Monday, August 16, 2010


A perfect getaway for nature lovers, did I hear you say that?

Our vacation destination this time (2 years back)was in the midst of the lush green forest of Nagarhole National Park, the Kabini river lodge. Accompanied with three teenagers we headed for Mysore (near Bangalore,South India) stopping on the way at the famous Maddur Tifannys for their mouth watering 'maddur vadas' & idlis.

From there, we proceeded towards Kabini. The long bumpy ride took us through tiny villages dotted with green meadows of various hues, tiny thatched tree houses perched on tree tops, mountain ranges at the horizon, breath taking locales, to say the least. Bare footed farmers walking to their fields, I have to mention here that this was the most disturbing sight for our teenage son because he couldn't come to terms with people walking barefoot and wanted to buy them a pair of foot ware right away!!

As we drove past, we switched off the car AC, rolled down the windows and the youngsters decided to wave at every villager who passed by, be it children, women or men. Believe me; it was so heartening to see them smilingly reciprocate! The smiles varied from small shy ones, broad smiles to gleeful grins, waving and calling out. As we passed a particular school nearby, we came across small children standing with stretched hands screaming for pens! It was not that they didn't have one, but the driver told us that they are used to getting gifts from passing cars!  At once I thought how privileged our gulf children are? The amount of stationary each child owns here can satiate an entire school back there. And we moved on.

As we entered the Kabini Jungle lodges, our faces turned to delight seeing the well manicured lawns, gardens with clean pathways which led to the colonial style architectural building housing the reception and a souvenir shop. As we had made prior bookings, we were greeted warmly and given keys to our cottages. The driver would stay free in the dormitories provided especially for them!
We all had had enough of the bumpy ride, so decided to walk to our respective cottages anticipating the view of the Kabini River!! When we came face to face with the river, I joined the younger lot in running down to the river to touch the water slapping the banks. It was pure sylvan surroundings with benches peeping out of the bushes. Headed straight for it, sat there and took a deep breath while all kinds of insects and worms did their daily routines on the branches and grass nearby! The fresh air, the sound of the waves, the cool breeze kept me from entering our cottage for a full half hour!

As I walked into the cottage, what did I see? A spic and span room with whatever you were looking for! There were even toilet rolls in the toilets! No television and no Ac in the rooms, who wanted them anyway!
After a sumptuous lunch at the Gol Ghar (circular open to sides gazebo), we were asked to relax for a while before our first safari on an open-top jeep into the famed Nagarhole forest which would begin at 4.30pm.
We, the five curious cats went to the reception where there was a board which had the names of the latest animal sightings written on it. Our eyes opened wider and our jaws dropped as we read the names of the animals like sloth bear, wild dog, the Black Panther and the tiger! We all clenched our fists and prayed that we too could get lucky to see such exotic animals in the wild.
 At once we started shooting, no not with guns but with questions, as we got into the open jeep with the naturalists. The forest personnel were too happy to answer. Once we entered the forest, we were asked to keep silence and it was only the sounds of the birds, the baboons and other forest creatures which could be heard along with the rolling of the jeep's tires! What did we see first? Black faced grey coated langoors, followed by spotted deer's, Malabar giant squirrel, wild boar, hawk eagle, jungle fowl, an owl and numerous herds of elephants which Nagarhole is famous for.
The sighting of wildlife in their eco-system instantly created an awareness and respect amongst us towards them.
Suddenly we heard a group call of the langoor for danger lurking below, we were told that a tiger would be near by and as we heard this we coaxed the driver to take us further deep in search of the majestic tiger. We followed the cries of the langoor, the jeep stopped suddenly and the guide showed us the pug marks!!  A tiger did walk by that path a few minutes ago! Alas, tough luck. There was silence all over, the jeep rolled deeper into the forest in anticipation of sighting a tiger but the elusive beast was no where to be seen! After a two hour hunt, still wide eyed, we returned to our cottages.

As nature dimmed the surroundings, we the couple went off to the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala hut for a rejuvenation therapy while the kids went to watch a wild life film at the audio-visual hall adjoining the Viceroy's building.

Next we headed to pamper our taste buds with delicious and piping hot buffet of Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine with a campfire and a barbeque, a perfect place to end the day by exchanging our day's experience with the other guests!

The chirping, calling and whistling of the birds were the alarm which woke us up on day two! What a difference to the mundane alarm clock which gets hit on the head every morning when we lazily push ourselves out of the bed! Huh!
Once again the jeep was waiting for us at 6.15AM. Off we went to the Nagarhole forest to try our luck in spotting the yellow and black striped beauty!
As I was soaking the early morning fresh air, the wind running through my hair amidst the verdant jungle, the sun playing hide and seek between the tall tree branches, hey, wait a minute. What do I see?, a beautiful Indian peacock! Oh dear! I would pay anything to stay here permanently. This instant thought, crossed my mind. As we criss-crossed the thick  forest pathway, there was no sign of our favourtie beast but still having high hopes of seeing one behind thick bushes we coaxed the driver to take us further deep and there we spotted a wild dog. We were told that it had lost its group and it was indeed a vulnerable prey to the other beasts! After a while, as we returned, we saw innumerable deer's jumping, running, stopping to take a quick look at us and vanishing into the bushes. Further down we came across two sambar deers too which we were told was indeed a rare sighting!
As we neared the lake kabini, we were a disappointed lot for not having seen a tiger for which our son said. "This gives us an opportunity to come next year too". Well said, son.

Boat ride in river kabini, sounded exciting! As we ladies took the regular motorboat for the river cruise, the men preferred the coracle ride, a circular boat made of bamboo and buffalo hide. As our motor boat jetted on the 70 feet deep kabini river, we saw a part of  Bandipur and Nilgiris forest. How can I forget to mention the exotic birds we saw like the snake bird, white throated king fisher, serpent eagle, the teal ducks and a lone crocodile with its two eyes popping out of the water!
As we walked into the gol ghar a sumptuous lunch awaited us. With the treat on our plates we settled in the dining area facing the kabini river as the howling wind played the back ground music, we had a fulfilling lunch.
Who would like to leave this paradise?  All of us reluctantly and slowly walked to the cottage and packed.
After giving a visit to the souvenir shop, we bid fare well to the friendliest staff telling them that they would see us next year and every other year till we spotted the majestic tiger in its natural habitat!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Asha! I bumped into your blog while browsing for something and am glad I did.Your post reminded me of my trips to Jim Corbett National Park in India and Safari in East Africa.Can't stop dreaming about Kabini now :-)You can try Jim Corbett next time.. we were lucky enough to spot the Tigers twice in the 2 days we spent there!