Friday, September 08, 2006

BR Hills - A tale of a Tyre

BRT rarely disappoints visitors but then every once in a while an occasion comes along that you wont forget in a hurry.

Monday, 4th September 2006; 6.40 PM. It had been raining and the atmosphere was heavy. The animals had gone deeper and none were in the mood to grant an audience. My fourth visit to BRT was proving to be a damp squib literally.

Chital were there in numbers but even the usually plentiful gaur gave only guest appearances. As for the elephants, they had all left to Mysore for the Dussera festival or so Sudeesh and Nagesh felt! The light had already faded at 5.00 PM and I packed my camera fearing the weather. We had all drifting into a disappointed silence at the trick BRT had played with us.

The jeep was climbing up the slope past the turnoff to Annekere when we were jolted out of our reverie by a loud pop, almost like an air rifle had gone off. We had a puncture. Suddenly we were all awake. 6.40 PM was not an ideal time for a puncture, especially on an incline in a jungle famous for its gaurs, elephants and sloth bears. Mercifully, the rain god was not in a punishing mood.

We had to get off the vehicle in the dark so that the tyre could be changed and suddenly the idea of encountering an elephant or sloth bear became very unwelcome. The rustling of bushes along the track became unusually louder, and that barking deer calling from somewhere in the bush seemed to be sending us a message. It had become totally dark and it made the shadows play tricks on the mind.

Those ten minutes it took Nagesh to change the tyre were endless. There was a four year old, a five year old, and a wisecracking teen who wanted to know just then what snakes were there in BRT. We did not know the resort staff planned to screen a Nat Geo special on Rom Whittaker and King cobras for us after the safari!!

Why I carried a flashlight and a head light on that particular trip I don’t know but they came in handy. I had never ever carried a flashlight on a safari before.

BRT did not disappoint. It just showed us a different face of the jungle.

KGudi - Gaur's own country

Nestled on the slopes of the Biligirirangan hills of Chamarajanagar, Karnataka is a little known destination for ardent wildlifers. It is not for nothing that this 540 square kilometer sanctuary is called the "Gaur's own country". Formerly the hunting preserve of the erstwhile rulers of Mysore, it is one of Karnataka's best kept secrets.

Located at an altitude of 1700 metres the sanctuary is at the bifurcation of the Western & Eastern Ghats. This unique location gives it the benefit of a salubrious climate. The tempratures averaging between 35 to 15 degrees. It is home to over 25 species of mammals nad 240 species of birds making it a paradise for wildlifers.

The sanctuary can be accessed either from Chamrajnagar (28kms) or Yellandur (20 kms) depending on where you are coming from. The K Gudi Wilderness Camp is located next to the check post on top of the ghat road from Chamrajnagar.