We started from Chennai at 4.15p.m on a Friday evening excited that are weekend plan was on. In a few minutes the Rain gods blessed us with mild spells setting a jubilant mood for the drive. We halted at Bangalore for the night and hit the roads again at 5.30a.m in the morning, before the city could get into action. The plan was to take the State Highway (SH-17) to reach Mysore and then proceed further towards Bandipur Wildlife sanctuary. We stopped over at Kamat Laukri, just after Ramnagaram for breakfast – nice place that serves traditional south Indian breakfast. The weather was mild, the drive was refreshing. We reached Mysore and the stretch from here till Nanjangud doesn’t offer an effortless drive. After carefully maneuvering the many pot holes, the road to Gundlupet was uniform. As the road way was inching towards Bandipur, a renewed silence engulfed the atmosphere with serenity hanging around the vicinity. We turned off our music and began listening to the birds chirp. We were getting accustomed to the environment and slowly drifted into the clatters from the wildlife in the forest. As the gentle breeze kissed our cheeks, we transcended into another space. We spotted Deers right at the entrance way to Bandipur and few Elephants as we crossed the forest. We were glad that our wildlife spotting began early.
We crossed the Karnataka State Border, entered into the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve area. We continued to blend with the acoustics of the nature and finally saw some civilian activity as we approached Masinagudi Town. We had clear directions and maps from the web and hence we could proceed without any stop over’s to Bokkapuram where most of the resorts are located. We had our bookings in ‘Jungle Hut’ – a lovely property to unwind. As we drove in, the landscape of the property was welcoming us with a broad smile; little did we know that the people who run the place would wear a broader smile. It is run by a family who live in the property – there is a home touch in everything. It felt like holidaying in a place where travelers were welcomed to join them, share their joy of being with nature. The hosts are very courteous and hospitable. We dumped our baggage in the cottage and walked around the property, immersing in its beauty. Absorbed in its tranquility I rested myself on the hammock to continue reading my book – ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’, didn’t need a better book. The pulchritude of nature allured me to establish a connection with ‘thy’. I rested my book and closed my eyes, slipping towards a quieter inner space. I went into a deep state of relaxation, being comforted by the chirping birds, buzzing insects and hissing branches. Mild breeze gently gliding past my ears, the chillness piercing through my skin, I was deep in my own space. Ecstatic. I didn’t want to get back to the real world but this is my abode now. I quietly returned to the serene surroundings.
We wandered around and settled down in the lounge – again a nicely done place. We spent time talking about nothings over a drink. The resort guide briefed about the variant Safaris and Treks that we can engage in. We quickly decided to do both the safari and the trek. The guide was very amicable. I didn’t want to do the Safari as we don’t get to sight any animals in the Safaris; at least the ones I have done so far and heard of. The guide was sweet talking and I thought why not give it a chance, after all animal sighting is a Chance. We had to start for the Safari at 3p.m; it was to be 2-3 Hr Safari deep into the Bandipur reserve. We went refreshed ourselves and dived into food. The resort has a Buffet system; all their dishes are tasty, Home style. The food is not exotic but is variant, cooked subtly to smack our lips and fill our stomachs. The desserts are very yummy. We finished lunch, unwound a bit as the deer sprawled around our cottages. It was time for the Safari. We drove in our vehicle into the Bandipur national park. Mr.JP, the naturalist who accompanied us for the Safari was educated in forestry. Wildlife and forest is his way of living. Both the guide and JP shared lot of information about wildlife with us that made the Safari interesting. For the first hour we really didn’t spot any animal, nevertheless the ride through the forest was enriching. We spotted Sambha Deer (Female) first; they were licking from the Salt pits made by the forest department. I have never seen a Sambha Deer before. It has reddish gall that seems like an open wound but isn’t. Sambha Deers are Tigers favourite hunt. Little further we sighted Bisons(Female) drinking water from a pond. All our animal sightings were close encounters – really worth it. It was the experience of Mr.JP that came in; he would spot the animal far away, turn off the engine and wait. He would then take us closer to the animals. We saw Monkeys, Deer, Peacock, Mongoose, Sambha deer (Male) and Serpent Eagle. It began to drizzle enhancing the experience. We saw a herd of elephants against the misty backdrop of the rain, dozen elephants inclusive of three baby elephants lead by the matriarch. Awesome. Our Safari came to an end. A chance well taken. We had to drive back to the resort in the dark. We spotted Male Bisons on the way and our guide was close to spotting a Leopard. We either missed it in the dark or he mistook it for a leopard.
Back to the resort, the evening was harmonic. We spent time idling at the lounge, indulged in a game of Pictionary. They have many board games and books stocked. It was an idyllic evening – small talks, a game of Pictionary, dinner and drinks. We woke up the next day early for the trek. It was guided trek in the hills behind the property. We were in a group of 8, it wasn’t very tough trail. A trek into the forest is always exciting. Two days back a couple on trek saw a bear, we weren’t so lucky! I was hoping we could spot more wildlife but we had to be content with the flora. We trekked to two high grounds from where one gets good view of the landscape – Breath taking. Little higher up, there was a stream, drenching one’s feet in a fresh stream of gushing water after a trek is rejuvenating. It was time to take the decent, the clouds were hovering above and we treaded back to our resorts.
We went straight to please our stomach; the trek had acted as a good appetizer. We finished breakfast, had little time before we could check-out. I went back to my hammock, completed my book – content in imagery and words. The book planted many seeds to be watered. We were all set for our journey back home. It was a refreshing break away from the routine. A very short trip that has left a lasting impact. We bid adieu to the hosts and made a silent promise to come back again on another day.
Route: Chennai – Bangalore – Mysore – Nanjangud – Gundlupet – Bandipur – Masinagudi.
[Mysore – Nanjangud stretch is patched with many potholes. Rest of the stretch to Masinagudi is smooth.]
Stay at: Jungle Hut, Bokkapuram.
Food: The resorts serves buffet. No restaurants can be found in the vicinity.
Food on the roads: Plenty of Dhabas and Eating outlets can be found along the Mysore-Bangalore highway.
Activities: Safari and Trek. Bird watching, Elephant feeding can also be done.
Best for: Relaxing with family and friends away from the hustle-bustle of the city life.
Making a mystical connection with nature and wildlife.