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Published: July 30th 2016
Nagarhole Reserve Forest (Rajiv Gandhi National Park) is one of the most favourite destinations for nature-lovers in Karnataka. Forest Guest House, Nagarhole was located at the heart of the forest , near the place from where the Jungle Safari starts. I had inquired about the booking process and came to know that it was a lengthy exercise unlike the normal “On-line booking system” prevailing nowadays for selecting hotels.
I made a casual attempt and waited patiently for the response. To my luck it clicked and it was a delightful experience of spending two nights in the Guest House of Nagarhole along with my wife. I described the Booking process at the end of my blog in detail. Definitely, it requires patience unlike the lightening process we adopt nowadays for fixing our holiday program. But the end result will be fascinating and different from visiting the forest, staying in a private hotel. 9th July, 2016 - Saturday
My initial effort of booking thru Aranya Bhawan, Bangalore was not successful. On making a personal visit there I had been intimated to communicate Forest Department’s office at Mysore. I sent an e-mail to the address collected from Aranya Bhawan with
no response. I also contacted the Mysore Office as per the phone no collected from Bangalore. I was advised for sending a letter. I shot a letter by Speed-Post requesting to book a room in the Forest Rest House at Nagarhole on the 9th
July, 2016. Additionally, I forwarded the scanned copy to the mail-address collected from Bangalore Office, but of no response.
In the first week of July, when I almost left the idea, there was a call from the Forest Department Office, Mysore confirming my request. I requested for a confirmation at least by SMS. But I had been told to go ahead with assurance that written confirmation was not necessary. When asked about the mode of payment for booking charges, I had been clarified that payment could be made at the spot itself.
Visiting a place without a written confirmation would be risky affair, particularly with my wife in a forest area with full monsoon. I was in two minds but could not leave the idea. On the previous day of my journey, I again contacted and received the re-assurance. I was also clarified that first day (9th
July, 2016 Saturday) I had
to be accommodated in the Ground Floor. Next day, I could occupy the room in first floor. Route of the journey
Our destination was around 235 Kms from Bangalore. Our route would be Bangalore – Ramnagaram – Srirangapattnam – Hunsur - Veeranhosanahalli-Nagarhole. The name Veeranhosanahalli had been difficult to remember but important since that was our gateway for entering the forest via Honsur. After entry we would have to drive another 35 Kms to reach Nagarhole, where the Forest Office, Guest House etc were located. Jungle safari also started here (although closed now due to monsoon). Going further around 10 Kms from that place, the other end of the forest could be reached. This place was called Kutta. Commencement of Journey
We decided to take the chance and started our journey. Our plan had been that if we did not get the accommodation, we would stay in a private hotel/homestay nearby.
As usual, our original plan of beginning early (to avoid the painful Bangalore traffic) did not materialise. We started at around 6.45 AM in the morning. I made another mistake of going thru KR Market - Mysore Road Flyover. That road after the
flyover was very crowded particularly due to ongoing Metro construction work upto Kengeri.
At 8 AM we halted at Kamat Hotel, Janapadalok near Ramanagaram for breakfast. Idly wrapped in banana leave was quite tasteful along with Vada and Coffee.
After an hour long journey, we reached the historical town of Srirangapatnam at around 10 AM. At further around 3.5 Km, we took a right turn to KRS Road. There was a crossing down another few kilometres. The right turn went to “Brindavan Garden”. We opted for left turn. On the way, we noticed a building named “Godfatherly Divine University”, really a name to watch. This portion of the road was not OK, with lot of potholes.
At around 10.40 AM, we finally reached Mysore-Medikari Road (NH 275) which proceeded towards Hunsur. Number of cycle vans selling fruits could be noticed after Bilikore. Fruits like Mangos, Apples were beautifully arranged like Pyramid in the Van, really worth noticing. Entry to the forest
At 11 AM we touched Hunsur after crossing Bannikuppe. The gateway to the park called Veeranhosanahalli was around 22 Km from Hunsur. We took left turn towards DD Urs Road and then to State
Highway 86. It was raining intermittently. School going children was seen on the road strolling merrily in groups ignoring the rain as well as our car. I was feeling guilty to break their joy by honking. But what to do, we had to move forward. Beautiful greeneries could be seen outside, as a pre-cursor that the forest was approaching. Two big resorts namely “The Jungle Inn” and “ Kings Sanctuary“ respectively could be seen here.
