Nepal Diaries – Part III

Boats at Phewa Lake (C) Mandar Wadadekar

Everybody loves to be in the lap of nature. Peaceful, calm, soothing and fresh. Nepal is a land having pure beautiful landscapes. One can feel the purity of the nature while travelling in Nepal. One will be able to experience the beauty of mountains, the snow capped peaks, the freshness of water bodies and the lush green nature. Since, it borders the Himalayan Mountains, majority of the world’s highest peaks are in Nepal or on borders of Nepal and Tibet. The lifestyle of both regions is almost similar. While Nepal have more crowded cities and some busiest times, Tibet is calm. No hustle-bustle. Pokhara is one such town of Nepal which is calm and quiet. On the backdrop of Annapurna range’s snow capped peaks are visible from the city itself town of Pokhara has a true white lining which turns orange/red/reddish orange at dawn and dusk. Sarangkot is the place from where you can see the sunrise and the golden glow on snow peaks. If you are lucky enough, you can get to see the beautiful play of colours in the mountains. Otherwise you are engulfed into the thick fog at the visiting point. It is a bit troubling for many of them as one need to get up as early as 3 am and reach Sarangkot by 4 am. It is an 15 kms uphill drive from Pokhara. We got up early in the morning and started our uphill drive towards the hill top. It was pitch black and we had no clue how the road was, we only knew that we were going upwards because of the steep slopes the road offered. Our car was taking wild left and right turns against the pitch dark background. It felt like in the horror movies, only the headlights of the car are on and your car is the only one running on the road. The weather was chilly outside. After we reached our drop off point, it was a uphill trek for 15-20 minutes. Road signs are present but you need to be careful. At some points no railings and on the other side there is a considerable deep valley.

Mount Annapurna from Hotel Balcony, Pokhara (C) Mandar Wadadekar
People practising Yoga at Sarangkot (C) Mandar Wadadekar
Looking forward to peace of mind and soul (C) Mandar Wadadekar

When we got up, it was dark and our mentor already started teaching us about how to create the silhouette effects in the photograph. After waiting for half an hour it started to lit up by the morning sun. Only then we realised about the height of our tabletop. Crowds of people started gathering around to see the golden glow on the snow capped tops of the the Annapurna range. From pitch dark, due to thick fog it started turning to white. We were eagerly waiting for the fog to vapourize, but to our disappointment it stayed. The fog was so dense and thick that we were not able to see the other person standing nearby. The weather continued till dusk. Still, as it is said ‘Don’t lose hope’, we stayed there but no luck seeing the golden peaks. This golden colour persists for a small period of time. Only few minutes, sometimes seconds and one need to capture the memory. There was a group of practising yoga. We managed to convince them to become our models for photo shoot and asked them to pose in the ‘asanas’. They readily agreed and we had some awesome portraits. We ended our sunrise tour and started descending.

Meanwhile, the day we reached Pokhara, we went to see Phewa Lake, but to our disappointment heavy rain started and made it impossible to capture the beauty of lake. We sat at our hotel rooms for the evening. But as the saying goes,’You always get what’s in your destiny’, my roommate was sitting in the room balcony and he called me in a hurry and showed the tip of Annapurna peak. For full 5 minutes, only the tip was visible and we reached for our cameras to capture it. After sometime the partial mountain range was visible to us. It was completely orange due to the dusk, but the colour did not last. The tangy orange colour covered snow and was shining for half-an-hour. We captured as many photographs as we can. Many of our colleagues were fast asleep to compensate for the next day’s morning sleep. When we asked them if the saw the mountains their jaws dropped as they had missed out the show. They were very eager to see the range in the morning but to their disappointment they were not able to.

While returning we had tea and biscuits at one stall. The stall owner was in his late 50s or early 60s and was a chatterbox. When he found out that we were from India, he started the political discussions which we tried to avoid. Return journey to Pokhara was quite a bit exciting since we were able to see the valleys and the ghat section of the road which was pitch black when we were ascending. We had some time shooting amazing landscapes of the valley and came back to hotel.

