All posts by Sukanya Ramanujan

Multi-lingual professional with varied interests such as reading, travelling, music and photography.
Sunrise on the Beach

Fisherman’s Cove: Many Faces

I first started going to Vivanta by Taj: Fisherman’s Cove (on the outskirts of Chennai, India) in 2008. It was and continues to be a great beach resort- a place where you have access to a nice, clean and private beach- something you don’t get any longer in the city. However over the years the way I perceive this resort (not always in a bad way) has changed due to a number of reasons.

The Rooms: Fisherman’s cove has a variety of rooms for all budgets- from the bedrooms in the old block to the uber modernly furnished rooms in the new block to the garden and sea view villas. Every room has its advantage and disadvantage. If you want immediate access to the sea and have money to splurge you should choose the sea view villas. If you’re on a budget then you can choose the sea facing rooms in the old block. If you don’t mind being away from the sea but have great views of the lawn- you choose the rooms in the new block. I have noticed that the hotel often has a tendency to give you an “upgrade” when you check in. Mostly it’s just their way of dumping you in a room that they find easier to manage. Once they dumped us in a sea view cottage (when we had booked a room in the old block)- this cottage smelt musty and the hot water and shower didn’t work. This time as well (last weekend) they tried moving us to the new block when I had specifically booked a room in the old block. I later noticed that the new block mostly had Indian visitors whereas the old block had foreign visitors- this smacks of racism and maybe they really had a good reason, but I don’t know. But whatever room you are in (unless it smells musty and that really is an exception) you are assured of a comfortable and memorable stay. They are very strict about check in times. I have almost never managed to get into my room before 3pm.

The Beach: It was a rainy day
The Beach: It was a rainy day

The Beach: This is not a beach for swimming- the waves are violent and the surface uneven and there are strong currents, rocks and whirlpools- so really this is a beach where you stand and jump around on the edge, build sandcastles (if you’re into that kind of thing) or photograph crabs (I’ll cover that a bit later). But the beach is clean and there are lifeguards always herding you to the safe bits of the beach if you tend to stray and security guards patrol the beach 24*7- so 10/10 for safety. It’s a great place to view sunrises and also stars on a clear night.

Sunrise on the Beach
Sunrise on the Beach

Swimming pool, Spa, Restaurants: The resort has a very beautiful swimming pool- it is quite large, but only four feet deep and has a sunken bar. Given that the temperatures in Chennai go above 35C on most days the pool is warm afternoon onwards. It is cool only in the mornings- there is almost nothing the hotel can do about it I think- so just laze around on the deck chairs and read a book. I don’t know much about the spa- I’m not a spa person so will leave that alone. The resort has a couple of restaurants- breakfast especially over the weekends tends to get extremely crowded. They flatly refused us entry and moved us into a dull conference room on Sunday morning- which was a bit uninspiring- the message being get there early. Being a vegetarian I have never tried the sea food restaurant. My advice is to stick to room service- the menu has a good variety, the service is prompt & efficient (except to clear the trays- they ask you when you want them to clear the trays and then never turn up) and best of all it’s cheaper than dining in (esp if you’re going for the buffet).

Flora & Fauna: As I had mentioned before I initially started going to Fisherman’s cove as a beach break but of late (and especially after they opened the new wing) I find plenty of opportunities to observe flowers, birds, insects and all kinds of other things. I have photographed Kingfishers, woodpeckers, bee eaters, geckos, squirrels, loads of flowers, butterflies and even the odd snail. The lawns near the new block are divine. Even on a sunny day you can take a book, spread a blanket under a tree and just relax. Must do that one of these days.

Garden Pathway
Garden Pathway

Service: Of late I have noticed that you don’t automatically get the Taj level of service until you actually complain or demand something and then you get an excess of it. Overall the service level is still much better than what you would get at a regular hotel anywhere in the world.

Verdict: Definitely worth a visit- it’s hard to go wrong with the Fisherman’s cove (especially considering other choices in Chennai).

Later Gators

Don’t pick a fight with a crab

Little crabs are normally hard to photograph on a beach- they are nimble, quick to go under the sand at the least hint of movement- not just because of humans but also because of crows scooping them up and having them for breakfast.

This little one seemed to have a lot of attitude. It insisted staring at me and my camera for quite a while before deciding to go underground.

You wanna fight? huh?
You wanna fight? huh?
Didn't think so!
Didn’t think so!
Later Gators
Later Gators

The Danaid Eggfly

Yep- another one on butterflies.

To be honest, I had never even heard of the Danaid Eggfly until I actually saw it this last weekend. I was quite drawn to it because of how the butterfly looked completely different- and I mean totally completely different when looked at from the top and when looked at from the inside. Almost like a person who has two completely different personalities.

Danaid Eggfly- from the top
Danaid Eggfly- from the top. Photographed Covelong, Chennai, July 2014
View of the Underwing- Danaid Eggfly- pokes random blade of grass in the foreground
View of the Underwing- Danaid Eggfly- pokes random blade of grass in the foreground

When I did some research I also found that the females of this species come in different forms- some look like their male counterparts whereas others look like Tiger or Monarch butterflies (who incidentally are toxic to certain predators because of the alkaloids they eat when they are caterpillars- hence the interest in other species to mimic them so predators avoid them thinking “Ugh! Food poisoning”.

Fascinating, dontchathink?

Oh and btw their scientific name is Hypolimnas Misippus.

Plains Cupid?

Butterfly Dance

Plains Cupid?
Plains Cupid- Covelong, Chennai

I was photographing this flower on Sunday morning- when I was almost done, I noticed this small butterfly standing still on the flower right next to it- I could have easily missed it – it was that still.

I spent a lot of time trying to identify what this butterfly was- I’m not an expert. I think this is the Plains Cupid but do correct me if I am wrong.

Stained Glass Art Display at the Musee de Cluny, Paris, France

Window Art- East & West

Window Art of an Apsara from Doi Mae Salong, Thailand
Window Art of an Apsara from Doi Mae Salong, Thailand
Stained Glass Art Display at the Musee de Cluny, Paris, France
Stained Glass Art Display at the Musee de Cluny, Paris, France

Glass has always been a spectacular medium for artistic expression.  Much was made in the days of old – before artificial lighting about how art on these windows could be  observed inside during the day with the sunlight pouring in or at night outside with the light of the candles illuminating the figures to passers by. It is probably one of humanity’s basic urges to find a surface to tell stories and windows were no exception.