Monday, February 28, 2011


From Auro beach we headed out to Auroville.

The cafe area had some pretty tall trees.

We walked towards the central meditation area and on the way encountered this spectacular common jezebel. And thanks to Isaac Kehimkar's excellent book i knew that this was a common jezebal and not the mimic, the painted sawtooth or the painted jezebel as the reddish-pink spots pointed outwards.

The path was really nice.. it reminded me of the walk through Guindy National Park

As we neared the meditation area, the grounds became more 'landscaped'. There were plumerias bereft of leaves and flowers.

And yet others in full bloom.

This was the central meditation dome.

The images from the walk back are somehow reminiscent of the lord of rings.

The old banyan is the real center of auroville.

Wild flowers along the way

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Auro Beach

The morning of Monday, Feb 14th was spent at Auro Beach which is a few kms away from the pondicherry town center. It was serene and beautiful.

It is strange how while some parts were so clean and nice, yet others had their share of muck and the inevitable plastic bags.

We caught the morning sun

and the fishermen coming in with the morning's catch

I noticed as we walked towards the fishermen, that the sands were strewn with shells

And crabs!

The fisherfolk were busy -- untieing the knots in their nets and untangling the crabs and other creatures that were caught within. It was fascinating to watch the many varied creatures that had come out of the sea. Sadly though all dead or near dying.. and all but the fish discarded in the sand... collateral damage.

There was an interesting looking crab in the pile
Ramjee from the MNS says that it is the Blood Spotted Crab (portunus sanguinolentus)
Preston gives the common name - the three spot crab

and another that managed to crawl away.

there was another strange looking creature, turned upside down
From Preston: the frontal appendages make me suspect that it is a mantis shrimp -- Squilla, not sure though

These fish were deemed poisonous by the fisherfolk and hence kept aside to be buried in the sand

These were the prize catch of the day. The fishermen got quite annoyed with us for going close to them
ID again by Ramjee from MNS - Giant Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon)

Conch like shells with creatures in them-

Ashish from the Madras Naturalists Society has helped identify the image on the right side - he writes- The one on the right is Babylonia zeylanica.  Common name for this family is Spiral Babylons. This particular species is widespread in the Indo-Pacific Region. Differentiated from other species in the family by a distinct purple staining on the siphonal canal (visible in image).
From Preston: This belongs to a family of sea snails (Buccinidae) commonly known as the Whelks
Gayathree from the MNS says that the left side image is that of the hemifusus pugilinus
From Preston: This belongs to another family -- Volemidae

Another ID from Ashish - The image below is that of a gastropod - its called Turritella duplicata. Common family name are Screw Shells. Widely found along Coromandel Coast. Screw shells are popular with hermit crabs.


As with every beach, i found it hard to walk away, but finally had to.

The railroad creeper (ipomoea) along the way out was blooming. The auto driver had some interesting trivia about it - that taken in whole the flower was an effective remedy for diabetes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Silk exhibition at Pondicherry

Sericulture has been in the news lately, with silk cocoon farmers in Karnataka and quite possibly all over the country hit hard by the sudden reduction in the market price of raw silk from Rs350/kg to Rs 150/kg, due to the reduction in the import duty on raw silk.

Karnataka is where much of the silk in india is produced, other than in the silk 'hot spots' of Varanasi and Kanchipuram.

Previously the import duty was 30 percent on raw silk and 10 percent on manufactured silk, which encouraged the import of manufactured silk from China. In an attempt to encourage the manufacturing of silk in India and make raw silk more easily available, the government reduced the import duty on raw silk to 5 percent. Now why the Government did not instead encourage silk farmers in the country and perhaps increase the import duty on manufactured silk is something worth investigating.

Silk weaving in India is perhaps best associated with Varanasi, whose brocade silk with golden threads (jari) has been in fashion since the Mughal times. (evidence of sericulture has surfaced even in the excavations of the Indus Valley civilization).

While in Pondicherry we ran into an exhibition of Varanasi silk at the Alliance Francais.

The sarees were gorgeous!

 A picture of old Varanasi hung from the walls.

There were silk cushion covers and buttons.

Many exquisite silk dresses that i immediately fell in love with!


And beautiful paitings. 

It was a nice prelude to dinner, which was right across the road at the Le Club. On reflection though, I could not help thinking that beautiful and artistic though natural silk undoubtedly was, it certainly did not warrant the killing of mulberry silkworms. As Casey in the Wandering Owl says, we need to spend more time adoring our world than using it up at breakneck speed!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walking around in Pondicherry

This was on saturday, Feb 12th. We headed out to tour the area on foot..

The promenade by the beach was rather sparcely populated, thanks due to the piercing heat.

Interesting trees, the beach and interesting buildings ... the perfect combination

Flowers near the aurobindo ashram

Sunday, Feb 13th was the day of the run - the Auroville 10K! I loved the route through Auroville.

Later that evening we headed out again to see the sights.

The clock tower whose time was way off.

The beautiful temples

Colonial buildings by the beach

The two most ubiquitous of plant life in tamilnadu - the bougainvilla..

... and the coconut tree (at le cafe by the beach)

More buildings