Friday, January 20, 2012

Sewri Mud flats - Home to Flamingos and other Migratory birds

Sewri - Its a suburb of Mumbai in south central and one of the original seven islands of Greater Mumbai. Large part of Sewri belongs to BPT (Bombay port trust) which runs the harbour in Mumbai. The east side of Sewri houses huge industrial complex of petro giants HPCL, BPCL and many other companies like Colgate. It also has huge swamp of Mangroves and mud-flats which is now a protected ecology since 1996. This swamp is home to many migratory birds which flock here to breed and among them are the "famous guest" of Mumbai - FLAMINGOS. The mud-flats not only provides breeding ground but also is rich in nutrients which the birds feed upon like blue-green algae and other organism in the swamp.

The best time to view these famous guest of Mumbai is between October to March.

How to reach: Once you reach Sewri station, cross the bridge and come on east side. There is only one road which passes through Sion Koliwada which ends at Sewri jetty from where one can get amazing view of mud-flats which is the breeding ground for Flamingos and stopover for many migratory birds. It takes 8-10 minutes to reach jetty from Sewri station.

My visit: I had read about the arrival of flamingos in Mumbai and like many Mumbaikars was very curious to watch these birds in their own habitat. Having read some of the blogs of people who has been to Sewri jetty to watch the Flamingos, found that best time to visit is 2hours before or after the high tide which is like in the morning from 6am to 10am or in the evening from 4pm to around 7pm.

One Saturday, I caught the 5.30am train from Borivali to my destination Sewri, all geared with enough water and food for the next couple of hours and my lens.Getting up in chilli winter morning is something that I would try and avoid but the excitement of watching these birds was something that made me wake up early. The roads leading to the Sewri jetty was almost empty as it was early morning, second its among industrial belt of Mumbai with not much residential areas around it. On reaching Sewri jetty, found that curious Mumbaikars with their kids were already there so were other bird enthusiasts with their expensive cameras, ready to capture the birds in their lens.

The jetty is home to few trawlers and boats which are docked for scrapping. But the best part is, one is allowed to climb the ship and reach the deck from where one gets an unobstructed and amazing view of the mangroves and mud-flats with migratory birds.

I had been to Sewri twice before but could not find the flamingos and was disappointed then but did not loose hope. Early morning sunrise from the deck of the trawler is worth watching. Like many others I waited patiently for the honoured guest to arrive in the mean time, I captured other birds and amazing view in my lens.

After wait for almost 3hours and my third trip, the moment I had been waiting for arrived finally, A huge flock of flamingos came flying to feed in the swamp. Albeit they were quite far away but I was successfully able to capture them in my lens. My happiness knew no bounds with such a amazing site of birds in their natural habitat and also in my wait time just like many others, was able to interact with bird enthusiasts and people from BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) who organises tours across India and in Mumbai to such locations to create awareness among general public and also works towards conservation and bio-diversity research.

Finally after my 4 unsuccessful attempts to see Flamingos more closely, I was successful to capture them in my lens, though they were still far away but images have been more clearer. I hope to continue my persuasion to capture Flamingos more closely till March before they fly back.

Here are the some more pics that I could capture in my lens.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Trip to Scenic Jawhar and Dadra nagar haveli

Jawhar - A small erstwhile princely state and stunningly beautiful hill station, lies just 170 kms from Mumbai or 80 kms from Nasik. On Mumbai - Ahmedabad highway, take a right turn from Mastan naka to go towards Jawhar. As you drive deeper and closer to the destination, the road becomes serpentine passing through dense forest, climbing the Sahyadri hills, passing through deep valleys and once you reach the top, its like a plateau. Just marvellous !!!!!!!

Road to Jawhar

The best time to visit is during rainy season when its lush green and water gushing into the deep valleys from plateau creating some extra ordinary waterfalls. But winter is also best time to visit with chilly cold nights and beautiful sunset which can be seen from the sunset point in Jawhar.

Jawhar Plateau
The attractions in Jawhar are 

  • Hanuman point : This spot gives breathtaking view of deep valley beneath. Legend stories goes that Lord Hanuman relaxed here while on his way to meet Lord Rama. But one place not to be missed when in Jawhar.

