Ganesgudi – Birder’s Paradise

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TR # 28, March 2019

This is a must visit place for a birder! The resort in Ganeshgudi, The old Magazine House’ will not disappoint you in any season.

This is a place about 70 Kms from Belgaum and right in the middle of the jungle. The resort “The old Magazine House” is run by Jungle Lodges. You can book it online. They have cottages and also a few rooms. It is completely surrounded by dense forest. The management does not allow you to step out unless escorted by their own personnel. They have sighted Bears, Leopards, Wild bores very regularly near the stream which is next to the resort. The day starts with Malabar Whistling Thrush’s melodious song. You can just sit in the resort and you can see a number of birds coming to resort for food and water. We went in summer so couldn’t see migratory birds but still, we could spot more than 40+ birds. 

The resort is beautiful. The food is included in the total package. The food is of manglorian style and extremely tasty. 

Here is our bird list

  1. Emerald dove
  2. Red whiskerd bulbul
  3. Yellow bulbul
  4. Lame headed bulbul
  5. Oriental white eye
  6. Starling
  7. Crimson sunbird
  8. White bellied blue fly catcher
  9. Tickell’s blue flycatcher
  10. Magpie-robins
  11. Black-naped monarch
  12. White-rumped shama
  13. Black headed babbler
  14. Puff-throated Babbler
  15. Indian paradise flycatcher
  16. Laser Woodpecker
  17. pygmy woodpecker
  18. Malabar pied hornbill
  19. Malabar grey hornbill
  20. Great hornbill
  21. Green pigeon
  22. Malabar barbet
  23. Coppersmith barbet
  24. Fulwetta
  25. Common hill myna
  26. Jungle myna
  27. Junglefowl
  28. Spiderhunter
  29. Indian scimitar babbler
  30.  Golden oriole
  31. Malabar trogon
  32. Vernal hanging parrot 
  33. Yellow tit
  34. Scarlet minivet
  35. Hoopoes
  36. honey buzzard
  37. Kingfisher
  38. Nuthatch
  39. Plum-headed parakeet
  40. Greater racket-tailed drongo
  41. Jungle drongo

Some other Species we could see

  1. Gliding Squirrel
  2. Giant Squirrel
  3. Jackel.
  4. Wild boar
  5. Scorpion
  6. Malabar pit viper

A few Pictures of Birds and other species

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Dubai & Abu Dhabi – East meets West !

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TR # 27, Feb 2019

The right way to describe Dubai is “East meets West”. It is as good as any western modern city with a touch of the east. Its’ really a man-made miracle of the 20th century by transforming a desert city into the modern city Dubai is today.

From my place, Pune ( India), there is a direct flight to Dubai with a flight time of around 3 Hours. Our trip was for 5 days and stayed in “City Seasons Hotel” in Deira, Dubai. Our trip is planned around the “Dubai Tennis” tournament which happens in Mid Feb. The weather is also beautiful around this time of the year. There are so many things to do in Dubai so planning is required on what you want to do in Dubai. We were lucky to get a cab driver who drove us around and guided to the right places which helped us save a lot of time.

A visit to Dubai cannot be complete if you do not see “Burj Khalifa”.You can plan to book online and go around dusk time so you can see the Dubai in the day time and during the night, with full of lights.

Another wonder in Dubai is Palm Jumeirah. The Palm Jumeirahis an artificial archipelago created using land reclamation by which extends into the Persian Gulf. The beach is beautiful with all blue water of the Persian Gulf. The “Burj Al Arab” Hotel at Palm beach is grand and very picturesque.

We had lunch at the Marina area, which is relatively a new area of Dubai. When you are in Marina, you feel like in any European city with skyscrapers surrounding the lake and a number of food options with cuisines from east to west.


Must visit places in Dubai

Gold Souk: Probably, you would not have seen and will not see so much gold in one area as you will see in Dubai’s Gold Souk. It is a good area for buying gold, diamonds and watches. Can you imagine a complete Gold dress for men/women? You can see all these kind of wierd gold items as well. 

Miracle Garden: True to its name, it is a true miracle in the midst of dessert ! See the phots below which will speak for themselves.

Sand Dunes: It is a very thrilling experience to go through Sand Dunes in the Jeep Safari. The drives have amazing skills. They reduce the tire pressure so that vehicle can move in the sand. We also rode on the Quad Motorbike which was a lot of fun. After the safari, we went to a desert resort to enjoy a camel ride, Arabic dinner and belly dance. 

The Frame: The Dubai Frame is an architectural landmark in Zabeel Park, Dubai. It has been described as “the biggest picture frame on the planet”. The Dubai Frame is created out of glass, steel, aluminum, and reinforced concrete. It is positioned in such a way that representative landmarks of modern Dubai can be seen on one side, while from the other side, visitors can also view older parts of the city

Abu Dhabi

The biggest attraction of Abu Dhabi is The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This is the largest mosque in the country and can accommodate thousands of people. The Grand Mosque was constructed between 1996 and 2007. It was designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky. The building complex measures approximately 290 by 420 m (950 by 1,380 ft), covering an area of more than 12 hectares (30 acres), excluding exterior landscaping and vehicle parking. 

