Rudrapur, is a city in Uttarkhand (uttara-northern, khand-land). The city is located in the fertile Terai region of northern India that is crisscrossed by rivers which flow from the Himalayas. On a clear day the Kumaon ranges of Himalayas can be sighted like a misty dream.

My husband lives in an apartment that oversees a  mustard field. A railway line runs along the apartment block and on the other side stretches sugarcane fields and  woods filled with poplar trees.


It was winter in Rudrapur when I visited, and I took long walks to keep myself warm during the day. I left home soon after breakfast and came back  for lunch, went out again till late evening to ramble through fields and visit villages tucked behind woods and  paddy fields. This became my routine everyday.

There was hectic activity in the fields. It was harvest time for sugarcane and green peas. Tractors were loaded with harvested sugarcanes and the pea plants were hurled to the backs of bicycles and tricycles. The peas were shelled overnight and taken to the market the next day morning.

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I walked past farmsteads that grew wheat.  Poplar trees formed boundaries to farms and villages.

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Poplars are deciduous trees and were bare, their thin fingers pointing to the sky.

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I sat at the edge of the woods and painted these trees.

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It was my second day outdoors. A young man rode past on his bicycle, he came back.
‘I saw you near Fauji Matkota yesterday,’ he said.
I showed him the painting from the previous day. He was curious to know about me, why I had walked so far.
‘It is cold inside the house, and it is warm and beautiful out here.’
He nodded as he looked at my other paintings from the sketch book. He showed me the water color painting of the sea.
‘Where is this place?’
‘Near Chennai. Have you heard of Madras?’
He flipped through the pages in the book, looked at the paintings from my travels. As if he finally discerned what I do with my time, he pointed ahead.
‘Come to my village Burrarani tomorrow, there are beautiful fields that you can paint.’

We chatted for a while, he told me that he owned a tractor and lent his services during harvest time. He brought my attention to the poplars, showed that the trees were planted in perfect rows.
‘I run my tractor between the trees where wheat paddy is grown.’

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The next day I went to Burrarani, and painted a paddy field and the poplars that stretched beyond. I did not meet the young man. He told me the previous day that he had a job in a tinkering shed in Rudrapur when there was no work for him in the farm.

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We were at crossroads as a family when we planned this holiday in Munnar. My husband had taken a new assignment in Uttarkand, I had to stay back in Chennai to take care of my ailing mother-in-law, and my son who had just then completed college was on the verge of a new phase of life. It was a difficult decision we made to function as a long distance family, and the more we thought about it the more desolate we felt. That was when we thought a holiday would help.

A year later and after many visits to the picturesque Uttarkand, I am posting these paintings from my visit to Munnar.




Kandaghat Thereabouts

I spent a week in summer, about six months ago, in Kandaghat. Based there, I visited Shimla, Mashobra, Tattapani and Narkanda. It was a relaxed holiday, I painted through the trip sitting at these sites for several hours while my family and my brother’s family trekked and explored around.

It is important in art journalling to write the impressions soon after a trip. This blog comes six months after I made the trip, experiences fresh and significant at that time, have receded from memory. All that I have to share are these paintings. 

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River Sutlej in Tattapani



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Nectarines and Cherries from Shimla


I went on a sketch trail to Bandipur forest. I stayed in the bungalow located within the reserve forest, for three days. Herds of deer grazed the backyard of the guest house, there were tales of tigers and leopards being spotted. An elephant camp was next door, from where a tusker, a mother elephant with her calf that was only five days old ambled to the watering hole located beyond the bungalow.  

I was out through the day, painting and sketching. I painted most of these at the sites, many of them done as wet on wet style. 

I have been dedicating most of my time to writing, and have not been painting much. Filled with guilt I filled my book with these paintings and sketches. I had a lot of time to be by myself and reflect. I have emerged out of the forest with a resolution that I will remain balanced in 2015, I will paint as much as I write.

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The Retreat

I participated in a three day Retreat led by Samdhong Rinpoche. The Retreat was held in Valley School, a hundred acre spread of property allowed to remain wild. We followed a loose schedule, with large tracks of personal time to remain in quietness with ourselves. The only way I remain in close touch with myself is through writing and painting. The place was too beautiful to spend time indoors writing.  It rained intermittently, and when it stopped the Sun shone unabashedly, pulling dragonflies out of their haunts. Birds called feverishly from the tall trees. The earth bled red and runnels of water flowed across the pathways in the forest. 

On one of my walks I found this beautiful tree in the neighbouring property. I stood in a clearing away from trees and bushes as I painted, just a few minutes ago I saw a long snake slither into a bush beyond. I widened the gap in the barbed fence and explored the neighbour’s property which was overrun with tall grass and thick growth of cacti. Just beyond the fence that you see in the picture is a large banyan tree with its dense arch of aerial roots. I did not have the time to paint the banyan tree, I was already late and  ran just in time for the meditation session.

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I sat on a stone bench that oversaw the cross road between the thickly forested cover.  After a brisk and intense downpour, the cloud cleared and the light was magical.

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Mornings were mesmerising, I followed a path that led me here. Under the tall trees where I stood to paint it was still dark, but the pond and the bridge were suspended in the lucid morning light.

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There is a lake, my friend said, beyond the Art Village. She took me there and asked me to join her in time for the meditation. Again, I just about made it, I mean to the meditation session! The lake kept me pinned to the spot. I finished the painting very fast, but the luminosity of the water as it reflected light was captivating.

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On an afternoon that I could not go out to paint because of the rain, I drew this from my porch. This is the view of the forest from my room.

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Lake and Forest

I have come to Tumkur to participate in a simulated archaeological dig with students. That is work, an exciting one at that. Tumkur offers me so much more excitement than that. 

Just opposite my school is Basti Betta, a hillock that has a Jain temple on stop. My friend and I got up early and climbed the hillock, I witnessed a glorious sun rise. I sat on a rock and sketched the Mydala lake. I finished this painting on the site, and I don’t think there is anything more that I can do to the painting.

In the evening, even after the strenuous archaeological dig, I had enough energy to go to the forests of Devarayana Durga. It was raining, but nothing could bring me and my friend indoors. We walked through the forest, my friend lead me to the Forest Department’s library building. I sat outside the building and painted these two views.




The hills surrounding Kotagiri town in Nilgiri, are covered with acres of tea plantation. It becomes difficult to see a hillside like this, that breathes with species of plants and trees other than tea plantation. Most of Nilgiri has lost its indigenous tree cover of Shola forest, and has been replaced with tea plantations, plantations of eucalyptus and teak trees. The Shola trees have high ecological significance in protecting the waters of rivers by holding up of water received by precipitation, and they are home for several birds, animals and insects. A well pruned hillside is a scar and a threat to ecology.



Avalanche Road, Ooty

The drive from Ooty through Avalanche Road to Avalanche Forest Reserve and Upper Bhavani is picturesque. Rolling mountains stretch on all the sides, they disappear at a distance into blue haze of the sky. Clusters of tile roofed houses are tucked between folds of mountains terraced for farming. 

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St Thomas Church, Ooty

Just a stone’s throw from where I stayed in Ooty, St Thomas Church was located. Built in 1870, this is an imposing structure, breathing history in its presence.

During my morning walks when fog hugged the mountains I stood outside the closed gate of the church, on the road, and made several sketches. I made a few sketches from the side of the graveyard, I made these too from the road. If I had hoisted myself into the church by scaling the wall, I would have got a breathtaking view of the Ooty lake.

The graveyard at the church attracts visitors because a scene from the film adaptation of E M Forster’s ‘A Passage To India’ was shot here.