Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ranthambore National park

27th - 30th December 2013

Ranthambore National park is one of the most accessible forests in India. It is just 15 km from district headquarters of Sawai Madhopur which is 150 km from Jaipur and well connected by train. And hence it attracts far more visitors than other parks. Thanks to several documentaries from leading TV channels like BBC, the name Ranthambore is also well known among generic public.

Tigers are the main attraction here though luck plays a major role in sighting them. For example, I went on four safaris but found Tiger only on the last one at the eleventh minute. If you are targeting tigers, go in summer when water scarcity drives animals to the very few water holes in the forest. Sighting becomes relatively easier then. For less tiger hungry people, Ranthambore has much more to offer (and so are the other forests).

What I missed were my friends Elephants and Bison. They are simply not there in Ranthambore. Sambar deer are in huge numbers compared to our forests in Karnataka. And there are Nilgai.

Birds are innumerable. I am not a serious birder and hence it is possible that I missed most of them!! But there are plenty of them.


Peacocks are almost tamed and so are the treepie.

There are several lakes in Ranthambore which are picturesque. Whether it is against the backdrop of falling sun or the moss that covers the lake, they all look beautiful.

And there are many crocodiles to watch in these lakes and streams!!

Where to stay?
The road from Sawai Madhopur to the national park is teaming with lodges and resort. Prices vary from Rs 500 to > 50,000!! Choose your budget and luxury levels. Unlike in Karnataka one need not stay in luxury resorts to get into a Jeep safari in Ranthambore.

Brahminy Duck
How to book safari?
This is the most important part of your Ranthambore trip. Whether you book a lodge or not does not matter. But make sure you book your safari before arriving to Ranthambore. The easiest option for common man is online booking on their website ( ). The website was extremely buggy when I booked but that is the only option. Route 1 -5 have good animal sightings while 6, 7 and 8 lie on the other side of the park and not favourite among tourists.

The advantage is that you only book for your seat and not for entire vehicle. A great boon for solo travelers!! I do not know the procedure if you want entire vehicle for yourself but it is possible as I saw few Jeeps with one or two people. (Book entire Jeep with dummy names??). When you book, the website asks for the hotel to pick you up!! Looks cool!!

But it is not so simple!! While booking, you will only pay part of the money with rest being paid just before safari at forest department office!! And only then you get boarding rights!! Ah!! So much so for asking pick up points while booking!!!! The easiest way is to ask hotel person to do it on your behalf. They will take additional money as service but that avoids the hassles of standing in the queue and dealing with unfriendly people.

Jeep safari is the best. Canters are also available but consider it if Jeep is not available.

Tree pie!!

Oh!! I missed one more important place…. In the next post!!

If you are still searching for tiger, click here!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tiger mayhem in Ranthambore

29th December 2013

It was the final minutes of my last safari in Ranthambore. With day light dwindling slowly, I was lost in my own thoughts. Another two minutes, we will be out of the forest gate and another 30 minutes of boring journey will put us back to the hotel. The elusive “Tiger” was still at some corner of my mind. I was not much bothered about sighting a tiger. It may be because I had seen few Tigers in wild before and I know it is hard to better the experience at Tadoba. Just ‘feeling’ the forest gives me immense satisfaction. What I hate is when people in hotel asks about Tiger sightings and feel pity at my ‘bad luck’.

But as I mentioned before, “Tiger” was still at a corner of my mind in spite of me claiming to be dispassionate about tiger sightings.  While I was lost in my own thoughts, our guide suddenly jumped and screamed. It has to be a Tiger. Everyone jumped from their seats including my little daughter who was struggling to put her head up to get a clear view of the feline.

The tiger appeared from nowhere to cross the Jeep track and enter into an open area. I pressed the camera shutter and immediately knew that I had taken a badly ‘shaken’ photo. Quickly jacked up the ISO to take another one only to get another shaky snap. The ISO was put to the maximum limit. Grainy photos were any day better than shaky ones. But it did not help. The tiger was on continuous movement and slow shutter speed unable to get decent snap. I started taking videos!!

The tiger after wandering for few minutes disappeared into the forest. “Good way to end the safari”, I thought. But contrary to my expectation the drama did not end. The tiger then entered the main road after the safari gate. Until now, the tiger was exclusively for us (our route!) and we had a peaceful “darshan” so far. But now it had entered into public domain.

The main road though passed through Ranthambore forest but it was a public road as people used it to visit Ganesh Temple inside Ranthambore fort. There were numerous safari vehicles and public vehicles now. Everyone was rushing towards the Tiger.

I thought the Tiger would hate such pandemonium and run away. But the tiger seemed to be least fazed by the maddening crowd. It was like a celebrity who liked the crowds and the attention bestowed on them!!

The Tiger then decided to sit and relax. Some decent shots were fired from the camera amid ruckus created by people. Now there were more than 200 people watching the Tiger!!

The Tiger was on the move again. Vehicles moved along with it. Everyone wanted to have a look at the Tiger. Some drivers overtook others in dangerous fashion. Few insane people got down the vehicle to get a better view.

The day was over and darkness enveloped the forest. Our vehicle developed a snag and we could not follow the Tiger further. That was fine as we had a good view of the cat for 30 minutes though only few minutes of it was peaceful. Our guide became philosophical and told that let others also get a chance to see the other. 

A final good bye
When I look at the title of the post, I feel "People mayhem" would be better suited. Why blame the poor Tiger!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chunchunkatte falls

18 August 2013

The Kaveri River forms a nice little waterfall of about 65 feet high at Chunchunkatte.  It is about 15 km from KR Nagara. KR Nagara is about 40 km from Mysore.

