travel


Summers are here and people are out in open to have their time out with nature. It is vacation times for students. Time of the year when mostly sky is bright blue with white fluffy clouds floating from this end to that end. Green forests with their comforting shades and soft light welcome one to their depths. Rivers, streams and brooks flow freely gurgling, murmuring. Water falls cascade down full of gaiety.

Every where vehicles with boats, cycles tied on their back can be seen running towards one or another destination.

That day we were near Mohican river in Loudonville area. Banks of Mohican river were buzzing with activities. As our vehicle took a turn from Landoll’s Mohican castle we could see people down there on the banks of stream. Lower boughs of trees from both the sides of stream bowed down trying to tickle the water and the naughty waves with spritely gait moved away filling the surroundings with their twinkling laughter.

 

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We moved further …..

About 32 miles of Mohican river is officially designated as Ohio state scenic river. It winds through Knox, Ashland, Holms and Coshocton counties. Scenic rivers retain most of their natural characteristics and atleast 25 percent of their riparian corridors should run through the forest covers. This area in Loudonville is known as the most popular camping and canoe destination of Ohio.

 

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Walking on clear, cool water was relaxing. At many places small rocks were lodged firmly on water bed. Some rested on them absorbing nature’s sound and scenes while children played and jumped from one to another. Some sat relaxing on the benches on the banks under the shade of tall, majestic trees while others were busy at barbeques. The wooden bridge at a distance joined one bank to another. View of the river from the bridge is beautiful. Absorbing everything heart filled with warmth and peace.

 

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This little girl with her parents was enjoying her water sojourn a lot. Her joy and laughter filled our hearts too with happiness.

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covered wooden bridge on the river

Stopped at  Mohican Little brown inn for some time. A cycle track and biking track runs in front of the inn. The open space in front of motel allows the winds to run freely. Children were cycling in the track. Near it is an Amish furniture shop. It being Sunday, the shop was closed but many furniture pieces were lying there in open. Beautiful pieces with lovely colours and smooth finishing. Amish people are known to adhere to their traditional way of living. Their home-made jam, ham and cheese are said to be delicious. However, we missed having a taste of that as the store was closed.

 

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The log cabin of the motel and the Amish furniture shop .

 

 

 

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Two pieces of the furniture, just a glimpse of craftsmanship.

On the way we stopped at Mohican state park gorge overlook. From the stone deck we had an awesome view of about 330 feet deep valley and hills beyond. In fact at that time of the year those hills beyond look like a dense green impenetrable wall of trees. In the valley down too the trees are so dense that one can see just the simmering green. Except that lone branch hovering on the valley from this side on which a bird sat, I was not able to make out distinct shapes of trees. But the view was overwhelming.

 

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The tree  near the stone stand facing the gorge.

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way to gorge.

We also spent some time near an area designated for RVs carrying the horse carriers along with them. Few recreational vehicles were parked there. Horses were being taken out, massaged and being freshened up. Families were under preparation to settle down. Children were playing around while others were harnessing the horses. Fun and recreation areas were designated. For boating, tubing and kayaking and canoeing near the rivers, for cycling and biking well laid tracks and for gauging the wilderness from horse back another patch .

Saw few Amish families travelling in theirs Bagghis, the traditional horse driven coach. This community tries to avoid the use of engine driven vehicles

 

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Our last destination of the day was Pleasant hill Lake Marina. Pleasant hill has an 850 acre unlimited horse power lake surrounded by 1350 land with lush green fields, forest.

Pleasant hill lake is situated in the heart of Mohican county just outside the village Perrisville, Ohio. Variety of outdoor recreational activities fishing, boating, water skiing.

Pleasant boat marina offers waverunners, ski, pontoon, fishing and paddle boats.

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A view from boat of the lush green area surrounding area of peasant lake….

 

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Fishing in solitude

 

US_227w The dense forests appear to harbour untold secrets, inviting one to go deep to unravel the mystries, the sole contemplator stands lost in his own world and then there are those adventurers running over the length and width of waters as if to be one with nature.

