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Old 16th January 2016, 17:10   #16
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Default Re: A drive through some of the Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Western Ghats

Route proposed was as follows:
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The roads were very good and the weather cool. We reached Hassan, after many stops for Narail Pani, Bananas, cucumber and the like. Plenty of "relieving" breaks too, after all that narial pani.
At Hassan, we sought out an authentic "karnataka" tiffin joint and had the local tiffin of rice pan cakes and rice dough rolls. Very tasty , but be careful of the chutneys. They pack a wallop!
We were to reach Chikmangalur, but wanted to check out the historical temples at Halebeedu and Belur. we decided that we would see Halebeedu and then camp at Belur for the night.
Halebeedu shiva temple is supposed to be very famous, but obviously google and our dear friend, Murphy were working together.
We saw that the temple is open till 6 pm only and hence we hastened since it was going on 5 pm.
We asked for directions since google gave up at the last minute and we directed to a lonely place. Was this the famous place? No cars around at all? Worse. No one there at all??
But hang on: Here is a sign saying that this was a protected property of ASI- ergo we must be in the right place?

We went round the temple. A quiet, nice place. BUT it was not that famous Hoysaleswara Temple, but the Halebeedu - Kedareshwara Temple. We did not know at that time and we spent half an hour enjoying the peace and quiet.

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The carvings were magnificent, however many destroyed due to vandalism and or due to invaders

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It was after 5:00 pm and we had seen an old jain temple on the way which was to close at 6 pm so we hastened there. Unlike the deserted ASI protected temple, there was a caretaker there who explained all the facets and history of the temple.

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It was getting on a little past 5:30 pm when we thanked the caretaker and asked him the way to Belur, when he said " Are you not going to see the Hoysaleswara Temple?" When we said that we thought we just did, he said that this one is the Kedareshwara Temple and not the famous one. You must hasten since that closes at 6 pm. Boy!! Murphy at his tricks again.
We scooted out of there, faster than a teetotaller from a Vegas drinking hole and managed to reach the temple with 10 minutes to spare. We ran inside and managed to get a quick look see:

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We were shooed out at 6 pm. The ASI must train its people or the caretakers that they need to encourage visitors and a couple of minutes is ok. They must stop acting so pompous and righteous.
We were on our way to Belur to halt for the night and we were googling frantically for a good place.
The sky was very picturesque and i had to stop for a quick picture:

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Most of the sites showed only two hotels in Belur. Both had mixed reviews. We picked up Hotel Mayura Velapuri Belur. At that time we did not know that it was a government run hotel and it was a surprise to see a large courtyard, where we could park our car . We asked for an AC room and got the last one. Lots of foreigners had come, it seems.
Well the room was just ok, with very dark coloured bed covers and curtains ( probably helps not show dirt... and helps to wash once in a way)
We always carry our own sheets and covers and hence we were not bothered. What bothered us is that the electric outlet had a steel pin twisted in it such that it would not come out. Anyone could get a shock.

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The Ac was not working or rather cooling the room. Would have been better taking a Non AC room and opening the windows.

i am posting these in the hope that some person with some ownership would take requisite action.
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Old 16th January 2016, 18:10   #17
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Default Re: A drive through some of the Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Western Ghats

Here is the picture of the electric outlet with a steel pin in it.

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The next morning we visited the famous Chennakeshava temple

This temple was built by King Vishnuvardhana. Belur is known for its temples built during the rule of the Hoysala dynasty . These temple complexes have been proposed to be listed under UNESCO World heritage sites. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennakesava_Temple

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When we entered a group of pilgrims were taking blessing from the sacred fire.

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he temple has stone carvings of various gods and goddesses as well as dancers in many poses. Of particular interest in a statue of a dancer who is tapping her toe to the music. These carvings always leave me spellbound. It took some 100 years to build this complex. A century. Many artisans lived and died for this cause! Their children carried on. It is the journey and not the destination that counts. We need to remember that.

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I saw a group of children and gestured that i would take their group photo and they happily posed. After taking the photo, i asked their teacher (male) to give me an email i d where i could send these photographs, but since he did not understand, i asked our guide to explain to him in Kannada, which was done. i got a vague promise of giving the id later on. Here is hoping one of the students stumble upon this and downloads it for every one.

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A gent looked suspiciously at me as if i was the culprit who had put his feet on wet concrete. i looked down, quickly put my feet near and heaved a sigh of relief! Not me, sir.

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The surroundings are very clean and well maintained. Temple going is a practice in Southern India which is maintained to this day. Unlike some other states, where the most of devotees prefer to go on auspicious days, in South India, visiting a temple and partaking blessings is done without a thought just like we would go to a Cafe for a cup of coffee. Children are encouraged to visit temples and pray. In most temples, some sweetmeats are distributed as prasad (a devotional offering made to a god, typically consisting of food that is later shared among devotees) which further adds incentive for the young ones to visit. Good strategy.

