Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Trip to Gopalaswamybetta, Bandipur and Mysore


The last weekend was an amazing time - took for a trip to the Mysore region with a gang of friends. Just after midnight, early Saturday morning, 7 of us (including self and the missus) trooped into a rickety old Qualis and made our way to Gopalaswamybetta.

We reached the hillock at around 7 am only to be treated to rib chilling cold and mist and fog! Some pics from the Godly place where mist hangs around till noon apparently!

We left Gopalaswamybetta at around 9 to move towards Bandipur. It was a pretty short drive, and within an hour we were at the gates of Country Club, Boshbetta. Some bargaining found us gaining an entry for 1500 rs per day per head for stay and food (against the regular charge of 2500 rs! Guess my course on negotiations has already started working in my innards). The resort was very well done with loads of things to do during a lazy holiday - from TT to carrom to swimming to snooker.

The rest of the day passed by without much activity - we just decided to take the early morning safari the next day and booked a Bolero camper for the trip.

On Sunday, we all tore ourselves from our beds, tired from sleeping late after useless chatter the previous night - little did we know what we were to be treated to that day! At around 7, our jeep set out from the resort. And pretty soon we were into our 'jungle safari' in an open top jeep. The first hour provided us some sights to settle down into the trip.

Then we spotted a jeep rushing towards the other side of the forest. On our catching up, the driver of that jeep informed us that a tiger had been spotted a short while ago near a watering hole. Excited to our bones, we rushed behind the jeep ourselves. In a couple of minutes, we were there, only to find 5 other jeeps waiting before us! But none had the clue to where the beast was and were simply trying their luck in hoping to spot the animal though it had been spotted more than half an hour ago. After going around the watering hole for a few minutes, we lost hope and went back to the other side of the forest to resume our safari in the direction we had planned. This time, we saw a few other beings.

As we kept moving on in the muddy path, our jeep screeched to a sudden halt. And this was the reason:

Our guide told us that the mark was fresh!! We then went on in the path and spotted the marks in a couple of other places. But the beast itself did not make its presence felt. After going around for 15 mins, we lost hope (again).

Our driver now took us back to the watering hole again. We were near the end of the 2.5 hour trip, and any moment he could declare the safari closed. But he wanted to check one last time before giving up. And this time, he took us deeper into the jungle where the path was covered with leaves - no other jeep had come there in a long time! And the reason was soon obvious - the path was very rough and had lots of bumps. But time went on, and we didn't spot anything even insignificant.

Jay got frustrated and declared "Even if a leopard comes now, don't wake me up. Am taking a nap".

As he said that, we were going on a rather rough patch at quite some speed. And our jeep jumped high up in the air. I was standing towards the front of the open top jeep, looking at the path ahead. As we jumped, I could see a bit beyond in the path.

What I saw caused a lump in my throat.

It seemed like a tiger was crossing the road - a couple of hundred metres away from us. None of the others (save Raghavan) had seen it cos they were all seated. And the tiger was beyond a huge hump in the road that blocked our vision. We could spot it for a second only cos' of the bump that we ran on. It was like a movie scene where the hero is introduced with some flashes of appearance!

Fighting to get the words out of my mouth, I bleated: "Heyyyyy.. Tiger..".. By then we had reached the hump on the road.

And everyone could see for themselves.

There was this shining yellow beast, loitering beneath a tree. 100 metres from us.

Pic Courtesy: KiKa

While I expected our jeep to stop dead, our driver raced faster than ever in the general direction of the tiger!!! He stopped on a sudden brake only after we reached right next to the big cat.

We all held on to dear life as the animal kept walking and staring at us in alternation for 2-3 full minutes.

Every time the tiger went past us, our driver would rev up the jeep and go right next to it. The tiger would pause and take a look at us hapless beings, and then move on. This happened half a dozen times!

I kept waiting for the perfect pose and perfect shot of the tiger.. While my 10x zoom did help (and was probably not even needed for the animal was just 15 feet away), I couldn't get into the right position for a good click.

Finally, the last full pic I took of the tiger was along the lines of what I wanted to click.

As I yearned for more front-on shots of him, the tiger slowly got into the thicket, not to be seen again.

Here's the full video :)

There are only 17 tigers in the whole of the national park. And it's a hugeeeeee expanse. We were really lucky to spot this one!

Few experiences get me excited in life. This was one.

Dazed by the whole thing, we rushed back to the resort to gobble down breakfast, spotting this tamed pachyderm on the way.

On the way back, we stopped over at Mysore briefly to catch the lighting thing at the palace.

The video below captures the exact moment when the serial lights are turned on. Thanks to KiKa for this video!


Madhankumar Anandhakrishnan said...

Cool pics and videos! :)
Lucky you! My visit to Bandipur in February was so boring and eventless :(

KP said...

Nice pics Vishwa!

King Vishy said...

@Madhan Krish..
Ohh.. tuff luck da..

Thanks machi! And get back to blogging soon!

Wangdi said...

Reliving every moment of the trip after reading this :)

Ezhil Buddhan said...

Yow.. innaayaa ippadi ellam kalakkureenga..
Simply superb.

idhu kadhayall nijam..

idhu eppadi.
I am sure that you are enjoying the life at its best...

keep up the spirit.
all the best...

eppo singam singathai thoratha pogudhu....????

Kavity said...

Awesome pics and video! Oru mini animal planet paartha madhiri irundhudhu (even though it is just one animal). Lucky you! I am totally envious!

King Vishy said...

:) Lets plan the next soon!

@Ezhil Buddhan..
Puli puliyai ellaam thurathavillai.. andha puliyai paarthadhum engal vayitril puli karaithadhu than unmai :)
irundhaalum thangal perunthanmaikku nandri thalaiva :)

He he.. thanks!
BTW did you folks go somewhere around here? We need to plan our next trip.. need ideas!

slash said...

Nice pics, dude. You're lucky to have seen a tiger at Bandipur. Last year, this day, i too was there. But I took the 3.30 pm safari, it was hot and no tiger sighting. Maybe next time, I'll do what you did. Take a jeep safari early morning.

King Vishy said...

Hmmm luck does play a role in this.. But if you go during summer and anchor yourselves around a watering hole for a couple of hours, chances of sighting some animals would be high :)

Vinay Sekhar said...

I know of people who have been going to forests for 14 years and are yet to spot a tiger. I have been on 4 forest trips and not spotted one. You guys are very very fortunate. Haven't been to Bandipur though. As always, GREAT PICS!

Girl of Destiny said...

Great pics Vishy! Esp. the tiger ones... Reminds me of 'Tiger Tiger Burning Bright'. It is one majestic cat that we can look at all day long isn't it??

mk said...

Hi vishwa....I just came to see ur blog...I am ur junior in tech...Blog super...Puli comment chance ae illa...

King Vishy said...

@vinay sekhar..
ya da.. we didnt realize how significant that was then.. only after we came back and started tellin people about this did we realize how lucky we were!

@Girl of Destiny..
Long time!! welcome back..
And ya.. it was so damn majestic!

Thanks a lot da!! :) welcome aboard my blog.. And have we met at Tech?

King Vishy said...

@all.. thanks guys!! :)

தக்குடு said...

cool photos dude!!..;) tiger photo pramaatham. Malaikku meela ninnundu neenga tellarum antha first photola yenna pannindu irukkenga??..:PP

King Vishy said...

@thakkudu.. Thanks ma :)
And first photo pathi enna kaelvi! neenga enna nenaikkureengalo adha pannala.. just act pannom.. see the second guy from the right :) evlo style-aa uchaa poraan..