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A drive through some of the National parks on the Western Ghats


Earthian

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kittykat23uk

A frog riding a tiger! That even beats the Genet riding the rhino!

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Continuing with the narrative.... All of us, including the driver turned to her." i have left my medicine in the fridge at the cottage" - she said with woebegone face. Not retrieving the medicine wa

The rain continued through the night. No way we are going to postpone again. It was still drizzling in the morning and my parents ( we were staying at their place) had some misgivings - We quickly loa

The next morning we were off on the morning: surprise! Nagaendra's ( guide at Bandipur) brother Ravi was our guide. Seems that serving the environment is the family's priority! Ravi had grown up in th

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@@Earthian Is it permitted to get out of your vehicle in these parks? Or was this man breaking the rules as well as risking his life.

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Tom Kellie

A frog riding a tiger! That even beats the Genet riding the rhino!

 

~ @@kittykat23uk

 

A foolhardy frog and a tolerant tiger.

Had you not pointed it out, I'd missed it — thanks!

Tom K.

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Earthian

A frog riding a tiger! That even beats the Genet riding the rhino!

If you look closely, there are two of them

 

 

A frog riding a tiger! That even beats the Genet riding the rhino!

 

~ @@kittykat23uk

 

A foolhardy frog and a tolerant tiger.

Had you not pointed it out, I'd missed it — thanks!

Tom K.

 

On the contrary, Tom; this is what i call peaceful coexistence. The frogs eat the flies, and ticks pestering the tiger- the tiger is happy for the service.

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Earthian

@@Earthian Is it permitted to get out of your vehicle in these parks? Or was this man breaking the rules as well as risking his life.

The road bifurcates the park and is a part of the national Highway; but under the control of the Forests department. It has been clearly mentioned, every kilometre or whereabouts, that one cannot stop, get down, or trouble the animals. This is the part of the highway that is closed between 9 pm to 6 am.

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Earthian

Our two nights at Bandipur were over and the next stop was Nagarhole. We had booked at the Kabini River Lodge, but we had a day to spare and the choice was continuing to stay at Bandipur for one more night or check out a farm stay in Madumalai hills nearby. we decided to go to the farm to have a change from the forest. The route was :

 

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So after our morning safari ended, we had some breakfast, packed up, settled dues and left for Gouri farms at around 1100 hrs.

 

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The drive was again back by the very bad road we had come, but since this was daytime and sunny, we were more relaxed. An hour's drive and we were at Gouri farms, a pleasant farm stay run by two doctors, who initially worked at the US, gave up and settled down in their ancestral property and developed it. They also work at a hospital nearby, engaged in serving the local tribals.

Our cottage was very charming:

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Would we be wanting lunch? Yes, please. Lunch came in a huge tiffin- simple vegetarian south indian fare- with enough rice to feed an army! Though we are south indians by heritage, having lived all our lives in Gujarat, we are basically wheat eaters and the quantum of rice consumption is probably about 10% what any self respecting "madarasi" (person from Madras) would consume. Having polished the rest of the tiffin, except a large quantity of rice, i took it back to the kitchen (housed in a different building) and explained the issue to a horrified, sweet old lady, who could not believe that a person weighing over 100 kgs, along with two others, could not do justice to a such a small quantity!

 

In the evening the lady doctor popped in and invited us to dinner, which we readily accepted. There was a swiss couple along with the two doctors at Dinner and we were treated to some gooseberry and jaggery wine er liqueur. It was very good, if a trifle sweet for my taste. After a couple of drinks, the conversation had entered the realm of politics and environment conservation and we had a good time. Dinner was again south indian fare, with rotis (indian bread) prepared in our honour, and then it was off to bed.

 

When i associate with people such as our hosts, as well as people from the countryside, i am amazed to see how contended they are with what we city folks, consider so little. They may not have the latest cell phone, or the latest car, or all the conveniences that we are used to; but yet there is a contentment bordering on happiness, that we miss so much. Abraham Maslow should have studied such people also when he researched his famous theory.

 

The next morning, we had breakfast, bid goodbye to our gracious hosts, and it was off to Kabini River Lodge in the Nagarhole National Park.

