Jungle Resorts and Nagarahole National Park

We laughed it loud when one of the ladies expressed a concern of wild animals when she was told that we were to stay in a ?tent house? at the Jungle Lodges Resort on the banks of the Kabini river, a place closer to Nagarhole National Park. Come to think of it, perhaps everyone had the same worry, unexpressed though.

The fear of Veerappan had been eliminated. Or was it? Still worries remained. Was it really Veerappan that was killed? What if another 5 Veerappans arise? We have read enough on the newspapers how the forest officers and politicians sheltered these forest criminals. Anything is possible in that part of the world. Was it an undesirable fear? Don?t we know how this one guy stood above all men and animals alike, in an expanse of over 400 square miles of forest land? The Maley-Mahadeshwara Betta became his kingdom virtually.

The attractive reception area?. with a typical resort setting.

In this backdrop, reluctantly, we agreed to our friends? plan for a picnic to the Jungle Lodges Resort.

The target was to cover around 225 kms (145 to Mysore city and 80 from there to the Resort), reach Jungle Lodges Resort, by lunch time?.. It?s a resort on the banks of river Kabini, next to the National Park, right in the midst of the forest range and, lo and behold, run by the Government of Karnataka! What? Government-run Resort in the middle of a forest? When this was first mentioned to me, my thoughts had run wild. Will I be back in Bahrain to take care of the things that I promised my boss that I will do on my return? Why on earth are we wasting two days (out of my limited vacation) so hazardously? My tired mind had longed for a simple holiday – stretch my legs and enjoy the beautiful July climate of Bangalore, with a ?bottled brew? plus Empire kababs.

And then, as if that was not enough, even a peaceful morning sleep became a non-reality as we were told to wake up at 5.00 am ? so what if you slept at two past midnight? The mini bus arrived at our doorsteps sharply at 5.30 am, just to show how perfect the arrangements were (made by our friends in Bangalore)! It was quite funny when we all started and gathered momentum as we tread along the way, often coming across paths of development (road repairs, I mean), enjoying some great weather, remembering all the old songs ?  hymns, nursery rhymes and all the ?chow-chow bath? of various languages?anything and everything, just to pass time on the way.

The serene settings of river Kabini – view from a cottage.

With our minds a bit worried and bodies slightly tired, we reached a remote village corner after covering a forest area for about 15 km and then entered the Resort just past noon and were welcomed into some exotic greenery and beautifully designed structures. Was this the place I had visualized in my mind when I heard about it for the first time? It was indeed a sheer delight for all of us to the serene settings of the wild. The next 24 hours in this resort completely changed my view on so many things!! That the Government can still run the hospitality industry very professionally (of course, thanks to the hard work of some professionally qualified people and a foreigner, who has worked there for the last 24 years) was one such view.

We were welcomed and professionally guided by the manager of the resort about what we will be doing there in the next 24 hours. In his words: ?You will go to your ?huts? now, at 1.30 you will be served lunch at Gol Ghar, you can relax after that till 3.30 pm at which time,  you  come back for tea and at 4 we start for safari. You will be back by 7 pm and,  from 7.30 we will have a wild life movie being shown in the Bar area and then dinner at 8.30 pm. Sleep early, because you have to get up at 6 the next morning when our boys will come to your respective huts to wake you up and serve tea and then you will go off for your second round of safari, an elephant ride and a boat ride on the  river Kabini. You should be back by 10 when you can have your Brunch and then off you go, back to your bus, by 11.30 am.? That was clear and professional guidance, at its best.

The famous Gol-ghar, surrounded by tall trees.

The guidance included all the do?s and don?ts?and our questions included ?whether tigers come inside the resort?? ?When did you last see a tiger here?? That we would not see even one during our safari, must have been the result of our over-anxiety or the prayers of some! (Well, to be honest, rainy season is not the greatest for the wildlife to come to the river-bed seeking water, as the same is available aplenty inside the forest areas where our safari jeeps won?t reach).

Those 24 hours were really the most wonderful moments of our life. Extremely delicious and palatable lunch, dinner and breakfast was served at ?Gol Ghar? (remember, we are talking about a resort right in the middle of a thick forest). Took a break after lunch relaxing on the spawning nets tied to huge trees. Then we set out for the most important part of our visit – safari to the Nagarahole National Park. This is now named as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, though I could find a reason for the renaming it.

