Friday, February 02, 2007

BR Hills n Jungle safari on foot!

Pix by varun

Nothing concrete planned for the 3 day vacation and ended up deciding on a lazy ride to BR Hills. Started late on Friday noon 3 with vicky, nidhi, varun and me. Plan of the stay at a friend's friend's form house in the BRHills sanctuary area. A hard post-lunch full throttle rip in the mysore road till maddur. My star gave good company to the p180s. Was bettor off than the stock p150, the same bike previously took on mine pretty well. I say it again the mods are working ;). Then we take a deviation to kollegal from maddur and our progress slows down. We now on pass through the interiors with narrow and bad roads. Have lazy snack break at a town, and then on it was 1 horrible dust ride. The roads still in work with only mud layer on. We pass through many villages and going by the stares of the people it seemed like hardly ne outsiders come by there. Even speed of 30-40 was to much for their perception and got yelled at a few times!!.

After a not so pleasurable dust bath, we catch some new stretch of road and whip the throttle only to be stopped at a forest check post. There is a check post here?! it seems entry is restricted post 6 pm and we were late by an hour. The guard is adamant in not letting us through especially on 2 wheels sighting reasons such as possible attack from wild elephants and an order he has received, not to let 2 wheelers post 6 pm. Vicky who has talked his way through n number of check posts and guards has finally met his match today :)) Here’s the conversation in kannada between vicky and old forest guard (translated):

Vicky: saaar naak jana iddivy joteli hogtivi
( sir we are four guys, we go together)
guard: neev 50 gaaadi bandru 2 wheelers not allowed
(even if there are 50 bikes, 2 wheelers not allowed)

vicky: saar bare 18 kms ashte allva
( sir its just 18 kms right )
guard: 2 kms aaadru bidolla
( wont let through even if its just 2 kms!)

vicky: saar bangalore inda bandiddive
( sir we have come all the way from bangalore)
guard: neev delhi inda bandridru bidolla
( even if u have come from delhi i will not let through)

vicky: saar tumba kashta pattu bandiddive
( sir we have come here taking lot of trouble)
guard: nanagoskara kashta pattrenri?
( did u take trouble for my sake hah? )

vicky: saar nodi saaar, bere daari yenaadru (bribe)
(sir please see if there is some other way (bribe))
guard : WHAT IS YOU MEAN? U r are educated ppl, ond sare helidare artha aagolva?
( WHAT IS YOU MEAN? U r are educated ppl, cant u understand if I say ones? )

vicky: saare bere daari toorsi
( please show some other way)

vicky: saaar karune torsi bidi
( sir show pity and let us go)
guard: avella gotilla wapas hogi
( nothing doin u have to turn back!!)

etc etc etc :D

It seems higher officials were on the prowl that day and the guards were so, very strict, else a 20 bux would have got us through it seems ;) Spending an hour and half did not yield ne result and had to turn back. We decided to stay at yelandur, a small town with the only lodge, which is actually a make shift hostel!!. Take it ne way as all we needed for was to lie down till 5 am. Head to the only hotel open. Guys have beer and I have cola and packed snacks. Couldn’t even have a spoon of that horrible food if it could be called that. Sleep of for the night was the plan but I hardly catch a minutes sleep.

5 am woke up others, who were pre-determined not to waste even 1 min after 6 am. Some pay back hah? Collect ourselves and hit the check post by 5.55 am. There was also a car waiting. It was still dark n the old guard ordered us to go with the car and would let us all together. After the entry and gates were open, we sped away. duh ha! like we would follow a car doin 40 kmph!. Finally I make it to BR hills which seemed so elusive to me. This normally being days ride, we had plenty of time and stopped n number of places early morning in the forest road. Finally we were looking at something we came for. A few kms in we actually see a big village inside the sanctuary. Then what was all the fuss about not letting us in the prev night where there is whole civilization in it. Ne way it was a pleasure to ride through early in the morning. Din feel like going to the temple at BR hill top and turned back to catch the deviation to k'gudi.

Now on the road gets narrow and forest around denser, and the ride turning out be an absolute treat. Make it to k'gudi taken our own time. We expected a temple but ran into Jungle lodges & resort instead. With nothing much to do and still 1 more day in hand, walk leisurely through the campus. The tented accommodation was exactly the same as it was in kabini that i had visited last weekend. A pregnant elephant was being treated for injuries inflicted by an angry male elephant in mast. That was a sorry sight and the wild life authorities trying their best to save the animal. It seems the resort serves food only for the residents and we have to move on hungry.

Think of having break fast a chamaraj nagar and ride nonstop. Though the route warranted plenty of nature gazing pit stops, our hungry selves moved on and reached the town. We mentally prepared for horrible roads till nanjungud, but all to our delight, the entire strech is now freshly laid. Wow make good use of it full throttle and reach nanjungud like say 12 noon. N then the big question is what now? We never seem to have so much time in hand in trips and were actually feeling uneasy about it :D. Nidhi suggested visiting his gramps and off we go. We get invited to their form house and spend some time there resting and a sumptuous home cooked food is just what we needed and pretty happy to eat our way through the plates.

Then by 3 pm we decide to check out the bandipur wild life safari and possible hit ooty later. Get to the bandipur reserve and book our tickets. As we wait a villager chats with us and says 1 can hardly spot ne wild animals in the safari, he could take us to a place where we can spot many. Now this is the boost vicky needed who instantly cheers up. He feels a trip isn’t done unless we do some thing out of the ordinary ;). Uses his marketing skills to dispose of the tickets and off we go with the villager. Park our bikes at the village and leave our baggage at a house. Nidhi says "village ppl are simple and trust worthy and its ok!". Then we follow the villager, now our guide to where he promises to show us wild animals.

We walk for couple of kms and only then do we get close to bushes. By now nidhi and varun get the feel that we are being taken for a ride. Make little of the warning given by the guide as to not to make sound of twigs breaking under our foot or talk. Then we are brought to our senses as we spotted a herd of wild elephants just a few hundred feet from us. Sure I have seen wild elephants before but not in their territory and we were on foot! He takes us closer and closer and were asked to do so keeping as quite as possible. Finally going across small valley we see the ellis straight ahead at some 300 feet. There were some 4-5 babies too in the heard of 15-20. The guide says that since the wind is towards us the ellis couldn’t sense us, else we do have been in trouble by now. He coughed and this caused an elli to trumpet. All the baby ellis ran to their mothers and they stood motionless to observe.

It was time for us to scuttle out from there. Then on he took us on a tiger trail where we saw a limb of dear from a tiger hunt. We recon it was fresh cos it was not decomposed yet. By this time nidhi and me had meter down and just wanted to get out of there soon. Saying it was scary is an understatement. But vicky and the guide were coaxing us to carry on. Now we get into thick bushes and no way of finding our way without the guide. He says a tiger has passed by recently and show its fesses too. Cross a hill and reach the edge of the forest only to be relieved. It was dark by now and we had walked around 5-6 kms with 3 kms in forest on a foot safari. N we thought it would be just another lazy ride.

It was fun though. Get our bikes and we are too tired to think of ooty. We decide to head back and plan to stay at Mysore. Have snack break at Pugmark restaurant just outside bandipur forest range. Mysore it is by 10 pm. Then we disperse as we each had a friend at Mysore to give us shelter and picked our own time to get to bangy the next day.

Another awesome trip of 650 kms.