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Jungle Lodges – KGudi

We just came back from a short, but nevertheless long-anticipated-with-relish, holiday to Bangalore and the Jungle Lodges Resort at Kyathadevarayangudi – KGudi for short.

The resort itself is right inside the Biligiri Ranganna Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, about 86 kilometres from Mysore. Its setting is quite picturesque – it has its own waterhole, and the tented cottages and log huts blend in perfectly with the surroundings. Since the resort itself is plonked right in the middle of the jungle, quite a bit of animal and bird life can be spotted right from one’s balcony.

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July 2003, Talacauvery

A cold and misty noon. Tiny needles of rain wetting the moss-covered rock. A slippery walk up a paved road. And then, rather suddenly, we came upon it – the source of the Kaveri, in a tiny spring beneath a small sanctum which held the River Goddess. That cold July noon found us shivering at the large pool into which the spring flowed, before making its way out to becoming one of the most important rivers in history. A thin, bespectacled priest clad in only a loincloth cheerfully told us to take a dip – we gave it a pass, sprinkling a few drops of water on our heads instead. As we sat by the pool, shivering in the cold, enveloped in wisps of cloud and mist, the almost total silence broken only by the sound of the spring and the chanting of the priest, Eternity softly stole in and joined us. read more

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Sunday before last, I went on a half-day trip to Vedanthangal and Karikili. To the uninitiated, they are two bird sanctuaries located about 60 kilometres south of Chennai. There were three of us: Vasumathi Sankaran, geographer and all round nature specialist, veteran of hundreds of sanctuary visits, the one who, along with Theodore Baskaran, initiated me into the mysteries of birding and wildlife watching. Recently, her age and health have prevented her from visiting as many places as she would like to, but it was a great experience going birding with her again. The other person who made up our party was Deepu, who has proved to be an enthusiastic companion for any birding trip, and a reluctant one for any other! Vidya was too zonked from the previous night’s party to do anything, so she gave it a miss.

Vasumathi, Murugan and Deepu

We made an early start, for a change, leaving home at 5:20 a.m. Deepu had stayed over and that was helpful, and we had picked up Vasumathi and were on our way by 6:00 a.m. The drive was quite enjoyable – good roads and almost no traffic. Crossing the Palar Bridge was quite eerie – there was thick fog and we couldn’t see more than fifteen feet ahead of us. It looked like the bridge across forever, and only when we reached the other side did we breathe easy! We finally reached Vedanthangal at about 7:00 a.m.

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Murugan the Bird Tracker

At Vedanthangal, we met Murugan, the Bird Tracker. He is a local who has been trained by the forest department to be a bird tracker. His combination of local knowledge and scientific ornithology is quite fascinating, and his keen eye was able to spot the single spoonbill out of a forest of herons and storks. He is constantly retrained, the latest sessions focussing on the avian flu and how to spot it.

He told us that this year was extremely good in terms of arrivals, though the painted storks had arrived very late – only on December 21st. That was why they were still incubating, while most other juveniles were already learning to fly. He also pointed out two newly hatched painted storks – the first of the season – to us. read more

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Got back early this morning from a two-day sojourn in the land of the Nizams. For the first time, I met two bloggers – Sheetal (though she shouldn’t count, for she’s a long-time, pre-blogging friend) and Kiruba (the “meeting” was all too brief – we shook hands and made promises to catch up in Chennai!) The first meeting was by design and the second by chance. Kiruba was speaking at a conference Vidya was attending, and she introduced me to him.

The better part of two days was spent wandering around the remains of Hyderabad’s Nizami past. Visited the Paigah Tombs, Kothi Residency, Purani Haveli, Char Minar and Mecca Masjid, wandered around in the old city – Chudi Bazar mostly, in Vidya’s wake, got a few pictures and one heck of a city experience! read more

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Chettinad Diary 1

Got back from a hectic but enjoyable two-day whirlwind Chettinad trip. Vidya and I were commissioned by Outlook Traveller (by Lalitha actually, but it sounds much cooler this way!) for a couple of pieces on specific destinations in the region – more details after it is published!

Friday, 30th September 2005

Friday evening saw us rushing off to faraway Tambaram to catch the Rameswaram Express, on which we had the company of a cantankerous old couple from somewhere in Haryana on their way to Rameswaram. read more

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Karthik writes about the travails of watching Sun TV, and concludes that he pays for the bad experience because it reminds him of home.

I totally agree with him.

When we were in Singapore, Vidya had a horrible time with the food. Finding vegetarian food that she liked was proving to be quite difficult, and we found ourselves running back to Little India for food. We tried out different places in Little India, and one day, we walked into Saravan Bhavan. In a moment, we were transported back to namma Chennai – we might as well have been in the Parrys Corner Saravana Bhavan. The noise of empty stainless steel plates and tumblers hitting the steel wash bin, the shouting of the waiters, the strong smell of agarbathi and food, the screaming of little children, the shouts of patrons trying to attract the attention of a waiter – everything was so reminiscent of home. Forget reminiscent, it WAS home! Except for the fact that the money being paid was dollars instead of rupees, we were in Chennai. read more

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The Goa Trip

Here’s a quick travel diary of our recent Goa trip. More detailed descriptions as and when (and if) I feel up to writing them!

18 March 2005

Caught the Bangalore Mail from Chennai Central.

19 March 2005

Reached Bangalore Cantonment at the absurdly early hour of 0515 hrs and spent an hour waiting for Rajesh to come and pick us up. Having partied hard the previous night, he missed not one but three alarms and woke up late. AirTel, being the one of the most customer unfriendly service providers ever, had not activated my roaming, although it was supposed to go with my plan. This meant that I could not call up Rajesh and see what was happening. Finally, when a bleary-eyed bloke in sweater, muffler and monkey-cap opened one of the public phone booths, I called Rajesh, catching him just as he was getting out. read more

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