Layers And Shades

Layers And Shades
Layers And Shades

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

BARSEY RHODODENDRON SANCTUARY – THE RHODODENDRON TRAIL


BARSEY RHODODENDRON SANCTUARY – THE RHODODENDRON TRAIL

The Entrance 

The Car Parking 


The advent of Spring infuses a rejuvenation in the temperature gradients of the Sikkim Himalayas. The 25km journey from Okhrey to Hilley by road represented an extravaganza of colours – the sloppy canvas being spattered with riots of red-pink-white shades by the paintbrush of nature. Rhododendrons, Magnolia, Primula peered from both sides of the curvy trail making the journey indelible with their signature full-bloom smile and the thick wild smell mixed with the aroma of the mountain wind. Misty veils accompanied throughout the way up to Hilley from where the trek begins to Varsey or Barsey through the dense Rhododendron Sanctuary blessed with the eerie wilderness. The fragile and beautiful plants play a vital role in supporting plant and animal life in the sub-alpine regions of the Himalayas, making their conservation very important.

Full Bloom 

Rhododendron 


The concept of biodiversity conservation in the Sikkim Himalayas i.e. Singalila Range is very important. The names of many places in this region commemorate saints who came to meditate and also to variegated flora and fauna found abundantly there. Some of these forests are still preserved as sacred groves or “Devithans” and are a source of life giving water. Despite this history, it was not until the 1990’s that the endeavors thrived into the creation of a sanctuary in this region. This dream is now flourishing as the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (1996). There are 30 villages comprising 6500 households with a total population of about 40 thousand people adjoining this sanctuary, which have been brought under the Eco Development Network.

Spotlights 

Spotted Laughingthrush on Rhododendron Tree

Our car halted at the foothill of the sanctuary that is on the pitch laden path from where the journey begins. A large bright green map on the left side showed the flora and fauna found in the large area of the sanctuary. As I went up through the stone-staircase, the White-browed Fulvettas beckoned amid the Rhododendrons smeared with white-pink-crimson hues –no wonder it was the revel time for these mountain birds in the full-bloom season. We were then inspected or to be precise, the number of cameras we carried was checked at the Hilley Check post and after acquiring the permit by submission of fees, finally we entered the reign of the Rhododendrons through the bright coloured gateway.   

The Winding Path 

Rhododendrons

The Sanctuary spans the razor-sharp Singalila Range. The climate is damp and cold favouring the spread of the dominant genus Rhododendron. July is the wettest month with average annual precipitation being in excess of 350 cm. Regular snowfalls is witnessed at above 2500m in winter. Clear vistas of the blue sky can be experienced as well as the grandeur of the flowers in best form are to be seen from the months of November to May, is regarded as the best time to visit the sanctuary. The temperature ranges from -10° to 25°c.

Black-faced Laughingthrush

Located at an altitude of 10000ft, the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (BRS) or VARSEY Rhododendron Sanctuary (27°11’49’’ N and 88°7’45’’ E) is sprawled over a total area of 104 sq km across the Singalila Ridge marking the border of Nepal and is domicile to numerous species of Rhododendron, Primula, Magnolia, Oak and Pine. It forms a vital corridor in the larger Khangchandzonga Biosphere Reserve in the north with the Singalila National Park of West Bengal in the south. The Rambong Khola separates the sanctuary from West Bengal. Sir J. D. Hooker , the world renowned botanist noted in his diary that the Shingalila Range formed the political boundary between Sikkim and Nepal, springs from Khangchandzonga and extends southwards to the plains of Bengal. The super abundance of rhododendrons is the glory of Singalila Range.

He walked and walked, and never looked back...

