September 18, 2013

Bandipur- Into the Wild...!!


As soon as we entered the Bandipur National park, we stopped the car and got out for a photo session. We knew we were not supposed to stop the vehicle but we did, and were asked by an army personnel who drove behind us to get back into the car and leave. That was an interesting start to our wild adventures at Bandipur. With sulking faces we got back into our car and drove past the lovely winding roads painted in green on either sides with an odd spotted deer popping its head between the bushes. An aged and ill looking elephant stood by the road and we slowed down for a click. I had driven past the Bandipur national park information centre and forest department guest houses many times but never stopped by. This time however our stay was arranged at one of the cottages of the forest department. We checked in, booked our safari for the evening, had lunch, dumped the luggage and then set out to explore the surroundings.



Both the information centre and the forest guest houses are adjacent to the road that cuts through the national park and hence the surrounding areas are frequently visited by herds of spotted deer, wild boars, peacocks, bonnet macaques and langurs. We strolled around the place to find some beautiful landscapes in the distance. Monsoons had left its mark and the whole place seemed covered in a carpet of greenery with distant green hills, tall trees and thick foliage. The fluffy white clouds hovering above these made the scenery all the more dramatic. We saw a couple of bonnet macaques gleefully playing on the branches of trees near the road. The forest department also has a few tamed elephants which were being trained near the forest office. 
The beautiful landscape
A tamed one
Playful bonnet macaques
We crossed the road upon seeing a few wild pigs and their piglets happily playing with each other. While capturing them on our lenses, we were in for a special surprise as a huge herd of 100-150 spotted deer were happily grazing near by. That was indeed the largest herd of deer I had seen at one glance and had stags, fawns and female deer. From the piglets, our lenses turned focus to the spotted deer. It is tough to see them from very close quarters as they are quite wary about human movements. We took each step with caution to capture these elegant creatures. However a few popped up their heads, giving us a stare but most of them to our surprise, nonchalantly grazed unaffected by our presence. There were a few stags which locked horns with each other and that made for some wonderful captures. More tourists stopped by on seeing the huge herd and were all over the place making noises and got very close to the deer and that disturbed them. We spend quite some time with the gentle deer before heading back to the forest office for our jungle safari. That was the first glimpse of wildlife at Bandipur for us. As we patiently waited for the jeep to arrive, we captured some playful langurs jumping from one tree to another. They were all over the place and were happily enjoying all the attention they received from the visitors. 


Wild pigs
Spotted deer


A jumping langur
We had a very friendly driver for our safari and he took all possible routes to make sure we had a good sighting during the same. All of us wanted to spot one of the big cats. Be it a tiger or a leopard, we wanted to sight it and we peppered our driver all those nice talks to help us spot one. We all knew wildlife sighting cannot be done that way. Had it been that easy to spot wildlife, I do not think wildlife sanctuaries and national parks would have got so much prominence and there would have been so many wildlife enthusiasts. But a desire is a desire! Our driver mentioned that a week back, a tiger lay on the road for about fifteen minutes blocking the traffic. Now that is what you call 'luck'! The woods looked so serene and beautiful with greenery, fresh air, waterholes, elephant dumps and meandering paths. We began the drive by spotting the commonly seen peacocks, spotted dear, wild hare, wild fowl etc. The peacocks looked so beautiful and their blue hue blended so beautifully against the bright green background. Surprisingly we did not see any elephants. Suddenly our driver stopped the vehicle and said "Pug Marks". I had never spotted a big cat in the wild and those words from the driver made me excited. However it was just pug marks that we saw for a long while and kept following the pathways. The spotted deer kept marking its presence frequently along with the odd peacock. Even though the driver kept speaking over the wireless with other vehicles, the response was negative. 




A wild fowl

A waterhole
All of a sudden the driver remarked after his conversation over the wireless that three tigers have been spotted in three different places at the same time. Our joy knew no bounds as we drove towards the spot. A couple of vehicles were already parked near a waterhole and we too found a nice place to park and view the beast. The tiger was at a distance of about 100 meters or more and was happily enjoying its solitude in the waters probably after a heavy meal. Cameras flashed from all the vehicles as the lenses zoomed many fold to capture the stripped cat. Unperturbed by all the noises and the people, the big cat was lost in its own moments. We had doubts whether it was asleep in the waters as it never moved from its position. Suddenly there was a 'hurrah' from the crowd. The tiger had lifted its head and kept looking in the direction of the vehicles. Patience had paid off as all the onlookers were desperate to see the tiger move from its still position. Though at a distance, the experience of spotting a tiger in the wild was definitely an enthralling experience. However the sight of 5-6 vehicles loaded with people making noises and flashing cameras at a silent beast was not that great a sight. After capturing a few more angles of the wild beast we drove back from wildlife to civilization. As per wireless communications later, the other two tigers had retreated back into its wilderness. We however were a bit disappointed about not spotting an elephant but the words of our driver made us happy. He said, ''Spotting an elephant is not a big deal as you can see it even by the side of the road, but you are lucky to have spotted a tiger in the wild, which is a rarity". 