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Devotees eagerly wait for a glimpse of the lord, while preparations are being carried out. Once darshan ( an opportunity to see or an occasion of seeing a holy person or the image of a deity) is over, the priest offers the aarti ( Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which lights from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities) to the devotees who eagerly throng toget it.

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The guides are explaining the architecture to interested tourists. There is a light and battery powered torches which can freely be used to check out the interior of the temple.

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The interior is quite dark as can be seen from this photo: i rack up the ISO to 10K to take these pictures since i am not using a flash.

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We leave the temple, marvelling at the commitment, dedication and tenacity of these artisans who made this their life work.
This is a dying breed. When we built our house and wanted to furnish it- cupboards, beds, stuff like that- a family ( of carpenters) came from neighbouring Rajasthan and camped for more than 6 months- doing everything from first principles and in situ. it is actually more expensive that going and buying stuff off the shelves- and one needs patience for this sort of work.
Hunger pangs and since our hotel's lone restaurant did not look very inviting, I ask a local store keeper (lady) where one could get a lip smacking breakfast. Since we don't know Kannada ( the local language) and the only way i could explain "lip smacking" was to purse my lips, make a smacking sound, and make a sign with my index finger and thumb in the shape of a "O". The lady was very amused (my wife was not) and she directed us to this place:
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The breakfast consisted of hot idlis (a south Indian steamed cake of rice, usually served with sambhar) and dosas (a pancake made from rice flour and ground pulses, typically served with a spiced vegetable filling), accompanied by spicy chutneys and sambhar. Good, very good! i commented while my wife looked suspiciously at me. Still, she too had a second helping and i figured all was forgiven.
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Old 18th January 2016, 14:40   #18
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Default Re: A drive through some of the Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Western Ghats

After breakfast, we settled up at our hotel, loaded up and on our way to Dandeli National Park.

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We did not want to take the highway and wanted to go by the beautiful meandering roads on the ghats and forests. It is a great drive. Ideal for a motorcycle ride, with the weather cool, the surroundings beautiful and sparse traffic. We rolled down the windows and enjoyed our drive. This is probably the first, among all the drives that i have undertaken, where i have not been in a mad rush to reach the destination.
Live and learn. I consider this drive as probably one of the best trips that we have done. There was no sense of urgency, no milestones to reach, no timelines to breach. My daughter commented that i had indeed changed. Earlier ( meaning when i was working), the standard answer for a request to stop ( by them) for anything considered unwarranted, frivolous, unnecessary or just plain stupid by me; would be just that- That it was unwarranted, frivolous, unnecessary or just plain stupid. Now, i stopped for all the unwarranted, frivolous, unnecessary and at times plain stupid stops- funnily they did not seem so anymore.
We reached Dandeli (Kali Adventure Park see: http://www.junglelod...adventure-camp/ ) and the first impression was that we had made a mistake. It was a bustling commercial place, a far cry from the peace and solitude of the forest that we had imagined. We checked in, had dinner and went to bed with mixed feelings.
The next morning, i had opted for a "walk" with a naturalist and i had imagined that we would go into the forest where i would have a pleasant, relaxed morning walk taking in the jungle's offering from a different perspective.
The reality was that we drove down ( less than a km) to the jungle office and old saw mill compound, which still houses the staff of the camp and walked through their grounds amidst scooters honking, cars and such. Bummer!
The only saving grace was the compound was the favourite roosting place of the Hornbill and i got some shots at the end of the walk (and my patience). The shots are not very good since my mood wasn't good.

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The long and short of it was during breakfast, i discussed the matter with my daughter and wife ( they had opted for a sleep in) and we decided to leave. After the beauty of the jungle resorts of Nilgiris, Madumalai, Bandipur and Kabini, Dandeli was a complete let down. We settled our bills ( quite expensive for a 14 hour stay), loaded and set off for Poona, having decided to give Koyna National park a miss too. We had spent a total of 14 hours at Dandeli and at 15K+ it was quite expensive.

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We drove through the ghats till Belgaum, and then got on to NH4. After a short halt at Karad to meet one of our friends, we reached Pune in the evening and checked into The JW Marriott. Spent 2 nights sampling the local cuisine and catching up with some relatives.
We had actually planned to visit Koyna wildlife sanctuary, but after our experience at Dandeli, we were not sure. When you come into the weekend catch zone of the big metros, then the nature of the resort changes. It becomes multi functional to increase footfalls. So you have rafting, para gliding, safaris, kids play ground and such. Catering to all needs and tastes. Not our cup of tea, sorry. And actually we are coffee drinkers!

Secondly, there comes a point in your journey when you just want to go back home and i think we had reached that point. No doubt the Dandeli experience brought it on, like a catalyst so to speak. So after a hearty breakfast and a parcel of croissants and muffins and some fruits, helpfully packed for us by the Manager (Thank you) we left Pune for Ahmedabad.

