So me and my friends drove (they did the driving of course, not me...If I drive we will reach only one destination and most of us were not ready to reach there yet) to Bandipur, Beligiri Rangana hills . With my cousin being kind enough to make some arrangements for our stay and sight seeing, we looked forward for 2 days of pleasant fun.
Our first stop was Gundlupet where we had our guest house rooms booked. From here we headed to Gopalswamy hills. The road from Gundlupet to the hills has been declared as a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India, so all vehicles were avoiding the road and moving along the sides so as to not to disturb the ancient road way, which I believe was constructed during the reign of kings and has never been repaired since then.
Once we reached the hill, we did the most important hing to do. Yes, check our mobiles for the signals (yeah I know I said, I wanted to get away from everything, but who knows a sweet young thing may decide to call me ...). After a few choice words for the mobile service providers for the lack of signal (in fact one of my friend's service provider was informing him that he was in Tamilnadu and wishing him a pleasant stay there and my other friend was supposedly in Kerala. All the time we were standing in Karnataka. Note to self--send Kannada activists to the offices of these mobile companies)
The temple is pretty old and the priest there informed us of the history and importance of the Deity. He also mentioned about the huge rock somewhere in the hill which supposedly helped childless people to conceive. He did not go in to the technicalities of how it helped. But while driving back we saw this rock. It was huge and there was lot of space behind it and the place was devoid of any human presence. So it wasn't hard to imagine how the rock helped, if you know what I am saying...
The view from the top of the hill was pretty good and yes we had the obligatory photo sessions.
Next was the safari in Bandipur. As we waited for our bus for the safari to come in, I saw a lots of tourists waiting with us. Most of them were busily clicking pics of monkeys, which as is their nature were busy scratching their unmentionables. At last when the bus came in there was a mad rush to get in to the bus, with people pushing each other. The bus driver had to shout at them and tell them that the tickets had seat numbers in them and there is no need for this mad scramble. Well at least I gotta see quite a few 'wild' animals even before the safari started.
The bus started and took us in to the forest. Everyone were eager to see what the jungle offered them. But the noise they made was loud enough to scare away the animals and the driver had to shout at us once more to keep quiet. We saw a few animals on the way like deers, bisons, wild boar, stags, peacocks and not to mention a cock which was looking for some adventure out in the jungle and was making pass at a peacock (either it was too drunk to notice that it was a peacock or preferred it that way).
But there was no satisfying the people in the bus. The bison was not near enough, the deers did not pose, the peacock did not fan its feathers (I wonder if humans had a highly elongated upper tail coverts jutting out of their bottoms, whether they would be inclined to show it off to others). Some people concluded that the best place to see wild animals is in a zoo.
By the end of the of the safari, I was left wondering whether this trip was for us humans to see animals in their natural habitat or was it for the animals to take a close look at humans and be wary of us. If it was the latter, then no doubt we succeeded in it by our shenanigans .
We decided to call it a day (why do we call it a day, when in fact its night baffles me) and after a good dinner at a local mess, we retired to our rooms. It was quite early and devoid of TV, computer I was confused as to what to do. It was a weird experience where you had to just sit and talk with friends. We couldn't do it for long and submitted ourselves to sleep and became mosquito fodder.
Next day we started early and after a brief stopover at my cousin's place for a wonderful breakfast, we drove to Beligiri Rangana hills (henceforth known as BR hills). It again is part of conserved forest area and we can get in to the area after 6 Am and before 6 Pm. The road to the hill is winding and narrow and after a close encounter with a state transport bus we reached the top and made our way to the Ranganatha temple. After paying our respects and seeking blessings, our guide took us behind the temple and through a fence to a rocky outcrop from where the whole forest spread across below us. It offered a beautiful view of the whole area and was quite dangerous too as there was nothing to stop us from hurling ourselves down except for the fear of dying.
Our rooms were in the guest house at the top of the hill and when we reached there we were informed that our rooms were not ready yet. Next we visited the ashram of Swami Nirmalananda. A nice and quiet place with lots for trees and plants . Behind the ashram was another treacherous rock jutting out in to the forest and we had to climb on to it to get ourselves clicked. again the forest below us was breathtaking and a slip would really have taken our breath literally.
After a satisfying lunch at a restaurant we reached the guest house where our 'VIP' room was waiting for us. A short nap later, we were ready again for a safari through the adjoining forests, only to be disappointed by the forest officer who informed that he could not arrange it and would be possible to do it only the next day. We then decided to roam around the place and our roaming led us to a view point which offered a spectacular view of sunset and the forests. We spent the rest of the day sitting there looking at the setting sun and talking. It was a good experience. Our conversation ranged from in depth critical evaluation of the latest movies we saw to the profound philosophical questions (why till now girls haven't fallen for me?)which has plagued mankind. We also came up with a script for a horror movie, which we plan to produce and direct in the near future.
The sun disappeared at the horizon and the sounds of the forests became louder and a light breeze blowing. It was a perfect moment to lose yourself in. But as everything in my life, this moment was shattered by a watchman who told us to vacate lest we terrify some wild animals which come out at night. As we made our way back to our room, we were struck by the clear night sky. It had been ages since I saw so many stars and my knowledge of astronomy begged to come out. We spent some time staring at the sky and pointing out at stars, constellations, identifying them and creating our own on the way. The local people no doubt had a good laugh looking at four of us staring at the sky and shouting.
An early night again and the next morning started with I must say with quite a bit of trepidation. The in charge of the guest house was an expert in human physiology and had come to a conclusion that there would not be any use of water to us during the night. He had turned the water mains off and our morning was a mixture of cursing the in charge, stomping around the room. All I can say is I would not want to repeat that experience again. So lets move along.
The forest official came along with his vehicle and raised our hopes by announcing that there was no hope of seeing any wild animals at this time and we should have gone a lot earlier. As we moved along the forest we did see a wild squirrel, bisons, stags, deers. But the drive it self was akin to a roller coaster ride with our driver imagining himself driving on a 6 lane highway whereas in fact the road (if you could call it one) was a stretch of mud winding in and out of the forest.
With our short vacation nearing an end, we started back towards home. On the way back, we stopped at Shivanasamudra. The water falls is quite good and would have been spectacular when the river is full. We chose to look at the bigger picture and ignore the fact that people have used the place as a waste bin and dumped all kind of rubbish in there. Our next hop was to Talakad which is a place covered with sand. It has been excavated and quite a few temples have been unearthed.
As we approached Bangalore and its traffic, I was wondering staying back in that ashram would not have been a bad idea after all....Also I watched race just to ogle at Katrina....