A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in it's entirety. . . I believe in photography as one means of achieving an ultimate happiness and faith! - Ansel Adams

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Picture of the day

Captured this today from my home...

Have posted several pictures in the past of dusk / sunset captured from my home on this blog. I really consider myself lucky to have enjoyed these views for close to 23 years of my life now. However, soon these views would be gone as the panorama is fast filling up with new construction, sigh!

Lets enjoy the sights while we still have them!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Ovalekar Wadi - abode of the butterflies (Part 1)

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Kaas Plateau - Maharashtra's Valley of Flowers - a heaven on earth!

Kaas Plateau - let a million flowers bloom!
Let a million flowers bloom! - Kaas Plateau

Picture yourself at a place where there are rows and rows of blooming flowers on a flat land, as far as your eyes can see - different colours, different varieties - surrounded by verdant mountains, lakes and valleys. If you think I am asking you to recollect a scene from some Yash Chopra film then you are mistaken. I am alluding to a place which is only 6-7 hours drive South of Mumbai and about 2-3 hours from Pune.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

10 Amazing Photos of India - a photo-essay featured on Go! Overseas

God's Own Country, Kerala
Go! Overseas have this week published on their website a photo-essay contributed by me. The objective of this photo-essay, titled '10 Amazing Photos of India', is to market India as a destination where the international community can explore opportunities to teach, study and volunteer. The pictures are a preview to what they can expect in India in terms of the beauty and the culture of the place.

The post has been compiled based on the pictures taken by me during the many journeys I have undertaken to discover the magnificent diversity of India and hence (constrained by my travels) may not be truly representative of all that India has to offer.

In the words of Go! Overseas - "From the towering Himalayas, to white-sandy beaches, India clearly is blessed with an amazing abundance of natural and cultural diversity"

To read the post click here
To know more about Go! Overseas, click here

I hope you enjoy the post. As always I look forward to your feedback. A special thanks to Andrew Dunkle of Go! Overseas for providing me the opportunity to showcase India.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Window shooting (Part 1) and photography tips for shooting sunsets & moons

"I enjoy travelling and recording far-away places and people with my camera. But I also find it wonderfully rewarding to see what I can discover outside my own window. You only need to study the scene with the eyes of a photographer."
- Alfred Eisenstaed
A Bat flies across the setting sun in Mulund

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Shades of melancholy in black & white...

In my "humble" opinion Black & White (B&W) photography is perhaps one of the purest forms of photography. B&W stands on its own feet - on the strength of composition and mood, without the glamour (so to speak) of colour. I have also generally found that street photography is more appealing when seen in B&W - maybe it's because B&W brings out the starkness and hence help convey the mood better. To paraphrase it in a literary fashion - street-photography has the onerous task of capturing the shades of grey in our society and what better than using the shades of grey to portray them! It could also be because the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson (which were in B&W), the legendary photographer and father of street photography, continue to inspire photographers to this day, resulting in an immense amount of B&W work being done despite the colour capabilities of today's cameras.

Initially I had planned to share these pictures as part of another larger theme-based post, but then I had a feeling that they would get lost somewhere in the array of pictures (like so many of my other portraitures). Hence, this small post depicting some of the shades of melancholy which I observed recently.

A trumpet player in a Western-styled band

Wonder why the faces of most trumpet players appear melancholic and hardened to me? This man was otherwise quite jolly and would wink at me after finishing his bit!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Musical Bands of Mumbai 1 – the Dhol-tasha band

Young boy playing cymbals
The arrival of the month of August heralds a long period of celebration for the majority of Indians. Starting with the Parsi New Year and ending with Christmas, it encompasses diverse festivals like Onam, Janamashthami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Paryushana, Eid, Navratri, Dussehra, and Diwali. It is the season of revelry, food (read sweets), music, penance, et al. In this and subsequent posts, I am sharing with you the images of people who get us swinging to their distinctly folksy beats during these festivals - the musical bands. Our first band is Maharashtra's famed Dhol-Tasha band.

