Archive for March, 2011

Jackal killing a spotted dear

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Most of the action that happened during our game drives in Bandhavgarh usually happened in the last few minutes of our drives.  This day was no exception.  We were on our way back to the front gate of the park when our guide saw what appeared to be a dead spotted dear near the side of the road.

Sleeping? Spotted Deer

We all thought the deer was dead and were anxiously looking around for what could have killed it.  After some searching we spotted a jackal waiting in the bushes.  Our vehicle probably scared him off his kill.  We backed up the vehicle to give some space between us and the deer in the hopes the jackal would come back for his kill.

To our surprise, the deer’s head started moving.  Then it started to slowly get up.  It wasn’t dead after all… at least not yet.  After it stumbled to its feet it just stood there all dazed and confused.  Then all of the sudden it started to run.  It probably just realized what happend to him and knew he needed to get the heck out of there.  The problem was that this was the edge of the park and they erected a wall to keep the wildlife out of the village that was right next door.  Bad news for the deer.  Good news for the Jackal.

Spotted deer escaping from Jackal

The deer didn’t have anywhere to go and the jackal quickly ran out of the woods after the deer

Jackal caught up with the spotted deer

The deer put up a valiant effort and with some pretty skillful dodging a weaving he did manage to get away… but just for a while.  The Jackal was just too quick for the deer and he was eventually able to bite into the deer’s ear and pull its head to the ground.  The deer was pretty tall compared to the Jackal so he needed to get its neck lower in order to get its mouth around it to suffocate it.

See the final kill after the break

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Tiger Safari in Kanha Tiger Reserve time lapsed to 2 minutes

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Another time lapse video but of another Tiger Reserve in India, Kanha.  This is a much different park than Bandhavgarh which I posted a time lapse video about earlier.  It’s much bigger and has wide open plains which gives it a more Africa type feel.

Front view time lapse of one of our game drives at Kanha national park.

0:05 – Driving through the city of Tala (don’t blink. It’s only about 3 frames)

0:47 – watching the elephants bathing in dust

1:17 – Indian bison sighting

Lots of stopping and starting. Waiting and watching. Sometimes game drives are like that. A lot of waiting and watching and not much action but its not a zoo and wildlife sightings aren’t guaranteed.  The park is still beautiful and having a nice drive through a beautiful game park is a great experience.

You can view the video on youtube here (soundtrack had to be changed due to copyright restrictions).

Creating the tiger safari game drive time lapse video

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

I had an idea to create a time lapse movie during one of our game drives in the tiger reserves.  I haven’t done something like this before and haven’t seen anything online about doing something like this but I gave it a go.  I took my canon 5d mark II with a 12-24mm lens zoomed out to 24mm and plugged in my cheap chinese knock off time lapse trigger device thingy.  It was configured to take 1 photo every 7 seconds.  I imported all the jpegs into quicktime pro which I used to create the movie to playback all the still frames at 12 frames per second.

I mounted the camera to a bean bag and then strapped it to the top frame of the vehicle with a lot of tape (the roads are bumpy… very, very bumpy so I was pretty worried about the camera flying off).  I wrapped it all in a small towel to try and protect it from the dust.  It didn’t really work because the fine talcum powder like dust gets everywhere.

The results turned out much better than I thought.  The first take I had it pointed forward and I think it catches the gist of what a game drive is.  I was also lucky and it caught a very brief glimpse of the Jackal killing a Chital on this camera.  It’s the very small dot down the road next to the wall.  Don’t worry, I got a much better shot with my 500mm lens which I’ll be posting later.

The second take was the camera rig turned around at me and Talat.  This was the best take of all.  It was a pretty boring game drive until the last few minutes.  We ended up getting an amazing tiger safari in a mad scrabble of vehicles.

4 hour Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve time lapsed to 3 minutes

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

1) Front view time lapse

0:40 – Tiger sighting off to the left

1:35 – Breakfast

2:19 – waiting in line for the tiger show (more about this later)

3:06 – Jackal killing Chital (spotted deer)

We had a lot of other bird, owl, deer, and other various wildlife sightings but those were the big ones.

View the video on youtube here (soundtrack had to be changed due to copyright restrictions)

2) Rear view time lapse (best time lapse video yet!!!)

0:54 – Miki doing safari vehicle gymnastics

1:23 – playing with my ipad

1:46 – Tiger sighting (name = “New Male”) and mad vehicle scramble.  The most fun 10 minutes of the trip!!

