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Bangalore India
Coorg - A pleasant place for a weekend getaway!
Oct 11, 2016 12:32 PM 44902 Views
(Updated Oct 23, 2016 09:53 PM)

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Very recently, I visited Coorg with another visiting group. We traveled via a mini-van after the organizers had picked up passengers from various points in Bangalore. Having set out late Friday evening, we chatted enroute to Coorg to acquaint ourselves better and stopped for a couple of coffee breaks. We arrived at Coorg in the early hours of next morning.


DAY 1


We had decided to put up at a lodge not very far from the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary area. We checked in and took a short nap before awakening for coffee and a morning walk around the resort.


Irupu Falls: After breakfast, we’d decided on visiting Irupu Falls, which is essentially inside Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary area. The sanctuary is located on the Brahmagiri hills and houses several animals including tigers. The Irupu Falls, also known as Lakshman Tirtha Falls is on the way down from the hills, although we actually climbed up a set path to get there, from below. Legend has it that when Lakshman and Ram were searching for Sita, they got thirsty and Lakshman had shot an arrow towards this hill, which in turn gave rise to this river, which eventually led to the genesis of Irupu Falls. The Falls is known to be right at the border of Kerala and Karnataka. We were on the Karnataka side.


On the way to getting there, there was this bridge across a river which didn’t appear rock solid to me, but it served its purpose. Also, the Falls seemed open to visitors despite it being inside a sanctuary which housed some predators. But all the time, it appeared that the expanse on the right (on the way up to the Falls) which had the animals was not very conducive to animals traversing through, being a dense clutter of thorny shrubs and vegetation. Perhaps, that’s why despite it being inside the sanctuary, it was open to visitors. There were some other groups as well. The Falls itself has a step like structure appearing to be a series of falls, separated by stretches of flat streams. Once there, it is one of the best sights to behold. As if the Falls was not beautiful enough by itself, the variety of flora and fauna surrounding it augmented its beauty. We found 5 butterflies (there were several) nesting at one place along the way. Once at the falls, one can choose to admire the beauty from a distance or enter the water through the rocks to have a more personal experience.;) I suddenly found myself motivated to do the latter, carefully making my way through the rocks to a place which is more immediately beneath the falls and the flow of water appears to be strongest. It felt quite awesome. There appeared to be remnants of some old railway tracks at the place which acted as support to some extent. But beyond a certain point, your feet don’t touch the ground and you only have the railway tracks to hold onto. So, one must be careful here. After having some great picture worthy moments at the Falls and finding myself fully drenched, we eventually headed back to the resort to freshen up.


Trek near Resort: Freshen up we did with a bath, followed by lunch. Next we intended to trek a hill at the corner of a resort. Apparently, there was Kerala on the other side of this one too. Not surprising to know, considering Irupu Falls was nearby, with a similar premise. I made some good and speedy progress on the trek, finding routes where none really seemed to exist, after a certain point. But after a while, we decided that we would go back down because we had to make it to Nagarhole National Park in good shape, which was the main reason most of us had embarked on this trip in the first place.


Nagarhole National Park: After mulling over several things, we finally set off for the National Park. On reaching there, we tried to book tickets for the Jeep Safari and Bus Safari, but eventually decided that we’d take the Bus Safari. Somewhere between 4 – 6 p.m. That period and morning 6 – 8 a.m. was when animal activity was supposed to be at its peak in the park.


Personally speaking, this was mostly why I came on this trip. I had seen several tigers at Bannerghatta National Park on earlier occasions. But that is an artificial park created to house tigers, among other animals in a smaller area. My previous outings to natural tiger reserves like Chitwan National Park and Jim Corbett National Park, albeit good visits, had yielded naught in terms of tigers. Nagarhole National Park is part of a vast expanse of tiger reserve including the adjoining Bandipur National Park (Mysore), Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) and Mudumalai National Park (Tamil Nadu). Being located in Coorg and the extended Mysore districts, it along with Bandipur houses half of Karnataka’s tigers, tiger numbers being on a sharp rise in Southern India in recent times. The Nagarhole tiger numbers are believed to have more than doubled in the last 3 decades or so, the current estimate being close to around 100. Because of the same, it is also widely believed that their density in this National Park has increased to around 1 per 11 square kilometer, higher than most other national parks with a total area of just around 638 square kilometers. The density being even higher than Bandipur. There had been several reported sightings earlier this year as well. Those are the primary reasons I'd decided to give this place a shot. The reason for the increased density is believed to be the availability of ample varied game.


While we waited for the bus safari to start, we could see some monkeys and deer from a distance. As soon as the safari started, the availability of varied game was at once confirmed. I thought to myself, “This National Park must be no less than a fast food centre for the predators.” Whenever there was new stretch of green vegetation, it had tonnes and tonnes of deer, most of them spotted and even sambars, bison, wild boars among other herbivores. “Readily available pizzas and burgers for tigers and leopards,” I said to myself.:) Predators probably didn’t have to try much to get a happy meal in these parts.


