A ride into the lap of mother nature..

Biking is not my passion, but it rejuvenates me when I accelerate my bike into serenity. This time it was myself, Ganesh and Venkatesh who planned for a road trip to Kemmangundi via Muthodi forest range.

Early in the morning at 5.00 am, we started crusing on NH –75. The weather was cool and most welcoming. After about 2 hours we took our first pitstop at Swathi delicacy for breakfast. After gorging onto the delicious Dosa and Vada, the last thing amiss was a cup of hot coffee. The taste and aroma of freshly brewed filter coffee is purely out of world.

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Venkatesh joined us at kunigal, and we started our journey towards Chikamagalur. The cool weather was soon fading away and replaced by harsh dry heat from the sun. By 10.00 we reached Chikamagalur, unable to move further we halted for a tender cocnut to quench our thirst. After touring the town, we planned to have lunch and leave towards our destination, Kemmangundi.

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As we drove through the city, we finalized on all the places we had to visit during our stay in Kemmangundi.

Our first destination was Mullayanagiri. The up-hill drive was simply superb, the greenery on either side coupled with the cool breeze was just the perfect trail mix.

To our surprise Mullayanagiri was dry and was not covered with mist, making the clear blue skies a perfect picturesque background to capture beautiful pictures. And luckily enough, as we were about to reach the hill top we spotted a black eagle. I was excited and pulled out my camera to photograph but it was too late.

Venky did not volunteer for a short trek to visit Shiva temple, myself & Ganesh took half an hour to make it. While climbing we spotted Oriental skylark, Red whiskered Bulbul, Blue rock thrush, Honey Buzzard.

Mullayanagiri, which I visited couple of years back was no more the same, it has become a commercial tourist spot with lot of crowd and eateries. Now it was time to move towards Bababudangiri…

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As we approached Bababudan giri, due to Tippu Jayanti the area was crowded with lot of tourists. We skipped after seeing the mad rush and continued towards Kemmangundi. There are two roads which will take us to Kemmangundi, one via kemmangundi main road and the second through Muthodi forest. The first is the best for a normal peacefull travel to Kemmangundi, but my passion towards wildlife inspired me to take the second route. Compared to the first choice, here the roads were bad and bumpy, risky coz in case of a puncture, no help could be found. Nevertheless, we continued on this exciting route and I must add the biggest loss in taking the first route is the experience of travelling through the jungles.

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The green carpet welcomed us as cool breeze continued to keep us fresh and moving, no tourists around, only the three of us. I guess it was the best time for birding as there was a lot of activities which we could see and hear. We spotted Common Kestrel, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Yellow browed bulbul, Red whiskered bulbul, lesser flame back woodpecker.

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The time was around 4.00 in the evening we had another 2 hours to exit the gate and 20 odd km to travel more, we stopped in between and enjoyed the nature for a while. We heard series of alarm calls from the valley, the silence… the vibrant colors of nature… shrill calls of barking deer were mesmerizing.

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Finally, by 6.30 pm we reached kemmangundi forest check post, our vehicles looked sturdy, but we dint share the same sturdiness and we had to crash.

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After casual chat with forest guard, we left to Rajabhavan guest house, it took an hour for us to complete all the formality and check into our rooms.

The rooms were decent and clean. All we did was freshen up and settled down outside balcony for a long chat with lot of snacks. The feel of lazing in the wilderness is something I always look forward to.

Next morning a small walk around the guest house gave us an opportunity to spot some beautiful birds (Greater Coucal, Drongo, Scarlet minivets, Purple sunbird, flame back woodpecker)

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A small trek up to Z point gave awesome panoramic views of western ghats.

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With this we had to wind up our short stay at Kemmangundi. Breakfast in the guest house gave some energy to start our journey back to Bangalore.

We reached home safely back by 7.30 pm and so ended our shortest biking trip.

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The road we took:

Bangalore–>Hasan–>Channarayapatna–>Belur–>Chikkamagalur–>Mullayanagiri–>

Sitallayanagiri–>Bababudangiri–>Athigundi–>Kemmangundi.

 

 

 

 

Tadoba –the abode of the wild…..

When a man wants to murder a tiger, it’s called sport; when the
tiger wants to murder him it’s called ferocity.
– George Bernard Shaw

Tadoba is always special to me, when it comes to sightings it has never disappointed me. Waking up to the chills of early morning, to watch tigers ramble, to hear the breathtaking roar, to catch a glimpse of dholes which are on prowl, Tadoba always has its small packages of surprises in store for me. Be a part of my wildlife odyssey to Tadoba to experience the magic.

This time it was a new clique who joined me for TATR – Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

[Amit, Sindhu, Gowri, Amruth, Deepthi and Ashank
We reached Chandrapur by train on 28th Jan 2013 by 4.00Pm. My friend Shalik Jogwe had arranged transportation to Moharli MTDC. By evening 6.30Pm we checked in to our rooms and relaxed for the day.
The next morning was our first safari, we woke up by 4.30Am in the biting cold and packed our camera bags and waited for Ganesh our jeep driver to pick us up to Moharli gate. Ours was the first vehicle to reach the gate; Nilakant, our guide joined us at 5.45Am and we started the most thrilling game safari. 

Nilakant took us to Jamoon jhora via Telia Lake, since we could not find any fresh pug marks near Telia Lake we continued on the trail. 2 vehicles were already present at Jamoon jhora waterhole waiting for the glimpse of the tiger. According to sources, tiger movement had been seen in the same vicinity for the past couple of days. Our jeep was parked at suitable location which helped in clear sighting of the beast. Several other wildlife enthusiasts visited the waterhole but dint care to wait. Our guide was persistent about us staying put where ever we were. After a complete 3 hour wait, just out of nowhere, not even the sound of the leaves rustle, the tiger appeared through the meadows. The excited murmur of everyone as they spotted the tiger was indeed a great moment. And there it was, walking majestically towards the waterhole, unperturbed by the sound and commotion, to enjoy its morning exercise. We could hear only the sound of clicks and all of us where awakened in seeing the beauty drinking water, it was one of the sub adult tiger of Wagdho’s family.

