Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018

I love nature and one of my favourite destinations is the jungles. The sylvan surrounding, the unpolluted air, the possibility of sighting different animals and birds... makes me happy.

But I don't know how long we can continue to enjoy these beautiful green surroundings. With deforestation being so rampant in India, and urban cities becoming concrete jungles, one barely gets to see any greenery anymore. Birds that were very commonly found, such as sparrows, are hardly seen. Air pollution is a matter of immense concern, and one of the reasons contributing to all of these is the unceremonious cutting of trees.

This article on Deforestation from Wikipedia has alarming facts about what deforestation is doing to our world.

One simple way of looking at our relationship with trees: humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide which is waste for us. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen which is waste for them. When we cut and burn trees, we are not only reducing oxygen that is required for our survival, we are adding more carbon dioxide by burning trees, and through various other means. Not only do trees help maintain this balance, there are a number of things that trees do so that there is a balance in our ecosystem. The other alarming thing that the incessant cutting of trees have resulted in, are the extinction of many other species. A lot of animals and birds have become, and are on the verge of becoming extinct because of loss of habitat. And unless we do something about it, this will continue until we have no ecosystem!

On the positive side, there are active measures being taken, forests are being protected, trees are being planted (although it will take years for the saplings to replace the trees that were cut, but at least it is a start) and alternative sources of energy are being explored as well.

On Earth day, wouldn't it great if each of us do whatever little we can to protect and preserve our Earth so that it continues to be habitable for our future generation.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sparrows of India

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
On the occasion of World Sparrow day, here are the five types of Sparrows found in India.

The Eurasian and Russet Sparrows are from the hilly areas; The Sind sparrow and Spanish sparrow are from the semi desert areas of India; And the House sparrows...  which were once seen  so often, are rarely seen these days:(


Pictures are courtesy Soma Jha.
House Sparrow
Russet Sparrow

Sind Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Birds of Desert National Park Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Great Indian Bustard

Birds of Desert National Park, Rajasthan

It often surprises people to learn that birdwatchers go to deserts, hot, and cold (Ladakh) places in search of birds. The habitat, it seems, can't be sustaining bird life. In actuality it is quite the opposite!

 A large number of species of birds are found all over Rajasthan like Larks, Wheatears, raptors including Vultures. Most of these birds are not colourful as they must camouflage themselves from predators.

The Great Indian Bustard (image on the top left) is one of the critically endangered birds in India owing to hunting and loss of habitat. The habitats that these birds thrive in are dry grasslands, semi-desert regions, and scrubs. One of main reasons, for the Great Indian Bustard's reducing numbers in this region and in all parts of India, is because the earlier semi-desert lands have got transformed into farmed areas because of irrigation.

These bird pictures are from the Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.The pictures are courtesy Soma Jha.
Asian Desert Warbler
Bimaculated lark

Black-crowned sparrow-lark
Common babbler with Spanish sparrow

Cream-coloured Courser
Desert Lark

Long-legged Buzzard
Southern grey Shrike

Variable Wheatear

Friday, March 2, 2018

Beautiful Havelis of Mandawa Rajasthan, India

Murmuria Haveli -Engine with crows and a man standing in front
Continuing with my earlier post on Havelis (Mansions) of Churu, Rajasthan, India, this post has some more mesmerizing havelis from the Shekhawati historical region. Mandawa which is a part of Shekhawati region is located around 190 km from Jaipur.

A well-known place for Havelis (Mansions), Mandawa is a favourite location for film shoots. Some scenes from PK and Bajrangi Bhaijan were shot here.

These pictures, courtesy Soma Jha, are from Murmuria, Gulab Rai Ladia, and Mohanlal Saraf Havelis.
Murmuria Haveli,Mandawa- a bridge of Venice visible
Painting of a Train 

scenes from Venice
Murmuria haveli paintings

Beautiful paintings Murmuria, Mandawa
More paintings on the walls

Murmuria Haveli
Murmuria Haveli, Mandawa

Gulab Rai Ladia haveli-Mandawa-Rajasthan
Gulab Rai Ladia haveli

looks like African men perhaps musicians
Lovely door-Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli

Mohanlal Saraf Haveli -Awesome work
Mohanlal Saraf Haveli, Mandawa-Paintings

Beautiful paintings - Mandawa Havelis

Mohanlal Saraf Haveli, Mandawa
Mohanlal Saraf Haveli, Mandawa

Totally brilliant work!

Outside the Haveli 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Havelis (Mansions) of Churu, Rajasthan, India

Hotel Majli Ka Kamra
Churu in North-eastern (Shekhawati  historical region) Rajasthan, is perhaps not one of the most popular destinations in Rajasthan, I wonder why....when you see these beautiful & mesmerizing havelis (Mansions) of Churu, you will most likely have Churu in your wish list.

Churu, houses some really grand Mansions (havelis). These havelis were built by the merchants of Churu during the 17th to early 20th century. Located around 200 km from Jaipur (4 hours by road), you will need 3-4 hours to see the havelis.

The names of all the havelis could not be found given the time constraint (spending more time talking to locals may have helped in getting the names perhaps..). All of these havelis are located around the mama-bhanja haveli, except Majli ka Kamra which is a hotel now.

The interesting thing in all these havelis is the murals. While there are typical Indian themes like elephants, soldiers, etc, the havelis in Churu have some very different themes as well, not found typically in India. You will notice murals of white men and women, cars, trains, ships, portraits of ancestors, of everyday life...

I will share some more havelis from the Shekhawati region in my next post. In the meantime, enjoy these awesome mansions :)

These pictures are courtesy Soma Jha.

Entrance to Majli Ka Kamra haveli (which is now a hotel)
Majli ka Kamra Haveli, Churu

Majli ka Kamra mansion, Churu
Paintings of cars

Mama-bhanja havelis-two havelis facing each other
Mama-bhanja Haveli in Churu, Rajasthan

Mama bhanja haveli, Churu
Painted murals

Haveli in Churu
Lovely windows

Indian and british figures on the wall panels
Painted mural

Another beautiful Haveli in Churu
Grand door

murals depicting white women on the deck of a ship
Painting of a ship, depicting their travel to England

Haveli of Surana family
Surana Haveli entrance

Painted murals of ancestors
Surana Haveli, Churu