Gir Travels- Is that a lion i see??


Alright, alright…I sense that I should bring the lions into picture somewhere.

Since its traveler’s luck that brings a successful lion sighting, the Gujarat Government has an Interpretation Centre (=I don’t know why it’s called the Interpretation Centre….we didnt decode any lion language anyway).

This Interpretation Centre is at a place called Devaliya. This place is about 7 kms from an intersection. This interpretation centre is open for few hours in the day. The whole intersection turning to go to Devaliya is closed from after sunset to sunrise

      

Most of the places were very sensitive to Lion lifestyles and did all they could to adjust to the lion’s way of life. A proper integration of Nature’s Way and the Human Way leads to rich dividends!!

Alright back to point. SO after a huge breakfast at Club Mahindra we made our way to the Devaliya Interpretation Centre. One bad thing about the whole Gir Sanctuary is that a road runs through it. There is a State Highway running parallel to the Interpretation Centre and a Railway line running through Gir (=Junagad to Somnath).But this doesn’t seem to have disturbed the lions who according to forest officials are flourishing in the Last Home to the Asiatic Lion.

Ya so back to the point!!

We were up (=ya ya tents!!! we wanted to laze forever!! who doesn’t) when we realised we’d better move if we wanted to see the Centre. So we packed up and went driving. Along the way, we noticed deer. The whole patch is a dry forest and is very dusty. But the deer are unperturbed as we drive through they probably being used to having cars zoom by. There are resorts and even a restaurant on our way there.

P.S” All resorts will be named after the Lion and having some derivative of the Majestic Pride. So there will be lots of places like “Lions Den” or “Lion Safari Camp” or having the word “Sher” in their name. I guess being located in a region which is the last haven for the Asiatic Lion is bound to have some ripple effect.

The Interpretation Centre is a 412 hectare of chain link fenced lion area which is Gir in a nutshell, covering all habitat types and wildlife of Gir (so i copy from a tourist booklet but facts are facts!!). It also has a feeding-cum living cage for carnivores and a double gate entry point. This Centre at present has 1400-1500 spotted deer, 200-250 blue bulls (a spectacular sight), 100-120 wild boar, 15-20 blackbucks (stunning sight), a few chinkaras and sambars aong with other mammals and reptiles. Not to forget the Lions.

After booking our tickets  (=Charges Rs 75 only per Indian and $20 per firangi), we made our way to the bus. There is a bus (=Eco-friendly, Runs on Jatropha Bio-diesel) which takes you on a tour of the Centre. Just as we entered after a while we saw some Sambar deer. This is the main animal that the lion feeds on (=70-80 kgs of sheer delight I’ve heard enough to knock the lion for 20 hrs). They are more majestic than the easily “spotted” deer (:P) and make wonderful watching. There we passed a few Nilgai (=Blue Bulls) These are extremely shy and canter off whenever they come into public eye. The whole landscape is yellow, criss-crossed with myriad hues of brown, streaked with a random green. I’ve got some wonderful snaps of the dust rising up because of our bus running over a dirt track.

After a good deal of driving through the bushes (=it literally looks like that although there are trees and shrubs there), the Lion came into sight. Actually there were 3 of them! Lazing! In the Sun! As we waited to grab them on camera, they Lazed! and Slept! Oblivious of their fans waiting for a picture to show back home! Nonetheless we got a shot of them snoozing and one Lion looked up the other way as if he was snubbing us (=How dare he!! I have a good mind to set Rajni on him!! pun intended)

Ah the Black Bucks are a sight to see!! Their horns curving gracefully with hard rims and the majestic sweep of white along their eyes!!! Mindblowing!! The Sambar and Spotted Deer pale in comparison!! I am uploading a picture!!

We were also treated to a pack of deer drinking water at a pool nearby. A simple sight it is to see animals drink but yet it is so calming. I could just sit and stare at that sight for a long long time

The trail ended soon and we made our way to the Interpretation Centre where there was a small TV playing a video made on the Gir Forest and the lion habitat there. There was also a display spanning 2 rooms about the History og Gir, The Fauna of Gir, Birds, Reptiles and other Interesting Facts that made Gir special. It also shed light on the importance of Gir to the local ecosystem and how essential it was to the ecological balance and survival of the adjoining areas. It was very well done.

Following that, we went to the Souvenir shop and got some T-Shirts, Honey (=Yummy), Some Caps and the Book with photos and Information about Gir (=ya i copied the facts out of this little one!)