On a more serious note, the first thing we saw was spotted deer. Loads of them. Then, we saw a peacock or two roaming solitarily in the park. That was followed by something I had not seen the like of, in the wild, before. A predator on a hunting run. It was a wild dog (dhole) chasing a spotted deer. The movements (of a hunter trying to hunt prey) were quite like they show on wildlife TV channels. Although I don’t recall having watched a dhole trying to hunt deer by itself on TV either, until then. This was to end in failure for the wild dog, who gave up after a while. It also appeared the wild dog then went back to report its failure to 2 or 3 of its wild dog friends, who were waiting for it to return. Actually, a solitary wild dog trying to take on a fully grown deer head on seems bit overambitious if you ask me. A lesser predator is generally associated with more cunning or smaller endeavours. Nevertheless, the sequence of events is a memory I would cherish.


We then went on to see more deer. After a certain point, we approached a spot where we could see 3 elephants – 2 adults and a calf approaching us slowly from the front. Nagarhole is also part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve with a good population of elephants. So, this did not really come as a surprise. We halted and took pictures for a while. But it was when we were slowly pulling away that the elephant calf seemed to get a bit agitated and chased our bus for while, letting out what seemed like baby elephant squeals. But this did stop eventually, as the calf gave up its chase of the bus. The adult elephants were quietly watching all this while.


We then came upon a section where we saw a wild boar, few bison and a solitary elephant in an open field in close proximity to each other and also a group of deer hiding beyond the hedges surrounding the field. It wasn’t really special, but at the same time it wasn’t the most likely scene one would imagine, in a forest. So we waited there for a while taking some good pics, before moving on. All this while, I had my window wide open, giving myself every opportunity to sight anything worthy of note, I could. Nagarhole is blessed with lush greenery and the type that would readily provide predators good camouflage. Strain my eyes as I could, I saw no signs of a tiger or a leopard. We suddenly saw a sambar running through a green stretch and disappear into the dense foliage. That was followed by a lot of deer, till the safari eventually ended. At times, the sudden running of some herbivores made me wonder if there was a hidden predator on the prowl which made them run, because they seemed to be unperturbed on most other occasions. But there seemed to be no visible evidence of the same.


One wonders at times, as to whether the National Park authorities should not try to do more to enhance the safari experience for tourists by means of estimating probable predator locations before embarking on a safari (which probably touches some fixed parts of the forest) with the help of  the kind of technology that we have today. I mean the forest area is all of several hundreds of square kilometers. What’s the point if the safari is confined to some fixed routes and the main attraction (the tiger) of the park is nowhere in sight?:)


Relaxation & Recreation: We then headed back to the resort, where the intention was to freshen up and spend an evening of chatting with fellow travelers and potentially have a campfire at night. We did a lot of snacking, some of us even drank a lot and we indulged in some very light hearted and jocular conversation, before retiring to bed. I may have dabbled with some indoor games before doing so. The campfire was called off owing to some drizzling.


DAY 2


Next morning it was decided that we would visit Dubare elephant camp where we could indulge in activities like elephant safari around the Dubare reserve or do some still water river rafting. So, we set off late in the morning, after breakfast, having checked out of the resort.


We briefly stopped at a Shiva temple before setting out for Dubare. Also had some good picture moments there.


Tea Plantations: We came across some lovely tea plantation settings on the rolling hillsides on the way and we stopped to capture some pictures. It was nothing less than awesome. Having taken some great pictures, we set off again.


Dubare Elephant Camp: Upon reaching the elephant camp, we had to decide what needed to be done. The camp is based on the banks of river Kaveri. I had ridden elephants before and it was unlikely we would spot any predators in the reserve in the sunny afternoon. So, I opted for the still water river rafting. Most of us wanted to do the same. So, with a group of 3 on either side of the raft and a person acting as a rudder at the back, who was steering the boat’s direction, we did some rafting around the place. There is a spot where people can hop off the raft to do some swimming. I tried the same, with and without the life jacket. There were a few people (non-rafters) who were simply swimming around the place as well, in a secluded section. Supposedly, the depth of water changes from 3 feet to 30 feet within a short distance in the section I was swimming. It was good fun. However, I learnt later that there are crocodiles in the river too. Maybe not in that section. But then, I’m not sure how safe it was to swim around.;)


One also had the option of horse riding, vehicle racing and some other stuff at Dubare. But we decided to head towards Bangalore. Not before stopping at a roadside place for lunch though. That was nice. We stopped briefly on the way for coffee breaks and then moved on.


We were anyway passing through Mysore and Mysore Palace is typically beautifully lit in the evenings at the times of Dussehra. So, we stopped and walked around for a while, taking in the beauty of the same. Great setting for pictures as well.


Shortly afterwards though, it was time to push off for Bangalore. We stopped over for dinner at some place and eventually managed to reach sometime between 2 – 3 A.M. next morning, where we were again dropped at our respective pick-up points.


One must note that there are others things one can do in and around Coorg and this is definitely not all one could do. Visiting Madikeri hill station is definitely one such option – it has a lot to offer. Other than that also, one could also experience several other waterfalls, treks and natural treats along with temples Coorg has on offer. Depends on what one wants to do.


My trip cost came to around Rs. 4600 /-.


In conclusion, I’d say my 2-day trip to Coorg was quite nice because of the company I had, the places we visited and activities we indulged in. It would’ve been super to spot a tiger at Nagarhole though. One has to wonder if one does not spot it in an area where the density of tiger population is quite high, where else would one do the same. But Coorg was a great place to visit and have some fun. I recommend it to anyone with similar interests.


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