If during a festival in Maharashtra you have heard the drums roll, clatter and create a deep resounding sound, then in all probability you have heard the dhol-tasha band play. As the name suggests, the band members play an assortment of drums (large and small) along with hand cymbals to create various taal (rhythm) synchronisations. The group members (more than 10 in number) are both young and old and sometimes also include children. Of late even women have started joining these bands (that should impress the women's rights groups)! During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival one gets to see the best of these groups. They typically rehearse for months and develop new taals to be in the reckoning of the large Ganesh mandals who hire them for the processions.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Shilonda trail - A walk in the woods!

Mumbai, aptly called Maximum City by Suketu Mehta in his book by the same name, is a city of contrasts. One such element is the presence of a National Park in the midst of what is India's busiest metropolis. Which other metropolis in the world can boast of such a privilege? To most Mumbaikars (especially of the types born and brought up in the city like me), the 104 sq. Km Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) brings back memories of an unspoilt childhood when our parents would take us to the park on a lazy Sunday for a jungle safari or an excursion to the famed Kanheri Caves (they are 2400 years old!) and of course those lovely school picnics. Alas, as we have grown up, and through the boom years, places such as these have only remained confined to memories for most people.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Say cheese! It's the World Photography Day!

Today, across national boundaries, most photography lovers like me are celebrating the World Photography Day. Photography is a hobby which gives me immense joy and helps me discover this world in ways different from a casual observer. The thrill of having visualised something (a story or a moment) and being able to capture it "forever" is something indescribable. Photography has now been around for over 150 years and yet, as a medium of communication, it still remains the most powerful. This is owing to its ability to convey reality as well as the mood in a manner that directly appeals to the sensibility of the viewer.

On this day, I am sharing with you one of my favourite clicks - a picture that I took recently on a rainy Sunday morning while out on a nature walk inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai. While I was strolling inside the park and enjoying the greenery, I came across a house where a boy, seated outside on the rocks, was quietly observing a heated conversation between two people. As I observed closely, I saw that his face was melancholic (probably saddened by the commotion), he was poorly dressed and was looking in a direction away from the bicycle leaning against the house. That's when I took this picture...

Whither Childhood?
Whither Childhood! - one of my favourite clicks!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Maharashtra Nature Park, Mumbai: Butterfly diaries and more…

Maharashtra Nature Park, also called the Mahim Nature Park (MNP), is a 15 hectare (37 acres) patch of green in Mumbai, which comes as a shock (albeit a pleasant one) to anybody who visits it, especially during the monsoons. One of the reasons for the surprise is, apart from the fact that it is situated in Mumbai - a concrete jungle with sky high land prices, its location “within” Mumbai! How does this sound for a place that resembles a mini forest? – located on the Southern bank of the dirty Mithi River and squeezed between Asia's largest slum Dharavi and Mumbai's most sought after business location, the Bandra Kurla Complex!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Lahaul - Spiti Valley Jeep Safari: Notes & anecdotes from a 7 day odyssey through the middle land!

Connoisseur’s delight…door to freedom...

If you are not averse to any of these -

  • living at an average altitude of 4,250 metres in a cold desert;
  • travelling on narrow (single lane), gravel and water filled roads winding through the Himalayas, which stare thousands of feet down into a violent river, and where road blocks due to landslides and snowfalls are as common as the day and night;
  • living without newspaper and telecommunication network (save for BSNL) in a place unscathed by modernity;
then Spiti is the place for you - the connoisseur traveller, the solitude seeker, the adventurer!

Spiti Valley came on my radar a couple of years back while researching some exotic driving holidays in the Himalayas. I was instantly taken in. Ladakh had been on my travel list for over seven years (since the time the populace had not even heard about it), but seeing the swarm of casual tourists thronging to it since the release of 3 Idiots, I decided that it had to be Spiti that I must visit this time around, before the hotels over there too started dishing out thalis!