From the hills above Pokhara (C) Mandar Wadadekar

After reaching Pokhara and freshening up our next stop was Phewa Lake, Devi’s Falls, Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir and Pagoda. Actually, Phewa Lake was planned a day before but due to heavy rains we had to back out. So we had a morning boating experience at Phewa Lake. Since, due to rains and clouds the usual scenic beauty of the mountains was lost, but the lake itself is so beautiful that we forgot that on other side there are mountains. Almost 2 hours boating in the lake and capturing surrounding areas of Phewa Lake, we made some good photographs. Each and every shot out of the camera was better than previous one. Clean air and rains cleaning up dust from the environment, the colours were vibrant. The greenish blue colour of water was the highlights and the contrast colours of the boats made it a sight to see.

Boats lined up in a single line (C) Mandar Wadadekar

After having boating at Phewa Lake, our next stop was lunch. The hotel owner was a Marwadi and our Gujju guys were so happy to know that they had a ‘motabhai’ in Nepal serving people. We had a wholesome lunch at the hotel and after we went to see the Devi’s Falls. The is a waterfall near the busy road but is well maintained with the staircases, railings and the gardens around. At the entrance, there is a small temple of Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. There are very few temples of Goddess Saraswati.

The waterfall at Devi’s Fall (C) Mandar Wadadekar

The next stop was Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and is in the caves. We need to ascend down at least 100-200 meters to reach the temple. The road is slippery and one need to exercise utmost caution on the steps. The outside of the temple is decorated with the events in Ramanyana and Mahabharata. Also, the rasleela’s of Lord Krishna are depicted along the staircase going to Gupteshwar Mahadev Temple.

Overall, Pokhara is a worth visiting town. Beautiful landscapes, Phewa Lake and Annapurna range makes it worth visiting. The locals say, the road from Kathmandu to Pokhara is more beautiful, but it’s not good. It takes almost a day to reach from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The flight time is 25 mins and most of the times the flight gets delayed at both the ends due to bad weather.



The Bhaktapur Darbar Square (C) Mandar Wadadekar

Nepal is a land of mountains and is known for its architecture, landscapes, temples, etc. and of course the birth place of Gautam Buddha – Lumbini. The architecture of the temples and buildings is largely borrowed from Indian as well as Chinese cultures. The temples, the durbar square buildings, the markets, the streets, the river banks, etc. all have the impressions from India and China. Both the countries have deep connection with Nepal. The landscapes are amazing. The art on temples remind of Hindu mythological stories from various Puranas. Also, to mention, Nepal has 10 of the world’s highest peaks and hence the city of Kathmandu is gateway to trekkers. You will find trekkers from all around the world. Some to conquer the mountains and some getting to the base camps. The first timers go for base camps such as Annapurna, Everest, etc. while others hope for the peak.

I was looking for a trip which will help me get out from my daily routine. Searching on the internet for trips is so tedious job as you get lot of offers from many travel websites with discounts, freebies, etc. But got lucky to find this one. I came across this tour while surfing the internet. It was a photo tour (translate to photography workshop and a tour). The plan looked amazing and booked the same without any hesitation. Always fascinated by Nepal, especially the Pashupatinath Temple. Having heard about the Aarti of Baghmati Ganga river which resembles more of a Varanasi Ghat of our own Ganga river only less wider than the mighty Ganga. The architecture of the each Darbar Square is eloquent, and is carved out of wood. It reminds of the age long temples in India with intricate carvings in the rocks, the Nepal has same but is on the wood. So, let’s embark upon the journey in Nepal.

I was the first one to land in Kathmandu a day before my group would join me. Reached Kathmandu in the evening and strolled around the market area of Thamel. Thamel reminds of the Indian cities with thin lanes and the routine traffic of vehicles. At some places the lanes get so thin that you need to enter a shop so that the vehicle can be passed. Overhead you will see a lot of wires such as electricity, internet cables, etc. The below photo can depict it. Just so, every person in Kathmandu can have a cable to his head if humans derive energy from the electricity.

