7 Day Nature Challenge – Day 2

I can only guess how this little guy ended up on the beach all by himself. But, a perfect photo-op!

Location: Yarada Beach, Visakhapatnam

Time: You can probably approximate from the shadow and location. ūüėČ

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WPC: Harmony

Harmony: “the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole‚Ä̬†

The most harmonious I’ve ever felt was probably on my trip to Varkala. If I could have transformed into a tree to stay at this spot for eternity, I probably would.

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Have a great week, folks.

WPC: State of mind

I really believe my photographs reflect my state of mind, which for the most part does not go through a lot of extremes. So it’s not a surprise that the kind of photos that I savor¬†capturing the most are of tranquility.

Take this photo of the Yarada beach from my recent trip to Vizag. It was quite far from the actual city, so by the time I reached there, it was just me and a couple of other people in the entire beach!! A couple of scattered fishing boats, crabs flitting about the shore, and a distant view of the hills with the setting sun. Just the tonic the mind needs.

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For Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

A visit to St. Thomas Mount!

 

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Well, don’t let the ‘mount’ in the name throw you off. St. Thomas Mount is actually a tiny little hillock at the heart of Chennai, overlooking the airport on one side. There’s a suburban train station with the same name, but I wonder¬†how many locals have actually tried to explore this quaint¬†place!

Being the sunset freak that I am, my primary motivation to visit this place had been to capture decent sunset shots over the landscape. Well that and the fact that I do really admire churches and the kind of tranquility that prevails around them. With that in mind, I wouldn’t suggest anybody to visit this on a Sunday evening unless you don’t mind the prayers and hymns blasting through the speakers¬†wherever you go.

Getting here is easy enough, one could either drive all the way up. Or better, take the 135 steps to the top! Easy-peasy and you get to enjoy the scenery as well. The entry to the hill is open from 6 AM to 8 PM, so if you can make it I would heartily suggest making the trip either early in the morning or just when the Sun is setting.

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To give you a little history of the place, St. Thomas Mount is deemed to be a holy ground as this is¬†where St. Thomas, one of the apostles, was martyred. They have some rare relics on display including a finger bone of the Saint himself. While the church itself is very unassuming, it is charming nevertheless and has some nice artwork. There’s a side chapel which has the Last Supper in bas-relief which I thought was pretty cool! I suppose the actual mass is undertaken outside in the pavilion as the church is indeed very small.

This place is something I would definitely suggest everybody to visit for a change of perspective. Chennai looks amazing from a height, and the vast plains of the airport runway to one side just sweeten the deal. The cherry on the cake is of course getting to catch the Sun like this. It’s like the sky is playing with a paint can, splashing these gorgeous swirls all around.

WPC: Transition

 

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It’s that time of the day when the mighty Sun is receding to the other side of the world, and you’re left with this warm diffuse of its last rays on the horizon.

Probably also the time of day the TV sets come to life to gear up for some prime time television!

An evening transitioning into night, this is my contribution¬†for this week’s photo challenge.

WPC: (Extra)ordinary!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “(Extra)ordinary.”

Sunset. Everyday the sun sets. But every set is unique.

And that is what makes something that should have been mundane so extra-ordinary for me!

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An attempt at HDR. Somewhere on the ECR, Chennai.
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Even on an overcast day, that little glimmer of gold is all one needs.
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From my terrace.

Hope you all had/having a great weekend!!

A trip to Varkala – Part 1

There are some places that you get attached to so strongly that your heart never stops to linger over there even after you’ve left the place. Ooty had been one such place in my childhood. Maybe it’s because the first hill-station I’ve ever visited, but those hills and valleys haunted me for months after we’ve returned from that trip. And now, Varkala is doing the same to me. I’m still basking in the afterglow of the whole experience. Even now if I close my eyes, the first image that comes to mind is this:

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I dreamed of the cliff last night. That I was just taking a stroll on the deserted pathway, on a full-moon night, with a dog walking alongside me. The sea was illuminated by the moon, and the rumble of waves droned on in a soothing rhythm. What is strange is that I did not really see the cliff under full-moon so I have no idea how my mind conceived that image.

