Friday, October 21, 2011


With over 90 species of Kingfishers spread across the tropical and temperate regions of the world, India is home to about 12 species. These bright plumaged stubby birds with their straight, pointed dagger-like bill, occur in a wide range of habitats and are most commonly associated with rivers, streams and lakes.  There are some kingfisher species found in forested habitats away from water too. Also one that thrives in the driest desert of Australia !

I have composed the kingfishers in a misty morning with the dead logs adding to the typical Kabini set up. In the painting, the Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) and the stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) perch on the dead wooden logs, patiently waiting for their prey; while a pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) hovers over the still waters  to make a dive for its prey. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

GREENSCRAPS - Doodling with nature !

The little-many colourful flowers,tiny insects, leaves in a gazillion different shapes, moths that make the perfect best posers to sketch, the unique character of each seedpod, the fidgety - restless birds - all of this & much more, go into my little hard-bound sketchbook. Sketching what we see around us & tagging these little nature treasures with their names & their stories, transforms a mere sketchbook into a Journal.

A cartographer, Paul Valery, once stated "It takes a considerable difference if one views something with a sketching pen in hand than without a sketching pen in hand." A statement i truly believe. Looking up-close, the amount of detail that you can gather with just trying to draw what you see, is much much more than observing something with a binocular or simple writing about it.

If anyone is even a little inclined to art, i guess Journaling with nature can make an excellent hobby! Keeping the same in mind, Shilpashree & I have designed a 'GREENSCRAPS' workshop for kids... all about observing, exploring, sketching, doodling, collecting information & having fun with nature.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kinnaur-Spiti travel blog

‘How did all this begin? When did my mind suddenly ponder on this travel plan.’ I wonder to myself. All I can remember is collecting bits of information about places that I had always wished to see. Probably, it was a strong urge to escape, to explore, to experience something new and to just be out there! Everything put together - it happened.
A journey into the high Himalaya… I finally set foot.
A stuffed backpack, myself and a landscape so extreme, vast and beautiful!

I trudged along amidst the high mountains, rocky cliffs, deep gorges, valleys, streams, rivers and distant snow-clad peaks, admiring its enormity and grandeur with every step. A constant smile within me, a weird sense of fear that I cannot put into words and the sheer uncertainty of each passing day and each passing moment, is probably what made my trip all the more exciting. There was no rigid plan to follow nor had I booked any guesthouses prior, all I knew was the general direction in which I was headed.

The general idea was to start my journey from Shimla, follow the path into the mountains through the Kinnuar and Spiti regions and end at Manali. No matter where I stayed, I knew I had to be back in Delhi by the morning of August 6th to catch my flight back to Bangalore.

I took a night train from Delhi to Kalka and then hopped onto a lovely toy-train from there to Shimla. From here the rest of the journey was either by bus or by foot. A couple of times I even hitched rides to get to places. On most of my bus rides I occupied the very first seat of the bus next to the driver, and it definitely is the best seat on the bus. Its big wide windshield in front gives a good, clear, unobstructed view of the road and landscape ahead of you. The bus drivers’ mastery, patience and egoless driving skills on those narrow roads, will amaze anybody.
As the road cuts through the mountains; you have a cut rock on one side & a river running through the deep valley on the other side. There are only day buses that shuttle through these routes, not only because the roads are really narrow but also because they are prone to regular landslides. As I travelled further on from Shimla, to Sangla – Rakscham – Chitkul – Kalpa – Nako – Kaza – Kungri - Mudh – Kibber – Rohtang pass & finally to Manali, all thanks to the day travels, I could literally witness the landscape transform from green alpine forest regions in Kinnuar to rocky cliffs, dry-barren, cold-desert regions as I moved higher into Spiti Valley. It was simply spectacular!

As much as I wanted to sit-put and start sketching at every place I travelled to, there was so much to see... I wanted to look at everything around me. It was a new place after all!! Rakscham and its tall pine trees, mountains, distant waterfalls, many streams, wildflower blooms, flocks of birds & its variety of moths, made me stay there an extra day.  
Nako gave a feeling of being on top of the world! The red, yellow, green, blue & white prayer flags fluttered against the backdrop of the vast blue sky. The etched prayer stones placed all around gave a very unique spiritual feel to Nako town. The sighting of a herd of about 15 Himalayan Ibex as I hiked up towards Mudh, made it all worth it and is definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Little Mudh- its village, pea fields, ridged-mountains and its changing hues n’ shades of shadows as the clouds floated by and the sun went down, made it an ideal place to just breathe, sit back and relax. Just knowing that I was in snow leopard country and listening to a few stories of the mighty cat, made me feel comfortable and satisfied! Though I knew I was highly unlikely to see the snow leopard here, during this time of the year… my eyes just wouldn’t stop searching. I was smitten by this little town, but could stay for just another day more. I was hoping to tuck-in a quick visit to Kibber into my trip as well. A stop-over at the famous Key Monastary and a long 8km slightly steep climb on foot, got me to Kibber by mid-afternoon. I guess,Kibber sure didn’t want me to leave the same day. I got lucky to bump into an NCF volunteer who was also leaving to Manali the next day by a shared taxi & I was more than happy to accept the offer to stay back at Kibber for the night and tag along the next day.

The drive from the cold-desert landscape back into high alpine forests was absolutely picturesque. I sat by the window and tried to soak in as much of the mountain-scape as i drove through them.The different terrains I passed, the many travelers I met on my journey, the little experiences I gathered and everything new that I encountered, made my trip complete. I am more than happy that my little mind pondered on such a spontaneous travel plan. I sure wouldn’t have traded it for anything! An experience that will linger on and remain forever!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Field Sketches from the Northeast

Frozen in a sketch... i can keep them with me forever !

Nature.. with its little magic wand has so exceptionally created such incredible creatures and left them wandering all around us. Every now and then, its such pleasure to cross paths with them. The human me, wants to grab and keep everything that's pretty; but, the naturalist me, takes immense pleasure in watching everything in their natural setting; and then, the Artist me, wants to be able to capture them somehow...         
Once they are in my sketchbook.. a little feeling of happiness! It becomes mine to keep !

I was absoluetely delighted to be joining a team of Naturalists on an expedition to Talle Valley, Arunachal Pradesh… documenting the reptile and amphibian diversity of the region. What a team it was! May 2010 was the first time i was setting foot to this part of India and i was thrilled. Had an eye out for birds, butterflies, plants, snakes, frogs and anything that came into my sight. Had a wonderful trip with over 40+ species of birds from Talle valley and Ziro, another 40+ from around Guwahati. and a whole lot of Lifers. Many snakes and Amphibians added to our list too.Rhinos! and Water Buffalo's at Pobitaro Sanctuary made up for my lifer mammal list ! Survived the trip with just 1 leech bite on the last day while i was returning to Ziro.