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-   -   Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travelogues/130129-bihar-bullet-ride-sonepur-mela-safari-drive-valmiki-national-park.html)

adc 18th December 2012 18:16

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
6 Attachment(s)
Sonepur mela 2012 photo essay



A mahout prods an elephant to lie down for a bath in River Gandak. Sonepur is situated on the banks of the River Gandak in Saran district in the Indian state of Bihar.
Attachment 1028690



A family enjoys their time on the banks of River Gandak. The Sonepur Mela is held in the surrounding areas of Gandak
Attachment 1028691



A performer waits for his circus show to start, Sonepur Mela, December 2, 2012.

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A camel takes up the warmth of the morning winter sun, at Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012.
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Horses on sale at Sonepur Mela, November 30, 2012.
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A mahout reaches out while scrubbing an the elephant at Sonepur Mela, 2012.

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contd...

adc 18th December 2012 18:35

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
7 Attachment(s)
Sonepur mela 2012 photo essay ...contd...

A villager crosses the old bridge over River Gandak towards Sonepur Mela, December 1, 2012. Sonepur is situated on the banks of the River Gandak in Saran district in the Indian state of Bihar.

Attachment 1028696



Colourful glass bangles at a mela shop
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Fish being fried at a food stall in Sonepur Mela, November 30, 2012.
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A stuntman waits for his show to start. "Maut ka Kuaa" or Well of Death
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Stunt drivers and riders in
"Maut ka Kuaa"
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Mahouts scrub and wash their elephants as they lie down for a bath in River Gandak. Sonepur is situated on the banks of the River Gandak in Saran district in the Indian state of Bihar.
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contd...

adc 18th December 2012 19:55

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Thanks much to all for the all the good words and appreciation!

Quote:

Originally Posted by bijuiser (Post 2993536)
Incredible India. Never heard of this mela before. Thanks for sharing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by invincible7 (Post 2993528)
I must say its a very different approach to cover one of the oldest fairs in India, very good pictures showcasing true rustic elements of a fair.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dkhatau (Post 2993568)
Beautiful pics , making me feel that i should visit such fairs just to relieve old time memories. Do share more pictures eagerly waiting for same.


This mela though most ancient is less known than the Pushkar which also starts on Karthik Purnima date.. Pushkar definitely beautiful and captivating in its own way, but as I know from reports has become too commercialized.

As said, this is a fair you must visit to see how melas were in our childhood days, you still get magic show tickets at Rs 5 and toys made from dried mud at Rs 2.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Gansan (Post 2993515)
The fair seems to be a riot of colors! Thanks for sharing!

Quote:

Originally Posted by bblost (Post 2993525)
Thank you so much for bringing the beautiful colors of Bihar to us.

Varied colours and sounds dominate this mela - I did capture it on video too but then would have to find someone to edit and join up all the bits and pieces.



Quote:

Originally Posted by A.G.The Rambler (Post 2993830)
Excellent pictures. This is something different than the sea and the mountains and the exquisite landscapes but very engrossing. A typical indian rural fair. Loving every bit of it. It was great to hear the stories from you in person and i can now relate them with the pictures.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rahul_sinha (Post 2993590)
Awesome pics adc, quite different to your other travelogues till date.
Rated 5 stars.

Yes quite different from our expedition travel trips - this was more of my first attempt at travel documentary through photography.


Quote:

Originally Posted by TaureanBull (Post 2993754)
Awesome pics! You have the knack of capturing the spirit of the event. Well done. Would be looking forward to the performance of the bullet which seems have been lost in the colours of the mela.

Nothing much of the Bullet other than that even after a 1 lakh and 40k km, it still cruises at 80-90 hour after hour without missing a beat. I have been lucky with my vehicles till date and that includes my bicycle bought this year!


Quote:

Originally Posted by SDP (Post 2993808)
Fantastically captured adc!
That horse with brown patches is beautiful!

I know, you mentioned that elephants can not be legally sold. Still, how much does a elephant cost? Any idea?

How about horses? Have heard that good horses cost more than cars! So in a way its chepaer to get a car with 50-75 horses under its hood than getting a animal with ONE horse-power!

