Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nellayappar Temple - Part 3 (Tirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

Its been quite some time since Part 1 &  Part 2 of Nellayappar. Here's Part 3. The overwhelming awesomeness of Vijayanagar Nayak contribution is extremely evident at several places here. Here are some sculptures...... in detail..........
That's the life sized Manmadha / Kamdev / Cupid / God of Love and.....


...his wife Rathi!!


A closeup of his very handsome face. 
Look at that sharp nose & arched brows!!!
His floral earrings, Wow, right?!!!


Isn't she pretty too? Too bad, somone broke her nose.
Look at her bird detailed head ornament, large top knot, & fantabulous earrings!


His chest and the Oh So Many! Necklaces!!!


His wrist and wrist band!!!


A consort of his holding one of his symbols - peacock!


Another consort holding another symbol - banana flower!!


Yet another consort holding yet another symbol - the mythical creature Yaali!!!


You know he carries a bow made of sugarcane.
Did you know its string was made of beetles?!!!!


Veerabadhra.....


...and his sharp sword & details on his outfit & jewelry!!!




Detailing on the fabric...


...and the thin, delicate, yet detailed accessories!!!

TO GET THERE:

Refer my earlier post.

Dedicated to Prof.Swaminathan & Co.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cars & Bikes at Indian Luxury Expo - Part 2 (Chennai - Tamil Nadu)

Next super bike there was Indian Motorcycles, which was the first motorcycle company in America. There were 2 models in the display - Scout and Road Master. The Road Master is a 1800cc bike weighing 400kg. That's pretty heavy! Both front & rear are floating rotor ABS brakes. The tank capacity is almost 21lt and comes with a 6 speed gear box. The tires are Dunlop tires. The engine is a Thunder Stroke 111 engine. There's an option of keyless button start ignition as well..
Every thing about this bike has a vintage feel to it. The bike comes with a huge 140lt storage unit. The pillion seating is detached here, but should see how it looks it. It looks like, in 1 word, like a throne, with a cushion-y back rest, and an arm rest as well!!! Like a high end car, this bike comes with a fog lights as well! It has a analog speedometer unlike Ducati. It comes in a gorgeous maroon, a maroon - ivory combo and matte black. The matte black version looks too fabulous!!! This is priced at about 34 lakhs.
A budget model of Indian Motorcycles is called the Scout. This is a 1133cc bike weighing 244 kg. Yeah, not so heavy as Road Master. Both front & rear are floating rotor ABS brakes. The tank capacity here is just about 12.5lt and comes with a 6 speed gear box. The engine is a Scout engine. This bike has a cruiser, cross country ride feel to it. It comes with a single seat, however a pillion seat can be attached. Unlike Road Master this doesn't come with a default visor, however it can be customized. It can also be customized for a back rest, side storage etc. This one is priced at about 12 lakhs. 
The next bike brand there was Triumph. There were 3 models in display - Thunderbird LT, Rocket III Roadster, and Tiger 800 XRx. The Thunderbird LT is a 1700cc bike weighing heavy at about 350 kg. It has a 6 speed gear box and 22lt tank capacity. Both front & rear brakes are ABS disc brakes. The single seat has a slightly arched back, that makes the ride more comfortable. This is priced at Rs.18 lakhs.
Tiger XRx is a 800cc weighing around 200kg. This too has a 6 speed gear box. The tank capacity here is only 19lt. In this model, the speedometer, rpm etc are in a LCD display panel. This machine has 3 options for riding - Road, Off road, and a customized one Rider. The maximum power utilized changes in accordance to the riding mode. Quite unusually, for a super bike, this has a centre stand! 
A very unique feature of this vehicle and also the Roadster is the Triple Engine. The 3 cylinder, liquid cooled engine, delivers a very high torque that makes this super bike, just the best with this 'thunderous roar' sound that they claim! Next in line was the Rocket III Roadster which also has the triple engine! This is the most fantastic of them all with 2300cc at about 350kg. This model has unusually a 5 speed gear box. The fuel tank capacity is 24lt. The oil capacity is a massive 6l. Both front & rear are ABS Disc Brakes. The look of the bike with its 3 cylinders placed parellel to each other on the side, is just killing, menacing!!! The dual head light adds to the action!!! 
While Thunderbird has a 56 wire spoke wheel and Tiger has 10 spoke alloy wheel, this Roadster has a 5 spoke alloy wheel. Personally I'm a fan of 5 spoke. While the Tiger XRx is priced at Rs.13.35lakhs, the Roadster comes at 24 lakhs. The feeling that Rocket III Roadster gives is so vintage, so cross country, a cruise, super bike kinda feel... You get that? I'm in love with this one.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cars & Bikes at Indian Luxury Expo - Part 1 (Chennai - Tamil Nadu)

