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Old 25th March 2024, 08:14   #1
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TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Spoiler: When you are in jungle, especially the Tiger Reserve, you may not be able to sight the tiger, but tigers may have seen you!

Important information for readers to note:
  • Bandipur Tiger Reserve is on your way to Ooty from Bangalore, you can't miss it. It's worth taking a chance to hop on the Safari (bus or Camper or gypsy) if you are able to get the reservation/ onspot availability!
  • To book online, use this site: https://bandipurtigerreserve.org/
  • At the entrance of the park from BLR side, you will be able to spot the KFD rooms - they allow on-spot bookings for stay subject to availability. Try that one of the days if time and schedule permits.
  • There are some home-stays, farm-stays and resorts inside the forest zone that can be located on Google maps. Most have decent pictures, contact numbers and websites too if you want to book in advance for your stay.
  • Other than Jungle Lodges and Resorts, everyone else needs to book their Safari at the Safari Campus (located prior to entry gates to forest).
  • The safaris are generally sold out on weekends in advance, online. Weekdays are your best bet - unless you are lucky to have someone cancel/ no-show after online reservation that you can get re-allotted to by safari booking counter!

On the other end of the Bandipur forest, you have Mudumalai and Masinagudi ranges of the forest that falls under TN state territory. Mudumalai has a elephant camp (and the famous, award winning elephant whisperer!) The Mudumalai has bus safari, Masinagudi has jeep safari.

PoIs you may want to note:
More about our trip:
For more than a year we as family haven't been able to drive long and have a vacation due to so-called board exam year! Now since that is done, we are breaking free but so are the others! An impromptu plan to drive to BR Hills or Bandipur or Nagarhole for a day was always in our back-pocket. This weekend presented with the opportunity - a casual check on the G maps, we found a descent farm-stay property and got the booking done on Friday! Saturday morning we headed out - encountered a lot of traffic on Mysore road entrance, between Mysore to Bandipur - a lot of parents after their kid's exams are over seems to be out on the road! The revenge travel if you may call it and Ooty is an easy destination in this summer heat!

We, as a family, have never sighted a big cat out in the open and Bandipur topped on our list primarily because a friend of ours posted some videos on Tiger sighting during the week raising our hopes! While everyone was excited and praying for the sighting, I was almost sure that just one random safari (that too without booking, on spot bus) cannot make us happy unless our good karma is in abundance. Nevertheless, we were excited for the trip together after long time without worrying about anything.

On the Saturday afternoon upon arrival after lunch, we chanced upon the camper booking for safari (thanks to the souls who cancelled last minute and Safari staff offered it to us). Camper is a Mahindra jeep with larger wheelbase and 8 people seating capacity. We got another random family to join us to share some cost. Important note - there are charges for Camera gear with lens > 200mm. It costs Rs 850 or so. If you dont take permit, no worries, the safari driver/ guide will accommodate you. Probably they will pocket that money but rest assured, you wont have the trouble

We had a good safari, better was the ride through the forest a couple of times form our farmstay to Mudumalai border and back once in evening and then early next morning. We sighted a lot of birds - that is far more exciting than simply having to go to some hill-station. The heat or lack of facilities like AC in the farmstay are no dampener to our spirits! We ahd one great overnighter trip - more to come!

Now before I bring you the pictures from the trip, next post has a short narration of the experience as-was recorded by my elder kid in her diary! I convinced her to get it for the post below - entire credit of writing that piece goes to her while pictures were clicked mostly by me and some by her.

Enjoy the read and glance at pictures!

Last edited by KarthikK : 25th March 2024 at 10:30. Reason: Minor typo corrected :)
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Old 25th March 2024, 08:16   #2
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Story, as it unfolded from the eyes of little ones!

It was a few hours after sundown when we heard it, the first low, almost inaudible blood-curdling growl from the 200 kg carnivore, the Tiger…

In the famous Bandipur Tiger Reserve, darkness had fallen. All the small animals had returned to the safety of their nests and burrows. Seated in the gazebo of a small farmhouse was my family. We were having small talks about the many unfortunate incidents with tigers in the other wildlife reserves while waiting for our dinner to be served. My paranoid mother kept looking around for signs of any danger. At first we laughed at her, calling her a scaredy-cat. That’s when me and my mom heard it, the low moan-like growl. Had we not been listening for the sound of twigs snapping indicating the presence of a big cat, we wouldn’t have heard it. It seemed impossible that we’d heard the growl considering the fact that we were conversing in almost loud voices. I brushed it off stating the possibility of some cattle groaning in pain. I mean, what with electric fences guarding the farmhouse, no tiger or leopard could possibly come inside…right? But then, we heard it yet again. This time, much louder and clearer than the previous one. Okay, that’s definitely not cattle. It’s a tiger, a tiger that we had been yearning to spot at least once on a safari. A little panic rose inside us, especially my mom. It’s alright, we said. The tiger won’t come in a place like this, we said. It has enough prey outside of the farmhouse perimeter, there is no need for it to come inside. Unless it couldn’t catch a lone deer and would go to any lengths to get food, be it animal meat or turning into a ferocious merciless man-eater…