 

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It was amazing to watch those little kids on tube tied to the rushing, speeding boat. What thrill they were feeling… they sat there unperturbed through all jumps and turns of tube…. their hearts were full of trust on their parents and with all their innocence they perhaps thought ..nothing can go wrong… God always is there with such unwavering faith.    I thought so while watching them from our boat.

 

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The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together!

Kenneth Grahame

 

US_234wI have a very special relationship with river. It flows inside me.

 

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Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

 

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An outing is perfect when you are with your own people, your group.

 

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And the ended with memories to cherish, moments to treasure.

All the pictures by sunder iyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Landoll’s Mohican castle in Loudonville, Ohio, at first glance looks like a picture out of fairy tales book. Standing in deep salubrious woods the wooden castle with it’s many spires, balconies and stairs is enchanting.

 

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starry pinks and purples gives welcome smiles when heights entice with arms outstretched

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and far off horizons descend in my eyes

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As I climbed the winding stairs which were getting narrowed with rise of every storey my expectation of the view from the top was rising and the view, the feel, was worth every step. The tall, stately trees came closer. Leaves started whispering to share the secrets. The stillness of the moment percolated deep down in heart.

 

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While climbing the stairs never look back. The vision has to be followed by venture.

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And then the vision turns into reality. on the topmost balcony……

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Another view from the top…

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Artistically laid down path around the castle…..

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Besides suits in castle there are separate cottages too. Set in green spread surrounded by trees and adorned with baskets of colourful flowers the entire area is a beautiful place to unwind and relax.

 

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The Copper Mug Bar and Grille in the vicinity of castle provides awesome dining facility. Both indoor and outdoor facility is available.

 

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outside dining space of restraunt

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every flower is a miracle and watching that miracle unfolding make you bloom inside.

All the pics@Sunder Iyer

 

Our car turned away from the main road and entered Griggs Reservoir Park area. Drive through main road too was very pleasant as it was the green season and nature on both the sides of road was fresh and sparkling. However drive through park area was much more pleasant. Scioto river flew side by side through out the length of the drive. though between Scioto and road long stretch of green plants bushes and grass ran along yet the the glimpses of rippling river were soothing and uplifting.

Scioto river flows through Columbus, Ohio, here it collects it’s longest tributary Olentangy river and meets Ohio river at Portsmouth.

 

 

 

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we parked our car near one of the shelters. there are many shelters in park, some facing river while others are scattered midst greenery on the other side of the drive way. Griggs reservoir park in Columbus is an ideal place for picnics with friends and families, for spending quiet me time in the company of rustling leaves, whispering woods while river goes on humming in the background.

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the shelter gives an unobstructed view of river and it’s other bank lined with dense rows of trees. boating can be enjoyed in Scioto here.

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It was evening time. the golden orb rested on the tips of trees on other bank. the sparking blue waters slowly turned into golden yellow. the group of ducks floated calmly, as if in a prayer mode. the serenity of the scene percolated deep down within soul.

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After their final goodbye to the day ducks walked away to their resting areas. it was a heartening sight to watch them crossing the road with confidant and firm steps . they knew in their heart that they are safe while crossing the road after all pedestrian is the king of the road.

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the park has designated disc golf course but as there were not many visitors there at that time we enjoyed our few flings on disc throw right on the drive way.

 

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This is the disc Golf course area. professionals play here.

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one step at a time is good walking

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without words we share a lot.

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There is always a relief away from the maddening crowd.

The park has driving, biking trails but walking on those paths is such a joy that you never think of finding an exit.

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This is the area near dam. one can go down right upto there and sit listening to the harmonious symphonies of water and leaves.

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The magnificent Griggs dam.

During our two three visits there we enjoyed the different moods of the place. That is the beauty of nature. Every day you notice some new flower, a new plant and then the magical sunlight paints the woods in different shades on different days and hours.

All the pictures @ Sunder Iyer.