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So after spending 2 nights at Pune, we left for Ahmedabad after breakfast at 9:30 am and stormed into Ahmedabad around 8 pm, after a short break at Surat. This probably was the least enjoyable drive of the trip, as far as scenery or environment is concerned. But it probably was the fastest!
Thus concluded our Western Ghats Wildlife Tour.
Summary:
Start: 0600 hrs on 1st Dec, 2015
End: 1955hrs on 12th Dec, 2015
Duration: 12 days
Distance covered: 2800 kms
Halts at Salem, Mukkali, Bandipur, Mudumalai, Nagarhole, Belur, Dandeli, Pune.


For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils
-WW
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Old 18th January 2016, 22:30   #19
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Amazing pictures, I totally agree with you, we need to really safeguard our forests and the diverse wildlife within them. I recently had the good fortune to visit Satpura in Madhya Pradesh and it is an eye opener to actually experience the forest first hand. Forget about the wild animals and birds, even the flora and fauna are mind blowing. Our guides showed us some wild lavender and you're blown away with the sheer sweet smell of real lavender. Then some Indian Corktree which supposedly is used to make champagne and wine corks and also helps repel mosquitoes and best of all was the Frankincense tree which drives bears berserk with its sweet honey smelling gum. I still have a bit of the gum and its a divine smell.

Thank you so much for sharing such lovely pictures of the Crested Hawk eagle and the elephants. You've captured them splendidly, even at the expense of your back problem.
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Old 19th January 2016, 22:25   #20
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@lalvaz
Thank you for your comments. i did not know about the cork tree and the frankincense tree. Shall check them out
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Old 20th January 2016, 01:09   #21
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Dear Earthian ,
Thanks a ton for the visual treat. I have to peel my eyes back of the thread. The photos of Silent Valley National Park are breathtaking.
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Old 24th January 2016, 11:28   #22
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Awesome thread! What is your camera gear? Liked your pics and narrative. Have wanted to goto the jungles of south for long and your thread is another push in the direction, together with Nilanjan's.
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Old 24th January 2016, 12:55   #23
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Awesome thread! What is your camera gear? .
For this trip, i had the Nikon D3s, 14-24mm f 2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f 2.8, 600mm f 4.0, TC 1.7E II.
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Old 24th January 2016, 15:01   #24
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Lovely pictures and well narrated! Was curious to know about Koyna wildlife sanctuary, but then read that you skipped it. If you don't mind, can you share what you had planned for Koyna? Might help if someone plans a visit.
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Old 26th January 2016, 21:39   #25
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Amazing travelogue, great pictures, your love for nature come through...may your tribes increase! Waiting for the next episode
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Old 26th January 2016, 22:10   #26
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Lovely pictures and well narrated! Was curious to know about Koyna wildlife sanctuary, but then read that you skipped it. If you don't mind, can you share what you had planned for Koyna? Might help if someone plans a visit.
One of the reasons that we skipped Koyna, apart from the bad experience of Dandeli, was that enough study was not done and we were apprehensive that we would have a repeat of Dandeli.
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Old 13th May 2016, 16:54   #27
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Hi earthian, I was planning for the Dandeli Jungle resort trip during the coming May end / first week of June combined with Goa for couple of days. I am expecting to enjoy the river rafting and Jungle safari (planning to stay in Bison River Resort) in Dandeli along with my Family (wife and daughter). We have been to goa more then couple of times in the past but a Jungle resort stay, rafting and safari sounds exciting as of now with Goa. Do you suggest it would be good for Dandeli?
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Old 15th May 2016, 06:06   #28
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Earthian

A beautifully written travelogue , crisply written with a subtle sense of humor , must say you have a way with words and i absolutely loved your descriptions , brought back memories of my trip to Bandipur and Nagarhole in 2014 when we visited India , infact we stayed in the forest rest house in Bandipur and you had a pic of the Mayura lodge where we stayed !
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Old 16th May 2016, 19:08   #29
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Just enjoyed all the lovely pictures accompanied with the beautiful narration in this travelogue. Have visited a few places like Bandipur, Silent valley. Was contemplating a trip to Dandeli in near future but now having second thought after reading your experience.
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Old 17th May 2016, 13:18   #30
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Default Re: A drive through some of the Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Western Ghats

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Originally Posted by vdm295 View Post
Was contemplating a trip to Dandeli in near future but now having second thought after reading your experience.
Dandeli is a wonderful place. Earthian stayed at Kali Adventure camp of JLR, which was too close to the town.

Dandeli is basically a birder's paradise - if you love the wild then you can better opt for Kulgi Nature camp run by Karnataka Forest department or Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi, by JLR. Apart from Jungle Safaris there are other attractions too - like Syntheri rocks, rafting/kayaking etc. Check the web
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