Photo Journal

Lakshadweep – The Coral Paradise (Photo Journal)

Festooned with unspoiled and pristine marine life, silvery beaches and exquisite coral reefs, Lakshadweep or the “One hundred thousand Islands” is an ideal tropical getaway in the Arabian Sea. Located off the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep flaunts a group of 36 islands of which 10 are inhabited. Adorned with tall coconut trees and cornucopia of Tuna fish,  these tiny group of islands casts a ethereal spell in the hearts of tourists.

This trip of mine to this palm-laden coral islands was in December 2010. And as you can guess, I don’t remember any details of this trip. So here’s my solution : A Photo Journal.

Now, if you are planning to visit this breathtakingly beautiful coral paradise, you should first get yourself a permit from the Lakshadweep administration. Being the tiniest union territory in India, Lakshadweep is not very well versed in tourism infrastructure. There are only a few hotels and resorts in the entire island group.

Sunrise in Lakshadweep

The sunrise in Lakshadweep as seen from a boat. We had to hitch an early morning boat ride to Bangaram island. The rolling motion of the boat can make one nauseous, but we were lucky.

Bangaram Island

These small sand banks are common sights in Lakshadweep

Bangaram Island

Bangaram Island

Bangaram Island

The true island Paradise – Bangaram Island. This tear drop shaped island is a tourist heaven and a trip to Lakshadweep is incomplete without visiting this magnificent haven.

Bangaram Island

Bangaram Island

The sea bed as seen during a low – tide at Bangaram

The low tide causes the water level to drop by more than a meter and it thereby increases the area of the islands by a considerable amount.

Bangaram Island

Bangaram Island

The major source of income for the inhabitants of Lakshadweep is coconut plantation and fishing.

Lakshadweep

Tuna Fishing

Tuna Fishing – The life line of Lakshadweep

Sunset in Lakshadweep

Sunset in Agatti Island

Sharks!!

These lads were happy to show me their prized catch – Sharks!

Lakshadweep

The largest tree in Lakshadweep and see how tiny my sister is compared to it.

Lakshadweep

Thats the “highway” in Lakshadweep. I’m not kidding. This is how the roads are. After all, who needs a 4 lane road to travel in an island that’s hardly 8 km long?Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep

Alluring sandy beaches!!

Aerial view of kavarathi

Aerial View of Kavarathi – The capital of Lakshadweep

My Helo!!

That’s my ride. The connectivity between islands is poor. You can get yourself a helicopter ride from Agatti to Kavarthi if you are lucky. Else its a long boat ride through the rough Arabian sea.

Family

What’s a trip to Lakshadweep, without a family photo by the beach?

Lakshadweep

The Lonely Beach

Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep

Miniature Coconuts!!

Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep

Dead Corals seen during Low tide at Kavaratti

Lakshadweep

A swim in the calm seas of Kavarathi. Lakshadweep islands are a diver’s Eden. Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Kayaking, Canoeing and Water Skiing are a few adventure sports that Lakshadweep offers.

Lakshadweep

A view of Kavarathi from the Light House.

Underwater view

Underwater view

Underwater view

Underwater marine life as seen through a glass-bottomed boat

My Ship!!

Capt: Jibu "Sparrow"

MV Bharat Seema – My ride back.

The transportation facilities are very poor in Lakshadweep as the weather plays a significant role in boat and ship schedules. The flights are few and expensive. So be ready to shell out a few more days if the weather Gods aren’t in your favour.

This concludes my photo journal on Lakshadweep. I’d urge you to visit this place as it’s one of the most beautiful island wonderlands in the world.

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Nathula Pass – The Indo-Sino Border (Photo Journal)

Located atop the snow capped mountains of Sikkim is the famous Nathula Pass – The artery of Indo – China Border trade. Just like the previous post on Bagdogra, this photo journal is a journey to this magnificent mountain pass. Located at a distance of about 50 kms from Gangtok, Nathula pass is at an altitude of 14200ft (4300+ m) and is covered in snow throughout the year.

The road to Nathula Pass is in itself a joyous adventure. The Tsongo Lake is at an altitude of 12400ft and is a sight to behold.

OK, here we go. This journey with my family was undertaken in May 2008, and I must confess, I don’t remember all the details.

Road to Nathula

Kyongnosla Waterfall

Road to Nathula

India shares a pretty long border known as McMahon Line, though under dispute, with china. The Sino-Indo border dispute in India’s eastern sector is one of the most intractable land conflicts. But that didn’t stop us from visiting the  border at Nathula Pass, a part of the old “Silk Route”. To make matters worse, the visit to Nathula pass is restricted for a very few months and that too on specified days for specified number of vehicles. Having a friend in high post in Military sure helps, as we obtained special permit from the Military Headquarters at Gangtok.

Tsongo Lake

This is the Tsongo Lake and it remains frozen in winter. Though small, it is a very beautiful lake, Don’t judge beauty by size.

