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Nature undisturbed

October 26, 2009

I love nature and nothing gives me more peace that being under the  bare sky with nothing in sight except pure nature.  The more devoid such places are of human habitation, the better it is. Being in a deserted place makes it easier to communicate with nature. Whether it is a sunset, or a lake or a mountain, the joy is in being alone with it. The feeling itself is difficult to describe. I would like to say it’s a spiritual feeling, spiritualism of the ultimate kind. I can understand why early man thought nature was God. Nature is godly. I know I’ll get this feeling if I ever leave the Earth and go  into Space.

I’ve been lucky to see many such breathtakingly beautiful and isolated places in India, whether near Ooty, near Uri in Kashmir,  or in Arunachal and Assam, as I come from an Army background and got to see places untouched by tourism. In India an area which is  “protected” retains its natural beauty. Either that or places which no one has heard of and no one goes to.

Switzerland has many isolated spots where one can enjoy nature and the best part is that the ordinary public has access to them. Whether poor or rich. The area needn’t be cordoned off because it’s a “protected” area. It’s an area accessible to all and sundry, but it has a  “protected” look. The Swiss protect their land. They leave no traces of their human presence, thus enabling  others to enjoy the place. They leave it as they find it. This quality seems to be ingrained in them. It’s an awesome quality.

Here is a photograph of a lake on the way to Mount Titlis. From the photograph below you can imagine why we fell in love with Lake Trüb although no photograph can do justice to the beauty of the place. One has to be in this valley to know what it is like. It’s gigantic, surrounded by massive mountains and their icy streams. To get an idea as to how large the lake is, you can check the second photograph and see the boat house which is a barely visible dot in the first photo at the bottom right of the lake. We walked down to this lake, from the point from where we took the photo.


I took hardly any photos of the lake because I wanted to enjoy it. Ever notice how taking photographs disturbs the true enjoyment of a place? We spend several hours walking around the lake and simply drinking it in. There were hardly any people here although we did see a few picnickers who came and left, leaving no evidence that they had ever been there. Apparently there are also tourist excursions to see the 4 lakes around Lucerne but most tourists on packages don’t take this tour.

Here are photographs of the surrounding area. The first two photographs were taken from the cable car:

This is a photograph of a cow which is sitting alone. I took it because I thought it encapsulated the spirit of the place. The lonliness, the isolation, the peace and tranquility.

The next photograph is from another area, on the way from Interlaken to a place they call Top of Europe. This is the train that we took

And this is a view from a speeding train on the way from Paris to Zurich. You can  get an idea of how fast the train was moving.

These are just some of my favourite photographs, the ones that have great memories for me. If you ever go to Switzerland, be sure to go off the beaten track. And if you ever go to any beautiful place in India leave it as beautiful as you found it.

(All photographs are by me and copyrighted)

Related Reading:
A foreigner’s impression of London, Paris and Switzerland
Interesting signs from Europe
All posts on Travel

49 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2009 10:26 pm

    ‘Ever notice how taking photographs disturbs the true enjoyment of a place?’ – Oh yes! I have experienced it so many times! I just don’t want to take photographs sometimes, simply because I feel it will spoil the moment.. And sometimes, though we do take photographs – I regret it as I feel that it detracted from my enjoyment of the moment..

    You are so right about everybody ‘protecting’ the place in places like Switzerland. If we had the same sentiment of protecting our beautiful places, we would have by far one of the prettiest and cleanest destinations on earth..

    • Vinod permalink
      October 27, 2009 8:04 am

      Interestingly, I find photography that is usually done by the non-specialist a major put off. I seldom take pictures of myself or of any occassion. Photographs capture nothing of the moment for me. It is too superficial. It takes a lot of skill to get a photo that also conveys a meaning. The meaning of the moment is more important to me than the moment itself. If the photo cannot capture that, I think it is a waste.