Any idea about any broad range?

Elephants are traded, that means no cash is transfered there at the mela. Previously circus owners or the logging industry used to buy elephants from here also some the forest departments.

I did ask about elephant cost and here it ranged from 30 to close to 80 lakhs - and of course some way the seller was compensated - that I am not sure of.

Elephants are more of a prestige thing for these owners. Previously over 200 elephants used to line up all along the Gandak bank, there was some 25-30 now in 2012.

The maximum a horse got sold as I was there was at 10 lakhs, an arabian stallion i think, and milch cows were traded as high as Rs 80,000.

samarjitdhar 18th December 2012 21:48

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Wonderful. Finally it is up. I was waiting for this one. Really brought back childhood memories of fairs and "maut ka kuan". The latter being a really dangerous stunt with considerable risk of loss of life to the riders. I am amazed to see that they use M800s now for this. Back in those days I had heard of quite a few accidents resulting in fatalities or very critical injuries for life to these riders. All this for a decent chance of survival. This photologue now solidifies my next year's resolution, a proper DSLR :).

adc 19th December 2012 11:45

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
10 Attachment(s)
Sonepur mela 2012 photo essay ...contd...


A balloon and a peacock feather seller at Sonepur Mela, 2012

Attachment 1028870 Attachment 1028871


A newly married couple at Sonepur Mela, 2012 and a carnival waiting for customers, Sonepur Mela, 2012

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People gather around a magician as he performs a trick at Sonepur Mela, December 1, 2012.
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Two boys react as they watch a performer at Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012

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Khan Saheb, a horse owner rides and shows the prowess of his horse at Sonepur Mela, November 30, 2012.

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A visitor take his images with elephants at Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012.
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An international tourist lines up youths for a shot at Sonepur Mela, November 2012.
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Coming up on the next post - the dance and theatre shows of Sonepur, another integral part of Sonepur mela
Attachment 1028881



contd...

Ohh!Oxygen 19th December 2012 12:43

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Pure Indian old school rustic charm. I am smitten! :)
Adc : You realy got the knack. Keep them coming!

BTW how to get to the location and what is the time of the year?

ankan.m.blr 19th December 2012 14:37

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Wonderful images. Incredibly colorful India! I have heard about this mela from elders but never visited. the photos are so nicely taken, I can feel the vibrance, color and warmth of the participants from the images.

Jignesh 19th December 2012 14:48

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Hello ADC,

One more interesting travelogue from you. After taking us through best of mountains & valleys or North & North east India, you are now presenting best colors of Bihar, a state which till couple of years back associated with all negative news.

Anyways these are wonderful pictures & we are waiting for more as soon as possible.

But as mentioned by you in first post - "Before I post the bicycle journey to Leh and the trek to Stok Kangri" Is this really true? If yes, then I request you to please start the travelogue on Bicycle journey to Leh - it will be really great to see it unfold here.

Thanks,

adc 19th December 2012 16:44

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
11 Attachment(s)
Telling myself that there is a first time for everything even at the age of 40 yrs and after adequate permission from my wife and she having the confidence that I can conduct myself in unknown situations [!!], I head off to document the dance or "theatre" shows as they are known. In fact to get a head start, went through some of the Bhojpuri videos on youtube the day before and sure enough was able to identify the tune and beat of some of the dances!!

Quote:

Something else that that Sonepur Fair is famous for is its 'nautch girls'. British troops, far from homes and families, starved for female company, having wintered in the upper reaches of the inhospitable Himalayas found themselves riding on loosened reins here. And the best nautch girls from China, Bengal, Nepal and other south-east countries were to be found here. Source
Things have mellowed down quite a lot, even compared to the last decade from what info I have gathered out there. The shows are nowadays conducted much more professionally more so with Bihar tourism conducting the Sonepur mela, and there is police presence inside as the show goes on.

In fact I can vouch that you see more skin shows and sometimes more disturbance in the so called New year parties of the star hotels of our cities.

