Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Surprise visit to heaven - TG Halli reservoir

About the Place:

The scenic Thippagondana Halli reservoir is about 40 kms. from Bangalore. It is located in Ramanagara district at the confluence of river Arkavathy and Kumudavathy.


Bangalore- TG Halli reservoir route map

How it all lined up?

My friends at the office were planning a trip to some location like Talakad or Mekedatu. The weather in Bangalore had been bad for the past one week. It had been raining everyday. Five of us were ready to go in spite of the bad weather. Things went haywire when one of our friends pulled out of the trip due to viral fever. One by one, the remaining people started pulling out. Finally we decided to cancel the trip.

I  was browsing the net when I came across this place called TG Halli reservoir. This seemed to be an interesting location that had not been explored much. Also this location was not too far from Bangalore, so we could return soon if the weather went bad. I called my friend Prashanth to ask him if he would be interested to join me for the trip, with others very unlikely to join. He agreed to join and the plan was fixed.

The morning of the trip...

On the morning of the trip we decided to meet up at the signal below the Sumanahalli flyover at 6.00 in the morning. Both of us were on time. From there we headed down Magadi Road towards the reservoir. The roads on this route are really curvy, but of top quality. We were near the reservoir by 6.30 am. We found a gate which seemed to be leading to the reservoir. There was nobody at the entrance, so we went through it.

Caution! No Entry..

We halted at a place inside to photograph the surroundings, when we were interrupted by 2 people who came on a motorcycle. They noticed us riding past them and guessed that we had rode into the premises without the knowledge of the security guard who was supposed to be at the gate. They questioned us in this regard. We told them that there was nobody at the gate when we came. They told us that we were not supposed to be there as it was a restricted area. On telling them that we had heard a lot about the scenic beauty of the place, he said that there was an alternate route which would lead us to the more scenic side of the reservoir and it was outside the reservoir premises as well. We took his advice and decided to leave the place.

Alternate path..

We came out of the premises and rode for about another kilometer on the main road where we noticed a small path leading towards the reservoir. It was a kutcha road and very easy to miss. We followed that path for about 2 kms. which led us to the catchment area of the reservoir.

T G Halli Reservoir..

The reservoir catchment area is a secluded place. One can experience nature at the peak of it's beauty here. Standing at the banks of the catchment area, one can see a number of birds around.

There is a temple at an island which is at some distance from the banks. The temple can be accessed by means of coracles. Since this not a very popular destination, it is not crowded. It is a paradise for the nature lovers and for those who want peace.

We spent some time watching and photographing the nature around. It was around 11:00 AM when the weather darkened as the dark black clouds started forming a blanket above us. So we decided to head back to Bangalore and bring an end to the trip.

Trip summary..

Destination: TG Halli Reservoir

Distance: 40 km. approximately

Trip expenses: INR 500/- per head

Best time to visit: After monsoon (November to February)

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ranganathittu - A long awaited destination

The place:

Ranganathittu is a bird sanctuary located at about 130 kms. from Bangalore. Located on the Cauvery river, the sanctuary is a home to a large number of migratory birds mainly consisting of Pelicans, Painted Storks and Open billed Storks.

Best time to visit?

I visited this place during the month of May, which is considered to be the best time to see the migratory birds that nest here.


Route       : Bangalore- Bidadi- Ramanagara- Channapatna- Maddur-  Mandya-  Srirangapatna-   
Distance   : 130 kms.

Beautiful morning:

I woke up this morning at 5:30 am. The weather felt really pleasant as it had rained the previous night. I felt that it would be an ideal weather for a bike ride. But where to go? The immediate response from my mind was Ranganathittu which was a destination I had planning to go from a long time. It was too early to wake up my friends, so I decided to head alone to the destination. I put the camera and lens into my bag and left my place at sharp 6:00 am. I wanted to be there as early as possible because morning is the best time if you want to spot larger number of birds.

I rode through the ring road to join Mysore Road near Nayandanahalli signal. The cool and cloudy weather with sun playing hide and seek set up the tone for a perfect bike ride. As a rider, I couldn't have asked for anything better. I rode through the various cities on Mysore Road. I decided to halt at Hotel Vaishali in Channapatna which has always been my favorite spot for breakfast. But then I realized that I would be late to reach the destination. So I continued to ride...

Finally there:

I reached Srirangapatna where I took a right turn to enter the road which led to the bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is about 2 kms. from the main road. I found an arch with the name of the sanctuary and the route through it led me to the sanctuary. It was 9:00 am when i reached the place. At the checkpost I had to pay INR 50/- as entry fees. On going inside, there was a parking lot with ample parking space where I parked my bike and headed towards the boating area.

On reaching the boating area, I inquired with a boatman about the charges. He told that the tickets for the boat ride would cost me INR 50/- per head and if I were to hire a boat exclusively for myself, that would cost me INR 1000/-. With a personalized boat, the boatman would show some additional places than the normal ride, but there was a duration limit of half an hour. I felt INR 1000/- was too much for a boat especially since I was alone. So I decided to go ahead with the normal boat ride.

