Wildlife Sanctuaries of India–Kaziranga National Park

Image Credit: Pradnyesh Sawant

This may be the first national park where tigers aren’t at the center of attention! Located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, Kaziranga is home to two thirds of the world’s Great One-Horned Rhinoceroses. Large breeding populations of elephants, buffalos, swamp deer, and tigers reside here as well. Furthermore, this park is recognized by Birdlife International for its diversity and conservation of various species of birds. Kaziranga was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its unique environment and wildlife in 1985. Continue reading

Kathakali

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Last night I had the opportunity to see a Kathakali performance, which is a classical Indian dance-drama that originated in Kerala in the 17 th century.

I arrived a little bit late because I was sitting at the wrong section of the performing center, so I missed the introduction of what the dancers were depicting. Yet, I was still wholly captivated when I walked into the theater: the make-up on the dancers was so incredibly colorful and elaborate. The dark, fierce black liners around their eyes made them look a bit intimidating as well. In addition to the make-up, the dancers were wearing head pieces, skirts, and pants that were bejeweled and feathered with colorful ornaments. Continue reading

Wildlife Sanctuaries of India — Ranthambore National Park

Photo credit: Abhinavmnnit

If you are looking for a wildlife sanctuary with a blend of rich history, Ranthambore National Park is the national park for you! Inside the park, the formidable Ranthambore fort lies overlooking the entire park area. There are three Hindu temples inside the fort dedicated to Ganesh, Shiva and Ramlalaji constructed in the 12th century. The fort itself was built in the 10th century and played a critical role in the historical development of Rajastan. Due to its strategic location between north and central India, many rulers coveted and fought over the area. Continue reading

Mystic Reservoir

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going on a half-day bamboo rafting trip at the Periyar Tiger Reserve. In all honestly, I am not a very nature-y, outdoorsy person at all; I am deathly afraid of bugs and spiders, and I usually don’t go trekking in the woods unless someone drags me. Yet, let me just say, bamboo rafting was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had!

When I arrived at the PTR office at 7:30 AM half awake, I was handed a pair of strange looking socks, which were worn over the foot and covered the area below the knees to prevent any leeches and splints getting into the skin. Then we began our one and a half hour hike to the reservoir. Along the way, we saw footprints of leopard cats, tiger’s territory marks on trees, giant spiders with intricate webs across several trees, monkeys, and plenty of elephant dung. Continue reading

India’s Magic Masala

When I walked into Jacob’s Trade in Thekkady to get myself a bottle of cold water, I couldn’t help but notice the stack of potato chips that contained pretty much all the colors of the rainbow!

Here in Southern India, you can find many unique flavors of potato chips that you wouldn’t find in the States: “India’s Magic Masala,” “West Indies’ Hot ‘n’ Sweet Chilli,” “Spanish Tomato Tango,” “Chile Limon,” and even “Mastana Mango”! It is interesting to see how even regular Lay’s chips are all spiced up with the seasonings that are loved in India. Continue reading

Wildlife Sanctuaries of India–Bandhavgarh National Park

Sita, National Geographic

Sita, National Geographic

If you are really, really desperate to see tigers in their natural habitat, maybe you should try visiting Bandhavgarh National Park in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh since it has the highest concentration of tigers among all the national parks in India! With an area of 105 sq km open to tourists and a buffer zone of 427 sq km, Bandhavgarh National Park is home to almost 50 Bengal tigers.

A female tiger named Sita, who also appeared on the cover of National Geographic and is the most photographed tiger in the world, also lived in Banhavgarh. In fact, most tigers in the reserve today are thought to be descendants of her and a male tiger named Charger. Continue reading

Wildlife Santuaries of India–Kanha National Park

Who doesn’t love the Jungle Book? image © Disney

If you ever feel nostalgic and would like to relive your childhood years, you should consider visiting Kanha National Park in Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh; it inspired the Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling and served as a setting for The Jungle Book!

A sloth bear!
Photograph by Zigmund Leszczynski/Animals Animals-Earth Scenes; National Geographic

Kanha is a Tiger Reserve in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, India

Kanha is a Tiger Reserve in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, India

This park is known for its abundant population of royal Bengal tiger, leopards, sloth bear, swamp deer, and Indian wild dog. The park’s main flora consists of lush saal, bamboo forests, lakes, streams, and open grasslands. Continue reading

Wildlife Sanctuaries of India–Jim Corbett National Park

Jeep Safari-Jim Corbett National Park

(Picture above is from Corbett National Park‘s official website)

I am going to be doing some brief research and write about each of the 53 Tiger Reserves in India from now on. They are governed by Project Tiger, which is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India.

Project Tiger was established in 1973 to “ensure a viable population of tiger in India for scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural and ecological values and to preserve for all time, areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people.” Continue reading

Unakka Pazha Kootu

Raxa interns and Amie, pre-mixing!

Raxa interns and Amie, pre-mixing!

Christmas is still two months away and Cardamom County is nowhere close to a location that receives snowfall, but we still rang in the holiday season a little early by holding the unakka pazha kootu ceremony. Unakka pazha kootu is a mixture of dried fruits, spices, and liquor, which is used as the core ingredient to make Christmas cake and pudding.

Setting the alcohol and mixture on fire

Setting the alcohol and mixture on fire

A MASSIVE amount of dried fruits—dates, cherries, cashew nuts, black current, sultanas, apricot, plums, fig, ginger peel, and orange peel—were elaborately and colorfully organized on top of carefully plastic lined tables laid out side by side inside the conference hall. Then, Shinou, our bakery chef, lit up a candle and literally set the fruits and alcohol on fire! Continue reading

Disconnected

A usual day in States starts out with me waking up to the ear-drillingly loud alarm on my Samsung Galaxy, checking my email and Facebook, surfing the web and reading the news. Then I soullessly get out of bed and proceed to breakfast, during which I also constantly fidget with my phone, jotting down everything I need to do for that day and texting my friends, usually to vent about how tired we are and who has gotten less sleep. Then in class, I take notes on my laptop as I constantly browse through my email and simultaneously type things I don’t understand into the Google search bar. As soon as I get out of class, I go back to staring at my phone, browsing through Instagram and Facebook, walking to my next class or lunch. (I have once literally run into a door because I had my head in my phone and didn’t see the door at all.) Bottom line, I am always connected, always online, and always ready to access everything on the Web. A ridiculous amount of my life is consumed by my phone and my laptop.

However, on my second day in India, I went on a houseboat—my fellow intern Jake has written about it a few posts back—and it did not have Wifi! I felt disconnected and nervous. I cannot even remember the last time I didn’t have access to Internet or my phone. After a couple of hours, I simply didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t even have music to listen to since I always stream it from Spotify or Youtube. In hopelessness, I lay down on the cushioned sun deck, hoping to take a nap, which would kill some time. So I sat there, directionlessly looking into the backwaters, the rice farms, and the tiny villages clustered up in the narrow grounds next to the river. I watched little naked boys taking a bath in the river and running away in embarrassment as they saw me staring at them on the boat. I also watched the birds hover right on top of the river surface, meticulously and gracefully snatch the fish out of the water, and fly away gobbling it down. I watched the sun slowly setting, painting the whole sky orange and pink with its radiance.

Before I knew it, it was pitch black outside and we were called down for dinner. Continue reading