The wire chaos at Thamel Market Street (C) Mandar Wadadekar

The temple architectures has depiction of Indian mythological stories. You can see the idols of the Hindu gods and goddesses carved across the windows, doors, walls on the temples. The events from various Puranas are depicted on the walls of temples. The Narshimha Avtar of Vishnu, when he killed Hiranyakashapu to hold Pralhad’s devotion high to the almighty, etc. We first visited Changu Narayan Temple which is a Vishnu Temple. The temple is has an architectural imprint of Indian architecture and a pagoda style build up. From all the sides the roof is held by the 6 pillars again depicting the sculptures on each pillar found in various puranas of Hindus. Large part of it is covered with the idol of Goddess while in the small space at bottom, some story is depicted or have a dance mudra of a couple. The temple complex is quite large and have 2 – 3 small temples (again of Vishnu in various avtars) in the premises. The temple is surrounded by Champak trees. The entrance to the temple is narrow, but the view of the temple from those narrow strips is mesmerizing.

Changu Narayan Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar

In the below photo, the Vishnu is riding on his Vahan – The Garud. The Changu Narayan Temple was first opened in 325 AD as per the records.

The mighty Vishnu riding Garud (C) Mandar Wadadekar

To reach Changu Narayan Temple, you need to ascend the steps and the steps have shops on the both sides of the artifacts of wood. The wood artists are seen working on the artifacts while going up to the Changu Narayan Temple. They are very open and allow photographers to shoot while they are working. The below photo depicts the same.

Artist working on her painting (C) Mandar Wadadekar
An wood artist busy doing carvings (C) Mandar Wadadekar
The masks kept on sale (C) Mandar Wadadekar
The intricate carvings on the door of the Changu Narayan Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar

 This was the end of our first half day tour. We went to Bhatkapur Darbar Square and the complex was amazing filled with temples and lot of intricate carvings on it. That’s for second part.

Do let me know about how this has came out and what more information can be added.

Nepal Diaries – Part II

In last blog, spoke about the Changu Narayan Temple and the artisans in Nepal, in this one will speak about the Durbar Squares in Nepal. We visited 3 Durbar Squares (Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Patan). Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a royal palace of Bhaktapur Kingdom. It is located around 13 kms from Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is famous for its 55-window palace. The windows of the palaces or the houses in Nepal are carved intricately and has a special place in their architecture. Will speak only about Bhaktapur Durbar Square otherwise, the blog will become too long for reading.

The Bhaktapur Durbar Square buildings are known for ‘Newari’ architecture in Nepal.

Nyatapola Temple (c) Mandar Wadadekar

The above picture is of Nyatapola Temple which is known as temple of 5 basic elements. ‘Nyatapola’ in Newari means five stories. The temple which stands on 6 plinth levels with different types of bodyguards guarding the temple at each level.

Being a royal palace, the complex is very huge with many structures standing still. Majority of the structures have been damaged during the 1934 and 2015 earthquake. Originally, there were 99 courtyards at Bhaktapur Durbar Square which was destroyed in 1934 earthquake and in 2015 earthquake. The restoration work is still going on. Based on-going work one can understand about the depth of building architecture in Nepal.

A tourist posing against backdrop of restoration work (C) Mandar Wadadekar

Another attraction of Bhaktapur Durbar Square is Bhairavnath Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. You will find lot of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu as you will find it in India. The Bhairavnath temple has a huge bell hung at the bottom.

Top of Bhairavnath Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar
Pillars at Nyatapola Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar
The intricacy of carvings on Pillar at Nyatapola Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar
Bhairavnath Temple (C) Mandar Wadadekar

As mentioned, the windows have a special place in Nepali architecture, especially Newari style. The Newari style of windows is rich in their appearance. They are intricately carved out of wood. The windows have different names altogether to distinguish themselves. The style reflects the culture and creativity.

Interestingly, the type of window associated with each level of the house depends upon the purpose of each story. The Sanjhya is formed on an alcove in the room, towards the centre on the third of fourth floors of the room, while Gajhya, also forming on an alcove, is located below the roof of the structure. The Pasukha Jhya has five divisions that symbolize the five Dhyani Buddhas and is popularly found on shrines. The most common Newari window is the Tikijhya, allowing light and air to enter the room through small holes in the wood but prohibiting anyone outside to see inside. (From https://www.spotlightnepal.com/2015/08/29/nepali-architecture-looking-through-newari-windows/ by Samsara Wynona Upadhya).

I cannot distinguish the same, but have captured enough photos to describe the same.

Looking at the intricacy of the carvings on the Windows, we are left to keep thinking about the amount of time and patience required to attain the symmetry in the carvings of the windows. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square have a Pottery Square where you can find the potters working on the earthen pots. Tried to photograph the same.

