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Published: September 3rd 2016
Spending a night inside Bandipur National Park forest area was an exciting experience. There were no. of cottages inside Bandipur National Park. Some of them had two rooms while others were of big size having four rooms. Each of them had beautiful name like Kokila, Vanashree etc..
Thanks to the Karnataka Forest Department, presently booking of these rooms are comparatively easier thru on-line facility (compared to booking of Guest House in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve which we visited last month, i.e. July, 2016).
I attempted for a Bandipur trip during extended holidays of Independence Day, but in vein. There was no luck for next Saturday too, hence I could book a room on Sunday i.e. 21st
21st August, 2016 - Journey to Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park was around 230 Kms from Bangalore. The route we (myself and my wife) adopted was Bangalore-Mysore-Nanjangaud- Gundlupete-Bandipur. As usual we started late at around at 7.15 AM and caught into painful traffic in Bangalore - Mysore Highway. On the way, we had a break after Ramanagaram. There were both a Kamath Hotel as well as a Mc-Donald restaurant almost together, but we made a mistake
opting traditional food in “Kamath Hotel”. Toilets were clean but without water which was very inconvenient, particularly for ladies.
Before Mysuru we turned left to take Ring Road. Normally it was a longer route opted to avoid the Mysuru city traffic. Thanks to guidance of GPS, we selected a narrow short cut road further left driving few kilometres thru the Ring Road and could reach NH 212 easily (almost opposite to Mysore airport). Sometimes GPS works wonder, but not always.
Road to Nanjanagudu was not easy to drive since road broadening work was going on in various places to make it a four lane Highway. Moreover it was quite crowded upto Nanjanagudu.
At around 12.15 PM we reached Gundlupete. That was an important place since two Highways, one towards Kerala (NH 212 upto Kozhikode) and another towards Ooty (NH 67) intersected here. The road to Kerala proceeded on the right from here, whereas Mysore-Ooty Highway progressed straight thru the Bandipur and Madhmalai Forests respectively to Ooty. We opted the straight route.
Bandipur Forest Check post was around 20 Kms from here. Thereafter it was an excellent drive inside the forest thru the mountain track. It was
a sunny day and nature was shining with its beauty. We reached Bandipur Tiger Reserve Area office at around 12.45 PM.
Forest safari also started from here.
We entered our details in the register. Our booking was made in Papiha I Cottage and room-tariff paid on-line. Additionally we had to deposit Rs. 440 on account of entry fee etc. On request for Receipt, we were told that it would be provided next day at the time of our departure. Unfortunately we did not obtain receipt next day also.
As mentioned earlier, there were no of cottages of different sizes. All the cottages were located behind the forest office, one after another. Each of them had interesting names like :
1. Kokila, 2. Chital, 3. Papiha , 3. Mayuri, 4. Vanasuma, 5. Vanaranjani, 6. Vanashri
Kokila & Vanashri both had multiple rooms. Others were two room cottages.
From the forest office, Kokila & Chital would come first and then gradually other cottages. There was also a restaurant after Mayuri. Food was being served only at the restaurant and not at cottages.
us Vanaranjani and Vanashri were best located (after the canteen). Although slightly remote, these cottages were having least human disturbance. Another attraction was existence of no of trees standing behind these cottages. We could watch varieties of birds in those trees next morning. Although condition of these rooms inside was not known to me. Tariff
Room tariff was Rs 1000 per room.
Safari Bus Ticket Ordinary @ Rs 300 per person, but for residents of forest cottages @ Rs 100 per person. That was a big advantage particularly for having multiple safari trips. Like Cottage, Safari tickets also could be booked online.
Jeep safari @ Rs. 3000 per vehicle for 6 persons.
Timing & Duration of safari
Bus safari Morning - 6.30 AM, 7.30 AM & 8.30 AM
Afternoon – 3.30 PM, 4.30 PM & 5.30 PM
Depending upon the availability of tourists
Duration – 1 hour
Condition of room
There were two rooms in Papiha cottage. We booked Papiha I. The room was spacious with adjacent toilet. There were two separate cots equipped with fantastic mosquito nets. Bed sheets
were not so clean. But we brought our own bedsheets. Windows were protected with two layers, one with iron wires and also mesh from outside. It was extremely difficult for any insect/mosquito to pierce thru the window.
Toilet was clean with necessary facilities (even hot water also). There was a common hall separating two rooms with seating arrangements and even dining table. As I mentioned food was served only at the canteen.
There were two sources of electricity. Normal electric points were not operational frequently due to power cut. Nevertheless back up points were facilitated with solar power panel.
On the whole it was a nice arrangement and an ideal place for a nature lover to enjoy nature having the comfort of all basic facilities.
Attendant handed over Room-key and quickly vanished. That was the last time we met him before collecting the key again next day.
Lunch would be served from 1.30 PM. Hence we thought of wandering nearby fields. Behind the cottage was a large field with plantations. Flocks of deer and wild pig could be seen wondering there. At the end of the field the dense forest started. Mountains could be seen
on the distant horizon. It was a glaring day with beautiful sunshine, white clouds painted in blue sky. Nature was really smiling.
There was a small hillock just behind our cottage. We climbed the hillock and noticed a beautifully crafted branch of an uprooted tree. It was laid like a throne made by nature with awesome design. We sat on the throne, enjoyed cool breeze with bright sun-shine and magnificent view all around. A 360 degree view could be watched from here, virtually all sides. We could spend hours sitting here. But hungry belly and distant view of crowd near the canteen prevented us to wait further.