 After few minutes its sibling also gave company, we were totally carried away in sighting 2 tigers at one shot and for me it was first time in my life to behold the scene.

It was time to retreat after marvelous sightings of big cats.

After a good lunch at Saras resort recapitulating the photographs captured in the morning safari and talking about the experience we passed our time waiting for second safari to begin. Ganesh our driver parked the jeep first to enter the game road.
We met eminent wildlife photographers
3. Mr. Malikarjun
5. Adhi Nagaraj Gowda
They all were very humble, down to earth, with immense knowledge about photography and wildlife conservation; we were amazed to see their collection of photographs. It is amazing and I need not certify as everyone knows about them. These masters gave us tips on photography; they shared their wildlife experiences and many more. The company for future safaris was truly red hot…
The second safari started at 2.30Pm, Nilakant guided Ganesh to drive straight to Jamun jhora waterhole. As expected all the vehicles drove in the same direction. The reason being very obvious….TIGERS HAS BEEN SIGHTED AT    THE WATERHOLE….
Ganesh approached the waterhole slowly and parked the vehicle aptly. And behold… 2 tigers were already there resting on the boulder under the shade. It was only a matter of time when a third tiger came into the picture and joined the others.

The muteness absorbed the surrounding for a while we could only hear shutter clicks; it was filled with fun and thrill to watch playful tigers. We spent good quality time for more than 3 hours in the evening. It was an awesome experience in the wild recapping about the extraordinary encounters.

With exaltation we started our morning safari hoping to sight the tigers again. We directly drove to Jamun Jhora. Even after 2 hours wait no action took place, it was time to leave and head to other game routes.

The morning safari yielded no sightings of wildlife other than few birding like White eye buzzard, Shikra, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Jungle Myna, Black shouldered Kite, Oriental Magpie Robin and few more to say.
After lunch we all gathered for second safari we passed our time by discussing about morning wildlife sightings and understood none of them got a chance to sight a tiger at Jamun Johra waterhole.
We entered the game route with greater expectations; this time we did not wait near Jamun Jhora instead we took Telia route and also visited Pandarpouni waterhole. However we were not blessed with tiger sightings that evening, it was time to leave the park and Neelkant suggested hitting the Kolsa main road and traversing Kolsa range might yield us in some sighting.


We moved on examining each nook of the forest for any action to take place. As we drove on the main road I saw a small animal crossing the road, it took me a few seconds to realize that it was the leopard. I was taken by surprise and nudged my driver to slow down but he could not understand and stopped the vehicle suddenly. The leopard got a hint of our presence and fled to the nearby scrubs. A glimpse of the stealth predator made us feel really happy and it also proved Neelkant has good knowledge about tracking and the Tadoba forest range.

After having dinner we relaxed for sometime playing UNO cards for an hour or so.


The next morning was our final day at tadoba, we had 2 safaris to toss our luck. It was windy and nail biting cold had engulfed the range. With hot sip of coffee we started our wildlife odyssey, as a routine check we drove straight to Jamun Jhora without any luck we moved towards Telia waterhole even there we could not trace any pugmarks. On the way to Pandarapouni waterhole we spotted 2 wild dogs which were relaxing on the roadside, it looked like their stomach was filled with  lavish meal, and as proof we saw spotted deer’s leg in its mouth it showed the clear indication of a kill.

 

We were not fortunate enough to sight the biggest male tiger [Wagdoh male] which crossed the road once we left the pit stop.
While returning we spotted a male guar beside the road which was calmly grazing and Rufus Tree pie which was busy cleaning the flies which are usually near eye lashes. Our morning safari came to an end without any sightings of big cats.
In the noon after lunch we spent some time photographing few birds near MTDC Lake, we could spot few migratory ducks, common hawk cuckoo aka brain fever bird, Black headed Ibis, Asian open billed storks, Painted storks, spotted owlet, Pied Starlings and few more.
   
We gathered near Mohrli gate for the safari at 2.15Pm, scorching heat was making us feel tiresome. Our plan was to go over kolsa range without waiting at any other waterholes. As we entered the track the pugmarks were visible in the path but we could not pick up after 200 mtrs. Nevertheless we moved on with hopes, two farmers came running in the field, we stopped our jeep to know why they came running and found a tiger is sleeping near by Nullah [water body]. An hour of wait near the nullah did not yield any sighting other than a loud roar.
During this time a rare mammal, four horned antelope also called as Chousinga crossed our way, it stopped for a minute and evaded from our sight.
Our trip came to an end without any sighting of cats that evening. It was a memorable trip to tadoba.
The harmony between wildlife and nature can truly be experienced just by being in midst of it. The call of the wild and the sound of the wind is all it takes for a person to fall in love with nature. Well… just by being in love isn’t enough… is it??? Taking care matters.
Conserve wildlife…conserve forest!!!
Mode of transportation we took:
Departure from Bangalore
         – Bangalore to kachiguda express – 6.15pm
         – train number 12786
Departure from hyderabad by kachiguda to chandrapur
        – secundarabadh jn to chandrapur -10.00am
         -train number 12791
Departure from chandrapur
        -dakshin express : chandrapur to secundarbadh
        – train number 12722
Departure from kachiguda
       -kachiguda yehvanthpur express

– train number 17603