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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #1
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Default Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Honda Drive to Discover 5 was a media drive that took a bunch of car-crazy people across the forests between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It started in Coimbatore on the 28th of March 2015 and ended four days later in Bangalore.

Over these four days, I drove both the petrol and diesel powered Honda Mobilios.

The Honda Mobilio's in-depth review is available at:
Honda Mobilio : Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 14th April 2015 at 16:00.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #2
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Default re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

On the 28th of March, I woke up early and got ready for my cab. I flew a new airline called Air Costa to Coimbatore. This is a new low-cost airline that operates in South India and connects five states. I was pleasantly surprised by the leg room in the aircraft.

There was a Bandh (Hartal) in Coimbatore and so, the transfer to the Hotel was super quick. After a quick breakfast, we assembled in the parking lot and got acquainted with the Mobilios.

We were asked to load our luggage into the allotted cars:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-1.jpg

This petrol Mobilio caught my eye but I was allotted a diesel:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-2.jpg

I am not a big fan of diesel cars. However, our planned route was going to be down the 36 hairpin bends on the Ooty-Masinagudi Road. The final destination for the day was going to be a resort inside the Bandipur National Park & Tiger Reserve.

I am quite familiar with these roads. In 2009, I rode on them to attend the Rider Mania event on my RE Thunderbird (Rider Mania 2009: 23ONE). Also, last year I drove my Sail U-VA for a family vacation to Ooty.

These are a lovely roads that cut right across the forest between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. I especially love the 36 hairpin bends and the beautiful forest roads.

At around 11:00 am, we got flagged off by Ms. Anita Sharma. She is the AVP - Marketing Communication at Honda Car India:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-3.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-3a.jpg

We drove out of Coimbatore and entered the Nilgiri Hills (blue mountains). Most of the roads run beside beautiful tea estates. The air had a slight chill, but we still needed the AC. The car does not suffer because of the AC. Its performance remains the same. This is not a fast or high-revving engine. It's a noisy oil burner and I found every speed breaker very irritating. The second and third gears are absolutely dead when it comes to acceleration. Maybe it was the really high number of speed breakers that were causing this heart burn. The mid-range acceleration is not bad. Overtaking was a breeze and in most cases, there was no need to downshift either.

With lunch time coming up, we wanted food. But it was a Bandh in most of Tamil Nadu. Finding a restaurant was going to be difficult.

Last year, my family had enjoyed a good lunch at Nahar's Side Walk Cafe. This place is quite popular on Team-BHP. Even a simple search will show it in multiple Ooty travelogues.

I recommended the same and the group decided to try out the veg food. With a group of 15 marching in at around 3:00 pm, service was a little slow. We were getting ready to attack the 36 hairpins. Now, I always look forward to driving in the hills. But, I dread being a passenger. Feeling car sick is a not a pleasant feeling. But, I was hungry and the food was delicious. So I decided to eat well:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-4.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-5.jpg

The heavy lunch helped keep my stomach calm as the car rolled from left to right. The Mobilio has a very stiff setup. The passengers inside can definitely feel it rolling, but from outside you cannot make out any sort of bounciness. But, no one threw up. So the body roll of this car, while irritating, is quite well contained. I think it also helped that all the drivers were quite experienced and were driving under the speed limit:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-6.jpg

A signboard in Tamil indicates the Dos and Don'ts:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-7.jpg

The same in English:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-8a.jpg

Despite this, I found litter at many places. My humble request is to please keep a dust bin inside a car. Dump all the stuff into the trash can and empty it at home. The wild animals deserve better than this. At least inside cities we have dedicated sweepers who keep cleaning it. In the forest there is no one and those plastic bottles and wrappers will stay forever.

