If anyone asks you if you want to see a lake turn red what would you say?
We reached Chikmagalur around noon. Raghu, our driver told us that we would have to keep the plan for going to the mountain the next day. So we did not know what to do. Raghu came out with a plan and I liked the way he had prepared and taken a print of the places to see. So first we went and saw the coffee museum. Later he took us to a nearby lake. He told us that the main attraction of this particular lake is that by sunset it will turn red. The color of the lake turning red, I didn’t believe him but as there was nothing else to do, we decided to visit it.
The houses and the trees on the way to the lake reminded me of many European villages we had passed through. I starting recollecting the beauty of the mountains, lakes and some spectacular sunsets we had seen in Europe.
Below is a photograph I had taken on Fuji camera my sister had gifted in 2006 in Munich. Only after taking the picture, did we notice the reflection of this beautiful swan.
Later I bought a Canon EOS 350D camera. Each of us would take our turn to operate the device with various options. It was a privilege to carry that around with Tripod. Those days everybody would wait for their turn to have the EOS camera and shoot the photos like the ones below. It was a perfect blend of snow on top of the mountains and a beautiful stream of vegetation separating the lakes.
With all these expectations, we reached the lake by 5PM and I was prepared to pack off immediately. It was a nice little lake surrounded by hills and some open pastures where cows were grazing but I was comparing the place to the pictures in my mind. The only saving grace was that there were no shops or vendors around. As the only other option was to return to the hotel we decided to spend some time there.
In the next 45 minutes, we spent our time taking photographs and enjoying the beauty of the place which I was slowly beginning to appreciate. There were hardly any people around and we had the place all to ourselves. All of us, including my in-laws, were embracing the surrounding beauty. My daughters were taking pictures in all angles. My younger daughter was turning in all directions and taking photos at her will. She particularly liked the “Slo-Mo” mode. This time all of us were capturing the pictures at their whims and fancy. We noticed that each of us had a camera in our hands-our phones. Call it the democratization of photography. It was not a crowded place until that time. Every time, at the back of mind, only one thought was echoing “when will the lake turn red?”
There were also a few interesting things we noticed. I did not know about cattle egrets. My mother in law explained in detail about them as we saw a lot of cattle and egrets together. Cattle egrets follow grazing cows and eat the flies and bugs that tend to bother the cattle. The movement of foraging livestock also dislodges various insects from the field, witch cattle egrets feed on. This type of symbiotic relationship is called commensalism. Apart from that my mother-in-law told us about all the different kinds of birds which we saw on the horizon.
Soon the sun started to set and within the next few minutes, people started pouring in large numbers, it was a sight to relish. There are very few moments in life when the natural beauty of lakes, vegetation, flora, and fauna come together to present a picture of pristine beauty. And as we started taking pictures of the setting sun, Raghu’s words came true, the lake started becoming red. It was a beautiful moment and I thanked Raghu for getting us to that place.
We did not expect this in the beginning when Raghu said, “the lake will turn red”. I dismissed him lightly. Every moment we were spending time with the thought that the Red Lake was a fantasy, and in our mind, we were not sure. Finally, when it happened we were surprised
It was a lesson to keep exploring and never take people lightly and I had taken him for granted. We had a good time with family thanks to his knowledge of the place and the way he directed our curiosity to wait and watch to see “Lake turning red“. Also thanks to my family for having some great conversations, cracking jokes, clicking photos around the lake. The lake conversation and the ensuing beauty made me feel good and as always I picked a golden nugget.