Back in 2014, me and dhanu just planned an impromptu trip to Badami. Badami is located in Northern Karnataka, Bagalkot district. As usual I packed the camera bag first and my clothing later. I wouldn't be surprised if I had missed adequate clothes while packing. Photography is part of every travel we plan, whether I use the gear in the location or not. It's like a part of me which demands to be carried wherever I go. As we took the bypass road to Bellary just after reaching chitradurga which is exactly 200 km from bangalore, we entered single lane road which is used by all the mining trucks. The road was filled with potholes and as it was mid day we were able to watch and avoid the potholes as we carefully drove past them. As we reached Hospet, Tungabhadra river was at her peak flowing gracefully as we watched her on our left to the state highway. Onto the right we saw a complex of lights started glowing as the day started turning dark. As we approached, we saw the huge mining site of Hospet, which had shut it's operations. We just couldn't imagine the magnitude of the site while it was in its glory. As we made it to the highway, we stopped for a quick tea break and we were about 90 kms to reach Badami. We had booked "The heritage" resort operated by the govt of karnataka, located just next to the famous Badami caves. We called up the resort owner and informed that we would be arriving little late and he informed that we should have taken the hubli - dharwad highway to reach faster. Anyway it's was not worth discussing now as we should have had this conversation before leaving bangalore. It was 8:15 pm and we just entered the bagalkot district and made our way to the resort around 8:40 pm. The streets were busy after a quick drizzle in Badami. Our mouth started watering not because we were hungry, but looking at Khanavali (local north Karnataka hotels, who serve jolada rotti made of jowar served with palya or sabzi) after every 5 shops. Now I hope your mouth is not watery, but mine is, as i remember it now. We reached the resort and had some roti and rice before we settled down in the cottage. As we entered the cottage, dhanu first checked if there were any of her friends in the corners, the lizards. To our surprise, we found a big black spider on the bathroom floor. She was scared so we managed to get another cottage which was vacant. We called the house keeping person to make the bed for us. As this person entered the room, the room just filled with the aroma of the whiskey he had and was about to sleep, we woke him up to prepare the bed. He made the bed in no time as we saw him prepare the bed for us, till now we remember the technique he used and everytime we make bed we refer to the "Drunken method". This made us realise that we have something to learn from everyone if we have an open mind. It was raining that day and its pouring now as I am penning my memory. It was pitch dark outside and dark clouds covered everywhere. All we could see was the resort lamps glowing in the pathway from the window. We spoke about the journey, the graceful river, the magnanimous mining site, the Khanavali's drool feeling and the aromatic drunken master, we just fell asleep in no time. As the sun shine hit the window, I woke up to see the beautiful red rocks of the famous badami caves just next to the resort. They were huge and what we thought as dark clouds in the night were these huge rocks in front of us!!!
To be continued...
The Badami Chalukya architecture was a temple building idiom that evolved in the 5th – 8th centuries AD in the Malaprabha river basin, in present-day Bagalkot district of Karnataka state of India, under the Chalukya dynasty.
Enjoy the view of the Bhuthanatha temple complex and an amazing view of water fall.
Each face is different. We are all different in our own way. Rather its very right to say each one of us is an Unique creation. Each one of us have an unique story to tell, a true self that is engraved deep inside, embossed into the soul. Some are inspiring, blessed, hurt, struggling or outraged...! Face are recognized by happy, joy, pale, sad, hurt, anger. One can sense ones physical presence through the facial expression or sometimes faked consciously. As they say, Smile is a reflection of happiness, we wear a smile either to please others or to please ourselves. There is another smile which either hides the blemishes of the past, a genuine one or a reflection of a small kid inside us who resists growing.

Therefore, it is hard to understand how face is portrayed, for that matter what does beauty or ugly mean...! It is just a face; it comes in all sizes, shapes, race, culture and colours. All face are embraced with moods. Some are Serious, some are Joyful, some are Grumpy, some are Scared and some are expression-less! So how do you know what is beyond the face? Can one see the real expression and reach to the soul? Does such a word “soul–connection” exists? Is the soul true reflection of the face? Ofcourse Yes, when you break the barrier of the facial expression, you connect to the pristine soul, neither it has shape nor colour, neither size nor culture. It is just a connection where face is just a medium to reach to the soul. 

