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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 10 - A 'swift' meeting

We were on our way to Bageshwar when suddenly we stopped behind a line of vehicles, only to find that the road was being repaired and that we would have to wait till the road roller and the other vehicles moved away! At first we spent some time looking here and there but were soon thirsty. Our store of water having just got over, we decided to see if we could find some water anywhere. Walking towards the place where the road was being laid, we found a small cluster of shops and asked for water. Unfortunately, no bottled water was available, but the people pointed us towards a tap which they said had drinking water. Samhith was too thirsty for me to protest, so we went ahead, and drank straight from the tap, a new experience for Samhith. He was surprised that the water was so cool and sweet, that he declared that the water was far better than the bottled ones, and I heartily agreed with him!

As we walked back towards the car, we saw a number of swifts flying to and fro, and paused to take a closer look. We had seen plenty of swifts from the moment we arrived in the mountains, but they were too fast for me to even get a good look at them! Having plenty of time on our hands, we decided to linger and take a closer look. While I tried to capture one swift sitting on a shelf inside a shop, Samhith was a bit more curious, and went inside a small tea shop and started looking around. When I called him out, he refused, and instead asked me to come in and see something!

The ‘something’ turned out to be a swift sitting on a nest over a bulb-holder! I was too thrilled for words and began clicking immediately……

I was so thrilled by the sight of the swift sitting on the nest, but soon it left again, and imagine my surprise when I saw swiftlets inside, opening their mouths wide in anticipation of the food their mother would bring when she returned!

By this time Samhith had wandered off, and he again called out to me excitedly, for he had seen another nest – in fact, the whole place was full of swifts nests! And on one of them sat a swift comfortably, not even frightened off by excited and curious people like us! Samhith too was surprised that the bird did not fly away like the others, and I explained to him that she was probably sitting on her eggs, waiting for them to hatch!

We were so engrossed in the swifts that we did not even realize that the road was no longer blocked! One of the villagers called out to us, saying that our vehicle was moving, and we abandoned the swifts and returned to the car!

When the car had stopped, we had been irritated at the unexpected delay, and bored. Never did we expect that it would bring us such a wonderful experience! Time did fly ‘swiftly’ indeed!


  1. so sweet... esp the swiftlets taking food :)

  2. Just a beautiful post Anu, what an amazing experience. The nest looks so cute over the bulb and the chicks the ultimate prize for a photographer!

  3. Oh,
    Really its a very interesting post.
    I like your post very much.
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  4. Awesome Post,
    I like the concept of your post, please keep it up with your posts.
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  5. what a lovely post..this is one of a kind experience

  6. awesome! lovely pics and what an experience!

  7. the delay on the road came as a blessing to all . We too got an opportunity to see all the cute Swifties.

  8. Aw what a sweet post... I love that the little swifts brought you so much joy. Birds do that for me too. These ones sure are cute! They're inventive little critters... making a camera into a nest-holder!

    Yes, I have always felt tap water tastes better than bottled!

  9. @Shilpa: you should have seen them! it was such a wonderful experience!

    @Mridula: thanks... and it was such a great surprise.....

    @Dino: thanks a lot....

    @San Anotonio hotel thanks a lot..... it was indeed a one of a kind experience...

    @Usha: thanks...thats why i missed talking to you... there were so many things to tell u...

    @Lydia: thanks so much!

    @Chitra: absolutely!

    @lovelable_homebody: thanks a lot.....


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