The stripped cat
The evening was cold and we came out of our cottage late in the night to have a glimpse of the shining stars. That was indeed a beautiful sight. We got up early next day for our morning safari. After spotting a tiger the previous evening, we were all charged up and enthusiastic to spot another one. Supposedly, mornings are the best time for wildlife sighting. As we entered the path into the woods, a few spotted deer jumped the tracks and crossed us. Our first sighting was a lonely indian gaur, which was happily sitting under a tree in oblivion. After capturing its candid moments, we drove further into the forest which looked so fresh and beautiful early in the morning. There were fresh pug marks and elephants dumps all along and our driver was sure that the animals were close by and had not wandered off far. Now more than the tiger, we wanted to see the wild elephant which had eluded us since the previous evening. We followed the pug marks for quite a distance with all the heads popping out of the vehicle in different directions. Frequent interaction through wireless did not yield any exciting information this time. The dumps were frequently seen on either sides of the path but the elephants still remained elusive. Even though we followed the trail marks for long we had to get back without sightings of any wild cat or elephant. Our driver being the generous guy, explored 15 minutes beyond the allotted safari time in search of a sighting. However we did not have the luck that we were bestowed with the previous evening. As we came out of the woods, we spotted a beautiful peacock sitting on a wood with its feathers beautifully laid out. That was an eye-soothing sight. 


A Gaur
A beauty
After breakfast, we checked out and drove past more greenery, spotted deers and wild pigs beyond the Bandipur National park towards Mysore. Bandipur Natinal park does have some of the best wildlife sightings in the Nilgiris biosphere and apart from the commonly seen deer, peacocks, wild pigs, langurs and fowls, the rarely seen tigers, elephants, leopards and dholes make their presence felt inside it.

Signing Note- Get engulfed by the wilderness...!!

Route- Bangalore- Mandya- Mysore- Nanjangud- Gundlupet- Bandipur
Distance- 220 Kms

56 comments:

  1. wonderful images and beautiful narration...i could visualize myself as u narrated..... I passed through mudumalai national park once as part of work trip and spotted wild buffalo, elephants and deers.... that was so exciting..so i can imagine how much this must have been!!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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    1. Thanks a lot Sushmita. It was a great experience.

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  2. Wildlife so enchanting and so difficult to photograph! You had so many sightings.

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    1. Patience is what a wildlife photographer requires. I was quite lucky this time. :)

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  3. Fascinating pictures.Looks like you could see a wide variety of flora & fauna.

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  4. Lovely pictures. Loved the picture of stripped cat.

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  5. amazing pics Niran....and description informative as usual...cheers :)...Tresa

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  6. Amazing shots... Must've been a great experience... Thanks for sharing...

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  7. Oh! how i loved the picture of the stripped cat :) Quite a brave thing to do I must say!

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  8. It's ok about the elephants. Exactly! you got to see a gorgeous cat :)
    And it looks like it was quite a feast for your eyes this visit. Nice account, Nomad. :)

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    1. Thanks a Divya. Yeah, the sighting of the cat satisfied me. :)

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  9. Very nice report, makes me plan a trip to Bhandipur!

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    1. Thanks Kusum. Head there soon. You will love it. However, it might not be as exciting as your Madhya Pradesh adventures. :)

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  10. Nice honest write up. First of all congrats on the tiger sighting. In more than a decade of travels in Bandipur I have met the tiger only a handful of times. You were really fortunate to see it in this wet weather. Second thing, I am a member of an NGO that used to do public awareness campaigns in Bandipur till the forest department stopped cooperating. However, even today when I drive into Bandipur I make sure I stop to tell picnicking tourists to move on and also collect plastic wasted dumped by them, and dispose it properly at the dust bins in the reception center. Next time you stop, look for plastics on the roadside a collect it. No one will object if you are doing good service to the National Park. Just remember, don't stop longer than necessary or have a party!
    Cheers!

    Sse this link and it's related posts. http://woodcrawler.blogspot.in/2009/02/bandipur-burns.html

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    1. Thanks a lot. Summers are the best time to spot wildlife. I was however lucky during the rainy season. :) That is a wonderful initiative to keep the forests devoid of plastic. I shall definitely put forward my helping hand next time I pass by. :)

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  11. wowww :) hats off to you and your camera...pictures are amazing..specially the peacock, animal foot print and the narrow mud road.

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  12. Super awesome.I am planning to go there v.v.soon.Your blog helped :)

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    1. Thank you. Glad that my post would be helpful. Enjoy!

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  13. Awesome... esp that money in the air :D

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  14. Such a nice information related to wildlife tour in India...Awesome...

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  15. What a beautiful place. Shared this with my husband who loves this sort of a trip - our last trip was to Ranthambore.

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    1. Glad that you liked it. I am sure you had a great experience in Ranthambore.

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  16. Eye catching shots and beautiful described...

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  17. awesome..reminds me of our trip to Bandipur.... btw do u have any info about Dandeli? which is the best place to stay in the forest? activities etc....if u have then could u pls mail me the details?

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    1. Thank you. I am yet to visit Dandeli, so cant really help you out with the details. Have heard adventure activities like rafting and rappelling are the preferred choices of activities in Dandeli. A visit to syntheri rocks is also recommended.

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  18. Lovely shots and good walk through of your experience :)

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  19. Hi,
    I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing such great information. It is very informative and provides knowledge of Bandipur Wilderness

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