May 28, 2013

A wish for 5 years

Next up is a young and dynamic blogger from Bengaluru who started photography at the age of 7 and belongs to the new race of humans called the "Software Engineers" and is an avid traveler, trekker and wildlife photographer.

He is Arjun Haarith who blogs at

He describes himself like this -
Scientific classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: H. sapiens
Subspecies: H. s. sapiens

Binomial name: Arjun Haarith
First Identified in: 1989
Distribution: Currently resident in Bangalore/India
Habitat: Found in a variety of habitats:- Mountains, Oceans , River banks , Tropical forests, Deciduous forests , Western Ghats , Waterfalls etc.,
Features : Humorous , nature loving.

lol, never seen a better description than this :)

I asked him for a guest post and instead he sent me a lovely wish in the form of a post. Heartfelt thanks to Arjun.

First of all Congratulations on this big achievement. Happy 5th year Birthday.

The title "Huchchara Santhe" is in itself more unique and a tempting name for anybody to follow your blog.

I really wonder, how these 5 years passed by...

I always followed (and following) your posts and learnt (and learning) a lot of things from here.

The blogger (and Photography) has introduced a great person to me as a friend :)

Each post you write contains lovely photographs and great information which is a perfect online guide to the visitors.

The way you write the posts are very attractive, and make us to read the blog post again and again.

Wishing you all the best in your further endeavors.

And waiting for the 10th birthday celebration :)

Thanks, Arjun

May 27, 2013

Avalanche, Ooty

Next in the guest post series, I'm to happy to introduce you to the Kannan's and particularly the boss in the house, Poornima Kannan who is a nature lover and loves to travel whenever an opportunity arises.

A self confessed butterfly lover, she says "
I like to observe Insects , butterflies , birds , reptiles and trees and their interconnections with each other. Being a mother of three kids I cannot step out to the forest as often as any wildlife enthusiasts would like do, but Urban wildlife never ceases to amaze me". She also volunteers for an NGO Unnati.

Have a look at her wonderful blog full of butterflies and insects stories and travel tales here -

She narrates her recent experience about visiting Avalanche near Ooty.

Avalanche was our destination; we had planned to be there by lunch time. Kannan had been driving since morning, sensing that he needed rest I volunteered to drive. As I was driving we suddenly noticed fumes coming from the bonnet of the car. We stopped the car immediately and found that the radiator had a leak. Our service center person from Bangalore instructed us to pour water in the radiator and let it cool down. Driving slowly we reached a garage in Gundlupet; the mechanic examined the car and proposed that he could fix the leak. He fixed the radiator leak with m-seal, it happens only in India. One has to appreciate the ingenuity of Indians.

It started drizzling when we drove across the Bandipur forest. Many trees had shed their leaves but to break the melancholy of the dry forest, cassia fistula showers put up a splendid show. A peacock perched on a tree soaking itself in the drizzle reminded me of the quote “The journey is more important than the destination itself”. We reached Avalanche late in the afternoon to be spell bound by its stunning picture postcard scenery, set in the pristine Western Ghats with stunning views of the shola forests and the lake makes Avalanche a picture perfect destination for a weary traveler. I realized that destination is important too.

After a heavy lunch as I made myself comfortable on a wooden bench a pretty bird landed about a foot away from me. I was baffled by its beauty and after it flew away I realized that I had a camera in my hand, I could have clicked it. Yes sometimes it is better to appreciate the beauty with your eyes rather than clicking it. Much later I realized that it was the Nilgiri flycatcher, an endemic species of the Western Ghats.

Nilgiri Flycatcher, Image credit - Kannan A.S.

Butterflies are always on my agenda on all my outings, but they appear before you when you least expect. When I was having my breakfast a Helen appeared at the window sill. This active butterfly kept moving from flower to flower and flew away. The flight of the Helen is a spectacular sight .When it stops to rest; the fore wings cover the most of the white patches on the hind wings, appearing totally black. When disturbed, it takes flight and there is a flash of white as the patches on the hind wings are revealed. It is believed that the momentary distraction of the white patches would surprise a predator for a split second, while the butterfly makes a hasty escape. As I was gradually coming out the spell of Helen when the Malabar banded peacock made its appearance. One has to see to see it to appreciate this stunning butterfly.

