. 
Nothing was seen till Hardia. Now when we don't have any tiger show then I don't see any point in going to Hardia for registration. This is an utter wastage of prime time in the jungle.Some jeep drivers guides heard few alarm calls near old Aama nallah camp so we chose to go back via that road but no clue or alarm calls. I wanted to check some Barleria flowers but there was not enough time left so I didn't ask him to stop.
We saw few jeeps waiting in Barua nallah. Tourists from these jeeps asked us to stop so we stopped. Tiger was miles away from us. She cross the road between two jeeps ahead of us. Luckily she moved towards dry river bed and that was good for us because she was going to come down in clear sand.
She came out of the forest and disappeared in thick undergrowth again. She is in good health. Her cubs must be about 18 months old and semi independent. Killing small prey for themselves.
Last few minutes in the park were very dusty. Luckily we all came out of park in time. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ranchha Land

I bought this land in mid 90's in Ranchha village, 3 km from Tala, and that time we dreamt living on this land. It was as barren as it is today. After buying the land we dig up the well for irrigation, put 100's of fruit plants with drip irrigation system, put a pump house near well and started constructing a two room house for ourselves. There was no electricity nearby that time and nor it's today. Fruit trees started giving fruits and everything was growing well on the land but all of a sudden one night all the drip irrigation system was stolen. Watchman refuse to take the responsibility of protection and slowly slowly we also ignored the land. All those fruit trees died in young age. We stopped visiting the land. In last 10 years probably we have not visited this land more than once a year.
Last year was the worst. Person who used the land for farming even did not had courtesy to pay the money, share the crop or at least say thank you for using the land. This made me think to use the land properly again.
Choosing the fruit tree variety is a problem. We need fruit trees which are avoided by monkey's and parakeet's??
Your suggestions are welcome.
     

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drama at Umaria Station

I reached Umaria station well before right time of the Utkal to find out train is more than an hour late. I put my bag near railway bridge stairs and stood around. Just before the announcement of train arrival I saw a man coming down the stairs staring at my bag. I observed him and thought this could be interesting. I started looking at other side. Initially this man stood at about ten feet away from my bag and started moving closer to it bit by bit. Second announcement of train arrival and this man is standing almost right next to my bag and I am about 15 feet away from it. He has a black small black bag hanging  on his shoulder, wearing shirt and trouser with bare feet. The quality of that bag and the condition of his clothes did not match at all. .Scruffy looking man having a very good condition quality bag was suspicious. If I would have seen any RPF man their I would have asked them to search his bag.  Train is still over a mile away but one can hear it when it crosses over a bridge, a minute later I saw the headlight of train engine and this man moving more closer to my bag. My compartment did not arrived at the spot normally it comes right under the bridge. today it was about another 100 metres from the bridge. I started looking at train as I am waiting for someone coming from this train. Train stopped and both of us did not moved. Now it's more than a minute I am staring at train and keeping an eye on my bag. Now this man is confident that I am not the owner of this bag and he can claim it. Only mistake he did was that when he tried to put his hand on my bag he put his whole attention on the bag. It all happened in less than a second. I moved like a lightning and slapped him hard on his right side of his face. He was shocked surprised and started crying. I thought this man may have some weapon with him so I hold his both hands tightly. If I had time I could have made a bundle of minced meat. I am holding his both the hands and shouting RPF RPF RPF but there is no one. I wanted to hand over him to the police or someone who could take him to the police. About 50 or more spectators are around me now. Not a single one asked me what's the matter and neither they helped. At last I had to board the train so I let him loose. At one point he was bagging to let him go and at last he was saying I did not touch your bag.When people says that India is a country of spectators (yah tamashbeeno ka desh he, bandar nachaane par bhi sekdo ki bheed jama ho jaati he) I accept it coolly because I have the same opinion.
I think Umaria police needs to keep an eye on railway station.
By the time I am writing this in the train all the vendors of Pantry Car are asking me about last nights incident. If anyone of them would have helped I may have taken him in the train. Anyway train is running 40 minutes late. Pantry car served Upma and tea so I am happy with breakfast.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bharatpur

