Sometimes you get this urge to just take off, and I did that post Christmas last year. I started working in December and with the extended break thought why not, once you work taking off has to be planned so caught the first bus out and left. Much to my mother’s shock, I hopped onto a bus the next morning and took off to BR Hills, 75 km outside Bangalore.
On reaching I found myself in front of the hotel surrounded by forest area, fresh air and awesome weather. Just what I was looking for, some peace and quiet, time to think and be alone. After lunch on the roof top and a cup of chai, I was off on the road for a wildlife tour around the place.
BR Hills is where the Eastern and Western ghats meet, located about 1500 m above sea level, it is a complete haven of natural resources and wildlife. I caught my first wildlife sighting – a pair of wild elephants! A male and female foraging off the main road. The tusker promptly ran into the forest trumpeting on seeing us and the female just watched us peacefully. Taking a few snaps and feeling great we went further into the forest to see what the forest had in store.
Life stands still when you are in the wild, you stop and listen to the amazing bird calls, the bark of a deer, the trees and the best part – silence. It clears your mind and you stop thinking for that time and look around drinking in the green view and landscape, using all your senses. How relaxing, and the good weather always helps.
|Giant wood spider|
Some of the tribal settlements called Kalehali and Modegahalli located in forest periphery were seen with tribals busy harvesting and processing coffee beans, one of their livelihood means, they also harvest honey, pepper and medicinal plants. Their vast knowledge about the forest and its uses is the most sustainable form of using resources, always knowing exactly how much to take, time for regrowth and leaving for other creatures. Influences from the urban centre infiltrates even these remote corners – I observed television in many houses and yet open fires are still used for cooking along with inadequate sanitary and drainage conditions.
I decided to extend my trip for another day and spent most of the day reading, attended a tribal performance at Gorukana run by the same management at the inn I was staying at and enjoyed a delicious dinner. Convinced that this is my next accomodation when I am here next, it has a spa that sits on a lake and even has its own organic garden filled with radish and potatoes which I see myself helping out with. They also support a tribal school run by VGKK (Vivekananda Girijiana Kalyana Kendra) and help the locals earn through honey, pepper, gooseberry juice manufacturing inside school premises.
I would recommend Akasa BR hills to anyone with a budget, no plan and a backpack to take off and spend a few days birding, sightseeing and good self-rejuvenation.