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Old 22nd January 2013, 17:21   #61
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

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Originally Posted by mavrikm5 View Post
Great Travelogue Nilanjan, Totally hooked. Photos are simply fantastic.

Have been to sitabani forest myself 2 years back. It's one hell of a spooky place once it's dark, the road is narrow and completely broken not a soul to be encountered. The place just scared the hell out of us, we didn't even roll down our windows. Got so scared that we turned around our swift after just a few kms and rushed out. All the spooky stories we heard and thoughts coming to our minds just got to us.
If you are lucky you can spot some wild animals. we saw a deer herd and i think we also heard what sounded like elephants, i am not sure. it was very dark.
Entry point if i am not wrong is to your left just after crossing the bridge from Ramnagar side and a barricade hangs though always open.

I have also always wanted to visit Munsiyari but time and situation never really aligned. will wait for u to get there, waiting for information about that corner.
Thanks.

Yes, we took the same entry point. Stayed inside Sitabani forest for a couple of days at the forest rest house, and did a number of drives inside.

As per the local forest guards, there are 50 tigers in and around the Sitabani reserve forest. Many elephants including some naughty ones that hang around the temple and forest rest house.

I used to stop frequently while driving after hearing an alarm call or at a suitable place, but didn't have any luck with cat sightings.

I loved that forest (though any forest in the evening or night can look like a scene out of that move 'Kaal'), but the FRH where we stayed can get a bit spooky in the night .
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Old 23rd January 2013, 13:51   #62
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Hi Nilanjan I was wondering if you have any more snaps of the Sitabani FRH area? Would be great if you could also share the costs of stay as well. I am itching to go there.

To be honest i had not even heard of it till it popped up in your thread and i have been going to that area for decades now!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 22:27   #63
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

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Hi Nilanjan I was wondering if you have any more snaps of the Sitabani FRH area? Would be great if you could also share the costs of stay as well. I am itching to go there.

To be honest i had not even heard of it till it popped up in your thread and i have been going to that area for decades now!
We paid Rs. 1000 per room per night. Booking from Ramnagar FRH. The place is pretty basic though. But the loos have running water. You would need to cook your own food or get the caretaker to cook for you.

Sitabani Reserve Forest - which is outside Corbett National Park jurisdiction (though same forest continues) is to the East of the road running from Ramnagar to Garjia - across the river.

The FRH
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A trail near the FRH
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The river below
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Pretty basic, but with its own charm
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A small river to the side. There is an dangerous elephant that frequents this area, so be careful
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Old 27th January 2013, 15:08   #64
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
Hi Nilanjan I was wondering if you have any more snaps of the Sitabani FRH area? Would be great if you could also share the costs of stay as well. I am itching to go there.

To be honest i had not even heard of it till it popped up in your thread and i have been going to that area for decades now!
So did you finally go to Sitabani?
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Old 27th January 2013, 17:17   #65
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Wow Nilanjan! The place looks awesome! I got held up in Delhi due to some Social commitments but Sitabani is definitely going to happen very soon!

Thanks for the awesome pics and find mate!
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Old 24th February 2013, 22:55   #66
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Sorry for the long absence folks, will be picking up soon from where I left off.

Till then, enjoy two photos of Nandakot - shot at different times of the day, from different places. The light was magical both times.

Shot during an evening drive
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Early morning
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Old 9th July 2013, 00:07   #67
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Default Kaladhungi, Corbett’s house, Jhirna (Corbett National Park) | Oct 22 - continued.

Let me revisit this travelogue before my memories become rusty, and before I start on my next long roadtrip
----------------
Offroading near Corbett
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After a leisurely breakfast – food washed down with lots of strong black coffee – we drove slowly to Chhoti Haldwani, some 500m away. Corbett’s wall – that he had built over a few years with his own money – to protect his villagers from wild animals – is still visible. It is broken in places, and is moss grown now. With traffic, houses and small shops near the wall, it is difficult to imagine what it would have been like 70-80 years back. There are some funny stories in “My India” by Corbett about a “Shaitan” pig – a huge male one - who used to climb over that 6 feet wall and raid the village crops in Corbett’s time.

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Corbett's house
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We had to buy tickets to enter. The government took over Corbett’s house from a private individual some 50 years back (maybe 60, can’t bother to Google), and converted it into a museum. There is a nice lawn in front of the house. As per a biography, Corbett used to often sleep in a tent on the lawn. Quite a few fruit trees. The buildings are whitewashed, and have many pictures in each room. I was somewhat surprised to know that Corbett shot many more big cats than I thought he had. But can’t judge him with today’s morals – that time, big game shooting was an accepted and encouraged practice for those folks.