Bharatpur is full of water this year. Good rain and water coming from all the available sources makes birds and birders happy this year. Unfortunately the bird nesting is not in that good numbers as I was expecting. First time I visited Bharatpur was in 1979,I was sent their  by my employer on a 2 week tour to learn more about birds. That year Painted Storks were breeding on every available tree. Trees around Shanti Kutir and Forest Lodge were full of them. Now one has to walk almost up to the last end of the straight road to reach nesting site, just before the temple junction. 
I was disappointed with the weather. I reached Bharatpur on a sunny afternoon and got up next morning to a gloomy-cloudy day. Wet weather put all the butterflies away. There was hardly any photographable butterfly seen during my two days visit. 
Other thing that disappointed me most was the growth of Parthenium hysterophus, a very invasive weed from latin america. It's leaves are like carrot so locally it's known as Gajar ghaas. White flowers equivalent to the size of floss flower makes it a truly nuisance for any kind of wildlife habitat. I wonder why this plant is
not uprooted in the beginning of monsoon. Now it will take minimum two years to remove it completely from the area. Other thing what I saw was other weeds growing in the area that was burnt last year. Fire needs to be used as a tool otherwise its side effects on grassland are always negative. Mr H S Panwar, ex Director Project Tiger wrote a complete guide book on grass burning when he was Director Kanha National Park. 
I hope my next visit in December will be better than previous few years.

New Cattle Class in Indian Railway

I boarded the Gondwana express train in third A/C from Agra Cantt for my onward journey to Katni. I had a second A/C  RAC ticket for 9th September but cut short my stay in Bharatpur due to rain. 
I wanted to get my ticket upgraded to second a/c but TC confirmed me NO ROOM while two attendants assured me to get a seat in second A/C. One of them did gave me a hint about his plan. I refused to accept his plan and came back to my seat in third a/c. 
so here i give you the account of this compartment.
There is a family in our block who is travelling only up till Jhansi from Agra. Train has not even passed Agra station, I am waiting for people to give me some space to put my bag underneath and this person asked his wife to bring out some Namkeen. Poor woman has to do what she was told so she opens the bag takes out some namkeen, in the mean time kids saw biscuit packet so they demanded the biscuit. Husband asked her to pour some masala on it, she opens the jar of sainda namak,(rock salt). Instantly it reminded me my school days, standing in chemistry lab and our teacher Mr Dey describing the smell of SO2. Now man is happily munching his namkeen and kids are dropping the biscuit everywhere.Neither of them dare to pick those biscuit pieces from the floor.
My bag is too fat to go under the seat. I asked one of the kid to move his feet so i push it underneath. He asked me Uncle why it's not going? It becomes too fat at the time of journey back home, I replied. His cute answer was You must be wearing winter clothes that,s why it becomes so fat. Swiftly I agreed to him. He felt very proud by his findings.
Next cabin is turned in to a theater by a gentleman who is showing fellow passengers some film on full volume so everyone can hear and understand the dialogue. Even he put the extra speakers on it.  
In third cabin all six people are playing rummy and their voice is disturbing the people watching movie and their argument is disturbing half of the coach passengers. 
Linen bags are scattered all over in the compartment. Tea cups with tea bags are still sitting on table. I think this is Indian male habit who expects women to clear the rubbish and house women rely on House maid. So the place is never clean. This morning I was sitting in my brother in law's house in Agra. Their house maid moved the brush on floor without checking that how much rubbish she is leaving behind. Her major attention was on the kitchen call for tea. On first call she dropped the broom to have her long awaited tea.It took her more than twenty minutes to clean a room of not more than 100 sq ft. So we rely on our women and we (Indians) are use to of sitting with rubbish next to us.
A two year old kid wearing choon choon shoes is running all over in the passage. Parents are telling their co passenger that how cute she / he looks in this shoes.
We have just passed Dholpur. By now most of the passengers are settled in their seats. Women are busy in serving the food to kids and their husbands. Someone is complaining about AC. It makes cold food even more colder and another man is asking the attendants that his ailing mother is feeling cold in this airconditioner. Please ask the ac attendant to increase the temperature or put the blower. Someone suggested to provide her another blanket. Most of the Indian passengers in Third a/c or in some cases in second a/c do not have air condition in their house. They feel cold in train. 
Food smell in the coach at this minute can beat any pickle factory. It's all pickles what we taste while eating our food. I wonder how many of them know the taste of Bottle Gourd (Lauki)? A vegetable rich in minerals. 
Most of the rubbish is being pushed under the seats. So we have to now sleep with pickle smell. A lady is looking for her flip flop? They walked themselves for more than 20 feet from the spot where she put them, she blames passengers for not taking the notice of her flip flop but refuse to accept  her own fault that she did not put them carefully tucked under the seat.
Thanks god, the a/c operator did not put the temp. up. It's nice and cool on upper berth. 
I am waiting for better connectivity of reliance dongal to post this. At last I posted it after reaching home.
  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Janmashtami, it could be last for pilgrimage.