  2. October 26, 2009 10:59 pm

    Munnar, is a place in Kerala which is decently green (till about a few years back when I went there – especially when compared to Ooty, not sure about it now). I was talking to a couple of local people out there and they seemed to adore big cities. They were telling me how big and brilliant the cities are with their tall glass structures and huge roads etc. Whatever impressions we have about places like city/nature, they seem to have the exact opposite impression! Well, the grass is always greener on the other side – ain’t it??🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • Vinod permalink
      October 27, 2009 8:06 am

      It has to do with man’s inability to balance the various tendencies/aspirations in him to derive happiness. Cities have somethings to offer and places like Ooty have something else to offer. Unless one knows oneself and how to find fulfillment from such places and to what extent there will be a never ending search for the perfect place and a constant sense of dissatisfaction. I think before exploring places it is worth thinking about happiness itself.

    • October 27, 2009 9:28 am

      @DI

      I went to munnar two years back and it was awesome…🙂

    • Vinod permalink
      October 27, 2009 10:32 am

      Moving from cities to natural virgin areas allows man to find his place in the universe and that stepping out of one’s self conceited world to the real world can be humbling and thereby spiritually uplifting.

      Moving from hilly mountaneous regions to the cities can give one a sense of the possibilities for human creativity and craftsmanship. That too can be very spiritually uplifting.

    • October 27, 2009 11:14 am

      I guess if we have a good idea of happiness, we would not be bothered about the place… I am not sure though…

      Destination Infinity

      • October 27, 2009 12:15 pm

        DI, you have brought out a point that is very significant. Does happiness have anything to do with the place one lives in? I say yes because it depends on people. Artists, and sensitive people need a particular environment to be happy in. Environment can also mean being surrounded by positive thinking people. In a negative environment, whether physical or mental, some negative energy is radiated outwards and affects behavior. This is what I always believed in because to me the environment matters a lot. I like tp surround myself with positive thinking people and I enjoy beauty. It is possible to get physical beauty in a city too, by not living in a cluttered house full of things. I think there is even a survey which says that people’s behavior is affected.

        • October 27, 2009 5:50 pm

          As a happy person I can say that happiness does not depend of the outside. That is for sure.

          However I would say that the the need of being surrounded by beauty of nature and may be some welldone handmade architecture is a basic need. It is what gives the quality of live. May be not the happiness (how many Swiss are happy people? This is the country with one the highest suiside rates!)..but something very essential.

          • Vinod permalink
            October 27, 2009 6:24 pm

            I recommend the book ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ by my favourite philosopher (he doesn’t know that I am his biggest fan though..heck he doesn’t know I even exist) Alain De Botton.

          • October 28, 2009 7:21 am

            Axinia, while it is true that the outside doesn’t matter, only very few people can achieve this state. For most people, ordinary people, the environment matters and I don’t mean just nature. I mentioned negativity. There are office environments for eg which are filled with negativity, households filled with negative people and this atmosphere can affect the happiest person.

      • October 27, 2009 12:20 pm

        How do we define happiness, DI?

        In US, the statistics shows that Seattle has maximum depression cases because of the heavy rains. Yes! the gloomy climate has effect on people. It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter blues. So environment matters.

      • Vinod permalink
        October 27, 2009 8:11 pm

        DI, place matters. Analyzing one’s inner framework for happiness and checking with how much of that can be filled by the place and how much cannot is essential.

        Regards

  3. October 27, 2009 9:26 am

    Awesome… simply superb🙂 🙂

  4. October 27, 2009 10:14 am

    Smitha, whenever I travel anywhere in India I see plastic bags and broken bottles. Its a terrible situation.

    DI, I guess the city has its attraction but it can never be good for one’s soul. As for Munnar, that has been on my seeing list for such a long time! Hope I can make it within the year.

