Visiting the southern Indian state of Karnataka is always an exciting experience. It is a treasure trove of culture & heritage that boasts of truly oriental flavour as well as splendid natural beauty. It has some of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in India. The southern part of the state is part of the Nilgiri biosphere range which is contiguous with its two southern neighbours Kerala & Tamilnadu. And it is the call of this truly beautiful wilderness that brought me here in November 2013. This blog will cover Kokrebellur, Bandipur & Nagarhole as part of the BNHS camp and Coorg (Kodagu) on my own with friends.
After a 4 hr flight from Vadodara to Bangalore via Mumbai I had a certain nostalgic feeling about spending 2 nights in this city. For 2 years of my life, it was my "gyan bhoomi" - yes, some decades back I had my schooling in this city at one of the finest schools - Sophia. Back then it was known as the "garden city," or "Pensioners' paradise" or even the "air-conditioned city." Not anymore! for better or worse, it is now a concrete jungle and one of the fastest growing cities of India and is best known as "the Silicon Valley of India." Places like Hebbal & Jalahalli which were my abode & known for their serene cantonment ambiance are now bustling commercial & residential areas. In short, other than the Vidhan Soudha, the Palace, Lal bag or Cubbon Park, there was nothing else that I could recognise from my earlier sojourn! My friend Meena Wadhwani & I spent the following day exploring Bannerghata National, Park 25 kms from the city. Despite its high sounding title, we are disappointed to note that it wasmore of a stimulated Zoo!
As BNHS members from all parts of India meet outside the railway station on a pleasant morning, a great air of expectancy prevails. We catch up with our camp-mates old and new & take off for our first destination - Kokrebellur en route to Bandipur. Time is of essence as we need to arrive in Bandipur to be able to do an afternoon safari.
Bandipur and Nagarhole (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) are part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. See map below.
Visiting Kokrebellur is a dream come true after watching the documentary "The wings of Kokrebellur." It is a unique example of how human beings have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. This small hamlet, 80 kms from Bangalore plays host to a large number of iconic birds - the Spot-billed Pelican that visit the area for nesting. Indeed the name "kokre" means birds in Kannada (language of the state). There are a number of other birds that visit the area and the Painted Stork is also known to nest in large numbers in this area. Villagers not only allow the birds to nest, but actively feed and protect them. They consider them their daughters who are returning to their parental home - what a homecoming! In turn, the droppings of the bird serve as a rich source of fertilizer for their crops. What a synergistic co-existence!
|Nesting of the Spot-billed Pelican, this Pelican is the smallest of the Pelicans found in India|
|Egg of a pelican that had fallen from the tree|
|Above & Below - Tiger at Bannerghatta National Park|
|Tailed Jay at Lalbag|
Bandipur is situated on the Mysore Ooty highway and is 220 kms from Bangalore. Sadly, the highway cuts through the sanctuary & with traffic going at lightening speed, can cause accidents when mammals cross the road. It is contiguous with Mudumulai Sanctuary in Tamilnadu After a quick check-in & lunch at the Jungle Lodges & resorts run by the Karnataka State Governemnt, we get into our open jeeps for the first safari. Our driver cum guide is Boma. He is very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna & over the next 4 safaris we see some interesting birdlife though the Tiger & Leopard elude us.The forest is infested with Lantana which makes viewing a little difficult. Added to that, the morning safaris are misty which makes photography quite challenging!
Please click on "older posts" tab below right to see photos of Nagarhole, Ranganathitt & Coorg
|Spotted Deer Stag|
|Striped-necked Mongoose is a lifer for me|
|Hoopoe - a striking but very common in all habitats in India|
|White-bellied Drongo is a winter migrant to the area|
|Catching the sunset with my zoom lens|
|Crested Hawk Eagle|
|Jerdon's Bushlark is a lifer for me|
|Crested Hawk Eagle - frontal view|
|Web of life - the web of the Giant Wood Spider taken on a misty morning|
|Grey Junglefowl found in Peninsular India|
|Spotted Dove - a beautiful dove that is common in most habitats|
|Pied Bushchat - another commoner|
|White-breasted Kingfisher - a good population in the area|
|Jungle Myna hobnobbing with Spotted Deer|
|it is grooming time for this handsome Spotted Deer!|
|Red-headed or King Vulture|
|An old Shiva temple situated atop a hill that draws many Pilgrims|
|No this is just a painting in my cottage - appropriately call Tiger Cottage|
|Turtle on the forest floor|
|Gaur or Indian Bison - the largest Oxen in the world|
|Crested Serpent Eagle - good population in the area|
|Mock charge from a female elephant. She desperately wanted us to go & our jeep witnessed 3-4 mock charges until she finally gave up & retreated with her herd|
|Elephants are charming social animals|
|Spotted Deer running for safety|
|Entrance to the National park|
|Entry to my resort|
|A view of the undulating road to the sanctuary|