Edakkal caves are located in Waynad, Kerala, India. The caves are about twenty five kilometers from Kalpetta. the two caves are about 1200 meter above sea level. These are not actually caves in it’s traditional sense rather a heavy boulder straddling over a fissure in rocks form a cave. the main attraction of these caves are stone age etchings, writings, geometric figures and various scenes, activities of  neolithic times. The depictions on rocks is not limited only to one particular period rather it cover the span of many eras.
Besides being heritage repository these caves are also a good option for adventure and nature lovers. Though to facilitate climbing to caves steel staircases have been erected yet the rugged beauty of rocks and panoramic views all around is enough to leave it’s charismatic impact on you.
The caves were discovered by Fred Fawcett, the then superintendent of police of Malabar district in 1890.The caves are situated on western side of Eddakalmala and to reach there one has to trek through Ambukuttymala.
After leaving our vehicle in the parking area we started walking on the road to caves. The road rises gradually and after some distance becomes quite steep but shady tall trees , wild vegetation and lavish display of beautiful natural scenes on both the sides of road make the ride quite pleasant,

Soon the well laid road gave way to rocky terrain. Though slightly out of breath we kept on walking. When we started climbing up to some distance there were small shops of eatables and souvenirs on both the sides of road but later on after ticket window we were totally in company of nature. So, though we stopped in between to admire the beauty of nature and of course to catch our breath but we continued climbing. climbing over randomly piled rocks we reached a place where there was a very narrow passage between between the rocks. To pass through it we had to bend considerable and balance ourselves on precariously piled up rocks to haul ourselves on the other side. But it added to thrill and in spirit brought us nearer to the times bygone.

 

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Hoisting and balancing ourselves on the boulders we reached the entrance to first cave. The entrance has a steel gate. Only a limited number of people are allowed in the cave at one time. The gate perhaps has been put to regulate the traffic in and out of the cave as those few steps are the only way to enter and exit the caves.

 Picture by Sunder Iyer

In the cave on the rock wall was a gallery of carvings and etchings, animals, human forms, some figures looking like tribals with head gear and ornaments etc., some geometric shapes and drawings look like kolam drawings. Then there were animals, various symbols and scripts too. Everything was scattered all over the walls of caves.  How could they engrave so much on rocks? What were the tools used and such lasting imprints that centuries after we stood there agape with wonder and amazement.

The human figures with head gears, the wheel

Picture by sunder Iyer

Picture by Sunder Iyer

Writings on the rocks. What script is that? What had they said? Wish could know that.

 

Pictures by Sunder Iyer
Edakkal caves are said to be only place in India with stone age carvings.  These caves are said to have some links to Indus valley civilisation too. Recent studies have found certain signs which establish it’s link to Indus valley civilisation.

It was intriguing to see those imprints from centuries ago. With what instrument were those drawings made? The figures were all over the rock wall. The cave must have been different at that time and then this certainly was not an easy task. Why did they put so much labour into it?

Man has always had creativity inside him and urge of expression too. What do all these figures represent? So many questions floated in my mind. Look at the wheel like figure. What is it? A representation of time? One of man’s inventions? Can you make out those two human figures in the picture above? It looks like a tribal king and queen, hands up, in a dancing pose.The above image is definitely is some script. It is believed that these drawings and writings in the cave do not belong to any one particular period rather they belong to many spans of time. What have they written? Wish I  could read it.
So many thoughts fill the mind. I felt thankful to those unknown ancestors who left their signs in such non-erasable way . It is always good to feel connected.
All pictures by Sunder Iyer

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This was our interesting find at Hampi. In fact thanks to our autowalla cum guide cum companion Ramlee, he only showed this to us. If not for him we would have definitely overlooked these. These rectangular slabs of stone were placed in neat rows on both the sides of a dry narrow canal running towards the groves of trees at a distance. If I remember correctly it is somewhere on the road that connects Hampi to Kamlapur.