    Vinod, in this aspect I am the opposite in the sense that photos bring back memories for me. Often I look at old pictures and re-live the moments. And I don’t think taking a photo for one’s own pleasure and the pleasure of family and friends requires too much skill. Making a living out of it, yes.

    sakhi, thanks.

  5. October 27, 2009 10:37 am

    The pictures are breathtaking. The place we live now is a lot similar to the ones above. I like clicking impromptu pictures. Just capturing the moments for me. I like to reminisce such beautiful moments.

    We went to Ooty last year and the place was so dirty. It shocked me because it wasn’t like this before. The prices have gone up but the place is just not worth visiting.

    Like you, I’ve been lucky to see many breathtakingly beautiful and isolated places in India. The ones that aren’t open to people are still so green and natural.

  6. Vinod permalink
    October 27, 2009 11:17 am

    Nita, for future plans of similar experiences you may want to consider Montana (in US) and countryside Japan, if you haven’t been to these places already.

  7. October 27, 2009 11:43 am

    amazing..and breath taking🙂

  8. October 27, 2009 12:18 pm

    Solilo, you are lucky to live in such a beautiful place! At present I too live in a very pretty place, but that is restricted to the colony I live in. Outside the world is dirty and noisy.

    Vinod, I have not been to Montana nor Japan. Japan I hear is very expensive to go to. When I go abroad again, maybe after some years, my wish is to go to either Vietnam or Brazil. I have this strong desire to see the Amazon forest.

    Vishesh, thanks.🙂

  9. October 27, 2009 12:58 pm

    Pictures are very nice .These will help bring back memories someday.
    No doubt ,Swiss is a beautiful place and a lot of areas are protected because the state is serious about-environment and tourist traffic.
    I can give two examples of
    HIMACHAL PRADESH
    MUNNAR.
    in India which if protected and looked after could be better than Swiss.HP has some of the most beautiful sites which have been unexplored and not protected. One will not see a poly bag or a broken bottle anywhere around the place.Such are the ideal place for those who wish to spend some time with themselves.
    Those could be considered as good as some of the spots in Swiss.
    I wish,the state Govt had done enough to promote tourism and protected those areas.May be some Babu will read your post and act..may be.

  10. October 27, 2009 2:12 pm

    Lovely photographs… I agree with you I have often felt I am too busy taking pictures to enjoy a view or a moment completely.. though that taking of a picture is a joy too!

  11. October 27, 2009 3:40 pm

    Lovely Pics Nita. Specially loved the last line of your post – to leave the place as beautiful as we found it. This is the most important thing, I believe!!

  12. Joss permalink
    October 27, 2009 4:59 pm

    I have not been able to travel too much lately, but I have a large garden and I have really made the most of that instead. I took many photos of it this year, now that it is ‘finished’ but it almost seemed as if the pictures were of a different place. I think it is to do with the difference between 2D and 3D. Looking at a picture, the pleasure is all about art – composition, colour and light. But looking at reality is more to do with imagination and experience. What would this view look like from the top of that mountain? What is behind that hill or tree? How would I feel if I was there rather than here? Old photos of familiar places you haven’t been to for a long time are, however, an experience in themselves.

  13. October 27, 2009 5:51 pm

    Nita, thank you for this beautiful sharing.I love your note on nature, this is so profound and wise…Photos are great, I enjoyed a lot. Basically very similar to Austria.

  14. rags permalink
    October 27, 2009 6:22 pm

    Nita, you made an important point. City life can be led sensibly and can be enjoyed if one takes care of the immediate environment.

    That said there is the fact that some people are just predisposed to sadness. Whatever the situation, whatever the environment I usually find it very hard to be as happy as my friends who just seem so filled with sunshine. I have tried to be like them but I’ve realised my happiness threshold is well.. not like them. Moderate happiness in the best of situations is what I can manage.

    • Vinod permalink
      October 28, 2009 10:39 am

      Rags, consider yourself blessed. Those of your friends who are filled with sunshine are capable of also getting filled with dungeons. While you may not get the sunshine you don’t get the dungeons either. A narow amplitude for emotions has its positives.

