Thursday, 30 January 2014

Lancaster University Seen From a Different Angle

Reflections in a water body gives a completely different perspective of things. The water body could be a permanent one like a lake, pond etc or just a temporary accumulation of water immediately after the rain. And this is the theme of this post where I am presenting to you some photos of various buildings and locations within the Lancaster University.

A small pond with Lotus flowers and reflecting the building next to it.

This is a small pond in between the Environment Centre and the Management School. Currently the building next to this has been demolished and a new building is coming up.

Carter Lake

The University has its own lake to boast of called the Carter lake! The reflection of the dense trees next to the water body gives the impression of a greater depth than it actually is.Though not a big lake it has lotus plants and flowers as well as numerous ducks. The lake is close to the Sports Centre.

Reflection of the sky on the road

This is near InfoLab21 which houses the School of Computing and Communications. It had rained just some time back so the water had not completely drained off from the road forming this temporary pool. The weather here is very unpredictable and it rains often.


This is next to the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts or as everyone uses its acronym LICA. This artificial water body next to the building reflects not only the building  but also the sky and the lights. Again there are normally ducks floating on this water body.

Lancaster University

Again this is the reflection of the building very close to the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). This small water pool reflects the various moods of the sky during the day.


The above photo is close to the Cavendish Lecture Theatre and the Faraday Building that houses the Natural Sciences Building. Again this is immediately after rainfall. Across the University there are beautiful flowers that have been planted.

Bowland Building

This is the Bowland building's and the flower's reflection. This is very close to Alexandra Square which is like the centre of the University having the Learning Zone, shopping complex, University House, Library etc.

Also read: The Hidden Gem of Lancaster University

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Sunrise at Madag

During my recent stay at Hail Himalayas in the Katnalu Creek valley I was told that the views of dawn and dusk are beautiful from a place called Madag and asked if I would like to go there and of course I said yes.

Dawn as viewed from Madag

As the viewing point is located about 5 kms away we were ready by 5.45 AM to start despite the fact that there was still frost on my tent and on the car panes and stars in the sky as it takes 45 minutes by car. And you gain an altitude of nearly 2000 feet!

View of Sunrise at Madag

Initially I was skeptical whether all this exercise would be fruitful as the sky was overcast with grey clouds. When we reached Madag it was still dark but within a few minutes the eastern horizon's colour started changing from black to grey to various shades of orange and red. Now the advantage of Madag is that in this area this is at the highest point and therefore gives you a 360 degree view of the area.

First rays of the Sun hit the mountains

On the northern side Shimla, capital of Himachal Pradesh, is also clearly visible though by road it is a good 30 kms away but it might have been only 7-8 kms as the crow flies. At the specific point there is only an ancient temple of Jwala Mata. But here look at the contrast of an ancient temple with the modern facility of solar lamps! I could not see inside the temple as that early in the morning it was closed. It was a good start of the day!

Jwala Mata Temple, Madag

Madag can be reached by first taking the Chandigarh-Shimla road and then from Kandaghat take the Chail road. At Sadhupul one needs to take the unmetalled road for the last 5 kms to reach Madag.

Also read:
My Stay at Hail Himalayas
Birds at Katnalu Creek, Himachal

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Birds at Katnalu Creek, Himachal

The Katnalu Creek is a bird watchers paradise. Though when I had initially gone there I was not aware of this fact. I was able to recognize some but not all (I am not an Ornithologist).

Red Billed Blue Magpie

Among the most beautiful bird in this area that I saw was the Red Billed Blue Magpie. Now these birds do not like to be clicked and do fly away the moment you go closer to them.

Red Billed Blue Magpie in Flight

I was staying at the Hail Himalayas and right next to the camp itself there was a group of Magpies so I was able to get some good shots. They have a pretty long tail and the colour blue looks really beautiful. And they look magnificent when in flight!

Orange Flanked Bush Robin

I also saw a couple of Orange Flanked Bush Robin's very close to the camp but it is again difficult to go too close for a good shot.

Orange Flanked Bush Robin

Compared to the first two the White Capped Redstart now actually likes to be photographed! This one I caught while trekking in the Katnalu Creek area close to the Shiva waterfall and it was not at all camera shy.