As told these slabs were used as dining tables by the soldiers of  that time.  An open community dining hall, interesting isn’t it. The slabs are of two types. In one , a round plate and four/six bowls are engraved while another type had a banana leaf and six/four bowls cut on it. What was the purpose of that narrow canal? I think at that time it must have been full of water for cleaning and washing the dining tables or may be even hands. Or may be the persons serving food walked in that canal to serve food to rows on both the sides.

nothing like Hampi grand temple architecture but an interesting and different kind of thing.

 

 

 

The Tiruvengalanatha Temple was built at Vijayanagara[ Hampi] during the reign of Achyutraya, younger brother of the most famous king of Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadeva Raya. Though like most of the temples at Hampi this too has Lord Vishnu as it’s principal deity but it has come to be  popularly known  as Achyutaraya Temple.

The temple complex is between two hills Gandhmadana and Matanga hills. There are two routes to temple one is to climb the steps behind the Nandi at the east of Hampi Bazar and another is from King’s palace path.

I had two experiences of Achyutraya temple, one while visiting it, roaming through it’s vast open spaces and mandapas with intricately carved pillars and the second one looking at the vast spread temple complex from the top of Matanga hills.

When we walked in the premises of the temple it was almost mid day. The day outside was bright, sunny though it was not hot. Walking towards it from a distance I could see the tall, wide imposing gate.  Reaching there I stood on the gate taking in the architectural grandeur spread before me and seeping in the serenity, the quiet, the peace of the moment. At the moment there were not many tourists in the premises, at least not in the range of our eyes and ears. From gate a well laid path led to another gate  and on both the sides of that path were open green patches of grass. In the middle of open space of one side there lay a big boulder with flat surface. A lone figure sat on that boulder, a soft golden light filling the space with ethereal feel. In the background loomed the pillars, pavilions and other structures, writing the testimonials for the time bygone. It was such a beautiful moment that I am incapable of putting it in the words. A moment when heart is filled with the mixture of diverse emotions, awe for the magnificent creations spread before, joy for being able to witness those, pride for being one from the land of those master craftsmen and a tinge of sadness for the end of that golden era of our history.

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The way which led us towards Achyutraya temple. On the right side  a bawali [ step well] was being excavated and being arranged. How much could be restored and how much has been lost.

The long lost path, rediscovered, re-travelled, an attempt to treasure the glory, to water the roots, the past cant be reconstructed, future can’t be predicted, ‘The moment’ to be lived in all it’s fullness.

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Imposing, magnificent first gate of Achyutraya temple. The second gate can be seen in the background. This is the outer side of the temple gate.

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The inner side of the first gate, one of the mandapam at the far end, the lone figure on the boulder.

Silence whispered tales from days bygone

figures on stone stood eloquent in their muteness

sky leaned over to caress the wounds of earth

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Every pillar, every gallery, every corner has a rich heritage tale of art and culture to narrate.

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These two pictures show the view of Achyutraya temple complex from Matanga Hills.

Entire plan is so grand and magnificent. This is said to be the last grand project before the fall of Vijay Nagar Empire. The temple was consecrated in AD 1534.

All the pics by Sunder Iyer

Creating any form of art transports you to a meditative state. The world around you as if does not exist, so engrossed are you in that process of creating. And I feel while carving shapes out of a stone slab one needs to be completely into it, at the highest and deepest kind of concentration level. You can not erase it, you can’t delete it, you can’t add a stroke of brush here and there to make it perfect.  Every stroke of hammer leaves a permanent imprint. No, I have never held a hammer to carve anything on stone but have enjoyed a wonderful experience of watching these artists at work in Hampi, prior to Hampi festival 2017.

Hampi is a magnificent open gallery of the architectural grandeur and sculpting magnificence. These artists were working on their pieces to participate in a competition to be held during Hampi festival. Themes mostly belonged  either to Vijaya nagar Empire or other temples, figures carved by the artists of the yonder years.

 

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Sculptors at work

 

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Badami cave temples taking shape

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This one was sitting a little away from rest of the artists, listening to music on phone, he was giving shape to a stone while few others peeped inside from window.

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He is etching image of Raja krishna deva Raya

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All pictures by Sunder Iyer

 

 

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