A quick weekend visit to one of our regular and favourite places...
This time it was again 3 of us only, Me, Guru and Raja out to spend the weekend and as the rainy season was imminent we had no hopes of anything. Jungles are not only about Tigers and Leopards, there are others too whom many of us tend to ignore and this is what I realized during this trip!
The peacocks welcoming the rains, numerous Jungle fowls all over the place, countless Chital and those cute little ones and the adult with stylish horns, the heavily built Indian Gaur, the langurs and macaques, the invisible but audible avians and the lush greenery (as it was raining)... the list never ends and added to this the mighty carnivores and the lovely jumbos. But in the name of tourism your heart bleeds when you see vehicles at breakneck speeds, loud shrills of the horns, unblatant people behaving crazy and concrete structures slowly encroaching the greenery! Can't imagine the world without all these, it would be insane stuff!
We left late in the night and reached the park entrance around midnight. As the park is closed b/w 9pm and 6am, we chose to doze off right there. All vehicles going past stop there and are allowed to proceed only after 6am when the gate opens. Rains were continuous over the last 2 days but so far it was only lightning and thunders. At 6am as the gate opened we proceeded towards the forest office with hopes of taking the safari rides. With rains and the safari routes getting slushy and the FD having ill equipped vehicles (no 4WD vehicles available), we had to wait till about 7am for the safari ride in the FD bus.
We had no high expectations with the overcast weather and rather gloomy day, the dancing peacocks, lots of jungle fowls, the ever inquisite but active spotted deers and the muscular gaurs kept us company through the safari ride. Our stay was booked at a homestay (yet to be fully operational) near Mangala village. The place was good and keen but limited options for food! Well nevertheless we got a place in isolation away from the highway traffic. Afternoon we walked up to the Mangala dam along with a guide on the fringes of the bandipur national park where frequent man-animal conflicts happen (especially with the tuskers). Then again back to the forest office for another 2 rounds of safari rides. Waiting near the reception office, you get to see the antics of the macaques who literally pluck any packets visible in your hands or sneak into open windows of cars! People feed the monkeys and the chital inspite of warnings and because of this you find them in huge numbers near the reception area. You should observe after dusk, there are huge gatherings of chital near the reception area and FD cottages as the place is relatively safe from predators and easy availability of food! Sounds ridiculous but this is what is seen at Bandipur or Nagarahole!
Next day, there were plans of another small trek to Anekatti range but finally we decided to go ahead with the safari rides again. Chital or the Spotted deer were our only constant companions on these rides too with in between glimpses of the dancing peacocks. Later in the afternoon we road back home with the mandatory stop at Haripirya hotel at Mandya for food.
Another highlight of the trip was that Raja was the main driving force behind the wheels and I had the luxury to rest full stretched. He is mastering the art as to get experience before his "Figo" hits the highway.