The banks of rivers between 8000 and 14000ft are generally covered with the Rhododendrons, sometimes to the total exclusion of other wooded vegetation, especially near the snowy mountain, a cool temperature and great humidity being the most favourable condition for the luxurious growth of this genus. Such conditions prevail throughout the Shingalila Range due to its proximity with the Khangchandzonga Range. The Silver Fir extends to 13000ft and the Junipers to 15000ft. For many miles the path runs through woods of Rhododendron arboreumRhododendron cinnabarinum, Rhododendron falconeri, Rhododendron barbatum, Rhododendron campanulatum, Rhododendron hodgesoni, Acer caudatum, Betula utilis, Pieris ovalfolia, Prunus rufa, Pyrus foliolosa, Pyrus macrophylla etc. Around 600 varieties out of the 1000 known varieties of Rhododendrons in Sikkim are recorded here. Here also are seen the last examples of the dwarf bamboo tribe, Arundinaria spathiflora and Arundinaria racemosa.

Spotted Laughingthrush (back) and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush 

Black-faced Laughingthrush

The altitudinal range of 2200m to 4100m supports a wide variety biodiversity values ranging from A. Sub-tropical moist deciduous forest at 2100-2400m (Castanopsis indica, Michelia excelsa, Juglans regia, Schima wallichii etc) ; B. Wet- temperature mixed broadleaf forest at 2400-2700m (Quercus lamelloa, Quercus lineata, Acer campbellii, Magolia campbellii etc and a host of epiphytic algae, fungi and orchids) ; C. Moist-temperature conifer forests at 2700-3250m (Tsuga dumosa, Abies densa, Rhododendron falconeri, dwarf bamboo –Arundinaria sp. etc) ; D. Sub- alpine forests at 3250-4000m (scarce dwarf Rhododendron shrubbery mainly Rhododendron anthopogan, Rhododendron lepidotum, Rhododendron setosum, Juniperus recurva, Sorbus, Rosa, Ribes, Vibernum etc) and finally E. Alpine forest at 4000m and up (alpine flowers –Poa, Anemone, Mecanopsis, Primula, Aconitum, Delphinium, Bergenia, Bistorta etc). These diversified forests provide shelter to a wide range of faunal elements. The sanctuary harbours some pure standards of Rhododendrons, the dominant genus favoured by the wet and cold climate along the Singalila Range and a variety of epiphytic orchids, ferns, mosses and lichens. Meadows take over from above 4000m and are rich in medicinal plants.

Spotted Laughingthrush

White-browed Fulvetta taking off 

Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel

The flowering season allures a plethora of bird species making it an enchanting birding paradise. About hundreds of bird species are found in this sanctuary including some spectacular rare species of pheasants namely Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Monal Pheasant, Kaleej Pheasant etc along with Black-breasted parrotbill, Rusty-bellied Shortwing besides many varieties of Laughingthrushes, Tits, Warblers, Babblers, Yuhinas and Flycatchers. Notable large mammals include Leopard, Leopard Cat, Marbled Cat, Yellow throated Marten, Palm Civet, Wild Dog, Goral, Indian Fox, Jackal, Barking Deer, Black Bear, Wild Boar, Red Panda, Rhesus Macaque, Himalayan Langur, Crestless Porcupine, Chinese Pangolin, Flying Squirrel, Himalayan Orange-bellied Squirrel, Giant Squirrel, Himalayan Mousehare etc.

White-browed Fulvetta 

Chestnut-crowed Laughingthrush

Black-faced Laughingthrush 

The trail allover a serene one offered the quick sights of Yellow browed Tit, Black throated Tit, Coal Tit, Grey-hooded Warbler, Grey Treepie etc. Wooden shades are built at regular interval to offer the trekkers some rest and enough time for relaxing. It was satisfying to see the litter bins used well by the travelers as banners are put up at regular distance for perfect awareness. But in spite of that polythene bags, chocolate wrappers, hard drink bottles, thermocol plates were seen flying here and there or tucked in between stones of the trail. No matter the numbers of these harmful litters were less but it was irritating to see those scattered in middle of trail. As a matter of fact these are harmful to the sewage system of the sanctuary because in monsoon those would flow with the rainwater and get clogged in the drains. It can act as life-threatening to the wild animals too, if swallowed.