What is even strange is that Varkala is not exactly the best¬†by any standard. You have definitely been to better beaches, have definitely eaten at better restaurants, have definitely seen better sunsets – but what Varkala does ever so successfully is to bring all of these in one spectacular¬†package. With spell-binding views of the sea, a cliff-top that is lined with eclectic restaurants (all have free Wi-Fi) that serve everything from authentic English breakfast to Indian cuisine, friendly locals and waiter staff – it’s hard to not see why this place is such a hit with the tourists. And it brings something unique to the table too, being the only beach in India that is adjoining a cliff. And in case you haven’t notice before, cliffs are awesome! All of this leads to a¬†place that’s almost irresistible to visit.

But you know what is even more strange? Varkala is relatively unknown to the Indian population. When I first told my friends of my visit, everyone – mind you – everyone were like, ‘Wut? Never heard of that.’ And this is of a place that TripAdvisor India rated as the Top 4th beach in the country! But¬†if I’m being honest, I wish Varkala remains unknown. As it stands, it is a sleepy sea-side town with a healthy¬†influx of foreign tourists and much lesser Indians. Which works perfectly because the last thing you want is thronging crowds in a place like this, especially the wonderful irresponsible crowd from my own country who don’t think twice before littering.

So anyway, my trip began Thursday morning with the arrival of the Trivandrum Mail at ‘Varkala Sivagiri‘ railway station. And I have to say that I was a little rattled throughout the train journey as the Weather app on my phone predicted¬†that there would be ‘Light Rain’ throughout the days of my visit. I know of Kerala rains and how unpredictable they could be, and I knew that if there was anything that could spoil my trip, it would be the rains. But thankfully, it wasn’t as worse as I imagined¬†at all. Sure, it had rained intermittently all along my trip, but it would only last for a couple of minutes and then there would be sunshine again. And anyway, I love overcast skies for crying out loud! So everything was just perfect; I got the clouds and the rains, and I got to go out as well!

Of accommodation and meeting fellow travelers:

Now this time, I decided to do something different. Usually when I go on solo trips, I always book a single room as that would give me my space and privacy. But this time I decided to book a backpacker’s hostel, just to see how it’d be. And turns out I did not make a bad decision at all. I never realized the kind of people you could potentially¬†meet when you share a dorm room with them. Ours was a 6-bed dorm¬†and I shared it with two amazing chaps¬†from The Netherlands, one Tamil guy who is also from Chennai and incidentally works in the same company as mine, and then there was a young lady from the USA as well.

I found it surprising how easily the conversations flowed with all of them. I guess it was the mutual eagerness we had to learn about the other culture. Casimir, who is from Amsterdam, has been backpacking across South East Asia for 18 months now and he told me of all the places and experiences he’s had on his trip. I can only dream of pausing my career like that and traveling for years together.¬†We were later joined by Simon from Norway, who’s been doing his Master’s field work in Calicut and was in Varkala for a week’s vacation before returning to Oslo.

All in all, I had to say that I had a pretty good time at the stay and it was delightful to meet new people, for a change. The best experience? Casimir making us (with a helping-hand from me, of course)¬†the perfect scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, which was apparently his dad’s recipe and was simply delicious.

In Part 2 of my post, I will write about the places we saw and the food we ate. Even though there’s not much to see, you will never get bored of seeing¬†the same place again and again. And that is the magic of Varkala. Once you lap up the mysticism of the place, it’s very hard to let go of.

It is a place I wouldn’t mind settling in forever. And calling it home.

At The Marina

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Half and Half.” Yesterday I had a sudden desire to visit the sea. After all, I think it’s been one whole month since the last time I’ve been to one. And that’s too long in my books! So I packed and shot to the one beach […]