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Old 1st November 2013, 22:37   #1
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Default Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

This is my first travelogue after I moved to Bangalore, from Kolkata, a couple of years back. Did travel to a few places, but did not find any compelling reason to pen a travelogue. Most of these destinations are much traveled and you can find umpteen travelogues on TBHP, on these places.

But then, what makes this one special? Well, as the name suggests, this is about a trip to Nagarhole Tiger Reserve during the Durga Puja weekend. It would have been another run of the mill visits except, that I was to visit a National Park after a long break in between, and the forest did reward with some excellent moments. The high point was what we witnessed at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, on our way back.

More on that later...

Day 1 : 12th Oct

Left home at 6:00am. The benefit of staying near NICE road is that, you can make a quick exit from the city. Took Bannerghatta Road - NICE Road - Mysore Road exit - Mysore Road. There was considerably high traffic on Mysore road, than other weekends. Most cars were headed to Mysore to witness the Dussehra celebrations. Stopped for breakfast enroute and then took the exit towards Ranganathithu, after crossing Srirangapatna town.

The road surface deteriorates beyond Ranganathithu. We were undecided whether to visit the bird sanctuary on the way to Nagarhole, or do it while returning. Seeing the road conditions, we planned to proceed to Nagarhole and Ranganathithu was left to be covered during the return journey. The next 10 odd kms were quite bad with a stretch of about 1 km, where the road does not exist at all. However, once you are back on SH88 (Mysore-Madikeri Road), its back to driving delight, with undulating roads and sweeping corners. The speed breakers does play a major spoilsport, is what I would say.

We entered Hunsur, instead of taking the bypass and took a left turn along SH86, towards Nagarhole. The road, here onwards, has very sparse traffic. We had booked ourselves at Jungle Inn for 2 nights. The entire route was pretty straightforward and we reached the resort by 10:30am. Total distance covered : 195kms.

On way to Nagarhole
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Checked in at the resort. We had booked a Swiss tent for ourselves. The manager was quite cordial and showed us our tent. It was quite clean and decent, with all the basic needs one may need in a trip. The toilet was clean as well, with a small dressing area in front. The tent of course, did not have any TV and I was rather glad about it.

Inside the Swiss tent
Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0601-large.jpg

We left our luggage at the tent and reached out to the manager's office to gather info regarding the forest and options to explore it. The resort arranges for safari, in their own vehicle, but along the metaled periphery road through and along the forest. It does not take you inside the forest though. The only safari option at Nagarhole is arranged by the Forest Dept, in small buses. You may choose to opt for it just for the heck of it (we did) but it may well be avoided. The other option is to have a safari at Tholpetty, where the resort jeep will take you, if you wish, and then you will have to opt for separate vehicles to enter the forest. You can as well take your car till Tholpetty.

At the National Park entrance
Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0001-large.jpg

Since there was some time left before lunch, we drove out of the resort and reached the forest checkpost which is hardly 1km from the resort. Here, you have to register yourself and the car and you are allowed to drive through. We drove slowly for about 10-12 kms and returned back to the resort for lunch. The drive was uneventful. We had planned to take the safari at 5pm, which starts about 20kms from the forest check post.

The food at the resort was good, with decent veg and non veg options. Post lunch, we planned to drive out once again, towards the safari start point.

It was around 3pm and the sky was getting overcast. As we rolled out of the resort gates, the skies open up. Beyond the forest checkpost, it was a beautiful scenery. It was still raining very heavily, the forest was verdant green and the roads were smoking, to let the heat out. We were the only vehicle around. We had all the time in hand and planned to drive slow through the forest, taking in the views, sounds and the smell.

The rain continued but has turned into a drizzle by now. As the road meandered through the forest, we came across hoards of deers grazing happily on either sides of the road. They looked at us curiously but did not seem much bothered, as they are pretty used to vehicular traffic.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0009-large.jpg

We moved on, only to be stopped by a herd of deers who were crossing the road.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0015-large.jpg

Due to the overcast sky, it was darker that what it would usually be in the afternoon. As the road meandered, we suddenly came across a herd of elephants crossing the road. There were no cars around, neither behind nor on the other side.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0016-large.jpg

It was an excellent photo-op as I stopped on the road. The engine was kept running, rolled down the window and clicking all the way to glory. It was a hed of around 8-10 elephants, who were taking all the time in the world to hang around, play with the calves and cross the road. As they kept moving away from us, we kept inching forward.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0020-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0023-large.jpg