      • rags permalink
        October 28, 2009 7:47 pm

        Thanks🙂 I have found that the best way to drive away the blues is by dancing. That gives you a real high even in the gloomiest of days. What am I even complaining about… I’m only 23.

  15. Suresh permalink
    October 27, 2009 6:30 pm

    Hi Nita,

    The photos are wonderful. I also suggest/recommend you to visit a place called “Rajahmundry” (www.rajahmundry.net) in AP and plese write your experience/reviews(if you get a chance to be in AP)

    Thanks,
    Suresh

  16. October 27, 2009 6:56 pm

    The pictures are wonderful and they capture the climate, the peace and the beauty to whatever extend they can…

    And I completely agree when you say that capturing it on film does result in the photographer not taking in the beauty right before their eyes.

  17. wishtobeanon permalink
    October 27, 2009 7:13 pm

    Hi Nita, beautiful scenery, especially, the first one with the emerald pool…
    For me, living in beautiful places or looking at beautiful sights gives me the most pleasure and happiness. Now, if only the cities in India would grow in a sustainable way, by not sacrificing the green cover!

  18. October 27, 2009 8:33 pm

    The pictures are nice. Although I believe one may get better panorama of nature in India. We have that vast variation of geographical positions right from the andaman nicobar to the western ghats to Himalyan ranges.

    But who cares for nature and forests in India? Nah, no one.

    I wrote about it recently, about Indian forests and how to preserve them!

    Its so easy to provide perfect ways to improve and conserve natuire, its so difficult to impliment them although, because implimentation requires abolitoion of government control and exploitation over nature.

    • Vinod permalink
      October 28, 2009 3:37 pm

      Gargi, I recommend reading the story of Montana’s environmental problems in Jared Diamond’s ‘Collape’ for an informed view of government role in it and how anti-govt attitudes can sometimes work against environment protection.

  19. October 27, 2009 11:46 pm

    the photographs are really lovely Nita… and as you have rightly mantioned ‘Photography affects enjoying that place’.. Just now I have thought about it.. It affected me few times😦😦

    and I love to go to places which is least visited by humans… because we could see the true beauty and hear the language of nature🙂

  20. October 28, 2009 7:16 am

    BKC, good to know that there are placed which are not dirty and littered. Have you looked down a valley though? I find that a place looks clean until one checks behind a rock or looks down a valley. Picnickers throw their dirty stuff down a mountain!

    IHM, yes one is torn isn’t it! To click or not to click!

    Nova, I agree with you.

    Joss you have put it beautifully”

    Looking at a picture, the pleasure is all about art – composition, colour and light. But looking at reality is more to do with imagination and experience.

    I simply cannot describe the feeling I got while looking down the mountain or even the feeling I got when I was in the valley surrounded by just sky and mountain and water.

    Axinia, I am sure Austria is very beautiful too. Look forward to seeing it one day.

    rags, you are right, everyone has a happiness threshold. But I think one can raise the bar slowly.

    Suresh, thanks for the suggestion.

    Aathira, thanks. Actually this happens to me often and I want to get over the taking photos quickly. As a result I do not always bother to make adjustments to the camera. For example in some places the glare is too much, and one needs another setting.

    wishtobeanon, I feel angry sometimes at the way our cities are growing, unplanned. At the corruption and the indiscriminate cutting down of trees. Someone simply has to give a bribe, take up a place meant for a park, cut down the trees and build a tower. its happened in mumbai again and again.

    Gargi, thats right. I do think that India has a lot to offer.

    Kanagu, you said it!