Black-faced Laughingthrush  
Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel 

As we headed back, we met a few other trekkers who were planning for night stay at Varsey. Shri Lakpa Norbu, who is in charge of the Hilley Check post, accompanied us a few meters before we came back to the entrance gate. He has his home attached to the Check post where he lives with his family. In casual talks, he also referred that he has seen the elusive Red Panda two times in his duty so far. He cordially invited us to sit at his home and have breakfast with home-made Thumba (a fermented drink made from herbal plants). As I sat on a bench outside to catch a few breaths after the trek from Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, the flock of Laughingthrushes of three sub species along with tiny fluffy White-browed Fulvettas started to flutter around me.

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes and Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel sharing feast ;)

No bickering, no attacking :)

Surprising it was to see them so desperate even in the presence of three human beings and with the television playing in moderate volume at Norbu’s house. As I was dumbstruck, even to take up my camera and take some really close shots, Norbu casually said, “they flutter here everyday to pick up perched rice that we scatter on the table and on the soil.” And it was not unethical to feed them as the birds do not get enough food in the sanctuary and henceforth strolls in the surroundings to pick up the healthy food made at home. As I sat down on the soil, the Fulvettas kept on distracting me from focusing some Laughingthrush playing on the table! Then a surprising sight of two Himalayan Orange-bellied Squirrels appeared to take a share of the perched rice from the birds. And they kept on bickering over that, sometimes on the table and sometimes on the soil. And it was around half an hour that I spent with those birds and the squirrels, after biding adieu to the elusive sanctuary; the wild smell of Rhododendrons still lingering and the call of the birds still echoing.

Face-off :D 

Close-up  
Black-faced Laughingthrush

The starting point for any visit to BRS is West Sikkim district. The sanctuary covers Soreng and 
Gyalshing district, however the head quarter is situated in Gyalshing district. The district is accessible by road only. New Jalpaiguri or NJP (West Bengal) is the nearest (140km) rail head and Bagdogra (West Bengal) is the nearest airport (144km). There are three main entry points to Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary namely Hilley, Soreng, Uttarey and also Dentam. There are 10km moderate trek from Soreng to Varsey, 5km trek from Soreng to Jhandi Dhara and 24km trek of 3-4 days from Uttarey, Chewa, Phalut to Ribdi on the Indo-Nepal border with spectacular mountainscapes and pristine forests with diversified birds and wildlife.  However the most popular and viable entry is through Hilley, it being easily approachable by road and can proceed upto 4km trek to Varsey through the gravel path shaded by dense thickets of  Bamboo and Rhododendrons below the Tal Mountain Ridge laden with conifer forest of Silver Fir and Hemlock. The trail winds its way with the magnificence of the tender green creepers and climbers hanging as chandeliers and colourful wild blooms accompanied with dew-soaked ferns, mosses and algae.

Busy nibbling 

Angry Bird :D

Log-house accommodation is available at Barsey, Hilley, Chitrey etc. Camping is also permitted in the designated camping site. In accordance with the provision of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the wildlife rules made thereon, the visitors can explore the Sanctuary for the purpose of photography, research, tourism etc on the payment of a moderate reasonable charges at the Hilley Checkpost alongside abiding by a few codes of conduct.

Let's Get Lost <3 

Controlled tourism and livestock husbandry are the two economic activities ecologically feasible here. The sanctuary is regarded as a Habitat or Species Management Area in IUCN Category IV and an Important Bird Area(s) (IBA) on the southeast corner of Sikkim with Nepal as its western border. The State Forest Department has taken active initiative in ensuring the maintenance of habitats and requirements of specific species. However a few challenges are there regarding the poaching of wildlife especially when they venture outside the reserved area, permanent cattle sheds, grazing by stray cattle and encroachment in the form of cardamom cultivation in the buffer zones. Awareness drives have been launched in big way and Eco Development Committees have been formed, trained and strengthened. It is hoped that with increased awareness and empowerment of local community, these setbacks will be surmounted soon to preserve the virginity of the pristine kingdom of the Rhododendrons.