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A school in Eastern Kumaon
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I was intrigued by an easy chair cum machhaan that was displayed in one of the rooms. Looked like a handy contraption – pretty comfortable.

The Nandadevis
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Before leaving, we visited the gift shop ‘womanned’ by a charming Kumaoni lady from Chhoti Haldwani. I ended up buying a pugmark-shaped ashtray, while my friend bought the Maneaters of Kumaon.

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We had time to grab lunch before we headed out to Jhirna for the safari. It took us ~ 45 minutes to reach Ramnagar. From there, we had to ask for directions. After going through some crowded streets, we came to a narrow road that led to the Jhirna gate. I was driving fast to be in time – we were supposed to meet one Mr. Kale – supposedly the only Punjabi safari Gypsy driver in this region – for our safari. After a few kilometres vegetation became denser, and I could see some elephant droppings beside the road. The road ended suddenly into a rocky and sandy dry driver bed. Without any notice. I was able to reduce speed just in time. Anyway, Kale was waiting with his Gypsy. After mutual greeting, he turned, crossed the riverbed and took a narrow sandy trail through bushes. Now that trail was fine for Gypsys, but the wider Fortuner got scratched a bit. Anyway, we parked the vehicle 10 feet away from the checkpost/barrier, got the entries done and went inside the forest.

Jhirna sunset, shot with a 70-300mm lens (!!)
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Lawn in front of Corbett's house
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My previous serious safari was in Tadoba, where I saw MANY tigers. I wasn’t expecting big cats this time of the year, but nevertheless the safari was somewhat disappointing. Jhirna is not as beautiful as some of the other zones, and was pretty dry and dusty this time of the year. Saw a few birds, some deers and some monkeys. What I would see in a normal weekend drive to the Nilgiris. The Jhirna Forest Rest House - which was open – was pretty crowded, since tourists were thronging the canteen adjoining the FRH. We stopped for 20 minutes to freshen up and grab some tea. A big male monkey bared its fangs at me, but retreated after I scowled at him. Kale tried hard to convince us to cancel one day of Sitabani and stay in Jhirna FRH instead – we would have had to use his vehicle for that day – but we just told him that we will decide later.

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While going back, we saw a lovely sunset while crossing a river. A few peacocks flew by...the light was not good enough for those action shots with my slow lens. We stopped for 5 minutes at a spot that was a favourite haunt of leopards, but didn’t have any luck. Seems animals take a while to get used to human presence after the few months of monsoon when no vehicles are allowed inside the park. Oh well...

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It was dark when we crossed the barrier and came outside. Now, I see elephants frequently on my regular jungle trips in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, but there were quite a few folks in those safari vehicles who were keen to come across an elephant. We didn’t see a single one during the safari. And 1 kilometre from the gate, we were stopped by a villager who gestured towards the right. There was a herd of wild elephants walking behind the huts, some 100 metres away. It was dark, but there was still some faint light. The herd looked magnificent in the dark – somewhat like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

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We reached the resort around 8 pm, if I remember. I had told Ganga Singh to arrange for firewood, so soon a roaring fire was burning. We sat around the fire over some drinks, waiting for dinner to be served. There was a young guy from around Kausani who was on guard. Tall strapping chap, I was surprised that he wasn’t in the army (army is the preferred career option for many Kumaonis – the Kumaon Regiment cente in in Ranikhet). This fellow said that he had tried a few times, but couldn’t clear the written exam – he had to work hard on the family farm, and there was no time to study.

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We were happily chatting away, and the fire was burning merrily. There was a bright moon in the sky (I was calculating that by the time I reach Eastern Kumaon, I would get a full moon), and a stiff breeze. Then there was this loud cracking noise from 30-40 metres away. It sounded suspiciously like an elephant (trust me, I have had too many experiences with them), so I wasn’t too keen to go and investigate. But this young guard was all gung ho, and my friend was surprisingly enthusiastic. There was one more local chap – who was hanging around the fire – who was pretty keen. So in spite of my misgivings, 4 guys started walking towards the source of the noise. We had one source of light among the 4 of us – that mobile flashlight that you find in the Rs. 1000 Nokias. Now, I don’t remember whether I mentioned that particular area – where the noise came from - was an elephant crossing zone (and a big cat crossing zone), but I was remembering that as 4 of us crept forward.

