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Old 14th May 2012, 15:07   #1
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Default Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

We are slated to leave for a self drive trip to Madhya Pardesh on May 19th. A mix of anxiety, butterflies and excitment course through me as the date nears - this is my first such long trip (total of around 2500 KMs) together with wifey and son.

How will it be - the temperatures being what they are! Hopefully we are going to enjoy ourselves and come back all charged up and with a lot of pictures to share

It is also the trip when my camera will come face to face with a lot of new and interesting animals and places and i hope to be able to do justice to him. MY camera has had a long standing grouse that we have not yet had a face to face encouter with Tigers and hopefully - we shall be able to put it to rest.

The plan is to drive

Gurgaon - Khajuraho - Panna - Bandhavgarh - Kanha - Pench - Gwalior - Gurgaon.

We plan to cover this in 15 days with 19 game drives across all the jungles. Bandhavgarh and Pench having 6 safaris each. Kanha with 5 safaris and Panna with making up the rest.

Khajuraho is the only "non-jungle" destination of the trip.

How did it start?

Since the time my son started going to school - we have never had long breaks to celebrate his summer vacations, with both my wife and me working - it is not the kind of vacations that we used to have when we were kids for him (which is not fair to him).

So this time - we planned to reverse the trend and planned to do something exotic for his summer breaks. A lot of research, discussions with veterans like Gurudutt sir, HVK sir, and others to finalise the trip plan.

Finally with all the bookings done it was a long wait for the trip to start. On May 19th early morning we started from home towards Khajuraho (some 580 kms) at around 5.30 am.

The roads were good and my recently bought MMI guided us expertly through Sohna and Palwal to hit NH2. We wanted to avoid rush at Agra and Dholpur as I was warned that it would take us a long time if we get there at peak times. Normally when we drive - we dont do a lot of stops. Wifey had packed some sandwiches and some paneer chilly rolls together with other tit-bits to munch on and so we made good time and crossed Agra by 8.30 or so.

We broke for lunch at Gwalior and finally reached our Hotel at around 6 pm in Khajuraho.

We had booked Ramada Khajuraho for 3 nights and the plan was to see light and sound show on the first night and then do Khajuraho tour the next day followed by 2 safari in Panna on the third day.

We checked in, but were dead tired and i was feeling a little feverish - so decided to rest and not goto the sound and light show. Took a combiflam and went to sleep.

Next morning - we got ready and went to see the Western Group of temples. Took audio guide as was warned by other members about the guides in Khajuraho - must say it was an ok experience.

Took a lot of pics of the amazing architecture, have selected some - to try to showcase Khajuraho through my lens.

Let the pics to the talking.


Laxman Temple
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Varaha Temple
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Bhoomi Devi's feet
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Vraha side profile
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Intricate carvings on Varaha body
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Laxman Temple - another view
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Last edited by sach.sri : 6th June 2012 at 17:39.
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Old 6th June 2012, 18:00   #2
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Default Self Drive holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho-Panna

Keeping each post to 10 pics for logistical reasons.

It was a hot day and we were already feeling the heat even though we had started our tour t around 8 am. This day was a "amavasya" and there was some "mela" for shivji in the only remaining active temple in the complex. In the pics - left to Laxman temple with a lot of ppl thronging.

I generally liked the atmosphere somehow, it was quite serene and laid back and i liked it.

We had prepared electrol - as a protection against heat and for re-hydrating the body and were sipping it from time to time.

The architecture and the skill of the sculptures is amazing and seen to be believed - it is very hard to imagine how they would have made the temples.


Laxman Temple
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Lion and the King - this became the symbol of Chandela Kingdom
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Laxman Temple - Entrance view
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Mural on the walls
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Mural on the walls
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Statue of Vishnu - with Vraha and Narsimha heads on the sides. This was gifted to one of the Chandela kings on winning a war
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Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0715.jpg
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Old 6th June 2012, 18:18   #3
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Default Self Drive holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho-Panna

Sculptures inside the Laxman temple

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Ganesh ji
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Last edited by sach.sri : 6th June 2012 at 18:34.
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Old 6th June 2012, 18:46   #4
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Default Seld Drive Holiday MP trip: Khajuraho-Panna

Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0749.jpg

Sursundari picking a thorn from her feet
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Look at the details of the garment - amazing work!
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Exterior view
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Last edited by sach.sri : 6th June 2012 at 19:09.
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Old 6th June 2012, 19:08   #5
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Default Self Drive holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho-Panna

The audio guide has numbers at different points and you have to enter that number in the device and play it and it will narrate about that point.

Laxman temple side view
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0783.jpg

Laxman Temple frontal view - with the other temples alongside
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Kandriya Mahadeo Mandir
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Kandirya Mahadeo mandir - entrance view
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Shiv Ling - even though this is not a active temple, still someone has prayed here
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Sculptures in Kandriya Mahadeo mandir - with conical hats
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Shivji's 2 representations - the one with 4 legs is the one just after this avatar. The other one on the left is i think Bhairon.
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0820.jpg
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Old 6th June 2012, 19:35   #6
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Default Self Drive holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho-Panna

Bhairon.