After we went outside, we saw uhh..A scoo-cart!! Its a scooter which pulls a cart behind it!! Innovative. It functions as a rickshaw and they ply between towns. It also takes your harvest to the market. So presenting Rural Gujarat’s eccentric and indigenous reply to the Tractor. Presenting the “Scoo-Cart” (=I made the name up its not what its called there)

We clicked a few photos with the scoo-cart. After that we had some tea at a restaurant which also had a farm behind it as well as tents. Then we made our way to Club Mahindra.

Coming Up: The Actual Gir Safari-To see or not to see..Its not in my hand anyway

Stay Tuned

The Spotted Deer…we “Spotted” them most often

Board at the entrance

A Sambar

A shy Blue Bull

One of the pics

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Exploring Mysore-The Mysore Palace


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
We decided to explore the famous Mysore Palace that day after our lunch with Swaroop. There was some festival going on that day because we saw ladies wearing their best and carrying pots and flowers on their head. That took up traffic for a while. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge line waiting to get into the Mysore Palace, it being a huge attraction for people pouring into Mysore. Papa went and stood in the line while mum tried to get a ticket from the counter and surprisingly, the man at the counter gave her tickets without asking her why she was cutting into the line. I guess people who sell tickets are so used to people cutting in the line that they don’t bother with asking. Also one advantage of the crowd was that many people were getting into the palace without buying tickets which meant that that guards at the entrance weren’t doing their job properly. So we mentioned that to the guards who seemed embarrassed and started checking tickets after we passed. Photography in the Mysore Palace is not allowed so the camera had to be kept in a special locker. But we carried it with us nonetheless and asked the guards special permission to keep it with us promising not to click photos inside. People are not allowed to wear shoes into the Palace. This would make it easier to clean it.
Also there are audio tapes in 20 languages here. We’d seen audio tapes in Palaces abroad like Hampton Court which was the summer residence of King Henry VIII. Its a nice way to make people aware of the history behind all the paintings and what each room is and its significance. It also explained about the times when kings used to stay in the Palace describing the various festivals, marriage and the routine of the king. It also shed light on the ways of living and elaborately spoke on the crest of the dynasty. In this case, the crest/coat of arms of the Wodeyar Dynasty which has ruled Mysore for many years.
A little bit about the Wadiyars and how they came to rule, (from the Official Virtual Tour Website of the Mysore Palace, http://www.mysorepalace.gov.in)

As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas.


The audio tape was the best part of the trip because it was so informative. But i would have to add its a rich man’s tool, because one audio tape comes for Rs. 200/- which the common man would not be bothered with.
The Palace was beautifully maintained and the paintings were beautifully kept. The rooms were exquisite and were beautifully detailed in the audio tapes. I mused on the Palaces i’d seen in Rajasthan and this and the difference was there for all to see. There were no spit markings here, no broken glass, no people treating the Palace like a park. The people were fascinated with the Palace and it still had its aura.


The Palaces of the West were in disrepair and the people there needed serious training in how to manage it. Also the history about the Palaces was not documented properly and guides were only out to make money they weren’t people who were genuinely interested in the history of the place. The difference in attitudes was the reason the Mysore Palace looked the way it did. Plus the paintings by Raja Ravi Varma made history come alive.
After going through all the rooms including the King’s conference chamber, the Diwaan-e-Aam(=courtyard where the king could address all the commoners) and through other chambers, we came out. There we had to give up the audio tapes and we could buy photos of the Mysore Palace (=authorised people selling the photos) and books on the Palace. These funds would be used for the upkeep of the palace. The way the Palace was maintained made me happy that somewhere efforts were being taken to preserve our monuments. After getting our shoes, we left for the hotel. We had some sugarcane juice. Outside the Palace, there were many sellers selling stuff like incense sticks(=agqarbatti) and carpets, curios. We got pictures of the West Gate in the setting sun.

After that we visited Swaroop’s place and then visited the Palace to see the illumination.


Nothing and i mean Nothing prepared us for the sight we were to see. The Palace looked so brilliant lit up that we couldn’t imagine looking at it in any other way. Stunning is what i can say. We had no words to express it. We could only stare. There were many people who came to see the palace illuminated. There were a lot of travellers and foreigners who came along with big backpacks. I dont have much to say except you must go and see the Palace once atleast. Pick up your bags and go!!!

Coming Up Next:Goodbye Mysore, Journey to Bangalore
The Illuminated Palace at nightThe Western Gate to the palace in the setting sunthe festive ladiesThe illuminated PalaceWow