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After we had gone some 40 metres and our hero guard was waving the mobile light around, there was another (louder) cracking noise from some 10-15 metres away, and from 8 o’ clock that is from behind us! You should have seen 4 grown up, somewhat inebriated men turn back and try their best to do a 100m run within 9 seconds. After some 30 metres, we collided against each other, figured that we had crossed the danger zone, and that if the creature (most like a harmless elephant grazing around – there was one hanging around the resort gate a few inutes before we entered) wanted to attack, he/she would have by now. So laughing (grown uo men can sometimes act like kids) and holding our stomachs, we went back to the fire. But me still thinks it was a dumb thing to do. I have a healthy respect for large creatures who can break big branches like that, and hate to be around pachyderms while on foot.

A Kumaoni village on the way to Kaladhungi
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We had dinner and then chatted till close to midnight. A fire can be mesmerizing as the embers ebb and glow, and the smoke drifts. We then called it a day since we had a morning safari planned in Bijraini zone. Which meant that we would have to get up at 4.15 – 4.20 AM to reach the Corbett gate before 6 AM.
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Old 9th July 2013, 08:44   #68
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Thats a superb travellogue Nilanjan, and the photos are amazing. Have been an avid reader of Jim Corbett ever since my childhood (Man Eaters of Kumaon) - and its great to see all these places through your pictures now. Thanks!
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Old 9th July 2013, 09:02   #69
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Hi Nilanjan,

I had missed this Travelogue initially during my busy term. Thanks for bumping this thread with new additions. I really enjoyed it. Yes. Its a dream project for any southies.

Amazing captures, adventerous terrain, eventful stays

Could not find any more stars to award for this thread. Superb!
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Old 9th July 2013, 10:38   #70
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

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Thats a superb travellogue Nilanjan, and the photos are amazing. Have been an avid reader of Jim Corbett ever since my childhood (Man Eaters of Kumaon) - and its great to see all these places through your pictures now. Thanks!
Thanks PVS. Corbett country is beautiful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacs View Post
Hi Nilanjan,

I had missed this Travelogue initially during my busy term. Thanks for bumping this thread with new additions. I really enjoyed it. Yes. Its a dream project for any southies.

Amazing captures, adventerous terrain, eventful stays

Could not find any more stars to award for this thread. Superb!
Thanks jacs. Glad you liked it. NCR folks are lucky because the Himalayas are ust a few hours away. While we have to drive so far to do Uttarakhand or Leh or Himachal.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 9th July 2013 at 10:40.
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Old 9th July 2013, 12:14   #71
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Default Re: Kaladhungi, Corbett’s house, Jhirna (Corbett National Park) | Oct 22 - continued.

Lovely snaps as usual. You seem to be very much into PP these days!!

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Before leaving, we visited the gift shop ‘womanned’ by a charming Kumaoni lady from Chhoti Haldwani. I ended up buying a pugmark-shaped ashtray, while my friend bought the Maneaters of Kumaon.
hmm...a 'Train stops at Shamli' moment

Edit : I think it is the 'Night Train at Deoli' rather !!

Last edited by mallumowgli : 9th July 2013 at 12:21.
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Old 11th July 2013, 16:28   #72
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Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
Lovely snaps as usual. You seem to be very much into PP these days!!

hmm...a 'Train stops at Shamli' moment

Edit : I think it is the 'Night Train at Deoli' rather !!
Lol nothing like that. Both us are married boring respectable guys

I believe Bond stayed unofficially married even after all those hints in his stories.

Yes, been teaching myself pp.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 11th July 2013 at 16:30.
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Old 19th July 2013, 13:22   #73
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Did you manage to get to the FRH's in the higher reaches? Vinayak to be precise. I ah heading there early next month. So any insights (be it in words or images) from you would be great.
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Old 27th July 2013, 18:34   #74
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Default Himalayan hues

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Did you manage to get to the FRH's in the higher reaches? Vinayak to be precise. I ah heading there early next month. So any insights (be it in words or images) from you would be great.
Sorry, visiting this thread after a while. I went to Vinayak FRH but didn't stay there since I had to come back a day early. Nice place, secluded.

The different colours of Kumaon Himalayas:

Moonrise
Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip-moonrise2-uwav2.jpg

Last rays of the sun hitting the peaks
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Early morning, Nandadevi massif
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Old 25th September 2013, 04:10   #75
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Default Re: Fullmoon in Kumaon: Snapshots from a 7000km cross-country roadtrip

Just finished reading this wonderful trip log. Wonderful narration with amazing images. I'm ok if I don't get to see animals but tracks and signs gets me existed more than the sightings, I like to shoot birds and lesser fauna more than big cats though. Loved the way you narrated each of these sequences, felt like a virtual tour. I wish I can make such trip, continue sharing your camping experiences if you had some during this trip! Great read, thanks for sharing (voted).
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