Posts Tagged ‘Agra’

The Taj Mahal – One of 7-Wonders in the World

Thursday, April 19, 2018 posted by Bruce 4:23 PM

A Fairy Tale ending in a Bad Dream…!

Side view of the Taj Mahal at sunrise – my favorite shot on this trip…!

Since 2013, I have visited India every year primarily to the ‘tiger reserves’. I now have 50 tigers in my files. In 2018 this year, I arrived in Delhi on Feb. 18th and went straight up to Corbett with my Indian agent and we spent the next 7 days touring around looking for tigers. I ended up getting four tigers on this trip. I also visited a private reserve named Vanghat situated on the Ramnagar River. I managed to set 5 camera traps up on the ridge-line overlooking the resort. I got a tiger crossing in front of a video camera during the morning hours in beautiful light. I also lost one of the traps to a tusker elephant that left it in pieces.

From there I went to the Chambal River and got some good gharial and mugger croc shots. After that, it was to Kanha and Bandavgarh tiger reserves where I got five tigers (two in Kanha and three in Bandhavgarh). All I can say is: Kanha is now very nice to visit with new restrictions set in place by the park’s director and staff, and it was an absolute joy visiting. I got some really nice tiger shots. I recommend anyone wanting to see and photograph tigers: visit Kanha. You will be pleased as it is the best run tiger reserve and national park in the country.

However, Bandhavgarh is a horse of another color. When a tiger is seen, the screaming and shouting that goes on between the drives jockeying for position is the worst I have seen in India. I got three tigers but my agentdriver was one of the main culprits and I had to hold on for dear life. I had one heck of time staying in the jeep as he raced all over the place screaming at everyone to get out of his way. My agent/guide was not there that day to see this fiasco that goes on all the time in Bandhavgarh. The Forest Department here should be ashamed of themselves for letting this develop, and this is played out everyday and needs immediate attention.

Front view of the Taj Mahal in the early morning…!

My agent decided that she would not stay with me and then complained of a sore back, and then abandoned me the next day. The only problem I have with this (I am a big boy and can take care of myself in tiger country) is she went back to Delhi and then straight down to Tadoba Tiger Reserve to go out hunting tigers with a rich Indian client on my money. Both of them managed to get small cubs and a mother, and I think her sore back must have gone away as she posted her trip on Facebook a couple of days later. She charged me an arm and a leg for this trip and I really started to loose my respect for her then.

My final destination this year was the Taj Mahal with my wife Noi, from Thailand. The 17th Century mausoleum attracts about 12,000 visitors a day and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. India’s official recorded history says that the Muslim Mughal ruler Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his third Queen, Mumtaj Mahal in 1643.

We wanted to visit this place together that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is one of the seven great wonders of the world and seeing this amazing monument is inspirational. I told my agent that my wife broke her leg several years ago and had a walking problem. I asked her if she could get a wheelchair for Noi who is 74 this year. I however overlooked asking her about the wheelchair and a dedicated honest guide to take us into the Taj as we left Delhi. That was the most serious mistake that I have ever made with her so far. She should have provided both of these services for us but she let us down by skimming money off the large extra payment we gave her for this last trip.

Me and Noi at the Royal Gate to the Taj Mahal…!

So when we got to the car park the next morning which is 1 ½ kilometers from the main gate, we were surrounded by a group of local vultures that prey on unsuspecting tourists like me and my wife. We finally agreed on a guide and a wheelchair. He was a smooth-talking self-appointed guide and I had my reservations but we went in anyway not wanting to bother too much about anything. We just wanted to see the Taj and surrounding areas. We went around and the wheelchair did come in real handy for Noi.

I came back the next day and I asked if he could get me through the gate again. We agreed on a price. I had my Nikon D4s and my D700 secondary camera with two different lenses attached and another beautiful U.S. $1,400 Zeiss 28mm lens for Nikon in my vest pocket. As I entered the security gate, the lens was lifted from my view and disappeared (stolen). When I went for it to actually photograph the Taj, it was no where to be found, and that was that. The final straw was my agent refused to call us before we left to say thank you and/or goodbye after we paid her a lot of money. She could not be bothered. And the spirits of the forest know that I speak the truth.

Some of you who are friends my ex-agent may not like what I have to say here and may take offence, but the Facebook ‘defriend’ option is right there and that’s fine with me. I have known her since 2014 when she was partnered with another man from Mumbai running a wildlife photography tour agent company. He was the most famous ‘smoker’ awhile back to ever light-up a cigarette in a national park in India that went completely viral. He also did a number on me when he was with her promising the world and not delivering. She also smokes cigarettes in the tiger reserves, usually at a rest stop where she hides, and has most of the guards in her pocket.

This is what happens when you believe in people that are actually dishonest agents with bad intentions and services, and eventually they take advantage of you. There maybe some good ones out there but it will be extremely difficult for me to believe in any of them. I apologize to all my good friends and they know who they are. I rest my case and this will be the last time I will talk about a crooked guide service. But you have been warned and should share this with as many people as possible so that others don’t get ripped off by these two non-professionals…!!  











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A trip to Chambal River in Agra, India

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 posted by Bruce 8:25 AM

Gharial crocodiles and the Sarus crane were the main objective…!

This was to be my last safari on this month long trip to India. The site is situated in Agra, east of Delhi where the famous Taj Mahal is located.

Gharial crocodile by the Chambal River

A female gharial regulating her body temperature early in the morning by the Chambal River in Agra…!

The Chambal River has some very interesting creatures and the main ones I was after were the gharial (thin-jawed fish eating crocodile) and the Sarus crane (the world’s tallest bird). Time was limited and I was lucky to photographed both species in one day.

Gharial crocodile by the Chambal River

Another female gharial and its tell-tale thin jaw for catching fish; they are an amazing crocodilian…!

I stayed at the Chambal Safari Hotel some 70 kilometers past the city of Agra. We left at 5am and arrived at the boat landing where a speed boat was waiting near dawn that was another 22 kilometers from the lodge.

Gharial crocodile by the Chambal River

And yet another female gharial before slipping into the Chambal River…! No males were photographed…!

Within no time at all, we bumped into gharial and I got several but they were all female. The males would slip into the river as soon as they spotted us.

Sarus cranes at Chambal River, Agra

A breeding pair of Sarus cranes feeding and dancing on Chambal; these wonderful birds mate for life…!

But I was happy to get some decent photographs and as the sun rose into the sky, it became dreadfully hot and light was very harsh so we returned to the hotel for lunch.

Sarus cranes at Chambal River, Agra

The Sarus crane is the tallest bird in the world and they are thriving very well in India at several locations….!

Other species captured were the mugger crocodile and Indian blue peafowl in full display mode. Many water birds are also found here.

Indian peafowl male in Chambal

A Indian peafowl male in full display. These birds thrive by the river and are absolutely beautiful…!

Back again at 3:30pm and we motored up the river once again. Shortly thereafter, two Sarus cranes were spotted feeding along a sandy bank. I was delighted and surprised to see how close we got to the tall birds.

Mugger crocodile by the Chambal River

A mugger or marsh crocodile basking in the morning sun. This reptile is estimated to be about 3 meters long…!

I will return in mid-March 2017 when the weather is much cooler and the crocs are a lot easier to see when they need to bask for long periods in the sun regulating their body temperature due to the very cold river. All in all, it was a quick but very satisfying trip to the Chambal River. Enjoy…!

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