I was lucky to get a glimpse of these magnificient reptiles at Sunderbans. They just blend in with the banks and branches. Even after spotting a few (3 in total), by the time we reached near them, they made a quick splashing retreat to the waters.
In the first picture, this is a very young crocodile basking in the morning winter sun. Look at the top of the picture, and you will see many small fishes. They are called mud-skippers, and they literally live on the land.. just to escape inside holes or water in case of any bird approaches.
In the second picture, I just got lucky to capture one croc as it dissappears under the water..
Sunderbans is one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. It has over 50 varieties of mangroves, out of the total of over 60 species. Near the shores, it's always a sequence of low-tide and high-tides. During low-tides, the complex system of the roots is visible. These roots move out of the grounds, appearing as thousands of spikes, to breathe (due to the highly saline water and the soil, these roots have evolved to breathe from the air itself)
Before landing in Kolkata, Sunderbans was on my mind. Finally, the idea materialised into a trip last weekend (24th Oct). Thought of having some fun in the travel, so showing the finger to packaged tours, I went hitch-hiking :)... The road took me first on a local train, then across a river on a flat rickshaw, to the next stop on a "auto" and then to the final destination (Pakhirala) on a "van".
These are the flat rickshaws which carry "affluent" passengers across the river in low-tide conditions. Every-day commuters do not use these but just wade across the thigh-deep mud and river. Tried it too, but two early slips convinced me to take the "affluent" carrier service.
These are called "autos" - sturdy old cruiser bike-fronts and engines fitted to flat rickshaws. Apart from these improvised carriers, I did not see any cruiser bike there. Do not laugh, but these are called "vans". I tried a lot to understand the reason, but the origin of this term was lost. I just know that the ride was one of the most enjoyable I have had.
These are called jalebis and are an awesome sweet treat. I love them best while they are hot and with ice-cream - but you will never complain even when they are alone :) .. Got this shot on the streets of Kolkata, near Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.
at Kolkata,I can safely say that 'sweets will follow you', at least during the festive seasons. Here, you see a man preparing the much loved Gulab Jamun - now with such open temptation, why wont the sales go up?
I had heard that the traditional worship of Durga happens in the Northern area of Kolkata, and I was lucky to be at a right place at the right time.
The drums are called 'dhak' and are beaten on the lower side. Such was the rhythm of the beats, that even the main pandit was dancing to the tunes while offering prayers. Or maybe this is just the traditional way of the ritual. Adding to this, two men were fanning earthern pots filled with charcoal and 'jhuna' - to produce a steady thick smoke.
In most of puja pandals, chandeliers add a lot more to the grandiosity.
Bagbazaar Puja - this was quite small comparatively, yet very intricate in design.
Mohammad Ali Park Puja - Apart from the huge chandelier, the puja pandal was covered with mirrors - tilted at aesthetic angles. The reflections just added to the splendour.
Nebutala Puja (Santosh Mitra Square) - Here, one will see the complete Mahabharatha etched in frames across the pandal. In this picture, you can see the dice game scene, the exile scene and the swayamvara scene.
Ekdalia Evergreen Club Puja - This was the most beautiful according to me. The ornamental glass around the chandelier had a pink hue in the borders, and it sure added lot of appeal.
My first post of the many to follow - on Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata.
First, a brief sojourn through the Indian mythology - Mahisasura was a demon who received a boon from Lord Brahma, the creator of the worlds. Empowered with it, he cannot be killed by any man or any deity. Thus, he raged war in all the worlds and also marched into the kingdom of Gods. He defeated Indra, the king of Gods. Defeated and humiliated, all the Gods went to Indian Trimurti (Trinity)- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These Supreme Gods created Durga with light and energy from their eyes. She was graced with extreme beauty and topped up with immeasurable energy and strength.
Her face was from light of Shiva, her multiple hands were from Vishnu and legs were from Bhrahma. She also received many other powers - Shiva gave a trident with a spear-end. Krishna gave her a rotating disc. Varuna, the God of sea, gave her a conch and the God of fire gave her a missile. From the wind, Vayu, she received arrows. The king of Gods, Indra, gave her the thunder-bolt. From Yama, the god of death, Durga received a rod, and from the Ruler of Waters she was given a noose. God of mountains, Himalayas gave her jewels and a magnificent lion to ride into battle. Thus, this feminine power rode to battle and defeated Mahisasura in a fierce battle. Mahisasura took the form of a buffalo and charged at her. She beheaded the animal, from which Mahisasura emerged in his demonic form. She pierced his chest with the trident and killed him. She has since then been known as MahisasurMardini (Killer of Mahisasura).
Durga Puja is also linked with Ramayana. During the battle between Ram and Ravana, Ram wanted a boon from Devi Durga. He came to know that she can be pleased with an offering of 100 blue lotuses. With much difficulty, he can only gather 99 of them. Finally, he decided to give one of his eyes - they resembled blue lotuses. Much pleased by this, the goddess blessed Ram. The final battle between Ram and Ravana started on the "Saptami" - Seventh Day. Ravana was killed between the "Ashtami" and "Navami" - Eighth and Ninth Day. He was cremated on "Dasami" - the tenth day. Thus, Durga Puja is also known as Dussehra and is celebrated with much pomp and show for four days - signifying the four days of the battle. In India, Dussehra is a major festival for Bengalis. And Kolkata is the place to be during these four days. There are innumerable Durga idols dotting the city's avenues, streets, by-lanes, housing complexes and societies. I hope you all will enjoy all the posts that will try to capture this festival in Kolkata.
Balcony of the 7th floor of my hostel - just outside of my room. An amazing place to get splattered with the blowing watery mist. The wind is usually strong, but put two-three clothes on the line, and it gets all animated too...
:) .. these pics are certainly not clicked by me :P .... Nothing great about it except the bon-homie :) ... and a very small sneak peak into what happens on birthday nights... there are a series of activities between the first and second pic for which no photos shall ever be available :)
Indian cuisine is never complete without snacks. Any nook and cranny of this vast country will have something to tingle your taste buds. Aloo Tikki (a dish with mashed and half-fried potato with lots of yoghurt, spices, sauces, mint, chillies ......... so on) is a classic snack. Along with that, samosa (the triangles) is another delicacy.