It was almost 20mins that we were held up at that place. By this time, other cars have arrived and lined up behind. A couple of them overtook and moved forward.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0032-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0034-large.jpg

The elephants seemed disturbed and gradually disappeared inside the forest. But, not before they had given us some excellent shots.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0036-large.jpg

Once the road cleared up, we moved ahead, only to agree that nothing could be better than this and the safari has just become a formality now.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0043-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0044-large.jpg

The safari point was another 8 odd kms from there. We drove through along with a number of other cars who had lined up behind. The safari was done is a rather noisy bus with a noisier crowd inside. We came across another herd of elephants, a few bisons, deers, Sambhar, wild boars and more deers.

Lone Sambhar
Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0050-large.jpg

Bison behind the bushes
Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0061-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0068-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0070-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0071-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0090-large.jpg

On our way back, it became dark. The drive through the forest in the darkness was pretty interesting and reached the resort by 7:30pm.

A campfire was arranged at night and dinner was served at the restaurant.


Day 2 : 13th Oct

We decided to skip the safari at Tholpetty. Instead we decided to laze around. Post lunch, we decided to take another drive inside the forest. It was rather hot and the sun was beating down, as we left the resort at 3pm. Drove around 15kms inside the forest. Due to the heat, there was not a single deer that we came across. There was one solitary peacock sitting on a branch. We decided to turn back at around 4:30pm. As we started on our return journey, just around the corner, I screached to a halt. Something bulky and black suddenly moved across the road and
settled itself on the other side.

It was a black bear, which was feeding on the plants on the side of the road, about 80mts from us. Once again, it was only us on the road, with no sign of any other car. The bear continued to graze without even caring for us. After about a minute or so, an indica cab arrived on the opposite side with a few hooligans inside.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0096-large.jpg

The cab drove past the bear without even caring for it. The bear got upset and as the cab drove past us, the bear came out on the road. It was walking straight to us, in full view.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0098-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0099-large.jpg

As I rolled up the glasses and clicked away through the windshield, it came up to the Figo, encircled it, went on the other side of the road and disappeared inside the forest.

We were blessed with this awesome experience and once again thanked ourselves for not going for any other prescribed safari. We gradually rolled back towards the resort and reached by 6pm. The evening was similar, with a campfire, followed by dinner and a wildlife film show. We retired for the night.


Day 3 : 14th Oct

Today we woke up without any hurry, packed our belonging and headed for breakfast. Today we will checkout, visit Ranganathittu and return to Bangalore. Little did we know what was in store for us at the otherwise humble bird sanctuary. Depending on what unfolded barely 10mts from us, for a span of about 1 min, I was probably the luckiest photographer on Earth. More on that coming soon.
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Old 2nd November 2013, 17:13   #2
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Day 3 : Contd..

We left Jungle Inn by 9:30am and drove moderately back towards Bangalore. The plan was to visit Ranganathittu enroute. It was pretty hot and the sun was beating down. We reached the bird sanctuary gate by 12noon. It was Dussehra and we were anyway expecting a lot of crowd. There was a long queue of vehicles at the entry gate itself. The parking lot was also chock-a-block with private cars, taxis and tourist buses. We got the boating tickets done and joined the long queue of people, waiting to board the boats. Looking at the long queue, we once thought of turning back, but then, thought to wait for some more time and see how the queue moves. Thank God we did wait.

After waiting for about 45mins, our turn came. We boarded the boat and we set off on the waters of the Cauvery.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0117-large.jpg

Most of the birds were Black-headed Ibis or Oriental White Ibis, with a few Cormorants here and there. I started following these birds through the lens, looking for the perfect shot.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0114-large.jpg


In an otherwise uneventful ride, what happened next was absolutely unprecedented. At that moment, I felt that I was probably the most lucky photographer on Earth.

