On Thursday morning, we left Bangalore by car to Bandipur, a National Park that is a preserve for animals in a natural habitat. It was a 5 hour ride from here (about 250 kms). We got to the location about 1:30 pm, had lunch and were ready for our first safari.
We got into a jeep driven by a local driver who took us through jeep trails from 3:30 – 6:30 pm. The roads are very primitive, but the ride is to go through the park as quitely as possible without disturbing the animals. After all we are the guests, and the animals roam around any where they feel like.
We saw monkeys, many herds of deer, families of elephants, wild boars, gray jungle fowl, wild dogs, mongoose, sambars (a class of deer) roaming around. Every time we saw the animals, we had to stay very quiet and let them pass.
We stayed at a resort owned by the daughter of the former maharaja of Mysore. Even though the accomodation is primitive from western standards, we had a nice bed, a large room and a bathroom.
We got served coffee at 6 am at our room, and we were ready to go ona safari again the next day from 6:30-8:45 am; again going around the trails, looking for animnals in their natural habitat. We also had occassion to get out of the vehicle and see a canyon (3-4000 feet deep) that separated this state from the neighboring state. The view is spectacular.
We spent the late morning visiting an ancient temple (700 years old) 30 kms from here. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is built on top of a mountain and has a 360 degree view. It is surrounded by 77 lakes. It is quite a majestc view.
Later in the afternoon, we crossed the boder into the next state and went on a bus touring the other side of the national park. Later that evening, we saw two documentaries produced in English for visitors on conservation, problems they have faced to eliminate poaching etc.
We did the same thing on Saturday morning and left the resort around 10:30 am.
Even though we never got to see a tiger, a note in the reception hall showed that a tiger was sighted on Wednesday Nov 1, 2006. Obviosusly there were no guarantees that we would see a tiger when we went there.
This area was a backdrop for a movie made in the 1960’s called Harry Black and the Tiger featurng Stewart Granger. I remember seeing the movie but not much else.
Once we left the national park, we stopped at an art gallery that exhibits paintings from the maharaja era of the state. There are some nice collections, but it really needs to be better maintained; they need a good curator to tell the story of the maharajah’s of Mysore.
On our way back, we stopped at a wildlife anctuary for the birds. The population of the birds was moerate, but were told that January/February is the peak season. There is a large lake and we took a boat ride to get closer to the birds. We saw a lot of bats, pelicans, cranes, and some exotic birds as well. We learned that birds arrive from as far away as Siberia, Switzerland and Germany, Australia, Africa and South America. It was a very relaxing and gentle boat ride.
We came back home around 7 pm. Every one was tense as one omy sister’s sons had been away all day working on a special project. he came back safe by 9 pm. I will tell that story another time.