Did you know - that as per the sculptures here, God's had a diamond shape on their chest (near solar plexus)

Look at the mount of details - the beard with curly hair

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Exterior - right side view
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Lion and the King - symbol of Chandelas
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Exterior - left side view
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Chamunda devi - look at the eyes coming out
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Some other temples - we did not get time to visit these as it was very hot by now and my son was very tired. So we called it quits and returned back to the hotel.

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Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0907.jpg
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Old 7th June 2012, 11:02   #7
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Laxman temple - parting shot
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0910.jpg

This is definitely a new addition - looks such an eye sore in front of the other older temples
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A statue on one of the circles in Kahjuraho - tribute to the sculptors
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0914.jpg

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Returning to the Hotel, i found some small boil type thing on my head, did not give it too much thought. Little did i know that this will undo all my plans.

Anyways - continuing with the trip, we did 2 safari in Panna the next day.

Panna's Jungle is very nice and had quite good supply of water. There are some 17 adult + 4 cubs in Panna and i was quite hopeful of sighting some. But due to the heat and abundant water supply it was not meant to be. Still had a lot of other good sighting of avian variety. Pictures to follow.

Next up pictures from Panna.

to be contd....
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Old 7th June 2012, 12:58   #8
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

completely glued in. 19 Drives means loads to write and lot more to share. Waiting eagerly for some of the best pictures. Dont make us wait for long.
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Old 7th June 2012, 13:20   #9
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
completely glued in. 19 Drives means loads to write and lot more to share. Waiting eagerly for some of the best pictures. Dont make us wait for long.
Thanks Aravind. I could not do all the 19 drives - had to cut short the trip, but there is a very interesting turn in the tale and i will come to that in time. For now let us enjoy the pics from Panna.



Like i mentioned in my previous post - did not have a sighting of any big game during the drives, but did get to see a lot of new birds and variety to eagles. So all in all - was not a bad day spent @Panna.

Panna tiger reserve is also one of the reserves where all the tigers were poached while the forest authorities kept on denying their dwindling numbers to the extent that they even turned against one independent researcher who was sounding the alarms (I forget his name). But then a tigers were relocated to Panna from other national parks in MP and they have prospered here. Last cencus said - 17 adult and 4 cubs putting the population to 21.

Panna tiger reserve gate is also some 20 odd kms from Khajuraho and we had decided to do the safaris from the hotel in Khajuraho itself.

So, on 21st morning - we all were ready to be picked up for our morning safari round. We reached the gate a little late and then the driver realised that he had a flat tire - so he had to change the flat tire and we lost some more time.

When we finally got in - it was already later than 7 am and i had lost any hope of any Tiger sightings.

However, the jungle is beautiful - and also green due the presence of the river flowing through the jungle. Also, there was abundant water sources catering to the needs of the animals.

Panna Tiger Reserve Gate
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_0930.jpg

Beautiful Antlers - i find the spotted deer with good antlers a great and fascinating sight - Love them.
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Fish owl
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Spotted Deer fawn - closeup
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Spotted Deer fawn - closeup looking at the lens
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Indian Roller - aka Blue Jay. Fascinating colors, looks great in flight
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1012.jpg

Indian Roller
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Crested Seprent Eagle
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Landscape - colors of water
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Indian Roller - with a bug
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1096.jpg
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Old 7th June 2012, 14:03   #10
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Continuing with the pics,

Brahminy Myna - such neat looking bird, looks like it has just taken a bath and combed its hair and is now posing for pics

Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1109.jpg

Brahminy Myna - with blue coloration on the beak. I have not seen this before? is it breeding plumage?
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Chinkara female - even the females have small horns
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Chinkara male in its habitat. Chinkara are found of rocky terrain
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Chinkara male
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Huge Banyan tree in the jungle - would have made a perfect pic at sunset
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Crested Serpent Eagle
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Crested Serpent Eagle
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Crested Serpent Eagle
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Landscape - dusty and windswept.
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Boating in Panna - You can go boating in the river in Panna. It costs Rs. 150 for a 30 mins round. and you can get to see some birds and other animals that live around the river
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1230.jpg

Brown fishing eagle - juvenile. It is so huge! Wonder how big the grown ups will be?
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1297.jpg

Brown fishing eagle
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Brown fishing eagle
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Brown fishing eagle
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Pied Kingfisher - record shot
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It was getting hot and late and there was no movement in the jungle, so we decided to finish our safari and head back to the hotel.

To be contd....
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Old 7th June 2012, 14:42   #11
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

In the afternoon, we decided to take our SCorpio till the jungle as it was very hot and we would have had to ride in open Gypsy otherwise. Reaching the jungle, parked and got onto to the gypsy, finished the formalities and were off to the jungle.

Again - the jungle was very silent and nothing was moving. It was very hot and we kept on sipping on electrol to keep ourselves hydrated.

