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Two wild elephants, birds, butterflies and 36 hairpin bends…

As usual, some highlights from the weekend trip.

The route:
Bangalore – Mysore – Bandipur (Day 1)
Bandipur – Gopalswamy Betta – Mudumalai – Ooty (Day 2)
Ooty – Bangalore (Day 3)

  • We have breakfast at the beautiful Lalith Mahal Palace hotel in Mysore. It looks new and freshly painted and the gold in the domes glint in the sunlight. The food is okay, but I am hungry, wolfing down the rather large masala dosa in no time. And besides, it’s not everyday that I get a chance to sit and eat where the kings once did.
  • Sunflower fields on the way to Bandipur, after we cross Mysore. Yellow expanse against the brilliant blue skies, and the green vegetation – the contrast created a picture perfect sight. I get to take over the wheels a bit, a nice drive with no traffic, which suits me just fine…
  • In the evening, we head out on a safari in the Bandipur forest – we spot sambar, cheetal, wild bison, peacocks… lots of beautiful butterflies and birds (still not very familiar with birdie names) but no elephants.
  • At the place we stay in Bandipur, we discover Boost (don’t know why it tastes so good!) I think we are hooked 🙂
  • I get photography lessons in the evening – a primer on aperture and shutter speed – and I learn a few things too…
  • We drive through Bandipur in the morning, a beautiful peacock preens beside the road, shows off a little. Then strolls across the road to the other side, right in front of the car (while I try and scramble for my camera, but too late!). It disappears into the forest before I get a chance to click. Drat.
  • The view from atop Gopalswamy Betta (about 20 kms from Bandipur and the highest point of the park). One side is the forest area, and on the other is a huge expanse of plains. An absolutely amazing view. We park the car and try to walk up a hill with some interesting rock formations, but a forest guard turns us back. Not allowed!
  • On the way down from the hill, two little boys on the roadside shout – elephant, elephant! We are skeptical and can’t see a thing in the wide expanse of the forest before us. With the help of a pair of binoculars, we spot a pair of tuskers in the distance. Finally!
  • The ride to Ooty, negotiating 36 hairpin bends. The car sounds decidedly unhappy, but we finally make it. At the 36th hair pin bend, we get rewarded with carrots from the nice people who live in a house beside the road.
  • The second day comes to an end with vodka and tasty pepper chicken at the guest house we stay for the night.
  • Next morning, we do start off early and stop at the Kalatti falls on the way down from Ooty. Not much water, but a scenic place.
  • Swarms of blue tiger butterflies that flit along the way with us through the Mudumalai and Bandipur forests.
  • A pit stop at a water body beside the road. Different birds loll about in the sunshine including the little commorant, pelican and the painted stork. We get busy clicking. From a bus passing by, a guy shouts, “Welcome to India.”
  • Brilliant blue skies (and I haven’t seen that blue in a while) and cotton candy clouds stay with us all the way back on the drive from Ooty till Mysore.
  • A lazy lunch at a resort by the river. The noodles would put a Chinese to shame. The hammock was much welcome.
  • I sight a rainbow somewhere between Mysore and Bangalore. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one. And then they say it’s lucky…
  • The sky looks particularly beautiful on the drive back – bright azure blue with pink tinged clouds. In the distant horizon, between the trees, we catch a glimpse of the sun as paints a corner of the sky in a violent orange. The end of yet another day.
  • Kitna pyaara hai yeh pal (from the album Strings) – the theme song that kept playing in our heads (and on the tape).
  • Bangalore. 9.00 pm. Sunday evening. And immense relief for the one who drove most of the 600 km plus journey!

I must thank my traveling companions:
a) AB – The one who did most of the driving and put up with all my cribbing. He was surprisingly cheerful I discovered, especially while listening to Kannada songs! But it could have been the Boost. 🙂
b) PV- The usually chatty one who turned into a silent Devdas, for reasons we could not figure out. The trip obviously didn’t bring out the best in him. We are thinking it was the vodka, but it could have been the fact that we didn’t climb any rocks or scale any mountains…
c) SP – She found us a really cool place to stay in Ooty when we had nearly given up hope. And after making a few rounds of Ooty town! And for the pepper chicken she got the guest house people to specially prepare for dinner.

The film rolls are still lying in my bag. Will hopefully manage to drop it in today or tomorrow. Meanwhile, it’s back to business 🙂


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