Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lakkavalli IB (Bhadra) - River Tern JLR

Read the Part IV here
7th Oct 2009 - From Agumbe, we had no idea on how to approach Lakkavalli. Finally after intensive searching on the net, we stumbled upon a route mentioned in the team bhp forum for whom we are grateful to. The route goes like this to reach Lakkavalli from Udupi side… About 27-28kms from Thirthahalli, you approach a small village Muduba. Turn right into the forest gate here, half a km later turn left and you will reach Muthinakoppa within 4kms. At Muthinakoppa at the T junction, turn left towards Umblebail which is 16kms away. At Umblebail, turn right at the circle (directions shown here) towards Lakkavalli, that is 18kms away. After crossing Kuvempu University and Bhadra Dam, you find a small circle wherein you need to turn right and reach the security gate. Further inside you need to traverse up the hillock (mud road) to reach the IB that is located at the height on the hillock.
Proceeding straight ahead from the circle and turning right at the dead end and following the signboards will lead you to River Tern Jungle Lodges Resort located on the banks of Bhadra.The road conditions were bad, good only on some stretches from Muduba right up to Lakkavalli. On persistent enquiry for booking at Muthodi, we were offered a hall here at Lakkavalli IB. What we assumed that either Muthodi or Lakkavalli, being close to the forests was all that we wanted. So as we approached Lakkavalli village, we were wondering where this IB is in the humane jungle out there. Finally it took some time for us to realize that in the premises of Bhadra dam, atop the hill, adjacent to the human settlement was the IB located, and yes no forests around close by!!! As the Kuvempu University is located very close by and hordes of students visit there and so is the frequency of the local buses that traverse to and fro from Shimogga town.
We reached the IB to find nobody around and the place locked! We were not very impressed at where we had reached but still seeing the immediate surroundings somehow consoled ourselves. Another setback was that the resident cook was away and we had to go without food or survive on what we would find in the nearby hotels some kms away! That really got on to our heads and we started arguing with the person who opened the doors for us, but what's the use? We were already hungry tired of the driving and the hot sun and no food here too, we had to drive back to the town near the university searching for food and we had no choice but to gobble up what ever was served there!! Ok our next action was on what to do for the safari, we drove up till the forest office to be answered in the same old rude fashion - No safari here, we have no jeeps, who told you?!? Ridiculous! and still we are projected as a good tourist destination!!! Horrendous!! and we were suggested to go the Jungle Lodges River Tern resort for the safari! If everyone could afford to go to Jungle Lodges, would India still be a developing country?
<--- Small Minivet male - Lakkavalli IB --->
Left with no choice we went in search of the River Tern resort that we found out quite comfortably but the only glitch is in the approach road is in pathetic condition but signboards are put up for easy directions. The concept of Jungle Lodges is unique and refreshing too.. comparing the callous attitude of the people at the forest office, here you are welcomed with hospitality and politeness that brings a smile to your face! Spoke to the manager there and booked a jeep safari for the next day morning. As the sun was rapidly going down, we rushed back to near the Ib to watch the sun going down. The location was wonderful with vast views of the horizon but the clouds appeared from nowhere to block the sun from seeing us, and we had to be content with only the diminishing rays on the horizon. To the right of the IB there is a helipad constructed for visiting officials and ministers but what stuck us so bad was there was absoulutely no security around.The first time during daytime when we entered, we had to sign in the register and the watcher told after 7pm there will be nobody to check and thats true as we found out later. Literally anybody could drive in and drive out and also reach the helipad, and also get a good view from the bridge constructed near the IB. Ridiculous again!! and we speak about security being beefed up at all the major dams?
The blowing wind with the chillness in the air soothed our minds to an extent and again we drove out hunting for dinner. Time for few gulps for the boys, dinner at a dhaba and we came back to rest for the night. With the pleasant weather nobody was in a mood to lie down and so started our chatting and sms reading that went on and on! The accomodation was comfortable, we had got a big hall all for ourselves with cozy beds and hot water was too available anytime in the day. So atleast we were happy in that regard and luckily no mosquitoes, thank god! This was our day 1 at the Lakkavalli IB.
Day 2 - We were up early by 6 to go to the safari, got ready and reached the JLR camp by 6.45 to be served hot tea and biscuits that we sorely missed all along. We had to wait another big group to get ready as we would be sharing vehicles with them. We were happy with the back elevated seats that gave us a good view of the outside world. The jungles of Bhadra have their own charm, relative to either Bandipur or Nagarahole here its quite dense and thick and spotting mammals is itself a lucky find. Even deers are hard to spot amongst the dense growth all around. The ride is for a hour and a half and some routes were closed because of the rains over the last week. No luck in spotting the biggies even elephants too and we stumbled upon the chital, sambar and barking deers only. Birdlife was active but spotting them amidst the dense forests was next to impossible. Halfway in the safari ride we reached the "Sukhlahatti Inspection Bungalow / FRh" that is over a 100 years old and used by the forest department for patrol activities and leisure. The location of the IB is just perfect if you want to escape the normal world, nothing except greenery all around, you get to hear no sound except the birds and the animals, the air is pollutant free and is very refreshing, the sun goes down and you have nothing else to do other than sleep, Birdlife in plenty and all that you do is just laze around!
We came back from the safari, had another cup of tea and then me and guru went around the campus investigating. Birdlife was plenty here too and walking down the stairs we reached the bridge across the Bhadra that leads to another hillock where there are log huts owned by the Jungle Lodges and that place is just amazing to stay, its like staying on an island surrounded by water all around, the explanation is best left to your imagination! We again booked ourselves for the evening safari at JLR and then on the way back had lunch and with no intention of resting, me and guru went around birding and got quite a handful of them in the surroundings that too late in the afternoon. The evening safari was more or less the same as experienced in the morning, this time the jeep was all ours and the Monitor Lizard, Elephants, Indian Gaur made their presence felt.
The evening routine repeated viewing the sunset with the distracting clouds again from the JLR campus itself and then back to the IB. In the meanwhile, early in the afternoon we called up the Chikmagalur forest office and requested the person there to shift our next day booking to Muthodi and if possible extend it for another day as there were no facilities here and we were truely facing hard times for food and spending a lot on the expensive safari rides. Luckily he obliged and asked us to come to Chikmagalur office and collect the revised slips and proceed to Muthodi from there, this meant we had to now travel round about another 100 odd kms to reach Muthodi that would otherwise be just around 40 odd kms. We just were waiting for this silver lining and not intending to waste another day here agreed instantly. Our next days plan for a early morning boat ride got cancelled in our minds immediately and decided to leave to Chikmagalur early in the day. Dinner and an early sleep with the enthusiasm of visiting Muthodi the next day. In the meanwhile birding on this day was good at Lakkavalli IB with sights of Asian Paradise flycatcher, Small Minivets (male and female), Asian brown flycatcher, Bulbuls, Oriental white eye, Golden fronted Leafbird, Parakeets and the highlight being the very co-operative Eurasian Golden Oriole perched right in front of our balcony. During the winter, the banks of the Jungle Lodges River Tern resort is full of the migrant River Terns all around and is sure a treat to watch. End of day 2 and last day at Lakkavalli reducing our stay from 3 days to 2 because of lack of facilities.
The next Part here...
Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!
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