This year Janmashtami was a very low profile celebration in Bandhavgarh. Pilgrims were allowed to go to temple only up till mid day and they had to return before sunset. That was routine even in previous years.
Bandhavgarh witnessed heavy rain on Janmashtami night and morning. Pilgrim rush was low in the morning but increased by 10-1030 AM. But it was too late for many. Once the forest deptt shut the gate at 12 Noon may of pilgrims were looking for an alternate temple to prey. One local person Bramhan by caste just saw the opportunity and started the prayer under Banyan tree near Tala gate where a Shivling is based on a platform. Within minutes he was performing the duty of a priest. That was a great excuse for many pilgrims to offer their prayer. He console many souls.
What I found this year was that there were not more than 5-7% devotees in the crowd rest were picnickers who came here to visit the park / temple because it is free. Most of them were trying to go through shortcuts and trying to have bath in the park. They thought it is a good theme park but were controlled by watchman. I walked with my wife Kay and had to literally (physically) teach the lesson to minimum 3 boys. I came back with a broken umbrella.
I doubt things will be the same next year. Gopalpur pool is not even half full.Chakradhara still looks dry. No Kaans flowers in Chakradhara this year and nor at Thauni. No Tiger was seen by pilgrims this year. It was more or less dry. I didn't see any Chital either. Langur and Chital alarm calls from Ramtalaiyya were probably for Vijaya and her cubs. 

Tala in monsoon.

Tala is a Tourism village. Most (99%)of the families survive on income from tourism industry. Even the people who work as daily wage labour find tourism related work.
 One morning in july second week I just went through Tala village. Most of the shops are closed. Samosa's are not made till 9 AM Vegetable shops are closed since July 1st due to park closure a day before. No Gypsies queued up at main road near barrier or in market.
Village looks very relaxed.
Shopkeepers stop buying new supply in mid June. A huge stock will be complete loss for next 3 months. Small items such as Cornflakes is out of stock in monsoon while in summer one can buy muesli cereal here. Villagers has to rely on Umaria 35 km or Manpur 13 km for vegetables. One shopkeeper found Tala a better option than district town Umaria so he shifted his shop to Tala where he gets business only for 9 months.
If tourism stops the life of these villagers will stop automatically. They wont find any alternate job that easily. Here their savings were high. Living at home and whole family working locally is beneficial to all. Some families have 2-3 people working as guide. Young university pupil find easy job as guide to work in summer and winter holidays. One of them is all set to join the clan, if don't find any other job. This is an easy option, he said.
All these happy living are going to vanish with closure of Tourism industry.





 This is how Tala village will be till 16th of October. Almost dead village without tourism. Think about these Chat thela,s. Poor people has to spend more money on all the decoration and painting again.
But the best was this Tiger who was leaping in air to look for Tourists.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Python surrounded by Peafowl and Lesser Adjutant.


Tala zone in summer is a nightmare for Tourists. We entered the park and saw all the jeeps on that route queued up for a glimpse of Vijaya who was sitting some where behind the grass opposite siddhbaba temple. We pass it coolly to pass some time in Siddhbaba meadow or Gopalpur. What we saw at Gopalpur was a flock of Peafowl along with some Lesser Adjutant making noise. A python must have come for a drink in the morning and got his timings wrong. All these birds attacked on him. He curled up initially but when a Lesser Adjutant pulled his tail he decided to move back to a safer place. This is the time when we started photographing him. Peafowl were interested but scared while young Adjutant were very  interested in attacking on him.
Python, even though it's small but still a very big prey to tackle by Peafowl or Adjutant Stork. Slowly slowly Python found the way to a safe place in a bamboo clump. 