We were now in the middle of the Bandipur Reserve and unfortunately, one of the cars had a flat tire. So we all got down and waited for it to be fixed:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-9a.jpg

A view of the hills from between the bushes. It is easy to see why Ooty is called as the Queen of Hill Stations:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-9.jpg

There are a lot of deer for the tigers in Bandipur to feast on:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-9b.jpg

We found the turn off for the resort. This side road had a lot of houses. So we assumed that it should be of no concern if we stopped for 5-10 minutes. In less than 5 minutes, a forest officer came on his bike to inquire. He asked us to move on as it was going to get dark :
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3623.jpg

The sun set just as we reached our resort for the night:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-9c.jpg

We had a tight itinerary planned for Sunday. A tiger safari inside the forest and then a drive to Coorg.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 16th April 2015 at 10:27. Reason: Viddy protested.. Therefore I adited.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #3
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Default re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

I am a heavy sleeper. So to wake up, I set three alarms on my mobile phone. All three rang and got snoozed. Luckily, the hotel reception called my room and that woke me up.

The bed was super comfortable and my body still tired. But, there was a faint promise of seeing a tiger in its natural habitat. That proved to be stronger. So I pulled myself out of the bed and had a cup of strong filter coffee. I got out just in time as everyone else was already ready and waiting at the reception.

We went over to the main offices of the tiger reserve to board the safari vehicles:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-1.jpg

I have very strong feelings about the disparity in the rates charged for Indians and foreigners. Maybe someday, we could remove this and make it equal for all. Nature and art belong to the world. No person or nation should own these. But those are my own stupid Utopian ideas:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-2.jpg

Anyways, we got into our safari vehicle and the driver was a very sweet chap. I sat right next to him and watching him was fun. I still don't know how he spotted all those birds and animals, while I was also seeing the same road, but was completely blind and ignorant.

If you have driven down the Bandipur stretch, you will remember these green gates with "No Entry" signboards. We entered the forest by crossing them. The driver stopped the vehicle and opened the gate himself:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-3.jpg

There are different vehicles with various body styles that take you inside the forest. They all share the same noisy diesel engines. The driver mentioned that the animals are used to this noise and ignore it. But the animals, especially the carnivores, are not comfortable with human voices. So we were all warned to keep quiet:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-2a.jpg

At our first stop by a lake, we spotted these two mongooses enjoying the early morning sun:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-4.jpg

We also spotted a lot of peacocks. These are really magnificent male birds. Just goes to show how much burden the males carry, hoping that some female of the species will like them - just as I keep reminding my lovely wife of what all I need to do for her... like bathing and wearing clean clothes.

We were lucky to spot one peacock dancing in the distance, but my humble camera was not good enough to capture its glory:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-5.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-7.jpg

We spotted an Indian giant squirrel leaping from the branches:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-6.jpg

I have a new found respect for wildlife photographers. It's, frankly, the most difficult thing to shoot. By the time you zoom in and focus the animal decides to move and hide behind some bushes.

We did not spot any tigers. At one place we thought that we came quite close to them because all the deer at a watering hole looked very still and alert. But, it was a false alarm. The drivers of the safari vehicles kept checking with each other, but it was of no use.

Despite the obvious disappointment of not spotting a tiger, I would recommend all visitors to go on this safari. There are many other beautiful animals that reside there and it's a nice learning experience.

We returned to the hotel and had a heavy breakfast. It is a long drive to Coorg and there was no time to waste.

The previous day I had been driving the diesel and I did not quite enjoy it. It was noisy and its acceleration was pathetic in the second and third gears. Ordinarily, this should not be a big problem. But given the very high concentration of speed breakers on this road, it was very frustrating. I checked if we could swap the diesel for a petrol and another team readily agreed. Thank goodness! The petrol is way more refined and most importantly it's a lots more silent. I don't like the clatter of an oil burner and the petrol has much better acceleration in stop and go conditions.

One by one the cars took off towards Coorg:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3716.jpg

We spotted a beautiful lake and took a detour. The Mobilio has very good ground clearance. It had absolutely no issues in getting to the lake bed. Its narrow width and good crossover angles made it quite easy. No one wanted to risk the Racing Sports edition because it had funny skirts:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3721.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3732.jpg

The Mobilio can be the perfect getaway vehicle for a bunch of friends or a family:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3739.jpg

We entered the Nagarahole sanctuary and drove at 10 kmph. This is a dense forest and we stuck together as we crossed it:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3746.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3749.jpg

We came across this wild elephant that just stood majestically, while we sat inside the cars trying to get a perfect shot:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3762.jpg

We reached Coorg after nightfall and I even saw a police interceptor parked by the wayside. By 8 PM we checked into our resort. The GPS maps in the car and Google maps on our phones were themselves lost and we had some thrilling moments on, what can best be described as, an old abandoned mud road. I also learnt that the Mobilio, despite its length can take a u-turn in about 1.5 lanes. Of course, it was a 7-point turn but it did it comfortably.

