May 13, 2015

Kabini- Serene Wilderness...!!

A few kilometers before the Kerala border, a sign board showed up with the direction to Kabini River Lodge. From the well paved asphalted road that made its way through villages and farmlands bordering the Nagarhole forest, the sudden detour led to an undulated mud road. Slowly, green vistas made its presence and in a while Kabini showed up. Blue, expansive and serene, Kabini reservoir looked like a humungous blue amoeba floating amidst brown hills and patches of greenery, albeit only a portion visible.

The first glimpse

Kabini reservoir has been carved out of the river by the same name, which originates in Wayanad. Being a part of the Nagarhole national park, which teems with wildlife, the shores of these backwaters offer numerous exciting sightings. Earlier well known as the hunting ground of Mysore King and British Viceroys, Kabini now has quite a few resorts offering breathtaking vistas of the gorgeous backwaters. Mesmerised at the first glimpse of Kabini, the car trudged forward to one of the best properties of Jungle lodges and resorts. This hunting lodge of the erstwhile Mysore maharajas has been creatively converted into a beautiful resort overlooking the serene Kabini reservoir. Kabini river lodge charms its visitors with its explicit woodwork and beautifully maintained interiors amidst the serene surrounding. The tall ceilings in the rooms and the plush wood furnishings in bar area which takes one back to the maharaja's era gives it the royal charm.

Jungle Lodges and Resorts
I strolled around the campus, captured the exquisite hunting lodge, the colourful tress and the encapsulating vistas of the Kabini reservoir from the pier. A hot cup of sweet coffee later, wrapped in orange life jackets, boarded the boat and it motored its way sending ripples in all directions. Kabini lay ahead like a femme fatale, spreading itself out along the boundaries of the forest reserve. Beyond the buoyant waters lay expansive stretches of greenery with withered trees and small open grasslands. Summers had just set in and the lush greenery had slowly given way to the brownness in patches.  Protruding wooden stumps emerged from the waters at many places, and quite a few black cormorants perched themselves on them to gaze at the expansiveness of Kabini in oblivion.

Kabini reservoir

Kabini is home to more than 200 species of birds. A wide range of avian fauna such as herons, storks, cormorants, ibis, lapwings, kingfisher and many more languorously strolled by the shores. Some waded along the shallow edges of the reservoir, while a few flew in different directions in search of another location to perch. Many lenses came out and the shutters clicked many a time to capture the avian fauna and the gorgeous landscape. There were numerous deer, both spotted and sambar which nonchalantly grazed along the fringes of the reservoir, not buoyed by the noise of the motorboat.

Kabini is well known for its elephants and leopard sightings, and though many wished to see a feline quenching its thirst, the frame remained elusive. A while later, the motorboat went silent and all spoke in hushed silence as a lone tusker rattled some bamboo by the bank to satiate its hunger. Never once did it turn around to stare at the boats, nor were the deer nearby perturbed by the presence of the pachyderm. A couple of mongooses made a quick dash amidst the many wooden stumps on the bank while a peacock languidly strolled past the deer to make up for an ideal wild setting. The boat stood still for long as the picturesque wild frame amidst absolute serenity was captured both by the lenses and the souls who stared in oblivion.

The tusker
Wild boar
The boat motored its way once again into the expansiveness of the enchanting reservoir which seemed more like a placid lake with its verdant green background. There were more deer, peacocks, cormorants, wild boars and a few langurs that loitered along its bank as the boat stopped again at the sight of another lone elephant which was semi hidden amidst bamboos. The sun had mellowed and the gleaming reservoir looked all the more gorgeous as the boat made its way back to the pier. As the boat moored, the setting red sun going down the horizon was indeed one of the best frames captured during the day. The day wound with a wildlife video which was an insight into the lives of the wild beings and their survival in a world encroached by humans.

Jeeps packed with visitors left the resort premises early next morning on a safari ride into the Nagarhole national park (presently known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park). Enthusiastic wildlife lovers with tucked in cameras and bleary eyes peered in search of anything wild as the jeeps lunged forward into the wilderness of Nagarhole. The forest was still wrapped in the morning mist, and the brown muddy road meandered its way through the tall withered trees. It looked more brown than green due to the onset on summer. A sambar was the first sighting which gave a glance before it sauntered away. Wild boars, spotted deer and langurs sprung up many a time as the jeep surged on the mud trail. Avian fauna was a delight to watch as numerous colourful birds fluttered all over. Indian roller was the frequently sighted one while others included hoopoes, kingfishers, parakeets, indian robins, emerald doves, jungle fowls and many more. A lone serpent eagle stay put on a tall branch lost in the amazing vistas from the top. Further high on a different branch was perched a brown owl which was only partially visible.

Indian Roller
Serpent eagle

Though there were a couple of alarm calls, all were false ones and despite the wait at a few junctures like waterholes, the felines remained elusive. I have always believed that sighting the wild is sheer luck and the only tiny factor other than that is having good guides who know the jungle well. Despite the guide's good effort and the constant information that passed on while the jeeps crossed paths,  I will have to come back to sight a wild cat in Nagarhole national park and Kabini. After a long wait at a waterhole, the jeep stopped at another, where a lone tusker quenched his thirst. The jeeps and human presence did not deter him from his act and he nonchalantly strolled along the edges of the waterhole to drink more water. This sighting did satiate the eagerness to spot a wild being to an extent and the jeep drove us out of the park, past more deer and peacocks en-route. 


A sumptuous breakfast awaited the wildlife enthusiasts at the resort, post which it was a drive back to Bangalore along the fringes of Nagarhole national park. Kabini is undoubtedly a wildlife lover's delight with the serene reservoir and the national park, which teems with wildlife. 

Signing Note- Lose yourself to the wilderness of Kabini...!!

Route- Bangalore- Mysore- Hampapura- HD Kote- Antarasanthe- Karapura
Distance-235 Kms
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