Some photos from Duabi Open

Dubai Open is dream come True to me as I could see “The God of Tennis” playing not more than 20 fts from where we were seating.

Food

You name it any world cuisine and it is there in Dubai ! Dubai is developed as a very cosmopolitian city and you can enjoy any type of world cusine. For Indian vegiterian, there are many options including Sarvana Bhuvan, Sangeetha, Kamat, etc.

Safety

I find Dubai is a very safe city. We had to walk in the middle of night from Tennis Stadium to our Hotel and we were feeling very safe.

Pattadakal ( Karanataka, India)

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TR # 26, Feb 2019

This place is a witness to the ancient Indian civilization and progress about 1300 years ago. UNESCO has declared this as a “World Heritage Site” and Thanks to Indian Government for preserving it so well. 

Pattadakal, also called Paṭṭadakallu is a complex of 7th and 8th century CE Hindu and Jain temples in northern Karnataka. Pattadakal is the historically significant center of Chalukya monuments. The Chalukya empire constructed many of the temples in Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal region in 7th Century CE. The monuments at Pattadakal are evidence of the existence, and the history, of interaction between the early northern and southern styles of Hindu arts.

It is a weekend trip from Pune if you want to just visit Pattadakal, but if you want to combine it with Badami and Hami, you need to keep at least 4 days.

It is about 8 hours drive Pune. We started at 6:30 AM and reached at 3:30 after 2 stops – @Abhiruchi for Breakfast and @Copper Chimani @Belgaum. We went via Mumbai – Bangalore highway till Belgaum and then via Ramdurg. The road is very well maintained. We went there over a weekend. There are many good Hotels in Badami to stay. We stayed in KTDC’s Hotel Mayura Chalukya.

Coorg

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TR# 25 Dec 2018

Coorg is a hill station near Mysore ( Karnataka, India) and famous for nature & coffee plantations. We booked a Zipcar from Bangalore airport and drove to Coorg which is approximately 250 Kms. It took about 6 hours to reach Coorg. On the way, we stopped for breakfast at Kamat restaurant, which is about 50 km from Bangalore. If you have not visited Kamat before, I strongly recommend stopping by. This is the third time we stopped by Kamat and it didn’t disappoint us.

We stayed at Club Mahindra. I think this is one of their best resorts spread across the valley with lots & lots of trees and coffee plantations. The day starts with the dawn chorus of birding singing excellent melodies. Throughout the day, a variety of birds are entertaining you with their beautiful songs.

We stayed for 3 nights and visited a number of places – Abbey Falls, Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastery) & Coffee plantations. The city is also good to take a stroll. It is famous for spices. When we visited Coffee Plant, we could talk to the plant owner and she could explain to us the whole process on how the coffee gets ready for the market.

We couldn’t get much time to do bird photography but definitely, planning the next trip.

Niagara Falls

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TR #24 , June 2018

We flew to Buffalo from Dallas via Atlanta.  Buffalo is the closest big city from US side to visit Niagara. If you have Canada visa, you can go via Toronto as well. We got a very good deal at Hotel Hyatt which is right in the center of Buffalo city. 

On the next day, after breakfast, we started out to see the Niagara falls. The whether was good but slightly hot & humid. The drive to Niagara falls is about 45 minutes from the city.  While the drive is good, the Niagara falls city area is not that great. It is very typical tourist place ! We parked our car in the parking garage and then headed out to the Niagara falls garden to view the falls.

 The view of Niagara falls is spectacular !  The width of the fall is amazing. Some part is in US and some part in Canada. We took the “Mist of the Meadow” ride which takes you right close to the fall. It is too good and definitely a life time experience.

We went back to Buffalo for some rest and came back in the evening to see the falls in the night. The falls is lighted and it looks amazing  !!  Both governments, have done a great job on the lighting. If you are from US side, you can see a lot of casinos from Canada. I wish we had a Canadian visa to try our luck at casinos.

There is not much to see in Buffalo than the Niagara falls. I think 1.5- 2 days visit  to Buffalo is good enough.  We also visited Buffalo University to meet one of our acquaintances. The university is very beautiful and with summer time, it is looking more beautilful.

Buffalo Univeristy

New York

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TR # 23, June 2018

I think the best time to visit New York is in the summer – Good food and  a lot of places to roam around !

We stayed in Ramada Inn at Newark. The good thing about this Hotel that it is close to “Journal Square” PATH train station,  relatively cheap and a lot of Indian restaurants in walking distance. You can get direct train to World Trade Center and Madison Square. The best part of roaming around New York is its metro. It is one of the largest metro network in the world.  We saw World Tread Center memorial, Statue of liberty, Brooklyn Bride, Times Square, Empire State building and Central Park.

