Insights

Ghumakkar Insight –Let’s wander! But be vigilant too

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So if we only drop the ball and do not come forward demanding action for the better future and for future travellers, it is we and our generation next to suffer. If we predispose that nothing will happen and do not come forward with our feedback to the right authorities, I see then little hope for the changes. The right authorities may never know a fact if we do not give our feedback. In the present case of mine, I doubt the field officials would have reported the Governor about the above facts. So there lies the importance of feedback. I too hope like Ghumakkar Team and believe that if we keep performing as a dutiful citizen then things would really improve for a better future and for future travellers.
Will you then come forward? Will you too contribute for the better future of travelling?
The last thing, I believe, all of us would like to see people throwing coins or notes on Akbar’s grave. Alas! He was the richest and most powerful king of his time. He never would have imagined that people would throw coins on his tomb stone. And not also we would like to see people scribbling love messages on our historical monuments. Can’t we start protesting against these nuisances? Can’t we preserve our heritage for an Incredible India?
“Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.”______Mark Twain

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Ghumakkar Insights – Homestays

Ghumakkar Insights – Homestays

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Those who aren’t familiar with the concept of homestays, would probably have guessed by now that homestays are different from hotels in several ways. Essentially when you are opting for a homestay, you are choosing to stay in someone’s home. It is a great way to experience local culture up close. And, especially if you are travelling alone, the thought of coming back to a family after a tiring day is especially warm. In Swapnil’s words, “Wow!! In a strange, mystical, faraway land someone was waiting for you and was concerned about your journey.”

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Photography : Practical Tips and Tricks

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This is true of every ghumakkar. If Vishal Rathore, DL, Amitava, Ritesh, Manu, Abhee, Jat Devta, SS, Praveen Wadhwa, Nirdesh, Vipin, Mala, Devasmitha and Sushant (or any of the rest of authors here) were wandering together in a city or village with our cameras on our shoulders, each of us would aim at different objects and would shoot from different angles and for different reasons. It hardly matters whether we own a DSLR or a mobile phone as far as selection of our subjects is concerned. Well, here are a few things which I have learnt in photography in all these years. May be you would find them interesting and useful.

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Photography : Using Light to Your Advantage

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एक फोटोग्राफर का प्रकाश के जिन पहलुओं से जन्म – जन्म का रिश्ता होता है, वे हैं – प्रकाश का कोण (angle of light) की दिशा direction of light, प्रकाश की मात्रा (luminocity या brightness), तीव्रता (intensity), और कंट्रास्ट (contrast) ! सबसे पहले प्रकाश के कोण की बात करें तो हम कह सकते हैं कि हम सब प्रकाश को ऊपर से नीचे की ओर आते हुए देखने के अभ्यस्त हैं। सूर्योदय से लेकर सूर्यास्त तक हमें सूर्य धरती के ऊपर से ही धरती पर प्रकाश बिखेरता हुआ नज़र आता है। हमारे काम आये या न आये, चन्द्रमा का प्रकाश भी ऊपर से नीचे की ओर आता प्रतीत होता है। हमारे ठीक सामने से प्रकाश आये ऐसा शायद वाहनों की हैड लाइट के मामले में ही देखने में आता है या फिर कैमरे में लगी हुई फ्लैशलाइट प्रकाश सामने से हमारे चेहरे पर फेंकती है। चूंकि हम जन्म से लेकर अपने अंतिम दिन तक ऊपर से नीचे की ओर आते हुए प्रकाश को ही देखा करते हैं अतः घरों में भी हम बल्ब और ट्यूब छत के आस – पास ही लगवाते हैं, न कि फर्श के आसपास। फोटोग्राफर भी अपने स्टूडियो में लाइटें मॉडल के सिर के लेवल से ऊपर ही फिट करते हैं, नीचे नहीं ! प्रकाश का स्रोत अगर धरती के आस पास हो तो कैसा लगेगा, यह देखना हो तो कुछ हॉरर फिल्में देख डालिये ! ठोडी, होंठ, नाक, आंख आदि की छाया जब नीचे के बजाय ऊपर की ओर बनेंगी तो अपनी अर्द्धांगिनी की शक्ल देख कर एक बारगी तो डर ही जायेंगे।