Sonepur mela is 24X7, as the theatres shows start around 7 to 8 pm and continue till around 5 am - the shop owners and hawkers are seen active even at those morning hours as the hundreds of people come out of all the theatres.


Anyway, seeing which theatre has the longest line and after inquiring from a few local youths, soon found out that Shobha theatre is quite well known. "VIP" tickets, right at the front was at Rs 500, but then I wanted the general atmosphere and the majority are the seating arrangements at Rs 100.

At first, some 6-7 rows back, I seated myself beside a couple of men whom I found to be "sedate", went up 1 row up to beside few guys who just wanted to spend some good time dancing on their seats - with racy and fast paced bhojpuri songs typical "topori" dance moves of the spectators also I wanted to see and document - the rustic Bihar/Eastern UP style is something different from the filmi ones, it has a particular swaying style with one hand raised or sometimes both hands far apart!

A youth take a snap of a poster of a dance theatre group

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Men try to catch a glimpse at a local music show or theatre. The dance shows start late evening and continue all through the night, Sonepur 2012

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People stand in line to buy tickets to watch girls dance on stage to popular Hindi and Bhojpuri songs, at a Sonepur Mela theatre, November 2012.

Attachment 1028993


Police presence is there as the show goes on and things much more organized nowadays with things under control

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Sonepur theatre front facade

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A spectator records a dance show in his mobile. Men buy tickets to watch girls dance on stage to popular Hindi and Bhojpuri songs. The theatre/dance shows start late evening and continue all through the night, Sonepur 2012.
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The group dance gives way to individual dance shows start by around 11 pm and continues all through the night till 5 am, Sonepur mela 2012

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No one is allowed to cross that iron fence - you can dance, gesture and throw up your hands as much on your seat but no lunging forward. As said, things are quite okay nowadays and the hooliganism that was previously associated with it, is more or less gone as far as i have experienced. One youth did get a bit excited and climbed up that iron fence and was about to enter - and as i have said you got to listen to the one liners that is heard only at UP and Bihar.

A terse message was sounded on the speakers - "Anurodh hai ki aap aapka seat ko dabaa ke rakhe aur control me rahe, jo uchol raha hai usko pehchan kar chuke, aisa na ho ki hum aye or aap pehchan ke lyak na rahe"!! - no one again tried anything again!!


And it just not girls - even duet programs are held - though the lyrics definitely remain naughty!

Attachment 1028997



A hawker watches a theatre dance show at Sonepur Mela, November 30, 2012.

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A spectator at the Sonepur Mela music and dance theatre. People buy tickets to watch girls dance on stage to popular Hindi and Bhojpuri songs. Sonepur 2012
Attachment 1028999


Almost all the shows of various theatres end at 5 am and again the mela is returns back to its lively form as all the spectators exit and mingle with the early morning crowd that has come from near and far places.

As for myself, take out the Bullet from the mela stand back to the hotel at Hajipur - need a good few hours of sleep before I venture out again for the day to the ever amazing Sonepur mela. A hurried shot of sunrise by river Gandak as I head back to Hajipur.
Attachment 1029002

agspins 19th December 2012 18:16

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Amazing, i missed visiting the Mela and the dance shows:D during my time spent in Bihar. Bihar has its own colours and charms, but not for everyone.

A M 19th December 2012 22:31

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
....and the traveller is back.

Would love to experience this 'mela' first hand. That would be one heck of an experience.:D
Thanks for sharing.
[singing.... Munni badnam hui darling tere liye];)

adc 20th December 2012 11:27

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by samarjitdhar (Post 2994067)
I am amazed to see that they use M800s now for this. Back in those days I had heard of quite a few accidents resulting in fatalities or very critical injuries for life to these riders. All this for a decent chance of survival.

And if you would look closely one of the M800s had a number starting with WB 02K! And it is dangerous - one could see all the side of the car bashed up giving an indication what would have happened once in a while. A visit to a maut ka kua show is a must, leaving alone even for photography.




