The Qutab Minar ( Minar is a tower in Hindi) is the symbol Of New Delhi and marks the Rise and Fall of dynasties and empires over 11 centuries.
As I was arching my neck and attempting to frame ( photographers will get it) the magnificent Qutab Minar , the corners of my eyes detect specks of green on this gateway to the Iron Pillar ( 2nd Century BC) .
On a closer look , the specks of green turn into parakeets adorning the beautiful stone carvings.
Am overawed and pleasantly surprised, they are none other than Alexandrine Parakeets. Psittacula eupatria.
The red shoulder patch reveals the identity of the largest bird in the family of Parakeets .
The male is distinctively identified by its red nape and black ring around the neck .
This couple had found a gorgeous 1100 year old Penthouse .
An alert female member of the Alexandrine parakeet looks at all from the rooftop perch of the Penthouse.
Do notice the black ring and red nape are absent. It is also distinctively smaller than the male.
Whenever I see the THICK KNEE am reminded of the fairy tale RED RIDING HOOD and her remarks “what big eyes you have grandmother”. ( authors are permitted to spice up the story by giving the originals a little twist )
A nocturnal bird it prefers to hang around bushes , shrubs and trees during the day.
Thick Knee, Indian Stone Curlew,Burhinus indicus ( scientific)
This one was spotted Ogling at the lake under a TREE.
A combination of large goggle eyes and the above mentioned habit of hanging around gives the appearance of this bird OGLING.
A resident bird to the dry deciduous forests of India it can be spotted even in the stunted forests of Delhi. I did see one in Asola Forest Reserve in New Delhi.
The little knot around the knee give it another uncomplimentary name, THICK KNEE.
Sleeping or preening itself , Goggle eyes also has a large characteristic beak.
It is also called Indian Stone Curlew because of the characteristic wailing sound associated with Curlews.
Almost all pictures in books and sources on the net show the plumage as brown or shades thereof.
However the pictures I have taken near a lake in Rajasthan show up the THICK KNEE more greyish or STONE coloured.
The THICK knee or Stone Curlew finds a place in many stories, poems and even a movie.
Similar birds can be Spotted in Europe ( Eurasian Stone Curlew) and Africa as well.
Mahabaleshwar is an alias for Lord Shiva ( He has over 1008 mindbogling names) . Lord Shiva not only lends his name to this town but blesses it with unparalleled Natural beauty.
There is always an interesting story behind name of towns in India, Mahabaleshwar is no different. To know the story, do read http://www.travelwithmukul.wordpress.com at a later date, as this post is about the magnificence of Nature.
Amazing Mahabaleshwar is nestled in the Western Ghats at a height of about 4500 ft (1450 m).
Western Ghats are HOT SPOTS and home to a vast and diverse array of species like the Shekru or the Giant Indian Squirrel ( Ratufa indica) and the beautiful Canonball trees.
A beautiful expressway links Mumbai ( 250 kms) and Pune ( 120 kms to this wonderful town on the Western Ghats.
The approach to Mahabaleshwar is literally through these enormous and magnificent FICUS trees . The aerial roots form an arch resembling a doorway over the road near the township of WAI ( 30 kms short of Mahabaleshwar)
The hills of Mahabaleshwar are home to one of the few moistEVERGREENforests of India.
Blessed with more than a fair share of the monsoons, it is indeed a wonderful place to visit round the year.
The mountains turn lush green and the Krsna River ( do read BIRTH OF A RIVER) charged afresh by the Monsoons gushes down to the parched lands of the Deccan Plateau.
The hills of Mahabaleshwar are home to a diverse range of Flora ( close to 6000 species) . The monsoons are a wonderful time to visit the region as numerous wildflowers ( do read post titled THE BLUSHING DAMSEL) carpet the area with their blossoms.
The Kaas Plateau ( about 40 km away) is also called the Valley of the Flowers of this region.
Fortunately the rains keep away hordes of tourists leaving you to soak in the glory ( pun intended) of Nature in solitude.
Coming from Delhi where the temperatures cross a dizzy 42 C with ease, we experienced with glee the glory of bountiful Monsoons in this wonderful town.
Behold the wonder of the Western ghats at Mahabaleshwar.
Wonderful Waterfalls burst forth from the mountains adding to the scenic beauty of the region.
This tiny town is the catchment area for no less than 5 Rivers.
The clouds descend to kiss the earth over Lake Veena, Mahabaleshwar.
A vast lake it extends upto the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The weather changes miraculously as the mist and the clouds play hide and seek .
This photograph was taken within seconds of the one above. The clouds and mist had gone in a flash.
The high levels of moisture in the air are perfect for EPIPHYTES which covert rooftops into Gardens.
The Le Meridien Spa & Resort Hotel is a Botanists delight as it is located within a forest of Jamun trees , all of which are covered with orchids and moss ( Epiphytes) .
The sprawling estate of the Hotel is home like much of the region to numerous medicinal plants and the reclusive Shekru as well.
The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas thus the genetic lineage of the plants goes back to a time now forgotten.They were the original Inhabitants of the land we today called India, then called JAMBUDVIPA.( the island of Jamuns)
Many sacred forests still survive in the Western Ghats , protecting a genetic pool created before the TIME OF MEN on this planet.
I will be coming back to meet Shekru whom I dearly missed and unveil some of these original greybeards of JAMBUDVIPA.