There was an anti-climax though. That was cold water on our desires, literally. Exactly at 4, it started pouring, tigers & wolves (I have changed the famous phrase ?Cats & Dogs? as we were in a forest area!) making it impossible to go in open jeeps. The tarpaulins covered the roof of the Van, but we ventured out. There was no way to skip this chance to see some wild life ? after all, we had driven 5 hours for this! All the 14 of us were accommodated in one big van, driven by a highly experienced driver and a guide. 

The Safari Jeeps and Vans?The small ones accommodate 6 and big ones, up to 15.

I have clicked and presented the pictures of a few creatures that we saw, during our safari and some beautiful trees in the resort. The regret of course was not being able to sight a rare tiger or a leopard, but the alert eyes of the driver could spot the paws of the tiger on the mud road. The majestic bloke must have walked across, sometime in the early morning. The Mahout of the Elephant who took us around the forest told us that he heard its roar in the night. However, not sighting these rare species did not take away our happiness of seeing some of the wild things for the first time, roaming free and alive ? including the Otters and crocodiles we sighted in the river.

On our way back, we took a small diversion to see the Kabini Dam (also called as Kapila Dam). It was a Sunday afternoon. Things were pretty quiet at the dam. Water was full, but not the over-flowing kind of monsoon times. And accordingly, no big release of water too. However, to our great surprise and delight, an officer of the dam made a mock release of water, apparently to please his family members who had come there on a visit. This fact appeared a few days later on a Bangalore newspaper! It has to be someone?s loss for someone to gain, right? Anyway, our timing was perfect to view this ?big splash?.

This resort is a place for some exotic trees, bushes and creepers?

Moments well spent, from 6 am on Saturday till around 8 pm on Sunday, despite the long drive through a stretch of new road being laid and the stretch of the forest area. Some fear, some anxiety and some concerns at the start, all ended with great joy and delight, and of course some relaxation, at one of the best spots in Karnataka. We returned with the advice that the best time to see more wild animals is not the rainy season, but the one from December to March. When the water is scarce inside the thick forest, they come to drink water. Any of the readers wish to go there, go there during December-January period and if you sight a ?Stripe?, let us know.

For readers? information, Government of Karnataka runs many Resorts in the State, most of which are located on the river basins of Mysore and Coorg districts, namely Cauvery Fishing Camp, Bandipur Safari Lodge, Sea View Hill Resort, Kali Wilderness Camp, K Gudi Resort and B R Hills Wildlife Adventure Resort. One of them is in North Kanara named Devbagh Beach Resort. You will get all of the required details at the Jungle Lodges section of .

Sure way to go and explore the wild, if you are of that kind.

Beautiful view of a colonial style cottage(L); A view of the Main building with a Hall and a Bar ? surely a pleasing sight to tired eyes(R)

The beautiful Spotted Deers, roaming freely in the open forest range(L); Be careful of these two-legged animals on the jeep?. This spotted dear must be wondering!(R)

A crocodile in its natural habitat?a first time natural view for all of us. (L); A wild dog waiting for a prey… we were told that this canine can kill its prey in just a few bites within a minute(R)

A tusker without the fear of a tusker-hunter, enjoys its freedom in the bushes?(L); And one comes closer to the water?(R)

The famous ?Male-Mahadeshwara Betta? with the ever green forests?should I remind you of Veerappan? This is only a small portion of the jungle kingdom he controlled for over 2 decades.(L); Artificially created no doubt, but it does provide coolness to a tired mind. One of the groves in the Resort.(R)

A solitary peacock, perhaps waiting for its turn to dance(L); The colorful ?painted stork? goes on a flight?(picture taken from the boat).(R)

A view from the top of Kabini dam: This was the sight made possible by a generous officer!

Perhaps the best sight – spotted dears running out of danger? You will find them in abundance, proving that the tiger population has dropped!

This is a rare sight?of Sambar deers (type of a large deer with depleting population)..picture is not much clear, but tell you, these were the only two Sambhars deers we could see during our two trips inside the forest.

?You come from Bangalore to see our friends (animals)? We live with them here??.

Author: Agnel Pereira- Bahrain