The name Valparai conjures up images of mountains in South America, but this place is in South India. Being in the equatorial region of the Western Ghats, Valparai has a salubrious climate. The region has miles and miles of tea gardens. The tea grown here has a distinct aroma reminiscent of the famous Darjeeling tea.
Most of the dense rain forests have been cleared to make way for tea plantations. But there are still some tiny pockets of forests, with woodland streams running through them. The quality of water in these streams is suspect, as they flow through tea gardens with their intense pest management.
The boring sight of unending tea gardens is sometimes broken by craggy cliffs where one may come across the Nilgiri Tahr. If you look closely, you can see a Tahr (mountain goat) resting amidst the rocks.
Beautiful wildflowers are found near the woodland streams. A blue Rhynchoglossum.
A wild balsam.
The Langoors are seen everywhere.
Valparai can be reached via Coimbatore. There are many homestays available there.
My thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt, the founder of ABCWednesday, and also to Roger and his team who are voluntarily continuing it .
The river Sharavathi holds a special place in my heart as I spent my childhood in Jog Falls, where my father was the superintending engineer at the power plant. This turbulent river flows entirely through the rainforests of the Western Ghats before it joins the ocean at Honnavar.
When it is not flowing through the dense forest, the river irrigates rice fields, coconut and spice gardens. The waterways along the Sharavathi were used to export pepper, cinnamon, ginger and other spices in the olden days.
People extract small quantities of sand to build their homes, as large scale sand mining is prohibited.
The railway bridge across the river is an engineering marvel.
Much of the Sharavathi basin is now declared a world heritage site. The river supports incredible numbers of flora and fauna.
The splendour of Jog Falls is seen only during the monsoon season. The falls is 280metres high. The dense forests around it have tigers, leopards, fox, wild dog and many other wild animals.
Sharavathi provides us with food, electricity and timber.
My thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt and Roger for the stimulating ABCWednesday.
When I first laid my eyes on the rural looking Rekong Peo, its ravishing beauty took my breath away. We had driven through apple country, where the apple blossoms were in full bloom. Rekong Peo is the headquarters of the Kinnaur district of the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh.It was named Rekong Peo in honour of a family which owned most of the land there. With its rustic beauty, Rekong Peo is the right place for a restful holiday.
Apple is the life of the people of Kinnaur. The blooms have fruited, and the markets of all the cities and villages of India, including my city 3000km away from Rekong Peo, are filled with delicious apples now.
The Kinner Kailash peak is seen from all parts of the town. Many people go round the peak braving rough terrain and fickle weather.
My thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt and Roger for the really wonderful ABCWednesday.
The royal family of Chalukya had some illustrious kings. King Pulikesi defeated the mighty army of the emperor Harsha Vardhan in 606 A.D. Later kings built beautiful temples and encouraged the arts. The Chalukya kings were coronated in Pattadakal.
Pattadakal, a world heritage site, is now a small village. The 7th century temples here are in ruins, but beautiful.
Some temples are built in the Nagara style, and some are in the Chalukya style.
The beauty of the 1500 year old temples takes your breath away. The villagerssell fresh coconut water and roasted peanuts outside the periphery ofthe World Heritage Site.
The pleasing ABCWednesday was pioneered by Mrs.Nesbitt, and presently managed by Roger and his team. My thanks to all of them.
The Nagabana at Apsarakonda has a beautiful waterfall which makes a delightful pool.
Apsaras, the beautiful heavenly maidens used to bathe here, according to the locals!
There are some natural caves on the hill adjoining the falls, and a natural garden.
When you come down the rough hewn steps, you are in a golden beach. And if you are lucky, you might catch sight of a snake as we did. This was a sea snake thrown ashore by the waves.
The Nagabanas which dot the hills of the Western Ghats are important for the ecology of the region since they conserve the endangered native flora. People treat the snakes with great respect there.
My thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt who started ABCWednesday, and Roger and his team.
It was just by chance that we went to see Mirjan Fort near Kumta, last week. The monsoons were just over, and the walls of the fort were covered with moss.There were swathes of wildflowers inside the fort. The place was sheer magic.
Built in the 15th century, Mirjan Fort served as the headquarters of the shrewed and brave queen, Channabhairadevi. She exported pepper, cardamom,ginger and sandalwood to Europe from the seaport at Mirjan. She made a canny deal with the Portuguese, who gave her the title Raina da Pimenta,or 'Pepper Queen'
The fort is strong and built with red laterite stones. There is a durbar hall and a market place inside the fort.
There are three deep wells inside the fort, which are now covered. These wells were connected to the moat surrounding the fort.
After the Pepper Queen's death, the fort passed into the hands of different chieftains.
Sharief-ul-Mulk, the governor of Goa renovated the fort in 1670.
There is an amazing secret passage to help people escape if things became too difficult!
Mirjan Fort is near the famous temple town of Gokarna on the west coast of India.
I'll be linking this post to ABCWednesday started by Mrs.Nesbitt, and meticulously managed by Roger and his team.
If you haven't had halibut with hot chilli sauce, you must head for Harne, in the Western coast of India.Hundreds of fishing boats go out to the sea each morning and get a harvest of different types of fish.
The Hindu fisherfolk live on a hill,
Heavy vehicles carry the fish to Mumbai and Pune , packed in ice.There is a lighthouse and a disused harbour near the village.
While the hombres relax with a half-pint, it is the women who do all the haggling.
My heartfelt thanks to Mrs.Nesbitt and the humorous Roger for hosting ABCWednesday.