Tag Archives: lake

10 Stunning Photos to Celebrate Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Today is Canada’s national holiday marking the enactment of the British North America Act, which officially united the country. Towns throughout Canada, as well as communities of Canadian ex-pats around the globe, will be celebrating their country’s nationhood with parades, carnivals, fireworks, and more! Canada is known for producing some amazing things – from maple syrup to amazing hockey teams to Frank Gehry. What we love most, though, is the country’s majestic, unbridled beauty, as captured by these stunning photos. Enjoy!

Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 12.15.40 PM
Lake Moraine, Alberta
Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Quetico, Ontario
Quetico, Ontario

 

Yukon Territory
Yukon Territory
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Yukon Territory

What do you love most about Canada? Will you be celebrating Canada Day?

Mannavanur Valley Tours

Mannavanur valley

They say God is impartial, but there are some places on this tiny planet of ours that defy the claim. One such place is located right next to God’s Own Country  Kerala, not Africa.Just an hour away from Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu, lies the fresh-like-a-breeze Mannavanur valley. If, instead of taking a car, you choose to get aboard the state transport bus, do so on an empty stomach. You’ll save a tonne of money but super human powers of balance and courage will be needed to withstand the ride.

The ancient bus will hurtle through winding hilly roads and hairpin turns at the speed of sound. For the duration of the ride, which is about an hour and a half, the bus driver will nonchalantly chat up passengers and conductor alike, oblivious that the bus is almost a breath away from certain disaster. But then, as Calvin’s dad would say, “It builds character.”

Expanding views
As you leave Kodai town behind, wilderness and terrace farms alternate, expanding into the valley below. But all the views and valleys and busted valves (yes, the bus breaks down from time to time) cannot prepare you for the Mannavanur valley.

The very first glimpse will ensure instant silence. The second will cause disbelief. By the third glimpse you’ll try to take it all in. The rolling grassy hills with clumps of chola forests that take over at regular intervals, a lake located in just the right spot and the Perijam forest spread out like a blanket, its edges skirting the valley. Ferns of silver, bronze, green and brown invade the hills and offset the many shades of green.

A marshy stream escapes from the lake and snakes its way between the hills, its water plants straining against the wind. The road generously curves all around the valley offering you a panoramic view before it leads you to the Mannavanur village.

Rustic setting
With over a thousand households clustered around the road and spread over the hills beyond, the village offers little more than a few condiment shops and three or four tiny hotels or chai kadais (tea shops), where you can get meals and meat, dosas and steaming hot cups of tea and coffee.

There are a few places to stay in, if you are ready to rough it out.   Otherwise, a kilometre long walk back on the bus route (or you could request the driver to stop on the way if you’re alert) will take you to Bird’s Eye, the best accommodation for miles.

A different perspective
It’s pretty rustic as well, with bare stone cottages on a hill side with mattresses and coarse blankets on stone beds. But there are three things that redeem it. First, true to its name, a 200-degree view of the valley greets you every time you step out of your cottage. Second, there’s no back-breaking climb to get there. You cross the road, step off, and you’re in the valley, bounding over hills, racing towards the occasional trees carpeted with fluorescent fungi. There are several rough paths made mainly by zealously grazing cattle and, other than the marsh, there are no dangers you’ll encounter on your way. Third, the loos are fabulous. Richard the caretaker, doubles up as cook and the man will bring you warm water whenever you want. If you take your own supplies, the kitchen can also be used for an extra fee.

The magical nook
There are plenty of hidden surprises to uncover your tour, so if you have your own vehicle, explore the hills and valleys on your wheels. If you choose to to travel by walk, then do visit the magical enclave I stumbled upon.

A couple of kilometres beyond the village lies a path into a magical forest with plants and nooks the likes of which are rarely seen. And it all starts with a stream. Follow the stream and discover a wonderland that goes on and on, every turn revealing new curiosities and colours. Numerous visits aren’t enough to explore this pretty patch. Other than leeches in the rainy season, there’s nothing here that can bother you. With so much to explore, tremendous positive energy, an explosion of life and many scenes to drink in, Mannavanur is a place that promises to draw you back time and again.

Getting there
From Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, there are daily buses to Kodaikanal and trains to Kodi Road Junction located at the base of the hill, three hours from the town. The Nagarcoil Express leaves from CST on all days except Monday and Tuesday.

Getting around
There’s a bus that leaves every couple of hours from the Kodaikanal bus stand. The ticket costs Rs 30-40. Taxis are also available and are a more comfortable option. They cost anywhere between Rs 800-1,400 depending on the driver, your bargaining skills and the time of the year.

Important information
The best time for vacations is between March to August, before the rains begin. There’s a tiring 23km trek or jeep ride to Perijam lake but I wouldn’t even speak of it in comparison to this forest close by. Permissions are needed from the Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office, Annasalai, Kodaikanal, Ph: 04542- 241675.

The Ugly Duckling

There is a strange duck-goose-swan that has taken up residence on our lake.  I don’t know which she is.  She swims around the lake alone.  Maybe she is injured and can’t fly out.  I have never seen anything like her. She quickly swims up to any human who gets close to the lake.  She is tremendously friendly.  I went down to the lake this evening and sang to her to see if she would come closer to me so I could diagnose who she is.  She liked the songs I sang because she swam back and forth very happily but kept her distance.  I am falling in love with this bird.  She is like some strange spirit that has taken up residence on the lake at Oak Haven.  She is mysterious, precious and illusive.  I have called her Grace.

 

Raccoons and grubs

A few months ago, Greg called me into the backyard to help solve a mystery.  Our lawn was torn up, kind of rolled up in patches.  How could this have happened?   It was so strange – something I’d never seen before.  It didn’t look like a vandal, or something human – we had considered an alien invasion but thought better of it.  A quick search online suggested that possibly it was a raccoon invasion.  Since we have had raccoons in our backyard before, that explanation made sense.  It seems that the raccoons roll up the sod looking for little grubs to eat.  These grubs are not usually there, so the lawn is generally left alone – but somehow the raccoons know when they are there, and then they feast.

 So, to get rid of the raccoons, sites suggest you get rid of the grubs.  And that means all kinds of nasty chemicals.  No, not for us.  Poisons can go straight from our lawn to the lake, hurting our wildlife.  We decided to take our chances and hope that the raccoons would run out of food and move on to another lawn.  No such luck.  It only got worse.  We kept researching.

Finally, Greg came upon a natural solution: Cayenne pepper!  It seems a little spice mixed into the buffet would turn the raccoons away.  Ah!  Sounded good to me, red pepper can’t hurt animals, just maybe enough them enough to take their interest away from our lawn.  It is an inexpensive remedy, too – I went to the grocery store and got a bottle of the cheapest cayenne, came back home and sprinkled away.  Quite colorful, the green grass and the hot red pepper.  And so far, it seems to be working! I’ll keep you posted.

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