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Foggy Delights at Bharatpur

Bharatpur is bewitched.

 

At least, in winter.


Here, you don’t tumble out of a cupboard into a Narniaesque world. Instead, its a slow and gradual process, each slow revolution of the e-rickshaw’s wheels taking you deeper into a surreal, fantasy world. 

 

The gradual entry is appropriate. It really would be criminal to hurry in this place.

 

Its half past six in the morning and a heavy, grey, fog hangs all around, looking morose and lethargic. You get off the e-rickshaw , hunch your shoulders, bury your hands deep in your pockets searching for some warmth in its corners and go for a stroll. 

 

If you crinkle your eyes and peer into the gloom you might be able to make out shadowy outlines of trees by the water. A few stand erect in haughty solitude, stoic in their bearing of the loss of their leaves.  Some are precariously perched, leaning over the water, as if trying to decipher the dark secrets that lie in the watery depths. The water, on its part, is unresponsive. Barely a ripple mars its surface.

 

Closer to you, a half submerged branch of a long fallen tree pokes its head out in sullen resistance to the fog. A cormorant is perched on it, futilely attempting to dry it’s wings. Stay in one place for a little long and you might see a duck or a grebe appearing out of the dense curtain looking mighty grumpy about being in the freezing waters.

 

You first hear it. 

 

A rapid, panicked fluttering of the wings breaking the stillness of the cold morning.

 

And then you see it. 

 

A cormorant, appears out of the fog, makes a frenzied dash over the surface of the water, taking long steps as if walking on water, before the frantic flapping of its wings gives it some elevation and it vanishes into the gloom, its cries following it.

 

You cross the central place, go past the watch tower, duck under some offending branches, carefully step over mossy fallen logs and look into the distance. A tree stands tall, its branches spreading wildly in all directions in a fiercely protective manner and you notice, under it, stands a deer with its fawn.

 

You retrace your steps, get off the main road and walk down one of the many trails that branch off on either side.

 

An egret takes off in alarm. Its sparkling white body leans languidly into the fog and it flies into the silent grey . A little further down the road, on your left, you see a group of egrets gracefully tiptoeing around as the mist gently floats around them. There is a faintly fairytale feel to the scene. I suspect that if you dare wade into the bitingly cold waters and look underneath a water lily, you might find Tinkerbell looking up, smiling cheerfully at you.

 

It doesn’t appear as if the sun will win its daily battle against the fog today. However, in the  slight, but perceptible penetration of light you notice shadowy outlines of a number of painted storks huddled together in the biting cold. A couple of them wade into the shallow depths looking for an early morning snack.

 

There is life all around you. Predators are stealthily going about their business. The prey is trying their best to hide from them. Life as usual.

 

You can’t see most of it. You can’t sense any of it.

 

Bharatpur is bewitched .


Cormorant drying itself in Bharatpur

A solitary cormorant strikes its classic pose in the gloom


Birds on a dead branch in Bharatpur

There's never a dearth of striking, half sunk dead branches...

you just need a cormorant...or two...or many !


Painted storks in Bharatpur

Painted storks looking like people huddled around a roadside tea stall on a winter morning


Painted storks in Bharatpur

It seemed as if the birds were patiently standing in a queue to get to the food counter


Painted Storks in Bharatpur

Just in case, you haven't had enough of the same birds :)


Ghostly...or fiercely protective ? Did you notice the deer and its fawn ?


Egret flying off in Bharatpur

Off I go...


An image, to my eyes, which was straight out of a fairy tale book


Bewitched. For sure.


 

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