A rainy weekend is precisely how I would describe this outing to Kutta. Following on the close heels of the previous trip to Bandipur, this time the outing was planned for the other prominent forest in South Karnataka – Nagarhole National Park along the Karnataka – Kerala border. This time the group was an all Marathi speaking group which made the trip quite memorable
As always, our journey was to start late in the night to beat the crowded Bangalore – Mysore highway. We had our dinner before the journey at the famous Food street at V. V. Puram in Bangalore. Starting off our journey at around 1:00 AM, with a couple of pit stops in between at the Maddur – Cafe Coffee Day, we reached Mysore early in the morning at around 7 AM. Since we had the entire day at our disposal, we decided to visit the famous Tibetian Monastry – Namdroling Monastery at Bylakuppe close to the town of Kushalnagar.
It was here that we had our first rain intervention quite early in the morning to say which made us wind up our breakfast early. Considering that I was the only person driving the car, I was quite hungry as well and had to re-energize myself for the remaining part of the drive. We had our breakfast at one of the many restaurants that are lined up outside the monasatry. A cup of hot tea followed and we were all set to resume our journey through the Nagerhole forest. We reached the forest gates around 11 AM not without missing on few road deviations which made us go in a bit of round about route and drive through rugged pathways.
The forest of Bandipur during my previous April trip understandably had a dry appearance with very less greenery in sight, which in turn meant less chances of sighting animals. This time though, since we were travelling during the monsoon season of June, the forests had an enchanted green and dense appearance which made us get down from our car and capture few snaps even prior to entering the main forest itself. All through this journey from the monastery to the Nagarhole forest, we had encountered continuous but light rain, but were hoping it wouldn’t follow us all the way to our destination in Kutta.
Upon entering the forest, we were greeted with large herds of sambhar and chital. The sightings of these wonderful animals continued with a herd showing their presence every few hundred metres.
We were anticipating that we would get a glimpse of a large animal like a bison or an elephant. Our attempts were thwarted by the rain which had gained up some momemtum now and was pouring in sharp bursts. Determined to not let the rain spoil our chances, we drove very slowly, (at times with a speed of just 15-20 kms/hr) through the forest hoping for the downpour to stop. Thankfully the rain gods ceded to our hopes and what started as downpour ended in a flash. A few kms ahead on the drive through, we spotted a group of dholes commonly referred to as Indian wild dogs. They seemed to be relaxing after a morning hunt for breakfast and having their stomach full, obliged in posing to our camera shutterbugs for quite a long time.
As we reached the far end of the forest road, the rain started pouring in again reducing our visibility to almost zero at certain stretches. We managed to reach our destination Kutta, a small border town, the last town on the Karnataka side of the border around noon. Beyond this town of Kutta lies Tholapetty forest and Wayanad district of Kerala State where I had visited last year during the same season.
The homestay we had booked – Nagarhole Estate was a large property overlooking the forest on one side, the famous trekking spot – Brahmagiri on the other. We were amazed by the sight of this wonderful picturesque location.
Our package at the homestay included only breakfast and dinner. So we decided to have our lunch at a nearby restaurant called Robusta. A sumptous lunch was followed by some sleep. We intended to visit the nearby Irupu falls for the evening followed by a latenight walk into the small forest area near the homestay. As we woke up from our noon nap, our disppointment kicked in. The rains had not reduced since lunch and instead was now pouring like a torrent. I had in past visited many places in the western ghats during the rain season and quite loved it too, but the incessent rain on this trip had turned our visit into frustration. We ended up being locked up in the homestay for the entire evening and night 🙁 . We were presently surprised here when we happened to meet another close friend who coincidentally was staying in the next room and was visiting the same place with his friends. As the night wore out and the morning kicked in, we were finally happy to see the rain reduced. It had rained through the entire night leaving large muddy pools in the estate.
Without wasting much time, we had a quick breakfast and headed directly to the Irupu falls. I remember having visited this beautiful tiered falls many years back and also having the experience of being bit by leeches which surround the falls 😛 . Our morning journey to the falls which was situated about 5-6 km from our home-stay came to a sudden halt within few minutes. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, that this halt was very fortunate for us, as a huge tree had been uprooted following the previous night rains and had fallen on the road, hardly about 30- 45 seconds before we arrived! Thanking our stars, we patiently waited as the nearby villagers got to the task of cutting the tree to enable traffic movement. I must say it was quite a commendable job done by these villagers to clear the road in about thirty minutes. We were expecting to get stuck much longer. They were possibly awarded with a year’s supply of wood for their home and humble being.
Continuing on and reaching the base of the falls, we were again greeted by rains which thankfully though were not too heavy to stop us. We tredded along the pathway to reach the falls. On the way, I was again bit by leech but this time though being cautious on the outset, we spotted the leech just as it was trying to hook itself to the leg. Immediately removing it and with no damage done, we continued our climb and reached the falls and boy, what a sight it indeed was! All the disappointment from the previous night’s rain evaporated as the falls was in full grandeur. As we started capturing the pics, the rain started pouring again and we were forced to keep our camera back into the bag to keep it safe from the water. Thankfully though, I was carrying my Sony Xperia Z2, a waterproof phone, which allowed us to capture some amazing and memorable snaps despite the rain while other visitors just stood and watched from under nearby trees 😉 😛
Enjoying at the falls for over couple of hours and after capturing hundreds of snaps, we started back our journey hoping to catch glimpse of few more animals in the forest as the evening kicked in. Our second disappointment lay in store for us here. A few km into the forest, the road was cordoned off due to incessant rains which had uprooted huge trees and had blocked the roads. We had no other option but to trace back and take a different route back to Bangalore. We took the route via Gonikoppal – Hunsur – Mysore road. While this route was wonderful to drive through as well, we missed the forest drive. Along the way, we spotted around 10-15 trees uprooted due to the incessant rain which followed us almost all the way till Hunsur. However, without further incidents, we reached Mysore early and decided to stopover for some tea near Maddur. A refreshing tea and few gossips later, we resumed our journey back to Bangalore hoping to reach back before the traffic starts to pile up from the returning vehicles from the weekend. We managed to do so and reached the city well ahead in time, than what we intended to – by 8 PM. As we retired back to our homes, we hoped to get another visit to this wonderful place albeit when the rains were at the enjoyable levels! 😉
This was also my last trip planned for this year prior to the big, fat and long awaited trip in November end! 😉 To know more about that trip, keep reading this space