White Capped Redstart

 Its head is white and upper body part mainly black and brown red under the wings. It can normally be found near some water source and probably that is why it is also known as the White Capped Water Redstart.

White Capped Redstart

I also noticed a group of Black Headed Jay at one particular point on a trek. It was very difficult to take a good shot as they were high up and camouflaging themselves very well in the trees.

Black Headed Jay

I was told by Mr Hem Thakur of the Hail Himalayas that even he has seen this bird variety in this region for the first time. He has a good knowledge of the bird as well as plant life in the mountains.

A Blue Whistling Thrush near the Hail Himalayas campsite

There were several bird species which I was only able recognize but could not photograph while there were others that that I was able to shoot but did not recognize. Both the photos above and below are the ones I could not recognize.

A bird in the Katnalu Creek area

I also saw the green bee eating birds, several Teetar or the Grey Francolin (also called the Grey Partridge), and also a bird which was turquoise green under the wings.

I think I would go another time only with the mission of bird watching so that I have more time and patience which is required for this activity.

Also read: My Stay at Hail Himalayas

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Happy Id-e-Milad

I wish you a happy Id-e-Milad or Milad un-Nabi and on this occasion I present to you a contemporary experimental Sufi Dervish whirling dance from Austria by Ziya Azazi which left me enthralled.

Sufi Dervish Dance by Ziya Azazi

Also read and watch: Sufi Dervish Dance

Monday, 13 January 2014

Happy Lohri, Bhogali Bihu, Makar Sankranti and Pongal

May I wish all of you a Happy Lohri. I also wish my Assamese friends on the occasion of Bhogali Bihu. Both these festivals are being celebrated today.

Happy Lohri

Also my best wishes for Makar Sankranti and Pongal that are due tomorrow. Incidentally all these festivals are harvest related festivals. While Lohri is celebrated more by Punjabis, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in large parts of the North and South India. Pongal is celebrated in Tamil Nadu. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

My Stay at Hail Himalayas

I recently stayed at an adventure camp Hail Himalayas on their invitation from 6th to 8th January and what a great start to 2014 the three days had been.

Hail Himalayas, Katnalu Creek

The Hail Himalayas camp site is located in Katnalu creek in the district of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of about 4000 feet. For reaching there the nearest train station is Kalka. To reach beyond Kalka one has to take a detour from the Chandigarh-Shimla road at Kandaghat and go towards Chail and at Sadhupul (about 12 kms from Kandaghat) leave the metallic road and take the dirt track for about 4 kms to reach this as yet mainly unexplored area.

Tented Accommodation at Hail Himalayas

The camp though has only tented accommodation but it is very luxurious and the tents have all amenities like a starred property. I had a comfortable double bed with good and clean sheets and quilts as well as blower.

Attached Bathing & Toilet facilities in the Tent 

There are tea kettles with tea and coffee sachets in the tents which is a boon for heavy tea drinkers like me. The attached bath had hot and cold piped water.

Artificially Created Waterfall & Water Channel at Hail Himalayas

The camp organizers have put in lots of effort in  using local material as far as possible in making this camp. They have even created artificial water channels and mini waterfalls within the camp site. This water is sometimes diverted to the panchakki (watermill) to grind the wheat etc into flour and when not required then it forms the waterfall.

Delicious Himachali Food at Hail Himalayas

I had some of the best Himachali food here in recent years including the needle soup and Alam, a spinach like food, Khatta Aloo, Himachal style prepared Rajma, chicken etc. The food was like home cooked food – tasty and light.

The camp has ziplining, valley crossing, and rappelling facilities and can be made a base for short moderate treks to long tough treks. The area could become a bird watchers paradise as I saw several birds in this region for the first time. In my short stay I was able to do two short treks but the details of that would be in another post.

Hail Himalayas at night

As there is no other settlement nearby you do not hear any mechanical sound but only those of chirping birds and of the water gushing by in the creek flowing next to the camp site. The nights are absolutely marvelous as you do see so many stars compared to the habitations near towns and cities.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

I Wish You a Happy 2014

I wish all of you a very happy 2014. May we all explore new horizons in 2014 and travel to our heart's content. Let us go out there and realize our dreams.

Wish you a Happy 2014

Seems 2014 is starting on a positive note as I have a trip to the mountains lined up at the beginning of next week and am looking forward to be in the lap of nature.