Ticket distribution for evening safari began at 3 PM. For boarders in cottages the safari rate was much lower (i.e. Rs 100 per head instead of Rs 300 i.e normal fare ). This was a distinct advantage, particularly for multiple trips if opted for.
Normally our animal luck was not encouraging during past safaris in other forests and even in Bandipur during earlier visits. This time we were lucky. We could see large groups of elephant and wild gour near a watertank. Peacocks and
deers were plenty in number. Apart from that we had glimpse of mongoose and wild rabbit also. One of the reason might be, ours was the first bus in the evening trip entering the forest. Moreover, due to insufficient rain during last few weeks, wild animals came out in large numbers for drinking and we were lucky to watch them.
After the safari, we drove our car towards other end of the forest where the territory of Karnataka ended and Tamil Nadu state began (around 8 Kms). In fact the same forest continued to Tamil Nadu with new name of Madhumalai after crossing a small rivulet and the inter-state border Check Post. Entire drive was thru the dense forest and thoroughly enjoying.
Proceeding further the road was divided into two. We opted the route towards Masinagudi. That road ultimately reached to Ooty. Masinagudi was very popular tourist spot in Tamil Nadu and around 7 Kms from here. It was getting dark and we decided to come back.
Unlike in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (Closed from 6PM to 6AM), both the check posts in Bandipur remain closed from 9PM upto 6 AM next day morning. We saw continuous traffic
in that road even after nightfall with beamer light, disturbing sound of heavy vehicles, definitely not conducive for wild animals.
Time for tea break, although it was 6.30 PM in the evening. Unfortunately, it was not available despite intense search. We had light refreshment with snacks from our stock.
It was chilly but excellent weather. A sweater would have provided more comfort. Last month our venture at Nagarhole forest was rainy. It was raining throughout the our stay, day and night. In fact there was no scope of roaming outside the Nagarhole guest house at night. But that was a different experience, particularly in a forest.
Watching stars at night
The time for wondering in the darkness and stargazing. Slightly away from the street light and innumerable stars were visible. It was clear sky and as if the whole universe had been glittering above us. Seven Sisters (Saptarshi Mondal), evening star, our nearest galaxy (probably milky way) and so many others which we did not know. I attempted to identify Kalpurush, but could not locate.
Deers. Hundreds of deers. Silently they were grazing all around the
place. We could feel their presence by sparking the torchlight. Occasionally their barking sound was audible. Sound of animals emanating from darkness created a mysterious atmosphere. Last but not the least, the resonance of tree leaves. Sometimes whispering and suddenly loud. Really difficult to describe. To feel and fully realise the forest experience one should spend at least a night in a place like this.
We had dinner at around 8.30 PM for which I already purchased two coupons (@Rs 100). Thali meal was served with lot of varieties like Rice, vegetables, Papar, Roti (not fully baked), Rasam and Curd. I preferred not to touch Roti and Curd but consumed others.
There was no power cut in the evening. No mosquito, no insect inside the room. I parked my car adjacent to my cottage. The night guard told that elephants and even leopards would visit that place at night. We could not see any.
22nd August, 2016
When I woke up it was around 5 O Clock. It was a non-stop sleep, possibly due to fatigue of yesterday’s activities. I peeped from the window, totally dark outside, but sound of barking animals was
audible. Our program would start with riding the first bus of Morning Safari.
We reached the counter but it opened at 6.15 AM. Monday being weekday, visitors were thin in number. We participated in two safaris i.e 6.30 and 8.30 AM respectively (both the safaris started late to collect minimum attendance). Unfortunately, beasts preferred to be in bushes except few deer and peacock. May be they were tired after nightlong duties. However we could notice many birds like Owl, Wood packers to name a few.
A memento shop was located near the Safari Ticket counter. We were looking for Wildlife stickers, unfortunately there was no stock. But that was compensated by watching excellent gymnastic display by monkeys on top of a geep. They were restless and totally engaged in their play until the driver rushed back and fired them from the spot.
Breakfast with Idli, Vada, Puri and tea. We went behind our Cottage once again. That area was gifted with lot of trees and home to varieties of birds. That place was heaven for bird watchers, particularly a row of mid-sized trees behind Vanasuma and Vanaranjini cottages, abode of hundreds of birds. We could watch from
a distance that a large group of Langoors ( at least thirty) had been sitting in a circle under the shadow of a large tree, possibly attending an important meeting.
We were alerted by the cottage-staff to check out. Check out time was 11 AM which we did not notice since the Check-in time started at 12 PM. Hurriedly we finished our bath and started our return journey.
There was a private memento shop after crossing the Forest Check Post named Temple Tree Designs. A nice place for collecting memories. We stopped on the way back and collected stickers and other gift items. Following the same route of our onward journey we returned back to Bangalore at around 5 PM.
Total distance covered was around 550 Kms.
Tips which may be helpful :
1. Online booking web-site http://www.bandipurtigerreserve.in
, both for Cottage & Safari Bookings,
2. The objective of our visit was to feel, stay and enjoy the nature, hence we did not expect any luxury comfort or delicious menu which was not available there.
3. We carried two torchlights, which immensely helped us at night.
4. There was no
mobile connection during our stay (Airtel),
5. There were frequent power-cut, during our stay, although having emergency lights at important points. Charging of Camera battery had become a bit difficult.
6. We had both Mosquito Coil as well as Mosquito Repellent in our stock. But we did not notice mosquito/insects coming inside the room.
7. 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.
8. We brought Dettol and spread it to the Toilet before use.
9. Check post for entry and exit to the Bandipur Forest Reserve area remain closed from 9PM upto 6AM. Hence for reaching the Guest House, we had to reach during daytime. Moreover, it was risky to travel the road during night.
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