Recently The Indian Luxury Expo was showcased in Chennai. I wasn't much interested in visiting, till I saw the list of participants - apart from the wedding, lifestyle, jewelry stalls there were quite a few luxury cars and bikes that put up their best foot forward here. The 2 day extravaganza happened here at ITC Grand Chola.
Here at Chennai Expo, the car brands were of BMW, Mini and Aston Martin. The one that majorly caught my attention was BMW i8. 
My experience with BMW was with my friend's GT which we put in an all ultimate tests: covering abt 350km in 3.5 hrs, 0-200kmph in few seconds on a deserted highway, accommodating 7 adults into it, driving it on a pot holed road which was possibly worse than moon's surface in the middle of a forest. Now, looking at this i8 a much more sophisticated version of BMW, a luxury cum sports vehicle!
BMW i8 is a hybrid vehicle that can fueled with electricity as well petrol. It has 3 cylinders and their combined power is 360. With a torque of 380, the vehicle moves for 0-100 in 4 secs. As the other BMW Luxury vehicles, this too has auto gear and doesn't have a clutch. In the Drive mode we have Comfort, Eco Pro and Sport options. The option to gear shift manually is also available. 
Even at high acceleration, the sound is almost cut off inside the car. The eDrive technology makes the whole driving experience a breeze! With its hybrid engine, complete electrical driving can reach speed upto 120kmph with eDrive. Without eDrive, at about 60-65kmph the combustion engine gets activated.
Camera at the front and back helps parking easier. A unique factor here is that it has a top camera too!!! Sensors are on all sides to ease parking further more. Like all other BMW models this too has a built in owner manual. It also has a voice interference. The way the doors open upwards is just a visual treat! For India, only trouble I guess is the 110mm ground clearance. With all this uber comfort, this is priced at about Rs.2.6 crores!!!
Just beside it was BMW's Mini and it was super duper cute. Kinda reminded me of vintage vehicles! Also another vehicle that caught my attention here was a kid bicycle. I've already known that they make bicycles, esp, MTBs, it was indeed cute to see this little one. This is priced at about Rs.1 lakh.
Over to bikes, the first ones here were Harley Davidson, Binelli, Indian, Triumph, and ofcourse Ducati. Ducati had showcased 2 models here - Diavel & Monster.
The Diavel is 1200cc bike with an engine power of 162 hp @9250rpm at just 210kg this is super light and super fast. Both front and back brakes are ABS disk breaks. The tank capacity is 17lt. and comes with a 6 speed gear box. The wheels are a 14 spoke wheel with the front rim of 3.5x17 while the rear is 8x17. The engine is Testrastretta 11 engine and the tyres are Pirelli tyres. Its looks very very classic and is priced at about Rs.15 lakhs! 
On the other hand, the red colored Monster looks much sportier. Monster is a 821cc bike with an engine power of  112hp @9250rpm at 179kg. On handling this feels slightly heavier than Diavel. Like the luxury cars, Ducati provides 3 different riding modes in this model - Urban, Touring, Sport. In each mode, the machine decides the maximum power utilized. The seat height can be a adjusted from 74cm to 81cm, making it ride-able, no matter what's your height!! This too has a 17lt tank and 6 speed gear box. Here too the brakes are ABS Disc breaks. In both models the speedometer, rpm, time etc are displayed in an LCD panel. With all these features, Monster is priced at about Rs.10 lakhs. 
Coming back with more bikes on the show.. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Picture album of Silent Valley (Palakkad - Kerala)

So, the cliff hanger from the last post - did I spot any wildlife at Silent Valley Reserve Forest. Though I didn't spot any tigers or elephants, I did spot quite a few other wildlife! Thank God mine was the first jeep to enter the forest. 
Crested Serpent Eagle! 

Giant Squirrel! At the first instance, I didn't even realize that it was an animal. Look at the pic on the right. Could imagine the pinkish nose as a tip of a fruit like Mangusteen, now does the whole thing look like a big wild berry??!!! That's what I thought, when the guide was trying to point out the animals to me desperately. I was seeing them, but didn't quite understand what I was seeing!!! When I spotted them, they were 2. But by the time I captured them, 1 had gone away!! 

Lion Tailed Macaque - Spotted an entire family. But this fellow decided to pose in all angles for me!