I was following one of the Ibis's which was sitting on a rocky outcrop, alone.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0123-large.jpg

It suddenly took off, flew gracefully and landed on the water, hardly 5mts from us.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0124-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0125-large.jpg

As it swam towards another outcrop, a crocodile came up from nowhere and within seconds attacked the Ibis.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0127-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0128-large.jpg

The attack was so swift and silent, that the poor bird did not even get a chance to react.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0129-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0130-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0131-large.jpg

Within 20-25 seconds, the croc has held on to the bird, suffocated it and then gradually swallowed it.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0132-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0133-large.jpg

The entire event unfolded right in front of us and not more than 10mts from us. There was pin drop silence on the boat, the passengers have stopped talking, the boatman has stopped rowing. My trusted Nikon made the only noise. The event was right out of the pages of National Geographic.

After this event, all of us were a little shaken. The boatman looked at me and smiled wryly.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I clicked a few more shots and the ride soon ended.

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0135-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0148-large.jpg

Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole-dsc_0150-large.jpg

We decided to come back again, for an early morning ride, during winters, when it would be less crowded and hopefully have more variety of birds.

We left the bird sanctuary, had a late lunch at Amblee resort and returned home by 6:30pm.

An ordinary trip turned out to be one of a kind, for which one may be totally unprepared for some flashing moments. My journey to a forest and a wildlife photography trip after a long gap, has been truly rewarding. We promised to return to Nagarhole soon.

Till then, take care and drive safe..
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Old 2nd November 2013, 17:31   #3
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Very nice write-up and photography Saurabh. The suspense you created by saying you were the most lucky photographer was the thing that glued me to this thread.
Will be waiting to read more such write-ups and travelogues from you.
Keep revvin...
CF911
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Old 2nd November 2013, 17:42   #4
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Hi Saurabh, really nice photos, TFS. Good to see Nagahole has less vehicular movement compared to Bandipur forest. Can you please mention your route to Nagarhole (from Mysore onwards) and how's the road condition.
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Old 2nd November 2013, 18:27   #5
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Quote:
Originally Posted by ankan.m.blr View Post
Hi Saurabh, really nice photos, TFS. Good to see Nagahole has less vehicular movement compared to Bandipur forest. Can you please mention your route to Nagarhole (from Mysore onwards) and how's the road condition.
Thanks Ankan. The route to Nagarhole is pretty straight forward. Along the route to Mysore, take a right turn after Srirangapatna town. Continue on this route till you reach a fork, where you will have to keep left. The road on the right will take you to KRS.

This road will take you to SH88 where you will need to take a right towards Coorg. Once you reach Hunsur, get into the town and do not take the bypass. About 2kms inside the town, you will come across a road towards Nagarhole on the left. This is well marked with a hoarding for Nagarhole.

This road will take you all the way to the forest gate. Overall road conditions are pretty good, except for about 10kms between Ranganathittu and the point where the road meets SH88.
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Old 3rd November 2013, 08:23   #6
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Lovely and lucky capture of the croc attack.

Shame the way some people travel creating noise and treat nature and animals with disdain.
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Old 3rd November 2013, 10:35   #7
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

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Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
Thanks Ankan. The route to Nagarhole is pretty straight forward. Along the route to Mysore, take a right turn after Srirangapatna town. Continue on this route till you reach a fork, where you will have to keep left. The road on the right will take you to KRS.

This road will take you to SH88 where you will need to take a right towards Coorg. Once you reach Hunsur, get into the town and do not take the bypass. About 2kms inside the town, you will come across a road towards Nagarhole on the left. This is well marked with a hoarding for Nagarhole.

This road will take you all the way to the forest gate. Overall road conditions are pretty good, except for about 10kms between Ranganathittu and the point where the road meets SH88.
Regarding wildlife safari inside Nagarhole, I assume that only forest dept vehicles have permit to enter the jungle,right? Can you please let me know the timing of this safari. I am trying to understand if a day trip to Nagarhole (from Bangalore) is feasible which includes taking the forest dept Safari. Also, after crossing Hunsur town, is there any decent (family-friendly) food joint / restroom facility available ?
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Old 3rd November 2013, 11:24   #8
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Quote:
Originally Posted by Car_Freak_911 View Post
Very nice write-up and photography Saurabh. The suspense you created by saying you were the most lucky photographer was the thing that glued me to this thread.
Will be waiting to read more such write-ups and travelogues from you.
Keep revvin...
CF911
Thanks Car_Freak. You may search for other travelogues from me on the forum. Hope you would like them as well.

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Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely and lucky capture of the croc attack.

