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.