Sunday, July 08, 2012

Nights in Nagarahole - The Final Chapter

I have delayed the last part of this series deliberately for many reasons but it got delayed a little longer than I expected with my BSNL broadband dying on me. It is still not up so I'm relying on my rather unrelaible Reliance USB stick, which claims on its surface to be a broadband but behaves like one of those old modems from the Sancharnet days!

27th May, 2012. A long weekend in the wilderness drew to a close. The previous night's excitement was fresh in the mind and a herd of chitals rushing down the road as if their tails were on fire promised an action packed departure. The herd halted their mad rush in front of the rest house and were looking back the way they came.

I was ready with my camera pointing in the general direction of where I expected a predator would most likely make its grand entry. That never happened because  a minute later a taxi appeared. It was the one from Mysore to pick my sister and family. It had reached very early. Not surprising, since the day starts early in Nagarahole

Mahadeva had readied khara bath to go with the bread and omlettes. All of us had long journeys back so we tucked into breakfast. As always leaving from a place teeming with wildlife is a heart wrenching experience for me and breakfast tasted like ash in my mouth. I cannot smile for a photograph. Period!

Rather than driving straight off towards Wayanad, I followed the taxi upto Murkal camp. We had taken a trip in the night to meet the gaur and we wanted to see how it looked in daylight. Besides, it gave us an excuse to hang around a little longer!

Now, largely abandoned, our plans to explore the camp had to be shelved. The minute our car halted we were promptly shooed off by the enthusiastic guard. Not wanting to break rules we co-operated and turned back. 

There were a row of buildings that looked like disused cottages. What an experience it would be to sit outside one of them and watch the nightlife of Nagarahole pass by? I guess that will remain a dream forever.

As we drove back wistfully the greenery gave way to dried up bamboo. Forest fires had happened earlier this year. We hoped it would not happen. A lone crested serpent eagle kept vigil on the bamboo, perhaps ensuring that we got out without damaging its habitat.

Just as we reach the park gates there is a banyan tree that my son calls the gate of Jurrassic Park. We drove through it with a promise to come back to this paradise very soon.

After the Karnataka-Kerala border the road passed through the Tholpetty range. The Tholpetty WLS allows private vehicles to go into the forest. The rate for a jeep is Rs.400/-. The forest department allots a guide and a vehicle for the 90 minute drive in the forest. They allow 30 vehicles in the morning and 20 in the evening. I can surmise what we will see in those 90 minutes especially if you are the last to get in!

Of course, if you missed the wildlife inside the WLS there are always a few wild creatures outside to keep you interested. It is always better to fertilize the trees rather than waste it in a King's toilet! A Malayalee is always concerned about the environment. After all, what is a little stench when a teak tree will benefit!

The roads in Wayanad are beautiful. All the way from Tholpetty to Thamaraserry it's an enjoyable winding drive if you can ignore the traffic.

Along the way we bumped into Mr. Bean but that is another story...........check Mango musings after a few days!

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