" We travel not to escape life, but life not to escape us"
The 3km drive from Ganeshgudi to our jungle stay seemed eternal. Maybe because the journey was through winding ghat roads but the deciduous forests of western ghats were a good entertainer to our urban eyes and also the cool fresh oxygenated foresty air did'nt remind that this was peak summer in other parts of India and to think just 200 kms downhill around are the arid and hot parts of Northern Karnataka.
The wayside was peppered with signboards of various jungle resorts and then a signboard from a tiger apprises us mirthlessly " This is my home, Hear me Roar, Dont horn". But, no one seemed to listen. The forest sounds are often drowned by the horns screaming and the gnashing gears at curves. After a few bends, We passed through cluster of houses which our driver termed as a village. Here we forked off to the left where a signboard in kannada read Bhamanagi. We rattle on a muddy path for more than a kilometer till we reached a place which was barricaded with two wooden logs (gate)and i must say here i was unprepared for the unostentatious rusticity of the two little cottages that stood on the plains before me from the so called gate. After confirming with the housekeeper our driver dropped us and drove back to Dandeli....now we were totally abandoned in the wilderness of the jungle .
The house keeper( who was also the cook) welcomed us and asked us to choose among the 3 cottage house , since it was not a weekend, there was no rush and we had the choice of choosing our cottage.
We chose the second cottage which had two rooms, a big and small room with double beds and two single beds and an attached washroom. No fussy bath curtains or glass cubicles but all the basic amenities were there. The bed was clean but no TV, Wifi or a/c.
The jungle estate itself was pretty large but only 3 cottages( 4 more in the piping) and 11 tents pitched in the wild. They were designed to look like traditional thatched huts from outside. There was not much landscaping except a beautiful common thatched gazebo which served as a dining area, a few garden umbrella, a wash basin aesthetically held by wood logs , and a few benches from the trunks of trees and a round wooden table. The place had couple of wooden bridges made from logs that helped crossover to plaintain plantation and it had a small mangalore tiled house which was the kitchen from where the food came. The watchman of the estate lived in a hut and the estate's back gate opened to a main road which was the route to other homestay properties. The property lived up to its name Wildcraft.
Aah! now wait.....Did'nt I say we were famished? .Arun, the 14 year old 9th grader ( i must write a separate post about this chirpy boy who worked here during summer vacation)served us 2 plate of freshly made delicious french fries as an evening snack and cups and cups of tea , yes the tea from the flask was never ending, totally 4 cups, while the teens had milk, between me and the husband we had to have 4 cups and ....no am not complaining. We needed it.
The tea had perked us up and we took a walk around to explore the place, we walked among the wildly grown may flowers, lilies, wild jasmines overlooking the plaintian plantation and other unknown woody trees and crossed the log bridge half a km away from our room and checked on a half built cottage and came across the back gate( 2 logs again) to find the main road. By now the sun was almost down, it was getting dark. Any further walk, I was sure we might lose track so, We walked back thinking what a relief it is to be in a countryside away amongst greenery, awash with the chatter of innumerable birds. We began warming up to the idea of spending our time here away from modern development, away from technology and we were totally disconnected and abandoned because there was no vehicle at our disposal and all that we had was intermittent cell signal and ofcourse we had hotspot connectivity.
Ahoy! our holiday in the jungle that involved massive dollops of doing nothing in particular had begun. This was the object of our vacation..... But did it work for us. NO:(
A campfire and dinner later under the starry sky, we retired for the day only to be woken up next day early morning by Mahesh, our inhouse trail guide.
We thought we would laze around doing nothing and my sleep loving family thought they could doze of till late morning but Mahesh told if we want to see the wild of the jungle, we have to go early. The thought of exploring the western ghats was too tempting to abandon.
The teens were reluctant initially, they said, they did'nt want to wake up early on an holiday but after a little coaxing, the sleepy teens and us Trekked with Mahesh into the wilderness. Mahesh a young boy of 16 who worked during his summer vacation was not a communicative boy in the beginning...but he opened up while returning back from the hike and even enjoyed shooting with our Camera . He infact ran away behind a wild bird into the jungle to click it and i had to shout at him to take us back. He rattled of the names of trees but unfortunately whatever he rattled in Dharwad kannada was not clear to us. For instance, what he refered to Jambu hannina mara was nowhere close to the Jambu phal (jackfruit) that we know. I could make out the wild gooseberry though.
Two hours of walking in the wild, we saw nothing worth mentioning. We looked up towards the canopy to spot atleast an hornbill which this place is famous for but all we could spot were a few babblers and wood peckers. Mahesh once or twice hushed us and told us not to make sound while walking which our shoes made on contact with the dry leaves. But to no effect, he could hush us up but what of the loud sound of the tractors from the nearby village.
We also saw lots of tree stumps which Mahesh said were cut by villagers and a mini lorry full of sand was mined and stashed on the banks of a little brook that according to mahesh was to build house.
Deforestation and sandmining ,,,i thought aloud....The protection that nature provides for free might prove dear to replace one day till then we can misuse it.
We walked back to our cottage to have a sumptuous break fast....more on supa lake and syntheri rocks in next post.
We played ripples here for sometime, mahesh also told animals come here to quench their thirst
The dot besotted by the log bridges used to cross the deep trenches of the jungle estate at the back