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Photography – Lighting

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प्रकाश का सबसे सस्ता, सुन्दर और टिकाऊ स्रोत हमारे सूर्य देवता ही हैं। चंदा मामा जो खुद भी सूर्य देवता से उधार लिये हुए प्रकाश से काम चलाते हैं, फोटोग्राफर के लिये ज्यादा उपयोगी नहीं हैं क्योंकि वह भरोसेमंद इंसान नहीं हैं – कभी हैं, कभी गायब हो जाते हैं। जिस दिन होते हैं, उस दिन भी इतना प्रकाश हमें नहीं दे पाते कि ढंग की फोटो खींच सकें, अतः उनके भरोसे न रहना ही ठीक है। उनको धरती को प्रकाश देने से कहीं अधिक अपनी खुद की फोटो खिंचवाना, अपने बारे में कवितायें और गीत लिखवाना ज्यादा भाता है। हमने सुना तो यहां तक है कि चंदा मामा बहुत सारे लोगों के पागलपन का भी कारण बन जाते हैं अतः हम फोटोग्राफर लोग उनकी फोटो खींचते रहें तो ही ठीक है। आपको पता ही होगा कि Luna से Lunar और Lunatic शब्द बने हैं।

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Getting the most out of your camera

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इससे पहले कि मैं किस्सा-ए-फोटोग्राफी शुरु करूं, अगर अनुमति-ए-आपकी हो तो पहले एक किस्सा सुनाना चाहूंगा। सुना है कि एक छात्र फोटोग्राफी सीखने के लिये मुंबई के एक प्रख्यात फोटोग्राफर के पास पहुंचा। पांच दिन तक कैमरे के सभी अंग-प्रत्यंगों का परिचय देने के बाद, गुरु ने अपने शिष्य से कहा कि अपने कैमरे में एक फिल्म डालो और निकल पड़ो मुंबई की फोटोग्राफी के लिये ! जो कुछ भी अच्छा लगे, उसकी फोटो खींच लाओ ! रात को थका-हारा शिष्य वापिस आया! फिल्म धुलवाई गई और प्रिंट बनवा कर मेज पर फैला दिये गये। गुरुजी ने शिष्य से पूछा, “बताओ, किस स्थान की फोटो सबसे अच्छी लगीं?” शिष्य ने जवाब दिया, मुझे तो गेट वे ऑफ इंडिया की फोटो सबसे अच्छी लग रही है। गुरुजी ने अगले दिन उस शिष्य को सारी की सारी फोटो गेटवे ऑफ इंडिया की खींचने का आदेश दे दिया। शिष्य ने विभिन्न कोणों से सारे के सारे चित्र गेटवे ऑफ ईंडिया के ही खींच डाले। शाम को फिल्म धुली, प्रिंट बने और फिर गुरुजी ने पूछा, “कौन का फोटो सबसे अच्छा लगा?” तो शिष्य ने बता दिया । गुरुजी ने पुनः एक फिल्म लोड कराई और कहा कि कल जाकर गेटवे ऑफ इंडिया के सारे के सारे फोटो इसी एंगिल के खींच कर लाओ! बेचारा शिष्य पुनः गया और सुबह से शाम तक उसी एंगिल से भिन्न-भिन्न प्रकाश में फोटो खींचता रहा। शाम को पुनः प्रिंट फैलाये गये और गुरुजी ने जब शिष्य से पूछा, “कौन सा फोटो पसन्द आया है?” तो शिष्य ने बता दिया कि मुझे तो सूर्यास्त के समय का यह चित्र सबसे अधिक भा रहा है! गुरुजी ने उसे कहा, “जाओ, तुम्हारी शिक्षा पूर्ण हुई!” तुम्हें photographic subject, various angles और various types of lighting का ज्ञान हो गया है। फोटोग्राफी यहीं से शुरु होती है, अब जीवन भर फोटोग्राफी करते रहो और सीखते रहो!

