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Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Beautiful Travelogue of Meenmutty and Kombaikani Waterfalls


These two waterfalls are located about 60 kilometres away from the Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital of Kerala. The Meenmutty and Kombaikani waterfalls are seen on the upper reaches of the Neyyar Reservoir. They can be accessed by trekking from the Kallar side. This place falls en route to the Ponmudi hill station. A visit to this place offers a truly invigorating experience to both body and mind. The way to these waterfalls offers a steep gradient. Hence, the tourists have to move slowly.


Magnificent Waterfalls

Near Kallar in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, one can find two glittering waterfalls that act as two diamond necklaces to the mighty Western Ghats mountain ranges in that region.  They are Meenmutty and Kombaikani. Both these waterfalls can be found en route to the destination Agasthyakoodam. They are part of a trekking route connecting Kallar and Agasthyakoodam. People who wanted to trek this terrain need to get prior permission from the Kerala Forest Department. These two waterfalls are found on the upper reaches of the Neyyar Reservoir in the capital district of the state. While climbing along the trekking path from Kallar, the first waterfall Meenmutty comes after walking a distance of 2 kilometres. After spending a while at the first waterfall, one would come across the Kombaikani after covering a distance of another 2 kilometres. While trekking through the path, one would come across a large number of bird species and butterflies. The forest cover in this area is tropical in nature. Trekkers usually come across leeches during the rainy seasons. Hence, they should come completely prepared to ward off any issues relating to leech bite during that time of the year.  Another attraction is the clean, cool and crystal clear water coming through waterfalls. While taking bath, people would feel their body and mind totally charged up for the tasks ahead. People climbing towards Agasthyakoodam can take rest in Kerala Forest Department-owned guest house near Kombaikani waterfalls and recoup their resources before resuming their journey towards the zenith.



The base point in the trekking route is Kallar. This place is famous for round-shaped boulders and pebbles. It falls on Thiruvananthapuram-Ponmudi bus route. The name of this place is derived from a river that bears the same name. In English language, “Kallu” means stone and “Aar” means river. In short, the name of this place is derived from the Kallar River that flows through that area. This place also has a small waterfall by which people stop for a while before they resume their journey to the hill station. It is also a favourite haunting place for picnickers from the city. The other people who frequent this place include those who are interested in trekking, bird watching and angling. This is the middle point of the route to the hill station from Thiruvananthapuram city. Another attraction of this place is Golden Valley. This attraction can be easily approached by road. The trekkers use this place as a base camp for preparation to reach the zenith point in the Western Ghats – Agasthyakoodam. In the Golden Valley, people can cool themselves off by dipping in a crystal clear stream of water from Kallar River.  People who are interested in angling can find many rapids and small pools in this river. The bird watchers also climb along this trek route to reach the points from where they can see birds in close angles. Due to the frequenting of people in this place, some tourist facilities are available there. After Kallar, one may not find much of people and their habitat till one reaches Ponmudi. Hence, the people say after Kallar starts the high range begins.

kallar river

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Munroe Island – A Beautiful Landmass in Ashtamudi Lake


You might have passed by the Munroe Island or Thuruthu when you traveled in train towards Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram stations. This island is found at the confluence of two water bodies. They are Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River.  This beautiful piece of land is located in Kollam district of the southern state of Kerala. This island can be accessed by road, railwaynavs and backwater. The island covers a total area of 13.4 square kilometres.

kallada river

Geography of Munroe Island

Munroe Island is located in a larger water body in the Ashtamudi Lake near a point where Kallada River drains its water into the lake before its movement towards the Arabian Sea. It is basically a cluster of eight islands. This island is nearer to the Kollam city centre. It is just 25 kilometres from Kollam city and 12 kilometres from Kundara in the Kollam district. Another district centre Karunagapally is about 25 kilometres by road from this island formation. This beautiful island can also be approached by rail and water. There is an inland navigation system in place that takes the visitor to the heart of the island.  According to the most recent available data, the island has a population of 9599 people.  The administration of this island is under the control of a village body. This administration has control over a few smaller islands in its vicinity.

munroe island

History of the Island

The name of the island is derived from the name of a British Administrator who ruled the former Princely State of Travancore. The name of the person was Colonel John Munro. This island is not a naturally formed one. Rather, it was created when some portion of the lake was reclaimed as land mass during the time of Colonel Jacob Monroe when he was the administrative head of Travancore. The land was reclaimed to boost agriculture. During his time, a study conducted revealed that the reclamation of land at the delta formed by the mixing of the Kallada River with Ashtamudi Lake would boost the agriculture and secure the princely state.  That is the reason why the island is named after him.

