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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

Encounters with Wildlife on our Ujjain-Omkareshwar-Indore Trip

Travelling in an area which has some interesting wildlife sanctuaries, it was one of my greatest regrets that we couldn’t visit a single one on this trip, since it was primarily a pilgrimage to the two Jyotirlingams. However, we are now constantly on the lookout for birds, and make all efforts to photograph as many as possible.

The only wild animals we saw on this trip were monkeys and snakes. While we weren’t able to capture the snake on camera, the monkeys posed obligingly, especially at the Sandipani Ashram, Ujjain.

The Sandipani ashram would be an interesting place to visit; for we found some peacock feathers lying near a bush by the path (what was really surprising was that no one had picked them!!). Samhith was all excited, but unfortunately, the peacocks did not make an appearance. Just outside the ashram, though, we chanced upon a flock of birds which we couldn’t identify. The only one among them that I could capture on my camera was the little green bee eater (thanks T&S for your post, which helped me identify this one easily!)

Passing along the roads of Ujjain as we visited one temple after another, we passed pools of water which had collected due to the recent and unexpected rains. At every single pool were at least a few egrets and cattle egrets. At first, Samhith was so excited, he kept piping up “Amma look, another egret!!!”, but soon he got bored once he realized that there were egrets all over the place. And then, as we passed one more pool, I suddenly realized that the birds there weren’t egrets! We stopped and turned back to the pool where I got down to take pics. The only bird I recognized there was the pond heron (it is seen only in the last pic). I have no idea about the other birds. Can someone help me out, please?

I know this doesn't give a clear view of the bird, but I loved the way its reflection was seen in the water...

Our next encounter was at the Observatory at Ujjain where we saw plenty of butterflies, all blue in colour!

We saw drongoes everywhere, both, black drongoes as well as racket-tails, but this was the only one I managed to capture….

The biggest surprise and the best part of our trip was certainly Omkareshwar, where the first birds we saw were flocks of swifts flying all over the place. When we boarded the boat to cross the river, I noticed the swifts making regular trips to the rock face, and asked the boatman to take us there before going to the ghat. Here is what we saw there……

These look like nests of the swifts… and maybe there were swiftlets inside…. Were the birds bringing food to their young??

Our Omkareshwar Parikrama took us along the river and over the mountains, and we again had a lot of opportunity for bird watching, and I wished I had thought of bringing along my binoculars! While again I wasn’t able to identify most of the birds, here are the few I managed to photograph………

this one looks like the Indian Treepie...

Can anyone help in identifying this one????

The common myna, on an uncommon perch! and below it there is a coppersmith!

Again, I have no idea which birds these are? can anyone help me out?

Here is a bird I saw on a tree in the distance... Given my camera's capacity, this is the best I could do..... Both pics are of the same bird. Can anyone take a guess as to which one this is???

A Langur watched us as we walked the final stretch...

Indore was the only place we did not see any interesting birds…. After all, it is also a commercial city like Bombay, and we did not expect to see any, either. But wait, just this week, we saw something interesting from within the confines of our home, but that deserves another post, so wait till then to read about it!


  1. I love the butterfly shots and the nests, it seems birds are posing for u :)

  2. Swifts' nests are interesting. I've never seen these. I think the unnamed single bird is a type of pigeon. Can't identify the exact name.

  3. i guess the first unnamed bird is a 'spotted dove' - a type of pigeon as B mentioned.

    Isnt the second flock of birds, rose ringed parakeet?

    no idea abt the 3rd one. but, how big was it?

  4. Nests are really peculiar and first of its kind that i have seen.

    I must add, in Delhi it is rather surprising to find different species of bird during this part of year amidst pollution..And langurs seemed to be common all througout the metros

  5. @ Sri : the butterflies were beautiful! I felt so sorry that I could not capture the sight of so many butterflies on one plant!!!

    and I really wished the birds would pose for me! it was so difficult to photogrph them!

    @ Bindhu : Yes, this was the first time I saw these nests.. and the only reason I could identify them was that I recently read a blog about swifts building nests on limestone cliffs!!!!!

    @ Sandeep: thanks for the ID.. shall update the blog soon with its name.... the second flock didnt really resemble parakeets, but then they were quite far and against the sun, so i cant be quite sure....

    the third one was bigger than a crow... I first wondered if it was the female Koel... there are quite a few of them near my house... but once i saw the pic, i had doubts....

    @ Tarun : Langurs are there all over the place... esp where they know they can get food from pilgrims...... and yes, it is difficult to see birds in the city..... any city in india is too polluted and crowded for birds now! we see birds in our locality in bbay only because there are a lot of undeveloped areas within the colony.... its almost marshland...

  6. WOW, your passion for wildlife is awesome Anu. I can't image what you would do if you had the right camera gear. I m sure you would go berserk.

  7. @ T& S : thanks so much!!!! yes, i would certainly go berserk if i got the proper stuff, which is why i am waiting till Samhith grows up a bit more.... and when I do, you are the one i am coming to, for advice.....

  8. yes it would have been a real hard work, I guess thats why the shots are good :) bravo!!

  9. What a wonderful post, and I am just flattened by those bird nests.

    Goat in Attitude

  10. @ Sri. thanks so much! these days, i keep looking for photo ops for the blog... am wondering if i use the camera too much.. what say u???

    @ Bhavesh : thanks... yes, i was too.... and took so many pix.. these were the only ones that came out welll!!

  11. Great shots Anu!
    How exciting to see a variety in the wild like this.

  12. @ Indrani : thanks lot.... yes, it feels great when you see birds close to the city...

  13. i love the monkey and its baby shot,its describing the human relation with baboons
    Nature-By Deepak mc

  14. @ Deepak : Yes, there were so many mothers and babies... i took a lot of pics, and liked this one the most of all...

  15. The wildlife in India is not confined to any one particular part of the country. In fact every part of this subcontinent has something to offer. Depending on the part of the country you would like to visit and the kind of wildlife that you are interested:- India Tiger Safari and India Wildlife Safari

  16. @Bob: Absolutely!! there is so much to see in India that a lifetime isnt enough! thanks for writing in...

  17. This is wonderful!
    Did you go to Mandu as well?

  18. It is not a bad idea to hunt while you traveling. different people have different type of taste. some one love to travel to such places that have natural beauty, some one love to travel to beaches. Here you can also get perfect guideline from Hank Freid which is really helpful to you in organizing a travel towards your desired destination


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