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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.

Binsar - Part 2 - Armchair Birdwatching

Binsar is well known for its variety of birds, and attracts plenty of bird watchers. So, I was all set with my binoculars and camera, ready to see as many as I could! Of course, with my digicam I had no hopes of great photos, but as usual, my enthusiasm remained undiminished!

The bird calls woke me up early every morning, and there was no need to set an alarm. We were close enough to nature for our natural clock to work perfectly. There was plenty to see and observe from the room itself, and I made the most of it……

Of all the birds, the bulbuls were the most prominent… there were just too many of them flying around! We saw both, the red vented ones and the white cheeked ones, and later, our bird watching guide explained that these were the Himalayan Bulbuls. I couldn’t see much difference between these and the ones which came to our balcony back home in Bombay, except that the mountain ones seemed healthier!

White Cheeked Bulbul (Or is it Yellow vented Bulbul?)

Red Vented Bulbul

Yellow vented Bulbul

I love the crest in this one.. our city ones arent so beautiful!

One of the fattest Bulbuls we saw.. the mountain air must agree with them!

Apart from bulbuls, there were also plenty of Jungle Babblers, Hill Mynas and drongoes…. The hill mynas were completely black, unlike their city cousins…..

A Hill Myna.. or so we were told...can someone confirm????

At first I thought this was a sparrow.. but it isnt. can someone tell me which bird it is???

This is  a drongo... sitting in an unusual position... If I hadnt followed it for a while, wouldnt have known...




Once we shifted to the log hut, I saw many more birds, most of which I could neither identify nor take photographs of, since they were so much faster than me and my simple camera…. It really is high time I buy a new one!

Unknown Bird.. Identification please!

See that small bird there??? maybe a flycatcher....

This beautiful plum headed parakeet was really helpful in arousing Samhith early! It was patient enough to sit still till my sleepy son woke up and opened his eyes and had a good, long look at the beautiful bird outside our window!

Plum Headed Parakeet

Plum Headed Parakeet

Plum Headed Parakeet

I also saw a Hoopoe for the first time……. one appeared outside our window for a while and I did manage to get a snap, though not a good one, and it was gone before Samhith arrived, which irritated him no end. Thankfully, we saw another one the next day, and it was patient enough to pose for a snap while my son jumped around, excited at seeing a ‘new’ bird!


The next day, we heard the call of the koel and managed to spot it and take a snap. Samhith wasn’t really impressed, saying that we could see it at home! While I agreed with him, I pointed out that we could hardly have got such a good and close shot at home, something which appeased him for a while!

Female Asian Koel

The fact that we saw so many birds from the room motivated us to go looking for more…. And we signed up for a bird watching trek… but more about that in the next post……


  1. Good lessons on birds. Good photos. But don't ask me to name any birds.

  2. What a wide variety of birds! You may like to spend sometime on this website and see if you find some of your birds there.

  3. The bulbuls you have labeled white-cheeked/yellow vented are actually "Himalayan bulbul" and not found in the plains. The "hill myna" is a blue whistling thrush, another mountain specialty. The black/yellow bird is a black-lored tit.

  4. The bulbuls you have labeled white-cheeked/yellow vented are actually "Himalayan bulbul" and not found in the plains. The "hill myna" is a blue whistling thrush, another mountain specialty. The black/yellow bird is a black-lored tit.

  5. @Chitra: hey, im just the same... only since i bought Salim Ali's bird book that i have started identifying a few birds..... the others are still confusing....

    @Mridula: thanks... that was useful! shall do that soon....

    @Dr.Mahesh: thanks......

    @Shilpa: thanks... it was great!

    @bonerpakhi: thanks so much......i shall add the names to the pics soon.....

  6. This blog has come up very well. Good photos. Overall I must say you are very lucky lady!

    Jay :)

  7. lovely missin birdwatching..need to go for a session soon

  8. Like that silhouette with the crest.

  9. Enjoyed the birding. Catching up with your Binsar tales. :)

  10. wow it was like heaven on earth this state is blessed , it was more amazing when we saw a mark of a bird taking us to a cave....where we saw unimaginable , species..guys go check out this blessed place as soon as possible . we were in a group which was arranged by , a panel of excellent manager Mr Kush from Haridwar , Shree maa ganga tour's haridwar uttrakhand...excellent knowledge which , is essential for all these terrain tour's..guys go and feel the ambience of nature


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