munroe island

Monroe Island as Tourist Destination

This island has become a tourist destination for a variety of reasons. On this island, one can see the processing of raw materials for making the coir. The various stages of coir making could be seen in this beautiful island. The various steps through which the coconut husks pass through include coir retting and weaving. This island is also known for fishing activity. The most prized catch on this island is prawn. There are many prawn feeding and processing plants on this island. The visitors of this island can also enjoy the nesting and breeding of migratory birds. The bird watchers will have a ball of time watching these birds and understand their activities from close quarters. People who like cruises can go for navigation through narrow canals and waterways to reach the interior regions of the district where one can reach only by water. While traveling through the water, one would come across numerous coconut farms on either side of its shore. While traveling through the canals, one would also come across lagoons and mangrove plants. If the visitors are inclined to do some fishing activities, they can halt at lagoons and shore up to find an ideal spot for picking up fish from water. The romantic couples can go into the shades of mangrove plants for some private time together!! By means of boats, the travellers can also go to the tiny islands of Pathupara. These islands are renowned for offering beautiful scenery in the backdrop of the Ashtamudi Lake. The island is a witness to a famous boat race. This race is normally conducted at the time of Onam festival. The name of the boat race is Kallada Boat Race. Over the period of years, it has become one of the famous boat races in Kerala. This team effort on canoe is usually organized at Karuvathakadavu. The race starts at this point and goes up to Muthiraparambu on Munroe Thuruthu or Island.

house boat navigation

Other Attractions

Apart from the highlights that have described above, this island has few other destinations where the tourists would like to go during their one-day visit. They are listed below.

  1.  Mulachanthara Temple:  This is one of the famous temples on this beautiful island. The deities of this temple include Goddess Bhadra, Lord Krishna, Goddess Durga and Lord Vigneshwara. The major festivals at this temple are Pradishta Varshikam, Sapthaha Maholsavam and Thiru Ulsavam. The visitors can time their visit in such a way that it coincides with any of these festivals to see the grand celebration.


  2. Kalluvila Temple:  This is a waterfront temple situated in a place called Panamp. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Krishna.


  3. Christian Church: This is a lakeside church. It was built in 1878 AD. This pilgrim centre has some unique architecture. Of late, this church has also become one of the tourist attractions on this picturesque island.

    christian church

  4. Palliyam Thuruthu:  This is another beautiful island in the centre of Ashtamudi Lake. It can be accessed by water from Monroe Thuruthu. The island offers the unfettered view of the horizon in the backdrop of the lake.

    kallada river />
  5. Backwater Canals: Ashtamudi Lake has a network of canals and backwaters.  Due to this reason, it provides the most navigable routes in backwaters of this southern district of Kerala. Many backwater tourism operators have set up kettuvalloms or houseboats to help the tourists to savour the lifestyle of people in the backdrop of this beautiful lake and its canals.  Tourists primarily go for the stay on board for a day or two so that they can fully imbibe the beauty of the nature.
backwater canal

Thursday, 24 September 2015

First Ever Butterfly Survey in Kerala


The Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department is going to launch the comprehensive exercise on butterflies that are endemic to the Ghats region, especially in Munnar hill range. As part of this exercise, the department is going to undertake the first ever comprehensive survey and scientific of butterflies living in the Munnar landscape. This was disclosed by the Wildlife Warden of Munnar G. Pramod. The data would be compiled into a book and a butterfly calendar for the region to help the wildlife enthusiasts to explore the area in a timely manner.

munnar butterfly

Munnar Habitats

This is a 3-day exercise that aims to document the presence of a wide variety of butterflies that have chosen the Munnar region as their habitat. This region has sub-habitats that uniquely meet the requirements of different types of butterfly species. We can find the large range of habitats that range from low-lying dry scrub forests of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary to Sholar forests that are seen on the ascending peaks of the Western Ghats. In between, a visitor can see wide stretches of grasslands that also give space for certain types of these winged species. Due to this reason, one can easily find the temperature gradient that varies with the altitude of the location from the sea level. As a result of this, one can see a wide variety of vegetation at different habitat locations. In all these locations, the visitors would find different types of butterflies.

