Saturday, July 7, 2018

Beautiful historical structures from Gour in West Bengal India

Qadam Rasul Mosque, Gour, Malda
This post is in continuation to my earlier post on Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments.

I am sharing some more beautiful historical structures from Gour.

Qadam Rasul Mosque : This beautiful structure dates back to 1531; the carvings on some of the bricks tells you how remarkable this structure must have looked in its prime. 
Entrance to the Qadam Rasul mosque

Carvings on the bricks
Ballal Bati in Gour is a recently excavated site. It was the palace of Ballal Sen during 1160-1179.

Remains of a wall which surrounded the palace
Water  body near Ballal Bati

Mango trees are in abundance in Malda
Monitor Lizard in Ballal Bati, going into hiding:)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gour a historical city in West Bengal houses some beautiful old monuments

Baradwari Mosque Gour
Gour, near Malda town, West Bengal is also referred to as Gauda and Lakhnauti. It's origin can be traced back to the Buddhist Pala Dynasty in Bengal that rose in the 7th century AD and ruled for four centuries.

Gour, however rose to prominence in the 11th century under the Hindu Sena Dynasty. Not much archaeological evidence exits of these times and today what we see in Gour dates back to post 1198 when Gour fell to Bakhtiyar Khilji and that was followed by the foundation of Muslim rule in north-west Bengal. The Muslim Sultan shifted his capital from Gour to Pandua in 1350.

How to reach Malda:
Malda is very well connected from Kolkata. Overnight trains and AC buses are easily available. Shatabdi express is another option from Kolkata to Malda.

Where to stay
There are quite a few hotels and tourist lodges in Malda town. You may check tripadvisor (

Both Gour (16 km south of Malda) and Pandua (15 km north of Malda) are places that you may want to visit if you like ancient architecture. We only did Gour during this trip. Even though quite a few monuments were not in their intact condition, I would say it was still worth the visit. A word of caution, Malda town is extremely congested. So if you are looking for a quiet stay in Malda...that may not be possible:) But the outskirts are beautiful and green…mango trees and water bodies are in abundance.

There are a couple more places in Gour, that we visited, I will post about those in my next post.

Baradwari Mosque  (AD 1526) , built by Sultan Nasrat Shah. It has 12 doors and therefore the name Baradwari.

Baradwari Mosque
Entrance to Baradwari Mosque

Firoz Minar (AD 1486-1489 ): Built by Saifuddin Firoz. The building is 25.60m high and the spiral staircase has 73 steps.

Banyan tree near Firoz Minar

Firoz Minar Gour

Salami Darwaza: (AD 1459-74) built by Barbak Shah. This was the main northern entrance to the fort of Gour.
Salami Darwaza carvings on the walls
Salami Darwaza, Gour

Salami Darwaza

Carvings on the wall, Salami Darwaza, Gour
More on Gour here: Beautiful historical structures from Gour in Malda India 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Off the beaten track, the Mishmi hills in Arunachal are a birdwatcher's paradise

Rufous-backed Sibia
The Mishmi Hills are located in central Arunachal Pradesh in India. Most of the Mishmi hills area falls under the Dibang Valley, which gets its name from Dibang River, one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.

The scenic Mishmi hills, is home to quite a few birds and is now a sought after destination for avid bird watchers. Mishmi Hills birding is done between Roing to Hunli, a stretch of 85 km. Most of this area falls under Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary. A 49 km ascending drive from Roing brings you to the 2655 meters high Mayodia Pass and from here you start descending towards Hunli which is about 36 km from the Pass. Different birds are found at different altitudes - during the first 10 kms or so of this journey, you get to see birds like Blue Rock Thrush, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Mountain Imperial pigeon, White Collared Treepie and many others, Around 25 to 30 km, you can sight the beautiful Nuthatch, Rufous-backed Sibia, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Himalayan Cutia, Pygmy Wren Babbler. Further up close to Mayodia Pass the birds that can be sighted are - Dusky Thrush, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Gould's Shortwing, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler.

Mishmi is indeed a paradise for birtdwatcher's, the best season for birds in Mishmi is March to May.

To reach Mishmi, the best way is to fly to Dibrugarh. The Closest airport is Dibrugarh, and it takes around 4 hours to reach Roing from Dibrugarh.

Even though the scenic beauty is breathtaking, Mishmi is not one of the popular destinations with tourists (unless you are a passionate bird watcher!) One of the reasons being, the places to stay are very few and very-very basic. There are just two places, one near Roing and one near Mayodia pass, and both of these places are very basic. Soma Jha, an ardent birdwatcher, was in Mishmi last month, and these bird pictures are courtesy her.
Pygmy Wren Babbler
Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler 

Himalayan cutia
Ludlow's fulvetta

Black-throated Prinia
Golden babbler

Crimson-browed finch
Dark-rumped rosefinch

Beautiful nuthatch
Blue rock thrush

Mountain Imperial pigeon
Dusky Thrush  at Mayodia

Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill 
Red-billed Scimitar babbler

Gould's Shortwing
Rusty-bellied shortwing

Himalayan Wood Owl
Blyth's Tragopan 

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