Monday, March 13, 2017

Birding in Nagaland - Part 2

Birding in Nagaland - Part 1

Well fed, we start walking up the gully for the next phase of birding... Lots and lots of birdsong all around but the tragedy is the visibility :-( Whatever watery sunlight had appeared for a scant few minutes is gone replaced with more fog and a light drizzle now and again. The fog banks rise from the valley and drift up towards us blanketing everything on its way... And yet, we manage a few sightings keeping us hopeful of the weather clearing!

White-capped water Redstart

Blue fronted Robin (f)

Little Bunting

Crested Finchbill

Rusty-fronted Barwing

Fire tailed Sunbird in Non-breeding plumage

Naga Wren-babbler

Orange-bellied Leafbird
Notwithstanding the dull and listless weather, we did get many lifers and whetted our appetites for a dedicated birding trip here soon.

In addition to the many birds, we also saw the Yellow throated Marten. It came upon us suddenly and vanished just as quickly but not before we had framed it for posterity...!!!

Yellow throated Marten
As a bonus, we saw a few birds on our way back. The entire journey was made more fascinating with the roads lined intermittently with blossoming cherry trees and views of the beautiful village of Khonoma nestled in the mountains of the Japfu range.

A pretty moss-stained boulder on our way don

Streaked Bulbul

Cherry blossoms
Khonoma from a distance

The Brown 2-storied structure is the Dovipie Inn in Khonoma

Friday, March 10, 2017

Heritage Heirlooms - The Caves at Lamgaon


The Jain Temple at Kudne

The Caves at Lamgaon

There are two caves fairly close to each other near Lamgaon. The access to these used to be circuitous and long but in the recent past, it's a short walk from the village on a well marked though unpaved path. Just as one starts out towards the caves, and on what was the outskirts of the village then probably is a village deity guarding the perimeters of the village.  

Possibly village deities... right at the edge of the village.

The picturesque path leading to the caves...

These caves at Lamgaon have a Buddhist origin. The very name Lamgaon means the abode of the Lamas (Buddhist monks). The smaller of these has a nice courtyard with a Tulsi-vrindavan and a Nandi installed in it. The outer chamber has two columns on the outer facade and a smaller chamber inside, demarcated by two more columns  in between. The inner chamber is the sanctum with a Shiv-ling installed in at a later date. 

The smaller cave with the Shiv-ling in the inner chamber
The larger cave hollowed out of lateritic rock is quite big with a large assembly hall and a smaller inner chamber. This cave too has remnants of three columns and one column intact. The columns have a clear-cut stone beam-like structure connecting them on top but the floor is in very bad condition. 

The larger cave at Lamgaon

It is said that the smaller and the larger caves were connected by a tunnel the mouth of which is visible though I am not sure if anyone has tried access to it. 

A very large stone outside the entrance can be easily overlooked but on careful inspection seems to have the typical cornices and adornments associated with the Buddhist Chaitya Arches. It seems likely that at some time long back, this must have been the top portion of the cave entrance which has since fallen in due to the vagaries of nature...

The possible Chaitya Arch now fallen over

These lesser known sites are a joy to behold if one makes the effort to reach them. A must visit for all history and archaeology aficionados. If my narrative enthuses even a few to visit, it would all have been worthwhile....