Why locals gets menials job in Hotel Industry.

This is a big question. Many people complaint about this but hardly ever try to understand it. In-fact one cant understand it until you face it. Same question I asked the local Hoteliers and one of them told me the truth. I agree with him and I also have the same opinion about them. Hoteliers claim that 70% of their staff is local. Yes it will be because 70% jobs of total staff strength are always goes to lower staff that comes under House Keeping, Kitchen and Restaurant-Room Service. (Waiter, Kitchen helpers, sweepers Gardner's,watchman etc.) Rarely locals are employed on managerial posts.
Major complaint against the staff is about their habit of holiday. A simple function at home is more important for them than their job. Other thing is their loyalty. They never respect their own work. That's the reason for complaints in House keeping and Restaurant. Never follows the working guidelines. Booze and smoking are hard to give away.
A hotelier wants smooth operation of services at his place. He doesn't wants any hassle in his business. Management wants staff to be present on all working days except their weekly off day. 
So in nutshell I want to say that people show lots of sympathy with the villagers and think they are very simple and honest people while the reality is altogether different. One can realise it only by facing them. 

Tigers in Buffer zone of Bandhavgarh National Park

A part of sky on eastern horizon was bright blue this morning. I thought this could be a good day to explore the Buffer Zone area of Bandhavgarh National Park. Tala village was still a sleep. No reason for them to be up. Most of activities in Tala village dies on 1st july morning. Dhaba's dont open in the morning and neither the samoasa's are fried till 0930 - 10.00  in the morning. After passing the park road junction on main road I saw a glimpse of something yellow behind the bush. I said to myself that it can't be here so to clear my doubts I just turned left and to my surprise surprise, yes he was there. Quickly I lift the camera took a picture to move on.
Jungle has become lush green. Every pit in the jungle has turned in to a perfect water hole. Spotted Deer are all scattered here and there as they don't have to face any competition for food for few months.  I heard some alarm calls between Siddhbaba and Thauni. If it's not a leopard that this could be Vijya, Bamera or Mukunda male. Spotted deer , Langur monkey and Muntjac calls were confirming the presence of a predator. I left after I heard calls moving further away. Thauni meadow has turned in to a good habitat in the monsoon. We saw not one or two but three male Spotted Deer preaching. They are all in rut.  
Bhadrashila pool has attracted lot of birds in the monsoon. Black Ibis must be nesting near by as they are collecting nest material from the pool bank. 
Badhaini hill looks very close to Mahaman village. This village comes under buffer zone. Village dogs are chasing doves and other birds in the field. Some boys are playing near tamarind tree. there is no sign of any tiger movement here. No pugmarks but a tiger is standing on a platform.
I just went to Khitauli and believe it or not I photographed another Tiger there.
So when you will see these pictures you will realise that these are the Tigers we see at present in Buffer zone and they are there all the time.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Why we complaint about our Broadband services??
In Tala village we are always the first to complain about Broadband services provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, a Govt of India owned company. Sometimes we have to send the email to highest authority in the state and believe it or not it works. I have no idea whether this email reaches to concerned person or not but I often get a phone call from his office asking about our Broadband. Again I have n idea whether he knows the importance of this broadband in this village or not but for the locals living here it has become an important part of their livelihood.
Let me tell you first about Tala village.
Tala is situated near main entrance gate of Bandhavgarh National Park and this gate got it's name Tala only becauseit's in close vicinty of Tala village.
Why Broadband is so Important here??
100 % population of Tala village survives on jobs created by Tourism Industry. Hoteliers needs Broadband for all their reservations and communication with their clients and agents and mainly for booking of Online Park entry. Guides, Drivers and Tourists uses broadband to look on Facebook or some other site for the latest news of the park. Instead of asking 50 different people about the park news it's quicker to look at Facebook or on some other social site about Tiger sightings of the day. Some people or so obsessed that they put the picture within an hour coming out of the park.
 Forest department does all his Park entries online so without broadband sometimes park opens late or tourists looses their valuable time waiting at booking window. Every minute waiting at the gate cost Rs 15.54 for an Indian and for foreigner it's Rs 25.83. If broadband services are out of order in the evening then many tourists can,t get their entry online and they lose out the morning safari some time.
Many people like me are 100% dependent on Broadband for our survival. I need to send my pictures to different agencies and Kay my wife updates Bandhavgarh Diary every day on tigernation.org. For us Broadband has become an essential thing in our life. It's like an office key. Without Broadband our office doesn't get open and we looses day's work.
I will say that our country did not invented this technology but as far as the users are concerns they are growing day by day. We are running this system on a borrowed technology in this country. We may have the latest equipments but we are failed to make a good use of them.
Why and where we are lacking in it??
We are lacking because of our mentality of Chalta he. Our technicians don't check the system regularly. They know about the fault in their own office only when someone complaints. It's laziness only because of the Job Security.
I often wonder that how come a person becomes more efficient while working in private company??
 Because there they are answerable to someone.
So they should be here. Are they not??
Why we could not develop that culture in our Govt departments??
I can't answer this question. I am failed to understand the mentality of these people.
 Probably this country has produced too many white collared workers??
So the internet in village Tala today (31st July 2012)is still out of order since last 26 hours.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Leh Laddakh and Dharamshala.