Sahyadri Red Helen butterfly, Image credit - Poornima

Spellbound by these two butterflies I set out to the garden in the resort. A Painted lady butterfly sat on a wild flower displaying its alluring beauty. In one of the largest citizen science projects ever conducted, scientists from Butterfly Conservation in U.K have discovered that these species undertakes a phenomenal 9,000-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle — almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America. The whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies, but is a series of steps by up to six successive generations; so Painted Ladies returning to Africa in the autumn are several generations removed from their ancestors who left Africa earlier in the year.

Painted lady butterfly, Image credit - Poornima

Nilgiris and its surrounding environments covering a tract of over 5000 Square kilometers was declared as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986. Orchids are sensitive to even slightest disturbances to their habitats and with the tremendous pressure on natural resources, particularly forest resources, orchids and their habitat are continuously under threat. The major threats for orchid population in nature are habitat destruction and over collection. It was heartening to see a cluster of wild orchids thrive on a tree in the Doddabetta peak.

Wild orchids, Image credit - Kannan. A.S.

At the end of the trip I promised to myself that I will come back again and explore more. Vivid memories and clicks of this trip transport me back to Nilgiris. Hope to get there soon with avid butterfly watchers.

With Warm Regards,
Poornima Kannan

May 26, 2013

Thalli: Experience ‘Little England’

As I mentioned in my last post, in the series of guest posts from some of the incredible bloggers I've following,

Let me introduce you to a fine heritage travel blogger, Arun Bharadwaj who blogs at Payana and is a voracious traveler by himself. The list of places he has seen and covered is worth envying and the amount of information he shares in his post is commendable.

He says "India, as I see it, is a land of surprises. Imagine everything under the sun, we have it- Beaches, Snow, Desert, Hills, Mountains, Rivers, Oceans, Islands, Gulf, Natural Caves, Waterfalls, Places of worship, relics of ancient civilizations... Given an average life of 60 years, I can only wish to cover at least 20% of the exotic country."

He has a liking for archaeological heritage places and visits a lot of 'lost temples', discovering the 'heritage tales and kingdoms' and is an avid traveler too.

His post is about a literally unknown place called 'Thalli', very close to Bengaluru city.
Read on...

Visiting Thalli is one of the best ways to beat the weekday stress from work. Being very close to Bangalore, this can be done as a half day trip. I came across this interesting place while going through some website on tourism. And there aren't many blogs on this either.

Away from the prying eyes... Image copyright Payana

So we thought we should make is to Thalli. We left early morning after breakfast towards Hosur Road which was relatively free because of the weekend. We reached Hosur town pretty quickly and had to take a right turn towards Thalli. There are ample boards to guide one to Thalli from Hosur. The weather was cloudy and had cool environs and probably that is the reason that this place is called 'Little England'.

The path into wilderness... Image copyright Payana

We reached Thalli in around 1.5 hrs with breaks and passed through Thalli lake which looked calm and pristine. Thalli is a rustic and laid back town just on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border so people speak both Kannada and Tamil here.
'Rain pond', Image copyright Payana

Though there is nothing much to see in Thalli as such, there is a small hillock called Devarabetta just a few kilometers from Thalli. That hill looks great with a couple of temples at the base. The climb to the top is not very tough and there are well laid steps leading to the summit. At the top of the hill the entire region looks so green and colorful and the surrounding hill ranges can be seen. The farmlands below add to the glory of the place. The cool winds blow pretty strongly at the top which feels soothing. The irregular shapes of rocks are the targets of our photography.

'Balance', Image copyright Payana

To sum it up, the hill is aptly named Devarabetta which translates to 'God's hill' in Kannada. We returned back with loads of memories and pictures. This place is very little known to people so the crowd is very less. An ideal place for a weekend getaway from Bangalore.

How to reach: Head on NH7 towards Hosur. At Hosur, before entering the town, watch out for a board for directions to Thalli. Turn right and drive for around 25 km to Thalli.
Regular buses available from Bangalore to Hosur. From Hosur, private buses are available to reach Thalli.

Food/Accommodation: Not many options available for food. Its better to carry food and water from home.


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May 24, 2013

FIVE years

5 years of blogging

A journey that began this week 5 years ago, a journey into the unseen virtual world, a journey of tales and tribunals, a journey to showcase the hidden splendors of the nature, journeys of joy and fun, journey of togetherness, journey of friends, journey of bonding, friendship and togetherness.

The saga of Huchchara Santhe is now at the step of completing ‘five’ years (let me clarify, this journey is only the virtual ‘web’ journey) and believe me, it’s been a fantastic ride all along.

5 years ago, a little known, shy, outspoken introvert decides to pen down his tales, his experiences, and his travels with his friends, egged upon by a like-minded friend, not aware what the virtual world has in store and thus came into existence in the virtual world, ‘Huchchara Santhe’.