Last edited by GTO : 14th April 2015 at 16:02.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #4
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Default re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

I woke up refreshed, had a nice relaxing bath and got over to the restaurant for breakfast. As I stuffed myself with the amazing food at the resort, I checked with others on what the plan was for the day. There was none. We can do anything we wanted.

I am recovering from a small metacarpal fracture in my dominant right hand. If twisted hard or strained, it pains. So things like swimming were out.

Now I could technically spend the day watching television. But honestly, I can't think of anything worse than that. That meant I had only one thing to do - drive! Of course, it goes without saying that the motto for life is, "Live to Drive".

But, I had no clue where I was going to go. I took my petrol Mobilio and headed out with no destinations in mind. Some 20 kms later, I came to a beautiful spot. I just had to stop and take a picture:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3768-2.jpg

While soaking in the beauty of this road, I checked my phone and found vid6639's message asking me about my location. I sent him the co-ordinates and he got back saying I was quite close to Bylakuppe.

The Namdroling Monastery - I had visited this monastery during a college trip almost 14 years back. I vaguely recalled watching the monks go about their prayers and the melodious hymns.

I continued down this road and reached the place after 30 minutes or so. The petrol Mobilio is not bad. The engine is silent and the roads I was driving on were quite decent. The car felt quite at home and the radio was playing some Hindi music from the 80s. I found the monastery and parked the car. Parking is charged at Rs 20, but entry to the monastery is free. The parking lot has a lot of shops and even a restaurant. There is even a clean public restroom with running water.

The monastery has a calm ambiance. You are expected to remove your footwear before entering the temple. You can either leave it on the steps or deposit it. They charge Rs. 2 for safe custody.

Photography is permitted and the only requirement is good behavior and silence:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3769.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3770.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3775.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-img_3789.jpg

I was busy snapping pictures, but once inside the large temple, I found the place simply very over-powering. I sat down on the floor and took some time to reflect on the journey so far:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-_mg_3788.jpg

Recharged and feeling very good about everything, I drove back to the hotel. I was back in time to have lunch with my fellow travellers.

Later that day, I lazed around the resort and spent time walking around the property and then, watching the sunset.

Last edited by GTO : 14th April 2015 at 16:02.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #5
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Default re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

It was the last day of the Drive to Discover and that meant an early morning wake up call. Luckily, I woke up on my own and was ready before time. I got to the reception and completed the checkout formalities. While waiting for my companions I simply stretched out and enjoyed the lovely view.

It was a beautiful morning and a faint mist hung over the hills:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-1.jpg

The valet brought the car to the portico and we quickly loaded it up:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-2.jpg

En route we decided to make a small detour to the monastery. I was the only one who had visited it on the previous day and everyone wanted to experience it. I was more than happy to tag along. But, instead of going inside the monastery, I spent time buying some small mementos from the shops around it.

We then stopped by at a restaurant called Potala Cafe and ate a lot of food. The bill after all that beef fry and noodles for 6 hungry people was just a thousand rupees.

Next, we stopped at the Harangi Reservoir as it was on the way. This led us to a mud track that runs beside its catchment area. Another good place to check the car's ground clearance:
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-3.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-4.jpg
Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery-5.jpg

The journey from here to the Bangalore airport was quite uneventful. We reached the airport and bid each other good-bye.

A fun trip came to a happy end.

Last edited by GTO : 14th April 2015 at 16:02.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:44   #6
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Default re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

I got to experience both the petrol and diesel Mobilios. Personally I prefer the petrol. It's way more silent compared to the diesel and its acceleration is better.