And I have a bad news for foreigners. Tsongo lake is as far as you go as Nathula Pass is off limits to foreign nations. Its disappointing, but better hope that the govt takes a lenient view on this. Till then you have to adjust with blogs and photo journals like this one to visit Nathula.

Tsongo Lake

Road to Nathula

Road to Nathula

The roads, built by Project Border roads organization (BRO) of India Army, are itself an engineering marvel. The roads are in a pretty bad shape and are covered with snow close to the top. The mild snow fall takes the temperature below freezing point even in peak summer. The shortage of oxygen and lack of acclimatization of body can affect any traveller.

Road to Nathula

The road leading to Nathula pass is almost through the china border after a few kilometers. The fence you see in the above pic is the border. Watch out the “Don’t cross, you are under surveillance of China Military” sign posts on the road side.  It annoying! Its like your neighbour is peeping into your house. I hate it.

Indo - Sino Border

This is the snow covered Indo – China Border at Nathula Pass.

Indo - Sino Border

I came!! I saw!! I conquered!!

Indo - Sino Border

Indo - Sino Border

That’s China. Itz just a few lines of Barbed wires that separate 2 mighty nations. If you are lucky, you might even get a chance to shake hands with the Chinese soldiers (Too bad, I wasn’t that lucky)

Indo - Sino Border

Did you see that!! I have my fingers in China!!

Indo - Sino Border

A War Memorial to fallen heroes of Indian Military, located at Nathula Pass.

Indo - Sino Border

There is a camp house and auditorium at the top and also a canteen. Even if you are not a tea lover, I’d urge you to try a brewing tea here. Trust me, you’ll love it. There is a souvenir shop run by Military personals wives welfare society for the benefit of visitors. Most importantly, don’t forget to get your certificate of visit so that you can brag about visiting Nathula.

Road to Nathula

Road to Nathula

So, what do you think? Did you like the place?

If so, what are you waiting for – Get packing!! As I always say, you can’t do justice to yourself as a traveler if you haven’t been to Nathula Pass. And Sikkim is a very beautiful place as well. I’ll write about Gangtok in another post, some other time.

Before I conclude I’d like to take a moment to remember the brave sons of our nation who gave up their today for our tomorrow. Do take a second to thank the soldiers who serve at the borders of India braving the harsh weather and guarding the integrity of mighty Bharat, so that you and I can sleep safely.

This is the end of Nathula Pass Photo Journal.

Categories: Photo Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Bagdogra – Along the Borders (Photo Journal)

This is a new experiment from my part. These post are mainly for photographs that tells the story of the place.  So for all those people bored with my travel stories, this is for you. And these pics are not to showcase my photography skills. They are just an illustration of the magnificence or modesty of the location. Okay, truth be told, these trips happened a few years back. And trust me, I don’t have the memory of a computer to remember most details of the journey. But there are indeed a few memorable instances. So here, I would like portray my older journeys on the canvas.

Bagdogra – It is a small village in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. For travellers to Darjeeling or Sikkim, Bagdogra holds the nearest airport. From tourism point of view, Bagdogra has nothing but the airport. I too landed in Bagdogra for my Sikkim – Darjeeling visit, but something about Bagdogra caught my eye – its proximity to 3 national borders. This is my trip to explore the Indian borders to Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. (May, 2008)

Coronation Bridge

The Coronation bridge is on NH 31 and was constructed by the British over the river Teesta.  It is an impressive feat of engineering.

Gateway to Bhutan

This is the gateway to Bhutan. The indian side is known as Jaigaon and the Bhutan side is Phuentsholing. There is a drastic difference in culture and styles, the moment you cross the gate and the sitting-guy in the middle of the pic, actually washes the wheels of your car as you stop at the border. That’s the cleanliness in Bhutan.

Welcome to Bhutan

A Welcome board

India seen from Bhutan

Jaigaon seen from Bhutan. The river Torsa can also be seen.

Bangladesh Border

This is the Indo – Bangladesh border. Yes, it looks unostentatious and even Indians require a passport to cross it.

Indo - Nepal Border (Indian Side)

This is the Indo – Nepal border at Kakkarvitta. This pic was taken from the indian side and the pic below from inside Nepal.

Indo Nepal Border (Nepal side)

I took a road trip around these borders and they are very close from Bagdogra. The farthest is Bhutan border which is about 150 km and the closest is Nepal border at Kakkarvitta. Indian citizens need no Passport for Nepal, Bhutan. In Bhutan, however, Indians require a permit. Bangladesh cannot be reached without a Passport.

NaxalbariThis is the birth place of Naxalism – Naxalbari. It lies in the route to Kakkarvitta.

A small village in Bagdogra

This is a small village in Bagdogra. These people toil all their lives in the tea plantations of landlords, adjoining the village and it continues through generations.

This concludes my photo journal on Bagdogra. A seemingly trivial village that holds the key to the gates of 3 nations.

Categories: Photo Journal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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