This led to us talking about how to protect ourselves in case a tiger indeed attacks- maintain eye contact with the beast, not doing so can create an impression of being easily subdued and submissive, which definitely won’t work in our favour. Make use of big objects to barricade yourself from the attacks of the beast. Most importantly, we must keep in mind, “United we stand, divided we fall”. The tiger is going to look at how strong and unbeatable we are as a whole, not as individuals. It’s also of utmost importance to have a good presence of mind in case of a tiger attack. The moment we show that we are afraid of it, half the battle is already lost.

Within a span of around 15 minutes, we had already heard the same growl 4-5 times. And with every growl, it seemed to get louder and clearer. Maybe it was just us being paranoid, or maybe the beast was indeed drawing closer to us, as the smell of prey got stronger and stronger for it. I too started becoming a little afraid, although it was more of a thrilling fright than a real fear. It’s been my wish to see a big cat in the wild, but this isn’t what I’d wished for. Our dinner arrived shortly after. We all hurried to finish our food. We didn’t want to fall prey to the beast. My mom shovelled down her food, quite literally. My brother used a spoon to have his rice, instead of eating it the Indian way. After all, he’d have to go outside the gazebo to wash his hands, in the dark, with no lights to light up the surroundings. My coping mechanism to hide my fear was to laugh and joke a lot. My dad chose to quietly eat his food. After all, with two members panicking, the other two had to stay aware, cautious and mindful of their surroundings. We rushed our way through our dinner, and got up immediately to head to our room. Just as we were leaving, we heard deer calls barely a few 200 meters away, and calls from Lapwings flying around in the dark night. And that’s when we heard the loudest growl for the night, and it was so close, it almost sounded like the tiger was right outside the fencing of the farmhouse. We didn’t wait long enough to find out the exact location of the tiger, and whether or not it had had its meal for the night, and rushed to our room. I doubt any one of us got good sleep that night.

Earlier that day, we had been on a safari in an open jeep. All of us had been hoping to spot a tiger on this 10th trip to Bandipur. Never before had we seen the carnivore in the wild. At the end of the two-hour long safari, we’d spotted so many birds, but absolutely no signs of any big cat. Although at the beginning of the safari, we heard deer calls from the pack of deers standing right beside our jeep. We waited for a good 10 minutes, hoping the beast would show itself, but it didn’t. We moved on thinking it was a false alarm. The most we got to sight was a Sloth Bear, strolling around lazily in the golden dry bushes under the blazing afternoon sun, a few elephants and their young ones, a bunch of deers and their foals, multiple peacocks crossing our paths and a Barking Deer that we mistook for a Dhol. We returned to the safari camp disheartened and made a mental note to never come back again to Bandipur, even if it means staying at home on a long weekend.

The next day, we woke up at the stroke of dawn and went on our own little drive through the reserve. This drive turned out to be more of a birding trip than a safari. We spotted so many birds- Black Drongos, Indian Paradise Flycatchers, Indian peafowls, peacocks, Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Black-Rumped Flamebacks, Eurasian Hoopoe, Jungle fowls, Spotted Doves, Oriental Honey Buzzard and countless Bulbuls and Robins.

A new conclusion from this trip is - the B in Bandipur stands for Birding. We’ve been to a Bandipur several times, been on their safari so many times yet spotted nothing out of the ordinary. Bandipur has disappointed us yet again, although it’s not so surprising.
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Old 25th March 2024, 08:25   #3
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

The pictures in no particular order below:

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_0030.jpg

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TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_4342.jpg

More pics continued below.
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Old 25th March 2024, 08:28   #4
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Few more clicks:

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_4343.jpg

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_4344.jpg

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_4345.jpg

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TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-img_4348.jpg

No trip is complete without clicking the car and the road

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-4.jpg

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-3.jpg

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-2.jpg

TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!-1.jpg

Thanks for reading!
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Old 25th March 2024, 10:05   #5
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th March 2024, 08:52   #6
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Also added a quick magic-movie compilation of the videos and stills put in one video, here:



This place is truly magical for birds and wildlife - for a serene nature stay and break, the farmstay in Sept/ oct would be a nice unwinding experience!
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Old 26th March 2024, 09:11   #7
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Fantastic report @abirnale! Lovely write-up and lovely photographs too. Especially loved the write-up by your daughter. She wrote it so well that I could literally sense the same anxiety as you guys would have felt there. Great story that was! She definitely has great writing skills. Looking forward to many more writings from her.