Finally when we reached the forest gate at 11.45 AM, heavy rain started.
Details of the vehicle, passengers were to be entered in the gate. This gate was closed at 6 PM in the evening and opened again next day at 6AM. No vehicular traffic was allowed between 6 PM to 6AM next day.
Forest Guest House (named Gangotri) is located around 38 Kms from this gate. Hereafter the entire journey was through the dense forest. I was driving slowly to enjoy the nature as well as to look for wild animals. We could see herd of deer in various places. Other animals were not visible, may be due to the intense rainfall. View of the forest was wet and mystic. Road
condition was ok. Sound of the friction of wheels in the wet road was clearly audible.
We stopped the car in between to hear the sound of the jungle. Chattering of birds or animals was almost muted except occasional calls. Rain was awesome and only its sound could be heard. There were number of caution boards throughout the road - not to stop the car, not to disturb the animals, Tiger Reserve area etc.
After around an hour we could notice some houses on the right side of the road. Thinking that was our destination I stopped the car but had come to know that the Forest Guest House was around 8 Kms from here.
Drive for the balance portion was more interesting. The road climbed higher thru the forest with twists and turns. I could see the variation in greeneries as well as its depth. Nature was so bountiful here. Almighty created this magnificent gift to the world with painstaking care spanning thousands of years. Density of the forest had further increased in certain places, as if the raindrops were not getting space to touch the earth, whereas in some areas there were very tall trees
competing between themselves to touch the sky.
At last we reached our destination at around 2 PM. Forest was comparatively thin here. This is the place where the forest office, quarters of the forest staff, forest guest houses were located. I enquired about my reservation in the forest office. The concerned official had searched his register and I saw my name there with a sigh of relief. Types of Accommodation in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve
1. Cauvery Forest Lodge – 2 rooms of two beds each @ Rs 1600 per room,
2. Gangotri Forest Lodge – 4 rooms of two beds each @ Rs 1000 per room,
3. Dormitories - 2 rooms with twelve beds each @ Rs 900 per room Cost of accommodation
Our Lodging and incidental charges were as follows :
1. Lodge Rent @ Rs 1000 per day for 2 days - Rs 2000,
2. Park Entrance Fees @ Rs 200 for 2 persons – Rs 400,
3. Vehicle Parking Charges @ Rs 40 for 2 days - Rs 80
Payments were accepted in advance and receipts given for
the amount received. No safari for wildlife viewing during monsoon
We had already been intimated by the Forest Office, Mysore that Wildlife Safari remained closed during monsoon. It would be resumed only during late September-early October when the monsoon would end. That was confirmed by this office.
Safari Charges were as follows :
i. For adults - Rs 300 per trip,
ii. For children below 10 years – Rs 150 per trip
Location of the Forest Guest House
Gongotri Guest House where we had been allotted for stay was located within few hundred yards from the forest office in a slightly inclined land from the roadside. There was ample space for car parking in front of the Guest House. This building was surrounded by forests except at the right side. Innumerable tall trees could be seen behind and the left of the Guest House. Thick jungles could be seen in the front portion after crossing the road. All the human habitats were situated at the right side. Overall it was an ideal place to feel, watch and enjoy the nature. Condition of room
Our allotment was in the ground floor for the first day. Two separate cots with mosquito nets, wardrobe, chair etc were provided. Toilet was quite good with hot water facility, European style Commode etc. There was a corridor in between two rooms. Dining arrangements, Dining Table with chairs were placed here. A small extension was on the front side equipped with chairs to relax, may be after food. Most interesting was an open spacious balcony. Overall it was much more than I expected. There was frequent power cut for which emergency lights were also provided.
Immediate requirement was to satisfy our appetite. Siddhappa was the room care taker. A smiling aged person, he asked us about lunch which we immediately consented. Rain stopped by the time and we were walking nearby areas eagerly waiting for food. Feeling impatient, we reached the canteen located far away from our abode. We saw Siddhappa carefully pouring our food to the tiffin carrier in the canteen. We came back and he was present within no time. He served us hot food which includes Rice, Roti, Pappar, Cabbage curry, Sambar and Rasam. Very simple but wholesome. We enjoyed his hot servings. Food charges
were @ Rs 70 per head. Drive to Kutta & Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Tholpetty
We came to know about an alternative Jungle Safari for which we had to visit the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Tholpetty. The place although in Kerala but was around 20 Kms from Nagarhole via Kutta. At around 3.15 PM we started for Kutta and stopped at Nanchi Gate Forest Check Post at the end of the forest. Kutta was a small town at Kodagu District of Karnataka bordering Kerala. The road from Nagarhole meets the Tholpetty-Coorg Road at the Bus stand. We had to take left to reach Tholpetty.