SHREYA SIKDER


P.S - In case you feel like copying or using any content of the blog, feel free to get in contact with me, I am happy to help and get in touch. I would be obliged if you do not consider them as your own property to use as you please! 
 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Happy Valentine's day to He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named

To My M.I.P (Most Important Person)


Now that you have happily moved on in your new life, selecting liability over priority, well, i understand...you were always a kid, 18 years older than me...but still a kid, who used to be vulnerable, emotional, hot tempered, adorable -everything with me. I thought i was your world, just like you are mine...yes, you still are and always will be. In those years as i was being mentally 18 years older than my age, to support you, keep you happy, i never considered myself as your girlfriend or anything; i was always your "wife". Now can a wife change her world? No, right? No more suicidal thoughts or anything...My countless sleepless nights, endless tears are now acting as your substitute..but still i miss you...badly...each moment is excruciating..i feel dejected of pretending in front of my parents who still think i am going to marry you...i can't tell them that you have already married; but may be someday i will gather enough courage to tell them...Not that you have left me and married afterwards, but that we have mutually moved on so that there will be chance that they will let me have contact with you. 
The dream we dreamt together, you are living it with someone else. The kids' names we planned about while teasing each other, you will have one someday but i will not be the mother...the jewellery i used to show you which my parents stocked up for my marriage, they will end up in locker..i know i'm sounding like a desperate lover pining for her love who has moved on..but don't i have this much right to ask you how you could move on with someone else after all those years? 
I tried hating you, i couldn't...i tried to get away from this pain, i couldn't. Hence, i write...something that you cannot see. Unfortunately life is not like those soap operas where the husband marries someone but keeps on loving the girl whom he couldn't marry. I wish i could be a part of your life but i also wish utmost happiness for you and your wife. Hope the life we could not live, you can live with her. You asked me not to leave, i didn't..ever...but you did...still i will not, no matter someday you consider me as nothing. Stay happy S, my Goodfriend. 

Yours ever
Better-half
(Hopeless Romantic)



P.S -Any resemblance to any living or non-living person is coincidental and unintended. 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Nightmare



It was drizzling with thunder and lightning. She was coming from a neighbourhood marriage party with her parents. It was rainning cats and dogs when they were having the dinner at the party. So they were in a hurry. They did not want to get stuck in rain. So they chose to walk back home in drizzles. She, with her 5" wedges, found it hard to keep in pace with her parents who were walking very fast. She was also enjoying the rain. Her parents were about 10 feet ahead of her. She was starting to feel a bit scared of the passing cycles and rickshaws. The reason lied in past. She had been assaulted many a times by passer by scoundrels who came in bikes, cycles ; touched her body, molested in the mean time and fled in the wink of an eye so that she could not even ask for help. Once a boy had stopped her as she was coming back from tuition on a dark rainning night and manhandled her. She had kept on asking help from each of the passers by, rickshaw pullers, autorickshaws, but none of those cowards stopped to rescue her. That incident still kept on haunting her. So naturally she was scared in spite of her parents walking just a few steps ahead of her, as even her parents might snap at her. In such a turmoil of thoughts, suddenly she heard a bike coming behind. She edged to the left corner of the road. The bike soon came beside her and as she looked at the biker startled, she saw two eyes of a boy of around 25. The burning eyes were fixed on her as if they would molest her with such gaze. She skipped a beat. The biker zoomed ahead and turned left to another road. She was relieved and heaved a sigh. But as soon as she crossed the turn, she felt a pull  from behind, someone pulled her latkan. Before she could try to balance, someone grabbed her waist. As she tried to look who it was, the biker zoomed ahead in a great speed. But she could figure out that it was the same person who had looked at her in an intimidating and vulgar way before. She somehow catched her breath and ran with those 5" wedges towards her parents who were much ahead of her then. She tried to call them but something had stuck in her throat.With each breath she was feeling her limbs breaking down....will she ever catch her parents? Will she be safe?