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Earthian

The route we had to take again entailed going through a road under the control of the Forests department which was open from 6 am to 6 pm. We had plenty of time, and our route was very scenic:

 

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Just a word of caution. Google maps are not updated to all the road in such areas, nor are the latest road conditions updated. Our actual route was slightly different than the one shown here, courtesy of local advise that we sought from time to time. We have found it best to ask either taxi drivers or truck drivers regarding road conditions since they tend to be more accurate. Asking villagers could lead one to trouble, since they would tend to show the shortest way, which may not be necessarily, the most comfortable or scenic way. We wanted the scenic ways and after asking around, took the recommended one and it did not disappoint us. A biker would be thrilled to go down these meandering, charming ways, with the wind in his face. we did the best we could and rolled down the windows.

We stopped frequently for sampling the local agricultural produce ( tender coconut, cucumber). This is coffee country and hence stops for coffee were a must. We reached KRL comfortably and in time for lunch. We had a cottage just along the river and it was quite well appointed.

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There was a small balcony overlooking the river, and i sat there and dozed.

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Kabini River lodge is run by the Government of Karnataka and is a beautiful property. see: http://www.junglelodges.com/kabini-river-lodge/

 

The property is long the Kabini river, is vast and the grounds could be maintained better. There are different types of accommodation, ranging from Maharaja cottages, normal cottages, rooms and tents. The tariff plan is all inclusive, including safari. The Maharaja cottage cost around Rs 11,000 pppn and the cost progressively tapers down to Rs 6000 pppn for the tents on twin sharing basis. The rooms are well appointed, clean and spacious. The food has a wider choice than Bandipur, though the service is not as personal as Bandipur.

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Tom Kellie

 

 

If you look closely, there are two of them

On the contrary, Tom; this is what i call peaceful coexistence. The frogs eat the flies, and ticks pestering the tiger- the tiger is happy for the service.

 

 

~ @@Earthian

 

I'd not seen both of hem. What a sight!

The cycle of nature extends to frogs on tigers — who knew?

I like the peaceful coexistence you observed.

The vegetation around Gouri Farms is lush!

The meal and conversation sound very nice. Such details are enjoyable to read.

Thank you for the helpful maps.

Tom K.

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Earthian

The next morning we were off on the morning: surprise! Nagaendra's ( guide at Bandipur) brother Ravi was our guide. Seems that serving the environment is the family's priority! Ravi had grown up in the adjoining village and hence it made sense to work in the area. The Government of Karnataka must be complimented in identifying promising youngsters , educating them and then deploying them to work after training. The only suggestion i have is that i did not see any female guides or beat guards whereas in Gir forests in Gujarat we have female beat guards and such.
We came upon a crested hawk eagle which had just killed a grey heron.

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The crested hawk eagle was on the ground and i was anxious to take a shot on the same plane as the eagle. Since getting down from the jeep to the ground was not an option, i slithered down under the seats, wedged my self and my 100+ kgs in the narrow gap and shot these. I would not recommend anyone of my size, age and weight to try such stunts, since getting up could be quite embarrassing! And to top it all i got a "catch" in one of my back muscles creating enormous discomfort. Still, hopefully the pictures were worth it.

We saw some elephants coming our way, herding a young one. It is a beautiful sight to see a group of heavy mammals, protecting a young one- teaching it to survive and lending a helpful hand, sorry leg when needed:

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The forest is a truly amazing place. We need to educate our young to safeguard the environment, unlike ourselves . There are so many animals who live in harmony. Peaceful coexistence.

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Tom Kellie

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~ @@Earthian

 

What species are these two?

They're unfamiliar to me.

Tom K.

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Earthian

@@Tom Kellie

That is a male Guar (indian bison) and the second is a giant malabar squirrel.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie

That is a male Guar (indian bison) and the second is a giant malabar squirrel.

 

~ @@Earthian

 

Ah, I see. Thank you for telling me.

That may be the species which @@madaboutcheetah recently told @@Safaridude could be viewed where he lived.

An impressively massive animal!

The giant malabar squirrel is a beauty!

Tom K.

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Earthian

The next morning we went by boat for the kabini river safari. It was a great experience and i had an opportunity to capture BIF in the morning sun. My only grouse was that the 70-200mm f2.8 is not as sharp as i would have liked it to be and coupled with a TC 1.7E-II, it made matters even worse. The boat was lightly loaded with only 4 passengers. I could have easily taken the big lens and the tripod, though i am not sure about the results from a moving boat even if one were to shoot at 1/1600 speeds and faster.