Jungle Safari was confirmed and we purchased the ticket in a hurry. Ticket charges were Rs 268 for two, including Camera and parking. Additionally, Rs 600 had to be paid for hiring the jeep, which could accommodate six persons. Hence this cost would be apportioned based on the no. of persons boarded.
Before boarding the jeep at 4.45 PM, we came to know that the safari period would last for nearly one and half hour. By the time we could reach the check point at Nanchi for returning to our Guest House,
it would be past 6 PM and the forest gate would be closed. A helping hand by the counter guy
We intimated our concern to the ticket counter at Tholpetty. The counter person was an excellent guy. He had spoken to the Check post thru his mobile and confirmed that the Checkpost timing could not be relaxed. Apprehending the probable loss of ticket charges I requested him for return or give us opportunity next day. He agreed for the second option and told to show the ticket already purchased, next day, which would be sufficient. An evening in the Balcony
We returned to the Guest House at around 6 PM. It was drizzling. Carrying our umbrellas we started grazing thru the deserted road. But controlling the umbrellas had been difficult due to high wind. We came back and occupied the open balcony. Deer herd and Fireflies
As evening light was fading out and the surroundings were plunging into darkness, we noticed the deer herd walking around the tree branches. Sound of raindrops was becoming clearer while the forest became serene except occasional call of animals. There was intermittent
noise of barking deer, almost like mooing of cows.
Gradually, it was dense darkness except two lights, one in our room and another at a distance, may be at the Forest Office. Fireflies were flashing their lights in the darkness. The night here was un-bearably dark and acute. While flashing our torch we could see the burning eyes and pale shade of innumerable number of deers.
Around 8 PM suddenly we saw a huge herd of deer arriving near the open space in and around the Guest House. How many, I had no idea. It would be in hundreds, if not in thousand. They were all around us like ghosts. We could see their eyes only, if we switched on our torch.
When the rain and wind were at their heights, the jungle sounds were comparatively quiet. But when the rain subsided, insects and croaking chorus of frogs increased and become clearer. We became spellbound, that was the time for only listening the nature and the rain.
It was wet and cold in the open balcony with strong winds, where we were sitting. Moreover heavy rain started as the night progressed. We had no other choice
but to leave the balcony.
A dinner to remember
It was around 8.30 PM and a knock at the door. We were delighted to see Siddhappa entering with our dinner in the tiffin carrier.
He served the hot food of Chapatti with Dal, Cauliflower curry, Papad, Rasam. Enjoying food in such environment was unique and the satisfaction was inexplicable. My sincere regards to Siddhappa for his dedicated service to strangers like us.
We went to bed and the sleep was immediate. At midnight, in my sleep I could feel that rain shower further unleashed itself with gusty wind blows. It was really a terrific night.
10th July, 2016 – Sunday
I woke up early morning but there was no respite of rain outside. There seemed to be no possibility that it would stop. We dressed ourselves and came out to watch the flock of deers grazing nearby. I switched on my car and lazily proceeding towards Kutta. On the way we could see a herd of elephant crossing the road. Although not permitted, I could not restrict myself coming out of my car and watching them at a
distance. They were busy in their own schedule and did not care for our presence.
We reached the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and there was no difficulty to board the Safari Jeep showing the tickets we purchased yesterday but could not utilise. It was a trip of nearly one hour, but as expected we could not see much except a wild Gaur and a peacock and of course deers.
Our next destination was around 9 Kms from the sanctuary. Irupu Falls was a popular tourist destination in Brahmagiri Range of mountains. For visiting Irupu Falls we had to go further from the Manchalli Bust stop (crossing point between nagarhole Highway and Tholpetty-Coorg Highway). We felt hungry but went on postponing the breakfast till we could locate a good restaurant. Around 1 Km from the Bus stop we had to take left turn. Having lost the energy to choose further, we stopped at a roadside restaurant near to the falls. Fortunately it was a good selection. We filled our empty stomach with kerala parota, Omlette, Coffee and washed our hands with rainwater falling from the tin shed. Rain escalated so heavily that it was
difficult to view properly while driving. Fearsome and breathtaking during Monsoon
First view of the falls from quite a distance was a pale white patch coming thru the mountains. Gradually it became clearer coming between the green hills. A mystic and beautiful sight.