View of Spiti Valley from Kye Monastery
Spiti, which means ‘the middle country’, is the land of ragged and snow capped mountains that reach out to the clear deep blue skies. Here, in the cold desert, trees are scarce and the moonscape expansive. Spiti is the land of several perennial rivers - Spiti, Pin, Chandra - whose gurgling sounds will soothe you in the night and whose ferocity will awe you when you travel alongside them in the day time. Ah, and not to mention the placid, azure blue lakes like Chandra Taal, Nako, Dhankar. The observer would also be struck by some of the most beautiful canyons and the most unusual clay and rock formations along the river bed and in the mountains. The continuity of the landscape is only broken by numerous waterfalls and glaciers, including one of world's largest non-polar glaciers - Bara Shigri.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, India - A journey into the wild!

Planning a "hot" weekend excursion... Two months back a casual discussion with my friend on visiting a national park for our May – June sojourn threw up Tadoba - Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), located in the Indian State of Maharashtra, as an option. The park was not only brimming with tigers, but we had also never been there earlier, and the place had been in news as a number of tiger cubs had been born there in the past 12 months. The best part was that we could cover the place over a weekend! While we knew that temperatures in this part of the country could touch 48 degrees Celsius in May – June, we also knew that summers were the best time to sight tigers and the number of casual tourists too would be fewer. Coming close on the heels of my visit to the Ranthambhore National Park, I was naturally excited about the prospect. Deciding to look no further, we packed our bags and set sail....
For a slide show of complete set of pictures from Tadoba - Andhari Tiger Reserve, please click HERE.

Exploring the wild side of Maharashtra... Also called the "Jewel of Vidarbha", Tadoba - Andhari Tiger Reserve is Maharashtra's oldest National Park located in the Chandrapur district, about 155 KM from the Nagpur International Airport. TATR is home to about 43 Royal Bengal Tigers (Panthera Tigris Tigris - India's National Animal), some 80 species of other mammals and 280 species of birds. A Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest, it is largely a flatland with 40 per cent of its area covered with bamboo trees, which gives it a unique appearance. Compared to other popular tiger reserves in India, TATR is relatively under-explored and under-photographed. The place has only of late been attracting tourists and is slowly coming up on the Indian wildlife circuit. At the moment, however, people from the Nagpur - Chandrapur belt comprise bulk of the tourists.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Birds of Ranthambhore National Park, India

This is a follow-up article to my previous post “The Tigers of Ranthambore”.
For a slide show of complete set of pictures of the Birds of Ranthambhore, please click here.
The Royal Bengal Tiger is the magnet that attracts thousands of visitors every year to the Ranthambhore National Park. However, birds form an equally important part of the biodiversity of this park’s ecosystem and one cannot help but admire their beauty and melodious voice. In fact on occasions, when sighting a tiger proves elusive, bird watching keeps your spirit buoyed.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Tigers of Ranthambhore National Park, India

“A Tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and that when he is exterminated – as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support – India will be the [sic] poorer, having lost the finest of her fauna.”
 – Jim Corbett, Man-Eaters of Kumaon (1944)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Bird watching over last few months - @ Sewri, Mumbai

This post is in continuation of my previous one. Shown below are pictures of some of the other birds I spotted @ Sewri during the BNHS flamingo festival on 27th March 2010.

