personal growth and travel blog on my canvas homepage banner image

Serendipitously Spotting Sloth Bear and Leopard in BR Hills, Karnataka

cheetal in br hills sanctuary

From Bangalore to BR Hills – Venturing Into the Hearts of Karnataka Jungles.

Biligiri Rangana Betta hills or popularly known as BR hills lie about 180 km south of Bengaluru. 

Just a 4–5 hours drive away from Bangalore, it is no surprise that the hills make for a perfect weekend getaway. Having been stuck in the city for two months straight, I was in desperate-need-of-greenery-and-fresh-air and quickly finalized upon Biligiri Hills as my weekend destination in Karnataka. The trip was with my husband so it had to be short to accommodate his full-time job. But even a 2–3 days road trip soaked us in so much nature that we savored it through the next few months of the dry pandemic era in which even stepping out of our tiny abode for groceries felt like a luxury.

I hadn’t expected to see much wildlife in BR hills, as my ventures into the hearts of Karnataka jungles (such as the Dandeli Sanctuary) before hadn’t borne me much fruit; I never saw the big cats or even the tail of an errant elephant. But little did I know that my desire to see Karnataka wildlife would finally come to color in the Biligiri Rangana Hills, officially known as the BR Hills Wildlife Sanctuary which was formed in 1974. 

At an altitude of 3500 feet above sea level, BR hills stand where the Western Ghats meets the Eastern Ghats, and make for an ecological hotspot. In addition to the location exoticism, the BRT wildlife sanctuary is quite large, 540 km² in the area to be precise, and is also an official tiger reserve.

 

Nilgiris_Biosphere_Reserve karnataka tamil Nadu India.jpg

Map of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve(part of Western Ghats). Source: http://www.cepf.net/ / CC BY-SA

 

Not only did we see two sloth bears, at different times, sprinting across in front of our jeep, but we also spotted a leopard hidden behind the thickets, wild bisons appearing all macho, mama and baby chital(spotted deers), an Indian grey mongoose tottering around, a tortoise couple resting on a log in a pond, vultures and owls perched on high and dry tree branches, lone sambar deers, barking deers melting us with their innocent eyes, Malabar squirrels nibbling through nuts perpetually, colorful birds of various kinds, langurs, wild monkeys, and wild boar. Phew. 

READ MORE

Belligundi Waterfalls – A Hidden Jewel of Sharavathi Valley

belligundi waterfalls sharavathi valley shimoga karnataka

From Bangalore to Shimoga – In search of the Belligundi waterfalls in Sharavathi Valley

The first time I came to Bengaluru in 2010, everyone told me that this tech city is the base to explore the green Karnataka state. 

Back then my knowledge about Karnataka was limited to the first page of Google that showed a standard list of destinations in the state: CoorgHampi, Chikamagalur, Gokarna, Ooty, Mysore, etc. My batchmates from IIT Delhi who had done their third-year internship in Bengaluru had specifically told me that there are a lot of water bodies and waterfalls near Bangalore. Though the phrase water bodies had sounded strange, I was thrilled to move to Bengaluru.

To know more about the things to do and places to see in Karnataka, I browsed through its pictures online. Mighty tigers, shy leopards, sloth bears, colonial and heritage buildings such as the Bangalore Vidhan Soudha and Mysore palace, lush tea and coffee estates, tall palms and coconuts fringing the highways, sunrises from hills, caves, turquoise beaches, foreigners in groups, women in heavy traditional gold jewelry — the plethora of pictures that came up when I searched about Karnataka gave me an idea about the state. 

Frankly, I was still clueless about what I was going to experience here.

My decade-long romance with Karnataka has enriched me both physically and spiritually. Now I have a long list of popular and offbeat places of Karnataka I’ve seen and experienced. But when I discover places like the Belligundi waterfall, I wonder if I would ever be able to say that I have seen enough of Karnataka. 

READ MORE

Bangalore to Dandeli – A Day in the Dandeli Jungle Camp

langurs+dandeli+jungle+camp+jungle+dandeli+wildlife+snactuary.jpeg

From Bangalore to Dandeli Jungle Camp

Our Dandeli trip started with a bus ride from Bangalore to Dharwad. Dharwad to Dandeli is about 55 km, and we booked a bus to Dharwad instead of Dandeli for we couldn’t find any direct ac and sleeper bus from Bangalore to Dandeli.

