Blossoming Bandipur and Wonderous Wayanad

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Photo of Blossoming Bandipur and Wonderous Wayanad by Rucha S Khot
Photo of Blossoming Bandipur and Wonderous Wayanad by Rucha S Khot
Photo of Blossoming Bandipur and Wonderous Wayanad by Rucha S Khot

The last six months have been filled with travel dreams. They say it well, that when the wanderlust bug bites you, it is hard to stop. And it bit me at the right time. I would say the perfect time. Bandipur and Wayanad will be special for a different reason. My first journey with my loved one. Exciting and Mesmerizing.

That day the evening in Bangalore was serene. The clouds played their role well. It was windy and breezy all at the same time. The traffic created nuisance , but that is a part of the parcel if you are living in Namma Bengaluru. Electronic City is full of people , vehicles and what not thronging in from different parts of the city. We started off from Bangalore – Mysore Road along the National Highway, with innumerable tolls that you pay along the way, and the traffic that slows down the speed of your car. Imagine , when you are all ready and excited, looking forward to your journey and the traffic slows you down. The thrill of driving loses charm. Nonetheless, we managed to catch up and the drive up to Mysore was enchanting, with dusk setting in and music to accompany the speed.

We had a brief halt at the illuminated Mysore palace known for its lit up charm. The Explorer within me got the kick once again. Mysore Palace or Mysore Maharaja Palace is one of the largest and most spectacular monuments in the country. Also known as Amba Vilas, it is located in the heart of the city of Mysore. The illuminated palace is truly a sight to behold. The garden around the palace is a grandeur. After a brief photographic session at the premises we set off to see the wild jungles of Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary. As we neared the destination, it was a big shock – trucks, lorries and big buses waiting in one queue near the check post as the gates of the sanctuary had been closed. Animals are really cared for in this part of the state. And so the thrilling night out inside the jungle began. Eerie cricket noises, the moon shining in its full glory, trees whispering in the darkness with the winds, the sound of a crow to wake you up suddenly, hungry wild eyes searching for its hunt, weird footsteps unheard of in the daytime, heartbeats pounding with the increasing darkness and silence, danger sensations every time you woke up from your nap, a smile on the face when suddenly you realize that you are safe and sound with your loved one and the endless wait for the dawn to explore the greenery and the lushness of the forest.

Bandipur forests is one of the lush and dense forests in India. As you go deeper inside the forest,it goes greener and darker. The sunlight peeping its way through the leaves and branches makes this place a divine solitude to explore. Each metre of the road taken reminds you of a different phase in life. Words would fall short to describe this forest. Divine, unperturbed, calm and untouched. No paths can be seen through the forest which points out towards less human population and a thriving spot for the animals to survive and breed. The sight of spotted deer and peacocks was a pleasure to the eye. Nature in its full form can never fail to surprise you at any cost. The Bandipur Forest is a vast pasture for grazing cattle and for collection of firewood and other forest produce. Along the way one can find a large amount of elephant dung which shows that animals move to and fro within the roads of the forest. For this reason this road has been a major concern as speeding vehicles have killed many wild animals in spite of frequent warnings to travellers from the forest department officials. Therefore the road is kept close from 9pm to the wee hours of dawn.

After this refreshing early morning trail we reached wonderous Wayanad, an unexplored hill station on the northern borders of Kerela. These hills are magical. Tea plantations and coffee plantations are a treat to the eye. Misty as they can be and foggy as you can find them to be, the hills take you on a romantic ride altogether. The treks along these hills are tiring as well as crazy. If you are lucky enough, you may also find an affectionate granny giving you water to quench your thirst along the way. The houses in these region do not stand tall as in the cities, people prefer to have their own private abode and live in the beauty of nature with each house having a small garden for itself. The houses have slanting roofs and are rectangular in structure. Most of them reminded me of the fairytale houses that I had imagined when my granny told me stories and folklores about Indian villages. Wayanad has mystic falls, misty hills, huge grazing grounds for the cattle and super climate. At Pookode Lake gazing at the sky and observing the little waves on the lake felt like time wants to take me back to the days when there was less tension in life.

Coming to the delicacies that I tried here, Appam and Kerela Paratha were eaten after a long time. A new fruit Chambakka or ” rose apple ” was introduced in my favourite delicacy list. Malabar Chicken was served with great pomp but it failed to tickle my taste buds. One of the best teas that I have had,  was at Kalpetta, I guess mostly with a herb called ” Suntha”.

The trip ended with a simplistic good bye. One of the relaxing places in India where less people throng in.

Krisengel Navneet proved to be the best travel companion.

Do visit when you get a chance, it is a 7 hour drive from Bangalore.

Rucha Khot.

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