munnar region

Comprehensive Survey

The Forest and Wildlife Department of Government of Kerala is going to conduct a 3-day survey and study of butterflies that live in the Munnar region. As many as 60 butterfly enthusiasts from across Kerala, including Kalesh Sadasivan of Travancore Natural History Society, Toms Augustine and B. Sreekumar of Kottayam Nature Society are taking part in this comprehensive exercise. Senior Wildlife Biologist Kunjhikrishnan would be coordinating the work as the program coordinator. The survey would be conducted at 4 Wildlife Sanctuaries such as Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, and national parks at Mathikettan Sola, Anamudy Sola, Pampadum Sola and Kurinjimala Sola. In all these places, 14 strategic base camps would be set up to cover each and every corner of the forest. According to the wildlife warden, the data would be assimilated in a structured manner using checklists and data sheets. These data would be critically analyzed using the data from GPS readings. The data from this survey would be compiled to make the Butterfly Calendar of the region.

butterfly survey

Butterflies Seen in Munnar

Munnar region has a large number of butterflies, which also include new species and those near extinction. They include Niligiri Clouded Yellow, Palni Four-ring and Niligiri Fritillary. These are rare in nature and found only in the Western Ghats. Then, there other like Davisons Bush Brown, Red Disk Bush Brown, etc. that have slightly wider habitat in this region, especially in the Southern Ghats. The presence of these butterflies would be documented in elaborate manner and published in the form of a book during the Wildlife Week Celebrations to be held in the first week of October 2015. This weeklong celebration would be conducted from October 2 to October 9, 2015 at Thiruvananthapuram.

butterfly species

Monday, 7 September 2015

Motherly Instincts Seen in Animals As Well


The instances of motherly instincts can be seen in higher forms of mammals as well. This is what comes out in stark contrast, when we read a strange case wherein a pregnant dog feeds its breast milk to a two-year-old orphaned child. This case was reported in a recent social media site. Has it not been due to the motherly instinct of the animal, the toddler would have died due to hunger and dehydration? In this article, we would see this story that tells the world loudly that the love and affection are not lost in this world, and it is not the monopoly of human beings only.

motherly love

Dog Feeds the Child with Its Milk

A child was found abandoned by its mother in a workshop a port city near Santiago, Chile. When people found the child in bad condition, they found a pregnant dog nearby. Despite being alone for a few days, the child was found alive. The locals say that the pregnant dog had fed the child with its milk to keep the child alive before it was found by them. They say that the toddler was found in bad condition by the pregnant dog residing in the nearby house. This act of kindness went on for some time. On one fine morning, the passersby happened to see the child feeding on the breast of the pregnant dog. They informed the authorities about the plight of the abandoned child.  The health authorities took the possession of the child and got it admitted to the hospital for further check up. The doctors who treated the child had opined that the child would have died in a few days had there not been a helping hand from the dog. The gift of affection for the small ones is seen in other forms of animals as well. However, there seems to be the decrease in such a feeling in human beings.

pregnant dog

Medical Condition of the Child

The doctors who treated the child had opined that the child was suffering from skin infections, dehydration, and hunger. While in hospital, the doctors and nurses took turns to nurse the child so that it could recover faster. Learning about the plight of the child from the media, it’s so called biological mother came to the hospital to take back the child. Since the mother was in drunkard state, the hospital authorities did not give the child to her.  It took a week’s time for the hapless child to recover completely. The hospital authorities have sent the child to Child Welfare Centre to take care of the child.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Humanity Learns to Communicate in Nature’s Language


The brighter brains around the world have been looking for the most effective and cheapest way of communication between different systems since the time immemorial. Their pursuit for such a solution took them to materials like silicon to develop semi-conductor based systems that communicate through a series of hexadecimal values that only machines can understand. Hence, the design of such systems was the handiwork of a learned few who knew the systems level programming. Now, the further pursuit has landed them up before the nature itself. They have found that the chemicals based communication offers a far superior mode of communication. Most of all, they provided the eco-friendly solutions that are viable in the long term.

natural communication

Pursuit of a Sustainable Communication

Since human beings are born into a society, they knew about the value of communication for a peaceful co-existence. They wanted such a semblance even in the devices that they make for communication. Many years have been dedicated and thousands of dollars have been spent to find a viable option. Till now, the developers were content with the language of digital communication which radio, television, wireless internet and satellites use for mutual contacts. This language has come in the forms of cumbersome numbers made of ones and zeroes. There has to be a lot of infrastructure dedicated to this. Now, the communication scientists have come forward with a new line of communication that is quite common in the biochemical world. This new communication is through a single molecule or a mixture of simple molecules.

