Apr 10, 2010

Bandipura - A bike ride...

December 2009 - Christmas weekendThis is one weekend when generally we are planned in advance and this time too we had booked the department cottages at Bandipura National Park for a day through Guru in advance, but Nag and Raja dropped out due to personal reasons and only me and guru were ready to go.
The decision was simple, I suggested we ride to Bandipura on his Rx covering Ranganthittu on the way and guru instantly agreed to this. Its always a dream for me to go on long rides on the Rx and now my time had come :) Unless and until you enjoy a bike ride, its difficult to drive doubles on a long drive because once you get uncomfortable your journey gets interrupted with lot of breaks.
We started off early in the day and reached Ranganathittu by 7:30am in the day. We took the boat ride for an hour for birding and we were not dissappointed.
The Pied Kingfishers, Stork billed Kf, Small blue Kf, White breasted Kf, River terns, Stone Plovers, Eurasian Spoonbills, Egrets, Brahminy kite juvenile all made their presence felt. After the customary breakfast at the hotel there we started off towards Bandipura via Mysore through the outer ring road avoiding traffic at Mysuru city, we reached by 1pm steadily driving at around 70 km/hr.
With 2 days to spare and just a day's booking at the dept cottage, we opted to stay at the Bandipur Plaza just outside the National Park premises, we have been here earlier and it was easy getting accomodation there and relatively cheaper than the resorts with the exception of food only. Wildlife is our main objective and intention of being in bandipur and next we had check the alternates for the safari rides into the park. The depat jeeps were not working and the bus rides were full to the brim because of the holiday crowd, finally we had to depend on the private resort, MC Resort for the jeep ride into the park.
Sighting this time was below par with a lone tusker and the herd of bisons being the saving grace along with the normal chital and sambars. The big cats were again elusive this time (no idea when our luck will turn around?) on our many jeep rides into the park area.
Next day we checked into the dept cottage "Papiha" and our first reaction was wow good man, big, spacious and well maintained, we were impressed. Actually the cottage we had booked holds 4 people, but in real sense around 10 people can be accomodated, its that big! Wonder why the dept does not develop these and market them. To get accomodation here, we had to literally struggle and visit the Mysuru forest office numerous times. All the cottages were full according to the Mysuru office, but the reality was that hardly 2-3 of them were full and the others empty... Why are the ordinary people not given preference? Why? Lot of questions and no answers...! The canteen was functional to our luck and the caterers were a new group and the food served was really good and worth for the every penny we paid.
Next day, after the morning safari we checked out and then started our drive back to Bengaluru. The Rx is such a wonderful vehicle, you never realize how far you have travelled, the stress and strain factor is nil and the vehicle never runs out of steam. You, the Rx, its deafening sound and empty roads...
Well a much deserved break and a good bike ride... wishing for more!!!
Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!

Apr 4, 2010

Simha farms - homestay near Kodachadri

Simha Farms - A homestay in Malenaadu at the foothills of the mighty Kodachadri!
What else do you need? Exquisite environment, beautiful locales, Hornbills at your doorstep, Non-stop bird watching, Cosy cottages, Delicious home food and Hospitable friendly hosts.
Malabar Grey Hornbill had eluded me so far and seeing one such image on INW left me dumbstruck and from there got to know about Simha farms and Adithya Biloor through Ashwini Bhat. More info on this homestay here. Another uniqueness in Simha farms is Mr. Udaya Simha, father of Adithya and who is a sculptor and whose carvings are spread across the estate and they look very real and the pieces of work are exemplary. They also arrange jeep rides to Kodachadri, Hidlumane falls and nearby places.
Nag was not in this time, and Raja had a Sunday wedding to attend at Shimoga, so I, Raja and Guru for a change decided to travel by bus this time around as it was more convenient. 4th and 5 dec were our planned dates. We took the 8:30pm Rajahamsa bus that goes to Kundapur via Shimoga, Ripponpet, Nagara and Madodi, this is the only one that plies on this route. We reached by 5 in the morning the the conductor was familiar with the stop and the homestay and there was a person waiting for us to guide us home. It was still dark as we approached the homestay and there we started seeing the sculptures of deer, bison, apemen who looked like real in the dark. This place is famous for the hornbills who perch at striking distance from you when there is nobody to disturb. The cottages were very good, cozy and traditional and with slight chillness in the morning we had no intentions to sleep.
Adithya came a little later and he also being a photo enthusiast and bird watcher, our conversations started off with both of us having common interests. The Malabar grey hornbills came and perched on the fruit tree right opposite the sitting area and i made some good shots moving at a snails pace. We spent the early morning watching and photographing the hornbills and few other ones that were visible. Then time to fresh up and a heavy breakfast. Strolling around the farm, birding and after a brief rest and lunch, we met the hosts - Adithya's father and wife and saw some of his sculptures. Looks like Adithya's father Udaya Simha's hand is "Made of Gold", seeing the various sculptures you cant hide your amusement and excitement.
Later we hired a jeep to the Hidlumane falls that is at the foothills of Kodachadri. A few kms of nerve wracking jeep ride and then further a small trek to view the falls. The falls is in 4 stages and it needs some trekking skills to reach the last stage. Water was less but the rocks slippery and there were absolutely no souls around to disturb, it was fun time for the three of us. After whaling some time here, then back at the homestay and after a hefty meal, time for some rest. The evening passed with us loitering around doing some birding activity around the farmhouse and near the backwaters close by. Wooly necked storks were the highlight for the evening. Evening time some hot tea with pakodas and games of carrom, what more you require!
Next day myself was the first to wake up past 6, immediately picked my camera and went out for the hornbills. No luck this time, met Adithya and both rode off to the nearby waterbody to shoot some birds in the golden rays. Munia, Barn Swallows and the Vernal Hanging Parrot gave some good moments and there was knowledge sharing b/w both of us on the use of light and background. Raja and Guru joined me later and after spending some time came back to our cottage.
After breakfast we went around the sprawling farmhouse cornering all ends and also to view the sculptures spread across the estate. Heavy lunch and after casual talks we left the place bidding goodbye to the wonderful hosts on our way to Shimoga town.
Raja had a reception to attend, me and Guru whaled time and then we boarded the 11pm Volvo towards nama Bengaluru.
A lovely place, wonderful ambience, lovely weather, humble hosts and a good weekend place away from home.
Care for the nature and the nature cares for you!