A different name, something unique, something crazy… well, its all that we have done, been doing and will do ahead as well, I have received quite a few curious glances and expressions whenever I utter the name of my blog.

Blogging opened up new avenues, new dimensions, new thoughts and ideas came in and the articles started building up and after a slow beginning, the blog started having people follow and some would wait for an update! Humbled!

From only travel articles, new genre crept in with more photo blogs coming and now the blog caters to travel tales, treks, photography, wildlife, nature topics and much more.

With around 1.5 lac page views and about 100+ followers/readers on the blog and Facebook, the blog has tremendously grown much to our surprise and the ‘mouth of word’ reference has been a powerful way in this.

Heartfelt thanks to my boys, the close-knit group without whom probably I would have had no tales to even think of writing upon. has been a godsend site with a strong community of bloggers from different genre’s uniting together as a family. Networking sites are an important tool in reaching out to people and they have brought plenty of readers too.

Also, a great set of people who blog, who have fantastic blog to their credit, who have critiqued, appreciated, commented on my blog also have helped it grow tremendously.

A big ‘high-five’ to all of you and hope the support and encouragement continues. Thanks!

On this special occasion, I take privilege in hosting guest blogs of some of the best bloggers whom I’ve been following and who all have a different way of conveying their story to their audience.

Watch out folks!!!

Thanks and Keep Visiting :)

May 19, 2013

Kolli hills - the sad part!

Kolli hills – the ugly or the ‘real’ part

On a recent visit to Kolli hills (also projected as the Herbal mountain) located in Namakkal district in central Tamil Nadu, I had high hopes of going to an hill station secluded away from the world, all pristine and beautiful. Kolli hills is not yet popular as its famous counterparts, the Yelagiri hills or Yercaud but of late is slowly becoming popular with the weekend crowd and the distance from Bangalore is just lower than 300kms, a potential tourist spot in the making. Reaching there is a driver’s delight as you need to counter 70 hairpin bends to reach the small village at the top of the cliff and nevertheless to say the highway is neatly laid out and is a cruise from Bangalore.

Mid-way, while we stopped to enjoy the views (it was dry and hot being summer), a look below the walls and the scene was petrifying. Beer bottles grew on trees and the ground was plastic’d completely. Further, the next couple of stops that we did and the scenes repeated…slowly I began to realize the place been infested with plastic bottles and beer bottles!

With uncertainties and sapping in the hot sun, we reached our place of stay ‘Nallathambi Resort’ that looked quite clean and well maintained or I thought so! On the outlook, everything looked fine until I looked over the compound wall in disarray, again a plastic trash city over there. I went around different directions peeping over the walls and it was the same sight everywhere. Sooner, I realized not only this resort, other resorts/hotels too bore the same sight!

Sigh! To make mockery of the situation, the bus stand had a board stating ‘No Plastics’.

With a troubled conscience hitting me hard, I set off to the ‘touristy’ places nearby and the overall situation looked grim, far worse than I thought. We walked up and down to the Akash Ganga falls (the 1200 odd steps fatigued us no end) and it was infested with hordes of people (as expected), some bathing, some relishing and some sunbathing and yes littering was common.

Arappaleshwar temple is a favored place for many visiting Kolli malai it was not anymore surprising for me to see a huge dump yard right in front of the temple. The visit to the small falls/stream opposite to the temple yielded more signs with the stream littered with clothes/plastic/bottles. What I expected was a quiet hill station offering solace to the weekend traveler and what I saw was a notorious ‘plastic station’ infested heavily with plastics and garbage. The signs of herbal mountain turning into a garbage mountain doesn’t seem too distant.

May 18, 2013

Travel guides and tips for Indian backpackers

Travel guides and tips for Indian backpackers: A quick list

Indian backpackers face the problem of plenty. With the daunting but admirable Himalayas on the north and the scintillating backwaters in the south, the tourist is always spoilt for a choice. And then there are so many less celebrated but equally, if not more, delightful corners that even a full season won’t be enough to explore this eclectic country.

So, here are a few travel guides and tips which you will find handy...

