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Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai Fulcrum Tours and Travels P Ltd Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai   Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai
Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai
Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai
Fulcrum Tours & Travels - India - Chennai
  Media Reports
Outlook Traveller, August 2008

Bird Watching in Chennai

1. Collared dove 2.Great horned owl 3.Ashy prinia 4.Shikra 5.Small blue kingfisher
6.Coucal 7.Red-whiskered bulbul 8.White-breasted Kingfisher 9.Hawk cuckoo

Bird Watching in Chennai, Tamilnadu

Readable Version Of The Above "Outlook Traveller" Article

Vaishna Roy finds bird magic in the heart of metropolitan Chennai

When I train my glasses on the tree about room ahead, at first I can only see branches. Then one of the branches slowly resolves itself into a shape. And I take in my breath sharply. It’s a phenomenal sight. The great horned owl, sitting there like an ancient god, about two feet high, surveying the land within a majestic head that surmounts what looks like a lion’s mane. I could watch it for hours; it’s magical, like something that apparated out of Hogwarts.

Just as magical is the fact that I am in the heart of metropolitan Chennai. The reserve forest of Nanmangalam where I am standing is a stone’s throw from nasty, dusty Velacheri. In fact, my car is parked on the main road and we just walked into the woodland that lines the road here and stretches across to Tambaram. This dipping, rising stretch of wooded hills and valleys, filled with birds and other small wildlife, is one of the last bits of green still standing, and it’s gut-wrenching to wonder how long it will be before the insidiously expanding city eats this up too.

As we stand atop one of the hillocks, we spot Indian robins and bulbuls, palm swifts and koels and drongos in profusion, and a glimpse of the great owl as it takes off for another perch in the forest spread out ahead of us; while away to the right, the white urban sprawl with its boxes and chimneys crouches menacingly on the edge of the green.

From one such white concrete box I have emerged, much earlier than normal for me, four mornings this last month to discover the joys of birdwatching in Chennai. Well, to be honest, I am one of the lucky few who sees white-breasted kingfishers, purple sunbirds, even hoopoes in my garden, and I wake up this time of the year to the piercing call of the glossy black koel who nests in the mango tree in my backyard. But I am greedy for more, so I collar Capt. Subbu and we head first to the Guindy National Park, one of the World-wide to be located in the middle of a city. What a find! In the first few minutes, we spot rufous treepies, magpie robins, red-vented bulbuls, kites, tailor-birds and parakeets; and the abandoned polo ground inside is awash with yellow and red-wattled lapwings with their distinctive ‘Did you do it?’ cries. With shouts of surprise we greet the sight of dozens of endangered star turtles walking ponderously about the field, while a brown hare darts away, a mongoose looks up surprised, and deer, naturally, are all over.

Next visit is Nanmangalam, whose highlight for me is the fabulous owl, of course, but also a clear sight of the majestic coucal (or crow pheasant), the black-shouldered kite, and the shikra, a type of hawk. We also spot the ashy prinia, spotted dove and common iora, thanks to Capt. Subbu and his extraordinary eyesight.

The Pallikaranai Marsh is liable to make you a bit miserable. What used to be 100 sq km of birds’ paradise has been systematically reduced by development and dumping to a measly 10 sq km today, with mountains of rubbish still looming over the rest. What’s left of the marshes you see from the mephitic roadside, which means it’s not exactly a delightful walk but you get up to such a wealth of birdlife that anything seems worth it.

Stylish black-winged stilts, plump purple moorhens, darters, herons and egrets abound. You have to be careful to avoid occasional sightings of the Naked Rumped Human but aside from that it’s pure pleasure. We head for another stretch and there’s a pristine white pelican meditating on the gleaming water, surrounded by a host of dabchicks swimming and fishing busily.

There’s a solitary flamingo, waiting regally for a careless fish, while a few dramatic black-headed ibis float by. Then we get lucky – a pair of the rare glossy ibis lands right in front while the pheasant-tailed jacana, in exotic breeding plumage, saunters in the background.

The Adayar estuary, seen from the broken bridge a the far end of Elliot’s Beach, used to once teem with water birds but habitation has put paid to that, and of course, it’s the wrong season. It still makes a charming vantage point though, with land birds galore. I see my first green bee-eaters and Loten’s sunbirds in dozens but I’ll treasure most the spectacular sight of a veritable flock of coppersmith barbets, resplendent in red, green and yellow, landing on a bush just a stretch away.

I have always traveled far – Bharatpur, Ranganathittu, Vedanthangal – for the pleasure of birding. And now I discover this booty in my backyard so to speak. I’ve decided I should reward myself with a fine pair of binocs.

Best Time: 5am-8am, September – March.
Carry: Water, binocs, favourite field guide, snacks.
Avoid: Big groups, small children, cellphones, strong perfumes, tetchy co-walkers, going alone.
Contact: Madras Naturalists’ Society (044-24995833, www.blackbuck.org.in).
Birder and MNS member Capt. K.R.Subramoniam undertakes guided tours (9841575740, captsubbu@fulcrumtours.com).


The Times of India September 18, 2008

The Times of India - Fulcrum Subbu Article

Readable Version Of The Above "The Times of India" Article
Dated 18th September, 2008

A route through traditional India
Nidhi Mukundan | TNN

Chennai: He’s always been ready to try his hand at any job that comes his way, and from serving people to helping people discover India,
E S Subrahamaniyam has come a long way. After close to two decades in the hospitality sector, during which he handled everything from front office to sales, Subrahamaniyam left the industry at the peak of his career to start his own tour and travel company.

Fulcrum Tours and Travels, which plans customised itineraries for travellers, primarily focuses on inbound travellers and also organises tours for participants of conferences and conventions.

Subrahamaniyam, better known as Subbu, wanted to break away from the traditional plans his family had for him. He cleared the probationary officer examinations for Canara Bank in 1982, but decided to join the then Spencers’ Group.

Subbu says he always wanted to be in a people job. “When I worked in the hospitality segment most of my time was spent in the hotel — I lived there. I met more people, handled their needs and problems.”

He started as a management trainee in Taj Connemara and then rose to the position of lobby manager by the end of 1988. To take a break and understand the other aspects of the hospitality sector,
Subbu worked as the regional sales manager in Le Meridian in Chennai for a couple of years, before joining Park Sheraton. The variety of his experience, Subrahamaniyam feels, is the reason he is able to handle his customers in the travel business. “Since I did everything from marketing to front office to sales, I am able to answer anything that my customers put to me.” Finally in 2004, Subbu left the hospitality segment as a front office manager.

The shift, he says, simply had to be made. “When you work for a hotel or even an airline you work only with them, you can talk only about them but when you start your own venture your first loyalty is with the customer,” he says.

So when
Subbu started Fulcrum in 2005, his aim was to show people the real, traditional India, and specifically south India. “I wanted to reach the global traveller,” he says. A year later, his former colleague K R Subramoniam joined him at Fulcrum as director. Incidentally, Subramoniam also made a very interesting career shift from being a captain in the Indian Army to a job in the hospitality sector to Fulcrum.

Subbu says he has not regretted making the change but there might be more moves on the cards. “Next year I have been offered the opportunity to lead a chain of eco-friendly resorts in Tamil Nadu. I conceptualised the idea and by 2009 it should be operational. I’ve always wanted to run a hotel chain where I would be able to give people a sense of the traditional India,” he says.


Subbu - CEO, Fulcrum Tours & Travels, India
LED BY HIS DREAMS: Subrahamaniyam

  Outlook Traveller

The Times Of India
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