A beautiful Rameshwara temple was situated at the foothills and adjacent to the ticket counter.
Entrance fee was Rs 50 per person plus Rs 10 as Parking Charges. Karnataka state was blessed with wide varieties of falls all over the state. Monsoon was the best time to watch them. Initially there was a walk of around half a kilometre. We had to cross a wire bridge built on the stream originated from the falls. Next there was a climb around a hundred odd steps following the streams to reach the falls. There were dense forests in both sides. We noticed various boards erected by forest department informing various types of animals living in the Brahmagiri range. King Cobra the most poisonous snake in the world, could be found here. It appeared to be a popular trekking spot also. There were markings to help trekkers visiting to the top of the mountain.
From the foothills itself the roaring sound of the waterfalls could be heard. Nearer we were, we could watch the fury of tremendous force of water. Huge swelling flow at the peak of monsoon was coming down with high speed. Meanwhile the incessant rain started. When we reached very near to the falls it was difficult to distinguish between rain water and sprinkles coming from the falls. Umbrella was of no use because of wind speed. It was really awesome scene to watch. There was no question to take bath at the falls.
Although it was extremely risky, we saw various groups of young folks trying to reach the rocks in between the flowing water and take snaps dangerously. Only one person with a khaki uniform was politely endeavouring to prevent those boys but in vain.
When we came back we were fully soaked in water. We visited the Rameswara Temple. It was closed by that time, seemed to be under renovation.
Feeling hungry we began our journey back to the Guest House. But there was huge traffic congestion on the highway near to the bus stand due to a marriage ceremony probably of a wealthy
family. Hundreds, (if not thousand) of cars were parked in both sides of the street.
First floor of the Guest House
Today our booking was on the first floor. Siddhappa intimated that there was no other occupant on the first floor and hence we could occupy any of the two rooms. We entered the first floor climbing thru the wooden stairs made outside. We were delighted to see the interiors. Like ground floor, there was a hall in between two rooms. Dining tables with chairs and cupboards for crockeries were also similar. But added attraction was a balcony covered with glass equipped with sofa set and table.
There was a feeling of dampness and lack of natural light downstairs. But this place was open with full of natural light. Probably to support the feeling, the weather became clearer and sun peeped from the clouds for a while.
Condition of the room was better than the ground floor. One noticeable thing was that wire net had permanently been fixed in all windows, although they were open from outside. There was no scope for closing the windows by the boarders. This fixing was made probably
to prevent monkeys entering the rooms. However it had obvious disadvantages which we experienced at night.
We had a refreshing lunch with hot food brought by Siddhappa. He cautioned to close the doors properly giving no scope for monkeys to enter inside. I took it lightly while going down after lunch for few minutes. I was frightened to see two monkeys already entered inside the hall unlocking the hook. Somehow they came outside without any damage.
A frightening thunderstorm
At around 4.30 PM we came out. Our plan was to drive almost the two extreme ends of the forest. Initially we went towards the Nanchi Check Post near Kutta. While returning from there towards Hunsur Check Post, rain started once again. On the way we noticed a road inside the forest area indicating Farmadi Checkpost. We selected that road to proceed further. But with black clouds gathering all over the place, the downpour further aggravated with thunderstorm. There were lightening with cracking sound of clouds. Huge shower was affecting the visibility. Frightened, we had to stop the car in the lonely forest. Rain subsided in due course to some extent but continued unabated.
It was almost dark. We had to go back to the Guest House. Very few animals could be seen on the way except mostly deer, flock of Monkeys. A wild cat crossed the road in a fraction of a second.
Time for a sip in the tea cup. But Siddhappa, while serving lunch intimated he would go to his native place and would be substituted by another person. We walked to the Canteen which was far away from Guest House to have tea.
Night at the First Floor
Now the darkness plunged into the area. Compared to yesterday, there were hardly any tourist and very few vehicles today. There was no noise except the sound of nature. Todays feature was the sound of wind emanating from huge tree leaves nearby Guest House. Sometimes it was whispering and gradually increasing due to strong wind blows, almost as loud as landing of aircrafts. This sensation was un-heard from downstairs yesterday, may be due to heavy rain.