Rain:  A Pluviophile's pleasure. You know what's a pluviophile? Someone who loves rain.. She was a pluviophile by all means. She was strong, she was beautiful, and she liked to dream. There were many sorrows in the core of her heart, but she always smiled. She liked feathers. She had a hobby collecting and treasuring different types of feathers. She had just ordered a beautiful shoulder-length feather earrings from an online store and the day it was delivered, she was overjoyous. The girl living beside her house was getting married in a few days and she was invited too with her parents. She had decided that she would wear the earrings on that day of the marriage ceremony. The day came. She dressed up in a white anarkali embroidered with royal blue threadwork. She made a beautiful hairbun with her waist-length dark brown curly hair. She wore a maang-tika. On her left wrist was a white stone embedded thick bracelet and on the right wrist was an oxidised metal bangle. There were three rings on her left hand fingers. One of them was a small diamond embedded platinum ring given by her parents. The other two were also white stone embedded silver rings. She applied purple lipstick. She beautifully applied light pink eye shadow, then carefully ran the mascara, and finally the eye liner. She had beautiful eyes to die for. She then tried to take a decent selfie to send to the person she gave her heart to. But she was not a selfie-person and so could not get one. After clicking 56 pictures, finally she got one to send. Then she glanced at the mirror again. "Is this too much?", she thought. Her mom entered her room meanwhile ; "stop fumbling! You are perfectly alright. Now come to the drawing room and take a selfie with us." The selfie session followed till her father coaxed them to go out and reach the venue!


It was midnight. She was standing beside the window of her room. Gust of raindrops was drenching her. Her hair was let loose. Her eyeliner was smudged with tears. Her eyes were bloodshot, her nose was flared. She had in her fist a strip full of anti depressants and sedatives. She had supressed her tears somehow. No, she did not collapsed on the road, she ran and reached to her parents. But she did not tell them what had happened. The whatsapp notification of new message rang from inside the plastic bag which she was carrying to protect her mobiles from rain. Her mobiles were protected, but she was attacked. Her soul was ripped open. Nothing could heal that. It was her beloved who was messaging her on whatsapp. But even he could not help. He was unaware of the incident like her parents. Who knows, he too might snap at her saying that it was because of her dress or because she was walking much behind her parents on the lone road, that she was attacked? She again realised, she was so alone in this male dominated soceity. None would stand by her. None would heal her inner wounds. She was still standing by the window. The rain washed her eyeliner, lipstick...the rain would surely heal her. Will it? Yes, it will....it will have to....Her sedatives cannot, her anti depressants cannot....but the rain can.... may be the rain can... but where is the rain? The rain had stopped, she don't remember when...and her mind drifted away...


P.S - ALL THE PICTURES ARE TAKEN BY ME AND THE STORY IS PARTLY INCIDENTAL.




Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Painting

                                           "LOOKING BACK"

Pencil Sketch on 16''x 12'' paper with Staedtler 6B and Apsara 10B


Any suggestion is always welcome. Thanks for visiting :)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Deoria Tal

                          DEORIA TAL THROUGH THE MYSTIC SARI VILLAGE



Gorging onto chocolate croissants with quick slurps of steaming tea gave me ample moments to marvel at the lush green canvas of the picturesque village, sometimes stair cased, sometimes sloppy below the road. We had started at about 6 in the morning from Makkumath with Yashpal Singh Negi as  our guide, covering a good distance by road shaded with pine, oak and birches almost blocking the view of the sublime blue sky and passed the snow-clad mountains as the sun emerged sprinkling rays over the peaks. We had halted here at Sari Village to grab hasty bites of breakfast and to dump our warm garments inside the car before kicking off our trek to the mesmeric Deoria Tal residing in the lap of Garhwal Himalayas as per scheduled on the last day of our Uttarkhand trip.

SUNBEAM SWATHED SNOW
THE LOWER REGIONS ARE STILL IN DARK
JOURNEY STARTS AS OUR CAR SPEEDS THROUGH THICKETS
The 3km gravel trail laden through the Sari village welcomed with the alpine trees as well as the thorny shrubs. Sari village is a small and remote village based in Rudraprayag district near Ukhimath at a height of 6554ft. Meanwhile it is the outlandishly romantic base camp for the majestic Deoria Tal at a height of 7800ft. The first 1km or so is not strenuous enough even for the first-timers, however one can still hire pony or mule on the way. We could get breaks from continuous trek at regular intervals as Negi would spot Himalayan birds fluttering on the branches of the trees and the shrubs.