  21. October 28, 2009 8:32 am

    Nita, I agree that sometimes we miss the moment in trying to capture it in photographs. The other side of the story is that you enjoy the moment captured in the photos even after many many years of visiting the place.
    The last line of your post was very important //And if you ever go to any beautiful place in India leave it as beautiful as you found it.//

  22. October 28, 2009 2:29 pm

    Nita: I agree with Axinia that happiness is intrinsic. I recall once blogging about someone who told me she found my sunniness irritating which greatly amused me.

    That said, it really is easier in sparsely populated cities and countries to preserve nature, buildings, whatever. Where populations are large and dense, such as in India, people are forever in each other’s faces. The reaction to that, as a reflex, is not to feel at peace and harmonious. (In that respect, living in cities such as London, is not quite the same as living in a Highlands community where you see another person after, may be, 10 miles!) That, I believe, is the reason why as soon as their wealth allows, people in crowded countries ensconce themselves in exclusive, gated communities. (Here, our MPs and even very wealthy people happily use the Tube to travel and live within the community. Mostly.) Resources are few and everyone wants them, leading very quickly to the tragedy of the commons. The existence becomes, not always out of choice, very primal. The rejection of any responsibility happens quickly too because it is always someone else’s job to keep things in order. Which may be why many do not appreciate what India has to offer (not just to visit and photograph, but to preserve and not to plunder).

    By the way I am all for photos. The second most stunning view from my house has been in Zurich when I could see Uetliberg. I never took a picture. Not when it was snowclad, not when it was not. Now only I know what it was like to wake up, pull the curtains and look on the mountains. So when I lived in a house with the most stunning view, I took photos. Every day. Now I have 1000s of pictures that remind me of the colours over Scottish skies and how light played over the waters I could see from my house.🙂

  23. October 28, 2009 2:34 pm

    I agree with Prerna!! Photos create memories, capture a part of your time and life! wonderful pics!

  24. Bombay wadapav eater permalink
    October 28, 2009 6:22 pm

    Nice pictures. If there were no borders defined, you could call it Austria or South Germany or South Tirole or for that matter Himachal Pradesh or Ladakh.
    In Germany it is the same with the protected land. It is for free and beautiful but if you look carefully, you do find a chewed gum thrown or tissues or plastic wrappings or foil from someone’s sandwich. People with low civic sense do throw things deliberately but sometimes it is the wind that blows the wrappings from the bins away. I have noticed this myself or a magpie trying to get a shiny wrapper out of a bin. In the US tho’ most of the lovely nature and proctected area fall under national parks and you have to pay quite a sum to get there like the Yosemite, Redwood, Sequoia, etc. that I saw. They have bear-proof bins everywhere and big placards saying “dumping can cost upto 1000$” but still I have noticed litter.

    In India too when I went to parts of Bandipur and Mysore or even some parts of Borivali national park surrounding area which is protected and you can enter only as a forest officer family member or WWF, I did see a lot of gutka wrappers. The guide himself ate gutka and threw the wrapper and I had an argument with him. It was the same in the protected area of Sunderbans around Calcutta and areas in Kerala where permission was required and it was a very expensive guided tour to spot tigers. The problem is that most of the adivasis cannot distinguish between biodegradabe and non-biodegradable wrappings. A banana skin might look ugly but eventually it will decompost but not a gutka plastic wrapping or what they called “arak” wrapping. The adivasis drank this rice alcohol wrapped in plastic called arak (I guess) all the time in the forests in Mysore. If there was no plastic and wrappings were made only of biodegradable substances, it would probably solve the problem and a bit of education.

    I hope that soon Kashmir is open and safe to all and I guess it is as beautiful or even better than Switzerland if the need to compare? Or at least the people will be warmer and friendlier than what you described in your Swiss experience.

    But war is nature’s biggest enemy and only we humans can promote peace. The effects of war are not only seen on nature but in many coming geneartions like deformed children in areas where bombs were used or tested (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, parts of Russia)

  25. Lakshmi permalink
    October 28, 2009 6:26 pm

    It’s sad that in india you have to go to ‘protected’ or unfrequented spots to enjoy what should be everyone’s birthright – peace and natural beauty. We’ve destroyed everything that’s green, and our cities are overcrowded garbage bins. But it’s our choice…this is the society we have built…and must live in.

