2013 Highlights: A trip to the Bannerghatta Nature Camp

Holiday season is in and as much as we wanted to enjoy, we wanted to relax too. We were in no mood to go n a long holiday too far from home. That is when I chanced upon a visit to the Bannerghatta Nature Camp. We had been thinking of taking the kids to the Bannerghatta zoo for a long time anyway. But what M and I are not great fans of is returning home dead tired after a Morning till late evening outing. We rather prefer to stay overnight, take a time-out for the kids and ourselves. And therefore, Bannerghatta Nature Camp, it was!

We stay about 35 kms away from the Nature Camp, which was equivalent to about 1 hr 15 min drive. The check in time being 12 pm, we left around 10:15 and were there by 11:30. The officials were very prompt and welcoming. They made calls in the morning informing us about the route and specifically mentioning that we should not be reaching the zoo.

As soon as we reached, tea, coffee or fresh lime juice was served. N gulped down 2 lemonades which made A ask her where her basic manners were?? N cared a hoot and asked for a 3rd one. That’s my girl…

We had booked a log hut for one night. For a person who loves being in a quiet place, rustic environment untouched by luxury, lack of mobile signal, but just pure nature, this is perfect. This was our home for the next 24 hours 🙂

The log hut is modestly but conveniently done. There are 2 twin single beds, which could be joined and 2 adults and 2 kids could accommodate quite ok. Ofcourse you cannot sleep teh way you do at home, but that was not a reason for us to complain. The room smelt refreshingly well, and bathroom clean, with good supply of fresh towels and handmade lavender-coconut soap.

The place is handsomely strewn with hammocks and tyres hanging from trees (to be used as swings)

It is very common to see deer in the camp chewing sumptuous green leaves. They seemed quite friendly and harmless. Ofcourse, there were a few with horns, we stayed away from them though.

The lunch was served at 1, which was nothing elaborate but very hygienic and delicious. There is no fanfare about non vegetarian options, except for a chicken biryani. We stuck to vegetarian meals owing to the Navrathris.

After resting for a while, our Grand Safari van was waiting for us by 1:30 pm. The guide was a very sweet guy, very passionate about wild animals who encouraged us to take pictures wherever we wanted and answered all our queries very patiently.

Now about the Grand Safari. Just one word: GRAND! Ok….so a few more: Wonderful, eye opener, humbling, gorgeous and amazing….

The Bannerghatta Safari is an enclosed environment where the wild animals are divided, bred and taken care of under different territories and fed by the jungle authorities.Check out the pics, these are all taken from inside the van.

(N was surprised to see the elephants taking a bath. She was squealing with joy. Note the baby elephant in the extreme right :))

(This one blew us away. The duo was sitting right in our path in front of the van. Oblivious to the open mouths inside the van, they were in their own world. )

(The white tiger is a pure delight to the eyes. It is magnanimous!! This one kept coming near our van and staring at us. ooooh)

(This one was unexpected. We were returning back, and were under the impression that we had seen enough. And then this one is sitting on the sand, like a few cms away from us. She loved being photographed, giving us poses over poses. M had a lovely time with the Nikon!)

The next came the trip to the butterfly park. In many of the reviews I had read before, it was mentioned that this can be skipped and it was no big deal. But we felt otherwise. It was beautiful! Butterflies everywhere in different sizes, colours and shapes. There is a museum too where we can read more about the insects and the life cycle of a butterfly.

The last stand was the zoo, which was honestly not that great. Maybe because we had seen the Safari before it. After seeing the wild animals so close, the zoo did not fascinate us too much. I also felt that the Mysore zoo is much better. But no complaints.

There are a lot of stalls just outside the zoo, which was enough to satiate our hunger around 4-ish. There were a few bro-sis moments too which we could capture.

(Ultimately, A got bugged of all the sharing and caring and asked for a separate corn cob.)

There was hot coffee, tea and biscuits waiting for us when we reached the camp back. Dinner was served at 8:30 pm after a camp fire. Having hot soup near the fire was a lovely cozy experience.

Thought there was an AC in our room, but it really is not required. The fan was more than enough and the sleep was good. If there is one thing which could disturb you, could be the presence of monkeys. They were like everywhere…Oh my! But its not that bad either. The authorities keep a control and check on them.

Points to be noted:

Do prior booking, The place is mostly full on weekends. You could visit their website for booking: www.junglelodges.com

Milk is available on call for kids.

Do keep a stock of snacks for children and yourselves. There are no stores inside the camp to but eateries.

Be dressed in casuals and wear sports shoes for ease and comfort. Carry caps and sun glasses for sun protection.

Being within a jungle comes with perils of mosquitoes. But the authorities do keep a tab on it by fogging medicines and giving mosquito repellents in the room.

Be mentally prepared to be around monkeys, animal sounds, and an eerie silence at times.

Bannerghatta Nature Camp is a must visit for kids and adults who love to know the jungles and the wild animals more. 

Ooty :) – Blogathon – Post 8

9th August 2013

The
day started at 4:45am for us and the kids woke with a jump-start at 5:15 am. We
were out by 5:40am (the exact time by our car’s clock). On the way, we stopped
at Kamath (Chennapatna) for breakfast.  Lovely breakfast, hygienic loo and
smiling waiters welcomed us.