I bought the ticket and went to the bank where boatmen were waiting for passengers. He told that I would have to wait for some time so that more passengers come. I had to wait for about 10 minutes till there were enough number of passengers. Once we left, the boatman took us close to the islets where the birds were nested. He covered about 4 to 5 of them. I was very curious to see some crocodiles which are a common site at this place, but I could find very few of them. On asking the boatman, he told that since it was a cloudy day, I would not be able to see too many of them. 

I could see large quantities of birds, most of which were Open bill storkes, Painted Storkes and Pelicans. On asking the boatman, he told me that the number and variety of birds this year were less compared to other years. I asked him whether that was the right time to visit the place, to which he replied saying that it was the perfect time but unfortunately there were not a great variety of them this time. I was disappointed to know that. I continued to click photos of the birds as the boat went close to the islets. Below are some of the snaps  that I managed to take.

On the way back..

After returning to the banks, I decided to explore the place around the banks to see if I could find any more birds around. I managed to find a few Mynas but they were out my camera's range. So I decided to leave the place. As I left the sanctuary, I saw a Cattle Egret and a few goats on the side of the road. Immediately I halted my bike to take few snaps of the same. 

I didn't know that there was more in store for me as I found a few Snowy Egrets in a small pond nearby. I continued to click pics of them.

I also found this weird looking bird about which I have no clue as to what it is.

And finally.. A Myna..

After all this, I felt it was time to resume my journey back to Bangalore. As I rode a little further, it started raining. I decided not to halt and continue riding. It was a very pleasant experience riding the bike when its raining. I halted at Maddur KFC for lunch for about half an hour and then continued my journey towards Bangalore.  I reached Bangalore by 2:00 pm.

Tour Summary:

Destination: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary 
Total Distance traveled: 260 kms.
Trip expenses: Around INR 900/- 
Best time to visit: December to May

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wonderful Wayanad!

The Place:

Wayanad is a hill station in Kerala, located at a distance of about 280 kms. from Bangalore. The place is famous for scenic beauty and pleasant weather.

When to visit:

The best time to visit this place is during the months of winter. It is hot and humid during summer months. Monsoons are severe in these regions and hence it would be difficult to see places even though the scenic beauty is at its peak during these months.

Starting off..

We were to leave to Wayanad from Guru's place on friday night. However the start was a delayed one because Ravi and myself were late to leave the office. We were later informed that we would be leaving from Vikas' place. It was night 12'O clock by the time we left.Vikas' place. After having left from Vikas' place, we picked up Vinod from his place and continued the journey.

Taking a break at Nagarahole checkpost:

We drove through Mysore road, and reached the Nagarahole checkpost. There was an alternate route to Wayanad which could avoid Nagarahole checkpost, but we decided to take the route through the forest as this would facilitate us to have some sleep.

We reached the checkpost by around 4:00 am. We had 2 hours at our disposal. Some of us got busy with photography though. We could hardly sleep during this duration.

Back to travelling...

We continued our journey once the check post opened at 6 in the morning. On the way through the forest, we came across a number of deers (as usual) and a few birds. 

We came across an elephant at one place. We stopped the car at a safe distance to click some snaps of the big guy. (Note: People are not allowed to step down from their vehicles anywhere in the forest.)

After crossing the Nagarahole forest, we entered Wayanad. Guru had booked a home stay at Padinjarathara, Wayanad. We halted our vehicle to call up the Home stay guy Binny for directions to his place (Note: Its better if atleast one guy in the group can speak Malayalam).

After getting directions from Binny, we reached the home stay. The location of the home stay was very scenic with mountains all around and a tributary of the Kabini river in front of it. We paid INR 3000 (Total) for the home stay for a day. We took some time to freshen up and got going by 9 in the morning.

Banasura Sagar Dam

We had our breakfast in a hotel near Padinjarathara and headed towards out first destination Banasura Sagar Dam which is built across the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini.

The location of the dam is very scenic with the Kabini river surrounded by hills all around. One would have to pay a nominal entry fee to enter this place. Jeeps are available to carry people to the dam. We chose to Walk up to it.

Boat rides are also available here to give you a closer peek into the scenic beauty of the Kabini.

There is a well maintained nature park where one could find a variety of  flora. It was afternoon when we decided to leave the place and head to our next destination.

Soochipara Falls:

We were next headed towards Soochipara Falls which was about 40 kms. from Banasura Sagar Dam. We faced a lot of problem asking direction from locals as a lot of them were not aware of this place.It was nearly 4 when we reached there.

Guru and Ravi bought us the entry tickets which were about INR 5 per head. We got to know that the place would close by about 6 in the evening. It is a downward route from the entrance to the falls and takes a decent 15 minutes to reach the falls.

Once we reached the falls, Guru, Yagnesh, Vinod and Prashanth got down to play in the water. In the meantime Ravi, Vikas and me decided to stay back on the rocks and splash water on the remaining. The place is extremely slippery, so be extremely careful if venturing into the water.