Steps are constructed to reach the base of the waterfall.

Before reaching the main waterfalls, a ‘side waterfall’ makes its appearance on the left. It is a good place to jump into water.

The water falls in two sections to join into a single stream at the bottom. During peak monsoon, both sections join together.

I went during August but the monsoon had weakened by that time.

Next to the falls is Kodandarama Temple. An ancient Temple which attracts lot of religious people.

When to visit:
Monsoon is the best time to visit. It can be a “detour” from Belekere if you are travelling towards from Mysore to Madikeri. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hoysala Temples of Turuvekere

1 November 2013

I usually make a detour to some places whenever I drive to my native. One such detour was to visit the Hoysala Temples of Turuvekere.  It was during Deepavali last year when I drove to my native place.

Chennakeshava Temple, Turuvekere
There are two ways to reach Turuvekere from Bengaluru. The first option is to though Nelamangala, Kunigal and Yediyur. Take deviation to Turuvekere at Yediyur. The slightly longer route is on NH 206 towards Tiptur. At K.B Cross, take a left to reach Turuvekere. It is about 130 km from Bengaluru.

Chennakeshava Temple, Turuvekere
There are three important Hoysala Temples in Turuvekere. All three Temples are located nearby on the outskirts of the town. The first Temple we visited was Chennakeshawa Temple. Unfortunately the Temple was locked and we could not enter into the mail hall of the Temple. It was a small Temple without much carving on the walls. This ekakuta Temple is built on a small platform.

Moole Shankara Temple
The next stop was Moole Shankara Temple. The gate of the Temple was locked. The locals mentioned that the keys were with the priest of the Temple. He was at Gangadeshwara Temple nearby. The Temple was also in the list and hence we went to Gangadeshwara Temple. A big crowd had assembled at the Temple who was creating a ruckus in the Temple.

The differentiating features of the Temple are a big Nandi statue and a bell carved from stone. One must visit this Temple to see them.

I met the priest of Moole Shankara Temple. He asked me to wait for other people in the crowd to join.  I did not like it. When I asked the priest “Why there are so many people in the Temple? Is there any function today?” he exclaimed “Oh!! You are not part of the crowd. Let’s then immediately go to Moole Shankara Temple”. Cool!!

Moole Shankara is the best of all the Temples in Turuvekere. It is at a lower elevation that its surroundings. This Temple was built in 13th century.  The priest of the Temple explained about the Temple in detail which is similar to the explanation seen in Wikipedia. Below is the extract from Wikipedia.

“The temple has all the basic elements of a standard Hoysala temple and comprises a sanctum (garbhagriha) which is connected to a closed hall by a square vestibule (sukhanasi). The entrance into the hall from the outside is through a porch (mukhamantapa). Typically, a closed hall in a Hoysala temple has no windows. The porch consists of a awning supported by two decorative half pillars with two parapets on both sides. The shrine has a tower (sikhara). The vestibule has its own tower (also called sukhanasi) which appears like a low extension of the main tower over the shrine. For its appearance, art critic Gerard Foekema calls it the "nose" of the main tower. From the outside, the walls of the vestibule are inconspicuous and appear like a short extension of the shrine wall.The ceiling of the closed hall is supported by four lathe turned pillars. This is a norm in all Hoysala temples. These pillars divide the ceiling into nine highly decorated bays. The porch with its half pillars also serves the purpose of an open hall with a single bay ceiling.The outer wall of the hall and shrine are articulated with full pilasters. Between full pilasters, turrets and miniature towers on half-pilasters (aedicula) provide a decorative look. Below these, forming the base of the temple, are the six horizontal moldings.”

When asked about the name “Moole”, the priest gave two probable reasons. One is being at the corner of the town; it has got its name “moole”. The other reason being that “moola” being modified to “moole” in later years.

The icing on the cake of this visit was Nonavinakere. A huge lake on the way to Tiptur was an amazing sight. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Slippery waterfall

3rd November 2013

It was during our visit to MG waterfall, we came to know about the presence of another waterfall nearby. The information was provided by Rajesh Naik, though he had not seen the waterfall himself.

When I asked the tribal about the presence of the waterfall, my team mates looked worried. It was already 2:45PM and we were hungry. We still had to climb 700 feet up to find our car and then drive for more than an hour to reach ‘hotel’. Visibly tired after the trek to MG waterfall, they were not looking for another walk.

But the tribal guy mentioned that the waterfall was nearby and can be easily visited!! He also guided us for some distance to show us the path that led to Narayana Hegde’s house. When we reached the house to ask directions, they immediately invited us into their house to have some drinks and food!! Needless to say, we were overjoyed but did not show it in our face. While saying “no, no” to their request, we found ourselves settling in their house!! Tea and chakklis were served which we consumed quickly. They also showed us their house and were especially proud about generating hydro electricity themselves from a stream nearby.

Vinaya, a younger member in the family guided us to the waterfall. It was an easy walk amidst rice fields.

The waterfall is a series of small cascades some of which are greater than 20 feet.  

At the base of the highest fall is couple of pools.  It seems no one way able to find the depth of the pool. Though water looks inviting, it was not a safe place to get into it.

On our return, we were served with butter milk!! We were overwhelmed by their hospitality. It was good to meet such innocent and kind people.

I had taken few photographs with their family and later posted them to their address. They were very happy and called on my mobile to express it!!