First up we saw this magnificent changeable hawk eagle and indian roller up close.

Then came the best part - sighting a nightjar in its nest with a chick and a unhatched egg. To be frank i did not see the chick while clicking the pics, only later when we were reviewing the pics did i see the chick.

And then tried to focus on getting good shots of chick with its mother - and manged something unique. Will let the pics unravel the mystery

Changeable hawk eagle - up close and personal
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Changeable hawk eagle
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Changeable hawk eagle
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Changeable hawk eagle
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Indian roller - closeup
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Indian roller - closeup
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Next up is a series of pics of Nightjar with its chick and egg.
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Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1444.jpg

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Nightjar feeding its chick - a very rare sighting
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Nightjar feeding its chick
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Fish owl
Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna-img_1552.jpg

With this our second safari also ended and we start back towards the gate it was nearing 7 pm and the jungle was getting dark. When we were about 1 km from the gate, we again had a puncture in the rear tire. The driver got down and tried to change the tire, but somehow after struggling for 15 odd mins, he could not raise the vehicle on the jack. It was somehow stuck.

Now it was dark and my son was getting restless and scared, so we decided to abandon changing the tire and proceed towards the gate with a flat tire. Finally got out at around 7.20 pm in picth dark.

Now is where my new hydraulic jack came into use - i lent it to the gypsy driver and he changed the tire quickly now.

I paid up his dues and we climbed onto our Scorp and headed back towards the hotel.

Reaching the hotel - freshened up and i discovered some more rashes on my face, arms and back.

Did not look normal - and we decided to consult a doctor. Check with the reception and they sent a guy with me to their consultant doctor's house.

This is where disaster stuck - the doc said that it is chicken pox and that i should not go forward. However, other than the rashes i was fit and fine and was not feeling anything.

Also - per the plan, we had to leave for Bandhavgarh the next morning early at 6 am. But the doc was not convinced and when i came back - in consultation with my wife decided to wait for tomorrow and then see how to proceed. In the morning the doc - reconfirmed his diagnosis and asked me to go back.

So all the well laid plans went awry and with a heavy heart we cancelled our bookings in Bandhavgarh and Kanha and started back towards home.

However, this is where Gods smiled at me again. Reaching home - i consulted with a doc in Gurgaon and on examining me he said that i should be ok to travel in another 3-4 days.

This was indeed good news - and we started to plan afresh on what to do so the remaining one week.

We decided that we will keep our booking for Pench that we originally had and fly out to Nagpur and to Pench.

And - this is what we did.

However, that i another TL - will be starting another TL for my second trip shortly.

This was a very good trip with multitudes on Tiger sightings and a lot of new things and animals. Standby for the new TL.
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Old 7th June 2012, 14:54   #12
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Amazing pics of the changeable hawk eagle. Its sharp and perfectly exposed. Birds from your camera is always an awesome sight. Unfortunate that you had to put an abrupt end to this journey. But as you said , something else better is waiting for you at pench. So gear up and with all enthusiasm we will look forward to your other TL.
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Old 7th June 2012, 15:20   #13
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Excellent pictures. Sorry to hear that you had cut short your road trip plans in between. You missed driving on some of the awesomest state highways in MP. Better luck next time though.
Good to know that at least you could get back to complete most of the trip. OT though and I am getting into this bad habit of trying to guess the photographic equipment used for pictures. Let's see if I am correct in this one. Did you use a Canon?
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Old 7th June 2012, 22:55   #14
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Default Re: Self Drive Holiday MP Trip: Khajuraho - Panna

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
Amazing pics of the changeable hawk eagle. Its sharp and perfectly exposed. Birds from your camera is always an awesome sight. Unfortunate that you had to put an abrupt end to this journey. But as you said , something else better is waiting for you at pench. So gear up and with all enthusiasm we will look forward to your other TL.
Thanks Aravind - actually, i have finished that trip last week. Am working on getting the pics sorted out so that i can start the TL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Excellent pictures. Sorry to hear that you had cut short your road trip plans in between. You missed driving on some of the awesomest state highways in MP. Better luck next time though.
Good to know that at least you could get back to complete most of the trip. OT though and I am getting into this bad habit of trying to guess the photographic equipment used for pictures. Let's see if I am correct in this one. Did you use a Canon?
Thanks Samar. Yes - i have been told that the route between Khajuraho and Bandhavgarh and also Bandhavgarh to Kanha is very beautiful. Some other day perhaps - till now, i have tried to goto Bandhavgarh and Kahna 2 times and have had to cancel both times... let us see, maybe i am third time lucky.


Yes - the Camera is Canon 7D with 100-400 L lens.
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Old 8th June 2012, 10:42   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
let us see, maybe i am third time lucky.
Wish you all the luck you can have. I myself am planning a visit to Tadoba or Pench. Let's see what works out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sach.sri View Post
Yes - the Camera is Canon 7D with 100-400 L lens.
Huh. I am getting good at this . After some time I might take a shot at guessing the model just by looking at the pictures .
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