Leeches - Blood sucking Leeches. Oh yeah, a couple of those did get into my shoes!!! My suggestion, wear a non leather shoes and apply salt water solution on it. Or buy nose powder in any local shop and sprinkle it all over the foot / shoes to prevent leech bites! Also take a tin of any pain relief spray (volini / moov) and spray on the leach if its stuck to your skin. 

That's the Ant's Nest atop a tree. I mistook it for a Paper Wasp's nest... 

Mr. Froggy trying to climb a stick...

I know its hard to figure out, but there are 2 portions of poop in the above pic, fresh from a tiger / leopard! Sadly didn't spot the animal though.

A tree clawed by a tiger!

Fungi on a dead tree.

Kunti River.

A stream forming a mini waterfalls enroute.


TO GET THERE:
Refer my prev. post

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Silent Valley National Park (Palakkad - Kerala)

Shhhhh..... Its Silent Valley where even insects go silent!
First things first, why is silent valley, called Silent Valley? Even in the most dense forests, in the deepest woods, its never silent, even in the middle of the night, coz of the screech of the crickets!!! But here at Silent Valley, there are no crickets, so its silent, except for the hustle of leaves or birds singing. In the middle of night after the birds retire for the day, its dead silent except for the leaves! That's why its called the Silent Valley.
The entire area is about 90 sq. km. The actual valley is 22 km from the point of entry. This 22 km on all sides is a buffer zone where various plantations are happening incl. teak, coffee, pepper etc. The tribals of this forest are engaged in this plantation and are given daily wages, thereby protecting their livelihood without migrating them! This buffer area is another 142 sq. km. Reaching there 
In Hindu mythology this forest was called the Sailendhri forest where in Mahabharata, the Pandavas & their mother Kunti, went on a forest hideout for 14 years. In 1958, plans were made to build a dam here. Later on, thanks to the intervention of all citizens incl. students, the plans were dropped. If the dam had been built, a major portion of the valley would have gone under water! In 1984, Ms.Indira Gandhi, planned to pay a visit to this place before her assassination. In 1985, then Prime Minister, Mr.Rajiv Gandhi, visited this area and christened the place as Silent Valley and declared the place a protected area, a national park.

The main animals here are Lion Tailed Macaque, Giant Squirrel, Serpant Eagle apart from Elephants, Leopards, wild boar, bear etc. The animals that are not here are spotted deer, lion, crows, crickets, peacock. 268 types of birds and 146 types of butterflies have been documented here. There are way too many unique plants incl. orchids that are endemic. 
The main reason for the extensive presence of Lion Tailed Macaques is due to the availability of its favourite food. Its called the Vedippila in Malayalam. The particular fruit that the it loves is here for 3 of the 4 seasons year long. The fruit is somewhat similar to Durian. Should be a variety of Durian. Its very thorny and hard on the outside and when you open it up, its as 5-6 wedges, that kinda tastes similar to Ice Apple! A wild cousin of Durian???

Presently there are 20 jeeps and 2 buses that provide transport from the gate to a particular point inside the forest at which they stop at a camping site after which a little trek for 2.5km is required, till the Kunti River. Beyond this point, there is no permission unless you're a researcher!! 
At the camping site is a 5 floor tall watch tower and wash room facilities. So if you're accompanied by senior citizens who can't trek, they could wait here. 
Here I can give you a couple of tips. Do not wear perfumes, coz that's not a natural smell in the forest and might disturb the animals. Wear outfits with colors that merge in nature - greens, browns etc. Bright colors have to be avoided. Maintain silence so animals don't go away. 

The office opens up at 9. So its better to go around 8.30, so get to be the first person to go into the forest. In that case, the chances of spotting wildlife is more. The more the number of vehicles pass the dirt track, more disturbance and more chances of wildlife going away, and less chances of spotting. A jeep is about 1200 bucks. A jeep and guide could be booked over phone prior to visiting the place. If you're not really acclimatized to ghat roads, you may wanna take a medicine to prevent vomiting sensation on the route to reach the Silent Valley.
The senior most guide is Mr.Esappan who knows so much about the forest and has spent almost all his life there. And he calls himself a Lion Tailed Macaque coz of his pristine white hair!!! 
So, did I spot any wildlife at all??? Hell Yeah, that's coming up on the next post!

For Registrations & Enquiries: +91 85898 95692; +91 4924 253225
Ph. no. of our guide Esappan: +91 89438 31297

TO GET THERE:
From Spices Home Stay: 19km
From Palakkad: 46km via Mundur, Thachampara, Mannarkad
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