THE BIRDSEYE VIEW WHILE ASCENDING
WE SAT DOWN TO DRINK THE BEAUTY
MADHYAMAHESWAR  OR MADMAHESHWAR TEMPLE
WE LEFT BEHIND THE TEMPLE AND GO ON TREKKING UP
Beautiful Rosefinch (Carpodacus pulcherrimus), Spot winged Rosefinch (Carpodacus rodopeplus), Himalayan Woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis), Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides), Rufous breasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata) etc enchanted us throughout the trek along with Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) hovering high over our heads. A stone temple namely Kedar Temple stands erect on the way, with the hymns enchanted on the loudspeakers. The birds seem to be adamant with the sound system and its relieving to see those hovering in flocks freely.  The temple stands as a landmark from where about two and a half kilometers of steep trail has to be conquered before experiencing the aesthetic delight of standing beside Deoria Tal. Sudden jerks of exertion engulf us as the uneven path turned steeper and grueling. Quick bites on chocolate bars as well as moderate sips of water helps in acclimatization for a few minutes and one can inhale more oxygen thereon passing amid the dense Rhododendron and Oak forests. The Rhododendrons were budding as the full bloom time was ahead in March-June.


LAMMERGEIER OR BEARDED VULTURE
BEAUTIFUL ROSEFINCH (FEMALE) TAKING OFF
BLACK THROATED TIT
VARIEGATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH
STREAKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH
The summer sun in Deoria Tal trek remains warm and pleasing, regarded as the best time to visit the lake as the strong chill is reduced and one can experience the euphoric delight of the full bloom Rhododendron forests on the way. After that the increase in landslides and hence road-blockage causes hindrance to the trek, so it is recommended to avoid during that time. Spring months from mid-September to late October is also considered a great time to visit alongside the summer months because the winter starts to set in at that time and the chill is not beyond tolerance level with the charming weather and the warm sun favouring the trekkers. Finally it is recommended to bypass the winter months i.e. from November to February as the extremity of cold and snowfall blocks the trail. Meanwhile it was the December end while we were striding across the stony trail. The last 1km almost churned my body; the glaring sun sucked all the energy leaving me dehydrated, exhausted and exasperated with the sweat that rose beneath my cotton clothes. With the increase of height, the oxygen level reduced to some extent which made us panting. But snow had also increased to a great level with the increase of height and I left a sigh of gleaming relief. The glistening snow, the village huts scattered here and there underneath the slope and the layers of mountains covered with layers of clouds left me simply speechless. The breeze mixed with the wild scent had casted a spell on me. We crossed the plump reddish-cheeked village lashes and wrinkled skinned old women who were returning from the uphill carrying loads of timber, dry leaves and twigs weighing more than them. After covering 500m more, we met Negi sitting beside a food stall who told us to follow the snow laden path downwards. A few slipping and stumbling through the snowy slope and finally I was standing in front of the ultimate destination –Deoria Tal.

WALKING AMID THE SNOW
SOME MORE TREK
DEORIA TAL FINALLY!!!
WELL, YOU WOULD NOT FIND MANY DEORIA TAL SHOTS WITH SNOW AROUND IT
THE MAGNIFICENT REFLECTION
Deoria Tal, also spelled as Devaria Tal at an altitude of about 2438m in Garhwal Himalayas has a reverential legend in the Hindu mythology. It is believed that after being utmost tired and thirsty in the Vanabasa phase, the eldest brother Yudhisthira of the mighty Pandavas asked Bhima to look for water and he saw a lake at a distance perching on a tree. The youngest brother Sahadeva was ordered to go and fetch water for all. Just as he reached and tried to take a sip of water from the lake, Yakshya appeared and asked him a question. As he denied and was about to gulp water, he died. Same thing happened to all the other Pandavas until Yudhisthira came and answered all the questions. Pleased, Yakshya asked him to choose any one brother whom he would make alive again. To his bewilderment, Yudhisthira chose Nakula and seeing such dedication towards the brother from the second mother Madri, Yakshya gave life to all the brothers. The lake maintains its amazing beauty and purity till date.

