Sunday, 14 April 2013

Nagarhole, a much cherished trip in the wild


 Thanks to Ugadi.....we got a long weekend. If by chance you do not know what is "Ugadi" (we also did not know before moving to Bangalore) let me tell you its is the Kannada New Year. We had long planned a trip to Nagarhole in summer, since summer is the best time to spot wildlife in south India. The sun may be hot on your back but the animals might come near the few remaining water holes where you get a better chance of spotting them.

We started early in the morning at 5:00 am. The route that we took to reach Nagarhole was like this:
Bangalore -->Mysore-->Hunsur-->Nagarhole. The distance from Bangalore to Nagarhole is approximately 250 kms and the time required will be roughly 4-5 hours largely depending on how many breaks you take and at what time you leave Bangalore.

The road is good but for going towards Hunsur, there is no marker on the road, we had to ask the locals and they helped us generously. From Hunsur the road goes straight to Madikeri, so we had to take a left turn at Hunsur for Nagarhole. The road is beautiful with gulmohar trees bursting with red flowers on either side of the road. Some people were selling mangoes that were piled up on their vans to cars passing by.

On entering the National Park we had to make an entry at the first check post. Our tour itinery was pretty straight forward. First reach our host's place....... have breakfast/lunch and all....... then again go to the National Park for the jungle safari......spend the night at our host's place.......head out for Bangalore next morning.

To reach our homestay we had to cross the National Park and drive 2 kilometres towards Kutta. Since the speed limit inside the national park was 30 kms per hour we drove really really slow...at 20 kms and 2nd gear :). Soon we got lucky, I spotted something standing very still behind the bushes. I asked Ankur to stop the car and move a little back. There it was ...a big full sambar deer quietly standing behind the bushes. It was so well guarded by the dry bushed that had we drove faster I could have missed spotting this.


Sambar Deer

There was plenty of butterfiles all moving around in patches. Just after a few metres we were greeted by a group of spotted deer.The group consisted of bucks,does and some very cute calves.


Spotted deer pack.

Mother with her calf.
We saw more deer on our way.....some crossing the road, some eating and some caressing their babies.
We also spotted some common monkeys. We heard so many birds's songs......mostly all the sound were unfamiliar to a city ear. Sometimes we stopped the car to see what was making the sound but for novices it was difficult.

We reached our homestay. The owner Mr Narendra Pattu and his wife were really really nice . They had already kept our breakfast ready. We had heard so much about Coorg cuisine and at Mr Pattu's house we tasted the real Coorgi food and I have to say it was mind blowing. Mr Pattu 's homestay is inside his coffee estate. After our late breakfast we strolled in his coffee estate . It was so nice and relaxing. We found elephant excreta and Mr Pattu told us that elephants sometimes come at night in his coffee estate.


Pansy butterfly in Coffee estate.
We were supposed to take the after noon jungle safari. So after lunch we again drove into the forest. Again saw deer. But luck had sometime special for us. We saw a lone tusker.......yes it was playing all by itself on the side of the road. We took his photos and waved him bye...thanking him for standing there and allowing us to take his photos.


Lone tusker by the road

Posing for a photo

Taking shots of the tusker
Next we saw some more deer, magnificent nilgiri langoors and giant malabar squirrels. On reaching the safari office we bought safari tickets.There is only 1 hour bus safari that costs Rs 300 per head. Camera is not charged extra.  


Giant Malabar squirrel, having a bite.
The safari bus took us in the deeper jungles and also near to some water bodies. We spotted more deer, sambhar, elephant, peacock, turtles, monkeys, nilgiri langoors, nilgiri gaurs ,parrots, minivets and some storks and ibises.


Safari timing.

Tortoise.

Young Sambar

Peacock


Slice of jungle

Sambar

Small family.

Another safari bus coming in opposite direction.

Jungle trail

Scarlet Minivet

Indian Ibis
The day was well spent. The next day we woke up early. In Nagarhole there is no need for an alarm clock to get up early. The birds will do that for you. After tea we bid Mr Pattu bye. They were such nice hosts.


Mr. Narendra Pattu, during a tea talk.

Cozy accomodation

Homestay where we stayed
In the morning the forest road looks enchanting....half misty and sunlight streaking in through all possible entries. 


Misty forest road

Namachi checkpost, near Kutta

We spotted some big malabar squirrels happily nibbling on the tree leaves. Then again there were lots and lots of deer. Next to sight was a nilgiri gaur. We were stopped by the shrill cries of a red-wattled lapwing who was strictly monitoring her little ones.We spotted the dad lapwing close by having his breakfast.


