Monday, May 30, 2011

Butterflies

We saw so many butterflies at Maharashtra Nature Park, but could manage to capture just a few of them..... The best of them all was the Blue Oak Leaf butterfly, which I have already written about.... Here are a few more I managed to photograph...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mating Insects

You never know what you will spot when you spot when you amble along a path lined by trees. The Maharashtra Nature Park was a treasure house of insects - we didnt have to look for them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Many little ducks went out one day.....

A rhyme we once learnt in school went....



Five little ducks went out to play
Over the hill and far away 
The mother duck said Quack, Quack come back
Four little ducks came running back

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blue Oak Leaf Butterfly

On our recent visit to the Maharashtra Nature Park, we were early as usual and waiting for others to turn up. Not having permission to enter the campus itself, we were sitting near the entrance, Samhith jumping up and down. Even as I was wondering how to make him settle down, we noticed a butterfly hovering over the nearby tree. I despaired of taking a photograph, since in my limited experience, butterflies rarely stop long enough to allow me to focus my camera and take a decent pic. This turned out to be my lucky day, since the butterfly settled on the tree and refused to move.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birds at the Rail Museum

My cousins have never traveled much with me, and certainly never since I started writing. Though they do read my blog, they aren't really used to seeing me looking for material to write about. When I visited the Rail Museum in Delhi along with a couple of them, they were really amused to see me ignore the trains when I saw a flock of birds on the lawn.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Parakeets and Kites at the Qutub Complex

They once were haunts of the rulers of India - from the ancient and now almost forgotten Hindu rulers of the place now called Delhi to the Mughals who left their indelible mark on the capital of India -  the ruins around the Qutub Minar have plenty of stories to tell. Instead of the royals who once walked among the lanes, today there are tourists who rush past, stopping just for a photograph or two to commemorate their visit to the place which was built to remind a city of the greatness of its ruler. The only inhabitants of this place today are these birds, which are free to fly wherever they please.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Purple Rumped Sunbird

This is one bird I see every single day, but has proved the most difficult to photograph. They are so small and flit endlessly between the flowers and leaves on the tree that I can hardly focus before they are lost. I noticed this one a couple of days back, for once sitting peacefully.... and wondered if it was the same.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Grasshopper

My usual reaction on seeing an insect used to be to scream. That is, until I started blogging. Now, I rush for my camera! Samhith seems to have picked up this too, and for once, instead of shouting about an insect in the loo, he quietly came to me, and asked me to come and take a photo before the insect flew away.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Urban Leaves Summer Camp


This year, Samhith was to take a break from all camps and classes – since we were travelling throughout May. A pleasant surprise came in the form of the Summer Camp for kids conducted by Urban Leaves. I had been following the Urban Leaves blog for a while, and was interested in their methods of creating terrace gardens in the midst of a busy city like Mumbai. While I am no good with gardening, and certainly have no green thumb, the idea of growing our own veggies in what little space we have does have its attractions, wouldn’t you agree? Especially when there are experts at hand to help out! And as it happened, the first batch of the camp coincided exactly with the dates we had free, and off we headed to Maharashtra Nature Park, Dharavi, for our introduction to Natueco Farming.





The first day, being a Sunday, was the day the Urban Leaves’ regular city farmers turned up at MNP to tend to their plants and the Amrut Mitti – the secret of the healthy plants we could see all around us! While Samhith turned out to be the only kid who turned up for the camp, he had a fantastic time with Julius who took him for a tour of the nature park and pointed out interesting plants and birds. They returned happily with Samhith excitedly carrying a cup he had made with a leaf, and containing a dead butterfly! Moreover, they had spotted a few cormorants near the pond, which excited Samhith no less! 





Finding ourselves the sole attendees for a couple of days, we could choose our activities and while Julius helped Samhith make a self watering can – one which proudly holds a pair of spinach leaves which Samhith hopes to eat someday! The next day, we decided to change the venue, and Julius instead came to Chedda Nagar, where he took Samhith for a round, and noticed more interesting birds than we had seen so far! It was a pity that I chose not to accompany them…. I might have got some wonderful pics!



We missed a couple of days due to some unforeseen problems, but the day after brought a surprise in the form of Udbhav, another child from the same area who joined us – he shares the same date of birth as Samhith! In fact, as it turned out, the kids had been born just an hour apart, 8 years back, and they met on their birthday! Could there ever be such an interesting birthday gift ever?