Evolution of Biochemical Communication

In nature, a single molecule or a group of molecules can tell the microbes about the location of the food. Similarly, a plant can understand when it would be attacked or animals know when it is mating time for them, etc., with the help of these small molecules that are released from a source. In a nutshell, the immense amount of information is passed on to other organisms through the dispersal of these molecules. A group of international scientists, including Shannon Oslon from Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) have quantified this communication route to develop future nano communication devices. The team of scientists from the premier research institute of India has developed a prototype communication device using the pheromones found in moths. In nature, the female moth releases minute packets of pheromones over several metres to attract a male for mating.

intercellular communication

Designing of Biochemical Communication Device Prototype

The team has developed the electronic components that mimic four stages of biochemical communication – production, transmission, detection and processing – to decipher the chemical signal. A tiny micro-reactor produces a cocktail of communication molecules that have the same characteristics of the pheromones found in nature. The second stage of the biochemical communication is mimicked by a small silicon-glass evaporator that disseminates the signal molecules. This stage replicates the role of glands of a female moth in spreading the chemical in a regulated manner. When the male moths were exposed to such a condition in a lab, they behaved like they would in a natural habitat under similar situations.  After finding the response, the team developed a chemo-receiver to process the signal in a proper manner. This chemo-receiver is modeled on the olfactory receptor found in a fruit fly or Drosophila. The software associated with the chemo-receiver is modeled on the neural activity that gets triggered in the tiny brain of the fruit fly. These parts worked in unison to provide the same level of response that is seen natural habitat. With the development of a working prototype, the days are not that far off wherein people use much cheaper and compact biochemical devices for effective communication.

physiology of communication

Friday, 31 July 2015

People from Far off Places Attended Dr Kalam’s Last Rites


The mortal remains of former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam were laid to rest on July 30, 2015 with full state honours at his hometown Rameshwaram, which is an island town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The burial event was witnessed by over one lakh people. This is an unprecedented development when compared to what was seen during the burial of the former Presidents in the past. This truly showed how popular was this great soul while he was alive. This is the reason why he is considered as “People’s President” by many in the country.

people's president

Testimony of Dr Kalam’s Popularity

Wherever he went, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam endeared the people without looking at their profile. He easily interacted with people ranging from common men, students, research scholars to fellow scientists, political luminaries and statesmen. That was the reason why he had a wide fan following in the country.  This is reflected in the sheer number of people who attended the final farewell of the departed soul. His fans came in buses, trains, and boats to reach in time to have the last glimpse of the fellow they liked most. They all walked into Rameshwaram from July 29, 2015 onwards and occupied whatever accommodation that was available to them. Some people who were interviewed told that they spend the night before the burial on the pavements without worrying about the accommodation. This shows the level of regard these people had towards Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Many people poured in from neighbouring states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. There were many people from North India as well to catch the final glimpse of the departed leader. There were some people who have come all the way from the United States of America as well.

mortal remains of Kalam

Hardship Fans Endured to See Funeral

Due to the immense popularity, the political leaders cutting across the party lines had to make their presence known before the large gatherings. Many high profile political luminaries made their presence known in the funeral. Due to this reason, the common man, including fans, had to trudge the last few miles in sweltering heat. They were made to alight from their vehicles a few kilometres away from the burial ground which was allocated for this purpose by the Tamil Nadu government. The state government is planning to convert this 1-acre ground into a memorial in the name of Dr. Abdul Kalam in Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, India. Despite this hardship, the admirers had resolutely reached the Pei Karumbu ground – the chosen burial site for Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The preceding night, the hotels and other lodgings in Rameshwaram were full with the visitors. Due to the non-availability of accommodation, some even slept on the roads.