Common Sandpiper

Bird watching over last few months - Flamingos of Sewri, Mumbai

Portrait of a flamingo
Lesser flamingos (called Rohit in Hindi) are beautiful wading birds (long necked and long legged) with pink plumage. They have a bill that is shaped uniquely to filter algae, small invertebrates and other food particles from the water while holding their head upside down. They migrate in winter from the Rann of Kutch (located in the western State of Gujarat), where they breed, to various parts of India and are found in Mumbai along its eastern coastline from Sewri to Airoli. An estimated 15,000 Lesser and Greater flamingos flock to this area every year!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Bird watching over last few months (in and around Mumbai)

Update (dated 18 April 2010)

Would like to quote from an article "How green was my city" that appeared in today's Time's of India (Mumbai edition) -

"SPROUTS founder Anand Pendharkar says the innate features of Mumbai can back up the fight to save its biodiversity. For one, he says, the city, which is situated in a biodiversity hotspot like the Western Ghats, is the only one in the world to have a national park within its limits, apart from rivers, creeks, hills, lakes, four types of forests (mixed deciduous, moist teak, mangrove and sup-tropical hill) and nearly 300 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies, 60 species of snakes and 52 species of mammals. Mumbai has a unique cultural and natural heritage, he says.
But over the years, with rapid urbanisation and the lack of climate-resistant governance, several species of birds like the Grey Hornbill and Red Whiskered Bulbul that made Mumbai their home, are a rare sight now. The population of the Common House Sparrow is depleting, nearly 80% of our frogs have been poached under our noses and now Bullfrogs and Tree Frogs sound like creatures found in zoos, he says. Our beaches were once a nesting ground for sea turtles. Dolphins,which were occasionally sighted off Mumbai’s beaches, also played a vital role in conservation by saving sea snakes and crabs by entangling them in a web but not consuming them.
The road-widening project along the Western Express Highway, Pendharkar says, has resulted in coral trees being wiped out, and the toll now includes birds called Rosy Pastors. With the filling up of the Uran wetlands, hundreds of species of migratory waders from the Arctic will starve and die or go back without nutrition from benevolent Mumbai, leading to poor breeding and eventual extinction in their summer habitats, he says."

To read the full article please click here http://bit.ly/cYgEiJ 

Original post (dated 21 March 2010)

"There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before." - Robert Lynd, Blue Lion and Other Essays

The yellow footed green pigeon (above) is the State bird of Maharashtra.

The two bee-eaters (above) do not seem to be on talking terms!

Mumbai, despite being a concrete jungle, has quite a few bird watching sites - in and around. One can find a comprehensive list of these sites over here: http://birdinginbombay.blogspot.com/. However, some of these spaces are fast disappearing (as I noted in one of my earlier posts too). One of the recent casualties has been the mud flat of Uran (Sign a petition to protect Uran wetlands - http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-uran-wetlands).

As Robert Lynd went on to add "Let a thousand men set up their houses in a wood, and the wood becomes a hideous small town. Let a thousand birds settle in the same wood, and it will take a skilled eye to find twenty of them, save for the black patches made by the rooks in the elms. Had man but this power of building out of sight, how delightful a piece of nature would be the home counties of England!"

Apart from this, restrictions on photography are being placed at several locations owing to terror threats. These things may have made life difficult for bird enthusiasts, but have certainly not dampened their spirits.

For those who are not excited about travelling a mile to spot a bird can do so even from the confines of their home. One has to only look. I have, thus far, spotted the following birds from the windows of my house - black kite, green bee-eater, coppersmith barbet, house sparrow, house crow, large billed crow, drongo, rock pigeon, rose ringed parakeet, Eurasian golden oriole, Asian koel, Oriental magpie robin, purple rumped sunbird, cattle egret, red vented bulbul, white throated kingfisher, common myna, etc.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Undeterred by the haze, Kiran sets his eyes on the target above...
In picture: Kiran Bhangare; Location: Karnala Bird Sanctuary

In picture: Mahesh Kondwilkar, Swarupa Amin, Kiran Bhangare, Vikas Kokare; Location: Morbe Dam

In picture: Nilesh Wanjari; Location: Morbe Dam

Some pictures of fellow birders taken during the HSBC Bird Race held on 21-02-2010.
For more pictures of the beautiful environ of Morbe Dam (an earthen dam in Karjat, near Mumbai) please see my Flickr stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelegendreturns/sets/72157623518410664/
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This work by Maneesh Goal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.