(C) Mandar Wadadekar
(C) Mandar Wadadekar
(C) Mandar Wadadekar

One of the uniqueness of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the ‘Kamasutra’ scriptures on the support poles of the temple based on the ‘Khajuraho style’. Almost, all of the poses of ‘Kamasutra’ are depicted. The uniqueness is that, it is carved out in wood. At Khajuraho you will find it carved in stone. Zoom into the bottom of the image.

To note, many people think the ‘Kamasutra’ only about the sex life or it explains only about the physical pleasure. Kamasutra is vast, explaining everything about the ‘karmas’ mentioned in the Puranas. It explains everything about the Artha, Dharma and Kama. It discusses about what is better and how it can be made better. But since we have only seen the different sexual positions depicted everywhere, it is a common mistake of thinking it is only about the sexual pleasures.

(C) Mandar Wadadekar
(C) Mandar Wadadekar
(C) Mandar Wadadekar

(C) Mandar Wadadekar

This ends our tour of the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Every Durbar Square have its own history, which cannot be explained in a single blog. In next diary will cover Kathmandu and Patan Durbar Square.

Let me know in comment section how more this can be detailed.

Capturing birds

A skillful cameraman is needed to capture birds

I was never fond of the bird photography or any kind of animal photography. I love capturing portraits and people in their natural mood. The different kinds of moods create memories and when you look at those frames, the feelings and goosebumps they give you remains for a longer period of time.

My first photography expedition in natural habitat for birds, animals, and nature took me to National Park, Borivali. With two of my friends and a camera we went to shoot the birds at National Park, but to our surprise it started raining and it ruined our expedition. Birds never come out in rain (except some). Second time, I went in my neighborhood to capture the birds but again was disappointed. We was in a group of three and we spotted the small birds. The small birds did not give photographer much time to focus and shoot, you have to be ready with you camera. They are very agile and move constantly from one place to another. It becomes very difficult to capture them if there is bubbly-bubbly environment. After that disappointment, one fine Sunday I went once again this time without anyone and I got to capture some birds. The birds were Stonechat, Muniya and Indian Roller.


Indian Roller

For the first time I was able to capture them in their natural habitat. Previously, from my home’s balcony had tried to captured parrots.

This boosted my confidence and planned an expedition to Karnala bird sanctuary with my friends. Karnala bird Sanctuary is place near to Mumbai. We spotted a green bee eater – generally seen in India, bulbul, pond heron, sunbird, yellow wagtail near ponds. Some more bird-spotting was done too but we did not got any good frames. While capturing birds you have to be alertness and quick actions are required. You need to  focus on sounds or calls of the birds and for that you need to be a good listener. Long walks through the forests carrying your tripod and your camera and hiding in the spots, where the birds come can take you hours of sitting down at a single place.  It takes a lot of patience for getting the best frames out during the bird photography.

For bird photography you should have a lens with good focal length. Recommended lens is minimum 70mm-300mm or better. If you want great shots, it is recommended to use lens having focal length of 100mm-400mm and a tripod to avoid the handshake. The knowledge of your camera is required so as to  adjust the required settings quickly.



Green bee-eater

All images are subject to copyright to Mandar Wadadekar

How I started photography?

Photograph is a image in mind.

Everyone loves photography like anything. After the technology came to phones everyone got clicking like anything. Going anywhere, loving some food, loving a place or anything and everything is now on social media. I was fond of photography from my young years. We had Yashica camera and in 2004 we got a zoom lens camera. With that I started taking photographs but the cost of developing a photo was very high from negative and hence it was restricted.

I got my first DSLR in 2011 when I completed my MBA. The first photographs was so bad that it was not acceptable for me. Getting to know your camera is the first is the rule to photography. So I started getting to know the camera and in matter of time started taking the good photographs.

So, in 2018 I took a formal basic training. After completion the course for 6 weeks we started hanging around Mumbai and went to different locations for shooting. One of my friend who has Ganpati factory invited me to photography ‘Ganpati Bappa’ for one of his articles in a magazine. I readily agreed to do the shoot and got a photo published.

This is one of the murti of Ganpati Bappa. So this is how the journey started. A small story of how I started my photography.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started