I had featured one of my images from Nandi Hills a few days ago on paintedstork facebook page. Browsing through the page this morning, I realized that many of my pictures from Nandi are scattered across several posts on my blog. Nandi Hills has many moods that vary with the season. It may look like a dull rocky hill with scrub forest and a few gardens during the first visit. At least that’s what I thought about it. But subsequent trips revealed many interesting faces of the hill. In the later visits I saw birds showing off their dazzling colours; I saw macaques cuddling their tiny and fragile babies that hugged their mothers tightly. I saw amazing play of clouds that brushed past the nearby hills; I saw clouds that enveloped the slopes revealing just an aberration jutting out from a sea of fluffy cotton balls. I saw sunsets that painted the sky red. And I know that this small stretch of hills just north of Bangalore have concealed a lot more than they have revealed me so far.
On this particular day when I was at the top of the hill, I was looking forward to shoot some birds. I must have spent about half an hour chasing an uncooperative paradise flycatcher. I stood next to a tree contemplating if I should continue chasing the flycatcher and go somewhere else. That moment, this Blue Capped Rock Thrush flew into the tree and started singing. Although commonly seen, this is my only sighting of the bird till date.
A flower at the garden in front of the guest house at the top of the hill.
This family of monkeys stared at us intently as we were driving down the hill, perhaps hoping to get something for breakfast.
I must have passed this view each time I drove up the hill, without stopping for a second look. But one winter at the break of dawn, I saw the clouds moving quickly across this hill with a thin cloud layer settling down on the rock surface. Here is the outcome of fifteen minutes of struggle with the camera.
On the same day when the above image of the hill and the clouds was taken, it looked like we were going to have a clear weather on the top. But just when we were approaching the eucalyptus grove a few hundred meters below the top, fog came in and enveloped the trees. We stopped and I took this picture immediately. Five minutes early or late and we would not have got to see something like this.
On another winter morning, we were late to arrive at the top of the hill and I was disappointed to see that there was no fog, which would have provided many photo-opportunities. As we slowly drove up the slope, I suddenly noticed this mild mist, which covered the earth below. I jumped out from the car and ran towards the slopes with excitement. This is the only picture (besides some variations of it) I shot that day.
We drove up to Nandi on an evening with no particular agenda. Although I had no plans to take any picture, I had still carried the camera with me. It was a colourful sunset that evening and I took a few quick pictures as the sun made his way down the horizon.
On one full moon day, a bunch of us photographer made the slow walk to the top of Skandagiri, not far from Nandi. Although Skandagiri was a known name then, we were the only people who made the full-moon-day trek to the hill that day. The next morning as the sun came up, this was the spectacle we saw standing on the top: Nandi and surrounding hills floating in a sea of clouds. I am told that Skandagiri has gone through major changes since then. Although I don’t have confirmed reports, I have heard that it used to get crowded enough that there is hardly any free space at the top. Apparently they now even have tea-stalls up on the hill. I have also heard that forest department had prohibited people from climbing the hill for some time. I do not know if such an order still remains.
And to conclude with another bird photograph, here’s is a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher from Nandi.
Prints of the images are available. Request for prints.