  • Jai Vilas Palace: The official residence of Royal Munke family, the erstwhile rulers of Jawhar. The palace is situated on the highest point in Jawhar on the rocks so as to enable the rulers to look at his kingdom. The palace has some attractive carvings and lush green surroundings around it.
Jai Vilas Palace
  • Sunset point: The spot from where one can get the amazing view of sunset overlooking a valley. They have constructed a machaan for tourist to get unobstructed view of sunset best watched during winters and summers. There is also a small resort called sunset point nearby which provides staying facility and is also famous for its spicy veg and non veg menus.
  • Dabosa waterfall:  One the way to Silvassa, 18kms from Jawhar lies this tiny tribal hamlet village  called Dabosa famous for its 365 days waterfall. The road again passes through dense forest and tribal - adivasi village. But once you reach the place, you are sure to "wow" the place which gives a spectacular view of Dabosa waterfall. Its also has a resort which provides staying facility overlooking the waterfall. Must watch during rainy season when the whole place is in full glory of natural beauty.

If one plans the trip for 2days then one can come to Jawhar from Mumbai - Ahmedabad highway, stay for day or two in Jawhar and on the way back, take the route to Silvassa - Vapi - Mumbai as it passes through reserved forest areas of Dadra Nagar Haveli. Again the ride is amazing passing through tribal villages famous for its Warli paintings. One can also visit Silvassa for day before taking  trip back to Mumbai in the evening.

How to reach: State transport buses are easily available from various nodal points like Borivali, Dadar, Kurla, Parel for Jawhar but best would be to take own vehicle to view and enjoy the beauty of the place.

Here are some of the pics from day trip from Mumbai -Jawhar - Dadra Nagar Haveli - Mumbai. Even though my trip was one day long drive trip. I still look forward to visiting the place again this time during rainy season to catch the glimpse of its breathtaking beauty when nature is at its best and on its crescendo.


On way to Silvassa

Tribal Lady

On way from Dabosa

Economies of scale - Jeep Taxi

DNH reserve forest area

Adivasi Hut
Village road in DNH forest 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aksa & Madh Marve Beach

Hola Amigos,

After a gap of couple of weeks, I am back with another adventure trip which takes you to nature's gift to Mumbai. Its beaches .....

Mumbai being an island city close to Arabian sea  is flooded with some amazing beaches, some very popular and some not so popular. Only complaint is the cleanliness part which is lacking on most of the beaches due to lacklustre behaviour of the administration of BMC and also lacking of cleanliness among the general public. But nevertheless, walking on the beach in early morning or sitting on the sandy beach watching the sunset or just hearing the waves making rhythmic sound when it reaches the shores or just walking on the beach as waves hit the shores is feeling in itself.

List of popular beaches in Mumbai are Gorai, Aksa, Madh, Marve, Versova, Juhu, Band stand, Dadar Chowpatty, Girgaum Chowpatty and number of other beaches which are outside town limits in Vasai, Alibaug and Navi Mumbai.

Aksa Beach: Located in Malad suburb of Mumbai is popular beach with bungalows and fishing villages near it. Aksa - Madh - Marve belt has some amazing row houses and bungalows which is often rented for shooting of television serials and movies. I find this beach among one of most clean as its mostly crowded only during vacation and weekends but not on weekdays.

Buses are available from Malad station on west side (No 271 from Malad West & 269 from Borivali Station ) and also rickshaws are easily available to get here. The beach is also close to Indian naval base - INS HAMLA.

Though being one of the most cleanest beach in Mumbai, Its also is one of the most dangerous beach with most of the unfortunate incidents happening here due to its quick sand, shallow water with shifting sand which is often misleading. But sunset is best viewed from here with fresh air and ocean side ambiance provides a great backdrop for escapades. Its just truly Magical.

Marve Beach: This beach which is close to Aksa beach is pretty small as compared to Aksa. Used mainly by people who wants to cross over to Manori Island by boat. The beach has restricted access as is used by Indian Navy for training and exercises. But its one of the two nodal points to go to Esselworld amusement park (other point being at Gorai in Borivali). But the view one gets of the largest Global Vipassana pagoda sitting on Manori island right across the sea is amazing.

One can also get the glimpse of dense mangroves which protects the Mumbai coast line. On a any given day one can find fishing boats anchored ready to get the fresh fish catch every morning.

This beach is also not fit for swimming due to sinking sand and strong water currents but its ideal for enjoying the evening with sunset and sea in complete silence.

The BEST bus 272 will bring you right at the tip of the beach passing through mini fishing villages and dense mangroves, giving you a feel of being in Goa within boundaries of Mumbai.

To be continued....