2:39 – Celebrating our amazing tiger sighting with some ice cream.

View the video on youtube here (soundtrack had to be changed due to copyright restrictions)

The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra

I didn’t have to do much research on hotels to stay at in Agra.  The Oberoi Amarvilas frequently wins awards as one of the best hotels in the world and is famous for its view of the Taj Mahal.  It’s a little on the expensive side (especially for India) but we were only in Agra one night and we really wanted the view of the Taj from our balcony.

View of the Taj Mahal from the Oberoi Amarvilas balcony

After a long day of traveling and visiting the sights around Agra, it was very nice to sit on our balcony with a cup of tea and watch the sunset over the Taj.  Not a bad life.

The only minor complaints is the rooms are very plain and small. Their also wasn’t much of a selection at breakfast and what was there wasn’t all that good. Not really acceptable for a 5 star hotel but none of that really maters because you can’t get the view of the Taj like this at any other hotel.

Here are some more pics of the hotel…

Zardori silk embroidery

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Miki trying her hand at Zardori embroidery

We went to another shop that had a vey unique type of embroidery called Zardori silk emroidery.

This style of embroidery has been in existence in India from the time of the Rig Veda. It prospered during the Mugal EmperorAkbar, but later a loss of royal patronage and industrialization led to its decline. Today, it is popular in the Indian cities of LucknowBhopal, and Chennai.[1] The name zardozi is from Persian and means “sewing with gold”.  from wikipedia

The detail of this work was incredible and the late Shams was considered to be one of the best.  Here are three of his pieces that took him over 5 years each to make.  They aren’t for sale but they do have smaller pieces but even the prices on those are very high.  A 16×20 piece was over 12,000 rupees (or about 260 USD).  They were interesting but not interesting enough to buy one… at least not now.  A couple of pictures suited me just fine.

The name of the store in Agra that sells these pieces is called “Imperial Gems”.  I’m sure any hotel can point you in the right direction if you are interested.  They also have a shop to that sells some locally made jewelry.

Overnight trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

We had a few days before our India Tiger Safari started (to be posted about later) and needed something to do near Delhi.  Since Agra is close to Delhi I thought it would be a good idea to see the Taj Mahal.

A quick google search turned up a company called Delhi Magic.  I e-mailed them to ask about doing an overnight tour to visit the Taj, Agra Fort, etc.  After a few e-mails back and forth I asked the question.  ”Does this also include all entrance fees?  Taj, Agra Fort, etc…”.  To which the owner of Delhi Magic responded, “No they are not. It’s a substantial amount of money and if we had wanted to include them, we would have specified it.”  That response really put me off as being very rude and unprofessional.  She could have simply said no they are not and then simply listed the various entrance fees.  Maybe its a language thing but either way I wasn’t about to give my money to them.  I’m glad they ticked me off because the guide I found in the end was fantastic.

I then went to the tripadvisor forums and found a bunch of glowing reviews of a local guide in Agra, Sunil Gupta.  He was an excellent guide and helped arrange everything for our overnight trip.  If you are heading to Agra, look no further for a guide.  Sunil is your man.  You will be very happy with your choice.  You can contact him via his tripadvisor profile. Sunil arranged for us to visit the following during our overnight tour: the Agra Fort, Baby Taj, Taj Mahal, Fatehpursikri, and Akbar’s Mausoleum.

After a pickup from our hotel in Delhi at 7:30 am we made the 4 hour drive down to Agra.  Our first visit, after checking in at the amazing The Oberoi Amarvilas, was the Agra Fort.  For a little history of the fort check out the detailed wikipedia article.

View of the Taj from the Agra Fort

The detail of the inlaid semi precious stones on the walls of all of these sights are amazing.  It’s hard to imagine the amount of skill and manpower needed to create all of this. Given that a small table top with this type of detail can easily cost over $10,000, I can’t imagine what it would cost today to replicate some of these sights.

inlaid semiprecious stone carvings

Which one to buy??

Since we were so intrigued he took us to a shop that still does this type of work.  I’m always a little skeptical when a guide takes us to “a shop he knows”.  However, with Sunil, he wasn’t pushy and only took us there because we wanted to go.  There was never any pressure to buy anything… even though we did buy a cute little elephant.  Actually it wasn’t so little… of course she chose the biggest one on the left.

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