Balconies on the first floor were not having shades to protect from downpour. Flashing the torchlight, we could witness large no of deers very close to our car. It
was pitch dark, as if the whole world was plunged into darkness except this guest house and one or two lights far away.
We had an excellent dinner. It was an ordinary but hot and well served. But thereafter what we encountered, we were not prepared for that. Number of large and small insects already entered thru the open windows. We brought both manual as well as electrical “mosquito repellent” and both were operating. Despite our efforts we could not close the windows since all were sealed from inside. Both the cots were equipped with separate good-looking Mosquito nets. Somehow we entered inside but removing all the insects from inside was almost impossible. We had no option but to recognize their presence. It affected our sleep to some extent. As midnight approached further, I could hear the sound of tree leaves further strengthened due to strong wind blows. When I fell asleep I did not know.
11th July, 2016 – Monday Return to Bangalore Route : Kutta-Tholpettey-Bavali-Handpost-Mysore-Bangalore (Via Kabini)
I got up lazily since it was raining outside as usual. A new boy brought coffee and breakfast today. It was a nice
refreshment with hot idly and upma. At around 9.30 AM we started our return journey. We opted for a different route via Kutta-Tholpetty towards Kabini. Our drive was thru Coorg-Tholpetty Road which met Nagarhole road. Almost the entire journey was thru forest areas with occasional habitats in between. Before Kattikulam the route turned left towards Ananthsanthe.
At a place named Bavali (35 Kms from our starting point), we lost the route and re-entered to Nagarhole Reserve Forest once again thru another check post. Weather improved a lot today and un-willingly we re-entered the magnificent green Animal Kingdom once again. We could watch Elephants, deer, wild monkeys on the way. We were looking for the way towards Kabini. Lot of boards erected by numerous hotels and resorts could be seen on the way. Some of the boards were positioned more than 50 Kms away from the destination. At last, after enquiry from people, losing and again finding the way, we could see Kabini Reservoir from a distance. There was not enough time to proceed towards Kabini further.
Thru SH 86 at around 1 PM we reached a place called Handpost, a nice and unique name indeed. A bustling vegetable
market was noticed immediately after a road crossing. We completed our delayed Sunday grocery marketing from that place. Rates were far cheaper than Bangalore except for cauliflower.
We had to take SH 33 from here to reach the Outer Ring Road of Mysore. We reached the Mysore-Bangalore Highway at around 3 PM and stopped at Fishland restaurant for lunch with Fish Curry, Dal Fry and Rice. We could reach home when the daylight was almost weaning. How to Book the Guest House
1. I contacted the Karnataka Forest Department Mysore (Phone No. - 0821 2480901). I spoke to Mr Phanish of that office on several occasions, obtained confirmation and guidance regarding accommodation and route.
2. I also wrote to The Field Director, Project Tiger, Karnataka Forest Department, Aranya Bhawan, Asokapuram, Mysore - 570008 for booking of guest house as per preferred dates and forwarded mail. But as mentioned elsewhere, I did not get any reply to my communication. Essential tips :
1. We carried Mosquito Coil as well as Mosquito Repellent. Both of them were extremely useful, not because of mosquitos but to protect from insects,
2. We carried two torchlights,
which immensely helped us at night.
3. There was no mobile connection during our stay (Airtel),
4. There were frequent power-cut, during our stay, although having emergency lights at important points. Charging of Camera battery had become a bit difficult.
5. We carried Umbrellas and Raincoats to negotiate with monsoon. Raincoats were of no use, but umbrella helped us a lot, except the period of downpour with high wind.
6. We thought it would be better to carry basic medicines in case of necessity to cater urgent necessity. We also carried sufficient quantity of snacks to fill the stomach during drive.
7. Check post for entry and exit towards Nagarhole Forest Reserve area remain closed from 6PM upto 6AM. Hence for reaching the Guest House, we had to reach during daytime. Moreover, it was very risky to travel the road during night.
8. For any emergency, the nearest place was Kutta, around 10 Kms from the guest house.
9. I found the nearest petrol pump after Tholpetty forest Jeep Safari Counter (around 20 Kms from the Nagarhole Guest House)
10. The objective of our visit was to feel, stay and enjoy the
nature, hence I did not expect any luxury comfort or delicious menu which were not available here.
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