I left Tala in mid June to lead a Tour of Photographers visiting Leh Laddakh. I was really nervous about this tour as how my body will cope with this high altitude situation. You don't want to be sick while leading a tour.
On our first day in Delhi we visited Jama Masjid. Group had some really nice pictures from that visit. Other places that were visited in Delhi were spice market, Humayun's Tomb,Lotus Temple and a Shanti town for some nice colourful doors and wall paintings.
Flight to Leh gives you an idea about the topography of the area. Snow capped mountain peak and snaky village trails looks nice from that height.
We stayed at Hotel Mansarovar. Free WI FI in reception area was a great relief for many guests staying there. Taste wise food was always good but sometimes they serve a pretty odd menu. many of the small Hotels in India are managed by non-professionals who had no idea of anything related to Catering and Housekeeping. Owner at Mansarovar is very helpful and courteous gentleman. He helped us a lot even some time going out of his way. That's the beauty of these people. While camping once we were served Omelet with Pan cake and no Toast or bread. Although this was a different caterer. When you are camping just don't go to look in to the kitchen or the place where they wash utensils.


One of our friend told us that he stopped his tour to Laddakh only because the services were not up to the standard or he was cheated for every service. We had the same problem. We should have had the cars for our entire trip means group could use cars for entire day but a simple de tour may cost you extra half day charge if you are not careful. It was very frustrating. I will suggest people to do some homework on Google and support the local people who provide accommodation in their houses. I think that accommodation will be better than camping. these houses have electricity so easy to charge your batteries. I did this while camping and offered them Rs 50 for each camera and laptop battery and twenty for mobile phone. That was a fantastic arrangement at Hemis and Kurzok village. I am always in favor to support the locals in Tourism.With more support they will be able to provide better facilities to you on your next visit. In Ladakh it's better to have a solar panel for charging your battery. In-fact taxi drivers can do this easily for extra income if they fit a solar panel at car roof and batteries are charged while travelling. 




Most of the Hotels, except Mansarovar in Leh, I stayed were run by most inefficient owners. I always found Housekeeping and service in dining hall little poor. 
When you are visiting these monasteries keep looking for wall paintings. They are superb.
In one of the monastery when me and Jeremy were photographing prayer none of our camera could record the video. God knows what mistake we were doing??  It happened with me twice.
After Ladakh we went to Dharamshala to see His Holiness Dalai Lama's birthday celebration. None of the tourists were allowed to go with camera or any other electronic gadget. I applied for photographers pass. They asked me to show my published work? It was difficult. 
His Holiness Dalai Lama shook hand with every person who came across to him that day. I also got the chance.  
I should have wrote my diary everyday but I was never in a good mood of doing so due to my physical fitness. I was always in pain and worried about my own health. I had to go to doctor thrice in this tour. Now all those things are in my head but words are not coming through. Sorry for that.