kalam fans

Last Journey

After keeping the body of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for the public to play its last respect on the ground just opposite to the Rameshwaram bus stand, it was brought to his ancestral home at 10 PM on July 29, 2015. On the burial day (July 30, 2015), the casket containing the mortal remains of the “People’s President” was brought out from his ancestral home at 9:30 AM – House of Kalams – draped in a traditional green shawl for the final prayer at the local mosque. The casket was carried by the personnel of the tri-services.  The body was then draped in flowers and covered with the national flag for its final journey. The decked casket containing the body is then placed in a carriage towed by the decorated military vehicle. The carriage was then transported to the burial site in accompaniment of the members of Army, Navy and Air Force. En route the funeral procession was greeted by the waiting people with tricolour flags. They showed their respect by shouting the slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

last journey

Friday, 10 July 2015

Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park


Almost in the same year (1988) another beautiful park came into existence in the neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. It was dedicated to the rearing and breeding of beautiful butterflies. Unlike the bigger counterpart, the butterfly park has an area size of 80,000 square feet. This park basically is a beautifully landscaped garden that is modified to hold the butterflies. This park has gone on record as the largest butterfly park in the world. Visitors to the much renowned Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park make it a point to visit this park as well after they come to know about its attractions from the local tour operators. Hence, people who have visited this park have never said that they had wasted the precious time wandering there.

About the Butterfly Park

Spread over a total area of 80,000 square feet, Kuala Lumpur Butterfly Park has over 50,000 butterflies. These beautiful creatures were collected from different parts of the world with the hope of preserving their ecosystem. For this purpose, the park has a wide diversity of ferns, lilies, orchids, hibiscus and other types of shrubs. Therefore, it would like a paradise for the onlooker with a wide display of colours and aroma that take them to a totally different realm of experience. The words cannot explain the visual treat only the first hand experience would narrate the exact experience. On entering the premises, the visitors would be able to see the wings of so many colours at one time as if the nature has showered us with multiple rainbows. When they slowly close their wings, they would look like the dead leaves. So these two extremes alternatively would be on display, giving a filmy exposure to the onlookers.

Description of Surroundings

On entering the premises, the visitors would be hearing the gurgling sound of water flowing on the artificial streams. They would be seen streaming past the ferns and flowers so smoothly that they appear as real ones. The central water body in the park holds colourful fish like Japanese Koi and freshwater turtles. On the banks of the water body, the travellers can see hopping grass hoppers and other types of insects that inhabit the garden. The authorities of the park have kept the trays of ripe fruits and fresh flowers to feed the butterflies. There is a museum of butterflies on its premises. The display in this museum has been classified continent wise to tell the students about different butterflies seen there.

Tale of a Winged Territory in Heart of Kuala Lumpur City


Have you heard of caged jungle? We might have not heard or seen about this concept anywhere in Indian museums. Our museums are noted for cramming for spaces meant for the animals and birds. They would be seen in cages with little spaces. As a result, the hapless animals and birds don’t get much freedom to roam around. A visit to the bird and butterfly parks in the heart of Kuala Lumpur city would take away the concept of closed museums that are seen in India. The proximity of the parks to the city centre does not affect the winged inhabitants of the two parks. A visitor would see the scenery calm and tranquilizing. He would never get the feeling that he was in a place near the city centre. This would make us lower heads in shame for not conceiving such a set up to end the torments of the caged living beings at zoos and museums in our country.

KL Bird Park

The two parks are located just 10 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur city centre, which is infested with many high-rise buildings. The visitor needs to enter into the park through a string of green chains dangling from the park entrance. He has to open a mesh door to reach a totally different world. This sprawling world of herbs, shrubs and trees offer a safe haven for the inhabitants. The bird park has over 3000 birds roughly belonging to 200 species. Some of these birds are local in origin, whereas most of the others are imported and habituated to the new place. As one enters this wonderful world, he would hear the chirping, cawing and croaking sounds of winged inhabitants. In between, one would hear the raindrops tip-tapping on the ground. The bird park has a total area of 21 acres. The visitors can get themselves photographed with exotic birds found inside the park.

About the KL Bird Park

In 1988, the existing lake garden was converted to the bird park with the aim of educating the life and rearing of birds and teaching the students about them. This park was the brainchild of British state treasurer of Selangor Alfred Venning. Now the area has an artificial lake, hibiscus garden, a deer park and a bird park. Incidentally, the hibiscus flower is the national flower of Malaysia. The park has been set up in an area that has a roof that prevents the inhabitants from escaping the place.  This enclosure has been partitioned into a number of zones that accommodate appropriate types of birds. For instance, the flightless birds like emu and ostrich occupy the grassy side of the park and the flamingos, the pelicans, etc. are accommodated near an artificial waterfall. The country’s national bird Hornbill is also found in the park. The students and other children can avail the park’s bird show that portrays the birds in their habitats. This is said to excite the children. The winged habitat is said to peacefully co-exist with the sprawling malls and other commercial establishments without latter affecting the birds.