We (Kalyan, Phillip Ross and yours truly) set off on a pleasant Sunday morning, amidst not so much traffic, far far away from concrete jungle and towards a more natural forest. I was very very impressed with the quality of Mysore-Bangalore 4-lane highway (last time around, I had slept for much of the journey) and also the food at Kamat Lokaruchi, one of the several popluar drive-in restaurants. Discussions for much of the journey hovered around bird watching (not the colloquial type but the literal one) and needless to mention, much of it flew past my head in a jiffy.
We adopted the outer ring road near Mysore and about 90 minutes drive, through snake-like roads through the hillish area, took us to Jungle Lodges & Resorts in Kyatadevara Gudi (popularly known, amongst the people who know it, as K Gudi). Being an ardent admirer of natural beauty, it wasn’t hard at all for me to figure out why Kalyan, Phillip (and many more) had fallen in love with this place, especially when one takes into account the variety of flora & fauna it has on its menu!
- Literature Search & Clothing: Very unlike of me, I didn’t do any literature search about this place and/or what it has to offer. As a result, I carried few wrong colored clothes (shades of green, brown and deep blue are the preferred ones) and was feeling dumb during many a discussions. For some reason, I didn’t carry warm clothings and the forest can get pretty nasty cold at nights. Might not have been cold cold (as in Michigan’s Upper Peninsular) but my not-so-great health forced me to buy JLR sweater and jacket.
- Good Equipment: I wouldn’t say what I had was bad but a 70-200mm VR lens and/or 200-400mm VR lens with camera that shoots more frames per second (like Nikon D200) would have been simply great. I am still happy with quality of some of my pics. Other things that I should have carried include a decent binoculars, a compass, etc.
- Keener Eye: During one of our safaris, Kalyan and Phillip were busy shooting a Crested Serpant Eagle and after about a minute, I quitely ask, Mandanna, where is the bird?. Keener eye would definitely have helped me shoot more birds and Birds of Southern India (or something similar) would have been a good book to read up (and use it as a reference) to help myself identify the birds.
- Forest Manners: During the same safari, I was very very previliged to see a tigress (with two of her cubs). Well, how much lucky, you ask? It has taken some people few 10s of trips to this place to sight their first tiger and one of them, I have been told, hasn’t been able to see one even after 20 years. Actually, I wasn’t deserving to see it but people surrounding me (Kalyan, Mandanna, Phillip) were all long due to see one and I was just lucky enough to be with them at the right time 😀 That wasn’t the stupid thing I did – we drove around a bit and rest of our group saw the tigress and the cub (while /me had zoomed in and was seeing only the cub). Like a tube light, it took a while for me to see the tigress and immediately started shouting in a mellow tone, Tiger, Tiger; there is a tiger too and everybody else thought I had seen another! Failing to curtail my dumb excitement would have costed us dearly – in terms of some better shots of the tigress and did cost heavily w.r.t. shots of cubs 🙁
- Jumping out of the jeep on the wrong side to shoot Wild Dogs
- and so on…
Below are some pictures taken during many of our safaris – most of them were through the unusual routes that even some of the regular visitors hadn’t seen before.
If you are wondering as to what’s the point in shooting such wild life (insects, birds, animals, etc.), you probably aren’t the first one. And, it’s probably in such situations that DVG’s Kagga comes to one’s rescue:
A crude transliteration of the above verse/hymn means: “Doesn’t a major portion of creation seem wasteful? Is there any meaning in creating millions of worms and insects? The creator is being extravagant without thinking” — is the explanation given by people with half-insight.
Back To Bangalore
The return journey was pretty much similar and we decided to try out the much talked about Nandini Infrastructure Corridor. There were couple of good things – first, there was no toll fee and second, road (and side views) is an awesome piece of work. For a while, I felt like I was zooming through some freeway in US and I just cannot wait to see this road in full glory – when one can travel from Bangalore to Mysore in just about an hour! Health seems to be better but still there are some nagging issues – if they don’t vanish soon, you probably know where I will be for much of my remaining time in India 😀