We all are foodies and explored a Thai  restaurant near Madison Garden called ” Thai Villa” . It is one of the best Thai restaurant !  We also had a pizza at Juliana.  Juliana’s is a pizzeria located in BrooklynNew York considered the best pizzeria in the United States as of 2015 according to TripAdvisor

Europe Cycle Trip Passau to Vienna ( May 2018) Day # 6 & 7

We started our journey back to Passau after an overnight boat ride to Rossatz. The plan was to go to Pochlarm which is 39 Km  from Rossatz. We reached Pochlarm but had to come back to Melk as our Boat had an issue. On the way to  Pochlarm, we had coffee, cherries at a nice café run by a English speaking old couple at a place called “Oberarnsdorf”. They were surprised by we came all the way from India and US for the cycle trip. The way from Rossatz to Pochlarm is one of the best cycling track.

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We also did liquor testing made from Apricot. This region of Austria is very famous from apricots and wine.

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After reaching Melk, we had lunch at Chienese restaurant – “Wok Inn”. On the way from Pochlarm to Melk, we had some wine tasting.

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On the boat we had a multi course farewell dinner. The chefs introduced themselves in a very innovative way. Overall, we had an excellent food on the boat for last 7 days. No menu item was repeated.

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In the morning, we went Passau by Bus after saying ” “au revoir” to the Arkona and its entire crew!!

We had one of the life time experience of “Boat and Bike” in Europe along the river Danube.

 

Europe Cycle Trip Passau to Vienna ( May 2018) Day # 4 and 5

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In the morning, we had a nice round around the Tulln City. The city has a very nice Church which is more than 300 years old.

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We also saw farmers market which has beautiful flowers, fresh Vegetables, fruits and bakery items for sale. It is very similar to the weekly market which exists in many parts of India. After the breakfast, we started to go to Korneuburg by boat. After reach Korneuburg, we had typical European lunch – Fish roasted, coffee and chip.

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( Photos from Vienna)

We started for Vienna city tour in the afternoon. The Trip organizer arranged the AC bus for take us to the city. The city of Vienna is very beautiful and constantly reminding about the past glory of the empire. The constructions of the palaces was done  several hundred years  ago but is still in a very good condition. The western world maintains their heritance really very well.  The city has typical small lanes and cafes in the lane. Near Vienna palace, we were proud to see “Café Coffee Day” – India’s premier coffee shop. We also visited Vienna on the next day. This time we used the Vienna’s metro. We saw St. Stephen’s cathedral , natural history museum, Albertina art museum.  In the museum, we saw paintings by Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Monet.  We also visited the square where  Mozart and Beethoven gave several musical performances and conducted orchestras. We walked around to experience the city.

 

युरोप सायकल ट्रिप – पसाऊ ते मुनीच ( मे २०१८) दिवस 3

सकाळी ९ वाजता ग्रेईं ( Grein ) वरून मेलक ( Melk)  ला जायला निघालो. हा पल्ला तसा लांबचा – ५६ किलो मीटर्स चा.  जाताना विरुद्ध दिशेने येणारे वारे  आणि तळपता सूर्याचा सामना करायला लागला आणि त्यातून थोडा घाट !   जवळ जवळ  २५ किलो मीटर्स  नंतर “यबबस अन  डर  दोनाउ” ( Ybbs an der Donau) ला थोडी विश्रांती घेऊन पुढे मार्गक्रमण चालू केले.  आम्ही जेवायला एका कॅफे मध्ये थांबलो. कॅफे च्या मालकाला आमच्या कडे बघून कपाळाला आठ्या पडल्या. सगळ्या ट्रिप मध्ये हा अनुभव एवढा चांगला नव्हता. त्याला बहुतेक वाटले कि आता आम्ही आमच्या बॅग्स उघडून त्याच्या कॅफे मध्ये आमचे खाणे खात बसणार !!  आम्ही तिथे ice क्रीम आणि डोनट्स घेतले, पण जरा बळजबरीनेच !!  Melk मध्ये आमच्या बोटी जवळ पोचायला ४-५ वाजले. आम्ही बोटीवर पोचल्या वर लगेचच बोट  तुलन ( Tulln ) ला रवाना झाली.

बोटी वरील आमचे सगळे खाणे अफलातून होते. सकाळी मेगा ब्रेकफास्ट आणि नंतर रात्री मल्टि कोर्स  डिनर. Tea आणि coffee कितीही वेळा घेऊ शकता !!

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Europe Cycling May 2018 ( Passau – Germany to Vienna) Day #2

Day # 2 (30 May) : Started from Linz and cycled to Grien for about 36 Kms. The cycle path was all along Danube river on a dedicated track.  We had lunch at Ardgger Markt, ( salad, Garlic Cream soup, Pasta).  One attraction in Grein is Greinburg Castle, built between 1488 and 1493. The castle was purchased by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1823 and is now owned by a family foundation, headed by Andreas, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The ducal family is living here but the castle is also open for visitors.

 

 

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