A male cheetal grazing not bothered by our presence!
Bandipur, I am sure many of you heard is a National Park in Karnatka along with Nagarahole. These parks are separated by the river Kabini, to the North lies Nagarahole and to the south Bandipur. Both these parks are part of a larger contiguous wildlife reserve that includes the Mudumalai Sanctuary in Chennai and the Wynad Reserve in Kerala. Both the parks are easily accessible from Mysore.
Bandipur lying in the foothills of western ghats is a perfect getaway for romantics and others alike. It is well known for its population of tigers and elephants.
My trip was as usual spur of the moment decision! I stayed at Nilgiri Resorts which is located just prior to the National Park. Accommodation was not the best but was tolerable for my duration of the stay. I spoke at the reception and made arrangements for a open jeep safari ride in the evening from 4-30pm to 6-30pm and it costs Rs200 per person.
A Langour Monkey…..
The guide was fantastic both in his knowledge as well as in his ability to spot animals. Weather though was raining as I approached Bandipur, stopped as I settled in for my afternoon siesta.
We were instructed not to talk loud, stand up or use flash photography after dusk. The guide communicated with the driver of the jeep by gentle whistle and amazingly the driver understood the signal perfectly. He also told us when we can stand up to take photographs!!!
Getting a little irritated….can see his ear started flapping…
This was a private safari and we were six of us altogether in the jeep. I must say they were good company and wildlife enthusiasts too. We introduced ourselves and headed off to the park in what turned out to be lovely weather.
Our first encounter as we entered the park, yes you guessed it right, was with Cheethal or spotted deer. There were so many of them, may be around 20 to 30 in a herd! We saw some handsome young stags as you can see from the pictures. We saw several herds along our drive but all of us already thinking beyond deer!
A bison ready to run away…..
As we continued, I heard a gentle whistle and the jeep stopped and the guide told us look to your right behind the bush, there is an elephant with her baby. By the time he could complete the sentence, both of them came out from behind the bush and the sight was totally amazing. To see a mother elephant with her baby in the wild, it was almost like, look guys, we are here, free to roam as we please, just enjoy. Needless to say I kept clicking…..After a while they crossed the path that we had just come and baby elephant took the lead and I was immediately reminded of the scene from Jungle Book. I am sure you will agree with me as you look at the photos. Either they were used to people or they just knew we were not going to harm them. They took their time eating and drinking and eventually disappeared into the forest.
Cheetal or spotted deer were in abundance
As we continued our safari, I am sure I didn’t hear the whistle but the jeep came to a stop and our guide whispered, don’t move, there is a Gaur or a Bison on your right side. If you talk or stand up he will run away. Just turn your head and look over there. Once we looked he said try photographing him but like he said, the second we stood up, he was ready to run….but I still managed to shoot him with my camera.
Mother elephant eating grass and baby drinking water!!!
There were plenty of Languor monkeys, peacocks and few sambar deer. As we were returning, we saw a lone tusker with believe it or not with only left tusk! There was no tusk on his right side. He was grazing and I asked the guide to stop the jeep in front of the elephant, against his mild protest that it could be dangerous. Anyway I took some quick pics and we were off to our respective lodges for the day.
Drinking Orange juice…….
Following day I made a quick visit early in the morning to Bandipur Sanctuary again to check if there was any new sightings but apparently not.
This time Apple juice…..
However on my way back to Bangalore I stopped at the Mysore Zoo and look what I got to see….. a monkey drinking Orange juice, Apple Juice and eating icecream…can you beat that? Take a look for yourself and have a hearty laugh like I did….
Now eating Icecream…..
A peacock….which were in plenty too
Marching Jungle book style
Looks like the baby is trying to trip the mother elephant!!
Nesteled amongst the towering Western Ghats…is Bandipur National Park
Author: Dr. K.B. Mallya- Canada