  26. October 28, 2009 6:46 pm

    nice photographs.

  27. October 28, 2009 6:56 pm

    Prerna, Reema, Xylene, thanks.🙂

    Shefaly, thats a good point, about the difference in cities and country. In fact there would be a difference even between London and Mumbai. For eg, when in London, we could sprawl on the lawns and enjoy the peace without anyone staring and that enabled us to be in the moment. Where happiness is concerned I think it is a complex issue and happiness itself can be broken up into contentment, joy etc. Overall though yes I do agree that happiness is inward, although outside influences can tend to disturb, but they will be temporary.

    Bombaywadapaveater, yes, India is far off from a time when littering is stopped. Even protected areas have litter and plastic litter is the problem. I wonder what it is that makes people not litter. Is it just the laws, or is it something they are taught from childhood? I think its more the latter because on my tour I saw a sight that I cannot forget. A mother chastising a small three year old for throwing a sweet wrapper on the street. It was pretty harsh and it was in public and I was a little taken aback at the anger on the mother’s face.. She was saying, how many times I have told you… I don’t remember where exactly this was. But I think in India we should teach this to our children.
    btw, I don’t know why your comments are going into moderation! I have so many words in my moderation list that at times I am not sure. Or maybe it was the punctuation you used. Am not sure.

    Lakshmi, why say that? Lets hope for a better future?

  28. October 29, 2009 12:25 am

    Its interesting to note how ‘natural beauty’ has become a new ground for nationalistic pride and neo-colonialism. I think as Indians we would do well to let the local people (eg. tribals in Central India) control their own resources and learn to be happy with what we have.

    If one thinks about it there is nothing really ‘beautiful’ about a mountain, its just a piece of rock. I think most of us like them because they give us a sense of superiority and eliteness. Oh, I can actually afford to go to such and such, I have been let into ‘protected areas’ …. and so on.

    I am not anti-tourism, but we should all realize how hollow and pointless it is. Burning thousands of gallons of fuel and releasing tons of C02 in the atmosphere, so that we can go ‘enjoy nature’. What a brilliant idea !

    Vikram, nothing really beautiful about a mountain?🙂 We like them because they give us “a sense of superiority and eliteness” and that tourism and travel is mostly all about showing off? And “natural beauty’ has become a new ground for nationalistic pride and neo-colonialism”.? Frankly for the first time your comment has flummoxed me! – Nita

    • October 29, 2009 10:11 am

      Arre Vikram – why such a display of misanthropy? Or did you eat some overly spicy food earlier today?🙂

    • October 29, 2009 8:31 pm

      of course vikram why would you travel to see a “rock “- you live in a hill country already, flanked by lakes ? don’t you ?🙂

  29. rags permalink
    October 29, 2009 10:40 am

    Overdose of lefty, liberal literature more like it.🙂 Vikram, don’t take this seriously. Only joking.

    BTW, even the tribals that you mentioned like nature, nothing exclusive about that. We are all humans after all.. They are lucky or (unlucky) enough to live there while the rest of us only manage to have a peek now and then.

    • October 30, 2009 1:24 am

      @ All, thanks for the concern🙂

      @anrosh,

      Hmmm, must say your knowledge of Texas geography is surprising. Btw, the lakes here are all man made. They cost quite a lot to maintain now.

      • October 30, 2009 2:46 am

        vikram, i am talking austin here.

        and there is one more thing we here about austin – the hiring companies find it very difficult to lure anybody out of austin, until the deal is a raw one.

        lets get back to nature, shall we?

  30. October 29, 2009 10:59 am

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photographs and memories, Nita!

    I was transported back in time to my trip to the Himalayas.🙂

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