Giant Malabar Squirrel

Gaur

Lapwing
  Then we saw two nilgiri langoors enjoying the morning sun. They looked so beautiful with the early sunlight sharp on them.


Langoors, enjoying the morning sun.
The prize sighting of this tour came next. The full credit goes to Ankur. While I was looking up the trees to see any leopards Ankur slowed the car and said me in a hush," Look to our left just on the side to the road.There is a bear". Before I could believe my ears I saw a big black bear near to my car window. The bear stayed for a few seconds before quickly crossing over to the other side of the jungle and disappeared.
I never expected this big a SURPRISE!!


Bear
Bear, running away.

Next we spotted a big sized elephant, but soon it went deeper into the jungle. Then we saw a few cuckoos playing on the ground. We heard some wild dogs but could not see them. Then again Ankur spotted some gaurs. We saw more deer and some chameleons crossing the road.


Elephant

Greater Coucal

On the way we saw quite a few racked tail drongos and finally Ankur managed to click one. We also saw parasise flycatchers and some other birds. Our jungle road came to an end when we approached the checkpost. Now its time to head to city leaving the nature's nest behind.
Racket tail drongo

Entry to the forest.

Nagarhole was a memorable trip and we are sure to visit Nagarhole very soon.

Useful Information:
Where we stayed: Mr. Narendra Pattu's Homestay. Ph: +919945286608
                          (Cost:- Rs. 900/- per person including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack).

Accommodation options inside the national park: Cauvery and Gangotri Lodges. Dormitory is also available. Ph: 08222-252041 (Deputy Conservator of Forests). Email: dcfwlhun@gmail.com
                          (Cost:- Rs.1000-1600/room (not dormitory), excluding food)

Bus Safari Fee: Rs. 300 (Rs. 200 park entry fee + Rs. 100 bus ride).

Safari Timing: 6AM to 8AM and 3PM to 5PM, total 6 bus rides a day. Approx. 1 hour each ride.

Entry gates timing: 6AM to 6PM.

Some more photographs from our trip:



Full grown spotted deer.

Young spotted deer

Rate chart
Curious

Grazing in grassland

Cute, isn't it?
 
Government accommodation: Cauvery Lodge

One of our favourite

Government accommodation: Gangotri Lodge

Near the booking office


Sunday, 7 April 2013

The visit to Kerala, God's own country

During the last 2 years of our stay in Bangalore, we visited several famous tourist destinations around it. Starting from the local charm, Nandi Hills, to beach lovers paradise Goa. Didn't miss any. We saw the winter of Ooty and Coonoor. Crawled the Nilgiris on the the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. We spent one of our summer vacation in Madikeri, Coorg. The list is pretty impressive, isn't it. And it goes on. 

  However, we were yet to visit the crown jewel of Southern India. Well, it definitely deserved some special  arrangements like long vacation etc. And most importantly, to visit a vast and diverse place like this, one needs to be mature enough with his/her travel experiences. After all, it's the God's own country, Kerala.

  The vastness and diversity of the landscape and life in Kerala is so huge, that you need to time everything perfectly. There are famous wildlife sanctuaries that needs a touch of the summer to churn out life. The hill stations look misty and heavenly during the winter. Well, the beaches, don't really need any specific season; but winter is more enjoyable around the beaches.

  After all the calculation, we chose early February as the perfect time for us to visit Kerala. Our trip duration was from 8th of Feb, 2013 to 15th of Feb, 2013. We left Bangalore during the early hours of 8th Feb and came back by the early evening of 15th Feb. As always, our good old Sparky(Chevy Spark) was our chariot. 

  Our trip to Kerala was amazing, out of this world, breathtaking and memorable. To express everything in detail, we decided to divide our blog post on Kerala into a bunch of posts, much like what we did for our Goa trip.

  Here they are. These links are laid out in the chronological order, just the way we actually visited different places in Kerala. 

 Miscellaneous information bout the trip:
  • Overall route:- Bangalore->Salem->Dindigul->Theni->Munnar->Periyar->Trivandrum->Kovalam->Alappuzha->Kochi->Kozhikode->Mysore->Bangalore.
  • Time of Travel:- February 8, 2013 to February 15, 2013.
  • Transport:- Our good old sparky(Chevy Spark).

Here are some of the photographs from our trip:

Chinese fishing nets, Kochi


Sunset at Kovalam Beach

Top Station, Tamilnadu(near Munnar).

Periyar Lake, Thekkady


Alappuzha Shikara Ride, Alappuzha


Some of our photographs during the trip:

The 5 minute break during our Jungle Walk in Periyar.

Soma, having a stroll near the spice garden at Attukal Falls.

  
I'm posing before the Chinese fishing nets, Kochi.
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