The
best route to Ooty from Bangalore is Bangalore – Mysore – Gundlupet – Bandipur
– Ooty. The roads are good. You will get beautiful views of valleys, natural
water bodies, rustic villages and cool breeze. The speed will become
considerably low after Bandipur, as the ascent starts from here on.

(Around Gundlupet, you will see a whole lot of sunflower farms. While clicking
the pic, this guy came forward saying he is the owner of the farm and that he
wants money for allowing taking pictures of his beloved sunflowers. Of course,
we gave our warmest smile, asked him to smile for the picture and drove away.)

A drive through a village is something I love to do. People stopping and
talking in the middle of the roads. Bullock carts striding away to no hurry.
Smoke bellowing out of the chimneys’ of the houses. Children playing with tyres
and sticks. A life which relaxes you just by watching them.  The
children loved the drive. We let them roll the windows down, feel the fresh
air. After all, they were also on a holiday. Literally they had wind in the hair.
 

The
most memorable part of the journey for me was when we passed through the Bandipur
National Park. Honestly, I felt we could have planned a little better and
stayed in Bandipur resort, gone for the jungle safari for a day and then
resumed towards Ooty. Nevertheless, the jungle route was beautiful. I was awed
by the mere silence, greenery, the gushing noises of the natural streams of
water and occasional treat of beautiful deers, langurs and of course good old
wild monkeys. But we better behaved, after all we were guests in their home! It
humbled us completely.
The
last 2 hours of the drive did stretch a little bit. The kids began to get
restless. The roads were ok, apart from a small stretch between Bandipur and
Ooty. The mountain ascent could get a little clumsy on the stomach for the
sensitive ones. We were fine, but N got queasy and threw up twice. But it was
no worries at all.  The
beautiful views on the way made it all worth the discomfort.
The
thing about a drive to any destination is that you get to see another kind of
life as close as it gets. It humbles, enthralls and you feel what a different
life we lead from many other people.
We
did not stop for another of those tummy breaks but we did stop at couple of places for
clicking pics and generally stretching ourselves. We reached the resort at 1:45
pm, just in time for lunch. 
Ooty
gets chilly during this time of the season. Especially it starts raining in the
evening. It is more of a mist fall. It makes a lot of sense to stay indoors
after 6pm. Do carry warm clothes. You may also experience a lot of internet
and mobile signal issues. A nice duration stay would be 3 nights and 4 days.
Over
all, a lovely place to visit with family and friends, to sit back, relax and
sit cosy under a blanket, catching up movies with your loved ones with a cuppa
hot coffee or chocolate. Ummmm J

2013 highlights: lessons in learning (Post 4)

I am in Kerala. God’s own country has not been behaving itself. It is extremely hot and humid, with no rains in sight. The wells are drying up and the sun is super pissed. Funny as it sounds, but a bath after a bath does not seem like a silly idea. But none of it matters at this moment as I have just lost my father-in-law.

Death changes everything for the people around. Passing away of a loved one puts everything under perspective. The so called big things in life starts looking minuscule. Unsaid words and unspoken emotions start meaning everything.

In 2011, when my father passed away, my very foundation of thinking and existence changed. I can clearly say that there is a pre-dad ME and a post-dad ME.

One thing which naturally happens when we see closed ones in grief is that unknown fears from inside starts surfacing. The fear of losing our loved ones, the insecurities of the future, the fear that no matter what we plan and decide, there is an upper hand above us.

I was discussing this with my Reiki teacher and what he shared with me was invaluable. I am re-phrasing it here along with my inputs.

We all have a tendency to look at things as black or white, negative or positive, good or bad. But there are some gray areas too. There are certain emotions and feelings which cannot be termed in any way. They are just that: emotions and feelings. They come, have to be felt and experienced, and then they go when it is time.

The issue arises when we try to fight these emotions and start calling them names. It can be compared to meditation. You may see that when you sit to meditate, your thoughts go haywire. Where five minutes back, you had nothing to think about, suddenly there is too much going on in the head. It maybe kick-started with a dog barking. Your thoughts will take you to the dog you were scared of as a child, then the friends you played with as a kid, your favourite teacher in school, the PTMs your father attended , the time your father carried you on his neck and took you around, the death of your father or your loved one. All this makes you sad and you end up asking yourself, “Why am I thinking all this? I am not supposed to think all this. I am meditating. It should calm me and not make me sad.” ….and so on. A good spiritual teacher will tell you how normal this phenomenon is and not to fight these thoughts. Let them come and go, and slowly these raging thoughts fade away.

Similarly with these feeling of fear, as much as you want to fight them, they keep coming back. The key to remove these thoughts is actually nothing. Let them come and go. Feel it and slowly they will heal themselves.  One doesn’t have to judge these thoughts.

Another thing which I kept and still tell myself is that under any unpleasant circumstance, there is a choice we have. Either come out of it strong and wiser or bitter and weak. The story about carrots, eggs and coffee is worth reading and re-reading.

These are not mere words that I am writing. I have followed these suggestions. Yes, it is tough in the beginning  but it surely settles down.

Right now, we are dealing. Surely we will start healing too.