End of the day, it is very important to know the person who is behind the face... A true portrait is a reflection of the person whose soul is portrayed on the FACE! Can this be achieved? As an artist I would always make an effort to capture beyond an image and try making a portrait next time someone walks into my studio and stands in front of me and to make that connection I just say SMILE...!


We were six of us, five photographers from Bangalore and one from Madurai, Mr.Sriram, the renowned wildlife photographer and conservationist. Among them were Mr.Praveen Kumar, renowned wildlife photographer and tiger conservationist. His tiger images have been exhibited across the world. This was an exciting trip to Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve near chandrapur which is located in the center of Deccan plateau- India. We had a doctor in the group, who was an avid trekker and he had trekked the Himalayan base camp and was aged 65 years young. Yes, you heard it right, he was pretty young for the age and his sense of humor was amazing. Followed by 2 more young amateur photographers from YPS group.
After having my dinner, I left home to meet the team at the yeshwanthpur railway station. The time was 21:00 hours. Mr.Sriram had already reached the venue and was waiting for us. We started the conversation by introducing ourselves and Mr.Praveen kumar joined us, followed by Dr.Somashekar, Dhruv Banerjee and his friend, Madhuri. I knew few of them who were already members of YPS, but met Dr.Somashekar and Mr.Sriram for the first time. It was exciting and I was not sure how the group interaction might turn in trip ahead as Mr.Praveen and Sriram were of middle aged, Doctor was little old for our age. Dhruv, Madhuri and me were almost of same age group.
It was time, the train was on schedule and we boarded our compartments and started searching for seats numbers. It was 2 tier AC compartment and we all had booked individually, hence there was no chance of seating together. Mr.Praveen had taken care of Doctor's booking and I had booked 2 tickets for Mr.Sriram and me. We tried to negotiate the neighboring seats for exchange of ours which was a few compartments behind as we had booked a little late. Though we convinced 1 elderly person who was travelling alone, but others didnt even bother to listen to us. So we had to settle for what was available. As we weren't so close to each other at that point of time, it wasn't a great deal that we were not able to get our seats close to each other. The time was 22:00 and the train started to move. We all start to pray God Ganesha for a safe journey and trip ahead as we hindus believe that frist praying has to be for Lord Ganesha before all other Gods. It went like "Bolo Ganesh Maharaj ki" and all others chanted "Jai".
To start with, our lead trip coordinator and being president of YPS-Youth Photographic Society, Mr.Praveen briefed us about the trip- Pros and Cons, forest discipline and the ethics of Wildlife Photography. It was time to retire for the day and have enough sleep so that we all have an active day ahead. It was 28 hour train journey to Nagpur from Bangalore. So we had ample time to relax and wake up in the morning as relaxed as possible. It would be possible only if you had an upper berth to sleep as there will be none to disturb you and you need not undo our seat for the lower berth people to sit in a proper posture. It was 08:00 hours in the morning and we had reached Hyderabad, it was time to pick some breakfast in the train. We took some light breakfast to keep our guts safe and some tea to avoid being hungry for the whole journey till afternoon.
We started interacting as we were seated in a common compartment and we had to barge neighbor’s space. Even though they seemed polite to make way for us to sit, we could make out the fake smile they had to put each time we had to adjust ourselves to sit comfortably. After a long conversation and getting to know each other we realized that we had one thing in common during this trip - "Photography" Ofcourse! But we all had a small kid inside us who resist to grow old. Surprisingly, our doctor was the youngest of all, his sense of humour was amazing. His jokes and the life experience kept us alive throughout the journey. Mr. Praveen had carried his luggage and another bag which was full of snacks from a mangaluru store near his house. The only thing we were busy doing was sleeping, munching snacks and talking. We never realised how the time flew and by then we had reached Chandrapur, a junction before Nagpur. We had a short span of time where the train would slow down and we had to get out of the moving train. But to our luck, the train did stop for 1 minute or less which made all of us easy to hop down from the train to the platform and passed all the luggages to the person who got down first. Once we made sure everybody got down and their respective luggages, we showered our gratitude to Lord Ganesha for stopping the train. We started counting our luggages and camera bags to make sure that we didn't miss anything. 
