I have often had the experience of hunting for something very important or valuable all over the place, only to find that it was sitting just there, under my nose, all the time. You end up wondering why you had not even thought about starting your search there! This was exactly what I felt when I visited the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary.
Just about 32 kms from where I live (in Shimoga), nestled amid the Western Ghats,is the Bhadra wildlife Reserve, which gets its name from the river Bhadra, which feeds the jungle. It is accessible through a government jungle lodge, a breed which is getting popular for people who want to gel with nature, alongside basic but necessary amenities.It is now a popular weekend getaway, with the added attraction of water sports like banana boating, water trampoline and kayaking which was what made us venture there in the first place.
I have been to the resort many a times with friends of ours, to have a lazy lunch after a frenzied session of romping in the water with kids and hence, would have no time or energy to indulge in a safari on a hot afternoon.Luckily for me, last week, I was booked into the safari inadvertently, because my daughter refused to go without me. I climbed into the safari jeep cribbing at first, but by the end of it, I was so serenely, blissfully happy that I have made return plans ASAP.
Bhadra jungle reservoir lies on the border between the districts of Shimoga and Chikamagalur. It has a large water reservoir as a part of it and has been declared as a Project Tiger Reserve since 1998. The actual jungle is situated about 4 kms from the River Tern Jungle Lodge, which is named after the terns which throng the place for breeding. As the jungle is a part of the Western Ghats, there is an amazing amount of bio diversity.I can safely claim that I have never seen so many trees, animals, birds and insects ever in my life in a short span of two hours, apart from in a zoo!
The jungle is lush, green and so very silent apart from the incessant creaks of some insects interrupted by a burst of chatter by the monkeys. Trees are so densely packed, that sunlight seems to be struggling to make its way through. And then suddenly there is a huge meadow in between left behind by the receding waters of the reservoir, where we sight upon a large herd of spotted deer.
Though we saw no tigers or elephants( I am told that you usually see the elephants coming in herds of 60 to 80 all at once to drink water early in the morning-what a grand sight that must be!), we had our hearts fill with a hoard of smaller, unexpectedly cute, strange and interesting animals.Whenever I used to read in the papers that the western ghats were a hot spot of biodiversity, and home to thousands of species of animals, I used to be skeptical. A lot of what I saw of the ghats were of the road side view,when I traveled. Now, I know that human habitation and intrusion probably makes the animals decide to venture backwards into the heart of the forest, which again offers little solace as trees are being felled indiscriminately! I wish all of you people could come and have a look at the magnificence of nature, so we could protect it all before it is too late!
We saw tree snakes aplenty, slimy, bright green and thin, but were too scared to click snaps when we saw them up close and personal! Spotted deer, giant red squirrels, serpent eagles, spotted owls, peacocks, marsh crocodiles, monitor lizards, langurs, and a wide variety of birds of all colors, supremely unperturbed and oblivious to our curious gaze and hushed cries of excitement when we spotted them. It was nice to see that the animals seemed to be unafraid of our intrusion. We were glad to feel accepted by them.
Some important facts you should know before you get there:
- It is about 300 kms from Bangalore by road.
- The lodge has no television, so if you bring kids along, get something to keep them occupied.
- Be careful as you can see snakes often all over, apparently most being non poisonous. This is not to scare you, but so you can get rid of your phobia before you visit!
- Information regarding the place is available on the internet.
Must see, must visit- definitely a worthy trip into the jungle!