After a bit more wandering around Chedda Nagar, we completed our summer camp at the place where we started – MNP, the following Sunday, with the whole group in attendance once again! This day was one of fun and work, for a new batch of Amrut Mitti was in progress for a film being made on the group and the methods of Urban Farming. While I took the opportunity to explore the nature park in company with Udbhav’s mom, Samhith and Udbhav collected more leaves and learnt some interesting poems from Julius. They both did help out too, collecting dry leaves for mulching and even giving a hand in the making of the Amrut Mitti.




We called an end to the eventful week with a pot luck breakfast – everyone had brought food, from idlis and samosas to figs and theplas. I had taken a cake along, and we all gorged on the food, hungry after all the work.  The summer camp is over and I am headed out of town tonight, but there is so much to look forward to – we shall definitely be joining the City Farmers at Urban Leaves when we get back, hopefully starting a small garden of our own!



Many of you must be wondering what Samhith thought of the camp. He is still hesitant to put his thoughts into words, and with the IPL matches in full swing, there is no likelihood of his sitting down long enough to write something coherent about his thoughts, but you can go over to his section of this blog – The Junior Wanderer – to see what he did put down! Or Click here or on the image below to see his contribution..




Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dwarakadhish Temple, Kalbadevi


Kalbadevi is an area well known for its wholesale steel market, but it is also an area which plays host to a huge number of temples. It is amazing to note that this small area in the heart of the commercial centre of Bombay has an eclectic mix of places of worship. While there are small and big temples galore dedicated to the Hindu Gods such as Shiva, Vishnu and myriad forms of the Devi, the area also houses two Zoroastrian fire temples, and the whole area is surrounded by mosques! And yes, of course, there are also a couple of churches nearby! Innately personifying the multi-cultural essence of Bombay, the area is a bustling hub of humanity at all and any time of the day!

Walking peacefully along any of the roads here is difficult once the shops open in the morning, and one tends to miss out many interesting things while keeping our eyes peeled on the traffic and trying not to bump into our fellow pedestrians. Add this to the fact that a visit to Kalbadevi generally involves buying vessels of all shapes and sizes for us, as well as our family and friends, and you can forget that this is also one of the oldest parts of Bombay, and one of the richest areas in terms of the history of this not-so-old city.

Sages depicted on the second level of the temple.... this is what drew my attention.


I had noticed this building on my many visits to Kalbadevi, but had no idea what it was. On my last visit, I managed to take a photograph (the one above) and wondered what it was. Was it the residence of some rich merchant, or was it a house of worship? Considering that the area mainly houses merchants, could it be a Jain temple? I finally turned to the internet to satisfy my curiosity, and after much, much searching, found a reference to a ‘monkey temple’! I was stunned! First, it didn’t look like a temple. Second, there were no monkeys around, and it couldn’t possibly be a Hanuman temple, so why was it called by such a name? A bit more searching brought forth the information that this was also called the ‘Dwarakadhish Temple’, or Sunderbagh. At last, this made some sense. With so many Gujarati merchants making their living here, this was surely a temple built by them. But a little more searching at last brought me to an article published in the Hindustan Times around two years back, which informed me that this was one of the oldest havelis in Bombay, dating back to 1875! The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna in his form as Dwarakadhish – the Lord of Dwaraka, and is decorated on the front with monkeys, thus prompting the British to name it the ‘monkey temple’!


The front facade.. with Lord Krishna in his various forms and the monkeys which gave the temple their name too...

a closer look at one of the monkeys

The temple was built by Sunderdas (thus the name Sunderbagh), when his father, Thakar Mulji Jetha dreamt of an idol of Lord Krishna in his house, and found the idol in an old forgotten box under the stairs. The temple was built on a grand scale and decorated lavishly with murals and sculptures. I haven’t been inside yet, but to know more about it, read the article which appeared in HT here.
The side entrance... this has the temple name on it. I only saw it because I was looking for it!

A closer look at one of the Krishnas..


Bombay is full of such gems which aren’t really hidden, but which are forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our daily grind. This is just one of them, and one I intend to visit someday to take a closer look. If any of you have visited this temple, please do leave a comment.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rose Ringed Parakeet

Summer always brings a number of parrots to our house. The red berries growing on the tree opposite our house  ripen in the heat of peak summer, and attract these birds by the dozen.They blend in so well with the greenery that we know of their presence only by the racket they make. Unfortunately, it has not been all that easy to photograph them so far. This year though, I managed to get some decent pics...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

International Postcard Swap for Families 2011



When was the last time you sent a postcard? Come to think of it, when was the last time you used the Postal Service? With the world becoming a much smaller place with the advent of the internet, even the phone is now getting redundant. Most of my friends these days are those I have met over the net and communicated with via one of the social networking sites.

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