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Ghumakkar Insights – Do more with Smart Phone-Camera in Hills

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Sunsets and sunrise are the two most common sights that are photographed in the hills. We also get impressed with the breathtaking views of valleys or rows of hills covered with snow and feel that nothing can capture the view better than Panoramas. It can be very easily done with normal cameras. But can we also do it with Phone-Cameras? In May this year, I was in Srinagar in Kashmir to cover the Mughal Rally. We happened to visit a place called “Pir Ki Gali” that has amazing panoramic view. At that point in time, I felt the urge to click a panorama. I wanted to test whether my phone-camera could give me good results in panoramas as well. I found and downloaded Panorama applications from the Internet and created several panoramas. A good Phone-Camera and a companion application make the job quite easy and the results too are nothing short of impressive.

Dynamic weather in hills sometimes makes the life of us photographers more difficult than we expect it to be. These situations demand more flexibility in dealing with your Camera. Latest smart phones come with features like ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation etc. ISO can be very useful in low light conditions, Exposure Compensation can be a great help when your Camera is unable to judge the light around. White Balance is used in different ways to get the right colors or some magic in overall color scheme of your photographs. Many of these Cameras come up with different effects and some of them can be interesting to use while travelling. Flash capabilities are increasing with time and can be helpful in some critical situations.

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Ghumakkar Insights – Wandering thoughts (To leave or ‘no’ to leave)

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Some colleagues are well-wishers who try to show him light:

“Where to, this time, G?”

G – “Anjuna.”

“Anything special there?”

G – “Yeah. Great beach and sea food.”

“Didn’t you go to a beach last time and had great sea food as well?”

G – “True. But that was Andaman.”

“ I see. Isn’t a beach, after all, a beach with sand and sea food?”

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Ghumakkar Insights: A Gavaksh to the Ancient Indian Temple Architecture

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A close look, in chronological order, at the evolution of sacred structures will reveal that The first structures of worship emerged in the form of caves around 2nd century B.C. It started with Buddhist and Jain monks carving their meditation cells (vihara) and meeting places (chaityas) on rocky mountain faces. These cave complexes were usually present at secluded places to provide isolation and quiet surroundings for meditation. There are no evidences of Hindu cave complexes of the early era. It is believed, at that time, yajna and vedic rituals were more popular among the Hindu devotees. There may have been temporary wooden, mud or brick structures, as symbols of piety, which got destroyed with time. However, there are no evidences to suggest that these structures were anything like the classical Hindu temples that followed.

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Ghumakkar Insights – Traveling in Indian Railways

Ghumakkar Insights – Traveling in Indian Railways

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With the advent of Duronto non-stop trains there is a possibility to avail these trains if your destination is on the route close to eventual destination of the train and it is a technical halt of the train. Every long distance train has some technical halts where crew changes. If your destination is one such then it could be a boon. For example, Mumbai – Howrah Duronto has technical halts at Bhusaval, Nagpur, Bilaspur, TataNagar. So, people who are destined to let’s say Bilaspur or Tata Nagar can book the entire journey from Mumbai to Howrah but get down at these stations when trains stop there. In my recent journey from Mumbai to Howrah, there were several such passengers who got down at Tata Nagar and Kharagpur. You may just have to pay extra upto Howrah for this convenience. Railways does not publish a list of technical halts for a train but you can easily figure them out by experience, talking to train crew, passengers or characteristics that it is a major station, change of railway division and around 5-7 hours from previous technical halt.

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Ghumakkar Insights – Biking Guide from a Biker

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I have always considered biking to be a natural instinct for me. It is like my reflex action to any elongated duration of professional boredom. Until now, when I was asked to provide my insights on biking, I could never realize that there are a lot many things that I do to ensure that I, and sometimes my group, have a safe and exciting riding experience during our rides. So here my chance to earn some good karma.

We have covered quite a few places in the hilly parts of Uttaranchal & Himachal and have had the privilege of riding to Ladakh twice. We have also covered the entire Spiti Valley circuit along with other long distant places like Harsil, Chopta, Chittorgarh etc.

Having established my reputation as a biker, I am confident that the rest of the prose will get your undivided attention.

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