The river in the morning was very beautiful. we saw some cormorants and darters waiting to catch breakfast.

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There were two Ospreys hunting. Though i did not, much to my chargin, get any pictures of an osprey actually in the act of catching a fish, i got some half decent shots of it afterwards.

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There was a pied kingfisher fishing near the bank. we could not go close due to shallow waters. I had expected the kingfisher to hover above and make a steep dive, but this one made sorties- taking in the lay of the land..er..water.

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Earthian

I would recommend the boat safari to those visiting kabini. Though tiger centricness continues to define the acts of the boatman and the guide ( a different one today), but they change when they understand that you are happy with birds. We had only two other passengers apart from my daughter and i ( my wife preferred to go on the road safari) and both of them were quite content to watch me chase Ospreys with my camera.

 

After the safari, we had a good breakfast and started on the next leg of our trip. Our idea was to go to Dandeli national park, more than 600 kms away. Though doable, we wanted to enjoy the journey and take in some sights on the way. We therefore decided to halt at Chikmangalur, and take in the local sights at Belur and Halebeedu.

 

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The roads were very good and the weather cool. We reached Hassan, after many stops for Narail Pani (tender coconut), Bananas, cucumber and the like. Plenty of "relieving" breaks too, after all that narial pani.
At Hassan, we sought out an authentic "karnataka" tiffin joint and had the local tiffin of rice pan cakes and rice dough rolls. Very tasty , but be careful of the chutneys. They pack a wallop!
Though the original plan was to reach Chikmangalur and halt for the night there, we wanted to check out the historical temples at Halebeedu and Belur. Doing that would either involve reaching Chikmanagalur late in the night or rushing through the sights. We did not want to do either and when we realised that the temples close at sunset or so, we decided that we would see Halebeedu and then camp at Belur for the night.
Halebeedu shiva temple is supposed to be very famous, but obviously google and our dear friend, Murphy were working together.
Google informed us that the temple is open till 6 pm only and hence we hastened since it was going on 5 pm. We reached Halebeedu and were on our way to the Shiva temple when google gave up at the last minute. We asked a local about the Shiva temple and he gestured that it was just down the road. We reached the temple and were very surprised. Not a soul in sight! Was this the famous place? No cars around at all? Worse. No one there at all??
But hang on: Here is a sign saying that this was a protected property of ASI- ergo we must be in the right place?

Edited by Earthian
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michael-ibk

Awesome shots of the Crested Hawk Eagle, definitely worth all your trouble. Also love the playful Elephants in the water and the Malabar Giant Squirrel.

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elefromoz

@@Earthian, Love the big Tusker, second in my admiration for the Crested Hawk Eagle shots. I am a big Osprey fan, always get excited when I see them in other countries on my travels, the first photo of him with the fish in his talon, brilliant, best fishermen on the water. How lucky you are to be able to travel easily and comfortably to such wonderful parts of India. A bit harder for us tourists I think, really enjoying this road trip.

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Earthian

@@Earthian, Love the big Tusker, second in my admiration for the Crested Hawk Eagle shots. I am a big Osprey fan, always get excited when I see them in other countries on my travels, the first photo of him with the fish in his talon, brilliant, best fishermen on the water. How lucky you are to be able to travel easily and comfortably to such wonderful parts of India. A bit harder for us tourists I think, really enjoying this road trip.

LOL

precisely my sentiments when i travel In Australia and on the great ocean road or in Cairns! The grass is always greener on the other side!!!

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Earthian

@@elefromoz

Thank you for your words. Means a lot. I have travelled quite a bit around the world in my business trips, but would not combine business and pleasure. For example, i have been to China 52 times, but have not seen the great wall or anything else for that matter. When ever, i could take a break, i preferred to travel overseas with my family.

It is only recently that i have realised that there is a lot to see in India too. So now i do both. Some trips in India and some overseas.

One trip on my bucket list driving across Australia. You must have done that?

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elefromoz

@@Earthian, yes indeed, "the grass is always greener". When we were in India we did all discuss how it would be impossible for us to have done the same trip independently. One country, Im sure there are others, where if you are a foreigner, a good TO is worth their weight in gold. So much to consider, crowds, traffic and apparent lack of road rules, customs, class system, tipping, tolls and bartering, tummies :huh:, to name a few challenges. One thing we do both have in common, we drive on the correct side of the road, ha ha.

