May 27, 2021

Sunset by Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge is one of the popular hikes with a road side parking in the beautiful Blue Ridge parkway (Milepost 302.8 in North Carolina). The boardwalk (to protect the fragile vegetation) to the top crosses several large boulders that enable one to fall back and relax. The walk up (480 ft elevation from parking) provides spectacular views of Grandfather Mountain and Linn Cove Viaduct, with distant views into the Piedmont.

This is a great spot to be during fall – when the colors burst afar or in spring – when the rhododendrons bloom abound or just anytime of the year to laze around and soak in the view :)

Watercolor on Cold Pressed Paper

Rough Ridge Trail
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, USA

May 20, 2021

Yin Yang of Life

Breath-in.2.3.4.
Hold.2.
Breath-out.2.3.4.5.6.
Hold.2.
& repeat …

Watercolor on Cold Pressed Paper

May 2, 2021

Throne of Thirumalai Nayakar

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal built (in 1636) by Thirumalai Nayakar at Madurai, intended this palace to be one of the grandest in South India. The design and architecture is a blend of Dravidian and Rajasthani styles. The interior is richly decorated whilst the exterior is treated in a more austere style. This palace is situated 2 km south east of the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure.

The steps leading up to the central hall were formerly flanked by two equestrian statues of excellent workmanship. As you can witness, part of this is still standing the test of time and various historical events & wars. The throne in the center was incidentally lit by the ambient light from the stained glass windows by the dome. The palace constructed using foliated brickwork was finished in exquisite stucco called chunnam (shell lime) mixed with egg white to obtain a smooth and glossy texture. This probably inspired the Natukottai Chettiars, 200 years later in their own construction.

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 800 : 16 mm : f8.0 : 1/1000 sec

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

April 22, 2021

Kere Basadi (Lake Temple)

Kere Basadi in a literal sense means the Lake Temple. Somewhere in the Udupi district is a small native village of Varanga. Located here and surrounded by lush nature, this is a place where the architecture imbibes the way of lifestyle and sustenance. Access to the temple takes one thru meandering roads thru serene nature. Once there (white vehicle parked :)), one needs to take a boat to the temple. Loved how the temple was architectured around the lake which in turn was supporting the local sustenance. The journey helps soothe the mind and creates an intent of travel, rather than being just a passing insta photo op :)

DJI Mavic Pro : ISO 100 : 4.73 mm : f2.2 : 1/500 sec

Kare Basadi
Varanga, Karnataka, India

April 14, 2021

John Deere & Milky Way

Tractors (in this case a John Deere or JD) initially were a little more than a replacement for farm animals. All they could do was probably pull things. The modern tractors (with the power take-off motors and the front/back hitches) evolved to do much more – They became a staple of any typical farm and became adept in supporting plowing, planting, cultivating, fertilizing, and harvesting crops. Besides, they also came in handy for hauling materials and personal transportation. The rustic & rugged tractor always invokes a feeling of all the hard work that goes behind the scenes. Hence when I came across this, could not help but frame it under the starry night sky.

As for the lighting, thanks to the handkerchief that helped diffuse the strong beam from my trusted HP7 coastline flashlight. To get the Milky Way core aligned was clambering on the ground to get the composition tick. In the end, it all came together. Hope it is an apt ode to JD under Milky Way :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 2000 : 16 mm : f2.8 : 20 sec

Forest Hills Estate
Denkanikottai, Tamil Nadu, India

April 6, 2021

Hemakuta Hill @ twilight

Hemakuta Hill located adjacent to Virupaksha temple is sprinkled generously with a large number of shrines, archways, and pavilions. These temples form one of the earliest groups of structures at Hampi and are dated to be from about the 9th to 14th century.

It is also one among the best places in Hampi to witness the sunrise/sunset and quiet an easy climb (about 10-15 mins and not as tedious as say, the Matanga Hill). Though an easy walk, the afternoon sun can make the boulders scorching hot. But take a stroll by twilight and you sure can experience all the hues from blues to reds being splashed across the whole wide canvas of the sky.

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 320 : 13 mm : f9.0 : 1/50 sec

Hemakuta Hill
Hampi, Karnataka, India

March 31, 2021

Magical Meghalaya

While nature leaves us spellbound each time, some places are so magical that even after a single visit it never leaves you. Meghalaya is one such place. It is one of the 7 sister states of North East India and is a mountainous region with many rivers, which keep flowing due to the constant rainfall. It is indeed the wettest place on earth. But if planned accordingly, one could witness terrain that is generally submerged by raging rivers.