Destinations you must visit in India: 
Even though the country’s every alley is full of wonderment and surprises, one has to narrow down the list for time and budget constraints. Some destinations which you, nevertheless, must check out include the following:

a.      Jaipur and Udaipur: If you wish to see the real tradition-laced India with all its history and culture intact, then head to the state of Rajasthan. Its two major cities Jaipur and Udaipur are gateways to the medieval era as you saunter through havelis and palaces, forts and fortresses, lakes and gardens!

b.      Agra: A short trip to Agra is strongly recommended. You cannot deprive your eyes of the magnificence of the Taj Mahal!

c.       Darjeeling: Though Shimla and Kashmir too are remarkable hill stations of the north, it is Darjeeling with its quaint poetic persona and limitless tea estates which deserves your footsteps.

d.      Goa: Move over to the west and you come to the best beaches in the country in the small state of Goa! Whether you wish to touch the sky through parasailing or whether you are looking to spam the churches, Goa is your coveted getaway!

e.      Kerala: Down south, you need to check out Kerala which is ‘God’s Own Country’ thanks to its alluring backwaters and calm oceans. Its hill station Munnar is also a heavily-trodden corner!  Opting for a Kerala tour package will be indeed a good Idea if you want to enjoy the real pleasure and nature of Kerala.

A few other friendly tips:
-          Take care of your money, jewelry and belongings
-          Do not accept food and drinks from strangers, especially male strangers
-          Bargain hard when shopping at local bazaars
-          Maintain decorum and rules while visiting temples and monuments

About Creative Writer:
Author is a traveller and adventure seeker writing about a number of Indian & International holiday destinations. Solo Travelling, playing with nature and backpacking are few more undertakings author loves to do. As a blogger she writes about travel guide and holidays packages at WeAreHolidays.

May 8, 2013

Daroji - more birding

After the previous evening siesta with the Sloth bears, the next day went in exploring Hampi, the world heritage site and some birding in between. The final day concurred with the Wildlife Week celebrations and yet we got a couple of hours birding on the morning driving around the deeper parts beyond the canal areas.

Intend to cover the heritage Hampi in a separate post altogether...

I had many first sightings on this trip and some notable were the Yellow-throated Bulbul, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Pied Cuckoo, Grey Francolin, Painted Spurfowl and few others to say. Overall, we finished the excellent trip with over 100 species of birds, about 20+ butterflies and also not to forget insects, reptiles, amphibians added to the comprehensive list.

Following are more images of birds from the trip, let them speak and I will rest!

Photoshop is a powerful and a creative tool if used in an appropriate manner. The photo above after photo-shopping yielded the result below, its all in how you use it!

May 4, 2013

Daroji - completely Bear'd

The earlier posts here and here. Have a look!

We were witness to an afternoon siesta of the sloth bears, up close and personal and so many individuals together, a sight I have never witnessed till date and probably only get to see in Daroji.

The sanctuary is a small place and infested with problems and pressured on by encroaching land and mining mafia, deforestation and utilization of forest resources by the adjoining villages and as expected it happens that the bears wander out in search of food and there arises the man-animal conflict and in most cases the bears are heavily traumatized and many a times killed. Bears are dangerous enough to face head on especially when they have kids along with them or are in the process of mating, else generally they avoid the humans by scampering away.

The department with the inputs of few individuals working towards conservation have hit upon a novel idea of confining the bears to the sanctuary limits in one way and also fighting the mafia simultaneously and also educating the villagers in the surrounding villages. Remember, they are not captive to be confined in a specific area but are still well and truly wild.

So, in an attempt the high rise rocks in a centrally located area are 'painted' with a mix of 'jaggery' and 'honey' everyday during the afternoons and just like the bees are attracted towards honey, the bears descend down one after the other to have their fill. It's a risky exercise to hear just in case a bear turns up early and the probability of the guard doing the painting job is high, but yet the risk is taken every day just to ensure the bears stay there. Not only bears, peafowls, spurfowls, quails, mongoose visit the rocks and have their share.

At one instance, we saw about 7-8 individuals enjoying their evening siesta, wish that their numbers increase. But, yet the number of bears thronging the rock area have gone down in recent times, reason could be bears being poached, hunted, captured or sadly killed. Personally for me, a long wish of seeing a Sloth Bear up close was fulfilled and that too so many of them together and sure it was fun.

Recently, In an effort to raise awareness and stress the importance of the Daroji Sloth Bear sanctuary, the book 'Daroji - An Ecological Destination' authored by VMR, Samad Kottur, Ganesh H Shankar and helped by numerous others was bought out and needless to say is an exemplary work highlighting the importance of Daroji. I got a chance to see it personally and is an fine work that should be seen by a larger audience.

Some links of it here -
Book on flipkart here
making of the book here by Ganesh H Shankar
Daroji visuals here by Ganesh H Shankar

next up - Heritage Hampi.