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@@Earthian

 

Such diversity of wildlife! And mixing wildlife with culture should be quite entertaining.

 

Crested Hawk eagle shots are excellent, good job going down on the floor of the car (apparently not such good job getting up ;) ).

Edited by xelas
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Earthian

We went round the temple. A quiet, nice place. BUT it was not that famous Hoysaleswara Temple, but the Halebeedu - Kedareshwara Temple. Combination of Google +Murphy had led us here. We did not know at that time and we spent half an hour enjoying the peace and quiet.

 

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The carvings were magnificent, however many destroyed due to vandalism and or due to invaders

It was after 5:00 pm and we had seen an old jain temple on the way which was to close at 6 pm so we hastened there. Unlike the deserted ASI protected temple, there was a caretaker there who explained all the facets and history of the temple.

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the ceiling is supposed to contain all the tirthankers. The stone pillars are carved from one stone, by using a stone lathe, it seems.

It was getting on a little past 5:30 pm when we thanked the caretaker and asked him the way to Belur, when he said " Are you not going to see the Hoysaleswara Temple?" When we said that we thought we just did, he said that this one is the Kedareshwara Temple and not the famous one. You must hasten since that closes at 6 pm. Boy!! Murphy at his tricks again.

We scooted out of there, faster than a teetotaller from a Vegas drinking hole and managed to reach the temple with 10 minutes to spare. We ran inside and managed to get a quick look see:

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We were shooed out at 6 pm. reluctantly we had to leave. We had probably spent less than 10 minutes.
We were on our way to Belur to halt for the night and we were googling frantically for a good place.
The sky was very picturesque and i had to stop for a quick picture:

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Zim Girl

@@Earthian

 

Definitely worth the effort to get the hawk eagle pictures, also love the elephants with baby.

Really enjoying this report.

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Murli,

Spectacular pictures- the Osprey shots are amongst the best I have seen. Your writing style is also a highlight. Thanks for sharing this beautiful journey with us.

Edited by AKR1
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Earthian

@@Earthian

 

Definitely worth the effort to get the hawk eagle pictures, also love the elephants with baby.

Really enjoying this report.

Thank you, Zim Girl. I was pretty lucky with the eagle. It had just killed a grey heron and was not ready to leave. Suspect the heron was heavy for him to lift and take off.

 

 

Murli,

Spectacular pictures- the Osprey shots are amongst the best I have seen. Your writing style is also a highlight. Thanks for sharing this beautiful journey with us.

Thank you AKR1.

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Earthian

Most of the sites showed only two hotels in Belur. Both had mixed reviews. We picked Hotel Mayura Velapuri Belur. At that time we did not know that it was a government run hotel and it was a surprise to see a large courtyard, where we could park our car . We asked for an AC room and got the last one. Lots of foreigners had come, it seems.

 

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Well the room was just ok, with very dark coloured bed covers and curtains ( probably helps not show dirt... and helps to wash once in a way)

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We always carry our own sheets and covers and hence we were not bothered. What bothered us is that the electric outlet had a steel pin twisted in it such that it would not come out. Anyone could get a shock.

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The next morning we visited the famous Chennakeshava temple built in 1117 AD. It was just down the road from our hotel and we walked.

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This temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana. Belur is known for its temples built during the rule of the Hoysala dynasty . These temple complexes have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World heritage sites. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennakesava_Temple

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When we entered a group of pilgrims were taking blessing from the sacred fire.

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The temple has stone carvings of various gods and goddesses as well as dancers in many poses. Of particular interest in a statue of a dancer who is tapping her toe to the music. These carvings always leave me spellbound. It took some 100 years to build this complex. A century. Many artisans lived and died for this cause! Their children carried on. It is the journey and not the destination that counts. We need to remember that.

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I saw a group of children and gestured that i would take their group photo and they happily posed. After taking the photo, i asked their teacher (male) to give me an email i d where i could send these photographs, but since he did not understand, i asked our guide to explain to him in Kannada, which was done. i got a vague promise of giving the id later on. Here is hoping one of the students stumble upon this and downloads it for every one.

 

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We came upon this :

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A gent looked suspiciously at me as if i was the culprit who had put his feet on wet concrete. i looked down, quickly put my feet near and heaved a sigh of relief! Not me, sir.

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Edited by Earthian
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