It was about 6 in the evening when we left the place. We bought food on the way for the dinner which we relished after reaching the guest house. Its a bit difficult to find good vegetarian food here, so veggies might find it to be a problem. We had a lot of fun during the dinner as we also celebrated our friend Prashanth's birthday which was to be on the next day.

Next day morning, we were headed towards Bangalore where we reached by around 7 in the evening.

Trip summary:

Destination: Wayanad

Best time to visit: Winter months

Expenses per head: INR 1500 per head

Distance from Bangalore: 280 kms.

Other details: Knowledge of the local language (Malayalam) would be an added advantage.

Please feel free to leave your comments.below.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kokkare Bellur - A day with birds

The place: Kokkare Bellur

Kokkare Bellur is a small village in Mandya district, the village is at a distance of around 90 kms. from Bangalore.

This place is a home to a number of migratory birds, mainly Pelicans   and Storks..

Early morning kickoff

The trip to Kokkare Bellur was a long awaited one, mainly because of my interest in photographing birds and the fact that kokkare bellur was amongst the must visit places for bird lovers from Bangalore. My friends Prashanth and Vinod joined me for the trip. We met up on Sunday (03-03-13) morning at around 6.30 am near Rajarajeshwari nagar arch and left from there.
It was the month of March and a beautiful sunny morning with moderate temperatures welcomed us. We rode through the various cities on Mysore Road and halted at Hotel Vaishali in Channapatna for breakfast at around 8.00 am. 


The Deviation: Very Easy to Miss !

After we were done with our breakfast, we continued on Mysore Road for about 10 kms and took a left onto Rudrakshipur- Halaguru road.

The deviation is very easy to miss although there is a sign board as it is covered with posters and banners. We managed to see a portion of the sign board which showed a bird. Kokkare Bellur is at a distance of another 12 kms. from the deviation. 

A stretch of lush green fields follows the deviation for about 2 kms. There is also a lake that one would come across during this stretch.

The road on this stretch was a good one. We reached the Kokkare Bellur at around 9.00 am in the morning. We were a little surprised to find the most rare and beautiful migratory birds nested within the limits of the village that we thought was not very big in size. The places before and after the village had no birds.

A tree by the side of the road had Pelicans. A small boy showed us the Pelicans and told that those were the young ones and were still learning to fly. He told us that we could also find a number of birds catching fish at a dam which was about 8 kms. from the village.


The accident: The villagers test your driving skills with lots of straws on road..

After taking some snaps of the Pelicans, we decided to head to the dam and check out the birds there. We thanked the kid and gave him about Rs. 20. We rode a little further when Vinod met with an accident. His bike slipped over straw that was spread over the road by the farmers.

We took him to a Govt. Hospital which was about 2 kms. from the village and had him treated. We decided to drop our plan of visiting the dam and returned to the village. It was about 11:00 am when we reached the village.

Return to village: Back on track..clicking ! 

Took us a while to get back into the grove...and realized we had missed photographing the Painted Storks earlier, so was eager to check them out through my viewfinder... It dint take us a lot of time to find the storks who where nested on the trees by the main road.
We then realized that there were a lot more of them on the trees towards the village and hence we proceeded further to get a better glimpse at them.

As we were photographing the birds, two kids took us to show some more hideouts of the birds.

The memories of the accident started haunting Vinod further when an old lady started telling him about an accident that had happened few days back that had led to the death of a person. He seemed pretty pissed off about that.

Leaving the village

It was around 11:30 am when we decided to leave the place. When we were leaving, the kids asked us if we had pens with us. Prashanth offered money instead, but they seemed pretty keen about a pen or a notebook.   I found a pen in my bag and gave it to one of them. Prashanth gave another pen to the other kid. Remember to keep some pens or goodies when travelling here. May come handy in such cases.


On the way back

While returning, we decided to spend some time near a lake and the lush green fields near that. We parked our bikes by the shade and sat by the side of the lake. There were a many cranes around the lake which got us back into the clicking mode.

We had a nice time sitting by the lake side under the shade of the trees and cool wind blowing all around. I photographed the birds for some time sitting under the shade.

Prashanth was busy taking some macro photos. We stayed there for nearly an hour chatting and having some snacks that Vinod had brought. Note that there are no restaurants here. One would have to get to Maddur to find a restaurant.


After the lake, we decided to venture into the lush green paddy fields on the other side of the road. We kept loitering there for around half an hour and then decided head back to Bangalore.

On the way back, we halted at Shivalli restaurant near Channapatna for lunch. We returned to Bangalore by around 4.30 pm in the evening


Bird activity

This chart approximately shows the bird activity at Kokkare Bellur during the various months of a year. One can refer this to plan their visit.


Destination: Kokkare Bellur

Total Distance covered: 180 kms.

Route: Bangalore - Maddur (via Mysore road) - Kokkare Bellur

Trip Expenses: INR 550 per head

Mode of transport: Bikes (3 nos, 3 people)

When to go: November to July (Pls. see the season and birds migratory chart before planning your visit)