Overall, great going by you and your family! Awesome car, nice family drives, lovely photographs, and great stories! Keep it up and looking forward to many more such reports from you.
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Old 26th March 2024, 10:22   #8
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Lovely pictures @abirnale! Your shots of the XUV700 make it look delicious in red, probably the best colour for the XUV. Blacked our grille is the cherry on top.
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Old 26th March 2024, 12:18   #9
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Tiger growling at close proximity is a thrilling experience!. I am not trying to add to your fear, but it is near to this farmhouse that a human kill happened in Dec last year and the man eater was never tracked or captured

While Bandipur website has the camera changes clearly mentioned, it is not displayed in the tariff boards at the Safari point, and they refused to issue a camera ticket with a similar comment. The safari crew never asked for a tip, but we were happy to offer tip after witnessing an unsuccessful hunting attempt of a Gaur calf by a subadult tiger
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Old 26th March 2024, 13:08   #10
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Nice travelogue with beautiful photos. You may have missed the tiger but overall it looks like you had a lot of sightings of birds and animals. All the best and keep on munching miles.
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Old 26th March 2024, 17:33   #11
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Beautiful post and pictures @abirnale sir! The write up written by you daughter is truly amazing. Chills went down my spine while reading it! It felt as if I was right there! The tiger decided to give you quite an unforgettable experience!
It is my experience that, an encounter with a tiger whom you don't manage to see, but the tiger does see you, and makes his presence known, is a lot more chilling (and memorable!) then actually seeing one. The feeling of being a prey animal, and sensing an apex predator nearby, which is so primitive and powerful, is witnessed in full force when these kings of the jungle decide to make themselves known. I know for a fact you all will never forget that night, and it will be a talking point for years to come!
And also the pictures are really beautiful. The ones of the elephants, the sloth bear, and the woodpecker were my favourites. Seeing a peacocks full splendour in person is something else!
Also one more thing; seeing a sloth bear is quite rare in Bandipur, when I had been there, the hotel staff said they had seen one 6 years back. It was quite the lucky sighting! One never returns empty handed from the jungle; it blesses you in more ways than one!
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Old 26th March 2024, 17:47   #12
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Quote:
Originally Posted by abirnale View Post
Story, as it unfolded from the eyes of little ones!
It was a few hours after sundown when we heard it, the first low, almost inaudible blood-curdling growl from the 200 kg carnivore, the TigerÖ
How beautifully she has written it! Very well presented, almost like reading a suspense thriller ! Does she maintain an online blog ?
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Old 27th March 2024, 08:41   #13
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Re: TheRedSparkle Story: B for Bandipur, B for Birding!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
Fantastic report @abirnale! Lovely write-up and lovely photographs too. Especially loved the write-up by your daughter. She wrote it so well that I could literally sense the same anxiety as you guys would have felt there. Great story that was! She definitely has great writing skills. Looking forward to many more writings from her.
Thank you - she just completed the PU board exams and now focusing on the next chapter in her life. She loves writing and has better grasp of language than I hoped for. I will continue to encourage her to write more. I am glad, we are not looking at engineering or medical fields as career for her! I am hoping for something out of box she will do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashish2135 View Post
Lovely pictures @abirnale! Your shots of the XUV700 make it look delicious in red, probably the best colour for the XUV. Blacked our grille is the cherry on top.
Thank you - Itís been some time we didnít drive for vacation like this. TheRedSparkle will be stretching legs more often now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gadadhar View Post
Tiger growling at close proximity is a thrilling experience!. I am not trying to add to your fear, but it is near to this farmhouse that a human kill happened in Dec last year and the man eater was never tracked or captured
Wow! Glad, we didnít know this prior else we would have had even more eventful night

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kkumar View Post
Nice travelogue with beautiful photos. You may have missed the tiger but overall it looks like you had a lot of sightings of birds and animals. All the best and keep on munching miles.
Thank you very much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ImperPara42 View Post
Also one more thing; seeing a sloth bear is quite rare in Bandipur, when I had been there, the hotel staff said they had seen one 6 years back. It was quite the lucky sighting! One never returns empty handed from the jungle; it blesses you in more ways than one!
Yes, agreed fully and thank you. I have sighted Tigers earlier but in open but rest of my family has never seen a cat out in wild. We continue to hope to break that streak.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SithDefender View Post
How beautifully she has written it! Very well presented, almost like reading a suspense thriller ! Does she maintain an online blog ?
Thank you for the kind words. No, not yet but I guess she should do this someday sooner than later.
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