This particular spot is from a hike to the mouth of Nohkalikai falls, from up the hill. This rugged terrain is carved day in and out by the forces of nature. Over the years the constant flow of water through the gaps on the river bed has created a number of pools and waterfalls which eventually plunge down the gorge to make the Nohkalikai falls. Walking by the same felt so alien and pristine at the same time.

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 100: 16 mm : f22 : 0.5 sec

Enroute to mount of Nohkalikai Falls
East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India

March 27, 2021

Mysterious with Milky Way

Just 50 km from the busy bustle of Bangalore, nestled within the forests of Kanakapura is this classified spot. When the time is right and the stars align, I mean literally – one could witness the magic. Out here, in the darkness of the night – the lava flows and portals to the parallel universe open up. Just witnessing the same under the glow the of Milky Way elicits mysticism beyond belief …

Or maybe it was just a few friends, toying with the laser light by a meek rock, in the mango groves that lies by the edge of the Kanakapura forest :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 2500 : 16 mm : f2.8 : 20 sec

Kanakapura Forest
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

March 20, 2021

Hunt for the Milky Way

In the southern part of India, the monsoon season & the Milky Way season greatly overlap. Hence the window to witness & capture the Milky Way is quite small. Add to it the alignment of the same over weekends and access to decent night skies. The probability goes down even further.

After keeping a close eye on the conditions, decided to head towards Coorg with friends for some Milky Way hunting. Though the spot was a Bortle 2, the elevation of the location brought in rolling clouds, fog, and morning mist. After 1 1/2 days of waiting, the weather Gods decided to give a glimpse of the Milky Way, just for us :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 5000 : 16 mm : f/2.8 : 20 sec

Balyabane
Coorg, Karnataka, India

March 8, 2021

Intricate architecture @ Mysore palace

The Mysore palace constructed around 1897, was conceived as a residence befitting the monarch of the majestic state. Mysore, which was laid out as the capital of the princely state, now part of Karnataka, retains a very strong connection with its royal past. The palace was constructed using fine grey granite and features beautiful domes that are made of deep pink-colored marbles. Every wall, pillar, ceiling, and doom is filled with such intricate work of art that one is struck by awe, just being there.

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 2000 : 16 mm : f/4.0 : 1/50 sec

Mysore Palace
Mysore, Karnataka, India

February 27, 2021

Be Open to alternate Perspectives

Sometimes even the simplest of things, right in front of you, might not be obvious. You need to put in the effort before it becomes evident. Even a slight change in your point of view, brings in things that were not obvious before. Like this bird’s eye view of the Kapu lighthouse. The 100 feet lighthouse though in plain sight might not be obvious immediately. But change your perspective, even a bit and it becomes quite evident, right :)

Be open to alternate perspectives.

DJI Mavic Pro : ISO 100 : 4.73 mm : f2.2 : 1/400 sec

Kapu Lighthouse
Kapu, Karnataka, India

February 20, 2021

Sunrise by Shivalaya Temple

The city of Badami in Northern Karnataka, also called Vatapi, was the capital of one of the most enduring dynasties in Southern India – the Chalukyas. Nestled by a ravine that cuts through the sandstone landscape the site is graced by some beautiful temples – rock-cut and otherwise.

One of the prominent temple that I loved from my visit is the upper Shivalaya Temple. It had quiet ornamantal windows. It might have held equally ornate sculptures too within and probably was deprived of the same as time passed. The majestic mandapa stands as remnants of a bygone era, but still loaded with such grace and grandeur. It takes some effort to get up the hill. But the view is worth all the effort, especially around sunrise.

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 250: 16 mm : f2.8 : 1/200 sec

Upper Shivalaya Temple
Badami, Karnataka, India

February 14, 2021

Startling night on Valentines day

Had planned to visit this particular area last year with a friend. That never materialized because of you know who :) Accounting to the same, 2020 had not been great, even more so for travel. Then what can be said for night travel ?!

Hence, when the Astro season started this year, was trying to hold my expectations low. This time of the year the Milky Way graces the night sky after 3 or 4 AM. It was only a small window, but the twilight even from the horizon behind graciously blanketed the lake with its warm light. The stars finally aligned, and I couldn’t be happier.