CHAUKHAMBA PEAK AHEAD
PHOTOGRAPHERS PHOTOGRAPHYING LOCAL CHILDREN
THE MIGHTY Mt. CHAUKHAMBA
MISTLE THRUSH
RUSSET SPARROW (MALE)
It being the ending of year, the whole meadow or Bugiyal was swathed in knee-deep snow. Mules and Horses were roaming here and there. The chilling month of December did not encourage crowd and hence all over a silence and serenity prevailed in the heavily wooded, lush green surroundings. The spectacular Mt Chaukhamba, Neelkantha, Bandarpunch, Yellow Tooth, Kedar Range, Kalang stood erect with pride as the guards in command. The afternoon chilly wind had not started gushing so far and offered an ethereal view of the reflection of the mountains weaving a dreamy palette in the green lake water along with the green bushes in the backdrop. Forgetting all the stress, dipped into the intoxication of the magnificent vistas, I stood in the knee-deep snow, drinking each moment as eternity.  After a few spellbound moments of ecstasy, I at once got over the reverie and struggled to make my way across the snow which sometimes got up to my waist level. Finally I found a suitable place at the lake side under a trunk of a huge tree beside. This dragging through the snow and the shelter under the hole presented me a 300°panorama of Deoria Tal with the lush greenery and the mountain range in the backdrop. A stroll in the surroundings made Mt Chaukhamba appear in walking distance. The snow was less there and the yellowish grass had made their way to welcome us. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus), Green-backed Tits (Parus monticolus) sprang here and there.

THE REMOTE GUEST HOUSE 
FOOTSTEPS NEVER BEFORE
FOLLOWING NEGI JI FOR BIRD SHOTS
WAITING PATIENTLY

After lunch we started trekking downwards through the dense jungle to Sari Village. In that virgin area, the snow was untouched without any scratch or footmarks. It was the kingdom of silent mountains with the penetrating calls of the birds. The crooked tree branches made peculiar angles throughout the way. Thorny shrubs, nettles blocked our way sometimes. The path was uneven with no distinctive trail amongst the shrubs, snow, twigs, dry leaves and mud. The excitement in exploring such a pristine place was adrenaline-surging –the woods stood still, the blue sky serene and the mountains silent. After a few minutes of scuffling through the woods, slipping in the mud and snow and adjusting the cameras through them, we were finally in a sloppy meadow stretched downwards to the proper village through the jungle.

ROCK BUNTING
ROCK BUNTING
ROCK BUNTING
RUFOUS BREASTED ACCENTOR
YELLOW-BROWED TIT
RUSTY CHEEKED SCIMITAR BABBLER
COMMON ROSEFINCH (MALE)
Thorny bushes and alpine trees accentuated the meadow. A few huts were seen on the outskirts of Sari village and Negi brought us water from one of them.  Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia), Russet Sparrow (Passer rutilans), Rufous -breasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata), Yellow browed tit (Sylviparus modestus) , Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus), Rusty cheeked Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus erythrogenys), Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), Striated Laughingthrush (Garrulax striatus) etc gave us company to the whole trek down to the village. 



SARI VILLAGE
The village is not an upgraded one but the villagers are jovial, leading a simple life. There are orchards in the village beside Oak, Rhodendrons. There is no local market here; however the nearest one is at Ukhimath. Tourism and farming is the main source of income of the local garhwali villagers. It is a hard fact that although the village offers a mesmerizing view of the mountains and a serene life amidst the beautiful villagers, it does not find any distinctive name in the popular tourist spots of Garhwal Himalayas ; it is the authenticity of the Deoria Tal that attracts nature lovers from all over the world to this remote pristine village.