Monday, October 23, 2006

Right here - Right NOW!

last try, originally uploaded by toothleswonder.

Peace - with salt to taste.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The hitchhiker's guide to Nagarhole

I’m back. And I’m tired and sleepy.
Although I could not convert many shots, the trip was a major learning experience in terms of knowing my own camera, and how to get the shots right while in the jungle.
Now it’s a very tough game, there.
The play of light and dark, and the way the animal would move suddenly from a lit up bit to a very dark patch of shade makes it almost impossible to get a good shot. That coupled with the rain clouds hanging menacingly overhead, and moving about, changing the light and leaving us completely uncertain about how much time we had at hand, it was a total mess.

Now why is the post named the way it is?
Well, this was the first time I was going to Nagarhole, and I was clueless. I was hoping I could find some good info on Google, but I could not find anything worth a mention.
This I hope, will be of use to those planning a weekend trip to Nagarhole from Bangalore.

So, where’s this place?
Nagarhole jungles are on the Western Ghats, On the Kerala-Karnataka border. (Mysore/Coorg districts on the right, and Wayanad (Kerala) on the left).
When traveling from Bangalore, one would have to take the Bangalore-Mysore road, and take a right from Srirangapatna (some 18 Km before Mysore) to Hunsur (To locate the turn, it would be advisable to ask for the road leading to Ranganthittu bird sanctuary, because the advice that people give you may be pretty misleading, and cost you a few tens of extra kilometers, as we found out in the onward journey). If you reset your trip meter when you leave Bangalore, it should read about 190 kms when you reach Hunsur.
The first checkpost that lets you into the sanctuary is 19 Kms from Hunsur. (the forest office is yet another 40 kms from here)
Apart from a few bad stretches here and there, the roads are okay till this point.

What can I find there?
Well, you’ll find a jungle there. (duh!)

And in the jungle, you’ll get to spot a lot of deer (like this one in the picture), and foxes, some jungle foul, macaques, gaur (bisons) , and elephants. Anything else you see is a bonus.

Can I ride up to this place?

Yes, you can, but they won’t let you go on the bike beyond this point.

And to hire a jeep, you’d have to go back 20 kilometers to Hunsur.
O yeah, we did that. :) ( The boys had come on bikes, plus it'd be better for the car not to drive on that road)

Where do I stay in Nagarhole?

Well, a good place would be on a tree top, but it would not be advisable, as you may end up getting eaten by some hungry animal (the most popular monkey trick is to push people off trees!).
Well, if you feel rich, you may choose between two resorts close to the jungle that charge you like crazy, or pull some strings, and get the only forest IB, but the latter would be very very tough.

So you have two options to choose from:

a. Halt at Hunsur, where you can find cheap accommodation, and then drive up early in the morning.
b. Drive through the park, get on the other side (that should be some 55-60 Kms from Hunsur) , and get to Kutta. There are many estates that entertain guests at their estate houses for nominal charges.

The stretch through the jungle will look something like this. (This road, however stays closed from 6pm to 6 am.)

Ok, what next?

The forest department arranges regular safaris from 6am to 8 am and then from 3pm to 5 pm. These are supposed to be good. They charge Rs.75 per head.
You could alternatively opt to drive the safari by yourself. This is rather costly, because you still pay Rs.75 per head, plus you pay rs.300 for the car, plus 150 for the guide (The gun and the guide are standard accessories)

If you missed the morning safari/ finished it early, it would still be a good idea to drive through to Kutta, and trek up hill at the Irpu falls.

What do I wear?

They don’t mandate a dress code, but camouflage clothing would be great idea, if you’re looking for great shots. You stay still, and animals ignore you. If you’re planning to trek, wear shorts, that way you’ll at least get o see the leeches that are feasting on you. .

Note: One of our guys got a leech in his posterior, and didnt even know. by the time we were back at the hotel, the leech had turned into jelly - and it looked like he'd shat blood.
(I know that was gross :p)

The drive through the jungle is very dusty, so I would suggest that you carry a wet towel – Too much dust on the face and nose can be quite irritating.
A cigarette lighter would also come in handy on a hike.

Any more tips?

Carry cash. There is only one ATM in Hunsur, but not many people know what that is. The chances are that the person may not even give a damn about you when he's busy giving his bulocks a bath.

It's at the State bank of Mysore. Don’t bother asking people – they won’t know.
Carry a change of clothes, a towel, and carry your camera.

And Yeah – Don’t act stupid. You needn’t get all excited and scream every time you see something. Don’t try to feed an elephant calf, don’t throw stones, if possible, try talking your girlfriend from getting out of the car, and don’t think it’ll be a good idea to stop for a while, and fry an egg.

PS: Nagarhole is also called Rajiv Gandhi National park.