Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, at about 1450 m, is the highest hill located within the Bandipur National Park, and filled with fog through the year. It gets its name from the fog (Himavad in Kannada) and the Gopalaswamy temple that is located on the top of the hill (Betta in Kannada).
Those visiting the national park to see the wildlife usually make the trip up the hill, to see the temple. If one stays at Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) for a two-day package, a trip to the temple is included and you will be taken in the government safari Bolero or bus. If you prefer to go in your own vehicle, you will be allowed till the foothills after which you will be put onto a government bus to take you to the top.
It is a nice drive up the hill, and if you are lucky, you may see elephants or other animals of the forest. Along the way, there are points from which one can get lovely views of the area around the forest.
While driving through the forest, we spend a lot of time in seeing just trees and grass and mud and water. The bouncy ride can rock you to sleep, especially if you haven’t had a good night’s rest. Sometimes one can only hear the whirring of the Bolero engine, and when it goes off there is just silence. Seeing and hearing no “active” life is also soothing. It’s the feel of the wild.
Apart from the carnivorous tigers and leopards, and the hundreds of elephants, Bandipur has many other animals that are necessary for survival of the forest ecosystem, and its quite exciting to see them in their natural habitat.
“Any sighting today?” is a common question after a jungle safari. By “sighting” one usually means the tiger. In our desire to spot the tiger in Bandipur, we often overlook the amazing smaller creatures.
The vast Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) campus itself is home to many birds. On our arrival, we could hear the distinct chirp of the sunbirds as they hopped all over the banyan tree at the entrance.
Bandipur Forest has been a family favourite ever since my children were little. We usually drove to Bandipur from Bangalore, pausing at Mysore for a break on the way. The last couple of times though, we took the train to Mysore, and then road (either bus or taxi) to Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) at Bandipur, where we always stay. From Mysore, the bus service to Ooty is very convenient with the bus halting, on request, right at the gate of JLR.
This new year, we were fortunate to be able to go for a couple of days during the week just before Sankranti (12th-14th Jan 2023), and off the peak holiday season, when there are fewer visitors to JLR and Bandipur Tiger Reserve / National Park.
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In my earlier post Woes of suction pumps on BWSSB water lines I wrote about how humans can create water shortage problems for other humans, through selfishness and greed. We have experienced living in the city with uncertainty about water. We have encountered situations of no water, even if we are willing to pay the sky for it.
Currently we are fortunate to be getting a good supply of corporation water (from the Cauvery River), but often reminded about the stories of how cities can go dry in the foreseeable future.
Our home in Richmond Town, in the heart of Bangalore, has been battling erratic supply of corporation water (from the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board BWSSB) for years. In the 1980s and 90s, our 3-foot wide, 15-foot deep open well would augment the corporation water, but the water table has fallen and the well has water only during the monsoons.
Water these days is released by the BWSSB valve-man every alternate day, so the water that comes on an appointed day needs to be enough to last two days. Looking back, most often, the water would come in a trickle, so much so that we barely received 5000-6000 litres the whole month. Those days I was living away from Bangalore and my mom would regularly call in the morning to tell me to lodge a complaint online with BWSSB saying that there was no water. I would religiously do this, but nothing much would happen. She would call the local BWSSB engineers and on and off, they would offer to send a water tanker to help, but the root of the problem was not addressed.
The world’s eyes are on Glasgow, the city of James Watt, where the future will be decided.
It was in Glasgow, in 1776, that James Watt introduced the world’s first* steam engine, an engineering marvel that set the ball of industrialisation rolling, leading to the current pollution woes we are all hoping to fix.
[* Watt’s engine was really an improvement on the Newcomen engine that was already invented.]
From Berlin 1995, our leaders and the United Nations have been trying to save the world. The climate change conferences held almost every year since then (twice in some years) are great occasions to be seen and make plans. As we have realised, things have only got worse, and today we need a dinosaur to make us think about how we should live our lives so that there is a future for the human race.