These posts are from my earlier visit to Uttarkhand in august 2007. That was an interesting trip too - being in the monsoon, there were landslides and hold-ups galore. Nevertheless, got to enjoy the Himalayas in all its greenery. Our drive from Kaudyala to Chilla on 22nd August on the last leg of our journey was eventful as soon as we reached the checkpost at Chilla. Here is our first bonus so after passing the check post- Oriental Pied hornbills- picture cropped.

Warned that the the river bed had quite a bit of water and our humble ambassador would not be able to cross it, the driver initally dithered, wanted to take us to Muni-ki-reti & then had a change of heart. took us back to the checkpost and thence on to the river. This is the portion we had to cross. Looks like choco chips ice-cream to me!!!
At the first attempt the car nearly got stuck until our skillful driver drove us back and to the nearest shack for a cup of tea. The local tea stall owner was a former forest guard who took us on a short trail upto the river bank and back. He then offered to come with us to guide us through the most suitable portion. After some breathless moments, we finally made it and were on our way to our guest house on a very good road.
We were sure glad we did not have to give Chilla the go by. Being the monsoon, the park was closed. We however, walked through the main road of the small town in search of Mehboob Khan a well known mahout who had recently retired from the forest service. Obviously, he seemed to have a lot of contact with foreign nationals as he extended his hand immediately for a cordial handshake to the 3 ladies barging in on his dwellings.
He insisted on our downing large cups of tea and talked about his days as a mahout. Meanwhile the first of the elephants started coming back to their homes after a day chomping grass in the forest. The first was Mamta a grown female elephant whose owner was not particularly interested in her getting pally with us. the next was the tusker - Raja seen in this pix having a bathe. His Mahout, Khaleel Ahmed was cordial though the local folks thought the pachyderm was a rogue and not to be trifled with - so we kept a very respectable distance from him.

Yet I could not resist a pose with hime- so here we are giving each other a royal salute!

The next morning my friends went for a walk while I had some last minute packing to do. After completing it, I set out around 6.30 a.m. to catch up with them. Instead, I came upon an employee-Vinod of the guest house at the gate who gave me a royal salute. could not resist asking him if I could see the animals. He readily took me deep inside the forest for about 2 kms untill we came to a watering hole. The picture on the left. Seeing us a beautiful Four horned antelope immediately fled before I could catch him in my camera. Going a little further, he showed me a spot where a leopard comes during season. Within a couple of minutes there was a roar from a bush a few 100 metres to our right- yes a warning from a leopardess possibly with cubs & both my guide - Vinod & I immediately beat a retreat. It seemed very eerie to be in this dense forest with a big cat watching us from somewhere behind the bush. Looking at my rather puny little guide I realised that we had no defense or means of escape in this dense forest should the leopard desire one of us for breakfast. It was indeed magnanimous of her to give us a warning roar. Whew - really breathed a sigh of relief when we were back on the road and saw my friends again!

And now on our way back to Delhi, just as we were passing the entrance to Chilla National Park, came this charming little tusker kid - Yogi who wanted to play with us & with my camera! So here we are distracting him with biscuits instead- not content with biscuits he wanted to find out more about the biscuit box!!!

This rheseus macqaue called out a big "whooo" to us for his breakfast. spontaneously our driver Narendra Sharma who had his naturalist's instincts developed during the trip got out & fed him with some bread which you see in his front paws.

Scarlet Minivet - male at kakdaghat trail near the Birdwatcher's camp. this camp is run by Yashpal Singh Negi, an experienced birdwatcher. Certainly on the future itinerary!
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Sign by the Border Roads Organisation in Hindi which translated means " when a traveller comes they stir up dust. however if they move slowly the flowers will bloom." sounds good & hope travellers take heed on these rough roads.

The confluence at Rudraprayag taken from the balcony of our guest house. On returning I once again read the famous Jim Corbett account -"The maneating leopard of Rudraprayag" & could well visualise the whole scene.

looks like a sparrowhawk.

The restaurant at our guest house at kaudyala
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Happy family!

Grey-headed woodpecker is a common Himalayan species

Crimson sunbird commonly seen in the Himalayas was a frequent visitor to the garden just outside our guest house at Ukimath

The forest trail at the Birdwatcher's camp at Kankdaghat about 9 kms. from Ukimath.
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Outside our cottage at Ukimath, Nina & I with one of the local canines who shooed away the Primates

Our driver extreme left, staff of the guest house and my friends with the local canines at Ukimath Guest House. the local staff enthusisatically joined us for birdwatching!

White-throated Laughing thrush

Vanity of vanities! this Black-headed Jay could not get enough of posing. Strutted about near us & gave me some great shots!

Night rose just outsied our log hut at Ukimath. This flower blooms at night and fades during the day.

Ancient 13th century temple at Ukimath - a good climb on foot from our guest house. Of course you can reach there in your vehicle if you do not like walking.

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Rufous fronted woodpecker proved rather elusive & did not want to oblige the photographer!

A Royle's Pika coyly pops out of his hole in the ground

wild mushrooms growing in the bark of tree

Oriental Trutle dove brazenly struts around oblivous of human presence
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Laughing thrush greeted us along the way.

Blue whistling thrush made a rare but great appearance.

Stunning view of the mist covered Pines
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Could not resist a pose with this view

Streaked laughing thrush were common beyond 2000 msl

One of the many waterfalls that dotted the route

Eurasian Jay was happy to pose for us
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Pictures of our visit

confluence at Depprayag.Deoprayag is a bustling pilgrimage spot & is the first confluence that you come across while travelling up the mountain road.

A jazzy resort at Deoprayag.

Confluence at Karnaprayag

Confluence at Rudraprayag. At this temple, there is a daily Arti (religious rites) at 7 p.m. Pix taken from the balcony of the guest house.

Landslides galore on the way. At some points stones were flying & once I felt a little pat on the arm to find a small stone beside me. Brought it back as a souvenir!

This huge boulder had fallen on the road. Pix taken by me in a moving car

Himalayan bulbuls gave us company throughout our trip in the hills

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