Kaas Plateau : Valley Of Flowers

Kaas Plateau Valley of Flowers

Sometime in 2009, we were driving through rural Maharashtra searching for a location for a film shoot. Near Satara, along an unknown hill road, we noticed large patches full of yellow wildflowers. Pleasantly surprised by this phenomenon, we took photographs and moved on. Around 3/4 years later we learnt the location was Kaas Plateau and … Read more Kaas Plateau : Valley Of Flowers

Jhalana : Leopard Sanctuary Inside Jaipur

If there’s one place where you are most likely to spot a leopard, it’s Jhalana Leopard Sanctuary. And it’s right inside the City of Jaipur. Jaipur is a beautiful city to travel to in its own right. With fabulous havelis, palaces, shopping opportunities, food, culture and plenty of heritage. In the middle of all of … Read more Jhalana : Leopard Sanctuary Inside Jaipur

Khem Villas : A Luxury Stay In Ranthambhore

For us, forests are not just about sighting tigers. They are also about the beautiful trees, the grasses, the birds, the reptiles, other mammals… and of course being in touch with the forest itself. Not many places allow this, while giving you the comfort and good food you need. Khem Villas in Ranthambhore National Park … Read more Khem Villas : A Luxury Stay In Ranthambhore

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary : A Brief Visit From Bangalore

On a cloudy, overcast day,we managed to find time to visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, a tiny 40 acre place that sustains so much wildlife. Only some 130 km from Bangalore, one can easily make the trip in a day. The sanctuary is more like a public park, with cemented parking lot, paved walkways etc and … Read more Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary : A Brief Visit From Bangalore

Chikmagalur : A Dreamy Misty Coffee Heaven

Misty trails in Chikmagalur

I never thought, for some reason, that I would like Chikmagalur, having been to Madikeri earlier. And I was more than happy to be proven wrong. Located in the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Hills, Chikmagalur has a mild climate suitable for coffee plantations. Nestled amongst the hills and valleys of the fabulous Western Ghats, Chikmagalur … Read more Chikmagalur : A Dreamy Misty Coffee Heaven

Chambal River Safari : Looking For Ghariyals

Chambal River Safari

Not far from Ranthambhore National Park, barely some 60km away is the magnificent Chambal River, famous for its ravines and once considered the land of dacoits. If you are around, do make it a point to go for the Chambal River Safari, looking for migratory and resident birds, the critically endangered Ghariyal (Gavialis gangeticus), the … Read more Chambal River Safari : Looking For Ghariyals

Tungareshwar : A Wildlife Sanctuary Near Mumbai

Grasshopper in Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary

That Mumbai lies at one end of the Western Ghats can be seen from the beautiful hills just outside this large mega-city. Barely 50-55km from Mumbai, after Sanjay Gandhi National Park ends lies the beautiful forest of Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Located on the hills, the highest point here is about 660 metres. We had driven … Read more Tungareshwar : A Wildlife Sanctuary Near Mumbai

Visiting Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Thanks to the screening of our film ‘Bachelor Girls’ in San Francisco and Oakland, we were traveling in California. And no trip to California is complete without visiting its fabulous outdoors with Yosemite National Park on top on our list. Yosemite National Park lies in the Western part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the … Read more Visiting Yosemite National Park

Sequoia National Park: In The Snow

Sequoia Tree Trunk

One of our main excitement for visiting Yosemite National Park was getting to see  the Giant Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganticum). These beautiful trees can grow to over 300 feet in height and about 30 feet in diameter, making them the largest living things by volume! And they are only found in select groves (most of … Read more Sequoia National Park: In The Snow

Sangla Valley : Surrendering To The Himalayan Magic

Sangla Valley

Early next morning, the rays of sun unveiled the mountain peaks with scanty snow, as we started our journey to Sangla Valley. We retreated downhill from Sarahan back to NH 22 and stopped at the first dhaba we saw for hot breakfast, next to the Satluj riverbed. The early morning sun was on the opposite side of the river, leaving us shivering in the shadowy part with morning chills. We were now at around 2300 metres, and could see sharp drops below, as we drove on the roads built by thinly slicing the rocky mountains. From a distance the roads looked like thin ribbons, and unbelievable that we were actually driving past them without a boulder or a rock falling on our head. We stopped for a brief ‘soaking the sun break’ and interestingly spotted Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), basking in the sun too, and heavily camouflaged.

Village Gate Tibetan Style
Beautiful welcome gates to local villages…
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata),
Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan Prayer Flags on the road
Sangla Valley Road
Winding roads like these took us to the Baspa River Valley

Without much breaks, we reached Sangla Valley just a little after noon time. The valley was dotted with autumn yellows and dried up greens, heralding the winters. We arrived at Apple Orchard Camps, and were overjoyed to see Green apple trees all round us. We were greeted with a glass of fresh apple juice and light vegetarian lunch. We then decided to take a walk by the river bed. As the tiny trail that we followed touched the banks of Baspa river, we saw piles of smashed stones, and floating dust as a dam was under construction, another disturbing site of human interference. We decided to walk away and into the forests. As we neared wilderness, we were arrested by the beauty of the white river bed and pristine Baspa flowing in turquoise blue.

green apples
There were green apples everywhere.

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Lonar Crater : Born Out Of Alien Impact

We were in Aurangabad, and nothing much happening on the work front which required us to turn back, were tempted to visit Lonar. About 60,000 years ago (they say around the Pleistocene Epoch), a meteor is supposed to have struck this place in Buldana district of Maharashtra, created a massive crater about 6.7km in circumference and 1.2km in diameter. The impact must have created huge tremors, fires, whatnot, but it has also left a very unique lake here. Lonar crater is the only known hyper velocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on earth. In 2007 biological nitrogen fixation was discovered in this lake.

The drive from Aurangabad to Lonar takes about 4 hours at a normal pace. The roads are not too good. But the journey is beautiful with agricultural fields on both sides, and apart from Jalna, not much ugly industrial landscapes.

We stayed at the MTDC Lonar (there aren’t too many options here), and were pleasantly surprised. They cooked to our tastes, and rooms were fairly good. We were also lucky to get a good guide Ramesh. We decided to go for a trek of the entire crater the next morning.

The climb down is kind of steep, but not too stressful. The walk around the Lonar crater is around 7km, starting with a moderately steep descent and then through a trail in the thick forest. Through the trail we came across a total of 10 ancient temples around the lake.

The lake waters are a rich green due to some kind of algae. The outer circumference waters have a neutral pH of 7 and the inner waters are a high alkaline or around pH11. We had read the lake forest has chinkaras and gazelles, but only found traces of wild boar, a couple of hyenas, grey langoors, fruit bats, grey hornbills, grey tits, Indian koels, alexandrine parakeets, oriental magpie robins, Indian robin, black winged stilts, red wattled lapwings, collared doves, peafowl, and heard grey fantails, and perhaps a few other birds I am missing out. We had visited in August, so everything was fresh and green, and the weather cool and breezy.

So this is Part One of our Lonar visit, which covers the lake. Part Two will cover the temples around the lake and Part Three, the other temples in the city.

Lonar
The drive to Lonar from Aurangabad is beautiful and we fell in love with this gorgeous evening light.
Lonar Crater
Our first glimpse of the lake was in the dark, but with just enough light to get a shot.

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