The bus journey was like any other night stay, except the desperation of the travelers for the occasional pee halts. If you ever use the sleeper buses in India, remember that you will sleep well but also remember to pee before you board the bus. And irrespective of how sleepy you are, if the bus stops in between and the conductor shouts that they are stopping for the toilet, drag yourself out of that questionable blanket and make use of the break. You never know when the bus will stop the next time.

Our bus journey was about 10-hour, and when I opened my eyes, we were approaching the Dandeli town. Now, we had to make way to the Dandeli Jungle Camp – one of the best places in Karnataka for nature lovers.

READ MORE

Kali Adventure Camp – A Day on the Banks of Kali River, Dandeli

sunset+dandeli+karnataka

Introduction to Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and Kali Adventure Camp.

Though just 100 km from Goa, Dandeli is mostly absent from the travel itineraries of Indian and foreign tourists. Whenever I ask my foreign friends about their India tour, they mention Varanasi, Hampi, Goa, Dharamshala, Amritsar, Jaipur, Spiti Valley, Kerala, but never do they speak about Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. Even most of the Indian travelers visiting South India don’t have Dandeli in their list of places to visit in Karnataka

 

What is to be seen in Dandeli? What is Kali Adventure Camp?

Dandeli is a city in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, India.

I have spoken in detail about the Dandeli town in my article on Dandeli Jungle Camp where I stayed deep inside the Dandeli forest. But to give you an idea, Dandeli city is located in the Western Ghats, and the entire surrounding area of Dandeli is a forest. 

This 1200 square km forest is known as Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary or Dandeli National park, which is also known to be the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Kali Tiger Reserve, that was previously known as Anshi National Park or Anshi Tiger Reserve, is part of the Dandeli Sanctuary. The sanctuary is now under the protection of the Karnataka government. 

As Dandeli lies in the Western Ghats, you can expect the forest to be dense and hilly. From a high viewpoint in the Dandeli wildlife safari that I took later, I saw how thick the forest was. 

The sunlight never reaches some parts of the forest, our guides from the Kali Adventure resort told us. I didn’t doubt them for I saw cauliflower-florets-like trees standing neck to neck fighting for space and air on all the rolling hills of Dandeli sanctuary. From that far, I didn’t see even an inch of empty ground.

READ MORE

Finding Sloth Bears in Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Hampi

indian+slothbear+hampi+karnataka

Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Hampi, Karnataka – Home of Indian Sloth Bear.

I have grown up in a small town in North India where pet cows and chirpy parrots in the balcony are still a thing. 

My mother has grown such a lush garden that while growing up I always spent my evenings looking at the garden activity when bulbuls flew home or the tailor birds settled in their chosen tiny branches. A Sunday was less about Popeye or Duck Tales and more about protecting ripe guavas from monkeys who were attracted to our garden from miles. When we got relief from the monkeys we were chasing away squirrels who were adamant to build their nests out of our school socks. 

My affinity for animals often sends me to national parks around the world (I found many during my travels in Karnataka.). No prizes on guessing that you can also find me strolling in Indian jungles just to get a glimpse of the local animals. 

When I traveled to Hampi this September, I hadn’t even heard of the Daroji Sloth bear sanctuary. But when I got to know that Daroji is just an hour away from Sanapur, my stay in Hampi, I postponed the ruins and other things to see in Hampi to another day and instead we jumped in our car to drive straight away to the Daroji sanctuary.

READ MORE

Timeless Places to See in Hampi, Karnataka – India’s Unforgettable Ruins

Timeless Places to See in Hampi – India’s Unforgettable Ruins

Lost in the lost kingdom of Hampi. 

Everyone travels to Hampi, one of the best places to travel in Karnataka and a UNESCO World Heritage site, to see the ruins of the ancient Vijayanagar empire. They say Vijayanagar was once the richest empire in the world. But I didn’t visit Hampi just to see the ruins. My favorite part about Hampi was the nature that cradles Hampi in her lap as if sympathizing with her for the tragedies the empire suffered.

Also, this was not my first time in Hampi, and I was better informed about the place.

My first trip to Hampi from Bangalore was about a few years ago. Back then I had made a list of places to see in Hampi that included the main Hampi attractions such as the Virupaksha temple, the Vitthala temple, and the other ruins that form the groups of monuments at Hampi. That was a three-day Hampi trip from Bangalore that only left me wanting to see more of this archaeological wonder of the South.

When I traveled to Hampi the second time recently, I didn’t make a Hampi itinerary. Why?

When you Google search about Hampi, you are bound to get overwhelmed by the number of things to do in Hampi. Hampi images filled with historical buildings and unbelievable boulder arrangements amidst a lush spread of fat palm and tall coconuts would not only leave you amazed but bewildered.