The time was 15:00 hours and the forest department jeep was waiting for us in Chandrapur. It was a 45 min drive from Chandrapur to MTDC forest resort which was located at the entrance of the forest reserve. It was a hot day and the temperature had already hit 40 degrees. It was the end of April month and summer at it's peak. Although we had expected it to be hot, but we bangaloreans have never encountered the temperature of this magnitude. The weather was so dry that we started to experience burning sensation in our nose. This was just the beginning of the 7 day trip to Tadoba-Andheri Tiger Reserve. May God save us, this time we had to pull all the 333 crore Gods to our rescue as Lord Ganesha alone can't handle the scorching heat of Chandrapur which would reach 42 degrees at noon.
As we drove for 20 mins, we noticed that there was a thick smog ahead of us and we were in an assumption that it was clouds and it might rain anytime. As we reached closer to the smog we saw a thick layer of black dry sand that flew in the air as the heavy tippers crossed the perpendicular road. The forest department person told us to look to our left and what we saw was not a usual sight that we would have seen in our life time- "It was Open Coal Mines of Chandrapur". It was enormous and seeing such a huge mining site that people below were seen as ants crawling somewhere deep. It was a man-made crater on the Mother Earth! We witnessed how the natural resources are being exploited by human race. We were in pain, anger and same time surprised to see such a magnanimous scene in front of us. It was thick black soil allover us.
As we drove pass the mines, we crossed few villages which were on either side of the state highway and few human habitat. Upon reaching the MTDC forest resort, we were greeted by the department people and took us to the cottages. There was only one AC cottage available and the others were non-AC rooms. They assured that they would install the manual water fans to other rooms in a couple of days. So we had to manage with what we had as that was the only available option. We immediately got ready for a cup of hot tea and some snacks and a couple of chit-chats and retired for the day looking forward for the actual adventure to start from the days to come. We didn't have any mobile signals as only Idea Sims catch the signal inside the forest reserve. I was so happy to get disconnected to the outside world without internet and most importantly office mails & calls for the next 7 days.
You call it mystical or magical, Bangalore weather has always been this way. No matter how hot it gets, it knows how to chill back. This was one such evening while heading back home from work. The little drizzle which started the same time I left office reminded me of my school days. This was back in early 90's, As the final long bell rang, we were on our toes to run towards the school gate and wait in the bus stand for the bus to arrive. There was never a day in rainy season when I wouldn't get back home drenched. Those were the days where we hardly had any communication like sms, text or whatsapp to inform loved ones that we had got caught in rain. It was an era of telepathy, we used our senses to communicate and assure that we were safe wherever we were. Those were the magical days back then we had only black and white television, which used to have shutters to close and even a key to lock! I still remember eating hot bajjis prepared by mom while watching movies on the b/w television when it used to rain. Every time it rains, there is this smell of the dry soil when it comes in contact with the first drop of rain. This is what keeps bangalore and bangaloreans Alive!!

Travelling keeps you in Zen state. You become light hearted when you are out in nature. Best part is that there are no expectations. The light, the night, the stars, the aura wraps around you and fills you with consciousness of being alive. Look around you and you only see abundance and beyond. There is no word to explain the level of consciousness that you might experience, it’s the self-awareness which engulfs you and your surroundings. There are no thoughts running in your mind, you enter a state of let go and be part of the greater purpose. This purpose you create is unique to each one of you.

Travelling to a destination is always exciting. But be aware that each valley you cross, each stream you pass by, each t-cross you encounter has a story to tell. You make your journey an experience to share with others. Just walking around these places, the people you meet, the life experiences they have to offer you and the open minded you are, will create an unique tale for ages worth remembering. As you stroll through the valley, each step you take in the cold water melted out of the glaziers and the blazing sun, can only calm your perception. You will start to feel the mighty rocks, thick clouds and can sense each changing moments. All you need to do is just close your eyes, spread your hands and stand still for all your senses to work the way it’s designed to, now you are the nature. You will embrace the journey and the conscious within you always thanks the sacred vessel you wear every day.

No wonder they say the birds and animals are the first to feel the changes in nature. Why can’t humans feel that? I guess you might have figured it out by now. So what are you waiting for?
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