Shame the way some people travel creating noise and treat nature and animals with disdain.
Thanks Sudev. Cannot agree more. There were a lot of people making noise, honking and speeding through the forest. It was an absolute shame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ankan.m.blr View Post
Regarding wildlife safari inside Nagarhole, I assume that only forest dept vehicles have permit to enter the jungle,right? Can you please let me know the timing of this safari. I am trying to understand if a day trip to Nagarhole (from Bangalore) is feasible which includes taking the forest dept Safari. Also, after crossing Hunsur town, is there any decent (family-friendly) food joint / restroom facility available ?
You are right. Only Forest Dept vehicles are allowed inside the forest for safari. I am not sure about the morning timings, since we did not enquire. The evening safari timings are 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. Each safari lasts for about 45mins.

It is feasible to do a day trip from Bangalore. You can take the 3pm safari, or may be 4pm as well, to be back in Bangalore by 10pm. Beyond Hunsur, you wont find any decent food joint or rest room facility. It is advisable to have an early lunch at Hunsur or carry your own food. Restrooms are available at the point where you will have to board the safari bus.
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Old 4th November 2013, 18:26   #9
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Hi Saurabh, did you take the route in the map (All the way to Kutta )? Is the forest office located on this forest road?
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Old 5th November 2013, 08:58   #10
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Hello Sir

Very nice narration.
the pictures u see croc eating the birds are very rare.

Thank you for sharing with all.
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Old 5th November 2013, 11:31   #11
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Dear Saurabh,

So much of wildlife & so much of wild life action in just 3 days ? Wow, You are really, really lucky. You've sent all those natgeo cameramen packing

We too drove at snail speeds through a stretch of these ghats but couldn't spot even a rat.
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Old 5th November 2013, 12:00   #12
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Saurabh, perfect way to start your Bangalore travelogue. Wonderful pics with the crocodile pic being the icing of the cake.
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Old 5th November 2013, 21:01   #13
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Quote:
Originally Posted by ankan.m.blr View Post
Hi Saurabh, did you take the route in the map (All the way to Kutta )? Is the forest office located on this forest road?
Yes Ankan. That's the road. We did not go upto Kutta. The forest office is on this road itself. You can't miss it.

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Hello Sir

Very nice narration.
the pictures u see croc eating the birds are very rare.

Thank you for sharing with all.
Thanks Vineet. Its indeed very rare to witness a croc attack, that too eating a bird.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddrive View Post
Dear Saurabh,

So much of wildlife & so much of wild life action in just 3 days ? Wow, You are really, really lucky. You've sent all those natgeo cameramen packing

We too drove at snail speeds through a stretch of these ghats but couldn't spot even a rat.
Indeed we were very lucky. We also spotted a few wild boars, the pic of which I did not upload . We also came across a pack of 3 wild dogs crossing the road, but they were too quick for me to react and click.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Saurabh, perfect way to start your Bangalore travelogue. Wonderful pics with the crocodile pic being the icing of the cake.
Thanks Suhas. Bangalore is indeed blessed with so many destinations.
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Old 6th November 2013, 18:30   #14
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

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Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post

In an otherwise uneventful ride, what happened next was absolutely unprecedented. At that moment, I felt that I was probably the most lucky photographer on Earth.

....
My trusted Nikon made the only noise. The event was right out of the pages of National Geographic.
...

An ordinary trip turned out to be one of a kind, for which one may be totally unprepared for some flashing moments. My journey to a forest and a wildlife photography trip after a long gap, has been truly rewarding.
You are indeed lucky... I would say blessed! Superb pictures.

I've been to forests, and not seen such a variety as yet in a single trip. This was indeed a dream trip for a photographer, rather, any wildlife lover.

These pictures had much more impact than the NG ones. The NG ones are planned, huge time and effort spent, and the viewers know what is coming. This was completely unexpected, unprepared, with the constraints of the boat, and yet, the photography has been excellent.
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Old 7th November 2013, 19:46   #15
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Default Re: Got BHP? You bet. Of 'B'ears, 'H'aathis and 'P'eacocks at Nagarhole

Congrats Sourab , on your luck smiling all the way on your holiday. Nice travelogue to read , Very few photographers of Nat geo or Discovery channel get a chance to photograph a crocodile eating an erget . Elephants giving you a treat for 20 mins on road , a sloth bear which is now on the list of endangered speices. What camera and lens were you using while clicking the crocodile attack and details of your camers settings ?
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