I feel you.

READ MORE

A Road Trip From Bangalore to Coorg [Quintessential Karnataka]

madikeri+coorg+karnataka+south+india.jpeg

Update 2022: Coorg is now open to travelers. Follow the necessary precautions.

Table of Content

  1. What brings us travelers to Coorg, a district nestled in the western ghats of South Karnataka?
  2. Bangalore to Coorg by Road
  3. Our Homestay in Coorg and Coorgy Culture
  4. Nature of Coorg and Coffee Estates
  5. Eating and Going Around in Coorg and Madikeri Town
  6. What is the best time to visit Coorg?
  7. How much time do you need for a Bangalore to Coorg trip?
  8. What is the difference between Coorg and Madikeri?
  9. How far is Coorg from Bangalore?
  10. How to reach Coorg from Bangalore?
  11. Where to stay in Madikeri, Coorg?
  12. What are some of the best things to do in Coorg?
  13. How is the food in Coorg?
  14. Books on Coorg

From Bangalore to Coorg by Car – Rendezvous Through Wild Karnataka

I won’t tell you that Coorg is the Scotland of India, as every other Bangalore to Coorg travel guide must have already said this to you. I have not been to Scotland and don’t know its landscape. But I can say that Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is straight out of that movie in which fat cows graze on a grassy carpet while spinach-green hills pose in the background.

I’m not sure if I can call Coorg a quaint town. Everybody traveling in Karnataka go on a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg, at least once. I’ve been to Coorg so many times I now have a list of 15 stunning and secluded coffee estates, home stays, and hotels in Coorg.

A humble request: We overcrowd Venice, Paris, Coorg, Florence, Bangkok as if there is nowhere else to go. Meanwhile, the ecologies of these places suffer due to overcrowding and lack of care, obvious when tourists throng the destination. Let’s try to distribute ourselves through the lesser visited places which all hold, if not more, the similar richness of people, food, landscape, and history.

May I suggest Stuart hill in Coorg instead of Madikeri town, Mandi district instead of Manali, Kalga instead of Kasol, and Chile instead of London and Paris? But let us promise to respect these new places and not turn them into just hangouts to chill. Let’s chill in our backyards. But when we visit, let’s visit to see, know, and understand something unknown to us.

READ MORE

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka – A Day in the Winged Paradise

ranganathittu bird sanctuary

We went on a one day drive to the Ranganathittu bird sanctuary – one of the coolest places in Karnataka. And I was overwhelmed by its beauty.

I penned down my experience in a poem. After all, what is better than nature and poetry?

Writing down that poem here.

Related Read: If you love animals and are in South India, do visit Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Hampi, Karnataka

 

As we entered the sanctuary, painted storks glided above us in the clouded sky, 

and with our heads tilted towards the heavens,

we walked by the side of the muddy Kaveri,

to see flocks and flocks of white and grey birds just perched onto the canopies of the Arjuna and the Acacia on the islets.

The crisp air buzzed with their songs and shrieks,

though I couldn’t identify even one of those notes.

We gazed at the distant foliage to recognize the winged-ones,

but our eyes instead discovered three crocodiles who rested on the rocks with their powerful jaws wide open,

as if they were waiting for a fish to dive into their mouth.

Their stillness made us wonder if they were real or fake,

and then we saw one of them gracefully gliding into the coolness of the water,

alluring us to go behind him.

READ MORE

A One–Day Road Trip From Bangalore to Panchapalli Dam and Bettamugilalam Village

a karnataka landscape

One needs to control his or her mind to do anything in this world. Even the most enlightened of us all, Plato, Seneca, Marcus, Aristotle, Buddha, Socrates, valued this virtue. I do not possess this quality, yet, and hence couldn’t sleep the Saturday night before the Sunday drive. At 4 am, when I disabled the alarm and dragged myself out of bed, I felt as if a hundred pins pierced my eyes. 

Determined to hit the road, we packed our country-egg-omelet and Amul-butter-pasted sandwiches, that I had already prepared the night before, in tiffin boxes and then in a backpack, along with bananas, water bottles, and Unibic protein bars. We wanted to hike the world. Soon, we sped on the road in search of a green and sunlight-lit golden Sunday in some distant hills or next to a lake or a dam, may be accompanied by an elephant or two. 

READ MORE

Payment Received

Thank you for your support. It makes all the difference.
Monthly Donation
One-Time Donation