Feeling thankful that we still have pockets of the night sky in a short distance from busy cities where the stars can be appreciated. Here is to the love of stars. Happy Valentines Day !

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 5000: 16 mm : f2.8 : 8.0 sec

A Hillock by the lake
Kanakapura, Karnataka, India

February 9, 2021

Arasamara Pillayar / அரசமர பிள்ளையார்

My connection with the peepal started at a very young age. I have vivid memories of that huge peepal tree by our school building. Be it daily prayer / gathering or PT classes – this was the place we used to assemble. Arasamara Pillayar is also a very common scene of any typical south Indian village. Peepal tree is a symbol of the universe’s never-ending expanse. It is amazing how our culture imbibes rituals & lifestyles to live one with nature. If only we take an iota of effort to follow them, without losing their crux :)

For this week would like to share such a village scene captured in digital pencil art. How do you like it ?!

Pencil on Cold Pressed Paper

Arasamara Pillayar
Some Village in South India

January 29, 2021

Cosmic Showers

When it rains, look for rainbows
When it is dark, look for stars
When it rains stars, sit back and enjoy the show :)

Even when we don’t see – the night falls, stars raise and the show continues. Here is a fleeting moment spread across 25 mins, from a random night captured from few years back.

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 2500 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec [50 shots]

Cosmic Showers
Harmon, Illinois, USA

January 23, 2021

Life of Lambda

DJI Mavic Pro : ISO 164 : 4.73 mm : f2.2 : 1/25 sec

Lambda
Sakleshpur, Karnataka, India

January 17, 2021

No Hurry

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu

Start with your thought …

Nature may reach the same result in many ways. It takes its time. The intricate & complex dependencies are all accounted for in the grandeur of nature in prefect balance.

In a way, the energy of single thought could determine the motion of a universe. Hence start with your thought, stay with it, don’t hurry …

Canon 7D : Tamron 18-270 mm : ISO 100 : 184 mm : f5.6 : 1/60 sec

Spring around Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Washington, D.C, USA

January 8, 2021

Postcard from the past

As I was enjoying the Virupaksha temple at sunrise, came across this scene. For some reason, the family standing there, resembled the typical tourist – one who does not gel with the surrounding & stands out. May be it was their attire or the posture, but whatever – they felt juxtaposed. Tried processing to elevate and showcase how Hampi still stands the test of time. The final result felt like a postcard from the past :)

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 500: 10 mm : f9.0 : 1/15 sec

Hemakuta Hill
Hampi, Karnataka, India

January 1, 2021

Reflections & Perspectives

Reflecting back on 2020, it had been a tough year. Travel had been restricted and not great in sense of capturing moments. One good thing with the lockdown – mother nature seem to be healing. We now hear more of birds chirping even in the middle of Marathalli, Bangalore :) For the many lucky folks who are not stranded away from home – the lockdown had brought in a much needed break to reflect and introspect. For me it had been a great year professionally with more reading, new challenges and associated experiences. The ups & downs were like never before but the lessons learned were inevitable.

Let us drop the prejudice of 2020. Focus, enjoy and equip for the journey forward. Here is to 2021 – to more learning, more travel, more connections & enriched experiences :)

This week shot is from Badami (from a pre covid trip). Badami Shivalaya was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. Most of the visitors miss this as the focus is always on the Badami caves. The fort is quite opposite to the caves on the other side of the lake. Also one needs to trek to the top . The path is quiet defined with steps but is a bit strenuous, especially in hot weather. The massive hillock hosts couple of different levels with – the pillared structures, the lower Shivalayas and the upper Shivalayas. One is treated with  Chalukya architecture and the views are directly propositional to the effort one puts in to climb up :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 100: 16 mm : f22 : 0.5 sec

Upper Shivalaya Temple
Badami, Karnataka, India

December 24, 2020

Geminids

The Geminids are a prolific meteor shower caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a “rock comet” orbit. This makes the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet. – Wikipedia

The weather Gods were not very kind when planning for the grand conjunction ( Jupiter and Saturn) this week, but they were very supportive just the past week.

2020 had not been great for travel & photography. But as the year is coming to a closure, am glad our drive to Udupi, gave us the required rejuvenation by way of access to crystal clear nights & witness some of the showers :)

Sony A7III : Sony 16-35 mm : ISO 2500: 16 mm : f2.8 : 6.0 sec

Kapu Beach
Kapu, Karnataka, India

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