On day 3, I drove (the petrol) to the monastery alone and covered exactly 101 km. I had reset the mileage indicator at the start of my trip. It showed 13.4 kmpl when I came back to the hotel.

The suspension is stiff, but I was with only two more people in this 7-seater. Every rough and tumble from the bad roads made its way to my back. But, I am guessing a fully loaded car should not have this issue.

The narrow width of the car makes it a good four-seater (adult). I don't think the middle row can comfortably accommodate 3 adults. The last row is good for very short people. I don't think anyone will like to travel in it for an extended amount of time.

Honda should not have put in such a cheap ICE head unit. Its touch screen is very irritating and the interface, especially when using maps, was horrible. I loved the AC vents on the roof. They cooled me well as I sat in the middle row on a hot summer afternoon in Coimbatore.

The seats are thin, but comfortable. As a middle row passenger, I managed to sit with my legs stretched comfortably. That is a very decent amount of leg room for a seven-seater.

I just wish the Mobilio was priced lower, so that it could put up a better fight against the Maruti Ertiga.

Disclaimer: Honda invited Team-BHP for the Drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 14th April 2015 at 16:03.
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Old 14th April 2015, 16:19   #7
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th April 2015, 19:41   #8
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Bblost, this is a nice Travelogue - cum - Review.

That was a wonderful route for travel in ANY vehicle.

It appears that the mathematics of Savings on FE Vs. Initial Investment while going for the Petrol or Diesel version has a important factor to be considered. The Ease and Pleasure of driving. This factor must weigh in favour of a petrol version.

- Sai
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Old 14th April 2015, 20:06   #9
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Lovely writeup, some of the pictures with the car and nature put together, look really nice.

Last edited by GTO : 15th April 2015 at 08:15. Reason: PM coming up
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Old 15th April 2015, 08:48   #10
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Nice Travelogue.
Made me go and re-check the Mobilio : Official Review thread.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 16th April 2015 at 10:44. Reason: Picture edited. So.. :)
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Old 16th April 2015, 09:58   #11
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Nice writeup, bblost.

I had driven down to Coorg sometime in 2007, and really enjoyed the stay there. We had rains for most of the time we were there, but enjoyed the outings nevertheless.

The Tibetan monastery is definitely a must visit, and good that you took the opportunity to visit there. IIRC, we spent quite some time just sitting there, listening to the chants, and admiring the place. It has a very soothing effect, and helps putting a lot of things in perspective.
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Old 17th April 2015, 12:34   #12
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
I got to experience both the petrol and diesel Mobilios. Personally I prefer the petrol. It's way more .........invited Team-BHP for the Drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.[/i]
Hello bblost,

Thanks for the travelogue / photologue in the Mobilio. It brought back memories of our own drive to Madikeri from Mumbai in '98-'99 in our Tata Sierra - a naturally aspirated first attempt at an SUV by Tata! It was pathetically under-powered, had only 3 doors and had the most horrendous gearshift of them all! But we loved it and had 8 glorious years of fun with it - including our boxer, Darth, who had made that first trip with us to Madikeri.

Bur as for the Mobilio, I shall hold judgement - except to say that your description makes it sound flimsy, apart of course from the fact that it also has FWD on a wb of 2650 mm, which in my view is a no-no on a vehicle of this size and segment.
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Old 17th April 2015, 14:46   #13
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

A good read bblost. Liked it. I think that the mobilio is more like a station wagon which can easily swallow lots of luggage with the rear seats down. Can you please name the resort where you stayed inside Bandipur?

Last edited by govigov : 17th April 2015 at 14:47.
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Old 5th October 2015, 11:58   #14
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Default Re: Honda Mobilio Drive: 36 Hairpins, Bandipur Tiger Reserve & Namdroling Monastery

Quote:
Originally Posted by govigov View Post
A good read bblost. Liked it. I think that the mobilio is more like a station wagon which can easily swallow lots of luggage with the rear seats down. Can you please name the resort where you stayed inside Bandipur?

Very sorry. I thought I replied to your post but seem to have missed it.

I stayed at http://theserai.in/resorts-bandipur

Thanks
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