Quote:

Originally Posted by Ohh!Oxygen (Post 2994549)
Pure Indian old school rustic charm. I am smitten! :)

Quote:

Originally Posted by ankan.m.blr (Post 2994691)
Wonderful images. Incredibly colorful India! I have heard about this mela from elders but never visited. the photos are so nicely taken, I can feel the vibrance, color and warmth of the participants from the images.


Quote:

Originally Posted by agspins (Post 2994901)
Amazing, i missed visiting the Mela and the dance shows:D during my time spent in Bihar. Bihar has its own colours and charms, but not for everyone.

Absolutely old school razzmatazz - visit it still it is like that. Everything is changing, this will too in another 5 years.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Ohh!Oxygen (Post 2994549)
BTW how to get to the location and what is the time of the year?

Looks like you skipped the introductory text, all details in there. Still in one line - Sonepur is 25 km from Patna on the other side of Ganga near Hajipur and it starts on the Karthik Purnima date, which falls usually in November.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Jignesh (Post 2994717)
Hello ADC,

One more interesting travelogue from you. After taking us through best of mountains & valleys or North & North east India, you are now presenting best colors of Bihar, a state which till couple of years back associated with all negative news.

Anyways these are wonderful pictures & we are waiting for more as soon as possible.

As said it had been a fantastic trip. It my first serious attempt at more of travel as documentary photography and having closed a couple of commercial inquiries for the images of sonepur mela after being seen on the website - it does make this trip even better.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Jignesh (Post 2994717)
But as mentioned by you in first post - "Before I post the bicycle journey to Leh and the trek to Stok Kangri" Is this really true? If yes, then I request you to please start the travelogue on Bicycle journey to Leh - it will be really great to see it unfold here.

Thanks,

aare, just dont tell me to do that bicycling trip and that mountain trek again - it had been one of most exhausting one, both mentally and physically, more so as it was all solo and done in the month of October.

Have to start that one, the images are all unsorted and lying all over the drives. A few highlight pictures up there on this thread page

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...2011-a-10.html




Quote:

Originally Posted by A M (Post 2995141)
....and the traveller is back.

Would love to experience this 'mela' first hand. That would be one heck of an experience.:D
Thanks for sharing.
[singing.... Munni badnam hui darling tere liye];)

Hindi songs though played it is mostly the bhojpuri ones that gets the beat and the dance. As said, the previous day I even listened to some youtube videos to get the familiarity of lyrics and style and did recognize quite a few. By the time I was out in the morning, seating beside those boisterous youths and befriending them asking them how things go out here and sharing cigarettes, by morning I have learned the swaying style arm movement!

Follow the "o mukhiya ji" or "generator" and few other songs, if you really want to dig into!!!

All said and done, Bihar has a wonderful ancient culture and history for thousands of years - and the songs and dance are more of the fun and dance of the masses - it is out there in each and every state whether as nautanki or tamasha or jatra or whatever it is named in a particular region or State.

tsk1979 20th December 2012 12:52

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
This is quite a wonderful log. Very different from the trips we normally do!

adc 20th December 2012 15:00

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
9 Attachment(s)
Sonepur mela 2012 photo essay ...contd...



A boy sells whistles and tops made of dried mud at Sonepur Mela, 2012 and Birds bought from the "Chiria Bazar" or Bird Market of Sonepur Mela, 2012

Attachment 1029243 Attachment 1029244



Flute sellers at Sonepur Mela

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Elephants drink water from a nearby tube well, Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012.

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A boy rides a horse at Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012.

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A recalcitrant horse is loaded on to a truck for transportation at Sonepur Mela, 2012.

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Children on motorcyle while visiting Sonepur Mela, December 2, 2012.

Attachment 1029250


Milch cows on sale at the Mela

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A mela hawker catches a break at Sonepur Mela, November 29, 2012
Attachment 1029247


contd...

Sheel 20th December 2012 16:26

Re: Bihar - A Bullet ride to Sonepur Mela & a Safari drive to Valmiki National Park
 
Despite being from Bihar, I never visited Sonepur, but have heard many wonderful things about this mela.

Thanks adc for putting up this wonderful log :) I think I would want to visit it next year, even if it is for a day.


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